Eugenics in The Corner

By Razib Khan | January 4, 2007 11:21 am

Over in The Corner they are talking about eugenics. Of course my friend John Devilshire, I mean, Derbyshire, started it all off.
1) I think Jonah Goldberg is correct that eugenics we do will be not called eugenics, while eugenics which is ethically objectional will be thrown under that term.
2) I think that the “Great Risk Shift” combined with greater discernment powers of medical genomics will make some form of government subsidized health care in the United States pretty inevitable (the short of it is that the middle class will start to get scared and want protection, and what the middle class wants, it eventually gets, so long as the rich aren’t screwed too badly). Government subsidized health care will probably lead to some coercive eugenics and intervention in personal choice, especially as the theoretical power of medicine increases, but so do the potential costs.
3) An important point: though coercive government power will likely eventually back some form of eugenics, only coercive government power would be able to prevent the rapid spread of consumer eugenics. Personal interest is a powerful thing, and no one will want their children “left behind.” Moral suasion won’t do the trick, government power would have to step in to “protect” parents against making eugenical choices.
4) A bizarre thought, if homosexuality is predominantly biological, and if we could predict and “correct” (or abort) this likelihood at the fetal stage I have little doubt that the majority of parents would opt to prevent their child being homosexual. That being said, a minority would not, and I am willing to bet that a hard core of “naturalists,” generally conservative and motivated by deep religious beliefs, would avoid these screens on principle. Not only do I suspect that Down Syndrome children in the future will be born predominantly to religious and social conservatives, but I suspect that a disproportionate number of homosexuals might!


Comments (3)

  1. I agree with most of this but I think you make to much of the potential for ‘coercive government power’ in publicly funded health care. Though I live in Canada now, I have lived in places where health care was entirely private, and it is those private insurers who deployed a broad range of analytical tools, from blood tests to ECG, before allowing me coverage. Similarly, I suspect it will be private insurers apply pressure, through differential rates or witholding coverage, on individuals to implement eugenics based interventions. I think your point 3 to be more persuasive in that governments will worry more about managing demand for consumer diagnostics and gene therapy.

  2. Jason Malloy

    but I suspect that a disproportionate number of homosexuals might!
    Considering the association between birth order effects and homosexuality, this is already very likely the case. Where else are you going to find families with four, five, six, etc, older brothers than among conservative religious people?
    I suspect Orthodox Jews and Mormons have been hitting detectably above their weight in the production of new gays.

  3. Jason Malloy

    . . . and, of course, even without the birth order effects that should still be true.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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