So, there has been a small subset of intelligent antiracist progressives who are willing to countenance the possibility that meaningful, insuperable biological gaps between human populations are responsible for socioeconomic disparities. However, many of them turn immediately to the future fruits of transhumanism as a sort of ‘way out’ of addressing the problem in the present.
This transhumanist suggestion was recently forwarded to me by Robert Smith, who wrote an excellent article on Amren.
Here, at 17:21, I outline my doubts about transumanism, such as brain implants and genetic engineering, as a viable solution to gaps between populations in trait frequencies – and, therefore, neuroanatomy.
The whole video is worth watching, although you can only see one side of the conversation.
In any case, this was my response to Robert Smith regarding the transhumanist ‘way out’:
Firstly, to use transhumanism would require that we abandon the anti-hereditarian, environmentalist hypothesis in the first place.
Otherwise – and this is how I think transhumanism will happen – it will be mostly through piecemeal and available mostly to the rich.
“To he who has, it shall be given…”
Regarding genetic engineering, again, we would have to concede that HBD is true.
Secondly, what if these genes for cognitive/behavioral traits happened to express themselves also through phenotype? I’m sure lots of “light skin” and “smart” genes simply /happen/ to coexist, but I am worried that they might also affect phenotype.
For either transhumanism or genetic engineering, it would require vast amounts of money as well as the an end to this antiracism era. It would be such a massive public project – perhaps requiring a degree of coordination that might outstrip the ability of a democratic society – that it would perhaps amount to the ushering in of a radically ‘brave’ new world.
Lastly, the ‘random mutation’ component of Darwin’s theory of evolution exists much in the same way that intellectual diversity is heralded as such a vital driver for innovation, and for adapting for unforeseeable challenges and existential risks – if all humanity is engineered to be the same, or to fit into a handful of human-designed types, then it might send us up a blind alley such that we lose the ability to adapt. That said, however, it is conceivable, in my mind, that if this new, genetically-engineered ‘universal’ human is of a sufficient intellectual, adaptive capacity, then perhaps they would be able to intellectually adapt to unforeseeable twists on the horizon.
All this said, I’m down for any solution. I just think we gotta put the fire out first.
My shtick is agnosticism on the issue. Let the cup be half full and half empty at the same time. Give people sovereignty over their faculties of inductive logic (including racial biases which, I should remind you, persist in all of us, almost as a consensus, regardless of our race or political orientaions). At the same time, however, we should work together to cultivate a magnanimous skepticism toward any purported ultimate verdicts regarding apparent correlations between cognition/behavior and racial groupings. Treat people equally under the law, and give all equal claims to human rights. I am against fascism, don’t want Jim Crow or Nazism, or ethnic cleansing. In my heart there are only two races: those who believe in it and those who don’t.
As far as top-down CRISPR gene editing to make everybody equal, there are several serious problems with this:
a) What if the frequencies of those genes determined to be ‘adaptively optimal’ are found to vary substantially between different human populations? This would force us to either push our cognitive dissonance to new heights, or admit that there are differences in trait frequencies between different human populations. Moreover, what if these adaptively optimal traits happened to immutably linked to cranial and facial structure? After all, unless you accept some extremely retrograde Cartesian dualist perspective, one’s conscious palette is, if not a an isomorphism of the brain’s geometry, nevertheless causally entangled with the brain as its physical substrate.
b) How would we decide what constitutes an ‘adaptively optimal’ genetic trait? What is the gold standard? Not only is this a dire bootstrapping problem, it is just as loaded as the discussion of racial differences. Who gets to decide what these optimal traits are?
c) To roll out such a ‘Great Equalizer’ program would require a massive top-down program of social/genetic engineering. It would require VAST cooperation which would only ever be possible by totalitarianism. In many ways, what you’re suggesting is basically the same as (almost hate to say it) Nazi eugenics, except instead of selective breeding you think that some Orwellian
d) We must play our position. We don’t know if such technologies would ever be possible–or desirable–on any mass scale. Thus, we cannot let inequality run amok in the meantime by burrowing our heads like ostriches while insane double standards exist which are justified by pseudoscience like the ‘racial disparities are solely due to culture’ theory of racial sameness.
You exaggerate the blurring of racial boundaries. We’re not going to wake up and one day be in a world where everybody has the same tone of golden-brown skin. People will always discern behavioral traits as correlating to phenotype, and people will discriminate on these bases; people will always envision those around them as falling on some bell curve, with one extreme being ‘desirable’ and the other extreme being ‘undesirable’. Assortive mating will always exaggerate this effect Case in point: India’s spectrum of castes. This is arguably an immutable aspect of the human condition. At last, if we want to eradicate it, we are at serious risk of serious hubris.
If we want a ‘unified race of better humans’, all human populations must be exposed to the same evolutionary pressures. This is the only way convergent evolution will ever occur. As it currently stands, the double standards that exist in our society arguably causes divergent evolution.
I would also identify myself as a trans-humanist. For example, once we’re all using augmented reality on our optic nerve computers, we can see each other all as the same beautiful face, differentiable only by the little blinking three-digit reputation/attribute scores. Wait a second, that would just evolve into a new think to discriminate based on.
If we want a unified human race, the first step is equal civil rights and equal protection of the law for all peoples. Right now, whites don’t have this. Rather than dreaming up (what will, if it ever actually happens, will be grotesquely dystopic) positive and negative eugenics schemes, we should in the meantime establish the necessary behavioral-ecological conditions for passive eugenics by refraining from rewarding maladaptive traits due to their very maladaptivenes as our current antiracist culture does.
As you were saying in your post about the dude who came at you for talking about human variation (but not between human populations??), we must be intellectually honest if we are to optimize our human social predicament. You can’t land a rocket on the moon with bad science.