I.) Isn’t human genetics and biology too complicated to practice eugenics safely ?
1) The Jews practiced eugenics, increasing their IQ by 15 points over the population average. They knew nothing about genetics, but their cultural system made sure the most intellectual and the most intelligent had more opportunities to reproduce.[MacDonald, 1994]
2) We have been doing selective breeding on animals since we started domesticating them. People have been selecting for desired traits for centuries without knowing anything about the complexities of genetics, and it worked. Many different breeds with specific personality traits have been created. The problem here is that they did it via inbreeding, which led to an increase in the occurrence of genetic diseases — but more recently animal breeding groups have decided to select without using the inbreeding method (i.e. same process of human eugenics, phenotype selection). The result is that it works, if only less efficiently than it did with in-breeding selection (that is, there is a bit more variation within a breed created this way for the trait for which it is notable — which is not a problem since a decent degree of variation is something we want to keep). Another example is the enhanced longevity of a fruit fly strain created by articial selection. Using phenotype selection for late fertility, in a laboratory at the University of California, Irvine, evolutionary biologist Michael Rose has bred fruit flies that live for 70 to 80 days, nearly twice that of the average fruit fly. Rose first collected eggs laid by middle-aged fruit flies, and let them hatch in isolation. The progeny were then transferred to a communal plexiglass cage to eat, grow and breed under conditions ideal for mating. When they reached advanced ages, the eggs laid by older females and fertilized by older males were again collected and the process was repeated all over again. After 15 generations, the new fruit fly had nearly twice the life span of the average fruit fly. Since these early experiments, even better results have been attained by selecting for other characteristics, such as ability to resist starvation.
3) Some ancient civilizations used negative eugenics. Sparta, one of those who practiced eugenics in selection of physical strength and health, has been one of the most militarily powerful city-states of ancient times. And, despite the fact that these civilizations have been practicing eugenics, nothing negative or destructive happened to them because of that — quite the opposite.
4) Whether our eugenic program will work or not will itself be part of natural selection. In other words, if human genetics really is so complicated that eugenic programs won’t work, then our project will be "eliminated" in some way or another, and natural selection will have accomplished its work, favoring the evolutionary laisser-faireists, culturally and perhaps even genetically. Group selection at work.
That selection can be achieved by simply selecting according to the phenotypical desired trait is not questioned by anybody as far as I know, especially when it is a multifactorial, polygenic trait — such as intelligence.
True, recessive single-gene diseases that "keep hiding in everybody’s genotype" cannot truly be once-and-for-all eliminated from the gene pool, but their incidence CAN be reduced within our gene pool. According to John Armstrong, of the "Canine Diversity Project" — an animal breeding project –: "Though it is not practical to eliminate all deleterious mutation, the incidence of affected individuals may be significantly reduced through a combination of intelligent breeding practice and the development of DNA tests."
And it makes sense to anyone with at least the most basic knowledge of population genetics. I don’t see why this wouldn’t apply to humans, and I would even less see why multifactorial traits could not be selected for in the same way.
II.) Doesn’t this remind you of Nazism ? of Brave New World ?
What these questions remind me of is Pavlov.
Prometheism is Prometheism, and has no link with, ideological or otherwise — nor is it inspired from — anything else, be it Nazis, Brave New World, or sects.
Nazism did support its own kind of eugenics — a racial, coercive, nation-wide, negative(i.e. it focused on removing undesired traits) eugenics. But the goals and methods of Promethean eugenics differ. We will not use forced sterilization or anything like that, we do not care for "racial purity" and blue eyes, and we want to enhance intellect — something the Nazis didn’t care about. In fact, Hitler banned IQ testing because he thought it was a Jewish invention. As for Nazi atrocities, most of them (Jewish persecution, for example) had nothing to do with eugenics. In fact, a sound eugenic system would tend to SUPPORT Jews and their high IQ…
Brave New World is a world centered on artificial pleasures and an arbitrary creations of different classes — from Epsilons to Alphas. First of all, we don’t want to create a Utopia in any way, we only want to enhance ourselves as much as we can, with no pre-conceived future world in mind. Our goal is relative and gradual, not absolute. As for the classes, we don’t believe in voluntarily creating dumb people to become our slaves. We want to gradually raise and equalize (upward) intelligence and creativity, so Prometheans will consists only of "Alphas", and individually free Alphas. Individual freedom is another concept that Prometheism advocates, while the Brave New World of Huxley tries to eliminate it.
III.) Don’t IQ tests fail to distinguish between the effects of genetics and environment ? How can you know, then, if there is higher genetic IQ in an individual than in another ?
Since IQ is not merely genetic, it is true that a part of your IQ reflects purely environmental influences. However, this is a moot point.
First, statistics will make sure that "injustices" — i.e. scores in which one is higher than another one because of environmental effects — are averaged out. Sure, at the individual level you will have some cases where one should have been considered with higher reproductive value because his high score is more substantially due to genetics than another one, but as a group this will tend to average out.
Second, as generations pass, the genes passed on will go through several different environments as they go through several different bodies, and those that are passed on because they happened to be favored by the environment, will tend to be "cleansed". In other words, with generations the effects of environment will be statistically averaged out, just like in one generation the effect of the environment tends to be averaged out.
Third, environment generally goes in the direction of "genetic IQ". That is, high IQ people will surround themselves with a more intellectually nourishing environment. This is why there is broad heritability: it is the heritability that comes from the interaction of genetics with environment as in a kind of feedback. And the broad heritability of ‘g’ is mostly estimated at around .80 to as high as the test-retest correlation around .93 ! In other words, most of what the ‘g’-loaded IQ scores reflect is essentially genetic ability AND the better environment that results from better genetics. At best you could attribute .10 of the variation to totally environmental factors such as pre-natal environment.
When comparing two individuals, this slight uncertainty is indeed a problem. But when acting on an entire group, this is far from being a problem: it will at worst only slightly reduce the efficiency of eugenics.
IV.) By what right do you decide that less intelligent people, or people with "genetic defects" are somehow less valuable ?
We do not decide that they are less valuable, we decide that we want their traits to decrease in frequency from our Promethean gene pool. We have an objective — to increase intellect and creativity — and this is going to be achieved by reducing the occurrence of undesired traits and increasing the occurrence of the desired traits. We do not make value judgments about the individuals in question, we only want some of their traits to either be reduced or increased for the benefit of future generations.
As for the case of "genetic defects"(hereditary diseases), it is obviously something we want to see less often in the future generations, and therefore it is a trait we select against — not because we believe that the individuals who possess them are "worthless", but because they suffer from them and we do not want to pass on this suffering.
I think we have a right, as a group, to decide which traits we want to see enhanced and which traits we want to see removed from our future gene pool. If we were imposing this on others, then I would understand you ethical concerns. But we are not: we are voluntarily choosing this, as willing members of Prometheism.
V.) Isn’t intelligence or IQ a learned ability ?
No. Its basis is genetic. Environment can affect it, but even then it is mostly nutrition and things such as serious sensory deprivation that can affect it. Every experiment that has attempted to raise IQ (mostly on children) by practice and learning gave either one of two results: the gains were lost after a few years or when reaching mid-adolescence, or the gains were only on one type of test and did not transfer to the common component of IQ tests (‘g’) or other tests. In other words, the individuals had been "taught to the test", but their intelligence had not increased.
Also, Professor Plomin has found the first gene, located on chromosome six, that influences intelligence.
VI.) Weren’t these things proven to be a complete failure ?
No. On the contrary, "these things" were proven to be a complete success.
See answer to question 1.
VII.) Isn’t eugenics unethical ?
It depends on how it is applied. Not practicing eugenics is unethical.
If you are talking about state-imposed coercive eugenics, then maybe. It becomes a never-ending debate on individual versus collective rights, and happiness of the masses versus happiness of future generations.
If you are talking about what Prometheism supports — voluntary eugenics applied to a private consenting group — then no it isn’t, and I don’t see why it would be.
VIII.) In a high-IQ society, who will do the dishes, flip hamburgers ? Who will be the janitor ?
1) The occupational level is relative to the population’s mean. So in a high-IQ society, one can suppose that it is still the left part of the bell curve that will have the lower-skill jobs.
2) Having a high IQ doesn’t make you incapable of enjoying simple things, just like having a low IQ doesn’t make you love washing dishes.
3) As the IQ of the population rises, the need for simpler jobs will diminish as the rise in technologically-oriented professions replaces these by automated processes. The intellectual/technological solution to problems will increasingly be chosen instead of the physical solution — where possible. Besides, the economy leads us in this direction with "automatization" and "digitalization", which suits the right part of the bell curve’s interests: it is more efficient. So this is actually a welcome development for a society with a rising IQ, a society with an intellect that progresses along with its culture and technology.
4) As for low-skill jobs, there will always be students who need them…
5) The economy will adapt to anything: even if it happens that low-skill jobs are in higher demand, then people who do such jobs will be better paid…
IX.) What if this FAQ didn’t answer my question ?
If you have more questions, specifically about eugenics, you can view Marian Van Court’s Q & A on eugenics, not affiliated with the Church of Prometheus, at http://www.eugenics.net/papers/Q&a.html. And while you’re at it, be sure to visit the Future Generations website at http://www.eugenics.net.
If that still doesn’t answer your question, you can join our discussion group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/prometheism-pgroup and ask.