A reader writes to draw our attention to a genetics thread on Twitter explaining why eugenics wouldn’t work. Reader adds that the author, David Curtis, has a “very impressive” resume in human genetics. A smidgen:
There are a number of different kinds of reason why eugenics would not work. One is that humans have long generational times and small numbers of offspring. This would make any selective breeding process extremely slow.
Another reason is that humans are exposed to very different environments, so most of trait variation is not due to genetic factors but to differences in environment. One consequence is that it makes it hard to identify subjects who have desirable genetic characteristics.
We can now measure genetic potential directly from genetic markers and what we know from this is that these genetic predictors perform extremely badly. We can also tell that there are many important, very rare genetic variants which we will never be able to identify.
But aren’t these barriers to effective selective breeding also barriers to natural selection? Career-wise, it may not be smart to ask out loud but do keep the question alive… .
See also: Jerry Coyne jumps into the Dawkins eugenics row. Contrary to Coyne’s and Dawkin’s claims, dog breeding is DEvolution for dogs. It usually works that way, as Michael Behe points out in Darwin Devolves. Dogs are bred by humans at the expense of their genetic health.
Richard Dawkins says eugenics works because he assumes we are just like animals At one fell swoop, Dawkins exposes another frequent weakness of naturalist atheism: direct conflict with facts. Eugenics does not work for humans. Unlike animals, we make personal choices, which could be based on reason and free will or on the apparent lack thereof. And those choices confound the ambitions of others.