Post by El Castor Post by islander
Jeff and I have been arguing for years about the controversial 1994 book
*The Bell Curve* and Hernstein and Murray's opinions on intelligence and
class structure. These arguments usually stray into the question of
whether or not intelligence is inherited or influenced by the
environment, a nature vs. nurture argument. Hernstein and Murray
contend that blacks statistically have a mean IQ that is 15 points below
the mean for the whole population and "is a better predictor of many
personal outcomes including financial income, job performance, birth out
of wedlock, and involvement in crime than an individual's parental
socioeconomic status." They also suggest that this difference between a
"cognitive elite" and people with lower intelligence should be used to
shape public policy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve
Let me take this argument in a totally different direction by removing
race from the argument.
Should we, for example, define programs where people of statistically
lower IQ be given special consideration in their lives as pertains to
financial income, job performance, birth out of wedlock, and involvement
in crime? An example closer to positions that Jeff has argued might
include preventing the immigration of people who compete for jobs
requiring manual skills and lower intelligence?
Where would this lead us? Is a society better off if we acknowledge a
class structure including one class for which we have low expectations
and another class who can be expected to be the most successful, the
movers and shakers, the most innovative and the most beneficial to
society? Should we design our schools to give this latter class the
best and most expensive education? Should we decide to emphasize manual
skills and sports for those for whom we have lower expectations. Should
our housing, our jobs, our sexual reproduction policies, our law
enforcement be designed to favor policies that reflect these differences?
If only we had some way of determining who would fall into each category
at birth! Wouldn't we engineer our society to favor those who deserve
the best housing, the higher incomes, the most creative, and the most
likely to not engage in crime? If only we could tell at birth, wouldn't
we favor those who are more intelligent, even if that was at the expense
of those for whom we have lower expectations? Are we justified in
discriminating against them?
Is that a world that we want?
How far would we expect this distinction
to take us regarding our deeply held beliefs in human rights? Haven't
we seen this before?
*Margaret Atwood coined the word "ustopian" by combining the words
utopia and dystopia.
In the not too distant future we will be able to genetically engineer
our reproductive process to eliminate genetic disease and produce
healthier, more intelligent offspring. Those children of the future
will no doubt still be unequal in many respects, but radical
inequality should be greatly reduced or eliminated. This process will
be costly and may initially be available only to the very rich. Should
it be limited to the rich? Absolutely not, and I hope it never is.
On the other hand, science at this very moment is cloning horses,
exact duplicates, and has been for ten years. Ethics aside, cloning of
humans is just as possible and could produce a society of absolute
uniformity and equality. Should that be a goal?
But for now, in the year 2020, the reality is that human biology is by
it's nature highly unequal. Homo sapiens were not all cast from the
same mold and that is not going to change in the lifetime of any
member of this group.
For a conservative, your vision of a possible future faces a tough
uphill battle unless the Republican party changes dramatically. I'm
sure that you will agree that there is a big difference between
uniformity and equality. Personally, I have the same concerns about
cloning that I have about GMO. We know from evolution that it is
diversity that protects species from extinction. For example, the
effort to optimize yield of grain species results in a narrowing of our
dependence, raising risk that this important food supply is threatened
by a single disease. Without genetic diversity, our ability to recover
is limited by availability of seed stock that exhibits resistance to the
disease. There are many other examples of this in biology. Are you
prepared to expect that we can develop alternative genetic pools in time
to avoid a pandemic?
Then, there is the motive to control markets in an increasing
non-competitive corporate world. Consider the case of Monsanto,
criticized for selling seed stock that produces grain that cannot
reproduce. This assures that farmers become captive to an increasingly
narrow source of seed. 80% of the corn seed market is owned by only 4
companies, for example. This problem is most pronounced in developing
countries where reliance on native seed stock is reduced as farmers
increasingly dependent upon one or a few companies. The opportunity for
monopolistic practice is too tempting to ignore, IMV. (Of course there
is a valid reason that Monsanto and the other dominant companies attempt
to market only annual seeds.) There is also a reason that we maintain
native seed stocks as insurance against unanticipated consequences.
If there are risks in genetically engineered species like grains, why
would you expect that there would not be much larger risks in
engineering the much more complex human genome? I'm all for research
into genetic engineering to eliminate disease. After all, isn't that
what we are doing with vaccinations, increasing herd immunity
artificially? But, human nature being what it is, how would you propose
that we assure that genome engineering would not suffer the same market
manipulation that favors free market pricing. We certainly have a
number of recent examples of price manipulation of drugs. Are you
suggesting a strong government regulation to assure that genetic
engineering of humans is available to all? Make it part of Medicare for
All? How very non-conservative of you!
No, I am not in favor of producing a society society of absolute
uniformity, nor do I believe that uniformity would eliminate
discrimination and produce equality. Better, I think, that we value
diversity and work to eliminate the social problems that produce
discrimination and bigotry.