The author uses the acronym WEIRD to underline how marginal a group that runs North American society is in actuality. Western Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic peoples see themselves as some how select and justifiably holding power.
Much of the mythology of this group’s beliefs are not upheld by actual scientific studies. There are more and more details emerging about the complexity of DNA. For instance, It is necessary to examine 500,000 SNPs on a gene chip to predict 1/2 of the individual’s variation in I.Q. (A single-nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP is a variation in a single nucleotide that occurs at a specific position in the genome, where each variation is present to some appreciable degree within a population ). The more research is done, the more incredibly vast the structure of DNA shows itself to be.
And what of environment? Americans from the Southern United States respond more aggressively to insults than do those who dwell in the Northern part of the country.
What about the issue of cultural conditioning? Why do Japanese people look more at the background of photographs than other nationalities? Why is it that Russians are less likely to get depressed?
One thing that has been clearly established is that I.Q. emerges from what we are able to learn about our environment. It is the result of intention and curiosity.
The focus on Eugenics is a recurrent theme in the history of attitude toward human kind. The extreme was the Nazi intention to “cleanse” certain undesirables from the breeding pool. However, the idea was already present in the world at large. It was not a new thought.
In 1924 at the Kansas Free Fair there were displays of desirable qualities that should exist in a human being. People were encourage to complete questionnaires. Fair attendees allowed measurements of their bodies; medical inspections, physical challenge tests and I.Q. tests. Were they and their family fit to reproduce?
In 1927 the state of Virginia systematically sterilized institutionalized individuals who were denied the right to procreate.
Many great writers and thinkers of the day touted Eugenics.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr:
It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. Three generations of imbecils is enough.”
At this time 60,000 Americans were sterilized and more minority races bore the brunt of this institutional selection. Similar mandatory sterilization regimes emerged in Canada, Sweden, Japan and Latin America well into the 1970’s.
Alexander Graham Bell was the chair of the board of scientific advisors to the Eugenics Record Office. H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, the Rockefeller family, Carnegie, Guggenheim, Eastman, Kellog and Vanderbilt all touted the necessity for selective breeding which resulted in neutering individuals.
In the year 1928 it was possible to take a eugenics course to study the necessity for systematic sterilization on the campus of 376 universities.
Teddy Roosevelt said in his speeches, “The right kind of people need to have children for their country.”
W.E. Dubois spoke to the need that only “fit” blacks be allowed to reproduce.
In Canada. Tommy Douglas in 1933 wrote his master’s thesis about the necessity of addressing a country’s social ills with biological solutions.
Margaret Sanger, the Sierra Club and Save the Redwoods organizations spoke out for the necessity of selective breeding for a perfect race. The redwood became the symbol for a “great race of humans.”
Where is Western thinking at the current time? We have invented methodologies to check on the rightness of a child’s DNA before birth or in some cases before implantation.
Amniocentesis; cell free DNA fetal screening, PGD pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and cloning are the result. And now CRISP can tag DNA for the purpose of “swopping out” certain traits. The world has entered a genetic engineering arms race. The desirability of sperm has lead to California cryobanks wherein “mate value” is catalogued in files.
At the present time, 20% of Americans like the concept of genetically engineering a child. These people fit the profile of those who are “maximizers”. These individuals always want the very best deal they can find. Another group which are delineated as the “satisfiers” want only to achieve a level of satisfaction with their choice.
Heine asks the question, “Would our efforts to engineer our children leave society without the mental illnesses that have spurred some of humanities greatest creations?’
With the intense focus on the gene and genetic imprinting in decades of experimentation science has arrived at a point of knowing what we are not able to engineer with our biological customizations: intelligence, attractiveness, personality traits and height.
The conclusion that the book underlines is that science has become obsessed with finding a simple answer to the questions of human kind. The National Institute of Health has spent four times the money on genomics research than it ever has on the study of behavior and social science combined. We want simple stories. We want simple answers.
For all of our searching we have only found that “All humans on the face of the earth are related within 79 generations of each other.” We are the same race.
Our concepts of racial separation are no more than social constructs and do not exist in biology. We have over estimated the effect of a gene’s influence on an individual human being. And we have underestimated the dynamic of behavior and social conditioning.
The questions are just beginning. But when we see groups of people chanting hatred of another group that they wish to extinquish… we are back to uneducated and unaware thinking. We are all the same family. That is proven by DNA studies.