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Adamantium
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22 Feb 2016, 9:30 am

Aristophanes wrote:
Adamantium wrote:
This reductio ad absurdum follows the logic of your argument exactly. It is unworthy.


And yet, if it's so absurd why do you keep coming back to argue?


Because it irks me to see the pro-ignorance, scare mongering position put forward here and it disturbs me to think that some people who visit these pages and don't really know much about the background might be mislead by it.

I have learned that it isn't always futile to challenge bad arguments and when you least expect it, you can do some good by putting forward a good case, so instead of just shrugging and letting it go unchallenged I am arguing my position on this.

AsPartOfMe, I agree with your criticism of eugenics, though I don't think it's true that the American eugenics movement is forgotten. I took University of Minnesota professor Matt McGue's Coursera class in Human Behavioral Genetics and we read heavily about eugenics both in the US and abroad. It isn't possible to study the subject without getting heavily into medical ethics and the eugenicist enthusiasms of many of the early pioneers in this area (e.g., Galton). But it just doesn't apply to this case. No group of people is being removed from the population here.

I think that more knowledge in this area, not less, is the best defense for neurodiversity against the simplistic essentialism that leads to racism and out-group demonization in popular culture. I find it horrifying to see work that may help us to really understand more about the neurology of all our diverse ways of being under attack in this way.


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22 Feb 2016, 10:23 am

Aristophanes wrote:
Eliminating even a single gene from a pool is eugenics-- we are nothing more than the genes we inherit, therefore killing off one entire line is in effect killing off an entire sub-type of person. That being said, who's to say the autistic gene isn't the one that wins out over the long run anyway? If life is a competition as current modes of cultural transmission tell us to believe, then cutting out a competitor in the middle of the race isn't exactly conducive to finding the strongest candidate-- it's more akin to a thrown fight.


This is the part that worries me.

In an ideal world, I would prefer tolerance and accommodation to finding a cure.

I realize that, unfortunately, finding a cure is easier to achieve. Tolerance and accommodation requires learning new patterns of thought and reaction. Finding a cure just involves getting the right information. Neither of them are simple, but one involves the free will and attitudes of billions of people and the other, well, doesn't.

Knowing that, if they find a way to make me into a round peg, I'm going to take the fix. I think most people ultimately would (and that's why, even if it's technically voluntary, it isn't really a choice). That goes down rough. It hurts.

Oh well.

The part that's worrying to me is that these things are in the gene pool for a reason. When it's 1 out of 5000, you can make a case for tragic errors in genetic transmission. You can say what they say about things like Tay-Sachs-- that ONE copy of the gene confers some advantage (I think it was resistance to either TB or anemia, but I'm not going to look it up right now) but two copies creates a problem that needs to be remediated.

When it's 1 out of 54 (or whatever the CDC is saying now-- I think Autism Speaks' study in South Korea was probably pretty close to accurate, something like 1 in 38)?? Or as much as 1 out of 10 (the numbers I've heard for ADHD, which seem to be accurate based on looking at my kids' classmates)??

Things that don't have good reasons to exist don't survive in the gene pool well enough to be present in those numbers. If 3%, or 10%, of the population shows some trait, you HAVE to stop and wonder if it might not have been beneficial at some point in time...

...and therefore if it might not be again.

Bottleneck events happen. They happen all the time. I don't like the idea of monkeying with the genetic diversity that might get the species as a whole through one, and I don't like the idea of basically creating an artificial one by destroying, or editing out, certain traits that we, in our limited vision and limited wisdom, don't currently favor.


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22 Feb 2016, 10:30 am

Adamantium wrote:

AsPartOfMe, I agree with your criticism of eugenics, though I don't think it's true that the American eugenics movement is forgotten. I took University of Minnesota professor Matt McGue's Coursera class in Human Behavioral Genetics and we read heavily about eugenics both in the US and abroad. It isn't possible to study the subject without getting heavily into medical ethics and the eugenicist enthusiasms of many of the early pioneers in this area (e.g., Galton). But it just doesn't apply to this case. No group of people is being removed from the population here.

I think that more knowledge in this area, not less, is the best defense for neurodiversity against the simplistic essentialism that leads to racism and out-group demonization in popular culture. I find it horrifying to see work that may help us to really understand more about the neurology of all our diverse ways of being under attack in this way.


I am thinking of the general public at large not students of Human Behavoiral Genetics college course. It was not and I do not believe even today mentioned in basic elementry through high school history courses. Even back in the 1960's we were taught about slavery and the genocide of native Americans and of course Nazi Eugentics which is still often mentioned. That the Nazis basically learned how to do it from the Americans, that American elites gave financial support to early Nazi efforts, how widely popular Eugenics was amoung leading intellectiuals as well as the general public is not often talked about


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22 Feb 2016, 10:53 am

Adamantium wrote:
Aristophanes wrote:
Adamantium wrote:
This reductio ad absurdum follows the logic of your argument exactly. It is unworthy.


And yet, if it's so absurd why do you keep coming back to argue?


Because it irks me to see the pro-ignorance, scare mongering position put forward here and it disturbs me to think that some people who visit these pages and don't really know much about the background might be mislead by it.

I have learned that it isn't always futile to challenge bad arguments and when you least expect it, you can do some good by putting forward a good case, so instead of just shrugging and letting it go unchallenged I am arguing my position on this.

AsPartOfMe, I agree with your criticism of eugenics, though I don't think it's true that the American eugenics movement is forgotten. I took University of Minnesota professor Matt McGue's Coursera class in Human Behavioral Genetics and we read heavily about eugenics both in the US and abroad. It isn't possible to study the subject without getting heavily into medical ethics and the eugenicist enthusiasms of many of the early pioneers in this area (e.g., Galton). But it just doesn't apply to this case. No group of people is being removed from the population here.

I think that more knowledge in this area, not less, is the best defense for neurodiversity against the simplistic essentialism that leads to racism and out-group demonization in popular culture. I find it horrifying to see work that may help us to really understand more about the neurology of all our diverse ways of being under attack in this way.

Arguing that you can't predict the future is not ignorance, it's just factual whether one likes it or not. You say all evidence points towards a rosy conclusion, yet you're only looking at the science itself, outside of the moral implications of said research-- which is really all this thread is about. Things don't exist in a vacuum, they get out spread and change, and I'm sorry but humans aren't morally capable of using this research yet. I mean in this very thread you've heard people claim they'd do anything, including wiping out the entire pack if need be, for their own narrow interests-- and yet you somehow think humanity is truly capable of harnessing the power of genetics in only positive ways.



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23 Feb 2016, 11:11 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
I am thinking of the general public at large not students of Human Behavoiral Genetics college course. It was not and I do not believe even today mentioned in basic elementry through high school history courses. Even back in the 1960's we were taught about slavery and the genocide of native Americans and of course Nazi Eugentics which is still often mentioned. That the Nazis basically learned how to do it from the Americans, that American elites gave financial support to early Nazi efforts, how widely popular Eugenics was amoung leading intellectiuals as well as the general public is not often talked about


I agree with you. I think it's more than a bit mad that we have museums memorializing the holocaust in New York and at the Smithsonian, but don't have a museum devoted to the eugenics movement. The history should be known by all and exposed in the brightest light possible. That is the best way to ensure the sentiment "never again."

Cold Spring Harbor has this: http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/eugenics/

Aristophanes wrote:
Arguing that you can't predict the future is not ignorance, it's just factual whether one likes it or not.
No one disputes this. A very shabby straw man does not advance your pro-ignorance argument.

Aristophanes wrote:
You say all evidence points towards a rosy conclusion, yet you're only looking at the science itself, outside of the moral implications of said research-- which is really all this thread is about.
I've said nothing of the kind. What I have said is that this specific research does not lead to the dark things you raise fears about. It doesn't have any moral implications related to outcomes that it doesn't lead to. I understand that you assign guilt by association to whole field of molecular genetics and collective guilt to all researchers in this area, but I think that's an irrational position.

Aristophanes wrote:
...you somehow think humanity is truly capable of harnessing the power of genetics in only positive ways.
Again, you ascribe to me a position I have not taken, just as you ascribe motives to the researchers they don't appear to have. People can certainly use knowledge of genetics for bad purposes. But this is true of everything people can do.

That some people may use some knowledge or technology for evil ends is not a good reason to suppress the knowledge or eliminate the technology. Cars kill us by the tens of thousands and are used to facilitate all manner of violent and terrible crime, but we don't ban them altogether because of that and we don't claim that study of traffic deaths or use of vehicles in crime will make us more vulnerable to those risks.

An event in deep space could sterilize the earth, but we would not feel or be safer if we were to ban astronomy or astrophysics. Yet your suggestion that this research is putting us at risk and should not be carried out seems equivalent to me to the idea that we should not study stellar evolution for fear that we may learn of previously unknown vulnerabilities to cosmic events.

If we note that human agency is the key difference between dangers from cosmic events and dangers from technologies, then more knowledge, not less is the way to make good decisions. I submit to you that arguments like these put forward in Nature:
http://www.nature.com/news/don-t-edit-t ... ne-1.17111
http://www.nature.com/news/should-you-e ... es-1.19432

...are best conducted in the light of knowledge and reason, not ignorance and fear. We can see what the other kind of thinking leads to here:
http://www.project-syndicate.org/commen ... ed-2015-02

I don't understand why anyone, even people who are very, very frightened, would want to put forth arguments for ignorance. Ignorance won't keep you safe.


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23 Feb 2016, 1:28 pm

Adamantium wrote:
Aristophanes wrote:
Arguing that you can't predict the future is not ignorance, it's just factual whether one likes it or not.
No one disputes this. A very shabby straw man does not advance your pro-ignorance argument.


Funny, because as I see it you're the ignorant one here. Ignorance is repeating the same mistakes over and over again, such as dumping knowledge humanity obviously isn't ready for yet. A single human, yes, but humanity, no. I'm not against knowledge, I'm against knowledge in the hands of people that don't properly know how to use it, which as you yourself mentioned is inevitable right now. I'm not so cynical though, I think there is a time in the future where humanity can harness this power in purely positive ways, but we don't have the moral framework in place yet: when human morality makes a few more evolutionary steps forward itself then we'll have the proper foundation in place. It's basically short attention span you're arguing: now, now, now, I must have it now! Patience isn't just a virtue, it's also essential for good long term planning. Remember the mistakes you made as a teenager? Well that's actually where human society is at: adolescence. Our scientific and engineering maturity far surpass our moral maturity at this point in time.

Adamantium wrote:
Aristophanes wrote:
You say all evidence points towards a rosy conclusion, yet you're only looking at the science itself, outside of the moral implications of said research-- which is really all this thread is about.
I've said nothing of the kind. What I have said is that this specific research does not lead to the dark things you raise fears about. It doesn't have any moral implications related to outcomes that it doesn't lead to. I understand that you assign guilt by association to whole field of molecular genetics and collective guilt to all researchers in this area, but I think that's an irrational position.

It's not irrational, you may disagree, but it's not irrational. The actions of humanity itself are often irrational, one would be irrational to not take that into account. You're right, this one specific case will not end the world, but it's the furthering down a path of knowledge humans just aren't ready to handle yet on a social level, therefore to me it is not innocuous, it's akin to a trojan horse. This is actually a very common trap humans fall into: one thinks they're so smart that they follow those "smarts" right into a dumb long term decision, read Oppenheimer's diary and you'll get the idea. As for researcher "guilt", sorry but other people don't make a person feel guilty, a person does that on their own-- generally when they know they're doing something wrong and can't lie to themselves about it anymore. I doubt researchers feel any guilt anyhow, in their eyes they see nothing wrong, they're just doing their job and practicing science-- and science isn't dangerous, it's just knowledge. Besides, one usually has to see the consequences of their actions to feel guilt, and it will be a generation or two down the line before the consequences of this era's researchers are known-- that's precisely why it's so easy for them to overlook any dangers, they know they won't have to deal with them.

We disagree on this issue and there's no bridge. I'm bowing out here and leaving you the last word-- I'll read it. Also, I should clarify, I don't think you're stupid even if I said it, I just think you're being really naive about where this is all heading. In the end time will tell, hopefully for the best whatever happens.

edit: quote nightmare.