Embryo Eugenics: Proactive Natural Selection

As medicine begins to move forward faster than our shared ability to comprehend the implications and dangers of science moderating morality, we are left alone to fend for our private values precisely as they are being publicly challenged by the preferences and prejudices a brave new round of Eugenics embodying the embryo stage of reproduction in a new movement I call “Proactive Natural Selection.”

Brand New World

Eugenics has a terrible history as a way of cleansing the general population from the burdens of birth defects and mental disabilities.

Brave New World

In 1921 the first formal Eugenics theory was set in place in publication and conference. Eugenics then supported a scientific method for separating and dividing people based on their genetic makeup — who they were mysteriously born to be — and not their promise in society. The Nazis were especially enamored with Eugenics because it gave them a scientific reasoning to support their want to create a superior Race of people. Mengele’s Twins Study is a morbid example of Eugenics in action.

Brave New World

There are some who claim Eugenics can detect the criminal mind so the naughty child who becomes inebriated in crime as an adult can be identified and “fixed” in childhood via surgery to eradicate the criminal tendency before it is too late and society is harmed.

Brave New World

When a married couple wants their child to be like them and to help prolong their genetic code in the evolution of history, are they practicing Eugenics — via folklore — if they choose a certain sexual position to try to conceive a boy?

Lie down after sex and stay there for a while. Supposedly that gives the boy sperm a chance to beat the girl sperm to the egg. Make love standing up. Try the rear-entry position. Focus on his pleasure — if the male partner climaxes first, supposedly you’re guaranteed a boy. Give in to seduction — if the man is the one to suggest some baby-making, you’ll get a boy. Gals, sleep to the left of your partner.

The next wave in Eugenics is deciding fates and selecting traits in the embryo stage — before there is the forever consequence of a live birth to burden the world — or the opportunity to disappoint parents hoping for a certain genetic code and being devastated by the perceived loss of their wishes and dreams in the birth of a child incapable of, or unwilling to carry on, the precious parental genetic code of beauty and intelligence. “Proactive Natural Selection” reflects the current practice of the conflict between morality and medicine:

In medicine and (clinical) genetics preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a considered as a very early form of prenatal diagnosis. Its main advantage is that it avoids selective pregnancy termination as the method ensures a pregnancy free of the disease under consideration. PGD thus is an adjunct to assisted reproductive technology, and requires in vitro fertilization (IVF) to obtain oocytes or embryos for evaluation.

Should we encourage embryonic cancer screening?

If cancer is detected, or considered high risk later in life, should that embryo be ended before it begins a life of burden on society and heartbreak in the family?

People with a family history of breast and bowel cancer will be allowed to screen embryos for the genes that raise the risk of those diseases, the Government’s fertility watchdog ruled yesterday.The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will permit doctors to select embyros free from three genes that can cause tumours, even though they confer only an 80 per cent risk of diseases that will not develop until adulthood. The decision to approve the procedure, known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), expands the range of disorders for which it is available.

The diagnosis was originally licensed only for genes invariably causing disease, such as cystic fibrosis, although in 2004 the HFEA also agreed to permit screening for a gene carrying a 90 per cent risk of bowel cancer.

Once you open the Pandora’s Box of testing embryos you cannot stop the expansion and the depth of the testing and the decision making:

In its early days, PGD targeted fatal childhood diseases such as Tay-Sachs. But a new survey of U.S. fertility clinics, scheduled for release this week by the Genetics and Public Policy Center, suggests the line is moving.Among clinics that offer PGD, 28 percent have used it to target genes whose associated diseases don’t strike until adulthood. The list includes Alzheimer’s, which afflicts some people in their 30s but usually arrives much later.

According to next month’s Journal of Clinical Oncology, PGD has also been used to wipe out colon cancers that don’t develop until age 45 to 55 and are treatable, if detected early, with survival rates of 90 percent.

From The Daily Mail:

The new screening technique is based on Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), originally developed in the late 1980s to identify genetic defects and chromosomal abnormalities in embryos before they are transferred to the womb.The latest advances in automated computer analysis and genetic probes mean it is now possible to screen for virtually all currently identified genetic disorders. They include Fragile X Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Diamond Blackfan, Krabbe’s disease, Sickle Cell, Tay-Sachs disease and Marfan Syndrome.

So far six patients have had the £6,000 technique now being provided by Dr Simon Fishel and his team at the Nottingham-based CARE Fertility – half of them with NHS funding. Dr Fishel said: ”This is the beginning of a genetic diagnostics revolution.

”A technique capable of detecting at least 200 genetic disorders can now be offered to British couples at risk of having a seriously sick baby, often with a terminal illness.

The Daily Mail also reports the next, logical, incredible, step in the process:

The Church of England has broken with tradition dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die. Christians have long argued that life should preserved at all costs – but a bishop representing the national church has now sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.And the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who is the vice chair of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions. The shock new policy from the church has caused outrage among the disabled.

Do Down Syndrome children add to the forward movement of the human condition or deny it?

I have a distant cousin who is “retarded” as they called it 60 years ago when she was born and for all of those 60 years she has just existed in a chair every day combing her hair with one hand and aimlessly paging through the Sears catalog with the other. Is she a human being? Yes. Is she human? No.I would have a difficult time raising a Down Syndrome child though I would do the job if the situation required my compliance. I believe life is explored through intellect and knowing “out of the box” your child would never progress beyond an elementary level no matter how hard they tried and you tried would be hard to accept. Does that make me an elitist? Probably. Is genetic testing moral?

Should science have a conscience? Must we demand more for our children than thumbing through the Sears catalog for 60 years? I always tell people “we are not our bodies” but I do believe we are our minds and to have an incapacitated mind from square one is something rough to abide.

If science and technology allow the moral wiggle room to identify broken embryos that might not survive on their own and produce good things for the betterment of society, isn’t it also science’s duty to allow the opposite to survive as well?

If a Deaf couple wants to continue their genetic gene pool of congenital Deafness and their embryo is demonstrated to be Hearing, shouldn’t that Deaf couple have the same opportunity to abort the Hearing child and try again for a Deaf embryo?

Several U.S. fertility clinics admit they’ve helped couples deliberately select defective embryos. According to a new survey report, “Some prospective parents have sought [preimplantation genetic diagnosis] to select an embryo for the presence of a particular disease or disability, such as deafness, in order that the child would share that characteristic with the parents.Three percent of IVF-PGD clinics report having provided PGD to couples who seek to use PGD in this manner.” Since 1) the United States has more than 400 fertility clinics, 2) more than two-thirds that answered the survey offer PGD, and 3) some clinics that have done it may not have admitted it, the best guess is that at least eight U.S. clinics have done it. Old fear: designer babies. New fear: deformer babies. (For Human Nature’s take, including more findings from the survey, click here.)

If we create genetic markers for “Proactive Natural Selection” then we better be prepared to confront the who and the what influencing these decisions of life, and more often, death:

Wanting to have children who follow in one’s footsteps is an understandable desire. But a coming article in the journal Fertility and Sterility offers a fascinating glimpse into how far some parents may go to ensure that their children stay in their world — by intentionally choosing malfunctioning genes that produce disabilities like deafness or dwarfism.The article reviews the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., a process in which embryos are created in a test tube and their DNA is analyzed before being transferred to a woman’s uterus. In this manner, embryos destined to have, for example, cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s disease can be excluded, and only healthy embryos implanted.

Yet Susannah A. Baruch and colleagues at the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University recently surveyed 190 American P.G.D. clinics, and found that 3 percent reported having intentionally used P.G.D. “to select an embryo for the presence of a disability.”

In other words, some parents had the painful and expensive fertility procedure for the express purpose of having children with a defective gene. It turns out that some mothers and fathers don’t view certain genetic conditions as disabilities but as a way to enter into a rich, shared culture.

It’s tempting to see this practice as an alarming trend; for example, the online magazine Slate called it “the deliberate crippling of children.” Controlling a child’s genetic makeup, even to preserve what some would consider a disease, is the latest tactic of parents in an increasingly globalized society where identity seems besieged and in need of aggressive preservation. Traditionally, cultures were perpetuated through assortative mating, with intermarriage among the like-minded and the like-appearing.

Where do we go from here? Science and technology will only get smarter and better and provide even harder, conflicting choices when it comes to creating and sustaining life. “Designer Babies” are possible today because of scientific study and great leaps in treating disease using gene therapy and stem cells. You can pick you child’s gender, eye color and — if you so desire — a disability or not. What will tomorrow provide?

Are we within the generation of the Super Baby that will live twice as long as us and have perfect eyesight, outstanding musculature and incredible intelligence? Are we creating a new Master Race that will be healthier, stronger and smarter than the sum of us? Has Mengele’s twisted attempt to quantify life through death now been re-contorted and reborn under the scientific guise of Embryo Eugenics and Proactive Natural Selection?

41 comments

  • This is fascinating. Clearly, people have always employed any means available to influence the traits of their offspring. Prior to reading your post, I did not realize that technology had so accelerated our trip down this slippery slope that parents could now select ‘defects’ for their progeny. Although there is often debate about the ethics of using scientific advances for these purposes, there seems to be no way to stop the train.

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  • Hi David,
    Have you ever watched the movie Gattaca?

    The film presents a biopunk vision of a society driven by liberal eugenics. Children of the middle and upper classes are “designer babies”, genetically engineered in-vitro to be the optimal recombination of their parents’ genetic material.

    I’m against eugenics from my moral and utilitarian point of view.
    My moral viewpoint objects to eugenics because is a case where people begin to play the role of God in deciding who gets to live and who doesn’t. Natural law holds that all people are created equal, even if they aren’t always equal. To start sorting people into dehumanizing categories so that they can be discarded violates this fundamental law. If one life isn’t valuable, then all lives are no longer valuable, unless they are deemed to be so by the ruling class or powers in control.
    On the utilitarian angle:
    If we start allowing people to create “designer babies,” I can forsee a society that will be extremely boring as everyone tries to create a whole society of “cute kids.”
    The way our society views beauty and social grace, will will have a nightmarish land filled with young women who look like pop stars.
    Think of classrooms filled with young Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan dopplegangers. For the male specimens, we will likely have a society filled with George Clooney, or if the society completely fails, K-Fed clones.
    To be serious, most of the interesting people in society probably wouldn’t make the first cut if society started to try to build the perfect beasts who would be good looking as well as socially compliant. It is likely that the traits that make people good artists or writers would be bred out of the gene pool as people strove to create a pedigreed child. The disposition toward depression could be zapped. The pain and suffering many great artists feel would be genetically removed. Left in its place would be an individual who is socially compliant and not likely to rock the boat.
    We know that once it is possible to change people’s dispositions genetically, the temptation will be too much not to require that compliant people be produced.
    It’d be a boring place if everyone was the same and there wasn’t any diversity.

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  • Hey icedmocha!
    Welcome to Urban Semiotic and thanks for the great comment!
    We are certainly on the tip of a dangerous “Preference Precipice” but I’m not sure if we haven’t already gone too far one way to be pulled back. The Human Genome has been mapped and with that comes the responsibility to attach meaning and healing for the future of humanity.
    We need to keep asking moral questions and always questioning true intentions as science begins to advance us even further into the future of longer lives and smarter worlds.

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  • Chris!
    Yes, I love the movie Gattaca. I do, however, question the idea of self-sacrifice and suicide portrayed as the altruistic sacrifice waiting for us in the future.
    Here’s the problem with your argument: It works right now but is untenable in the future, and here’s why…
    Throughout the last 100 years or so we have made great strides to proactively treat health issues. We have come out of the Dark Ages of disease by creating vaccines and creating the new idea of the need for “Public Health.”
    With that requirement to not only provide for the welfare of the people, but to clean up the streets, create sewer systems and even quarantine really sick people, we have evolved into a society where we can begin to predict illness enough to create a flu vaccine every year and while that process is imperfect we did not have such a chance to tame the possibility of a global flu pandemic 50 years ago as we can today.
    Vaccines have generally cured polio and smallpox and a wonder of other killing maladies and I know you would not wish those illnesses on anyone and that’s why you support and understand a need for a proactive healthcare system even if there are tradeoffs that are unfriendly to current morality where every life is cherished after the fact of birth.
    I believe if you were presented with a printout of the genetic makeup of an embryo attempting to join your family that revealed severe mental and physical disabilities promising a constant vegetative state you would think hard about terminating the pregnancy and that leads us to the next sticky line: Where do we draw the line?
    How much mental retardation is too much to bear? How much physical disability is enough to disable an entire family spiritually, economically and physically?
    Should the state pay for the birth of a welfare baby that is guaranteed to have congenital heart failure by the age of 8?
    I promise you this “pre-conception” testing will be required by state and federal health agencies and even your insurance companies to make sure no “bad embryos” make it to that stage.
    When your children are ready to have children, they will be presented with a “Fact Sheet” from their primary care provider that will detail their genetic traits and tendencies and, I wager, will not be able to marry or procreate with the love of their life unless the match is a perfect one for creating a healthy baby. If there is a genetic mismatch between a man and a woman they will be able to wed, but will need to be sterilized in order to not burden society with offspring that we know will not be healthy or contribute to the forward movement of society. That process will be a vicious, cyclical, return to the days when people who wanted to be married would have to have a blood test for compatibility first.
    The hard fact about the Nazi studies to accept is that the work was done, but should it be used or not? Should great leaps in medical knowledge come at the expense and suffering of the unwilling wounded and the dead? Mengele did some fascinating experimentation on broken bones and how they heal and how the skin recovers from fire and explosion drama.
    Some argue the damage is already done, so heal the future with what was learned while others argue if research is tainted once with evil intention is must forever be forsaken. The Nazi experiments are still under debate as a major moral issue still looming in medicine 60 years after the fact.
    I don’t think we’ll have lots of Paris and Lohan folk hanging around because more than people love celebrities they love themselves first. We will have clones before we have celebrity imitation babies because that fits the evolutionary need to continue on and carry on your own selfish DNA.
    The problem with replication of people is it will be really expensive so only the rich and powerful will have access. Do we want a society of only the rich and powerful? Is it Social Darwinism at its awful best that the poor and ill and indigent will be wiped off the reproductive face of the earth because they do not have the money for the DNA Down Payment at the local Wal-Mart Clone Lab? Will Bill Gates’ billions have to be redirected from feeding the world to saving the American Middle Class and Working Poor by paying for their clones in order to keep competing on the sliding Evolutionary scale?

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  • I have mixed feelings and emotions about this one and certainly do not have the scientific knowledge to debate the issue at any level.
    I think it is a very slippery slope. One of the most amazing characteristics of the human race is the diversity of humans both in mind and body.
    I am uncomfortable with the idea of *messing* with the gene pool – I am sure we have not thought through all of the consequences.
    The *opportunity cost* is what concerns me.
    I have a nursing friend in the USA who is seriously concerned about the rates of cesarian sections being formed and the long term effects of producing more narrow hipped women, requiring more cesarians and how the percentages of women with child bearing hips are reducing rapidly. One sure way to extinction she calls it.

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  • Hi Nicola!
    I agree our diversity is grand, but hasn’t the history of our evolution to become more and more homogenized? We certainly don’t have the great and distinct tribal lines we used to have dotting the world as recently as a century ago, do we?
    There is a medical value in sameness because it breeds predictability and longer lives so it isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you want to live a longer and healthier life. The abnormal, the outlier, the unique case are all confounders that wrench society and medicine in time-wasting ways that do not benefit the whole of society. Removing those sticky wickets helps all of us survive.
    I can see a benefit to having an “Approved List of Mates” for reproduction because, in a generation or two after the “harshness” of it all dies out, we would begin to see a lot of disease and complications wiped off he face of the earth because imbalances and chance have been removed from the reproductive process and isn’t that the duty of science — to make us better, stronger and more intelligent?
    Our average lifespan today is 70 and a century ago it was 40. Is that medical progress or human damnation? :grin:
    I agree the only way forward with genetics and cloning is to find a way to outlaw it by killing off the illegal attempts are replication BOTH WAYS — to better ensure a certain moral fairness and access to the process.
    Your friend is right! The C-Section has created children who expect to be rescued and “lifted up” their entire lives without struggling on their own to make it through the birth canal.
    We have become a nation of abdominal scars where once we were a nation of life struggling through to wiggle into being on its own.
    We have C-Sections because MDs prefer them — they’re more expensive and safer than vaginal deliveries so the MDs make out like bandits all while lessening their risk of getting sued if something goes wrong.

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  • As the square peg that has never fitted into the round hole – sameness has never appealed to me on any level – athough I can see it makes fiscal sense to find solutions to the *majority* problem.
    Science to me has always been about understanding and using that understanding to make a better society ( note I said better society rather than better human beings).
    The lifespan comment interests me – we may live longer – I worry about the quality of that extra period of life. That twilight zone …
    In a lot of cases it is human progress, and improvement in health of society in general – in other ways it is damnation.

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  • Nicola!
    Have you been a square peg because of your unique anatomy or your personality?
    I’m not arguing for sameness in thought or spirit or personality. I’m arguing that predictability is better than randomness when it comes to longevity of the cellular body as viewed by medicine and science in all forms. We’re almost there and we’re getting closer to it every day in spite of confounders like sickle cell anemia and Alzheimer’s and cancer.
    Medicine is about finding common causes and trying to heal or prevent them before they become uncontrollable and start killing large swatches of people. Prevention requires predictability and we can better guess what will hit us if science can help us gain control over the commonality of what is being treated.
    There is a great responsibility that if you help extend life — that life is worth the longer living and that, too, is a requirement of medicine — to find ways to keep the body and mind health and together for the next magnificent leap to a life expectancy of 120 years and longer.

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  • Hi fred –
    That was a curious read. I would be more inclined to take it seriously if they provided third party sources for fact-checking and references verification.

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  • David- Thanks. So many people say similar things it starts to seem true. Makes sense these guys would cover their tracks. That site was the first listing in Google for Bush + eugenics.

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  • Hi fred –
    Do you have any harder scholarly links for that connection between Bush and eugenics?

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  • In answer to your first question – both !
    I am in favour of a good life – be it 20 , 50 , 70 , 90 years. ( I don’t fancy 120 years myself ) – do we have room and facilities to deal with this aging population – the UK government has already admitted that the current crisis in the UK health system is due to the increase in life expectancy.
    I have a suspicion that human beings have a natrual *sell by date* and that we maybe in danger of pushing that particular envelope too hard.
    I think we should be doing more to address the issues that result in the dreadful life expectancy rates in Zimbabwe – and equalising the life expectancy rates across the world, rather than widening the gap even more.
    Just how close do you get to Brave New World before you stop?

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  • David- Yes-
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Bush
    Please see toward bottom of page, War siezures controversy.” Thanks.

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  • Nicola!
    I love a double answer! :mrgreen:
    I read your touching tribute to your mother and her current life-of-the-mind. I can understand that dealing with a body that fails a mind or a mind that fails a body isn’t good for either and living becomes a quiet torture of being trapped in a circumstance you may not always recognize.
    There are doctors and scientists alike who say there is no good reason why we aren’t already living to 200 years old. We are regenerating all the right things so they just need to find out what is decaying within us that isn’t getting replaced fast enough to keep us from dying.
    I happen to think we’re being cooked alive from all our wireless technology and natural radiation from the earth that we don’t yet fully comprehend like radon and the like — and once you’re cooked you’re done. You can’t really resurrect from that kind of cooking, but freezing is another matter entirely…
    It is anti-evolutionary to worry about those in Zimbabwe (even though we pretend to care) but how many of us do anything on the ground there to help?
    I was in an undergraduate English course and we were studying Mark Twain and talking about how human irony can be awful and stinging.
    Our instructor asked how many of us wanted to help starving children in Africa and, of course, everyone raised their hands. Then he said, “So why are you sitting here talking about Mark Twain?”
    We were there because we were trying to move up the evolutionary hill to better our position for survival. Helping hungry Africans is good for the mind and the soul, but the body suffers in the end.
    Money and power make the rules of the world and set the context of understanding. Breaking through that powerful facade is a challenge we must all meet together every day.

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  • fred –
    Interesting read, but I am not finding the eugenics connection!

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  • David- i guess i count on intuition, subjectivity and the whole Gestalt more than most. Of course these guys would cover their tracks. i just can’t see the lone gunman theory in the Kennedy assassination, although no one has any proof otherwise. Then again no one has any proof that matter exists. It’s all just different ways of seeing things. We each have our own unique vantage point of view.

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  • It’s fun to fantasize and wonder, fred, but without proof or some sort of verifiable connection, it’s all a good mystery tale and not thing stuff of reality.

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  • David- Not to get argumentative, but there are many other ways of seeing, other than the “scientific/rational way,” that might be equally or more valid than the latter, as far out as that may appear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmenides

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  • Hi David,
    The “approved mates” list reminds me of a friend I knew from school who always liked to argue that arranged marriages would be the best way to structure our society. I don’t know if he liked the idea because he found it tough to approach women, or if he thought that having parents and others help select husbands and wives would make better marriages.
    I assume he’d be in favor of having a list of mates. It would take a lot of the guesswork out of producing offspring. :)
    The only problem would be who would be making the list? Do I really have to reproduce with the woman who has all of the Star Trek toys? I’m sure the women would be asking the same question about being assigned a mate who was into growing his back hair. :)
    What if someone gets the short end of the stick? ;) Will they take those types of things into consideration?
    Not to go too far off topic, but the C-section debate is interesting. Our first son was born the natural way. It took a long time and wasn’t fun for my wife. Also, my son had a “conehead” for a little while when he was really young because he had to travel down the birth canal.
    Our second son was determined to be 9 lbs or so before he was born, so the doctor suggested a C-section because she knew it would be a tough birth. We set a date, went to the hospital a couple of hours before the C-section, and got ready for the surgery. About 45 minutes after it started, it was over. My wife always comments on how much she likes it that our second son’s head wasn’t conical after he was born.

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  • Well, fred, my reading of the work you use to make your case that feeling it in your gut and knowing it in your bones in the form of Parmenides-like philosophy is unconvincing. Here’s a quote from the URL you provided:

    Parmenides claimed that the truth cannot be known through sensory perception. Only pure reason (Logos) will result in the understanding of the truth of the world. This is because the perception of things or appearances (the doxa) is deceptive. We may see, for example, tables being made from wood and destroyed, and speak of birth and demise; this belongs to the superficial world of movement and change. But this genesis-and-destruction, as Parmenides emphasizes, is illusory, because the underlying material of which the table is made will still exist after its destruction. What exists must always exist. And we arrive at the knowledge of this underlying, static, and eternal reality (aletheia) through reasoning, not through sense-perception.

    So your claim, “i guess i count on intuition, subjectivity and the whole Gestalt more than most” isn’t helped by Parmenides.
    According to Parmenides, sensory perception does not give you truth — only logic gives you truth and as I have been arguing you need facts to make something truthful beyond your own fantasy and that is echoed most colloquially in the Judge Judy quote I gave you a while back, “If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true” should probably become the new catch-phrase for Parmenides followers!
    We can’t just say thing are true because we feel them or we have a sense about them; if we want influence beyond our own minds, we need to open up our claims to the eyes and minds of others who can either confirm what we believe with facts or disprove what we claim with logic because there are no facts other than belief to set down the thought as truthful and of-the-record.
    We may believe there are Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, but just because we say so and we feel is really, really, really must be true, doesn’t make it factual or logical.

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  • Hi Chris!
    I suppose the “Approved List” would only take genetic problems into account and give you the “best fit” for a mate. You’d probably have a number range, say, 5-9 and you could then marry any woman who had the same 5, 6, 7, 8. 9 range.
    That probably isn’t much less random than the pretend randomization we have today where land, water, culture, religion, skin color and intelligence all artificially and divide us from other likely partners. The “Approved List” would be color-blind and nation-blind and ensure the birth of healthy and strong children to keep us all going in the right direction.
    Ouch! Your condom story link is a hard read! :mrgreen:
    Oh, I know C-Sections are popular! They’re easy! They take all the necessary work out of giving birth all around — and I think that’s sad. The cone shape of your first son’s head is probably the result of some gentle suction applied to his head to help him along his way. The head was meant to bend in babies! The skull is unknitted in that state and the first test of your life is to see if you can modify yourself on a physical level enough to successfully pass through the birth canal. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right! :grin:

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  • Hi David,
    The “cone-head” question is a popular one on all of the baby sites. :)
    The flip side to the eugenics question: Would people who were fine genetic specimens be required to mate? Could someone decide not have children or get married?
    Would there be “stud farms” where the people with the most desirable genetics would be allowed to commingle?
    Would the traditional notions of marriage fall to the wayside as people demanded to be free to select multiple partners with the best genetic makeups?

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  • Chris!
    I think we need to ask your son and wife for a mulligan. Put him back in and do it the right way! :grin:
    I don’t think there will be many “fine genetic” specimens unless we find someone who never gets sick and never dies. As long as no damage can be done on a genetic level, people should be fairly free to reproduce within the reason of the lot number. :grin:
    “Stud Farms?” We call them “Singles Lounges” out here and heck yah, they’ll still be popular as you pick and choose the mate you like best — based on your “Approved List!”
    We don’t want genetic promiscuity, Chris. We want committed people, in marriages, having healthy babies and living to 200.
    No, go prepare your son for his coning!

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  • Hi David,
    I was a little too late on the “Stud Farm” idea:

    Notorious Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss is shooting down reports that former boxing champion Mike Tyson will be the prize “stallion” at her new male escort service. Fleiss, who has started her service ‘Heidi’s Stud Farm’ in Nevada where prostitution is legal, was reported to have asked Tyson to be the “big stallion” on her “farm”.

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  • Harr, Chris! That’s a great story. Why anyone would pay Iron Mike for servicing is just silly. You just know he’d do the job for free! :lol:

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  • Plus, women don’t usually have to seek out the services of “Stud Farms.”
    I wonder if Iron Mike had taken the job if he would have succumbed to pressure to provide services to all who — women and men — might have requested said services and would have been willing to provide adequate consideration for said services? I wonder if Iron Mike considered the possibility that the business model could change at some point in the future to reflect business realities?

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  • I think the whole thing was a hoax upon us, Chris! I think it was Tyson kidding around — he does have a great intellect and a funny sense of humor, but really bad taste in tattoos — and now Ms. Fleiss is paying the Bad PR price. Priceless! She deserves no less.

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  • David- ” Parmenides claimed that the truth cannot be known through sensory perception.”
    “If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true” (Judge Judy).
    These two statements are not in accord.
    Our senses can not be relied on. We must subtract them to perceive. This sounds like paradox, but it is true. The first statement above should be the catch phrase of Parmenides. One can be logical, but not about what one perceives thru the senses. The senses say the American flag is red, white and blue but this is only a fact to the senses.

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  • fred –
    Judge Judy is using “sense” as in “a sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems; a reasonable or comprehensible rationale” and not as in the “five senses.”

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  • David- “Much madness is divinist sense- To a discerning eye;- Much sense the starkest madness.- Tis’ the majority- In this as all prevails- Assent, and you are sane;- Demur,—you’re straight away dangerous- And handled with a chain.” (Emily Dickenson.)”
    i’m with moderation on this one. Midway between Judy and Emily.

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  • fred –
    Less quoting; more dictionary! :mrgreen:

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  • richard yarbrough

    I don’t have time to read every comment and I hope I don’t repeat any others’ feelings. I believe very strongly in capitalism and the private individual freedom it guarantees. I believe the government is here only to protect the individual from force, and to punish perpetrators of force. This asks the question of is there force being used against the embryo and is it a life? I don’t understand all the facets and ramifications of the fetus or embryo, but, I do believe that the individual parent has EXCLUSIVE rights to buy what ever services they wish to achieve the baby of their dreams. The less governmental control over EVERY aspect of our life the better. From my ignorant standpoint I doubt that god would be too displeased if parents choose the strongest embryo to carry through to birth. It would be pleasing to me only if the parents choose a child with genetic disposition to individual freedom above SOCIETY’S needs. All good things come from the individual with a curious and expressive mind and the absolute freedom to pursue their goals. When the government starts to interfere with this freedom by requiring different “voluntary services” or regulations from the individual, capitalism is killed, and along with it our future.
    Embryonic testing should be 100% legal. If the government controls it and regulates it, what free will to do right and wrong do the people have? If you are a Christian, you can’t force a person to do right, their free choice is what saves their soul or destroys it, don’t try to play god and judge your fellow man.
    I 10,000% believe in the free market, and that every individual is smart enough and rational enough to choose their own destiny. However, the more we let public education dumb down the children, the less capable they will be, until finally we will HAVE to ask the government to save us from the very incompetent ones they created.
    I read Capitalism.org recently and had my socialist eyes finally opened to the beauty of capitalism. It is the only just system. Please, read the website if you haven’t before, it is so empowering, especially in a socialist system like ours where we are constantly reinforced with impressions of weakness and incompetence. I am rambling, sorry.

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  • Welcome to Urban Semiotic, richard, and thanks for the provocative comment!

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