[Paleopsych] Steve Sailer: If Race Research Is Banned Now, How Will We Cope With A "Brave New World"?

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If Race Research Is Banned Now, How Will We Cope With A "Brave New World"?

    [14]Steve Sailer Archive
    By [17]Steve Sailer

    Through genetic selection and modification, we will be soon be able to
    transform human nature, for better . . . or worse.

    Some find this exciting. I find it mostly alarming.

    The good news: we still have time to figure out what the physical,
    psychological, and social impacts of these gene-altering technologies
    might be - by studying naturally-occurring human genetic diversity.

    The bad news: we won't fund research into [18]existing human
    biodiversity - because it's [19]politically incorrect.

    Genetic engineering, and associated technologies such as neural
    implants, is explored in two new books.

    Microsoft programmer [20]Ramez Naam, author of [21]More Than Human:
    Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement, never seems to have
    met an idea for fiddling around with our genes that he didn't like. I
    find his optimism likable even though I don't share it. Unfortunately,
    the numerous small errors of fact in his book saps confidence in his
    overall reliability.

    In contrast, Washington Post reporter [22]Joel Garreau - known to
    VDARE.COM readers as author of the provocative [23]The Nine Nations Of
    North America - can't seem to make up his mind in his upcoming
    [24]Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds,
    Our Bodies--and What It Means to Be Human.

    Garreau evenhandedly interviews futurist cheerleaders, like inventor
    [25]Ray Kurzweil, who takes hundreds of [26]nutritional supplements
    daily as part of his [27]plan for living forever, and doomsayers, like
    [28]Sun Microsystems co-founder [29]Bill Joy, who fears that
    genetically manipulated germs could wipe out all of humanity.

    (The inaptly named Joy strikes me as a Gloomy Gus. But, just in case
    some apocalyptic catastrophe does transpire, it would make sense to
    pay a couple of dozen military families to live for two year stretches
    at the bottom of a Kansas salt mine, from which, if the worst were to
    happen, they could eventually re-emerge like [30]Noah's family to
    repopulate the planet.)

    What Naam and Garreau can agree upon is that the post-human age will
    be here [31]Real Soon Now.

    I'm not so certain. [32]Medicine progresses slowly these days. But I
    am sure that that it's time to start getting serious about whether we
    want it or not.

    The situation oddly resembles the political impact of immigration.
    When I first started writing about immigration, it was widely assumed
    that the Hispanic share of the vote had become so huge that it was
    political suicide to try to cut back on immigration. Yet closer study
    showed this was [33]far from true.

    For example, in the overall [34]2004 exit poll, the un-massaged
    Hispanic share of the respondents turned out to be only 5.9 percent,
    far below the 8 or 9 percent forecast by [35]Michael Barone.

    Similarly, when it comes to human bioengineering, the future hasn't
    yet gone through the [36]formality of taking place.

    We still have time to figure out what we want to do and what we don't.

    But how? Answer: By [37]studying honestly the human genetic diversity
    we see all around us - and learning how it [38]already affects

    Unfortunately, [39]political taboos against the study of human
    biodiversity retard this crucial work.

    Occasionally, I get emails telling me I'm foolish to worry about the
    long term effects of immigration because genetic engineering will soon
    give us all IQs of 1,000 ... or we'll live forever ... or robots will
    take over and enslave us ... or [40]nanotechnology will make us all
    richer than Croesus ... or nanotechnology will run amok and suck all
    the life out of everything on Earth ... or ...

    But technological trees don't always grow to the sky. Consider the
    rise and fall of the Transportation Revolution. From the development
    of the steamship to the moon landing took less than 170 years. Smart
    science fiction writers like [41]Robert A. Heinlein assumed that this
    [42]progress would continue.

    Yet, in the last quarter of a century, the greatest breakthrough in
    transportation technology has been, what, the minivan? The Concorde is
    dead, the Space Shuttle is teetering ...

    Nor do technical revolutions always arrive on time. Medical gene
    engineering of humans has been much slower to become usable than many
    assumed a decade ago.

    One problem: getting the effectiveness to risk level high enough.
    Operating on humans isn't like engineering corn or mice, where you can
    throw away your mistakes.

    Another difficulty: although there was a vast amount of publicity back
    in 2000 about how the genome had been "mapped," we still don't know
    what most genes actually do.

    Moreover, while a few diseases, such as sickle cell anemia and
    Huntington's, are the result of a single bad gene, the big bad
    illnesses seem to have other causes. Indeed, Darwinian logic, as first
    enunciated by [43]Gregory Cochran, suggests we might have been
    focusing too hard on finding heritable genetic causes for diseases. In
    the words of top British genetic journalist Matt Ridley, "Your genes
    don't exist to kill you."

    A new report called "[44]Microbial Triggers of Common Human Illness"
    from the American Academy of Microbiology supports Cochran's insight
    that many diseases that are assumed genetic may more likely be
    triggered by germs.

    That's because natural selection would tend to eliminate harmful genes
    in us, but pathogens evolve at least as fast as our defenses against

    Your genes haven't evolved to make you sick, but to give you
    capabilities to survive and reproduce. So genetic technologies might
    be more suited to enhance skills than to cure illnesses.

    Yet some capacities are likely to require many genes working together
    in complex ways, so the payoff from altering a single gene would be
    small. [45]Superstar cognitive scientist Steven Pinker has [46]said,
    "I think an Achilles heel of genetic enhancement will be the rarity of
    single genes with consistent beneficial psychological effects."

    Considering the intricacy of the human brain, this is particularly
    likely to be true of intelligence, which would make engineering higher
    IQs difficult.

    Conversely, single genes often have multiple uses, which means that
    genetic engineering could often have unfortunate side effects.

    For example, back in 1999, Time Magazine ran a cover story called
    "[47]The I.Q. Gene?" about how Dr. Joe Tsien had genetically
    engineered "Doogie" mice to have [48]superior memories.

    But subsequent studies showed the Doogie mice (named after the
    supersmart TV character[49] Doogie Howser, M.D.) are also more
    sensitive to [50]chronic inflammatory pain, which isn't a trait you'd
    want your children to possess.

    Farmers have been modifying their barnyard animals' genetic
    frequencies for thousands of years through selective breeding. One of
    the many interesting aspects of the new book [51]Animals in
    Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
    by animal sciences professor [52]Temple Grandin, who is America's best
    known [53]autistic, is how she documents some of the weird things that
    go wrong when breeders emphasize a single genetic trait.

    For example, don't expect [54]Lassie to figure out anymore that the
    way to rescue little [55]Timmy from the quicksand is by extending a
    long branch to him. Since WWII, collie breeders have been trying to
    give collies narrower and narrower snouts because they look so darn
    elegant that way. Unfortunately, they made their skulls so narrow
    there is no room left for brains. Collies are now dumb as a box of

    Side effects can be more unpredictable and even nastier. In recent
    years, as chicken ranchers have bred for more meat on their birds,
    they've had to [56]deal with an unprecedented rash of rooster sex
    murderers who kill hens.

    In humans, [57]Cochran has pointed out that [58]torsion dystonia, a
    hereditary illness which puts about 10 percent of its sufferers in
    wheelchairs at an early age, may be a side effect of intense selection
    pressure for higher IQ. In one study, the average IQ of patients was

    So parents may not rush into genetic engineering their children quite
    as fast as the futurists expect.

    Futurists--being smart, nerdy guys--generally assume that the most
    desirable human trait is IQ.

    But we can look right now at racial groups with higher average IQs,
    such as [59]Northeast Asians and [60]Ashkenazis, to get some idea of
    the social impact of high IQ.

    Higher IQ groups tend to exhibit positive social patterns such as low
    crime rates and high wealth creation rates. Unfortunately, what Amy
    Chua calls "[61]market dominant minorities" haven't always been looked
    upon favorably by the masses. Top IQ researcher Linda Gottfredson
    points out in her important article "[62]What If the Hereditarian
    Hypothesis Is True?" that "Virtually all the victim groups of genocide
    in the 20th century had relatively high average levels of achievement
    (e.g., German Jews, educated Cambodians, Russian Kulaks, Armenians in
    Turkey, Ibos in Nigeria)."

    Among average people, it is not at all clear that intelligence is
    considered as desirable as desirability. I suspect that most parents
    would choose attractiveness over intelligence for their children,
    because being able to outcompete your peers for the best spouse is so
    important, especially in making grandchildren, that looks matter

    Heinlein might have been the first thinker to explore some of the

    In his prescient 1942 novel about a genetically engineered future,
    [63]Beyond This Horizon, the world is populated by fairly intelligent
    but extremely sexy people straight out of a Hollywood casting call.

    The men are manly and the ladies lovely. The men are so macho, in
    fact, that no gentleman would be seen without his gun, and dueling has
    made a major comeback. The strict code of etiquette that limits when
    these square-jawed bravos are allowed to blast away at each other
    inspired Heinlein's famous remark, [64]"An armed society is a polite

    As insightful as the best science fiction writers are, we can learn
    the pros and cons of a higher testosterone future society right now by
    examining the social behavior of current racial groups with higher
    levels of [65]male hormones and [66]stronger male hormone receptors,
    such as [67]African-Americans.

    But, that kind of research on naturally occurring genetic diversity is
    [68]largely taboo. Instead, we will probably walk blindly into the era
    of genetic engineering.

    Good luck to us all. We're going to need it.

    [Steve Sailer [[69]email him], is founder of the Human Biodiversity
    Institute and [70]movie critic for [71]The American Conservative. His
    website [72]www.iSteve.com features site-exclusive commentaries.]


   14. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/index.htm
   17. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/index.htm
   18. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/human_history.htm
   19. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/pioneer.htm
   20. http://www.morethanhuman.org/
   21. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0767918436/vdare
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   27. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1579549543/vdare
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   30. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=1&chapter=9&version=9
   31. http://www.isteve.com/Future-of-Human-Nature.htm
   32. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/wide_eyed.htm
   33. http://www.vdare.com/francis/hispanic_vote.htm
   34. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/050125_stomping.htm
   35. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/barone_bet.htm
   36. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/hispanic_vote.htm
   37. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/bell_curve_10yr.htm
   38. http://www.vdare.com/pb/bell_curve_10yrs.htm
   39. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/medicine_and_race.htm
   40. http://www.reason.com/rb/rb102704.shtml
   41. http://www.heinleinsociety.org/
   43. http://www.quantumbalancing.com/news/new_germ_theory.htm
   45. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/pinker_progress.htm
   46. http://www.bioethics.gov/transcripts/march03/session3.html
   47. http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,991939,00.html
   49. http://www.kfcplainfield.com/tv/doogie.html
   50. http://nootropics.com/smartmice/smartpain.html
   51. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0743247698/vdare
   52. http://www.grandin.com/
   54. http://www.lassie.net/
   57. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/cochran/overclocking.html
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   59. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/lynn_and_flynn.htm
   60. http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/dialogue.htm
   61. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/market_dominant.htm
   63. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0451166760/vdare
   64. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robertahe100989.html
   66. http://www.phoenix5.org/articles/LATimesBlacks0212.html
   67. http://www.isteve.com/mjelegy.htm
   68. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/jonah_whales.htm
   69. mailto:steveslr at aol.com
   70. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/iSteve-movies/
   71. http://www.amconmag.com/
   72. http://www.isteve.com/

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