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Eugenics??

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An interesting item in our local newspaper. Dr. Jim Flynn is emeritus professor at Otago University, and an expert on the interaction of class, race and IQ. While he argues vigorously that race is not a determinant of IQ, he says that class can be.

 

He feels that, in a society that is socially mobile (meaning anyone with ability can rise into higher socio-economic levels), those of lower IQ remain in the 'lower' classes, while those of high IQ rise into higher socio-economic classes.

 

He notes that women in the lower classes produce more babies than those in higher. The following figues relate to New Zealand, but are probably similar for other western countries.

Women with Ph.D.s have, on average 1.4 babies.

Women with basic tertiary degress have, on average, 1.85 babies

Women with no higher education have, on average, 2.57 babies.

 

Jim Flynn says that, at age 73, he is too old to worry about offending anyone. He claims that, on current performance, the children of New Zealand will get measurably dumber over 3 to 4 generations.

 

He points out that the babies of educated women are generally wanted, while those of women with no higher education are often accidents. He suggests that the solution is to develop a new form of contraception - one in which all women are essentially rendered infertile, but can take a treatment to become fertile. Thus, all babies will be wanted. He also says that this system would result in a smaller proportion of new babies being to lower IQ parents, and result in the average IQ over the next few generations remaining reasonably high.

 

Flynn was asked if this was a form of eugenics. He says no, and points out that the current situation is a form of negative eugenics.

 

I would be interested in other people's opinions.

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This assumes that IQ is genetic and not determined by education, which may or may not be entirely true.

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To the Cap'n.

 

This is not my field of expertise, but my general reading would suggest that intelligence, and hence IQ, are probably a blend of genetics and learning.

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This assumes that IQ is genetic and not determined by education, which may or may not be entirely true.
I don't think it does really.

 

An interesting item in our local newspaper. Dr. Jim Flynn is emeritus professor at Otago University, and an expert on the interaction of class, race and IQ. While he argues vigorously that race is not a determinant of IQ, he says that class can be.

 

Class can be a determinant of measurable IQ due to differences in environment, activities, social interactions and socially acquired beliefs and reasoning skills from infancy, and of subsequent opportunities later in life.

 

Also, people of lower SES (socioeconomic status) do tend to have more children. This is not restricted to New Zealand and has been measured in the UK too. There are probably data on this for the USA and other countries also.

 

However, these are just observations and not value judgements, so as far as they go, I don't see much to be offended about. I think all Dr. Flynn is doing there is stating the probable combined effect of these observations.

 

Having said that, I think his proposed solution; the idea of rendering all women infertile by default, is unethical and unworkable. The kicker is that any solution is likely to be unethical because it's likely to involve the artificial and almost certainly legislative manipulation of human reproduction rates. The first thing to go therefore would be the principle of informed consent.

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Galton, the father of eugenics, made the same point (about the higher fertility of "the lower classes") in 1883 IIRC. Since then the standards of living and of education have increased more or less continuously.

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Having said that, I think his proposed solution; the idea of rendering all women infertile by default, is unethical and unworkable. The kicker is that any solution is likely to be unethical because it's likely to involve the artificial and almost certainly legislative manipulation of human reproduction rates. The first thing to go therefore would be the principle of informed consent.

 

what about if taking the pill were voluntary? that'd work, i think.

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His eugenics method based on IQ and default women sterilization is incredibly idiot.

 

1) Most women would never accept default sterilization voluntarily.

 

2) IQ is an unreliable method for measuring intelligence because humans actually have, at least, seven types of intelligence ( Howard Gardner ). And worst, IQ does not even measure creativity and intuition which despite being unconscious processes, they can be, sometimes, far more powerful than reason and memory alone. These two unconscious mental capabilities are responsible for great scientific theories, breakthroughs and outstanding inventions.

 

3) People like him and the idiotic Nazis are those who give a bad name to eugenics and undermine the possibility of wise, humane and scientific eugenics.

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I would be interested in other people's opinions.

 

This is a very interesting scenario you have found Lance, and I wish I could devote more time to it today.

 

One thing that does occur immediately is that this programme of sterilisation by default is just too darned inviting for misuse or even abuse. Who holds the keys to the fertility cabinet?

 

Flynn makes the astute point that all babies would be wanted, but he omits the issue of 'wanted by whom?'

What happens when a would-be mother puts in her B1-A form and it comes back with "DENIED" stamped on it?

 

I don't think any democratic state would implement this kind of system, but it is of course still an interesting academic model.

 

I would be interested to know if Flynn provided any grounds for not considering it eugenics, because it does seem quite eugenicky.

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is the proposal actually to steralise, say, at birth and reverse it upon request? or is the suggestion that, rather than going and buying some condoms or going on the pill, you should take a steralising pill that just rendered you permenently (but reversably) infertile? either way, fearing abuse of the situation is somewhat slippery-sloapy.

 

also, this'd probably be easyer to do to males: something like a reversable vasectomy.

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either way, fearing abuse of the situation is somewhat slippery-sloapy.

Stating "this system could be misused" is not a slippery slope. If anything, it is a truism.

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most systems could be abused. what i mean was that theres a huge gulf between suggesting we steralise people and give them the unsteraliser on demand, and the suggestion that we choose who gets unsteralised; i don't think this system neccesarily would end up being abused.

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It's a bit hard to know what Flynn was actually talking about with his concept of making women infertile early, and reversing the infertility only when a baby is wanted. This is because such a technology does not yet exist. Until it does, anything we say is hypothetical.

 

I think he envisaged something like the pill, taken only in a single treatment, and reversed by another pill. However, the final solution, if we ever get one, could be surgical, immunological, or otherwise. I do not think anything based on coertion would be acceptable in our society. However, if a treatment rendered young women infertile at, say, 13 years of age, and was reversed on demand, it would still have the desired effect.

 

I would guess that, even with this treatment, women of lower soceo-economic class would still have more babies, but the difference would be less.

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most systems could be abused. what i mean was that theres a huge gulf between suggesting we steralise people and give them the unsteraliser on demand, and the suggestion that we choose who gets unsteralised; i don't think this system neccesarily would end up being abused.

The only "gulf" here is the fact that Flynn neglects to mention (or at least in the OP) what body he thinks would administrate this process, which is a fairly minor detail.

 

the final solution

Was that deliberate? :D

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what about if taking the pill were voluntary? that'd work, i think.
Well, taking a contraceptive pill is voluntary now isn't it? Yet the problem exists in spite of it.

 

I think if you introduced a contraceptive that only had to be taken once (as opposed to every day) and had to be chemically reversed, many might think it a real boon in terms of convenience, but I suspect that those who would choose it would be the same people who have chosen to take currently available contraceptive measures. So, you may have made contraception more convenient (which would be a good thing, especially if males could take it too), but you won't have addressed the problem of skewed birth-rate demographics.

 

most systems could be abused. what i mean was that theres a huge gulf between suggesting we steralise people and give them the unsteraliser on demand, and the suggestion that we choose who gets unsteralised; i don't think this system neccesarily would end up being abused.
That's still an abuse. In this case the abuse exists not in the biased selecction of who gets unsterilized, but in sterilizing people without their informed consent in the first place .

 

I agree with Sayonara, once you have a population that is sterile by default, then abuse has to happen for the main problem to be addressed. If the unsterilizer is given on demand, then people will demand it and you won't have addressed the inital problem, although you will have eliminated accidental pregnancies (not a bad thing in itself).

 

To address the problem, you'd have to introduce quota breeding (so many births alowed from each SES stratum), which, given that the problem is an inbalance in the first place, means that people from certain strata will have their applications denied. That abuse would have to happen or the exercise would be completely useless as the solution to that problem.

 

It's a bit hard to know what Flynn was actually talking about with his concept of making women infertile early, and reversing the infertility only when a baby is wanted. This is because such a technology does not yet exist. Until it does, anything we say is hypothetical.
That's often the case here :)

 

However, an interesting point is that Flynn talks only about women: "He suggests that the solution is to develop a new form of contraception - one in which all women are essentially rendered infertile, but can take a treatment to become fertile.". Exactly why he targets only women is another discussion, but I think if such a hypothetical solution was to be considered, then for many reasons it would be more practical to concentrate on men.

 

The practical problems of reversable sterilization are a lot simpler in males, and has in fact have already been solved (see here).

 

Males are at least as responsible for unwanted pregnancies as women, and are generally much more likely to engage in 'hit and run' sex than women anyway (it's the male biologial imperative to spread their genes).

 

However, the ethical issues still apply.

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I can see a problem in concentrating on men, as opposed to women. I know a guy who is married. Some years ago he had a vasectomy. He told me that, afterwards, his success with extramarital sex increased dramatically. Men are often quite keen on having lots of sex with lots of women. The women involved are more likely to cooperate if they think the guy is sterile.

 

Imagine that all males were rendered infertile at puberty. They would then probably enjoy more sex than such guys enjoy today, since the gals would not have so much to fear. Now imagine that these guys get married, and decide (with their wives) to become unsterile, so they can have kids. The 'other women' who share sex with them might rather embarassingly find themselves pregnant. If those women are married, that means lots of sudden divorces from husbands who know themselves to be sterile.

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That's still an abuse. In this case the abuse exists not in the biased selecction of who gets unsterilized, but in sterilizing people without their informed consent in the first place .

 

is it actually suggested that they be steralised without their consent? I could see it being something you are encouraged to do when you're, say, 16.

 

I agree with Sayonara, once you have a population that is sterile by default, then abuse has to happen for the main problem to be addressed. If the unsterilizer is given on demand, then people will demand it and you won't have addressed the inital problem, although you will have eliminated accidental pregnancies (not a bad thing in itself).

 

To address the problem, you'd have to introduce quota breeding (so many births alowed from each SES stratum), which, given that the problem is an inbalance in the first place, means that people from certain strata will have their applications denied. That abuse would have to happen or the exercise would be completely useless as the solution to that problem.

 

the argument is that poor people have more accidental births, not more intentional births, so there'd be no need for a quota in order to address the issue of poor people 'outbreeding' non-poor people; simply lowering the accidental birth-rate would be enough.

 

anyhoo, the same argument could be applied to catholics (with their adversion to contraseptives), and it's not as if catholics have out-bread non-catholics yet.

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is it actually suggested that they be steralised without their consent? I could see it being something you are encouraged to do when you're, say, 16.

It's an implicit requirement.

 

Either everyone is sterilised, or the system cannot work.

 

 

anyhoo, the same argument could be applied to catholics (with their adversion to contraseptives), and it's not as if catholics have out-bread non-catholics yet.

An individual can change their faith, or disobey it. It's much harder to secede from a government-imposed programme that might well start at birth.

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The best eugenics is to correct the genes that cause low intelligence ( and other low mental capabilities ) and genetic diseases in everybody’s gametal cells (before even people are born ) and during three or four generations all reproduction should be done under control of genetic engineering laboratories ( though no-reproductive sex would still be free ). Everybody should donate some of their gametal cells ( espermatozoids or eggs ) wich would be tagged with personal identification and would be frozen in gametal banks. There, defective genes would be replaced, artificial fecundation would be made between partner's gametes, and then the corrected eggs would be implanted back in the women uterus.

 

After that, all people of the new generations would be intelligent, creative ( though still with different talents and personalities ) and free from genetic diseases and also would receive superior education so people could return to natural reproduction again.

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Galton, the father of eugenics, made the same point (about the higher fertility of "the lower classes") in 1883 IIRC. Since then the standards of living and of education have increased more or less continuously.
You make a good point (sorry I missed it first time around). Yes, the trend has existed for a long time. In the 19th century, infant mortality was very high (somewhere around 300-500 per 1,000 live births, depending where you look). Whilst all social classes were affected, the distribution was uneven and infant mortality was a lot higher in the poorer families. The increased fertility of the poorer families could be viewed as a compensatory mechanism: increased numbers of pregnancies = increased probability of one or two surviving.

 

However, since the 19th century, the demographic distribution of infant mortality rates has changed. With the increase in education, standards of living, health and health care that you point out, infant mortality has reduced significantly and is still dropping (it reduced by another two-thirds since 1950 down to around 4.3-5 per 1,000 live births in the developed world), but the SES imbalance in birth rates has not changed so much (there is possibly a social mechanism at work here, i.e. coming from a larger family may increase the desire to produce a large family).

 

the argument is that poor people have more accidental births, not more intentional births, so there'd be no need for a quota in order to address the issue of poor people 'outbreeding' non-poor people; simply lowering the accidental birth-rate would be enough.
Possibly, but there is a social trend for poorer families to be larger anyway, even without accidental pregnancies (it must be the pregnancy that is accidental rather than the birth. Most women get some warning :) ). I don't think it's stictly a dichotomy between 'accidental' or 'planned' anyway. There is a laissez-faire approach too; not strictly planned, but cool (and wanted) if it happens.

 

I can see a problem in concentrating on men, as opposed to women. I know a guy who is married. Some years ago he had a vasectomy. He told me that, afterwards, his success with extramarital sex increased dramatically. Men are often quite keen on having lots of sex with lots of women. The women involved are more likely to cooperate if they think the guy is sterile.
It's true that men are quite keen on spreading themselves around (their biological imperitive), and it's possible that many women might be more willing if the man was sterile, although I think there's probably more to it than that. But overall, your point depends on the assumption that all married men are cheats (which is possible I suppose, but I don't have data on it).

 

Imagine that all males were rendered infertile at puberty. They would then probably enjoy more sex than such guys enjoy today, since the gals would not have so much to fear. Now imagine that these guys get married, and decide (with their wives) to become unsterile, so they can have kids. The 'other women' who share sex with them might rather embarassingly find themselves pregnant. If those women are married, that means lots of sudden divorces from husbands who know themselves to be sterile.
You seem to have an even more cynical view of people than I do. Hats off to ya! :D .

 

However, your point implies that men are really, really dumb and would be working under the assumption that their unsterilization only works with their wives, or that they have absolutely no self control or personal means to adapt their behaviour to their new condition whatsoever.

 

I think it more likely that a man who had been unsterilized would be aware of the implications of the procedure and would work to avoid the negative ramifications such as a sudden influx of paternity suits or severe beatings by cuckolded husbands. After all, the man would have made the conscious choice to be made fertile and I think most men would have some idea of what that means.

 

 

Anyway, back to the original point. I think, if it ever came to it, that the only way to avoid abuses would be to impose a blanket restriction on number of children per family. Giving everybody an equal chance would address any imbalance but would not favour (or disadvantage) any particular group.

 

However, that too is pretty tricky. If you were to apply blanket sterilization, there is still the ethical issue of informed consent. If you don't apply sterilization, how do you enforce the restriction? For example, if there are financial penalties e.g. the state will only provide financial support/assistance for x number of children per family (e.g. tax breaks, family credit or whatever), then you are favouring the rich who don't need such support and thus disadvantaging the poorer.

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Glider said :

 

However, your point implies that men are really, really dumb and would be working under the assumption that their unsterilization only works with their wives

 

Not at all. Just that males love sex, and preferably with lots of women. If it is available, they aint gonna say no! Males have been cavalier with pregancy risks since when Adam wore short pants. It's not likely to change any time soon.

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That's true, but a lot of their energies are also channelled into not getting caught. Leaving a trail of spawn does not further that objective.

 

Apart from a few exceptions, I would hazzard that sex with as many partners as possible usually happens before marriage. Once married (in itself, an overt gesture of commitment), a conscious decision to become fertile would result from the decision to commit to starting a family which, it would be resonable to suppose, would be accompanied by the decision not to continue shagging anything with a pulse (or at least, not to get caught doing so).

 

So, it's reasonable to suppose that the greatest risk of accidental pregnancy comes from unmarried males.

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