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Discus: College Confidential Café: 2004 Archive: Eugenics
By Goodchocolate (Goodchocolate) on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 05:41 pm: Edit

I'm not saying I agree with it, but whenever I mention it, someone gets offended and yells "It's just pseudo-science!"

Well, my question is: How is eugenics pseudo-science? It may be inhumane or whatnot, but where exactly is it flawed?

By 400blows (400blows) on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 12:16 am: Edit

OK, so there's the political philosophy of eugenics, often called Social Darwinism, and then there's the pseudo-science of eugenics. I'll deal with the political side first.

A strong argument was once made against social services and aid to the poor because it was supposedly anti-Darwinian and it stopped natural selection. According to the theory, society's poor also have society's worst genes, so by allowing them to survive and reproduce, we're weakening humanity's gene pool. This doesn't take into account, however, the fact that in our society, wealth is inherited. Those who are at the top of our economic ladder didn't all get there by intelligence, perseverence, and hard work. Some - the Hilton sisters and President Bush come to mind - are rich because of their daddies and granddaddies. Now, you might be thinking, doesn't this in fact prove the eugenecists' points? Isn't it true that once someone had to have the intelligence and perseverence to get rich? And, isn't it true that they not only pass on their wealth, but also their genes for success? So, while George W Bush isn't the smartest cookie in the oven, he holds the genes for success, right? Wrong. And the reason that this is wrong goes into the non-science of eugenics.

That eugenics is wrong can be shown by two points. First, evolution requires millenia, not 1, 2, or 10 generations. Second, intelligence, athletic ability, success, or whatever else you're "breeding" for is a result of more than the genes. To elaborate on the first point, just because my parents are smart doesn't make me smart. Note that you can't substitute something like the word "black" for "smart" in that previous sentence, because skin color is almost entirely genetic. In any case, a champion thoroughbred can have slow offspring. Angre Agassi and Steffi Graph can have a child that can't play tennis well. This is little, random, evolutionary "noise." In order for something meaningful to occur, it would take more generations. A eugenicist might say, "Ahh, but wait. Many types of bacteria have evolved resistance to antibiotics in just the last 50 years." Ignoring the fact that 50 years for E. Coli is in fact millions of generations, we can show how this isn't applicable to eugenics by using point 2 above. Resistance to antibiotics is biologically simple. It's a 75 basepair sequence of DNA that can be inserted into a bacteria's genome in a high school lab in an afternoon. The qualities that eugenicists wish to breed for are incredibly complex, and are not entirely genetic. Is there a single gene that codes for intelligence? No. Is it possible that there are many genes that determine intelligence? Yea. Is it possible that someone's intelligence is not just a result of their genes but also a result of being fed vitamin b-12 while growing up? Another possibility. The only clear thing is that eugenicists, by seeking to obscure science in favor of their social goals, are wrong.

By Sticksandstones (Sticksandstones) on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 06:31 pm: Edit

i always say that humans dont succumb to social-Darwinistic theories because we are different from animals because we have the ability to reason; and also because he have a strong sense of morality and ethics which animals do not have or cannot have.

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