We’ve gotta be completely honest here when discussing eugenics.
- What is it in scientific terms?
- How was it used in the past?
- How are we using it today?
- How can we use it in the future?
1. What is it in scientific terms?
Eugenics is the ability to alter one’s genetic code and (a) either slightly change its function, (b) have it do the complete opposite of its normal function, or (c) completely transform it into something entirely different than before, all of which done so in the attempts of addressing certain genetic deficiencies.
2. How was it used in the past?
Under Nazi rule over Germany during the 20th century, Adolf Hitler +others pushed a politically-motivated interpretation of eugenics that attained no scientific merit to its actual scientific purpose. In the name of eugenics, he deemed entire groups of people – FYI: everyone has different genes from one another, not to mention different # of genes as well – as being “genetically” inferior to the one “true master race,” and thus sought to completely destroy said groups of people, i.e. Jews, Romani, Handicapped, Homosexual, etc. etc. All of course, again, with no real scientific grounds to justify these actions.
3. How are we using it today?
Today we continue using eugenics, but we don’t necessarily use the same terminology. A form of eugenics today would be gene therapy, which has been used on numerous occasions over the last decade in saving people from genetic-related diseases. It’s also not as efficient as we’d like it to be, given a number of occasions in which gene therapy was used with the intent of helping cure people, but failing to do so unfortunately. But, nonetheless, it does indeed have a success rate which does far more good than harm.
4. How can we use it in the future?
Here recently we were introduced to what is known as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). CRISPR uses an enzyme called Cas9 to help chop up any detected foreign DNA. Geneticist George Church +team made headlines very recently where they demonstrated how CRISPR/Cas9 could be used to edit the genome of every living creature – humans and others alike – with extremely accurate precision. Far greater than gene therapy. What this entails is that we could soon use CRISPR/Cas9 to target cancer cells, HIV cells, etc. etc. etc. and completely destroy them on the spot! It’ll revolutionize the medical industry forever! And guess what? CRISPR/Cas9, like gene therapy, is a form of eugenics.
So do I support eugenics? In the sense of how we’re harnessing it today, most definitely! In the sense of how we used it in the past, most definitely not. Learning to differentiate the two is key in understanding the then and now of eugenics.