Re: poly: Heinleinian eugenics

From: Carl Feynman <>
Date: Sat Feb 28 1998 - 07:42:03 PST

At 10:27 AM 2/26/98 -0800, Robin wrote:
>Carl writes:
>>It is of interest to consider what traits are worth selecting for. ...
>>(3) The trait should not be a positional good. ... Better to just
>>not let it get started by banning selection for height.
>Height is attractive not just because of the possibility of a job as
>a basketball player, but mainly because it is a signal of health and
>nutrition in childhood, which correlates with lots of desirable

That's probably why we respect it, but that's a genetic or memetic hangover
from the period when it really was a good signal. In modern industrialized
countries, essentially everyone has adequate health and nutrition during
childhood, so that height is 90% a genetic trait.

In the last ten years, it has become feasible to administer recombinant
guman growth hormone to short children, in order to bring them closer to
average height. This has many interesting implications. See

>We already have a vast number of positional goods which we do not now
>ban efforts at attaining.

I can think of a several where we ban most methods of attaining them. For
example, only 50 people can be state governors, and many methods of
striving for that post are banned, even when such methods would be legal
when striving for a regular (non-positional) job. The same applies to
winning Miss America.

You've probably got dozens of examples of positional goods at your
fingertips, but I'm having a hard time thinking of others. Could you give
me a few examples, just to give me something to think about?

Received on Fri Feb 27 15:51:13 1998

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