[ExI] dna to search
tara at taramayastales.com
Sun Nov 9 16:52:43 UTC 2014
> On Nov 9, 2014, at 1:54 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> If gene treatments become fashionable and/or compulsory the population
> could gradually change into a healthy monoculture nation of tall
> handsome people with blue eyes and a very placid disposition.
It’s quite misleading to simply lump “fashionable” in with “compulsory.” Those imply two vastly different political systems, two vastly different methods of enforcement, and two vastly different outcomes.
Individuals are free to follow fashions and whims and indeed, their own deepest sense of moral rectitude (really, the difference between those is usually a matter of how disdainfully or respectfully one chooses to describe other people’s lifestyle choices), in a free and capitalist system. Peer pressure influences a modicum of conformity to agreed norms, but in a large society such as ours, peer pressure is not itself uniform. So there is never going to be a mono-genetic culture in a free society, because if the majority chooses blue eyes, a minority will choose violet or brown or red, just to be different and defiant. The “fashion” part of the equation means that these preferences will change over time, so that in one year blue eyes may be popular, in the next, brown eyes may be popular. We may end up with a society where you can look at an adult and guess their age based on their eye color, but that will be far from a monogenetic population. It is also absolutely predictable that a portion of a free society will never want to genetically alter their children, because there is already a large cult of the “natural” in our society, and this ideal will certainly be applied to children by a sizable proportion of the population for a long time to come.
Compulsory genetic alteration is quite a different story. That implies that rights are taken from the parents and given to government bodies, enforced by the police and army. Parents who don’t conform can be fined, jailed or executed. In my opinion, any society that removes basic rights from parents and hands that power to strangers is going down a very, very dangerous path. The strangers in the government will claim (of course) to have the best interests of the children at heart, and use a few examples of bad parents to prove that they are more trustworthy than parents. But in Darwinian terms, that’s simply not possible. Parents will always have a direct investment in their own offspring, and so, while there will be a few bad parents, overall, parents are more likely to defend their children’s best interests. Strangers in power will inevitably defend THEIR best interests. You can see this in China, where Party officials use their power, influence and wealth to buy their way out of the one-child policy, and have two or three children, while using “population control” as the excuse to make all their genetic rivals—meaning ALL OTHER FAMILIES--those at the mercy of the small ruling minority— to have less children than they or have to undergo forced abortions, etc. It could hardly be more Darwinian.
Now, ironically, FORBIDDING genetic alteration of children will have exactly the same effect as the Compulsory society. The rich and powerful will simply evade the law through medical tourism or the black market, while the poor who try to use the black market will suffer from fake medicines, mafia violence, and overflowing jails. Exactly like the war on drugs. Do you think Hollywood actresses will have any trouble buying genetic markers for beauty and perfect pitch or that politicians won’t be able to afford high IQs for their offspring? But poor people won’t be allowed to compete because genetic engineering is evil, etc. A whole society can be built on this hypocrisy, but if the technology is there to make children smarter, prettier or healthier, that technology WILL be used. There’s no more use trying to outlaw it than trying to outlaw abortion or birth control, and the consequences of trying to forbid it will cause just as much suffering.
In short, in my opinion, the only safe path through the dangers of either compulsory or illegal genetic engineering is the most difficult one to convince people to defend: the free society, in which childrens' future is left to the people most likely to look out for it, their own parents.
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