I came across a very controversial post today on twitter. Richard Dawkins for reasons unknown to me, decided today was a pretty good day to talk about Eugenics. In case you are not aware of the baggage such conversation has, let's just say it's deeply entrenched in Nazi ideology. That being said, I did not find what he stated to be wrong per say. Clumsy? Unnecessary? Perhaps.
Conflating Morality and Reality
To me the crux of the problem. This is to say, that the moral argument does not necessarily change a reality. I tried to make the point, but of course was met with a barrage of would be knights in shinning armor, and got blocked by a few who found my point to be equivalent to nazism.
I think I can make my point with a simpler example:
Vehicles, cars, trucks, etc, are used for transportation. We would be hard pressed to find someone disagreeing with this fact. Now, I could also say, that it would be easy to kill someone using a vehicle. I could say that vehicles can work as weapons. This would be factually correct, but of course morally reprehensible.
You see: Morality does not truncate reality. A car does not become ineffective at killing people, simply because I think it's a horrible thing to do. All that being said, let's talk eugenics for a second.
Do they work?
Well, maybe it's easier to talk about the subject as selective breeding. Does selective breeding work? Is it effective? The answer, maybe to someone's dismay, is that in practical terms it does.
Of course results in nature are not evenly distributed. Which is to say that we are always talking about bell curves. This is true for height, for skin color, etc. If you studied at any point statistics, the language should be familiar to you.
Humans have been intervening, if you will, with nature for centuries. We have a hand in the selective breeding of dogs, cows, sheep, chickens, etc. Again, this is not to say it's our right to do so, or that we should, I'm simply stating that we have done so.
The goal in selective breeding has always been to pursue, if you will, the traits that we want the most. Yes, it's not perfect, yes, there's aberrants that make the process questionable, but again we are talking about possibilities, about bell curves, and not absolutes.
Yes, but humans
It's truly out of the question in my book. Just to be clear, any type of law, any type of government who would push anything like eugenics would be tyrannical to say the least, and completely immoral. In other words, nobody in their right mind should be defending the practice, lest they indulge evil.
But to the point being made by those who understood Richard. He was not making a moral recommendation, nor expressing a positive opinion on the subject.
On this front, I cannot defend Richard's tweet, but neither can anyone accuse him without doubts. If someone has invented the mind reading machine, then I'm behind with the times, but that I'm aware of, nobody has.
Will some Nazis grab his tweet and mentally masturbate at the notion of being correct? Maybe, but their minds were putrid before the post, and will continue to be long after. This simple fact makes it not relevant to my point.
I will say this much. I find the tweet, the opinion, to be poorly timed. Almost as if he said to himself: "Today I want to fight the world" - Yes, I don't know the context here, none of us do. But, it seems rather strange to talk about Eugenics on a given Sunday just because.... it's Sunday.
It's a touchy subject, very emotional for some, but it should not be taboo either. Ignoring facts don't make them go away, and they certainly don't make Nazis disappear.