Tweety Dawk Tries to Defend His Tweet

It looks like Richard Dawkins is desperately trying to defend his tweet about eugenics.  He appeared in the comments section of Jerry Coyne’s blog (a safe space for Dawkins) and wrote:

I was totally clear what I meant by “would work”. It would work in exactly the same sense as breeding cows for increased milk yield works. And that is precisely what I explicitly said I meant by “works”. In this sense it would work, as Jerry says, for any trait that has positive heritability, and that means most traits.

You are at liberty to stretch the English language to breaking point and interpret “would work” as meaning “would be a right and proper, moral thing to do” but I was totally explicit that I meant anything but that.

People rightly ask what provoked my tweet. Why did it come out of the blue? I happened to be reading a book which provoked it. I won’t name the book because the provocation was indirect, and I don’t in any case want to get into a spat with the author, who seems to be a decent person.

So the argument against my tweet amounts to “You were imprudent not to recognise that many people on Twitter are idiots”. You could turn that on its head and say I was being respectful – and not patronising – by assuming that they were not idiots. Evidently I was wrong. Should I apologise? Hell no.

Richard

Just as I predicted.  Four days earlier, I posted:

Dawkins, and his dwindling number of fans, would argue he was focused on the utility argument and not making any moral claim. 

But the problem remains exactly as I posed it:

Nah, I think it clear that this is his clumsy “consciousness raising.” If one is strongly opposed to eugenics, it does not matter if it “works.” It’s not on one’s mind.

In other words, if you are morally opposed to eugenics, whether or not “it works” is irrelevant.  It’s a topic that is relevant to those who would like to see society inch toward once again embracing it.

For as I also noted:

Given that Dawkins has obsessed about this topic for over a decade (and not as a critic), I think it’s safe to say the atheist is an eugenicist.

Look, I laid out the evidence six years ago.  And for six years, not a single Dawkins supporter has ever been able to refute it.  So as it stands, the cumulative evidence points to Dawkins as a eugenicist.  Only an idiot would think otherwise.

 

 

Advertisement
This entry was posted in Richard Dawkins and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Tweety Dawk Tries to Defend His Tweet

  1. Stardusty Psyche says:

    “If one is strongly opposed to eugenics, it does not matter if it “works.” It’s not on one’s mind.”
    Typical, now you are the thought police.

    When one reads things come to mind, have you ever had that experience?

    Questions as to whether eugenics would be biologically efficacious, are there genetic differences in intelligence or innate behaviors that vary with race, could Nazi medical experiments yield useful scientific data…cross one’s mind from time to time and are subject to rational and scientific analysis. But in our world of social justice mania and twitter hyperbolics even just mentioning such subjects is certain bring about widespread hysterical responses, such as the OP for example.

  2. RegualLlegna says:

    “Questions as to whether eugenics would be biologically efficacious”
    – Experimentation in human beings.
    – What the RESULTS will think about themselves and about others, especially those who planned them?. The results would be human beings after all.
    – Utilitarianism is an ideology, one that usually ignores the methods to achieve the goal. It’s all for the utility.

    ” But in our world of social justice mania and twitter hyperbolics even just mentioning such subjects is certain bring about widespread hysterical responses, …”
    So Dawkins knew what would happen with this tweet?

    ““If one is strongly opposed to eugenics, it does not matter if it “works.” It’s not on one’s mind.”
    Typical, now you are the thought police.”
    That’s not what the thought police do, that is personal conviction. What is wrong or leads to evil is wrong (relativism cannot change it).

  3. Murray says:

    “If one is strongly opposed to eugenics, it does not matter if it “works.” It’s not on one’s mind.”

    Actually, eugenics has often been on my mind over the years, despite the fact that I am morally opposed to it as a policy. The reason for this is that it’s an interesting empirical question: given that we’ve successfully practiced eugenics on domestic animals and livestock for thousands of years, what reason do we have to think that the same principles don’t apply to humans, and what physical mechanisms can we posit that would prevent it from taking place?

    Note that I’m an orthodox Catholic, not that that should matter. I’m also an engineer, which means I don’t shy away from interesting questions just because they happen to be taboo for one reason or another.

    Richard Dawkins is a buffoon who routinely makes bad arguments on matters well outside his scope of expertise, but on this matter he is correct. We observe wide phenotypic variation between human population groups that have been geographically or genetically isolated for long periods of time, indicating that humans do develop varying characteristics and traits in response to their physical (and perhaps cultural) environments. We also observe that biological relatives tend to be more similar to each other than to a randomly chosen unrelated person. These observations naturally lead to the hypothesis that human hereditary characteristics can, in principle, be manipulated to produce certain outcomes. That has nothing to do with whether we should, but then, Dawkins wasn’t talking about should.

  4. Michael says:

    Actually, eugenics has often been on my mind over the years, despite the fact that I am morally opposed to it as a policy. The reason for this is that it’s an interesting empirical question: given that we’ve successfully practiced eugenics on domestic animals and livestock for thousands of years, what reason do we have to think that the same principles don’t apply to humans, and what physical mechanisms can we posit that would prevent it from taking place?

    Who cares? Given that you are morally opposed to it as a policy, the questions you raise are irrelevant. Now, I understand that you might find the questions personally interesting, for whatever quirky reason you may have, but unless the answers to your question become relevant for reasons that have real world implications, you are engaged in mental masturbation. Given the finite time and energy we humans have, can’t you think of more interesting and potentially fruitful empirical questions?

    Richard Dawkins is a buffoon who routinely makes bad arguments on matters well outside his scope of expertise, but on this matter he is correct.

    So what? I am not arguing whether or not his views about eugenics (originally expressed 14 years ago) are correct or not. I am raising the issue of whether he is a eugenicist (or, at the very least, a sympathizer).

    These observations naturally lead to the hypothesis that human hereditary characteristics can, in principle, be manipulated to produce certain outcomes. That has nothing to do with whether we should, but then, Dawkins wasn’t talking about should.

    Dawkins is trying to soften people up with the “it works” position so that the “should ” question can eventually be brought back into the open. It’s the activist’s incrementalism. Trying to nudge that “Overton window.”

    Look, let’s say that over every other year or so, I try to “remind” people that the state of medical science would be more advanced if only we could experiment on prisoners. I assured you that I was morally opposed to experimenting on criminals, but I wanted people to acknowledge the likely advances that could, and probably would, exist if only we did such experiments. Purely an intellectual concern, you see.

  5. Michael says:

    Typical, now you are the thought police.

    Huh? I’m simply drawing attention to a long term pattern with Dawkins that is best explained by him being a closeted eugenicist (or at least very sympathetic).

    When one reads things come to mind, have you ever had that experience?

    Read what?

    Questions as to whether eugenics would be biologically efficacious, are there genetic differences in intelligence or innate behaviors that vary with race, could Nazi medical experiments yield useful scientific data…cross one’s mind from time to time and are subject to rational and scientific analysis.

    We’re talking about an activist using his social media account to influence others. This has nothing to do with a rational and scientific analysis.

    But in our world of social justice mania and twitter hyperbolics even just mentioning such subjects is certain bring about widespread hysterical responses, such as the OP for example.

    Wow. That you interpreted my calm analysis as a “hysterical response” indicates you are easily triggered.

  6. Derek Ramsey says:

    “Given that you are morally opposed to it as a policy, the questions you raise are irrelevant.”

    I respectfully disagree that it is irrelevant. You can be morally opposed to eugenics as a social policy because, as far as you know, no such policy has ever been implemented successfully in a morally positive way (or is overwhelmingly likely to be negative). However, you can also see the society altering benefits of eugenics in the animal kingdom and wonder if there is a way to implement morally neutral (or positive) human eugenics.

    It turns out there is at least one eugenics policy that is at least morally neutral: banning consanguineous marriage. Indeed, many Western nations have implemented this eugenics policy (by law and/or cultural stigma) and the genetic effects from this breeding control have been largely beneficial.

  7. Isaac says:

    Dawkins is an obvious eugenicist (and obvious liar to boot) because there is no argument going on anywhere about whether breeding “works.” The science is well understood. I don’t even believe his story about being inspired by a book that he wouldn’t bother to name. There is no book in any potential reality that Dawkins could have been reading which could have argued that heritable traits are not a thing.

    The problem here (which is being skirted around, and which I’d like to bring back to the forefront) is, what other thing could he mean by “work?” He claims that he merely meant, “we can breed humans for heritable traits.” But literally NO ONE, and no book, disputes that. No one is gullible enough to believe that Dawkins was inspired to take to Twitter to argue that genes are really a thing and work as described. What he obviously meant by “works” is “produces a desirable result that would be good for society.” He’s trying to maintain deniability, but if he didn’t mean that, then we must assume that he’s becoming literally senile and arguing with nonexistent people online.

    What would eugenics “working” look like? What would, say, “successfully” breeding for IQ actually look like? Dawkins directly backpedals and claims that he doesn’t think it would be “right and proper” or “moral” to do what he insists would “work,” but in that case, why not explain why he thinks it wouldn’t be right? Dawkins isn’t a “faith head” is he would call me, so he surely must have a purely scientific reason why we must NOT breed for IQ, even though it would totally work (as Derek Ramsey pointed out, the inhibited, religiously deluded masses have, within their antiquated moral framework, banned or strongly discouraged many kinds of breeding, so it’s not as if there’s a logical reason as to why certain types of procreation can’t be banned.)

    Dawkins WANTS to say that all sorts of black and brown colored people should be bred out of existence, and the world would be a much better place as a result, if only we could get over our magical irrational God-delusions. But he CAN’T say it, and it drives him nuts.

  8. Michael says:

    I respectfully disagree that it is irrelevant. You can be morally opposed to eugenics as a social policy because, as far as you know, no such policy has ever been implemented successfully in a morally positive way (or is overwhelmingly likely to be negative). However, you can also see the society altering benefits of eugenics in the animal kingdom and wonder if there is a way to implement morally neutral (or positive) human eugenics.

    In this case, you are describing someone who would drop their moral opposition because they came up with a way to implement it that was morally neutral or positive. So yes, contemplating on how “it works” was not irrelevant because it led to proposals for societal changes.

    But in that case, one would be a eugenicist.

  9. RegualLlegna says:

    ““successfully” breeding for IQ actually look like?”
    That usually means one of three things:
    1. Make a breed of better people to replace the current ones in society.
    2. Make a breed of slave group/s with the desired traits (to a specific work area).
    3. Make a breed of a group that is ‘technically better’ but in reality is always subservient to society, they will exist because society allows it.

    Eugenics, like social engineering, is always about an individual or group of individuals controlling the lives of a group of people by force or deception.

    And the most ignored argument is what people born by these ‘scientific programs’ think about a society that tries to program the lives of its members.

  10. Stardusty Psyche says:

    Michael
    “Huh? ”
    Yes, the OP was a complaint about what was “on his mind” and then you went on to complain what Murray was thinking about, calling it “mental masturbation” and admonishing him to think more usefully. Thought police indeed.

    “Read what? ”
    The item that Dawkins was reading per his statement as to what got him thinking about eugenics.

    “That you interpreted my calm analysis as a “hysterical response” indicates you are easily triggered.”
    Nope, you’re the triggered one, going off on Dawkins, Murray, me.

    “Dawkins is trying to soften people up with the “it works” position”
    Now you are a mind reader, how absurd, that Dawkins is engaged in some sort of scheme to make human eugenics an acceptable proposal.

    Among the religious zealots and the social justice warriors alike any mention of a subject that is for them taboo to even think about leads to hysterical accusations that one is somehow advocating or scheming toward some dystopian horror.

  11. Michael says:

    Yes, the OP was a complaint about what was “on his mind”

    No, as explained before, the OP simply noted this latest example as part of a pattern that indicates Dawkins is a eugenicist.

    and then you went on to complain what Murray was thinking about, calling it “mental masturbation” and admonishing him to think more usefully. Thought police indeed.

    I see. So when someone types their thoughts onto a computer and then sends them out in the world for others to read, we’re not supposed to disagree or critique those thoughts. You seem to be triggered by the existence of opposing view points.

    The item that Dawkins was reading per his statement as to what got him thinking about eugenics.

    Do you have any evidence that Dawkins was reading some book?

    Nope, you’re the triggered one, going off on Dawkins, Murray, me.

    My mild criticisms do seem to have you on edge.

    Now you are a mind reader, how absurd, that Dawkins is engaged in some sort of scheme to make human eugenics an acceptable proposal.

    Nah, I’ve just observed activists like Dawkins long enough to know how they play their game.

    Among the religious zealots and the social justice warriors alike any mention of a subject that is for them taboo to even think about leads to hysterical accusations that one is somehow advocating or scheming toward some dystopian horror.

    I’m simply pointing out the evidence that indicates Dawkins is a eugenicist and would like more people to be open to his eugenicist views. Nothing about a scheme toward some dystopian horror. But don’t forget that atheists have long engaged in hysterical accusations that one is somehow advocating or scheming toward some dystopian horror. Recall all the warnings about “The Coming Theocracy!!!”?

  12. anonAtheist says:

    Coincidentally, Dawkins’ atheism could be argued to be a form of eugenics (or dysgenics, depending on your perspective).

    Atheists (like me) have far lower fertility rates than theists, typically sub-replacement, and most low-fertility ideologies have a strong atheist bent, such as the hedonistic child-free movement and its nihilistic counterpart, the anti-natalist movement. So we atheists are gradually selectively breeding ourselves out of existence.

    But given my anti-natalist leanings, I absolutely support eugenics as a way of reducing human misery. It needn’t be coercive. Simply making preconception genetic screening more readily available (like the flu shot) would be a great start. Ashkenazi Jews have had great success eliminating Tay-Sachs with this method.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.