[LMB] Gene cleaning in real life

Pat Mathews MATHEWS55 at msn.com
Sun Nov 12 23:41:11 GMT 2017

Heinlein had a good solution in BEYOND THIS HORIZON: The choice of gene cleaning or not lies entirely in the hands of the prospective parents, with certain restrictions. That is, gene cleaning to eliminate susceptibility to certain diseases, or (his prize example) to get sound teeth, is fine. But no trying for designer babies, which attempts led to the Genetic Wars led by self-styled supermen. (Yes, indeed, Star Trek DID steal that idea for the Wrathof Khan and didn't really even bother to file off the serial number.)

From: lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk <lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk> on behalf of alayne at twobikes.ottawa.on.ca <alayne at twobikes.ottawa.on.ca>
Sent: Sunday, November 12, 2017 12:02 PM
To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
Subject: Re: [LMB] Gene cleaning in real life

On Fri, 10 Nov 2017, M. Haller Yamada wrote:
> I just want to say that I think we humans have a super-lousy track record for breeding humans
> to have certain traits. It backfires in some of the most awful ways. Look at the one-child
> policy and how selecting for male turned out to be a hugely bad idea that hardly anyone
> predicted -- or maybe they predicted things would turn out badly for the single males who
> couldn't find wives, but so few of the parents actually acted on it. At best, they didn't act
> and let nature take its course.

I'm with Micki here. Eugenics has been used far too often as a tool of
prejudice and cruelty. People being sterilized after being accused of
being feeble-minded or loose in their morals -- that was the least of it
and that was horrible enough.

There some gene combinations, like those for Huntington's, that
would be better if removed. And I don't blame parents for not wanting to
raise a child with Down's or other intellectual disorders where the
genetic problem is clear and limited. But there's lots of other
genetically-based syndromes where I suspect meddling in the genes might
just make things worse.


Alayne McGregor
alayne at twobikes.ottawa.on.ca

"As a writer you’re always surprised when you think of the right note or the right word.
You think, 'Oh, I didn’t know I could — oh, that’s good!' You know, writing’s full of
surprises for oneself." - Stephen Sondheim, T Magazine, October 16, 2017,
interviewed by Lin-Manuel Miranda

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