The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

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Tyndmyr
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:34 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I suspect a great deal of unhappiness for those of far above average intellect is simply being stuck in a system designed for much less intelligent people(and probably run by much less intelligent people). A person of average intelligence would probably also dislike living in an institution for the mentally handicapped.
Seriously, is that why I'm unhappy? I never thought about it in quite that way.


*shrug* People like living in an environment that caters to their needs and desires. Intelligence is one such aspect. If you're in an environment oriented towards people either much dumber OR much smarter than you, it can be uncomfortable, as you'll be prone to feeling bored or overwelmed.

This can pose a challenge for educational systems in particular.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Quercus » Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:47 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I suspect a great deal of unhappiness for those of far above average intellect is simply being stuck in a system designed for much less intelligent people(and probably run by much less intelligent people). A person of average intelligence would probably also dislike living in an institution for the mentally handicapped.
Seriously, is that why I'm unhappy? I never thought about it in quite that way.


*shrug* People like living in an environment that caters to their needs and desires. Intelligence is one such aspect. If you're in an environment oriented towards people either much dumber OR much smarter than you, it can be uncomfortable, as you'll be prone to feeling bored or overwelmed.

This can pose a challenge for educational systems in particular.


I'm pretty sure you'd acknowledge this, but I just wanted to point out that in my experience a substantial fraction of unhappiness stems from other causes, even for highly intelligent people. For example I've not noticed a marked increase in the happiness of the people I've known at elite universities (pretty much the definition of an environment run by and for highly intelligent people) compared to intelligent people I've known in the wider world.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:02 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:I'm pretty sure you'd acknowledge this, but I just wanted to point out that in my experience a substantial fraction of unhappiness stems from other causes, even for highly intelligent people. For example I've not noticed a marked increase in the happiness of the people I've known at elite universities (pretty much the definition of an environment run by and for highly intelligent people) compared to intelligent people I've known in the wider world.


It isn't the *only* cause of unhappiness, certainly.

Also, it's worth noting that while it was postulated that intelligence causes unhappiness, the research on this is quite conflicted. Many studies(2005, University of Edinburgh if you want a specific case) find no correlation. Some find less intelligent people to be more likely to be unhappy(http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=3F5F5CCDA3A4E74DE78490BF507F3238.journals?aid=8905934&fileId=S0033291712002139).

In any case, the apparent underlying idea that genetic engineering for intelligence must cause unhappiness is...very poorly supported.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:44 pm UTC

I doubt most people take the link between intelligence and unhappiness very seriously. I don't. They are mostly happy or unhappy for the same reason that everyone else is. Like the mentally handicapped. My son who has Downs is quite happy most of the time, he even makes a committed curmudgeon like me smile. And that seems to be true even at his daycare where most members have cognitive deficits. Probably just low expectations on their part. I'll hold out for a genetic therapy to correct Downs then.

From Wired Which Izawwlgood mentioned earlier, with a quote.
If parents use IVF to conceive, then a genetic test—an extension of the screening tests for genetic diseases that are already routinely done on embryos—could let them pick the smartest genome from a batch of, say, 20 embryos. “It’s almost like there are 20 parallel universes,” Hsu says. “These are all really your kids.” You’re just choosing the ones with the greatest genetic potential for intelligence. But effectively, you could be giving an unborn child a boost in IQ above their parents. As Hsu sees it, this is no Faustian bargain. “Aren’t we doing them a great service?” Over the long term, he proclaims, this would “improve the average IQ of the species by quite a bit.” He hopes governments will even provide it for free; Singapore, he predicts, would be the first to sign up.

Even if Zhao and his team do get enough DNA, the genetics of IQ could prove to be a thornier problem than Hsu and Zhao expect. For example, there’s the question of epistasis, or the interaction of genes with one another. Hsu is convinced (based on his reading of the existing data) that IQ mutations are essentially additive, such that the negative pull of each person’s DNA typos can simply be tallied up. But it’s likely that the effect of some genes will depend on the presence or absence of others, making it much trickier to predict IQ from birth. “The reality,” says Mitchell, the Trinity College geneticist, is “probably somewhere in the middle” between simple additivity and complex epistasis; and just where that balance lies will determine whether a genetic IQ prediction machine is ever possible. Even if Mitchell’s skepticism is borne out, and the answer is somewhere in between, it still means that an embryonic test could allow parents a significant degree of influence over their offspring’s intelligence.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby elasto » Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:41 am UTC

There won't be a simple chain of causation between intelligence and happiness for sure.

It reminds me of ambition in a way: If you have no ambition at all you'll probably end up unhappy simply because you end up achieving nothing with your life. If you are insatiably ambitious you'll probably also end up unhappy because no matter what you achieve it's never enough.

Happiness is surely somewhere in the middle: Ambitious enough to achieve something meaningful but laid-back enough to take time out to enjoy and reflect upon it.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby ucim » Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:05 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
ucim wrote:Even if I accept the premise that intelligence is an unmitigated good and should be increased, the problem is we don't really know what it is.
It's what we test for. We test for spatial skills, reading comprehension, and problem solving, and maybe memory, if it didn't correlate well with a college education and success it would be noteworthy.
Then you need to go up one level to see my point. "What we test for" is an incomplete picture of "what makes us smarter/better". It is just one component.

Incrementally, increasing this component from where it is now is probably good. But the more you do this, the further you are from "where it is now", and the less valid supportable the statement becomes. Taken to extremes (which is easy to do if you do it much faster than natural selection would do it) you could end up with something quite grotesque. Think of breast or penis or muscle "enhancement" taken too far.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:04 pm UTC

I'm not worried about science producing a big headed mutant. The response to this point in this thread has been that high intelligence corresponds to good things, which has never been in dispute. Then however they make the leap to if what we have is good, then more must be better, without being able to say what more means.

We are probably incrementally improving intelligence as we go in any case. Given that you marry within the pool of candidates who are available to you socially. Cretins in most cases, do not date doctoral candidates, it makes for horrible conversations at the dinner table.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Feb 14, 2015 7:47 pm UTC

But would you be happier with a system where doctoral candidates had more children than cretins?

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Sat Feb 14, 2015 8:44 pm UTC

I was happier not to have kids at all, so your asking the wrong person. If it bothers you that the less intelligent are out breeding those of higher intelligence, you figure out why higher intelligence correlates so well with the desire not to have kids. Perhaps there is a reason for it. Whats holding them back, other than their intellect? They can afford kids and have the money to educate them. Are their penises less efficient, are their vaginas broken? If you use genetic testing to pick fetuses more likely to be intelligent and then produce them via normal reproductive pathways, how does that help you if mommy and daddy want just 1?

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby elasto » Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:55 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:If it bothers you that the less intelligent are out breeding those of higher intelligence, you figure out why higher intelligence correlates so well with the desire not to have kids. Perhaps there is a reason for it. Whats holding them back, other than their intellect?


I think it would be more accurate to say that female education and social empowerment correlate negatively with number of children, not intelligence. And I think the reasons why are fairly self-explanatory, aren't they?

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:51 pm UTC

elasto wrote:I think it would be more accurate to say that female education and social empowerment correlate negatively with number of children, not intelligence. And I think the reasons why are fairly self-explanatory, aren't they?
Education correlates very well with intelligence and it would be hard to be empowered without the ability to be independent financially. Which again correlates well with intelligence. However the result ends up as a reduced birth rate among those demographics which should produce intelligent children.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby elasto » Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:29 pm UTC

Education only correlates with intelligence at all well in rich liberal countries - and even there the correlation is not great. Education correlates poorly with intelligence in poverty stricken countries and does not correlate at all under religiously oppressive regimes.

I repeat: The much more direct correlation for number of offspring is with education and empowerment; Emphasizing indirect correlations only leads to confusion and misleading questions like 'why do the intelligent choose to have less children?' or 'why does global temperature correlate with piracy?'

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:12 pm UTC

I think the idea that its inteligence that kills birthrates is somewhat counter-intuitive. I don't think you can define "empowerment" in a way that will work (Italy and Japan kind of break that one to one degree or another) and education hardly works well either (i mean all people understand what causes babies and yet the disgenic birthrate is a stark negative corelation)

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:08 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Education only correlates with intelligence at all well in rich liberal countries - and even there the correlation is not great. Education correlates poorly with intelligence in poverty stricken countries and does not correlate at all under religiously oppressive regimes.
Here is a quote from about Education
One thing that IQ scores have been shown to reliably predict is academic success in school. However, it is important to note that doing well in school doesn't necessarily mean that a person will be successful at work or in other life areas
Which is about what you would expect. So IQ can be overwhelmed by other effects. Access might play a bigger role in poorer countries.
From the Wikipedia
Although much of the research into intelligence and fertility has been restricted to individuals within a single nation (usually the United States), Steven Shatz (2008) extended the research internationally; he finds that "There is a strong tendency for countries with lower national IQ scores to have higher fertility rates and for countries with higher national IQ scores to have lower fertility rates."[22]

Lynn and Harvey (2008) found a correlation of −0.73 between national IQ and fertility. They estimated that the effect had been "a decline in the world's genotypic IQ of 0.86 IQ points for the years 1950–2000. A further decline of 1.28 IQ points in the world's genotypic IQ is projected for the years 2000–2050." In the first period this effect had been compensated for by the Flynn effect causing a rise in phenotypic IQ but recent studies in four developed nations had found it has now ceased or gone into reverse. They thought it probable that both genotypic and phenotypic IQ will gradually start to decline for the whole world.[23]
Take this for what it's worth, I don't suggest that it is true. But if the study were correct than it isn't a leap to say that GE won't solve that particular problem. However my question was, does using GE to increase intelligence solve a problem? With a second question of, if it does than how do you do it ethically, since it requires wombs? And for whatever reason, countries who are in a position to be able to use the benefits are the same countries who have declining birthrates.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:26 pm UTC

Well GE could be used to get the best out of the breeding population, though most solutions that aren't sci fi are currently on the "no no" list as per the licensing breeding thread.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:51 pm UTC

leady wrote:Well GE could be used to get the best out of the breeding population, though most solutions that aren't sci fi are currently on the "no no" list as per the licensing breeding thread.

Sigh...

IQ is heritable, but, and please, please pay attention here, it isn't a single gene trait. There are dozens of genes that feed into intelligence. And as we already covered, SES affects IQ, very significantly. What you're talking about is distinctly science fiction. Yes, we could hypothetically identify all the genes that make someone smart, and select for them. Hooray, you've gotten ten, maybe a hundred babies that are ultra expensive and predisposed towards being smarter. Maybe all those expectations and pressure to be smart breaks them. Maybe they succumb to mental illness. Maybe a few of them are gay and choose not to reproduce. High IQ is also, of course, associated with homosexuality.

The only way you could 'get the best out of the breeding population' is if you implement a population wide GE program. Which, given the fact that America can't even decide on whether or not it should be feeding it's population, seems pretty fucking unlikely to me.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:29 pm UTC

smarter, less suseptable to heart disease and cancers absolutely its just (and I use the just in the same way as space filght is just applied newtonian physics) a huge exercise in data analysis, number crunching and application. Is this going to be anything like the new norm in the states in the next 30 years, then no because the will isn't there. But I betcha you'll start hearing of stories in the next decade of rich folks doing it (your spending 20k on IVF and the doctor say for 20k more you can have a super baby....), and what the elites do, the mass will follow.

China having the will (maybe too much will) will power ahead regardless :)

So yes lots of maybes like everything in life but *shrug*, and I'm pretty sure we agreed to disagree that there are vast portions of western children with accute Iodine deficiencies and lead poisoning.


As to the ethics of all this, i'm not sure there will be an issue - except perhaps in China were they have err a lot of latitude

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:54 pm UTC

I'm so glad you brought up IVF - you do realize it's not something the masses are doing? It still clocks in around 15k a cycle, upwards of 25k if you're over 40 and/or there are 'complications'.

A good analogy here is organ transplants. Yes, they happen, and yes, they aren't only for the rich, but you better believe the rich have an easier time affording them, and furthermore, you better believe people are still dying from organ failure.

leady wrote:China having the will (maybe too much will) will power ahead regardless :)
You keep bringing this up, but you forget that China's population is massive. China isn't going to handwavomagically sterilize all it's citizens that fail an intelligence test, and simultaneously implement a state wide GE program, especially considering China can't feed all it's citizens either.

Seriously, I'm all for speculation and discussions of morality, but your tin foil hattery is absolutely out of control here.

You also conveniently ignored the whole point about propensity towards higher IQ not being cut and dry. But whatever!
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:11 pm UTC

If you accept the idea that a whole heap of characteristics that a lay person would deem "useful" can be selected from statistical combinations of genetics (I recognise you don't) does it not follow sooner or later than anyone who can will? I mean on the costs someone in this thread has pointed out it already costs $40k just to delivery a baby in the states.

Also I understand propensity and there will be gambles and court cases and misrepresentation, but on average you are onto a winner - certainly so compared to random biology. I wouldn't get hung up on IQ either, sensible parents will select on beauty primarily depending on sex, then other things.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Quercus » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:19 pm UTC

leady wrote:smarter, less suseptable to heart disease and cancers absolutely its just (and I use the just in the same way as space filght is just applied newtonian physics) a huge exercise in data analysis, number crunching and application. Is this going to be anything like the new norm in the states in the next 30 years, then no because the will isn't there. But I betcha you'll start hearing of stories in the next decade of rich folks doing it (your spending 20k on IVF and the doctor say for 20k more you can have a super baby....), and what the elites do, the mass will follow.

China having the will (maybe too much will) will power ahead regardless :)

So yes lots of maybes like everything in life but *shrug*, and I'm pretty sure we agreed to disagree that there are vast portions of western children with accute Iodine deficiencies and lead poisoning.


As to the ethics of all this, i'm not sure there will be an issue - except perhaps in China were they have err a lot of latitude


There's a comic on what you're doing (with the exception that no-one is being obnoxious here, just going off on flights of fancy). Genetic engineering of complex traits isn't an easy problem, like sending people to Mars, making a faster processor or producing a driverless car. It's a hard problem, like commercially viable nuclear fusion or generating non-trivial amounts of antimatter. Sure, there are people trying to do all these hard things, but no-one is really expecting success within a generation, except hyped up popular science magazines.



Some of the problems with GE for intelligence:

  • No-one has come up with any reliable large scale way to tell a causative genetic change from one that's just coming along for the ride due to genetic linkage
  • No-one fully understands the regulation of genes - enhancer and repressor elements can affect genes an almost arbitrary distance away on the chromosome. These elements can be nested inside other genes which they have absolutely nothing to do with. Lots of it is bound up with the physical organisation of the DNA and its associated proteins, which we also don't really understand and can't model. It's all hideously analogue and convoluted.
  • Everything affects everything else - there are ridiculously complex interaction networks going on throughout the genome. We are hopelessly bad at modelling these in anything more complex than a bacterium.
  • No-one has a technology, even a speculative one, which can alter more than a handful of genes in a genome at once. Doing more than two at the same time is considered cutting edge.

Except where we get very lucky and there are 1-5 gene variants which have a large impact on a trait, I'm doubtful that we will get meaningful genetic engineering for anything in humans within the next couple of generations. I'd like to be wrong, but everything we've learned about the genome since we sequenced it indicates that it's more tricky and complex than anyone anticipated.

Edit: I'll admit I'm in the sceptics camp on this, and some geneticists are considerably more optimistic, but I believe that more or less everyone in the field would agree that there are significant hurdles to be overcome.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:28 pm UTC

I'd like to add that there is *also* evidence of epigenetic factors in determining intelligence. I.e., if you were starved or stressed during your puberty years, it's possible your children will ALSO exhibit impairment of IQ irrespective of their own adolescent stresses.

There's a lot of unknowns here, and a lot of highly correlative variables to tease apart before we can assuredly make any sort of statements about IQ.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:36 pm UTC

Tin foil hattery? I like it. Here is another quote from the Wired article.
Since most of the variation in IQ is heritable, scientists have long searched for genetic differences that might account for it. The reason we haven’t found them, Hsu theorizes, is because there aren’t any single genes or even a handful of genes with a big effect on IQ. Instead, the thinking goes, there are as many as 10,000 different locations in the genome where a mutation can affect IQ. According to Hsu’s rough model, all humans carry a few hundred of those 10,000 possible mutations, and each mutation has a tiny negative cost to IQ, on the order of half an IQ point.

If this is right, then the difference between a brilliant 150-IQ person and an average 100-IQ person comes down to DNA typos at perhaps 100 of those 10,000 places. Other traits—like height, for example—seem to work the same way, and an ongoing study into the genetics of height has begun to find relevant mutations. Most geneticists who have studied intelligence agree with this theory in broad strokes. At the very least, says Kevin Mitchell, a geneticist at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland who studies brain development, Hsu’s basic theory of many deleterious mutations “is far more plausible than the alternative”—that is, more plausible than the idea that the mutations are building up IQ, not knocking it down.

The only way to unravel the genetics of a trait scattered among 10,000 possible DNA variants is to use something called GWAS (genome-wide association study). Rather than identifying the variants that cause a trait, as can be done with so-called Mendelian traits like finger length or earwax type, you find the variants associated with the trait.

But—and this is crucial—the implications of this math are that it will take far more than a few thousand genomes to solve the puzzle of intelligence. Given the small sample size they have so far, Hsu hopes they’ll start by finding one or two genes associated with intelligence. A recent Dutch study required more than 125,000 genomes to isolate three variants associated with educational attainment; to create a genomic predictor of IQ, Hsu says, it could take 1 million or more.

The good news for Zhao is that cheap DNA sequencing, together with more creative ways of obtaining DNA, means that a million genomes could be in reach within five years. The genomes don’t all need to be geniuses, because the IQ-affecting genetic markers they’re looking for—DNA typos that drag down intelligence—are more often carried by the 100-IQ people. That is, it’s a relative dearth of these mutations that gives people higher IQ, according to the theory.
Even assuming it could be done, so what?

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:28 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:But would you be happier with a system where doctoral candidates had more children than cretins?


At the risk of invoking comparisons to a certain comedy film, I suspect that merely getting to parity would be a significant improvement here. Educational acheivement is negatively correlated with number of children.

So, worries about us going too far in search of intelligence seem to be quite a bit premature. Hell, genetic selection via having more kids requires generations, at minimum, so it's not a very fast thing regardless. Surely there would be ample time to reconsider if it turned out to be difficult. And surely smarter people would notice that.

And surely, a number of improvements can be made that would be strictly superior well before we'd get to any ethical quandry. For instance, removing a number of admittedly rare genetic mishaps that dramatically reduce lifespan or quality of life would seem to be a goal to aspire to. Given the possibility for good, and the difficulty of the problems to solve, it seems a particularly poor case for concern over science going too far, most recent Jurrasic Park not withstanding.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby elasto » Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:41 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
elasto wrote:Education only correlates with intelligence at all well in rich liberal countries - and even there the correlation is not great. Education correlates poorly with intelligence in poverty stricken countries and does not correlate at all under religiously oppressive regimes.
Here is a quote from about Education
One thing that IQ scores have been shown to reliably predict is academic success in school. However, it is important to note that doing well in school doesn't necessarily mean that a person will be successful at work or in other life areas
Which is about what you would expect. So IQ can be overwhelmed by other effects. Access might play a bigger role in poorer countries.
From the Wikipedia
Although much of the research into intelligence and fertility has been restricted to individuals within a single nation (usually the United States), Steven Shatz (2008) extended the research internationally; he finds that "There is a strong tendency for countries with lower national IQ scores to have higher fertility rates and for countries with higher national IQ scores to have lower fertility rates."[22]

Lynn and Harvey (2008) found a correlation of −0.73 between national IQ and fertility. They estimated that the effect had been "a decline in the world's genotypic IQ of 0.86 IQ points for the years 1950–2000. A further decline of 1.28 IQ points in the world's genotypic IQ is projected for the years 2000–2050." In the first period this effect had been compensated for by the Flynn effect causing a rise in phenotypic IQ but recent studies in four developed nations had found it has now ceased or gone into reverse. They thought it probable that both genotypic and phenotypic IQ will gradually start to decline for the whole world.[23]
Take this for what it's worth, I don't suggest that it is true. But if the study were correct than it isn't a leap to say that GE won't solve that particular problem. However my question was, does using GE to increase intelligence solve a problem? With a second question of, if it does than how do you do it ethically, since it requires wombs? And for whatever reason, countries who are in a position to be able to use the benefits are the same countries who have declining birthrates.


We seem to be talking past one another somewhat. I was talking about intelligence - because that's what you were talking about - and now you're talking about IQ.

IQ correlates with intelligence for sure, but it also correlates with education, with lack of poverty, with good nutrition and so on.

Normally that distinction wouldn't matter but it does if we're trying to establish that birth-rates correlate directly with education and only indirectly with intelligence.

To put it another way, it's my understanding that humanity as a species is not appreciably more intelligent than it was 40,000 years ago. It's also my understanding that a random human born in Africa today is not appreciably more or less intelligent than a random human born in Norway today. Yet birth-rates were much, much higher 40,000 years ago than they are today, and are much higher today in Africa than in Norway. Therefore any purported correlation between intelligence and birth-rate is obviously flawed...

What differs, and what actually explains - correlates with - birth-rates are female education, empowerment and so on. The latter are much higher in Norway than in Africa, and much higher today than 40,000 years ago.

Some woman in the Middle East might be just as intelligent as some woman in the UK - but if she can't make her husband wear a condom, has no right to the pill or abortions, and can't even refuse to have sex with him - then she has no control over her own fertility, and so her intelligence (or lack of it) is not going to be at all correlated with how many children she ends up with.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:33 am UTC

Do you not find the idea that educating & "empowering" women leads to demographic collapse an incredibly troubling concept?


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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:38 pm UTC

Explain to me how you talk about intelligence without talking about IQ. If you are going to talk about it, you have to have a metric. And IQ as a metric speaks to capacity. It speaks to the limit of the ability to do the best at the things it measures. Not if those things are actually done. So women anywhere have the capacity, even if they don't have access to the things that would let them exercise the capacity to the limit. The same thing applies to men.
leady wrote:Do you not find the idea that educating & "empowering" women leads to demographic collapse an incredibly troubling concept?
The interesting thing about intelligence as measured by IQ is how people think about it. If it were the panacea that everyone seems to think it is then demographic collapse wouldn't be an issue. We would adjust our birthrate constantly, to match our needs. Individual intelligence has never made much of a difference as compared to our ability to communicate and share. Which itself is bounded by the ability to have sufficient numbers to do everything we need to do.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:20 pm UTC

leady wrote:Do you not find the idea that educating & "empowering" women leads to demographic collapse an incredibly troubling concept?
Wat. In a thread about handwaving society wide genetic engineering practices to generate either a subpopulation of geniuses or elevate the entire population to the level of genius, you're worried that ladies might be out of the kitchen? That dudes won't be able to control women by knocking them up?

I'm hoping I'm misreading that and you're actually saying 'it's troubling that all it takes to eliminate sexism is education and empowerment of women'. Because otherwise, I don't think your grasp of 'demographic collapse' is remotely worthwhile.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:48 pm UTC

leady wrote:Do you not find the idea that educating & "empowering" women leads to demographic collapse an incredibly troubling concept?


I could see how someone would find it such. It seems like an entirely rational decision making process, though. Having piles of babies does involve significant tradeoffs. Having fewer children and investing more heavily in those you have seems a reasonable strategy. Quantity of humans is handy for a few things, but it's not inherently desirable compared to everything else.

Izawwlgood wrote:
leady wrote:Do you not find the idea that educating & "empowering" women leads to demographic collapse an incredibly troubling concept?
Wat. In a thread about handwaving society wide genetic engineering practices to generate either a subpopulation of geniuses or elevate the entire population to the level of genius, you're worried that ladies might be out of the kitchen? That dudes won't be able to control women by knocking them up?

I'm hoping I'm misreading that and you're actually saying 'it's troubling that all it takes to eliminate sexism is education and empowerment of women'. Because otherwise, I don't think your grasp of 'demographic collapse' is remotely worthwhile.


Uh, I read that as a strictly demographic concern. IE, low reproduction rates(potentially below replacement) being concerning from a "decendents are valuable" perspective. The idea of "control" was never mentioned, nor were kitchens.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:44 pm UTC

This is probably not germane, but I just couldn't ignore it.
The researchers determined that HARE5 likely controls a gene called Frizzled 8, which is part of a molecular pathway important in brain development. Their further studies showed that the human version of the enhancer causes cells that are destined to become nerve cells to divide more frequently, thereby providing a larger of pool of cells that become part of the cortex. As a result, the embryos carrying human HARE5 have brains that are 12% larger than the brains of mice carrying the chimp version of the enhancer. Silver and Wray plan to test these mice to see if the bigger brains made them any smarter.
Who makes up these acronyms? Frizzled8? :lol:

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:52 pm UTC

Each species has a different nomenclature for naming. Yeast is just a gibberish shorthand (Phosphorylates Growth Inhibitor Protein Isoform 7 might be PGIP7, for example, and a friend works on FUN1-3, which is 'Function UNknown', despite it's function kind of being known), while flies are whatever the researcher was looking at while processing their data (Glass Bottom Boat binds to Wishful Thinking which recruits Thick Veins, and the complex phosphorylates Mothers Against Decapentaplegic. Some of these are, admittedly, based the phenotype, clear bottoms, thick veins in the wings, growth patterning, etc, but Cactus, Crimpy, and Cabeza are gene names I work with). Mammalian gene names tend to be abbreviations of their function, so, IGF is Insulin-Like Growth Factor, etc. Some mammalian gene names are also kind of wonky, like Sonic Hedgehog, which was named because it's part of the hedgehog pathway (which was not surprisingly characterized in fly).

A lot of the names you see in papers then will have been discovered in one system, and the homolog identified in another, so they use the same name or mostly the same name.

Fly naming is best. There's a gene named tinman, which, yup, affects heart development, and a related gene was fairly recently identified that disrupts brain development. Take a guess as to it's name.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:38 pm UTC

leady wrote:Do you not find the idea that educating & "empowering" women leads to demographic collapse an incredibly troubling concept?
The idea is indeed troubling, though that's because of how misogynistic you'd have to be to actually believe it.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:45 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote: Take a guess as to it's name.
Tell me it isn't Scarecrow?

edit
Gmalivuk wrote:The idea is indeed troubling, though that's because of how misogynistic you'd have to be to actually believe it.
What would be, demographic collapse?

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:52 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Gmalivuk wrote:The idea is indeed troubling, though that's because of how misogynistic you'd have to be to actually believe it.
What would be, demographic collapse?
Care to try again with this sentence? What would be what, exactly?
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Sizik » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:23 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
Gmalivuk wrote:The idea is indeed troubling, though that's because of how misogynistic you'd have to be to actually believe it.
What would be, demographic collapse?
Care to try again with this sentence? What would be what, exactly?


Presumably "What [idea] would be [troubling], . . ."
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:57 pm UTC

Sizik wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
Gmalivuk wrote:The idea is indeed troubling, though that's because of how misogynistic you'd have to be to actually believe it.
What would be, demographic collapse?
Care to try again with this sentence? What would be what, exactly?


Presumably "What [idea] would be [troubling], . . ."


That seems the only reasonable interpretation.

I also do not think you'd have to be terribly misogynistic to believe that demographic collapse is a likely outcome, given that birth rate drops off pretty routinely with developed nations.

I just don't think it's a problem, because quantity of people is less important to me than other things. But if you believe quantity is important, then it would be troubling indeed.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:20 pm UTC

Sizik wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
Gmalivuk wrote:The idea is indeed troubling, though that's because of how misogynistic you'd have to be to actually believe it.
What would be, demographic collapse?
Care to try again with this sentence? What would be what, exactly?

Presumably "What [idea] would be [troubling], . . ."

Ah, that interpretation hadn't occurred to me, because I assumed it was fairly obvious that "the idea" and "troubling" in my post referred to "the idea" and "troubling" in the post I was directly replying to...
gmalivuk wrote:
leady wrote:Do you not find the idea that educating & "empowering" women leads to demographic collapse an incredibly troubling concept?
The idea is indeed troubling, though that's because of how misogynistic you'd have to be to actually believe it.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:00 pm UTC

Ok. Close enough, but I'll restate. Why would you have to be misogynistic to research dysgenics. It could be true or not true, but if it were true it would have troubling implications. Which I believe is what leady spoke to. And the only way to know is to look. Are we not to look at ideas that make us uncomfortable?
gmalivuk wrote:Ah, that interpretation hadn't occurred to me, because I assumed it was fairly obvious that "the idea" and "troubling" in my post referred to "the idea" and "troubling" in the post I was directly replying to...
When your talking to your inferiors, intelligence wise, you might have to expend more effort. Or not.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Quercus » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:44 pm UTC

Isn't dysgenics an entirely different concept to what Leady was talking about?

Leady appears to have been talking about education negatively impacting birthrate (i.e. purely environmental factors), leading to demographic collapse (decline in population, more old people, fewer young people) whereas dysgenics talks about intelligence impacting birthrate (i.e. a mix of genetic and environmental factors, with only the genetic factors really relevant) leading to a decline in intelligence.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:23 am UTC

elasto wrote:Some woman in the Middle East might be just as intelligent as some woman in the UK - but if she can't make her husband wear a condom, has no right to the pill or abortions, and can't even refuse to have sex with him - then she has no control over her own fertility, and so her intelligence (or lack of it) is not going to be at all correlated with how many children she ends up with.
I think he was responding to this. And the context was that I made an assertion that the birthrate among intelligent people was declining because they were intelligent. I could be wrong about what he was thinking. However at this moment I'll hold on to my assertion about declining birthrates. In any case I generally give people the benefit of the doubt before tossing pejorative bombs. Of course he could be a misogynist. I can't know.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Quercus » Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:07 am UTC

Ah, okay, thanks. I was missing some of the context. I'm also going to withhold judgement on the misogyny stuff, because the statement is too ambiguous to me to know what Leady was thinking. It struck me as slightly odd that they chose to put the word empowering in scare quotes, but I could be misinterpreting that.


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