PDA

View Full Version : Genetic Cure for Stupidity?


SkinWalker
03-03-2003, 10:06 AM
An article in The New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993451) suggests that one of the discoverers of DNA (Watson, I believe) may have the answer to stupidity.

The scientist is quoted as saying that low intelligence is an "inherited disorder" and that scientists have a duty to devise genetic cures for it.

Should science be involved in affecting human development on the genetic level? What would be the line that shouldn't be crossed in genetic research?

I'm sure that a discussion on genetic manipulation was posted before (cloning, I think), but I'd like to get another going. If possible, I'd like to leave the religious perspective out of it, but I've a feeling that a couple of us would like to go that way anyway. I just think that there is a difference between ethics from a religious perspective and ethics from a scientific perspective.

Cheers!
SkinWalker

Kain
03-03-2003, 11:58 AM
THE BIBLE AND GOD ARE AGAINST IT!!! GRRR (just messin witcha pal)

stupidity being herditary huh? Well, sounds outlandish to me. Maybe the clumsiness of your parents droppin ya on yer head. I suppose that thats kind of being passed on by your parents. strange concept though. if they can cure stupidity(or do they mean like mental retardation?) then more power to em. but i think they just wanted some press.

shukrallah
03-03-2003, 10:41 PM
i think stupidity is all in your head, if u change ur attitude u can change ur grades, i know it doesnt work for everyone and there are some people who do try and have a really good attitude but still have trouble, so i dont really know....

griff38
03-04-2003, 09:57 AM
Well at the risk of sounding arrogant, I didn't need proof of this. The Human experience is proof enough that intelligence is a condition of heredity.

I think that despite the stigma from eugenics and racism of the last century people will gradually accept the idea of controling the genes of future generations.

Today you can take pills that correct something nature didn't give you and nobody cares. Someday if we can do fix something before you born, nobody will care.


SKINWalker, honestly i wasn't trying to kill you the other night :)
It's just with so many people fighting sometimes you shoot 1rst and check the names later. Actually whenever possible I tried to help ya. I don't know if you caught it, but i got a great midaair with the rocket on a guy who was sneaking up on you :)

ShadowTemplar
03-04-2003, 11:49 AM
I think that any statement along the lines of "this-and-that-is aquired/inherited" is rather unnuanced (sp?). I think that most traits are both inherited and aquired, basically because you can improve anything and everything with training. But I do think that some people have inborn talent for some things, while others do not (I don't believe, for example, that everyone could train his/her mind to the level of abstraction required for Math with Vectors in five dimentions incorporating Complex numbers). So gene-engineering could, I believe, be used to alter someone's potential, but wouldn't do much for his actual level unless accompanied by training.

With regard to the ethical issues: They don't even come into play here: Gene-engineering is so incredibly stupid in its own right (because it destroys biodiversity), that we don't even need to use ethics to see that it shouldn't be done.

SkinWalker
03-04-2003, 12:31 PM
Originally posted by ShadowTemplar
With regard to the ethical issues: They don't even come into play here: Gene-engineering is so incredibly stupid in its own right (because it destroys biodiversity), that we don't even need to use ethics to see that it shouldn't be done.

Interesting point. I've been considering the question of ethics involved with genetic manipulation/engineering for some time. A couple of things seem to stand clear.

First, the science associated with genetics is, at this point, so young, who would be qualified to determine what is ethical or unethical. Ethics needs to be based upon cause and effect and, to do that, science needs to be informed on it. That's not to say that a person need be cloned from scratch at least once in order to discover whether future generations should go down that path..... or is it? We (the human species) used Nuclear weapons for their intended purpose only twice. Based on the devastation that occurred with the ease with which it was done, society came to the general consensus that Nuclear Weapons should not be the ethical first choice in a conflict. One could argue that the devastation could have been predicted from the tests done without actual application of the technology....

Second, current medical advancements seem to defeat natural selection. Diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, alzheimers, parkinson's, etc. proliferate mostly because they occur/kill after the reproductive process has been initiated. The DNA that carries hereditary traits, such as Huntington's disease, gets passed on instead of eliminated by natural selection.

If man is going to continue to prolong life by medical advancements, wouldn't it be prudent to address those defects in our DNA that prevent continued evolution? In order to set ethical guidlines, shouldn't the Powers-That-Be do so with an understanding of the consequences rather than complete ignorance (such as impending legislations that are being discussed in Congress)?

I don't think it's beneficial to society to allow a bunch of lawyers (the general academic background of Congress) to decide matters that scientists have yet to fully understand. To create legislation that OUTLAWS ALL CLONING is ignorant and short sighted. It may, one day, be possible to "grow" individual organs through cloning technology, saving the lives of thousands of children and adults every year who are on waiting lists for kidneys, livers, etc. But it will be illegal if some people get their way.

SkinWalker

daring dueler
03-04-2003, 04:44 PM
i can only think of 2 ways a parent could make you stupid, either your homelife is bad or your parents were high up on the crank or tippin the bottle when you were born.

wassup
03-05-2003, 12:37 AM
What exactly is stupidity? Sure, this new science might help people with learning disabilities, but what about those who dont have any? School and IQ tests DO NOT define your intelligence level, IMO. Some people are either just lazy or are interested in other things. So, I think this might cure disorders and diseases, but won't solve "stupidity" or whatever it is all together.

SkinWalker
03-05-2003, 01:06 AM
Nikolas Rose, a bioethics expert at the London School of Economics said in the article linked above that "These are characteristically casual and provocative statements by James Watson. I think they should be treated just as amusing rather than as a serious account of what behavioural genetics or any genetics should be doing, or will be able to do."

I have to agree with him for the most part... intelligence with humans is notably different in many people. I've met both very bright and very dim individuals in my life (and I've liked those in both categories). Many contend, as is mentioned in that article, that the question of intelligence may be related to genetics, but also, in complex ways, to the environment. Meaning, one may have the predisposition to be "smart" or "stupid" but, ultimately, it's the environment that one develops in that has a large influence. I have to agree with that sentiment as well.

But still.... the possibility may exist to help the genes that favor intelligence so that environment need not be so critically "perfect" in order to develop an individual to full potential.

Interesting stuff to say the least.

SkinWalker

___________________
I cracked fakey! Whoohooo!

BigTeddyPaul
03-05-2003, 04:20 AM
fat people make fat kids
parents with glasses have kids who need glasses
stupid people make stupid kids

Unless you are Forrest Gump.

BigTeddyPaul

shukrallah
03-05-2003, 09:12 PM
Originally posted by BigTeddyPaul
fat people make fat kids
parents with glasses have kids who need glasses
stupid people make stupid kids

Unless you are Forrest Gump.

BigTeddyPaul

not always......... children follow the parents examples, if the parent is lazy the child is lazy, i dont know about the glasses thing, u might have a point there. that lazy thing, goes for schoolwork and being fat.

BigTeddyPaul
03-05-2003, 09:53 PM
I am not saying that is 100% true. Fatness can be genetic as can most other things. Hair loss, brown eyes, etc. Evnironment does affect a person but so does genetics.

BigTeddyPaul

ShadowTemplar
03-06-2003, 06:29 AM
Originally posted by SkinWalker
Second, current medical advancements seem to defeat natural selection.

[...]

If man is going to continue to prolong life by medical advancements, wouldn't it be prudent to address those defects in our DNA that prevent continued evolution?

No part of our DNA prevents evolution, because evolution is simply changes in said DNA. Parts of our DNA could prevent some beneficial effects of evolution, but not evolution itself. However, ironically, artificially changing the human genome, which you are proposing, would be a showstopper to evolution.

My point is that diversity in the gene pool is a good thing. The more diverse a gene pool a given species possesses, the better it will be able to handle changing environments.

Originally posted by SkinWalker
In order to set ethical guidlines, shouldn't the Powers-That-Be do so with an understanding of the consequences rather than complete ignorance (such as impending legislations that are being discussed in Congress)?

I don't think it's beneficial to society to allow a bunch of lawyers (the general academic background of Congress) to decide matters that scientists have yet to fully understand. To create legislation that OUTLAWS ALL CLONING is ignorant and short sighted. It may, one day, be possible to "grow" individual organs through cloning technology, saving the lives of thousands of children and adults every year who are on waiting lists for kidneys, livers, etc. But it will be illegal if some people get their way.

You are perfectly right here. However you are addressing a different subject. You are talking about developing methods, I was talking about applying those methods. Also, in your example, you are talking about therapeutic cloning, which doesn't tinker with the gene pool.

SkinWalker
03-06-2003, 12:31 PM
Originally posted by ShadowTemplar
No part of our DNA prevents evolution, because evolution is simply changes in said DNA. Parts of our DNA could prevent some beneficial effects of evolution, but not evolution itself. However, ironically, artificially changing the human genome, which you are proposing, would be a showstopper to evolution.

I guess I didn't do a good job explaining my point. I was trying to say that I find it interesting that man's life expectancy surpasses the fecund period. Diseases that most afflict man now (heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S.) occur after the fecund period, thus they aren't eliminated by natural selection. Alzheimers is another good example. Huntington's would probably be a marginal example, since people are afflicted, in many cases, during the fecund period.

The part I wrote about "current medicines defeating natural selection" was intended to point out that we seem to be able to forestall the inevitability of many diseases by addressing their symptoms, but ultimately they emerge. But only after the carrier has reproduced, therefore leaving this trait to a decendant.

I just think that it is up to man to eliminate these diseases. I would think that it is possible to use gene-therapy in such a way that the propensity for heart disease, alzheimers, Huntingtons, MS, CP, etc. can be identified and the DNA modified so that future generations do not develop them.

I could be wrong, though... since I'm not extremely knowledgeable about the science of genetics. I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on this, you seem to have more study invested in that area than I. I am willing to be educated :p

SkinWalker

C'jais
03-06-2003, 01:11 PM
I'll assume by "fecund period", that it's the period after you've been sexually active.

As Templar, I don't think it's a good idea to railroad our genepool, in order to specialize it into "better humans".

However, I really can't see how curing AIDS, Alzheimers etc, with genetic engineering cannot be a boon to us. If we can remove stupid people and improve our life expectancy, how can it not aid research into combating other diseases, and making life generally more pleasant for us?

SkinWalker
03-06-2003, 01:38 PM
Originally posted by C'jais
I'll assume by "fecund period", that it's the period after you've been sexually active.


Sorry.... the period in which reproduction is possible. The term is usually applied to females but I've seen it seen it used to describe both genders when discussing "the reproductive period."

I meant to define that in the post, but forgot... it was easier to use than "reproductive period" over and over.

Skin

ShadowTemplar
03-12-2003, 12:13 PM
While I see where you are coming from when you compare gene-engineering to other kinds of medicine, I find that you make one crucial oversight:

Every other kind of medicine works by changing the evironment around humans, and/or by nullifying the effect of the presence/absense of certain genes. While this does change the human species gene-wise the change is slow and likely will not eliminate/add genes, because it merely enables people with/without those genes to survive as well as everyone else. This means that there will still be the nessecary diversity.

Gene-engineering, on the other hand, allows us to bypass the normal breeding delay and tamper directly with the human gene pool. This means that we are rapidly changing the human species on a global scale, and in a way that is, for all intents and purposes, permanent.

Furthermore these modifications will be spread to every corner of the earth given enough time. This means that when (not if) someone blows it, the effect will be disasterous, simply because we can't just 'go back to normal'. In effect we'll be changing the 'normal'.

If, as a contrast, you have a population that has grown accustomed to conventional medicine and you suddenly find out that you've made a mistake and take it away, you'll just go back to the situation before the drug was introduced. It is the lack of this failsave that truely bothers me about genetic engineering.

As an endnote let me say that I have no problem with research into the subject. On the contrary. But I am concerned with the implications of widespread use of it.

Thinking about it, the same can actually be said for gene-engineering plants and non-human animals.

SkinWalker
03-13-2003, 01:52 PM
Hmmm. I see your point. I hadn't looked at it that way before. Still, it's hard to establish ethics for processes that haven't been tested/explored/understood. But you make a strong case for being extremely careful and controlled when researching in the genetics field.

I had understood that some of the research centered around manipulating DNA to the extent that the genetic instruction remained in the DNA for something like Down's Syndrome, it would just be prevented from being executed.

Reading more about genetics is on my to do list for this year :p

ShadowTemplar
03-24-2003, 11:36 AM
Don't get me wrong, I fully support R&D in all fields of science. Only then can we know which techs to use and which to restrict.

What I have a problem with is the fact that we are deploying genetically altered plants worldwide, before we have the neccessairy data materials to call them a safe shot. And if this wasn't bad enough I have a strong gut feeling that we're setting a precedence for the marketing of Homo Sapiens Sapiens v. 1.1

Maybe time will prove my concerns baseless, but even so I think that they are justified.