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November 05, 2007

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The only eugenic argument I can find in Watson's most recent controversial interview is a reference to a prior controversy where he said that a woman's right to abortion oughtn't be conditional on whether she's having one because of genes she doesn't like in the foetus. I'm looking at the recent pieces in The Times (Online).

What specific eugenic policy does Watson favour, and where I can I read it?

He certainly argues that there may be racially based differences in IQ, but that in no way equates with eugenics - that is to say, advocacy of policies seeking to "improve" the overall genetic fitness of a population either by encouraging the procreation of the "fit" or discouraging the procreation (or, in the limit, killing) the "unfit". I don't see that in what he's written, but I've not read him extensively - only the recent interviews online. Maybe I draw too bright a line here - I don't count someone as being a eugenics enthusiast if he simply supports a woman's right to abortion.

The folks over at Gene Expression evaluate Watson's claims gnxp.com . Search on "Watson" to find the relevant posts; href tags seem here not allowed.

I had these earlier reports in mind:

http://www.dnai.org/text/mediashowcase/index2.html?id=502

http://geneticsandsociety.org/article.php?id=245

I'd like to have seen the full video. In the clip they show, he gives a pretty accurate rendition of the argument as at the 1930s -- that eugenics was considered progressive and that it was seen as a way of, in the longer term, doing away with the need for the poor house.

The second link's more informative, but isn't there a rather sharp distinction between the kinds of things that Watson's advocating and the arguments of the earlier eugenicists? Isn't there rather a categorical difference between state-enforced sterilization and parents choosing to have their children augmented with genes that might allow for a standard deviation boost to IQ (or to avoid a disease caused by recessive genes)? As best I can tell, nobody there is arguing for forced sterilizations; rather, they're arguing that folks ought be free to take advantage of technological advances allowing them to make their childrens' lives better.

The link between even classical eugenics and policy is very loose. Galton himself only proposed "positive" eugenics, i.e., helping support the children of college professors. If Greg had any policy proposals they don't stick in my mind. Moreover, policy proposals by eugenic thinkers might very well be defensible on other grounds.

When I read the interview with Watson I hear the scientific central planner who knows he has a public relations problem. Genetic modification is offered as a way to cure people's children and perhaps as a way to restore trust in the eugenic planner.

David

What's supposed to be wrong with eugenics anyhow? The science behind it is rock solid, and has been used for thousands of years to improve our crops and livestock.

Now with all of the research that has gone into IQ and genetics were might as well put that knowledge to proper work. After all the system does favor idiots on welfare reproducing far more than female doctors.

I say that if you have an IQ under 85 you should be sterilized, and all of our foriegn aid going to these poor nations, should be based on their Eugenics system. The of their population they sterilize the more foriegn aid they get. They refuse, then they don't get feed. Its far more humane than allowing the idiots to over populate themselves like they have done in Haiti and are now starving to death because they are stupid.

Same thing that is happening now in Haiti will happen across the entire African continent.

I propose that in addition to sterilization, we pay the women of these 3rd world nations to to be impregnanted with test tube babies from good genes, instead of their own native stupid genes. That way they could preserve thier culture, while raising their collective IQs so at some point in the future they will be smart enough to maintain their own civilization.

At the same time we should be sterlizing all of the welfare moms and prison convicts here, as well as everyone with an IQ under 85, and every immigrant entering this country with an IQ under 100. While running a positive genetics program here, by collecting ovum from smart college girls and fertilized by a few men of genius. These embryos could be made to split in a lab, so genetically superior identical clones could be cultivated and used to impregnate women here and abroad.

If a normal IQ woman is married to a man who has been sterilized, then it should be possible for that woman to be artificially inseminated with the sperm from a genius, and while the resulting child would likely not be a man of genius himself, he would have a much better advantage in life than if he was fathered by a man who is borderline retarded.

Over all, the genetics of a civilization would improve and enough genetic diversity would remain to support healthy populations. I really have a hard time seeing any rational argument against eugenics. It certainly is not the bugaboo pop culture makes it out to be.

should we also sterilize bloggers whose use of the english language is lacking? ;p

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