HDTV and Eugenics

The idea of eugenics is still intriguing to me.

Though it existed centuries ago, as echoed in the writings of Plato, the child-rearing practices of the Spartans, and even the doctrines of certain religions [since marrying a woman outside of your tribe automatically makes her “evil”], British scientist Sir Francis Galton coined the term in 1883, with the etymology of the word coming to our English tongue from Greek origins: eugenes “well-born, of good stock,” from eu– “good” + genos “birth” (see genus).

(http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=eugenics)

Though we now associate the word with horrible instances of human hatred (genocide, slavery, sterilization, the Holocaust, etc.), when it was invented, “eugenics” was meant to denote positive changes to our species, an improvement of our human race. Granted, when these memes entered the minds of misguided leaders and were consequently misinterpreted and misused, they did result in drastic and terrible consequences, which we now know as “negative eugenics.”

But, if implemented properly – meaning that we retain the general idea of eugenics as a means for positive social and biological change, but discard the past methods of implementation – would an advancement of the human race be so bad?

Granted, through the advancement of biology, we currently know this following idea to be false, as Galton wrote in 1869 in the introduction to his book Hereditary Genius:

“I propose to show in this book that a man’s natural abilities are derived by inheritance, under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world. Consequently, as it is easy, notwithstanding those limitations, to obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running, or of doing anything else, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations.”

***

I realize that I am speaking from the stance and mindset of a white American male, but at the same time, I also realize that I probably would have been “removed” from the gene pool if I had lived in the height of the eugenics era. My family belonged to what eugenicists termed as “feeble-minded” or “degenerates,” better known as poor, yet uneducated immigrants.

(Interesting, amateur website: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring02/holland/Splash.htm)

Though eugenics termed itself as a science, it was really more of a “pseudo-science” that based most of its theories on social statistics, the measurements of “superior” human traits, and hypotheses yet confirmed. To be honest, it claimed to do more scientifically than and arise from more scientific bases than it actually did.

"I'm here to talk about my roots..."

Yet, with what we have learned scientifically, ethically, and socially since the rise of eugenics, could we possibly transform the entirety of our human race into superior beings? With genetic engineering, prosthetic limbs/metallic humans (previously known only as cyborgs in science fiction novels), and the advancement of our pharmaceuticals, could a “new, man-made, self-made evolution” happen?

If done “properly” (whatever that may mean), this practice could become as commonly accepted as any other new scientific advancement. Consider the television. When TV’s hit the consumer market, only the very wealthy could afford them. As the invention became more popular and more affordable, the science behind it improved and so did the quality of the product, and competitors appeared to offer more variety of the same product. Fast forward to today. We have progressed from black-and-white TV’s with small screens to LCD TV’s in wall-encompassing sizes. Though this perspective may be idyllic, couldn’t we also make ourselves, our at least the future generations of us, better?

Something "sharper," the result of man-made evolution

It’s time to create the “high definition” version of humanity.

Something to think about.

–Justin Barisich

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~ by justin.barisich on February 15, 2010.

3 Responses to “HDTV and Eugenics”

  1. […] Transhumanist Breeding Program I’d like to talk a little about eugenics, extending Justin Barisich’s discussion, and incorporating a few of my previously-discussed views on transhumanism.  So, the ancient […]

  2. How do we determine (and who actually determines) what traits will bring about advancement of the human race? We have evolution and natural selection to do this in a slow gradual manner.

  3. I too, have wondered about the possible positive implications of eugenics. Obviously I don’t intend to implement a new holocaust, but it’s a wonderful concept to ponder striving to produce a more successful, intelligent human race.

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