Reading Comprehension 011


Eugenics is a modern ideal, developed only a hundred years or so ago, which has become a reality in modern medicine as medical science traces so many diseases, and the ability to resist diseases, to genetic factors. The predominantly genetic basis of intelligence is now widely accepted, despite opposition from some who are dedicated to egalitarian values and who profess their belief in the absurd notion of the biological equality of individuals and races. Only identical twins can be biologically equal in their propensities.

To the extent that some societies have benefited from a high proportion of intelligent and creative individuals among their ancestors, advanced cultures have risen in different parts of the world at different times, and those of today have become totally dependent on high intelligence and technological sophistication. Thus, some of the inhabitants of our modern Western cities, whose forebears were quite capable of hunting animals, hoeing fields, picking crops and other simple levels of agrarian activity, now have difficulty in achieving subsistence because their intelligence level is inadequate for the demands of the technologically advanced economy on which our society depends.

In consequence, many conscientious scholars have come to favor the introduction of some form of eugenic measure to ensure that future generations will be endowed with adequate intelligence and creativity to maintain, or possibly even advance, our present level of technologically- based subsistence. Some have argued that we need to devise ways and means of discouraging high rates of reproduction-among those of unduly low intelligence. We have no argument with those who hold this position, provided only that it be achieved by painless and not degrading inducements and is not forcibly imposed. The renowned Professor William Shockley, Nobel prizewinner and co-inventor of the transistor, suggested as a thinking exercise that financial inducements might be offered to those of very low IQ, who were unable or barely able to look after themselves, to voluntarily choose to be sterilized so that they could indulge their desire for sex without burdening the rest of the population with the need to care for their offspring -- who with statistical certainty would most likely be of similarly low intelligence.

Then there are others, like Dr. William Andrews, a frequent contributor to this journal, who argue that we should seek humane ways of raising the average intelligence level of the entire population - including that of all the diverse ethnic groups within our multiethnic society, so that the disparities between the intelligence of the diverse ethnic groups should not be accentuated beyond the already embarrassing levels of inequality. This he sees as a necessity for the basic maintenance of civilization as it presently stands. We would not choose to argue with him either.

By contrast, however, we firmly believe that Mankind faces an even more serious need. As science and technology continue to advance, the level of intelligence needed to become a competent scientist and to maintain a technologically sophisticated society is steadily rising. So also is the need for creative people- people of high intelligence who also have the ability to innovate. We must therefore be prepared to develop inducements to ensure that future generations will continue to produce a high enough ratio of truly intelligent and truly creative individuals if posterity is to be able to continue the further march of science. And Mankind will surely need further scientific research to solve the problems of environmental deterioration that it has created, and to meet the other problems, including health threats, which are rapidly becoming more acute as a result of the ongoing population explosion originating in the Third World.

In short, we believe that greater consideration must be given not merely to the need to dissuade those of abnormally low intelligence from reproducing, and not merely to efforts to protect the overall level of human intelligence among the diverse ethnic groups and populations that make up Mankind, but to the need to ensure an adequate rate of reproduction among those who are especially gifted.



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