Everybody makes fun of the people who will go into a clearly haunted house or an obvious murder basement but my least favorite "never saw a horror movie" real life trope is people who think eugenics "would be a good or even great thing, if done for the right reasons".
And they're all in my mentions right now arguing that we totally COULD eliminate disease by just taking out the genes that make us susceptible. Because if there's one thing that viruses hate, it's a species with genetically identical immune systems. Gros michel? I don't know her.
"We're not talking about deciding who gets to be born or not. We're only talking about getting rid of birth defects. By eliminating defective genes."

Oh? Which ones are those? Who decides?
To decide that some genes are a mistake to be corrected, you have to assume there is such a thing as a correct human genome.

And then eliminate the incorrect ones.

"Not by KILLING people."

So, by preventing them from being born.
I don't want to lean too much on how the utopian vision of long life and immunity to disease and freedom from congenital disorders is literally impossible, could only be done in a much simpler species.

Because it's also wrong, morally.
And the wrongness should be enough.

But here is the thing: we get seduced into accepting evil because it offers us seductively simplified stories about how the world works.

Life is messy. Reality is messy. Genetics are messy. The human race is messy.

Eugenics... lies to us.
Eugenics tells us that with the right technology, longer life and freedom from disease and infirmity could be as simple as turning off a light switch. Just cut power to the bad genes, reroute it to the good. Simple. Good genes, bad genes. Simple.
There are people who have died in car crashes who were killed by their seatbelts. Some of them weren't wearing them properly. Some of them... weren't the people the seatbelt designers had in mind when designing and testing them.

Some people were doing everything right.
The reason a seat belt or an air bag or child safety locks or any other safety feature on a car can wind up contributing o someone's death is LIFE IS MESSY. It's not a video game where a bit gets flipped and now the flag "car_crash" is set to true and a scripted event plays.
When a car crashes, there are trillions of variables. So many different things in play. A road surface might be describable as smooth or rough, dry or wet, but reality is fractally complex. There might be one little almost imperceptible burr, or one spot that's slicker.
In a car crash, investigators can comb through the wreckage and forensically analyze the scene and say, "This contributed. This contributed. This contributed." and they can take that into account when designing new roads, new tires, new cars. Even new drivers, with AI.
But what they can't do is take any amount of data and eliminate the bad things from roads and tires and cars and leave only the good things, so that nobody ever dies in a car crash again.

Life isn't that simple.
Human genetics -- both within an individual and more so within the species as a whole -- are way more complicated than a car crash. If we could with perfect precision pinpoint the exact amount of data in the worldwide human genome, we still couldn't understand it.
We could not understand every implication of every chromosome in every combination, in relation to other chromosomes, to environmental factors, to human behavior, to diseases and other life forms. We wouldn't have the time, processing power, or storage capacity.
I mean, oops! Turns out some bad genes are good. And good genes can be bad.

I believe that malaria is a tropical disease. The Good Gene Deciders don't seem to be from around there, though, do they?

Eugenics is a horror show. You start doing it for "the right reason" and before you've even begun you are deciding categories of humanity, natural human variation, are "defective" and should not exist in the world to come. That's a given. That's your starting point.
You might be thinking, "Oh but you make it sound like we'd be racist. We wouldn't be racist. We'd just be eliminating genetic defects."

Like what?

Sickle cell?

Lactose intolerance?
To be clear, if we have gene editing technology then people should be allowed to use it for themselves. Far be it from me to say that everyone who wants to enjoy ice cream without gastric distress or a pill shouldn't be able to do so.
"Okay, we would stay away from traits that are linked to racial categories. Obviously. Just, you know. Actual defects."

Like what? Like we find -- and this idea is laughably simplistic, but again, the devil is a liar and the lie is, "It would be so simple" -- an autism gene?
Gay genes? Trans genes? You can say, "No, no, that's not what we'd call a defect at all," but... you've agreed. You've agreed that some types of people should not be born, that they should be made to be born "better", and someone has to decide what that means.
This is not a slippery slope argument. It's a broad, flat surface. There is no objective way to measure a gene and determine "This one's good. That one's bad." There is no objective definition of a defective trait. There is no measurement. Someone has to decide.
Their decision, whatever it is, will be wrong in the sense of being incorrect because GENES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY GOODNIGHT, but it will be wrong in the moral sense because it's not a decision for any human being to make.
"Wouldn't it be great if we could eliminate error and live forever in perfect bodies?" Oh, that's a seductive message... especially if you live in a Christian-saturated culture where that is held up all around you as the idea of paradise, even if you reject faith as nonsense.
It's a lie. It's a lie that feeds on the fear of death and the desire for simple, solvable problems with straightforward solutions.

Look, I get it. It's why I assemble flatpack when I'm stressed. It's why I design games when I feel my life spiraling out of control.
We want to believe that every problem is tractable, that every tragedy could be prevented, that we could be brave enough and smart enough and good enough to *win*, to defeat the things that have the power to bring us low.
There's an author whose name I don't feel like saying who came VERY close to articulating this specific fear, who made it part of the original motivation of her main villain and named his personal cult after it... she was on the cusp of something profound and mostly wasted it.
But even if she didn't fully realize the potential of what she had there, she still had it, because it's a very human fear and very human desires spring from it.

The desire to believe in single causes with single effects. In simplicity. In tractability.
We're not going to live forever, or stave off all diseases, or any of that. Not because "death is what makes us human" or any of that garbage but because being human is what makes us die. We don't have a death gene. We're ridiculously complicated biological machines.
You know how you make a computer that never glitches, never crashes, never has any bugs? You simplify it. Then you simplify it some more. Simplify the software. Uninstall as many programs as you can. Simplify the hardware. Simplify the firmware. Simplify the peripherals.
You could make a black box that will count from 1 to 10 forever as long as it's supplied with a very small amount of power. Never miss a number. Never slow down. Never have a hiccup. No blue screens or red rings. No screens or rings.

A perfect computer.
Ever heard of the immortal jellyfish? They can revert back to a polyp, the larval form of jellyfish, and mature again. Biological immortality. The same jellyfish could live in the ocean for million of years.

Does it happen? Not really. Why? Life is messy. Gelar Morghulis.
The ocean is full of things that can kill a jellyfish polyp long before it grows to maturity. That's why they reproduce bunches of them instead of just turning back into a baby.
And we... with few possible exceptions... are not jellyfish. Human beings are not jellyfish. The idea that you could make something as complex as the human brain that would never blow a blood vessel or have synapses zig when they should have zag? No. Wouldn't work.
For that matter, it's not clear to me that jellyfish, immortal or otherwise, are immune to random genetic variation that would prevent them from living long enough to reproduce or revert to polyp stage. "No fixed lifespan" doesn't mean "Highlander".
Eugenics lies by telling us that things are simpler than they are. That they're less messy. The human brain and human body that will function "with peak efficiency" or "live forever" would not be recognizably human, and I don't mean they would be superhuman.
They would be jellyfish. They would be computers that go "beep boop" in a loop forever. They would be capable of little more than living, for a definition of living.

We're not human because we die. We die because we are human, because we're alive.
Nothing complex can live in a complex environment forever. "Stable equilibrium" is a relative state; a random confluence of factors will destroy any stable pattern on a long enough time scale.
To make something functionally last forever, at least on a human-useful timescale, you have to make it very simple or make the environment very simple, ideally both.

We are galaxies of molecules awash in a universe of chaos. We eat uncertainty and shit entropy.
If nothing else was wrong with the idea and nothing else went wrong with the idea and you could figure out how to edit our genes so we live to 200... we'd all have fun finding out what horrible things happen to our systems past ages anyone has ever lived.
Life is complicated and messy.

Eugenics is simple and clean.

That's how you know it's a lie. Because it's proposing to solve the problems of life.
Oh, and before the apologists find this and go "So should we just ban all gene editing, if it's all eugenics to me?"

Above my pay grade what to do about gene editing. I don't *know* that it's inherently eugenics. But you know who sure thinks so? The eugenicists in my mentions.

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More from @AlexandraErin

19 Sep
Reason I decided to have some wine yesterday after having done a frankly alarming amount of work sober the past few months is that I'm hitting a mental block on finishing up the combat system for Dragons, and So On... that is mostly getting over D&D and similar games baggage.
Today I'm instead re-reading how a bunch of other games that are not necessarily what I want to play and yet also very not D&D handle such things, to convince my lizard brain that yes it's allowed for us to do things differently.
Fate Core is probably the closest to what I am going for, and I'm finding its existence reassuring in a way that wine and whiskey failed.
Read 7 tweets
19 Sep
Yes, let's please not do this, Christians. If it doesn't seem like a big deal to you, please sit with that feeling rather than turning it into an argument.
I love Amazing Grace. It's one of my favorite Christian songs, but it is a Christian song, about a very Christian concept of salvation and really particularly about Christian conversion.
It's not a small thing to realize that something that gives you hope and joy and courage in the face of adversity sounds like a threat to people whose faith and culture aren't backed by cultural hegemony and empire.
Read 5 tweets
19 Sep
I regret some of the typos I made last night.
Also my decision to eyeball gauge how much Fireball I added to the wine.
Cinnamon and fruit are complementary flavors!

Read 4 tweets
19 Sep
Hey, isn't it weird how when Democrats appoint to SCOTUS they're expected by Republicans and media to respect "the balance of the court" but when a Republican has a chance to do so there is nobody saying one word about that?
Before they settled on "LOL, nope, we're just not going to let a Democratic president appoint anybody. Not this one, not the next one.", that was part of the argument in the Senate: that Scalia's seat was a Republican seat and Dems shouldn't expect to remake the court with it.
The Republican Party can just invent unwritten rules and gentlemen's agreements and longstanding principles out of whole cloth and people go along with it.
Read 4 tweets
18 Sep
I have only two moods: why do I care so much, and why do you care so much. Everything else is a cunning illusion.
I don't actually exist. Screenshot of the video game Legend of Zelda showing a mobli
I'm not a real person, I just pay one on Twitter.
Read 11 tweets
18 Sep
Ready to face the world.

(Which has been faced in the time since this picture was taken.) Selfie of Alexandra Erin, a pink haired trans woman, in a co
Today @moofable said I look like myself again. I'd just kind of been cycling through semi-clean clothes, haphazard outfits that got put through the wash only after I'd worn them outside. Last weekend I started getting on top of my laundry. Today I started putting together outfits
So, before I got my new glasses a few months back, I had noticed that my prescription sunglasses, which I had sprung for an oleophobic (smudge/fingerprin resistant) coating for, didn't fog nearly as much as my other glasses did.

Read 5 tweets

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