Wednesday’s Words of Worry

Wednesday, 12 March, 2008

While looking for information on eugenics, I came across a very scary article. It is titled ‘State-sponsored Liberal Eugenics has Just Begun‘, and it appears to have been written two years ago by Drs C. Ben Mitchell and C. Christopher Hook, fellows at the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future. It is about how the NIH funded Max Mehlman for a two year program investigating human uses of genetic enhancement (meaning that that report should be out sometime this year – I’ll blog about it if I can find it). It’s worth a read for how irrational it is, but the conclusion is the best, and so I’m quoting it for the W’s Ws of W today.

[O]ne day, we will all wake up in the movie “GATTACA,” victims of a coercive tyranny, not necessarily government imposed or enforced, but a nightmare nevertheless. This is the world of laissez-faire eugenics, the world Mehlman et al., and apparently the NIH, wants to create. Worse, future generations will inherit the whirlwind we created, the victims of our ambitions and inability to say “no.” This grant does not merely cross a moral line in the sand, it uses your tax dollars and ours to explode the wise brick wall ten-feet wide that has historically and clearly proclaimed, “healing, not enhancement,” turning it to rubble.. So much for “liberal” government.

It’s complete nonsense though.

  • Coercion by advertising and public pressure does not constitute a “coercive tyranny”, unless we view the number of teenagers buying iPods as proof of some kind of peer-based oppression.
  • Genetic enhancement may constitute a nightmare for some, but not for me. I don’t at all understand how anyone could possibly have a ‘nightmare’ about other people giving their children better health, better lifespans and better bodies. Wouldn’t the exact opposite (hurting kids, killing kids, disabling kids) be a nightmare?
  • Our children always inherit what we create, be it a “whirlwind” or a minor breeze. This is not an argument against changing if it is for the best interests of those same children. Else, the children will look back with disdain at our willingness to refuse them all the benefits we could have offered them through genetic enhancement.
  • The authors are obviously delusional, because there is no “brick wall ten-feet wide” between therapy and enhancement. It’s more than likely a little crack in the pavement that we routinely step over when we vaccinate our children (enhancing their immunity), drink coffee (enhancing our alertness) and perform cosmetic surgery (enhancing our appearance).

Still, it’s worrying that some people are this scared, because I wonder what they will do to my bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom if they think like this.


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