We need a global guideline for eugenics – urgently

People are currently focusing on Trump and his silly comments, but perhaps they should be focussing on Britain.

A few days ago, British newspaper The Guardian reported about a eugenics meeting that allegedly had been convened in secret, involving someone who has previously advocated child rape. This meeting is supposed to have taken place at University College London and white supremacists supposedly were present at this meeting.

Britain is already purging foreigners and as of roughly 2012 (when Theresa May led the Home Office), has been deliberately creating an increasingly hostile environment for foreigners. The British Home Office has also made clear that it cares little about people’s rights or even about what British courts order it to do. (Many people seem unaware of the large gap between what Theresa May says in public speeches and what she actually does in practice.)

But make no mistake: the British government also considers at least a quarter of its own population as roughly on a par with a rotted banana peel.

I suspect that a large proportion of the British do not vote because a) they believe that they are powerless and that their votes won’t matter and b) they believe that registering to vote will expose them to collection agencies, cold callers and so on hounding them. Why else would abusive governments get voted into power over and over again?

Anyway, I can’t do a thing about that.

I can try to do something about the application of eugenics, however. We urgently need to come up with a global guideline for the application of eugenics. I propose one in the slides below.

Notice that I am running into a conflict here. What about abortion? I could say that we can assign the right not to be discriminated against to zygotes, embryos etc but not the right to life yet. This could create a bridge to current practice (also with a view to the reality that we will stop growing babies in utero in the future).

As I am a feminist, I have to ask myself if I am then assigning the right to life when it suits me and denying it when that right doesn’t suit me.

I am clear about the fact that if we do allow abortion, it must be non-discriminatory. (I think that allowing discrimination in some instances encourages it in other instances.)

I haven’t been able to disentangle women’s rights from the rights of tiny fetuses yet in a way that puts my own preferences to the side and results in a robust principle.

I am hoping that technological developments will overtake me soon and render this point moot, but I will attempt to come up with an idea that can work in the interim. (It’s a good bioethics exercise.)

When I use “enable” with regard to lives “not worth living” in the slides above, I mean it in the sense of enabling someone to flourish and live without constant excessive pain, for example.

7 thoughts on “We need a global guideline for eugenics – urgently

    • Comments such as these nicely illustrate one of my points.

      Notice the veiled death threat in “internet censors must die”?

      Trolls show traits of psychopathy, [academic] research has shown, but that is already evident from their behavior. Going after the friends and relatives of people who have recently died or have gone missing isn’t typical for people with a conscience and we don’t need researchers to tell us that. (Research does a lot more than that, though.)

      There is a major difference between saying hurtful things in a quarrel with a relative, friend or spouse or snapping at people when you’re exhausted on the one hand and deliberately and consistently seeking out people, including strangers, with the purpose of making them feel hurt or afraid on the other hand (which is what this comment probably intended to accomplish).

      Deliberately and consistently aiming to hurt and scare people is probably typical for (severe) psychopathy. Severe psychopathy is relatively rare, thankfully.

      Many psychopaths function fine in society and don’t go around deliberately hurting and scaring people, but some clearly lack the intellectual challenges they need. I suppose that they then get terribly bored. As they may also lack a conscience, and see other humans as systems whose vulnerabilities can be exploited (buttons pressed), they may then turn into anonymous trolls and stalkers, I suppose.

      They’re probably only anonymous because they do not want to get caught. It likely has little to do with shame or embarrassment.

      Isn’t strange, however, that modern societies include periodic check-ups with dentists and doctors for our physical health as part of normal life but has no [standard periodic mental health check-ups for everyone and nor a similar] system that supports people who are mentally non-mainstream?

      Such a system might stop many people with such a non-mainstream mental make-up from ending up convicted of crimes as they might then no longer need the thrill of criminal behavior.

      Of course, that could be very well wishful thinking on my side.

      Also, there seems to be a strong cultural component to these issues. Sadism appears to be an accepted part of British culture, for example. British humor often contains an element of sadism.

      It is, for example, completely normal in British culture to try to make a person believe that the person has cancer or serious kidney disease when she does not, or to throw a bucket of water over a pedestrian passing by, deliberately.

      This is not accepted behavior in Dutch culture, by contrast.

      Some people think that cruelty against animals is always okay. Some think that it is sometimes okay. Some think that cruelty against dogs in China is bad but cruelty against cattle, pigs and chickens in the west isn’t, because in the west, we commonly keep dogs as pets.

      You only have to check out Twitter and for example hear pigs scream in fear and pain when we humans treat them as inanimate objects to turn them into pork or notice the senseless killing of wild animals conducted by DEFRA (to realize how unclear we are about how we as society should treat other sentient beings on the planet).

      So how would a psychopath know that torturing animals is not considered okay when the same kind of cruelty is inflicted on one specific animal instead of on hundreds of anonymous animals?

      Is one better than the other? Is one worse than the other?

      Which of the two, and why?

      [some text replaced]

      It illustrates how thin the line is between accepted behavior and behavior that is universally considered psychopathic and unacceptable.

      How does someone with a problematic non-mainstream mental make-up know what is still okay and what isn’t if society doesn’t offer that person the support he or she needs, the way society also offers support to people who (genuinely) have kidney disease, sinusitis or cancer?

      PS
      For the record, I have been pestered anonymously for nearly ten years by someone who often calls me Ann, and plays with my name in all sorts of ways (including “Diane”, I should add). Local people help him, presumably assuming it’s all good innocent fun, but in the past six months, four bank cards have gone missing in four separate incidents (one of these four cards being the replacement for a card that was stolen), an animal was deliberately killed and another animal deliberately tortured to “get” at me (and also out of some warped sense of envy). These are only a few examples from a barrage of mostly pretty destructive and abusive stuff that’s been going on.

      Is British humour really that vastly different, dear people of Portsmouth?

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      • If you go to the next post, and listen to Abigail Marsh, you’ll learn that psychopaths probably don’t “deliberately scare people” but are simply completely unable to see it when they are scaring people.

        Then the real question may become “why do (some) psychopaths do and say what they do and say” and why do these predominantly seem to be things that scare other people?

        Is that just our impression? Could it be that they actually say and do a lot of things but that we mainly take notice of the things that they do and say that scare us? Does this mean that they need good guidance about what not to (say and) do?

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  1. Im from Minnesota which has been a leader in medicine and health for about a century.
    My post today was in reaction to an article about the formation of the first eugenics society formed here in 1923. The main proponent, Dr. Charles Dight, given the advantage of hindsight becomes compromised by both his genius, and misbeliefs based on utopian faith in science, and fascist leaning-socialism.
    I can understand a scientist becoming enthused at the potential of genetic research to quell some kinds of human suffering. Yet, it breaks my brain when it crosses the line into fascist yearnings to create “thorobred” humans! The man went so far as to send Hitler a letter praising hime for is efforts to “stamp out mental inferiority among the German people.”
    Thanks for your post!

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    • Sadly, we don’t seem to have learned a lot from history. Here in Britain, all foreigners are being branded by the government in a way that isn’t very comforting. Non-indigenous Brits must be feeling the pressure too, along with those in the bottom quarter of the British population, socio-economically speaking.

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