Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post No. 68c: TV Broadcast at 7:30 pm Sunday Evening "Evil Genes"

Television Show of Interest
Tonight, Sunday, November 30, 2008, at 7:30 pm EST, C-Span2 Book TV airs its program featuring Barbara Oakley, author of Evil Genes. She contends that the immoral behavior of individuals such as Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, and Slobodan Milosevic has a genetic basis.


  1. Suppose for a moment that this were true. Imagine if this genetic component could be identified in utero, what then? Would parents feel justified murdering their unborn child to spare the heartache of raising a son or daughter that would be capable of terrible acts? The next step? Find the "gay" gene and have parents decide that it would be better if the child did not have to go through life "different"? Would some parents seek for what they think are perfect children? I know the nature versus nurture debate has been going on for millennia, yes millennia, not just since Gregor Mendel made a study of the inheritance of traits in peas yet this brings up a whole new set of challenges,n'est-ce pas?

    Given the right(or should I say wrong) set of circumstances and without God's grace many who would otherwise lead "normal" lives have done things most of us find abhorrent. Should we raise the ghost of the father of eugenics, Francis Galton?

    Adolf Hitler believed that progress could only be made by improving humanity through genetics. Nearly everything he did was done in the name of science and purging the genetic pool of inferior stock was his aim. His Master Plan, his hope for a Reich to rule for a 1,000 years, all rooted in this belief that the Germanic stock was superior to all others and mustn't be diluted and polluted by the taint of inferior stock. While I realize he was using psuedo-science fueled by hatred, I also know how easy it is for people to go down that sort of road using science as justification for murder.

  2. Ruach, thanks for bringing up the name of some prominent researchers in the field. We would also mention Franz Boas (, whose studies were used by many for perverted purposes.

    There is always the danger of someone using scientific knowledge in a manner which may be viewed as unethical, and adverse to the long term positive interests of society. It's always a risk.

    As with many things in life, we'd rather bank on the good in humanity to do the right thing with the technological tools available to them, and the awareness that some misguided individuals may have malevolent goals.

    We here at the Institute are generally concerned with the front end analysis, namely identifying causes, and addressing them early on. However, in this instance, we were not so much concerned about the ethical issues associated with the utilization of this information.

    You raised very valid concerns. Moving on to how we utilize this information after the birth of humans, we might be better able to treat them, or we might better make decisions about whether we should blindly follow them when they become charismatic leaders. More information is always preferable to less. Right now, we in the United States have a significant segment of our population incarcerated for behavior which we do not consider to be acceptable. Might we not use this scientific knowledge to deal with those individuals on the front end?

    Thanks again for joining the discussion.

  3. Hello,

    Thank You for commenting on my page. I appreciate your way of thinking.

  4. Hello,

    Thank You for commenting on my page. I appreciate your way of thinking.


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