Monday, January 21, 2013

Chilling eugenic envy at

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of

A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed
that uses it.

--Rabindranath Tagore

Every now and then I like to go over to and scan the thoughts of the current era's leading intellectuals. I really have no business going there. Most of the stuff is over my head, and I'm old enough for that fact to inspire respect, rather than dismissal. This entry on Chinese eugenics just gives me the creeps, however. (Click on Respondents if you land on the front page, and then search for Geoffrey Miller. The individual contributions don't seem to be permalinkable.) Dr. Miller describes how the Chinese, in keeping with tradition of seeking out the well-bred, are sequencing the genome of high IQ people from around the world, in hopes of breeding an ever-more intelligent overclass. But that's not the disquieting part. What loosened my jaw was that Dr. Miller seems to approve of this. Thinks it right, good, and necessary:

There is unusually close cooperation in China between government, academia, medicine, education, media, parents, and consumerism in promoting a utopian Han ethno-state. Given what I understand of evolutionary behavior genetics, I expect—and hope—that they will succeed. The welfare and happiness of the world's most populous country depends upon it.

My real worry is the Western response. The most likely response, given Euro-American ideological biases, would be a bioethical panic that leads to criticism of Chinese population policy with the same self-righteous hypocrisy that we have shown in criticizing various Chinese socio-cultural policies. But the global stakes are too high for us to act that stupidly and short-sightedly. A more mature response would be based on mutual civilizational respect, asking—what can we learn from what the Chinese are doing, how can we help them, and how can they help us to keep up as they create their brave new world?

Now, I'm a literal-minded fellow, endowed with a pesky case of Dunning-Kruger Effect, and those last three words in the passage seem to indicate that this is a bitter spoof. But, as infested with deracinated relativists as higher education has been in recent decades, who knows? If you're reading, Dr. Miller, please...tell me you're kidding.