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no cure for stupidity

From this New Scientist piece: "Stupidity should be cured, says DNA discoverer":

"If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease," says Watson, now president of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, New York. "The lower 10 per cent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what's the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, 'Well, poverty, things like that.' It probably isn't. So I'd like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 per cent."

Watson, no stranger to controversy, also suggests that genes influencing beauty could also be engineered. "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great."

Can you say "Eugenics"?

Of course there must be a genetic component to "stupidity" (whatever that is--I'm sure that many people Watson would consider "stupid" live happy, productive lives). chaplin-dictator.jpg But then the world is an imperfect place. Once you "fix" that "lower 10%" you get a new 10% at the bottom. Why not "fix" that too? And, as Watson so eloquently puts it, let's "make all girls pretty" in the process. I wonder, pretty according to what measure? Would he like a society of Barbies and Kens? (oh, sorry, no Kens. He didn't say that men should be "pretty".) Is Barbie "pretty"? Watson seems to think that "prettiness" as well as a number of other traits can be objectively defined, and then imposed on society at large. Hitler would be proud.

The other day I was reading on an op-ed on the Washington Post that 6 out of 10 children of age 10 in the Washington D.C. area can't read. But hey, no problem, Watson would say.... these guys are lost, but we can "fix the next batch" right? Just let me tweak this little gene here and everything will be just fine...

I think that since Watson dismisses environmental factors such as poverty and education and "things like that" out of hand, he should watch Gattaca to see a plausible endgame for his ideas. But "things like that" would never happen right? After all, humans are so great at dealing with this kind of power.

Or maybe there's a gene for intolerance that we can "fix" as well?

Categories: science
Posted by diego on March 2 2003 at 3:39 PM

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