The Eugenics movement was responsible for
some of the most morally reprehensible acts
of the 20th century. If you go to a good university
library you will be able to look up old journals
and articles about the Eugenics movement and
its theories. These are replete with the
idea that by forcing certain people to stop
breeding, that the 'gene pool' can be improved
and thus society can be improved. Perhaps
the latest and most famous example of the popularity
of this theory is the 'Darwin Awards' website,
which although on its surface humorous actually
has its entire foundation in Eugenics theory.
The basic idea of the site is that it is OK
to make fun of dead people if they had
'defective genes' that were 'harming society'.
Tragically the entire idea that one can selectively breed people to get an 'optimal human' is fundamentally flawed. Genetic Algorithms theory involves the generation of computer programs or solutions to problems by following a series of 'breeding' steps. They are roughly as follows:
- Identify the problem
- Figure out how to encode the problem into some algorithm language, like computer code.
- Randomly generate a bunch of solutions
to the problem.
- Test the solutions by running them
against the problem.
- Figure out which solutions 'best' solved
- Select a few of the 'best' solutions and
erase all the other solutions.
- Take these new 'best' solutions and put
go back to step 4 until you get tired or
find an 'optimal' solution.
Ok, now take this theory, and you can see that
Eugenics is basically trying to do the same thing.
Here are the same steps, but the way a Eugenicists
would perform them on civilization and humanity.
- The problem is that society is not perfect
because some people are criminals.
- This criminality is encoded in their genes.
- Genes are already randomly generated.
- Determine how 'genetically pure' people are
by using various disease tests, IQ tests,
intelligence tests, SAT scores, ACT scores,
school performance, arrest records, personality
tests, psychiatric tests, physical tests,
racial heritage, etc, etc, etc.
- Figure out which genetic makeups of people
are 'best suited' to be the 'least criminal'.
- Take the 'best suited' and give them lots
of resources, money, education, good jobs, etc.
Take all the other people and give them a crappy
education, sterilize them to prevent them from
breeding, kill them, etc.
- Take this new 'super-race' and go back
to step 4, until society has no crime anymore.
So there we have it, the perfect way to solve
all of the problems of the world, in a few
simple steps. The problem is that Genetic
Algorithms are not that simple. Genetic Algorithm
researchers have determined that merely 'weeding
out all the bad solutions' will eventually
lead you to a sub-optimal solution to your problem.
This is 'over selection', where the person
working with the problem was 'too eager' to get
a good result so he chopped off all the
other algorithms too quickly, but in fact
these algorithms that seemed 'inferior' in the
first few generations of the solution would
in fact have led to a more optimal solution
in the future. For example, if you were trying
to figure out a new algorithm for speeding
up a calculation, and you selected only 1 or
2 of the 'best' algorithms after the first
stage of 'evolution', then you might end up
with a 'less optimal' final algorithm than
you would have if you selected 50 or 60 of
the initially generated algorithms for
Thus the Eugenics movement is trying
to use a flawed methodology. First of all,
the problem is mis-stated. Everyone
from the president of the USA to the CEO
of Enron is capable of being an anti-social criminal,
and it has nothing to do with their genetics.
Second of all, different factions of eugenicists
will have different ideas about what is a 'solution'
to this problem. Some people think its 'racial
heritage', some people think it is 'physical strength',
some people think it is 'how well they did on the
PSAT test' These are generally stupid and always
leave out some brilliant person like Beethoven,
Einstein, Faraday, etc, all of whom were considered
'socially worthless' at one time or another in
their lives. Third of all, even if the Eugenics folks did
artificially select the people that they wanted
they would eventually get a sub-optimal solution
to their problem, for you have to let diversity
exist in all stages of 'evolution' of your
solution for you to get anything close to an optimal
This 'eugenics' mentality, where you can
automatically force people to be the way you like them,
has been a plague for many hundreds of years.
Every great accomplishment of civilization
from artwork to science to culture
to government, would have been subject to
'eugenic destruction' in its infancy for being
a 'sub optimal solution to a problem'.
Remember Picasso, who said something like
the greatest impediment to great art is a sense
of good taste?
None of this innovation or allowance for
diversity and deviance is possible under a Eugenic
State. Civilization, if reduced to eugenic
control, will grind to a halt and stagnate.