Thursday, 5 June 2014

The inevitability of significant dysgenic change - the impossibility (both practical and moral) of a planned eugenic solution



sykes.1 said...

Is not "dysgenic" a term of anti-science and superstition? Human populations adapt to their environment, and there have been huge changes in that environment over the last 10,000 years: the agricultural revolution (still not completed), the industrial revolution (again, just beginning for most populations) and the welfare state (barely 2 to 3 generations old in the West and nonexistent elsewhere).

So, how are smaller, weaker bodies and smaller, less intelligent brains dysgenic? They are adaptations to the new environments. We don't like them because our Romantic proclivities, but Natural Selection is only interested in differential reproduction in the current environment, and selection tracks that environment?

Bruce Charlton said...

@sykes - I agree with what you say - and dysgenic is just a shorthand term which has been used for quite a long time.

But strictly, in a neutral sense, natural selection is just what happens; and natural selection since 1800 has been increasingly powerful against the more intelligent, the more conscientious, the non-religious and so on - or, it could equally be said that natural selection currently favours those with higher fertility *for any reason* - whereas in the past sufficient fertility could be assumed, and natural selection favoured lowered (childhood) mortality rates.

But, there is an objective sense in which it does make sense to call this process 'dysgenic' in that currently selection is amplifying disease states, by increasing genetic damage - functional impairment (short of that which prevents fertility) is being increased generation upon generation - simply because functional impairment stops people being able to restrict their own fertility.

Perhaps an analogy could be when a population is almost wiped-out by a new disease, but a few survive because they have a non-fatal disease which leads to immunity.

So, for example, the various red blood cell diseases that lead to resistance to falciform malaria - such as sickle cell anaemia of thalassaemia. When there is a high mortality from disease, then almost any kind of resistance can be favoured - and there can be an all-round decline in functionality of other types.

The modern situation is equivalent: secularism, contraception, abortion - these combine to make a pathology which is such a powerful selection pressure on humans, that almost anything hereditary - including non-lethal diseases of many types - but which provide immunity to this 'disease complex', is being amplified in the 'average' human genome.