Comments on Dawkins Sticks His Foot In It…Again by Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David

Yes, and it has been thought about, quite often.

The author of that essay uses "God" interchangeably with a belief in human dignity and worth. She assumes that the belief in human dignity and equal worth is a necessary prerequisite for religious faith.

Which for the most part* may be true, but those beliefs aren't exclusive to deists. I think that the vast majority of unchurched people, whether lapsed churchgoers, agnostics, or atheists have a firm faith-based belief in the fundamental equality of all persons and their inherent dignity.

This belief may be a necessary prerequisite of religion, but religion isn't a necessary prerequisite to the belief.

*The historical justification for slavery, mass exterminations, and other horrors by religious people suggests that if they so desired, a religious argument in favor of breeding humans like cattle could be whipped up in a jiffy.

This reminds me of the Computational Problem that libertarians talk about, where they note that the degree of control needed to completely direct all the factors of production is impossible because the marketplace of human desires is so complex.

The point the doctor makes in his twitter feed is that the chromosomes that produce undesirable traits are so complex that to establish a government genetic database which could track literally every human genetic makeup and accurately predict the offspring of any given mating would be far more difficult than predicting the Five Year Plan of consumer production.

I think when people say "impossible" this is what they mean, that a task would require such a freakish distortion of our world that it goes beyond our ability to imagine it.


After thoughtful consideration, I have concluded that, no matter how shocking or controversial it may sound, I stand in favor of allowing people to choose to use a dating app that narrows their possible choices.

There. I've said it, and I stand by it.

Sounds like it.

(did we just agree? It feels dirty, somehow)

As I say below, we can most definitely talk about it here;

We just have to understand that our perspective is blinkered and biased by our lack of experience with it.

"if we can reach the conclusion that Tay Sachs is bad"

We have.
"we can understand better why some people might be working to eliminate it"

We do.

"and respond by saying “good!” "

Yes, I think we both agree it would be very good for them to work on solutions.

Is there on on the table that you are supporting?

We already know it is bad; What we don't know is if the ways to combat it are acceptable to those who are most affected by it.

See, I keep bringing this back to the notion that this can only be addressed by a wide ranging group of stakeholders, and you want to keep it narrowly focused on Chip and Jay chatting online.

About an issue neither of us faces, and whose mitigation costs we will never pay.

What's wrong with just accepting that you and I can't resolve this and deferring our opinions to those who really have skin in the game?

No, since like many medical patients, they have families and friends who can speak.

Uh, didn't I list the stakeholders already?

Don't they have enough authority for you?

What you're doing here is similar to the religious people you referenced.

You're researching Scripture (the NIH) then constructing a theological argument one way or the other.

This can't possibly lead to a good place since you are excluding the very stakeholders of the issue.

Our opinions on this are always going to be, as you say, biased by what inconveniences us.

If I really wanted to form an opinion about Tay Sachs I wouldn't go to the NIH website.

I would talk to people who have it, their families and friends.

I'd talk to people who are at risk of it, and people who might be affected by the proposed measures.

How do they feel about it?

You want to talk about Tay Sachs?
Sorry, I honestly don't know enough about it to have any sort of opinion.

But more broadly, one of the most pressing problems in ethics is to distinguish between things which are problems which should be eradicated, and things which are conditions which we must accept.

The eugenicists of the 20th century tried to formulate a prescriptive approach where they assumed an Ideal Human without any consultation or engagement with the wider community.

Not surprisingly, the Ideal Human was themselves and the list of things which should be eradicated was nothing more than a list of their own biases and preferences.

Which is why if we want to talk about Tay Sachs, or dwarfism or any other human attribute and decide whether to eradicate or accept it, we need to engage with those who have a stake in the matter and anyone who might be affected by an effort .

There isn't some Grand Unified Theory of Human Perfection that allows us to have a discussion without the wider community.

Who are you talking to?
Me, or some other person who says laypeople shouldn't talk about ethics?

The subject of this essay and blog post was that Dawkins stupidly hinted at support for eugenics.
And how tainted this subject is, precisely because of eminent people like him dancing around it, instead of engaging in a good faith discussion of medical ethics.

Ordinary people can also use clarity and rigor, starting with, "What is your point?"

Well, medical ethics is an actual thing, and the medical, scientific, and philosophical practitioners have wide ranging and robust debates and discussions about these very issues.
And they do it with much more clarity and rigor than you and I could.

But like flat earthers, eugenicists tend to shun those sorts of circles and prefer to pitch their scam to the laypeople.

I'm not sure what you are arguing for or against here.
Are you asking if we should have discussions about the ethical bounds of medical science with rigor and clarity?

Or are you trying to defend Dawkins' statement?
Or is there some other point that I'm not seeing?

Persons of proper breeding and heritage understand my comments perfectly well.

The lack of rigor and clarity is, for eugenicists, a feature not a bug since their lines of logic are derived backward from a goal, similar to flat earthers or creationists.

Because fundamentally their goal is to segregate society into tiers of worth. This requires an a priori leap of faith.

What "works" for them is a world in which they are recognized as an aristocracy. So the metrics and criteria must be left vague and arbitrary so as to shift and evade any attempt to refute them.

Medical science already has a list of objective criteria for "improving" the human race. Things like eliminating illness and suffering, and delaying the ill effects of aging.

But scientists are also open about where their objective work reaches the boundary of subjective religion .
For example, should we engineer humans to eliminate dwarfism?

A scientist won't answer that. A eugenicist will, which is why it should rightly be considered a faith.

Political ideas and religions are frank about how they originate; a moral intuition of How Things Oughta Work.

So right at the outset they reject any attempt to prove themselves via the scientific method.

So yes, Eugenics is like political ideologies, except it claims to be otherwise. It poses as the objective indifferent results of science, when really is it just human moral intuition.

Once it loses the veneer of Science, it becomes revealed as just "Hey, my tribe is totally better than yours!"

I don't understand your comment.

We have working models of democracy and capitalism and socialism. We don't have any working models of eugenics or even what such a thing would look like.

It just shows for me how durable this idea is, of some aristocracy of humans either naturally occurring or man-made.

Eugenics isn't just some idea that percolates up from data. It always starts out as a fantasy, like perpetual motion or synthesizing gold and then has science fitted to it.

Which also implies a rebuke to the idea that truth and reason naturally vanquish superstition and nonsense. Its like these stories of brilliant professors being taken in by the Nigerian scam or something.

Maybe that's the best argument against eugenics and IQ supremacy, that even the most objectively intelligent people are so gullible.