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(Scientific American)   Scientific American apologizes for getting carried away by science fanboyism   (scientificamerican.com) divider line 33
    More: Ironic, Ada Juke, eugenics, heredity, protozoa, MIT Media Lab, epileptics, Newtonian, social order  
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5139 clicks; posted to Geek » on 02 Dec 2012 at 5:39 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-02 05:07:22 PM
Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.

I bet Scientific American really could have used a private screening of Jurassic Park.
 
2012-12-02 05:44:42 PM
Approves... 
media.tumblr.com
 
2012-12-02 05:45:00 PM

Lsherm: Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.


"When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you've had your technical success." --- Robert Oppenheimer
 
2012-12-02 05:55:20 PM

RaisingKane: Lsherm: Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.

"When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you've had your technical success." --- Robert Oppenheimer


Thankfully our scientific ethics have progressed quite a bit since then. I'm sure we still fall short of perfection here and there, too, but it's worlds better than it used to be.
 
2012-12-02 05:57:51 PM
images2.wikia.nocookie.net 

Would like a word.
 
2012-12-02 05:58:04 PM
i224.photobucket.com
 
2012-12-02 06:00:13 PM

RaisingKane: Lsherm: Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.

"When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you've had your technical success." --- Robert Oppenheimer


We do what we must because we can
 
2012-12-02 06:15:55 PM
Just to start the flame war1:

I am in okay with sterilising mentally retarded people on a few conditions:
1. It has to be hereditary (brain injury doesn't count)
2. They cannot take care of themselves (includes daily living and providing an income)

Let us be honest, no one really wants to take care of a 50 year old person who is mentally 7. No one wants to see two mentally retarded persons have a kid, who will most likely suffer the same issues. Even if the kid wins the genetic lottery we're still stuck with a child who will be more mature than his/her parents after only 7 years.

/Nothing wrong with aborting a liability
//1) We Are Right
 
2012-12-02 06:22:32 PM
0.tqn.com
/too obscure
 
2012-12-02 06:53:30 PM
Oh, look. Another gobal warming th--

Ah. Eugenics. Well, it's not like it doesn't appeal to the same audience...
 
2012-12-02 06:57:45 PM

Prussian_Roulette: Oh, look. Another gobal warming th--


I lost an "L" and failed the spelling test. Looks like sterilization for me....
 
2012-12-02 06:59:25 PM

DerAppie: Just to start the flame war1:

I am in okay with sterilising mentally retarded people on a few conditions:
1. It has to be hereditary (brain injury doesn't count)
2. They cannot take care of themselves (includes daily living and providing an income)

Let us be honest, no one really wants to take care of a 50 year old person who is mentally 7. No one wants to see two mentally retarded persons have a kid, who will most likely suffer the same issues. Even if the kid wins the genetic lottery we're still stuck with a child who will be more mature than his/her parents after only 7 years.

/Nothing wrong with aborting a liability
//1) We Are Right


I know of no purely genetic conditions that result in life-crippling mental retardation that does not also render the patient naturally sterile. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

The great problem with eugenics was not the science behind it, but the complete inability to define the "ideal" human being to the satisfaction of a supermajority of people. Hell, we can't define when a person's life begins.

Also problematic, of course, is accidentally reinforcing bad traits as well as good ones. See: dalmatians, golden retrievers, greyhounds, beagles...
 
2012-12-02 07:25:40 PM

LazarusLong42: DerAppie: Just to start the flame war1:

I am in okay with sterilising mentally retarded people on a few conditions:
1. It has to be hereditary (brain injury doesn't count)
2. They cannot take care of themselves (includes daily living and providing an income)

Let us be honest, no one really wants to take care of a 50 year old person who is mentally 7. No one wants to see two mentally retarded persons have a kid, who will most likely suffer the same issues. Even if the kid wins the genetic lottery we're still stuck with a child who will be more mature than his/her parents after only 7 years.

/Nothing wrong with aborting a liability
//1) We Are Right

I know of no purely genetic conditions that result in life-crippling mental retardation that does not also render the patient naturally sterile. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

The great problem with eugenics was not the science behind it, but the complete inability to define the "ideal" human being to the satisfaction of a supermajority of people. Hell, we can't define when a person's life begins.

Also problematic, of course, is accidentally reinforcing bad traits as well as good ones. See: dalmatians, golden retrievers, greyhounds, beagles...


Fragile X is heritable, as is PKU, if not diagnosed and treated at birth. Probably there are others, but none spring to mind.

On a different note, I have a cousin who was left blind, deaf, and severely mentally retarded following an accident when she was a baby. She has the physical and mental capabilities of a baby of about 6-7 months old. She's able to eat, but requires feeding. She can't walk, talk, or communicate her wants or needs at al, other than spitting food out that she doesn't like, or opening her mouth for more when she's fed something she likes.

She actually did have a hysterectomy for medical reasons when she was a pre-teen, but if it hadn't been medically indicated, should she have been sterilized, seeing as her condition isn't genetic?
 
2012-12-02 07:41:06 PM

Prussian_Roulette: Prussian_Roulette: Oh, look. Another gobal Goebbels warmning th--

I lost an "L" and failed the spelling test. Looks like sterilization for me....


Corrected for spelling and relevance.
 
2012-12-02 07:45:45 PM

Lsherm: Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.

I bet Scientific American really could have used a private screening of Jurassic Park.


Ethics are drag to the supercar of Science; a necessary evil to make sure your wheels don't start spinning so fast you break something.
 
2012-12-02 08:20:19 PM

Jedekai: Lsherm: Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.

I bet Scientific American really could have used a private screening of Jurassic Park.

Ethics are drag to the supercar of Science; a necessary evil to make sure your wheels don't start spinning so fast you break something.


Unfortunately, we aren't very good at listening to the ethicists much of the time. And when an ethicist in the US or Western Europe cringes at something, one in China gives it a big thumbs up. I'm sure that it works the other way too, at times. There are some things that should be settled before the science is attempted.

Tl;dr We're going to break something.
 
2012-12-02 09:16:43 PM
When will they apologize for their getting fooled by global warming pseudoscience?
 
2012-12-02 09:39:57 PM
I don't know if that counts as eugenics, but at least two couples I know decided recently to have an abortion after screening the embryo and being told there are such and such risks of such and such disease developing. Risks, mind you, not disease.

Also, when I was a kid we were told that with the help of genetic engineering we'll get tastier stuff. Instead, we got stuff that tastes a lot worse, but survives when sprayed with shiat that tends to kill everything else in the neighborhood.
 
2012-12-02 10:19:42 PM

WelldeadLink: When will they apologize for their getting fooled by global warming pseudoscience?


-2/10
 
2012-12-02 10:27:45 PM
I think Indiana was the first state to pass a eugenics law. Indiana University was at the forefront of that research at the time. Their eugenics law survived into the '70s.

I knew a sweet older man, probably in his 50's. He was epileptic. That was enough to get him labeled as mentally deficient. His family got him declared mentally incompetent to handle his own affairs when he was still a child and he was sterilized by the state. As an epileptic he can't hold a drivers license, but he also can't get a job without his guardian signing off on it, or recieve funds without going through his guardian.

It was frustrating to hear his story. He's perfectly smart and he'd never be declared incompetent by a court today. But because he was "defective" he was largely cut out of education and has never been able to do anything without someone else's permission. It's the only life he's experienced and he doesn't seem resentful about it.

Eugenics was about controlling breeding, but the legal framework for it seems to have encompassed far more than just that, and it touched people that for whatever reason seemed off.

To some extent this still happens. I know a quadrapolegic gay man whose family successfully gained guardianship because he was unmarried. The ship him off from one "therapy" camp to another to try to "cure" his homosexuality. Eugenics isn't something dead and in the past, and it is not just about sterility. It's about controlling people deemed to be different in an unacceptable way.
 
2012-12-02 10:50:11 PM

Lsherm: Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.

I bet Scientific American really could have used a private screening of Jurassic Park.


Nice broad brush you've got there. I'm sure there's not a single ethical person among the thousands upon thousands of scientists in the world, and I'm sure you're much smarter than them.
 
2012-12-02 10:55:53 PM

Barakku: I'm sure there's not a single ethical person among the thousands upon thousands of scientists in the world, and I'm sure you're much smarter than them.



It's not a matter of smarts, but of expertise. To quote Richard Feynmann: "I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy - and when he talks about a nonscientific matter, he will sound as naive as anyone untrained in the matter.

I think Lsherm's point is that scientists may know science, but they are not specialists an ethics. For that, you need an ethicist.
 
2012-12-02 11:37:10 PM

Lsherm:

I bet Scientific American really could have used a private screening of Jurassic Park.


..because this is the penultimate moral tale of technology gone wrong?

you made me lol.
 
2012-12-03 12:48:57 AM
I don't think Eugenics has the right idea. You shouldn't prevent the worst from breeding, you should require the best to breed. Mutations and such always pop up, so the gene pool can't be "cleansed" of bad traits without considerable difficulty, but you can select for positive traits.

African slaves were selected and bred to be big and strong and now they're phenomenal atheletes. You can see that humans can be bred in the span of about 300 years, with just a vague plan. If we really put our society to it we could have a population of intelligent and empathetic individuals in a few centuries, and the world would be a better place. if we were draconian about it and used gene modification we could do it in less.

Ethical? Depends how you spin it. Necessary? It might be the only thing that preserves our species. There are too many ways for us to kill each other now (or for the universe to kill us), we have to get better or we will literally die trying.
 
2012-12-03 12:49:08 AM

LazarusLong42: DerAppie: Just to start the flame war1:

I am in okay with sterilising mentally retarded people on a few conditions:
1. It has to be hereditary (brain injury doesn't count)
2. They cannot take care of themselves (includes daily living and providing an income)

Let us be honest, no one really wants to take care of a 50 year old person who is mentally 7. No one wants to see two mentally retarded persons have a kid, who will most likely suffer the same issues. Even if the kid wins the genetic lottery we're still stuck with a child who will be more mature than his/her parents after only 7 years.

/Nothing wrong with aborting a liability
//1) We Are Right

I know of no purely genetic conditions that result in life-crippling mental retardation that does not also render the patient naturally sterile. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

The great problem with eugenics was not the science behind it, but the complete inability to define the "ideal" human being to the satisfaction of a supermajority of people. Hell, we can't define when a person's life begins.

Also problematic, of course, is accidentally reinforcing bad traits as well as good ones. See: dalmatians, golden retrievers, greyhounds, beagles...


Spoken like a proper modern Progressive giving homage to his Progressive forbears.
 
2012-12-03 12:54:20 AM

LasersHurt: RaisingKane: Lsherm: Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.

"When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you've had your technical success." --- Robert Oppenheimer

Thankfully our scientific ethics have progressed quite a bit since then. I'm sure we still fall short of perfection here and there, too, but it's worlds better than it used to be.


You need to read up on Oppenheimer. He was a champion of the ethical use of atomic energy and had his security clearance revoked as a result of activities opposing nuclear proliferation. And the discoveries he pioneered were predicted and subjected to ethical scrutiny long before they were used.
 
2012-12-03 07:50:49 AM

Haliburton Cummings: Lsherm:

I bet Scientific American really could have used a private screening of Jurassic Park.

..because this is the penultimate moral tale of technology gone wrong?

you made me lol.


The penultimate tale, eh? What's the ultimate?

/you made me lol, too
 
2012-12-03 08:52:21 AM
The only good thing I can say about all of this is eugenics, contrary to what I believed, was firmly rooted in Germany. We Americans may have refined it, trumpeted it and encouraged the Nazis further down that road but Germans were down with eugenics before it rose to such heights in America.
 
2012-12-03 10:43:32 AM

BolloxReader: I think Indiana was the first state to pass a eugenics law. Indiana University was at the forefront of that research at the time. Their eugenics law survived into the '70s.

I knew a sweet older man, probably in his 50's. He was epileptic. That was enough to get him labeled as mentally deficient. His family got him declared mentally incompetent to handle his own affairs when he was still a child and he was sterilized by the state. As an epileptic he can't hold a drivers license, but he also can't get a job without his guardian signing off on it, or recieve funds without going through his guardian.

It was frustrating to hear his story. He's perfectly smart and he'd never be declared incompetent by a court today. But because he was "defective" he was largely cut out of education and has never been able to do anything without someone else's permission. It's the only life he's experienced and he doesn't seem resentful about it.

Eugenics was about controlling breeding, but the legal framework for it seems to have encompassed far more than just that, and it touched people that for whatever reason seemed off.


If this was due to an Indiana law, and his only problem with epillepsy, couldn't he have just left Indiana at some point in his adult life?
 
2012-12-03 11:16:05 AM

dfacto: African slaves were selected and bred to be big and strong and now they're phenomenal atheletes. You can see that humans can be bred in the span of about 300 years, with just a vague plan. If we really put our society to it we could have a population of intelligent and empathetic individuals in a few centuries, and the world would be a better place. if we were draconian about it and used gene modification we could do it in less.


I had no idea Jimmy the Greek was a Farker. The world is full of surprises!
 
2012-12-03 03:55:45 PM
If eugenics worked, athletes and beautiful women would have little superbabies, not kids with birth defects and hereditary diseases. Also, two parents who couldn't blow their noses if brains were dynamite would always have idiot kids, but some have smart kids in spite of themselves.
 
2012-12-03 05:55:33 PM

dfacto: [racist remarks about black athletes]


There is no evidence that US slave owners engaged in selective breeding where say the "best" 5% of male slaves fathered 90% of slave children - a practice well known from animal husbandry.

I am surprised it appears that no cultures, not even the Spartans, Ottomans, or Soviets, used such a husbandry approach,

The horror of 20th century eugenics was that it engaged in negative eugenics where undesirable people were kept from breeding by sterilization or being killed. Slave owners however really couldn't use castration to keep their lesser males from breeding because castrati did not make for strong manual laborers.

These days there is a lot of positive eugenics among those seeking sperm or egg donors. For example see Ivy League sperm: Do you have it?, though there is little evidence that using sperm from "superior people" produces superior children - the whole problem of regression towards the mean.
 
2012-12-04 08:37:04 PM

Barakku: Lsherm: Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

This is why ethicists are necessary, because scientists don't really care if they should do something, just that they can do something.

I bet Scientific American really could have used a private screening of Jurassic Park.

Nice broad brush you've got there. I'm sure there's not a single ethical person among the thousands upon thousands of scientists in the world, and I'm sure you're much smarter than them.


It was actually just a set-up for a lame Jurassic Park joke. I'm sure there are plenty of ethical scientists, but it never hurts to have a specialist. Especially for the weaker psuedo-sciences, like psychology. Otherwise homosexuality would still be considered a mental illness.
 
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