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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban


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A Modest Eugenic Proposal
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frank_davis
The war on smokers and drinkers and fat people is quite manifestly part of a global eugenics programme. So I've been thinking about eugenics a bit.

The opening chapter of Darwin's Origin of Species, "Variation under Domestication", is concerned with artificial selection. This is the process whereby plant and animal breeders select only preferred variants (e.g. ones that are bigger, stronger, more resistant to disease) to breed. In this manner, over time, they produce larger and stronger cattle, cows that yield more milk, sheep with more wool, wheat with larger ears, and so on. Darwin then goes on to introduce the idea of natural selection as the process by which plants and animals are allowed to continue to breed and multiply in the natural world according to whether they are naturally 'fit' or 'unfit' to survive in that world.

The eugenic programme might be said to be identical with the artificial selection programme employed by plant and animal breeders, except that now it is applied to the human race. The eugenicist sets out to breed an ideal human race, by selecting only the fittest members, and permitting only them to breed. Very much this sort of reasoning guided the eugenic programmes of a century ago, with 'unfit' humans eliminated or sterilised, and 'fit' humans strongly encouraged to breed. If the programme had been continued for a few centuries or millennia, something like an ideal human race may have resulted.

But, quite apart from any moral reservations which anyone might have about this programme, it seems to me that there are a number of logical problems associated with it.

In the first place, how does one decide whether someone is 'fit' or 'unfit'? The process of natural selection is one in which plants and animals are subjected to variety of trials, at the end of which only a few of them have survived to continue to reproduce. It is only at the end of the process that it emerges which were the 'fit' (i.e. the survivors) and which the 'unfit'. But in the process of artificial selection, those who are 'fit' and those who are 'unfit' are determined at the outset. But how?

Natural selection might be compared with a marathon race, in which a number of runners enter, but only one crosses the finishing line ahead of all the others, and wins the prize. Artificial selection, in the same circumstance, would take the form of allowing only those runners who are deemed likely to win (e.g. the slimmest, tallest, longest-legged) to run in the race. Or it may take the form of allowing only one runner to run in the race, thus rendering the race itself irrelevant. In the natural selection marathon, the race is run, and the judges then award the prize to the winner. In the artificial selection marathon, the judges award the prize to the winner, and then the race is run.

Furthermore, in the process of natural selection, appearances count for nothing. The most unlikely plants and animals may be the ones which survive the trials to which the natural world subjects them. The short, fat guy with glasses might be the unexpected winner of the marathon. But in artificial selection, appearances are everything, because there is no other evidence to go on. The judges must examine the runners very closely, weighing and measuring them, before they pre-emptively award the prize to the tallest or slimmest runner, and allow him to run a token lap of honour. Artificial selection is essentially a beauty contest.

The process of natural selection is foolproof, because it requires no exercise of thought beyond pressing the cup into the hands of the first runner to cross the finishing line. But the process of artificial selection is one which requires considerable forethought, weighing up the relative merits of strength versus endurance, speed versus power, weight versus height. And the more thought that is required, the less foolproof it becomes. The judges may end up awarding the marathon winner's prize to a man with no legs.

Indeed, it might be said that artificial selection is always a way of cheating the process of natural selection. For the fattest pigs, and the hairiest sheep, are most likely those which the process of natural selection would rapidly reject. A pig breeder isn't trying to mimic natural selection, but to override it. He knows from the outset that he wants big, fat pigs. And he wants them this way because they will fetch the highest prices at the market.

And so a eugenic programme which employs methods of artificial selection is not an attempt to mimic natural selection, and find out which plants or animals are the 'fittest', and so likely to survive the rigours of natural selection. For only an actual trial by natural selection can do this. Artificial selection is always an attempt to skew the process of natural selection in favour of one type. And so also is any eugenic programme. It will never produce the 'fittest', but only those who have been deemed to be the 'fittest' in a beauty contest.

And furthermore, whenever eugenicists ever conduct any 'scientific' experiments, they always follow their method of artificial selection, which is one of deciding what the answer is first, and then finding evidence to support this pre-determined conclusion. One first decides that Jews or Gypsies or smokers or fat people are 'unfit' or 'subhuman', and then conducts 'research' which is designed to reach this foregone conclusion. One decides, for example, that smoking is an undesirable social trait, and then conducts research in order to reach this conclusion.

But there is a second logical problem with any eugenic programme. The pig breeder sets out to 'improve' his pigs because pigs are useful to men, and he would like to make them even more useful. They are an animal means to a human end. But in what sense can men be made more useful to themselves? Human beings are ends rather than means.

This question can only be answered if humans are divided into two groups, one of whom serves as a means to the ends of the other group - as for example would be the case where one group consists of slaves, and the other of slave owners. The slaves, although human, have become the equivalent of cattle and sheep, and can be subjected to a process of artificial selection to produce the ideal slave. A similar process of selection is not applied to the slave owners, because they are the ends towards which the process is directed.

And so any eugenics programme is inherently elitist. Not only is it not aiming at producing the true 'fittest' humans - i.e. humans which would most likely survive a process of natural selection -, but is instead twisting human nature into the services of a small elite, and acting entirely contrary to the best interests of the non-elite remainder of humanity.

There is a third problem with any such eugenic programme, which might be posed as the question: what happens when the conductor of the eugenics programme discovers that he is himself one of the 'unfit' or 'subhuman' or a member of the class of 'life unworthy of life'? Does he sterilise himself? Or shoot himself? In practice, the eugenicists never apply their eugenics programme to themselves, for the elitist reason just given. They do not themselves practise what they preach for others. Either that, or they select their ideal type by looking in a mirror.

Yet another problem with any eugenics programme is that no sooner is some sort of ideal human type defined, than 99.999% of humanity is discovered to be defective, through being too short or too tall, too fat or too thin, or whatever. Nobody shapes up. Everybody needs to be eliminated.

Finally, there is nothing to stop anyone setting up their own eugenics programme in competition with the established eugenicists (i.e. the WHO), but using quite different selection criteria. If you can be a eugenicist, then I can be one too.

And if I were to propose a eugenics programme that aimed to improve the human race, I can think of no higher and more exalted eugenic goal than to rid the world of eugenicists. Indeed, I would say that this is such an urgent task to undertake that humanity can't be forced to wait for them to die out after a few generations. We can't just fire them from their jobs, and hope they never come back. Nor would sterilising them do much good. The only way is to shoot the lot of them. Tomorrow.

The benefits to humanity would be immediate. Life would improve overnight for the smokers and drinkers and fat people who make up 99.999% of humanity. And once liberated from the distortions imposed by eugenic programmes on society, natural selection would once again be allowed to throw up the true winners of life's marathon, life's true survivors. Which would, these days, quite likely be thin, bald, bespectacled, chain-smoking computer nerds.

...A bit like me, funnily enough.
Tags:

Cracking post, Frank. Needs some thinking about.

In thinking about the post, people might consider responding to the survey currently on-going via the ONS (Office of National Staistics). I only found out about it tonight via Velvet Glove Iron Fist (H/T Snowdon).

The difference is that this survey is not a 'box tick' exercise. It seems genuinely to be asking for opinions about 'the happiness of the Nation'. There are only two questions:

a) What matters most to you?

b) Is there more to life than happiness?

(I paraphrase somewhat).

I personally commented that 'happiness' is very temporary, whereas 'contentment' is long-lived. I said that, from time to time, I can be very happy (or miserable, as the case may be, moment to moment), but, in general terms, I AM EXTREMELY DISCONTENTED! I am discontented because of the smoking ban among other things.

This survey is not one for 'stinkers' or 'children'! It is worth a visit. Here is the URL:

http://well-being.dxwconsult.com/what-is-wellbeing/




Of the survey - perhaps a reminder to them that "Life is more than the body" (let them look it up /"google it"!) and a pointer to http://www.rampant-antismoking.com/ and a voice that we do not want a new variant of materialist totalitarian communism visited upon us...

Which country will be the first to, rather than partake in the infantile race to be the 'best' in 'Tobacco Control', be the first to - opt out of, reject, the WHO FCTC agreement?

Black slaves in America

(Anonymous)
Exceptional, deep thought, post, Frank!

Frankly gorgeous... ;=}) ... forgive several responses?

"In the first place, how does one decide whether someone is 'fit' or 'unfit'?"

I am reminded of faintly remembered, as though apocryphal, informations that 'Slave Owners' in America deliberatly bred the best of their males and females, perhaps hoping for who knows what, a better still breed, for themselves, (this well before emancipation) and then though thus succeeding, unwittingly brought about the extreme intelligence & beauty & anger that led to their liberation... all a bit poetic drunken & badly told;- perhaps some of our US friends can clear that up?


Re: Black slaves in America

I don't know about America, but I know that in antiquity slaves tended to have few children, so any eugenic programme to produce ideal slaves probably wouldn't have got very far.

I suspect that in America it may have been different because the British and French and so on who colonised America did not come from slave-owning culturex, and were unfamiliar with its practice (at the outset at least). But Roman and Greek slavery was institutionalised and ingrained in the entire culture. So I suspect that slaves in the ancient world were treated rather better than they were in America. And far better than modern slave labour camps, where most of the slaves are simply worked to death. I've read a number of stories about the treatment of slaves in Rome which lead me to think this is so (e.g. the festival where the Roman slave-masters swapped places with their slaves, which would have been unthinkable on a plantation in the American South).

Frank

But in what sense can men be made more useful to themselves?

Could this be possibly thought of in a Buddhist context, except "be made" becoming "become"... (and add, "and others")?

Pigs, animals, humans

(Anonymous)
But there is a second logical problem with any eugenic programme. The pig breeder sets out to 'improve' his pigs because pigs are useful to men, and he would like to make them even more useful. They are an animal means to a human end.

Of course, there are already vegetarian 'eugenicists' who, rather than quietly follow their own path, want (all?) others to accept their "way" too, and campaign against meat eating!

(Buddhists, while vegetarian, might rather let their own way speak for itself, to be enjoined without any force, if found appealing.)

Anyway, I can't resist some irreverant humour, re pigs, & etc.

Vegetarians, from the other point of view!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKTsWjbjQ8E
--
Ross

(a lapsed vegetarian!)




There is a third problem with any such eugenic programme, which might be posed as the question: what happens when the conductor of the eugenics programme discovers that he is himself one of the 'unfit' or 'subhuman' or a member of the class of 'life unworthy of life'? Does he sterilise himself? Or shoot himself?

Since this is such a weighty topic, I hope you'll forgive one last piece of levity... as a counter-balance! ;=})

Ross
_

Hitler is informed about his Jewish and African ancestry
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqd4eupmYm8

And if I were to propose a eugenics programme that aimed to improve the human race, I can think of no higher and more exalted eugenic goal than to rid the world of eugenicists. Indeed, I would say that this is such an urgent task to undertake that humanity can't be forced to wait for them to die out after a few generations. We can't just fire them from their jobs, and hope they never come back. Nor would sterilising them do much good. The only way is to shoot the lot of them. Tomorrow.

Wouldn't this make you (and anyone picking up a gun to shoot) a eugenicist thus having to turn the gun on yourself once finished with the job? Would "the new world order" describe you as a martyr?

Perhaps it is not inconceivable that the WHO might be dying of 'self-inflicted lead poisoning' will rise again. Everything goes full circle, over and over again.

----------------------

Junican, quite a thought provoking survey.
Happiness appears to be something people would like to achieve although it appears impossible to sustain as well as stifling progress and productivity. Also, what is one person's cause of happiness often is the cause of another's unhappiness.

In Bhutan the nations well being is measured in "national happiness"; wouldn't "national contentment" be the far more lucrative option?

Wouldn't this make you (and anyone picking up a gun to shoot) a eugenicist thus having to turn the gun on yourself once finished with the job?

I've already pointed out that us eugenicists are hypocrites, with one rule for everyone else, and another for ourselves. No problem there ;-)

Frank

To coin a (para)phrase -

"Some of my best friends are thin, bald, bespectacled, chain-smoking computer nerds... "

But seriously, as you point out Frank, who is to decide the form of the "master race"? Our self-appointed masters? Those who would remove all joy from life and replace it with utilitarian efficiency?

Doesn't bear thinking about. Shades of Orwell's dystopia.

One thing I love about your blog is that is stimulates my thinking process like a deep drag from a cigarette does.

When two smokers breed, as did many of the 42% of Americans and 82% of the British in 1965, wouldn't the offspring of those who outlived the sacrosanct 78 year life expectancy indeed produce a master race of superlunged individuals?

If so, that represents a good chunk of the present population. So why the silly, overwhelming fear of second and thirdhand smoke; we're pretty much resistant to the firsthand stuff, it would seem, by natural selection. The same is true of all survivors of the pervasive wood fire smoke that our lungs have somehow endured through and adapted to.

Maybe that explains why we're living longer than any generation in history.

Going rather off topic here, but I just came across this little snippet about the costs to society of fat people and smokers, and I thought I'd share it. Some interesting points.

Just noticed DP has put the same link up amongst his weekend links spot.

Killjoy Happiness Vacuum Eugenecists

(Anonymous)
Can we not 'shoot them all' TODAY?

Re: Killjoy Happiness Vacuum Eugenecists

Why not?

Frank

I’m not absolutely sure how smoking and drinking and, to a lesser extent, obesity could actually form a part of any eugenics programme, because smoking and drinking and over-eating and under-exercising, whilst being disapproved-of habits which might or might not be learned (depending on whether one believes the hype or not), they nevertheless aren’t genetic traits which can be passed on. Thus, the genes of a smoker or a drinker or an over-eater or an under-exerciser, must surely remain as “pure” as those of a non-smoking, non-drinking health fiend.

Does it matter whether it is learned or genetic?

Frank

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
It is important to note that eugenics has two aspects or dimensions. Eugenics has a breeding/heredity aspect which it is best known (notorious) for. It also has a behavioral aspect that is not as familiar. Along this behavioral aspect, particular dietary and physical-exercise regimens are encouraged (positive eugenics); behaviors such as tobacco-use and alcohol-use are undesirable/discouraged (negative eugenics). Tobacco and alcohol are considered as racial/body “poisons”.

Wherever eugenics has popped-up in past – early-1900s USA and Nazi Germany – the anti-tobacco, anti-alcohol, diet, and physical exercise have also been present. What makes it difficult for many to recognize the current eugenics is that post-WWII it dropped the aggressive pursuit (i.e., public policy) of the heredity dimension. Its heredity trees were flawed. This was replaced with genetics/genetic engineering. Given that this approach was in its infancy, work along this dimension has been investigative with limited practical application. It has resulted in the Human Genome Project which is housed in the same building-complex in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, as the original Eugenics Record Office.

Post-WWII, the public-policy emphasis has squarely been on the behavioral dimension of eugenics. Making it even more difficult to recognize is that the eugenicists no longer use the “E”[ugenics] word in Public Health vocabulary given its horrific historical connotations. By the 1980s it was recognized that a physicalist movement was afoot. It was referred to as “healthism”. But this is none other than the behavioral dimension of eugenics with its emphasis on anti-tobacco, anti-alcohol, diet, and physical exercise.

The philosophical foundation of eugenics is materialism/biological reductionism/physicalism. Its scope is “the body”, i.e., no other dimensions of human experience. What makes eugenics eugenics is the intent to impose a set of prescriptions/proscriptions on a population (human herd) for the purpose of “engineering” a “healthier” human herd. This imposition is made by a self-installed eugenics elite that dominates government health bureaucracies. The typical eugenics personnel are physicians, biologists, zoologists, pharmacologists, statisticians, behaviorists. Their “abode” is typically academia and specific elements of the medical establishment. If you look at who has legitimized the current obsession with all things “the body”, it is this same eugenics personnel. Public Health graduates - trained in the medical model and biostatistics - constitute the largest group.

You will also notice the same methodology (with varying levels of aggression) concerning “undesirable” behaviors or racial/heredity traits. The major tool is denormalization through inflammatory propaganda. (Eugenics is a shallow framework: It has a very limited scope of approach) Once denormalized, the intent is to “cut away” the undesired phenomenon. In racial/heredity terms, physical sterilization can range from reproductive sterilization to murder to genocide. Regarding “undesired” behaviors, e.g., smoking, the goal is social sterilization, where the behavior and those engaged in the behavior are “cut” from the “normal” social network. There is no reason why, in the extreme, it cannot also involve murder for the eugenics-defined “greater”, population-level, “good”.

Magnetic

Although eugenics can already take shots at “undesirable” behaviors such as smoking (as we are seeing), the “next logical step” might be to try to “demonstrate” that such “undesirable” behaviors are genetically-based and, therefore, if there is no genetic remediation available, warranting some form of physical sterilization too. Those that smoke would not only be considered behaviorally “inferior”, but also genetically “inferior”.

Magnetic

It occurred to me that, were we patient enough, we could just sit back an watch the Righteous cross breed themselves out of existence.

Eventually their digestive systems won't be able to process meat. Their pulmonary systems won't be able to process the smoke from the fires necessary to cook said meat properly. Unless they all migrate to the tropical latitudes they'll freeze to death in the winter without heat. One inevitable forest fire and they're all done for. And if anyone thinks forest fires are preventable they're sadly mistaken, I live in Southern Cal. The unstoppable nature of an out-of-control inferno (2003) really drives home the fact that there are some things beyond our human capacity to manage.

I'm way too impatient a soul to wait for natural selection to do away with them anyway.

Well, since they seem to be unable to tolerate the faintest whiff of tobacco smoke, or the warming of the planet by even half a degree centigrade, they are perhaps identifying themselves as the truly "unfit". Natural selection indeed looks set to extinguish the lot of them.

But, as I said, the whole point of artificial selection, and of a eugenic programme, is to cheat the process of natural selection, and skew the outcome in one's own favour, in the short term at least.

Frank

Has anyone considered the concept of anti-eugenics?

For example, I being (immodestly) intelligent have chosen not to re-produce.

Morons are surely much easier to control than those who can think for themselves. Human endeavour can take a back seat when there's cash involved.

That's why we're never going to make it to the planning office around Alpha Centauri before the Vogons arrive!

?

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