November 2, 2009

Dog Smarts

From the NYT:
Good Dog, Smart Dog
Sarah Kershaw

Life as a Labradoodle may sound free and easy, but if you’re Jet, who lives in New Jersey, there is a lot of work to be done.

He is both a seizure alert dog and a psychiatric service dog whose owner has epilepsy, severe anxiety, depression, various phobias and hypoglycemia. Jet has been trained to anticipate seizures, panic attacks and plunging blood sugar and will alert his owner to these things by staring intently at her until she does something about the problem. He will drop a toy in her lap to snap her out of a dissociative state. If she has a seizure, he will position himself so that his body is under her head to cushion a fall.

Jet seems like a genius, but is he really so smart? In fact, is any of it in his brain, or is it mostly in his sniff?

The matter of what exactly goes on in the mind of a dog is a tricky one, and until recently much of the research on canine intelligence has been met with large doses of skepticism. But over the last several years a growing body of evidence, culled from small scientific studies of dogs’ abilities to do things like detect cancer or seizures, solve complex problems (complex for a dog, anyway), and learn language suggests that they may know more than we thought they did.

Something I've noticed over the years in this kind of article or television documentary about all the new tasks to which dogs are being applied is that they seldom mention what would have immediately occurred to a pre-20th Century reader. Contemporary readers are interested in the selection process for finding dogs with the best propensities for the job and the subsequent training process. But a 19th Century reader would have immediately thought of taking the dogs who are best at a particular skill and breeding them together.

Consider the Newfoundland, a giant water dog with webbed feet who doesn't dog paddle like the average dog, but uses a more powerful technique rather like the breast stroke. Moreover, Newfoundlands desperately want to rescue people from drowning. On shorelines all over the world, there are statues of heroic Newfoundlands who rescued humans from watery graves. Unfortunately, you can't really take a Newfoundland for a walk along a public beach because he might immediately splash into the water and start hauling protesting swimmers out.

Presumably, it took a lot of generations of selective breeding to come up with a great beast with these characteristics. Presumably, you could breed together dogs that are best at each new job and eventually come up with new breeds where a much higher percentage of the dogs would pass the selection process and would require less training. But modern readers don't want to hear about that because that would be eugenics. For example, here's Jonah Goldberg's 2002 National Review Online column:
Westminster Eugenics Show
Repugnant thinking that's died out for humans is thriving at the Westminster Kennel Club.

This is not to say that foresighted individuals aren't developing new breeds, just that the entire concept is usually left out of mainstream discussions.

For example, I've seen it claimed that a few dogs can sniff out cancer in people, at least melanomas on the skin. I don't know how accurate that is, but say you could develop over a few decades a breed of dog that could detect a variety of cancers by sniffing people. Think of what a boon that would be to the world's poor -- instead of expensive scans, doctors in poor places could do cancer screenings for the price of dog food!

But this kind of thinking is unpopular today because the conventional wisdom is that eugenics is a "pseudoscience" -- i.e., it's not just morally wrong, it's impossible.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

66 comments:

Udolpho.com said...

It's really a pity we can't apply eugenic science to the Goldberg line, perhaps even retroactively.

Dutch Boy said...

Confucius say: "People are not Dogs (not most 'em, anyway)". Leave us alone and we can breed just fine.

- signed
Dutchboy (from a long line of non-eugenic breeders)

Tom Piatak said...

Jonah Goldberg detects Hitlerian racism at dog shows and fascism just about everywhere, which shows that being prone to hysteria is no obstacle to advancement in the punditocracy.

Bing said...

Dog breeding revolves around Victorian age concepts of genetics. Crossbred breeds such as Labradoodles or Alaskan huskies, are considered abominations.

albertosaurus said...

Eugenics gets a bad rap. Most critics focus on positive eugenics. Even critics admit that you should at least counsel people who have Hunnington's Chorea. Negative eugenics is more acceptable.

One of the principal reasons that positive eugenics is not favored is that it is said that "the best" is a subjective opinion that varies fom person to person,

I don't think so.

I was at Fort Knox while in the Army. We had a lot of hill people (hill billies) from Appalachia. You could always identify them - rotten teeth. You get stuff like that (homozygous recessives) if your parents were brother and sister.

Everyone as far as I know favors good teeth. A full head of hair is also popular. Men like to be tall. Women like to be pretty. Everyone likes to be tan (not albino, not coal black).

IQ is more properly called "g" for general. People generally want to be smart too.

All parents want their son to be tall, thin (or muscular), athletic, and smart with good teeth, hair and skin. No body wants a stupid, short, fat, couch potato who has acne, bad teeth and is losing his hair early.

Maybe if DNA screening gets faster and cheaper, some service will be able to give the prospective parents individualized eugenic counseling and treatment. I don't see why that would be objectionable.

Fred said...

"Jonah Goldberg detects Hitlerian racism at dog shows and fascism just about everywhere, which shows that being prone to hysteria is no obstacle to advancement in the punditocracy."

I happen to have nothing against eugenics, as long as it's done voluntarily and humanely (e.g., giving financial incentives for high achievers to reproduce and low achievers to not reproduce, not forced sterilizations), but is it really crazy to see why a Jew such as Goldberg would be a little nervous about this? Hitler did kill a non-trivial number of Johah's (and my) kind, along with many other unfortunates.

Speaking of which, there was an interesting obit over weekend, about Richard Sonnenfeldt, the German-born, American Jew who became the chief interpreter at the Nuremberg trials. From the obit:

Sonnenfeldt had been one of the first US soldiers into Dachau concentration camp on the day of its liberation. There he had seen “mountains of bodies and thousands near death”. Yet it was only at Nuremberg that he started to grasp the full scale of the Holocaust."

Later,

"Sonnenberg [sic] was the first man to interrogate Rudolf Höss (not to be confused with Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s former deputy), the former commandant of Auschwitz arrested by British troops in 1946. “The first thing I said to him was: ‘Herr Höss, is it true that you exterminated 3½m people in Auschwitz?’ He looked at me and said: ‘That’s not true. It was only 2½m. The rest died from starvation or epidemics.’"

Also, supporting a point Steve has made in the past about the education and ability of German Jews, check out what Sonnenfeldt did after the war,

"After the war he studied electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and became senior vice-president at Radio Corporation of America where he helped develop colour television. He worked on computer technology for Nasa’s lunar programmes and helped invent the videodisc, a precursor to the DVD. When he retired he was chief executive of Napp Systems and was a frequent lecturer at Harvard Business School and MIT."

Reactionary said...

Steve, did you perchance get routed to this Newsweek story from the MSN homepage today? I hope we don't have to have a whole rash of mutilated hippies trying to rehab fighting dogs before it's finally accepted that the pit bull lines are hopelessly corrupted.

Since I can't get you to investigate the prevalence of myopia or the bizarre saga of Caster Semenya story with a ten-foot pole, maybe you can wield your Razor (Occam's) in the direction of dog breeding.

As this activity becomes increasingly ghettoized by women and their homosexual friends (like TV, the Episcopal Church, etc.), the breeders obsess over aesthetics and performance in the show ring rather than the particular breed's historical utility. Dogs are getting inbred with all sorts of awful pathologies because of femininized bias for form over function.

TBA said...

Interestingly, Goldberg seems to claim that the problem with forced eugenics was not that it was forced, but that it selected for the wrong traits:

The assumption here is that looks, and looks alone, suggest superiority. With humans at the "fitter family contests," they'd look at a sloping brow or close-set eyes and declare that so-and-so (perhaps one of my relatives) was "unfit" to procreate. Meanwhile, some moron with blue eyes and blonde hair was getting the go-ahead to be fruitful and multiply.

rob said...

Dutchboy, you made Sailers point. People can't discuss breeding dogs for anything but size and color in public. If the general public started thinking that dog breeds had been selected for aptitudes and behavioral traits, well they might start thinking that different breeds of people had differing aptitudes and temperaments.

A fair number of people, many of them blacks and south americans, have been severely injured by dogs bred to be very aggressive. We are not allowed to admit that NAMs bred the dogs to traits they liked, because of obvious parallels to how the NAMs choose to breed themselves.

As for eugenics angle. Ever since the left turned against it, they have not claimed that eugenics is unethical. They claim it is impossible. When you tell one lie, it leads to another...

togo said...

Old-time Newfoundlands-back when there were almost certainly more actual working dogs- were smaller than today's.

For some time now Anglo-American show and hobby breeders have been on a relentless quest for extremes and exaggerations.

BEN FRANKLIN said...

THIS IS MY FAVORITE GOLDBERG COLUMN, WHERE JONAH CLAIMS PALESTINE WAS EMPTY BUT NORTH AMERICA WAS FULL OF INDIANS SO IT IS REALLY THE WASP WHO IS AT FAULT FOR MUSLIM TERRORISTS WHO ARE OBVIOUSLY CONCERNED ABOUT INDIAN RIGHTS. NOTE ALSO THE DATE, WEEKS BEFORE 911.

Jonah Goldberg (archive)
(printer-friendly version)
http://web.archive.org/web/20040606075844/www.townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/jg20010820.shtml

August 20, 2001

Americans wouldn’t tolerate terrorism at home
A Mexican suicide bomber walked into a pizza restaurant in a Santa Fe, N.M., mall this morning, killing at least 15 people, mostly children. Up to a hundred others were wounded.
The bodies of two young boys who had been playing hooky from school were found in a cave outside of Phoenix. They had been beaten to death, and their bodies mutilated. Authorities are looking for Navajo separatists they believe are responsible.
Militia in Tijuana, Mexico, fired rocket grenades into downtown San Diego, killing 20, wounding 50 and, once again, snarling morning traffic.

It’s more than a little uncomfortable ascribing such barbarous crimes to completely innocent folk. Still, imagine if such things happened here instead of in Israel on an almost daily basis. How do you think the United States would respond?
Indeed, the comparison is less outlandish than you might think. After all, the United States took land from American Indians. It took land from Mexicans. In a sense, “we” even took land from the British. And, no matter how you slice it, America’s claim to Texas and the Southwest is certainly far less morally compelling than Israel’s is to its land.

When the European Jews not already living in Palestine arrived there after World War II, the area was largely empty. What is today called Jordan was the historic home of many “Palestinians.” And, after all, even the most militant Muslim must concede that the Bible places the land as the historic home of the Jews.

Meanwhile, when European colonists came to North America, they had no historical claim to the land whatsoever and, besides, it was occupied.

james said...

Biographers of royalty used to talk quite openly about considerations of bloodlines, as anyone who has read a pre-1945 book about the Windsors, Bourbons, or Habsburgs will know. Probably they couldn't get away with it now, but they did for a long time. It's hard not to talk about such considerations, when you think of (for instance) how badly Philip II's son Don Carlos turned out, and what a political disaster he probably would've been had he lived to inherit the throne, instead of dying mysteriously in 1568.

Anonymous said...

Goldberg's article takes issue with the idea of breeding for looks,and not for function. The problem as he sees it is the emphasis on appearance, on the outward signs of "proper" bloodline (e.g. Aryan characteristics in a human being) rather than the inner qualities of the individual. I do not believe that his argument is against breeding per se, at least not for dogs.

Dahlia said...

It took only a few decades to get from Galton's idea of eugenics to the Holocaust and the lesson we took away from that was "Intolerance is bad". This is unfortunate, but the pro-Eugenics crowd has not made the case for why Hitler was an aberration instead of an inevitable result of the underlying philosophy.
I, personally, believe in the Christian ideal of the Patriarchy. It upholds the belief that people have intrinsic worth regardless of their looks, status, etc. while promoting the nuclear family. The latter alone is enough to advance our civilization.

couchscientist said...

Sometimes people will make the argument that there has not been enough time for the races to distinguish themselves genetiically (ie race is a social construct). It's funny when you consider all the variety in dogs and the fact that dog variation didnt start until after whites and asians emerged. Sure dog breeding was done by human design, but human breeding was also done by human design...

Anonymous said...

"As this activity becomes increasingly ghettoized by women and their homosexual friends (like TV, the Episcopal Church, etc.), the breeders obsess over aesthetics and performance in the show ring rather than the particular breed's historical utility. Dogs are getting inbred with all sorts of awful pathologies because of femininized bias for form over function."

You are saying it is women (and gays)involved in dog shows who are responsible for the rampant inbreeding pathologies in many popular dog breeds today?
I find this argument implausible to say the least. Inbreeding is a common practice in puppy-breeding mills that provide the majority of petshop puppies. It's a bottom-line issue. More profitable to inbreed than to carefully screen dogs, to avoid breeding those with genetic diseases, and track bloodlines.
But a show dog, to win, is required to be functionally sound, and reputable breeders, who show their dogs in order to demonstrate their quality, will adhere to the Code of Ethics, which includes not breeding dogs with genetic defects.

Anonymous said...

It took only a few decades to get from Galton's idea of eugenics to the Holocaust ..



I don't think there is any neccessary relationship between the two. Genocides had been attempted long before anybody had heard of eugenics.

Reactionary said...

But a show dog, to win, is required to be functionally sound,

I hope you are right. From what I am seeing, a show dog must first, meet certain aesthetic points, and second, have a bouyant, 'show ring' personality. All else is secondary.

German Shepherds with severely sloped hindquarters, for example, may look really cool, but they don't have the efficient gait required for herding sheep all day.

Dahlia said...

"I don't think there is any neccessary relationship between the two. Genocides had been attempted long before anybody had heard of eugenics."

Of course, but the Holocaust, and I'm thinking of the sterilizations, murders of cripples, etc., was a unique holocaust with an underlying philosophy that enabled it.

It's not even the worst. It's inverse, the Communist revolutions, killed 10x the number.

My point remains that the Nazi holocaust, not the worst thing ever wrought but a horrific tragedy nonetheless, was a particular event with a particular ideology undergirding it.

I've never heard it explained why eugenics should be taken so lightly and that "of course" a Hitler figure would not arise again.

Melykin said...

I've seen it claimed that a few dogs can sniff out cancer in people, at least melanomas on the skin. I don't know how accurate that is, but say you could develop over a few decades a breed of dog that could detect a variety of cancers by sniffing people. Think of what a boon that would be to the world's poor -- instead of expensive scans, doctors in poor places could do cancer screenings for the price of dog food!
-----------------

A lot of the world's poor are Muslim and wouldn't take kindly to being sniffed by a dog, since they have a lot of stupid hang-ups about dogs. Islam is really a very nasty and destructive religion.

Anonymous said...

Ok so the left sees bogeymen again. So what's the surprise? They are the worst for denial of science, reality, or truth. This is just one of their traits.

tommy said...

Consider the Newfoundland, a giant water dog with webbed feet who doesn't dog paddle like the average dog, but uses a more powerful technique rather like the breast stroke. Moreover, Newfoundlands desperately want to rescue people from drowning. On shorelines all over the world, there are statues of heroic Newfoundlands who rescued humans from watery graves. Unfortunately, you can't really take a Newfoundland for a walk along a public beach because he might immediately splash into the water and start hauling protesting swimmers out.

I used to have a neighbor with two English mastiffs. These dogs would pounce upon unwary delivery guys on occasion. Once they had the delivery guy under control, they wouldn't get off him until the neighbor came out and ordered them up. These dogs still displayed the working qualities of their ancestors: tackle and pin poachers rather than maul them.

Pinning intruders is a rare quality among modern mastiffs. The emphasis of the AKC has been on dogs that look pretty trotting around the show ring and working ability is entirely neglected. The AKC category of "Working Breed" has become an absurdity. Confronted with an intruder, most AKC mastiffs wouldn't even get off the kitchen floor to investigate these days.

It's a different situation in Germany where Schutzhund clubs exist in almost every town and village. Breeds like Dobermans, Boxers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and the Belgian and Dutch Sheepdog breeds are still bred for working qualities. Dogs with top rankings are highly sought after for breeding. That is why nearly all of the police dogs in our country come from Europe or, at a minimum, from recent European lines.

It took only a few decades to get from Galton's idea of eugenics to the Holocaust and the lesson we took away from that was "Intolerance is bad".

Was the Holocaust motivated by eugenics or by a hatred of Jews and other groups that had little do with eugenics?

This is unfortunate, but the pro-Eugenics crowd has not made the case for why Hitler was an aberration instead of an inevitable result of the underlying philosophy.

Really? Why does eugenics necessarily imply that all measures must be involuntary or that all respect for human rights must be abandoned? I think the anti-eugenics crowd has not made its case and that is why they have resorted to invoking Godwin's Law in every discussion of the science.

Reactionary said...

I've never heard it explained why eugenics should be taken so lightly

Right back at you: should dysgenics be taken lightly? That is, would you have babies by just anybody? I doubt it. Your discrimination among breeding partners is pure eugenics, and an instinct as natural as mother's milk.

and that "of course" a Hitler figure would not arise again.

The primary reason to oppose 'a Hitler' is not because Hitler was a eugenicist but because Hitler was an imperialist.

TGGP said...

I found the Goldberg article, and one at Slate linked from it, to be mixes of smart and stupid. Someone should explain to him that he's not that funny and should stop trying to be.

"Positive eugenics" was what Galton advocated and consisted of encouraging the desirable element of society to have more children. "Negative eugenics" was sterilization and the like.

l said...

Dog breeds are a social construct.

Anonymous said...

Nature practices its own special brand of eugenics, a particularly cruel kind of culling. Nature kills the crippled, the children, the sick, the weak, usually slowly and impersonally. Eugenicists don't slaughter anyone but do everything possible to deprive nature of her victims.

Ray Sawhill said...

An excellent blog that should interest iSteve fans who also love dogs:

http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/

milam command said...

Everybody groks the concept of dog (and cat and cow and horse, etc.) breeds. This is why I don't get why Steve defines "race" as "an extended family that is inbred to some degree." By that definition, a hillbilly clan is a "race" unto itself.

Race, in humans, is perfectly analogous to dog breeds, and that's how we should define it. A better definition would be something like: "Race = a group of human beings (analogous to an animal "breed"), with noticeable similarities in appearance, abilities and behavior, caused by inter-breeding in isolation over many generations."

Steve's definition makes the term subsume both too much and too little.

Cordelia said...

"I PROPOSE to show in this book that a man's natural abilities are derived by inheritance, under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world. Consequently, as it is easy, notwithstanding those limitations, to obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running, or of doing anything else, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations. I shall show that social agencies of an ordinary character, whose influences are little suspected, are at this moment working towards the degradation of human nature, and that others are working towards its improvement. I conclude that each generation has enormous power over the natural gifts of those that follow, and maintain that it is a duty we owe to humanity to investigate the range of that power, and to exercise it in a way that, without being unwise towards ourselves, shall be most advantageous to future inhabitants of the earth."

Sir Francis Galton, Hereditary Genius

"The aim of eugenics is to represent each class or sect by its best specimens, causing them to contribute more than their proportion to the next generation; that done, to leave them to work out their common civilisation in their own way."

Galton, Eugenics: Its Definintion, Scope and Aims

Anonymous said...

Goldberg is about to issue a new book:

"Doggie Fascism"

It proves that Fido and Winkles conspired with *white men* to enslave blacks, steal Indian lands, and oppress minorities.

Richard Hoste said...

Oh my God, Jonah Goldberg is the first person I've found that rivals Bill Maher in stupidity. "I think Westminster is racist." Ha

Richard Hoste said...

Everyone likes to be tan (not albino, not coal black).

No, they don't.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard it explained why eugenics should be taken so lightly and that "of course" a Hitler figure would not arise again.

Because eugenics was just a convenient and highly motivating excuse. The real reason for mass murder in our age is industrialization. Human labor is not very valuable anymore; to the powerful, the mass of humanity is not worth keeping alive. People really do not like contemplating this nasty fact so they really like the myth that the Nazi genocide was special and all about Jew-hate.

Anonymous said...

What is the documentary evidence for Nazi eugenics? Not the assertion that they believed in it as a program but what they actualy did to implement it.

Is there any evidence one way or another that it has has any noticible effect, positive or negative, on the present day population of Germany.

Or is that something we are not supposed to think about, in case we come up with the wrong answer.

Jack said...

There are still large numbers of people who take the dogs that are best at a particualr skill and breed them to each other- hunters. For example:

http://www.gundogbreeders.com/stud_fee.html

Although these breeders may not be as well known in the media as those who breed dogs to show at Westminster, many hunters breed selectively and track bloodlines as much as anyone who breeds dogs for dog shows. The difference is that they breed dogs for performance and aptitude rather than appearance, with good hunting dogs commanding stud fees of several hundred dollars. Many hunters (not to mention breeders of other kinds of working dogs)register their dogs with the United Kennel Club (UKC) which is geared to performance, rather than the American Kennel Club (AKC) which is geared more towards breeding for show.

Although there is a stereotype of purebred dogs as having various genetic maladies, purebred hunting dogs are typically very healthy.

rightsaidfred said...

owner has epilepsy, severe anxiety, depression, various phobias and hypoglycemia.

While we're on the topic of selective breeding, maybe some of these dysfunctions could be bred out.

Just sayin'.

eh said...

Crow smarts.

Fred said...

"Although there is a stereotype of purebred dogs as having various genetic maladies, purebred hunting dogs are typically very healthy."

They also tend to be more expensive than the show dogs. It's worth pointing out though that there are hunting dogs that have looks as well as ability -- "dual champions".

green mamba said...

Crow smarts = amazing. I've seen other videos like this featuring crows manipulating physical objects to attain a goal. So it turns out chimps using sticks to catch termites aren't so unique after all?

Reg Cæsar said...

...the conventional wisdom is that eugenics is a "pseudoscience"...

Eugenics is neither science nor pseudoscience. It is an art, like medicine or engineering. It utilizes science (or pseudoscience if you prefer) to achieve a goal. The eu- is the giveaway.

Science itself is learning how the world works, not making it work better.

Reg Cæsar said...

It took only a few decades to get from Galton's idea of eugenics to the Holocaust... --Dahlia

It took only a few decades to get from Bismarck's ideas of social security, retirement pensions and guaranteed health care to the Holocaust... and it happened in the same country. (By a régime that embraced all those things.)

If eugenics leads to genocide, then the British, who invented it, would have been the likeliest to be guilty. Instead, they defeated and punished the genocidal. So much for the Anglogenic theories of Stefan Kühl, Dahlia, and the like.

(BTW, the dahlia is a native Mexican flower named after a Swede. Talk about Nordic supremacism.)

Anonymous said...

Nazi eugenics was the sterilization of retards, the mentally ill, and the deformed. Eugenics is *within* a population.

The Nazi policy on Jews was not eugenics, but extreme German nationalism, as the goal of Nazism was a purely German Germany (and Jews are not German, but a separate people).

Don't get the two confused.

togo said...

If eugenics leads to genocide, then the British, who invented it, would have been the likeliest to be guilty.

Well, they were guilty of some policies that have the suggestion of genocide circling about them : the Great Irish Famine, the mass deaths of the Boer women and children in British concentration camps, and the Social Darwinist attitude of Brit administrators on the question of famine relief while millions died at many points during the Raj.

togo said...

But a show dog, to win, is required to be functionally sound, and reputable breeders, who show their dogs in order to demonstrate their quality, will adhere to the Code of Ethics, which includes not breeding dogs with genetic defects.

This is, of course, complete BS. Some breeds-most notably breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs-are bred specifically to have harmful genetic defects. The anti-HBD (only when it comes it humans) Terrierman has a sensible post on this:
http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2006/05/inbred-thinking.html

Anonymous said...

"Dogs can sniff out cancer" Galton
hypothesized that some dog breeds might be used to "sniff out" diseases. I have never heard of
research having been done regarding this. DoD/CIA might have carried out some 'in house' work on this topic?

Svigor said...

Sorry, didn't proofread that one, obviously.

Repugnant thinking that's died out for humans is thriving at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Christ on a crutch.

but is it really crazy to see why a Jew such as Goldberg would be a little nervous about this? Hitler did kill a non-trivial number of Johah's (and my) kind, along with many other unfortunates.

Is it really crazy to see why one would be a little nervous about anti-racism? The Soviets did kill a very non-trivial number (20 million+) of my kind.

And, no matter how you slice it, America’s claim to Texas and the Southwest is certainly far less morally compelling than Israel’s is to its land.

Has Goldberg ever had to deal with a comments section? Something tells me he didn't for that piece.

No, Goldberg, the colonists took America when such things were Kosher, Jews took Palestine loooooooooooooooooooooong after it no longer was. Sorry, you guys were so late to the party the building had been boarded up, condemned, and then bulldozed by the time you got there.

And something, I dunno, let's call it intuition, tells me that America was emptier than Palestine, before either colonizing group began operations.

It took only a few decades to get from Galton's idea of eugenics to the Holocaust and the lesson we took away from that was "Intolerance is bad".

Nope. I suppose I'll have to go to my grave denying statements like this. No, no, no. It was the marketing campaign that convinced "us" that "intolerance is bad."

Your statement is equivalent to making typical 11th century peasants into theologians.

This is unfortunate, but the pro-Eugenics crowd has not made the case for why Hitler was an aberration instead of an inevitable result of the underlying philosophy.

Indeed. Maybe they should build a film and television industry and get cracking on that marketing campaign.

I don't think there is any neccessary relationship between the two. Genocides had been attempted long before anybody had heard of eugenics.

Indeed; e.g., it didn't take long for the rise of blank-slatist and anti-racist Communism before the killin' ensued...

But somehow folks' "internal arguments" don't conflate Commie ideals and Commie murder. In fact, Commie murder doesn't really register in many "internal arguments" at all, relative to Nazi malfeasance. But I'm sure marketing has nothing to do with it.

People seem to have a visceral (conditioned?) response to the idea that who/whom, marketing, etc., mean a whole hell of a lot more than peoples' "internal arguments," at least in this context. Folks, marketing is how you replace the other guy's "internal arguments" with your own preferred package, on a mass scale. On subjects of wide interest like this, the vast majority are sporting some marketer's preferred package, not the results of their own "internal arguments."

This is not rocket science.

Of course, but the Holocaust, and I'm thinking of the sterilizations, murders of cripples, etc., was a unique holocaust with an underlying philosophy that enabled it.

[...]

My point remains that the Nazi holocaust, not the worst thing ever wrought but a horrific tragedy nonetheless, was a particular event with a particular ideology undergirding it.


Which is in contrast to Communism how, exactly?

I've never heard it explained why eugenics should be taken so lightly and that "of course" a Hitler figure would not arise again.

You really need an explanation for this?

Mark said...

If eugenics leads to genocide, then the British, who invented it, would have been the likeliest to be guilty. Instead, they defeated and punished the genocidal. So much for the Anglogenic theories of Stefan Kühl, Dahlia, and the like.

But see how wrong you are? The British are guilty for the Holocaust - all non-Jewish whites are guilty for what Nazi Germans did to Jews, even if they fought the Nazis, even if they died fighting the Nazis. It's the Law of Collective Guilt (a law which applies to everyone but Jews, of course - we cannot blame Jews for Jewish financiers causing the economic collapse). Jeez, can't you people even be properly brainwashed?

FWIW, unlike a lot of people here I'm normally a big fan of Jonah Goldberg, but he seems not to be quite sure of the point he was trying to make here. Was he bashing doggie eugenics, or just doggie eugenics for form as opposed to function? Because all he really ends up bashing is the Westminster Kennel Club, which is such a small target it should be left to your local 92 IQ columnist, not someone as smart as Jonah.

Dutch Boy said...

Negative eugenics was a common practice in non-Catholic Western countries (not just Nazi Germany) and continued in Sweden into the 1960s. People could be sterilized for trivial or bizarre reasons (e.g., "Gypsy-like " appearance, promiscuity, deviant family members).Incidentally, the Social Democratic Party in Sweden was a big supporter of sterilizations and strongly resisted compensation for the victims. Eugenics was a fixation of "progressives" of the pre-WWII era and its supporters were a Who's Who of the political Establishments of the time.

tommy said...

This is, of course, complete BS. Some breeds-most notably breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs-are bred specifically to have harmful genetic defects.

Bulldog lovers should check out the American Bulldog. Unlike English Bulldogs, these are large, tough dogs that can defend the home. They don't have the ridiculously exaggerated and harmful facial features of the English.

Unfortunately, show breeders are responsible for ensuring that harmful genetic defects are not bred out of some dogs. A good example is the Dalmatian. Dalmatians lack a typical canine enzyme that breaks down uric acid and are thus prone to kidney and bladder stones.

Some Dalmatian enthusiasts have backcrossed the dogs to other breeds (like the English pointer) to get rid of the problem. The crosses are made and the resultant dogs possessing the enzyme are bred back against Dalmatians repeatedly until healthy dogs indistinguishable from ordinary Dalmatians are achieved. These dogs have only a minuscule amount of non-Dalmatian ancestry, but that is still too much for the show dog establishment. They have insisted for decades on keeping the dogs both untainted and unhealthy.

Anonymous said...

albertosaurus:"We had a lot of hill people (hill billies) from Appalachia. You could always identify them - rotten teeth."

The reason so many hillbillies and other poor people have rotten teeth is a bad diet full of wheat, corn, and other grains/carbs -- eating too many of them will rot your teeth real quick, especially corn (grits, etc) which many hillbillies still eat in abundance and which contains a lot of natural sugars. The Native Americans who had corn as a staple of their diet also often had rotten teeth by their 20s.

Pseudothyrum said...

Eugenics will be revived in Western nations once the stigma of German National Socialism and the Holocaust wears off in another few decades.

In fact, eugenics is already being revived in, of all places, Israel. Israel is a worldwide center of eugenics and the advanced study of human genetics, and modern Jews are currently the primary users of eugenics. For instance, Jewish organizations based on eugenics such as 'Dor Yeshorim' (in Israel, the USA, and elsewhere) have tested millions of Ashkenazi Jews in order to prevent Jewish genetic disorders due to too much Ashkenazi inbreeding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dor_Yeshorim

Steve - maybe you could do a post on the Jewish eugenic organization 'Dor Yeshorim' in order to bring that info to a wider audience if you haven't already?

Jews have been some of the most prominent eugenicists in the last 100+ years, and John Glad (himself Jewish) has written a book entitled FUTURE HUMAN EVOLUTION on the necessity of reviving eugenics; d-load that book at http://www.whatwemaybe.org/ - the preface of that book was written by another Jew, Seymour Itzkoff.

More on Jewish eugenics from Glad: http://www.whatwemaybe.org/txt/jewish_eugenics.htm

tommy said...

And, no matter how you slice it, America’s claim to Texas and the Southwest is certainly far less morally compelling than Israel’s is to its land.

That is "Israel First, America Next....Maybe" arrogance at its finest. You're right, this guy has clearly never had to deal with a challenge to this ridiculous claim, but I guess in the world of delusional Israel Firsters it doesn't matter how you slice it: Israel always represents a more compelling moral cause than America.

Just don't question their patriotism.

Anonymous said...

"This is, of course, complete BS. Some breeds-most notably breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs-are bred specifically to have harmful genetic defects"

Well, not total b.s. I should have clarified.
Show dogs are expected to conform to the HISTORICAL traits of the dog's breed, the traits that have been associated with the breed for 100s of years. So show dog Golden Retrievers are expected to be free of hip dysplasia, in order that they can retrieve, for instance.
The pug and bulldog HISTORICALLY, for 100s of years, have had traits that are genetic defects, in that their short faces cause them to have difficulty breathing. But because those defects are a historical trait of the breed, they are acceptable..

I was responding to the preposterous notion that dog shows in recent years, being female and gay dominated, and therefore emphasizing form over function, is the cause of so much of the recent spate of genetically decrepit dogs, due to the women and gays using inbreeding in their show dogs. No. The genetic defects such as bad hips seen in so many of today's popular breeds is due to "mass-production" puppy mills.

Richard Hoste said...

Nope. I suppose I'll have to go to my grave denying statements like this. No, no, no. It was the marketing campaign that convinced "us" that "intolerance is bad."

Your statement is equivalent to making typical 11th century peasants into theologians.


Svigor is a wise man.

People are funny when they talk about a nation "learning" this and that. Maybe that can happen when there are political upheavals that affect a large percentage of the population directly. But interpretation of historical events are fed to us.

Anonymous said...

the colonists took America when such things were Kosher, Jews took Palestine loooooooooooooooooooooong after it no longer was.

Your silly intonation corresponds to your ignorance of ME history. Exactly why was British Palestine, which began to be settled by Jews in the late 1800s - Jews who agreed with your essential thinking that Jews do not belong living among Europeans - not kosher for the establishment of a Jewish state?

"No Jews in Israel - No Jews in America/Europe" - that's the thinking of Svigor and tommy.

Just don't call them anti-semites.

tommy said...

"No Jews in Israel - No Jews in America/Europe" - that's the thinking of Svigor and tommy.

Just don't call them anti-semites.


I cannot speak for Svigor, but I support the existence of an Israeli state. I just wish more Jews who feel that the defense of Israel comes before the defense of United States would move there.

If that's antisemitism, then just do call me an antisemite. The term has all of the precision of the word "racist" these days. Maybe it means "anyone who is winning an argument with a Jew," or perhaps "somebody who believes that all Israel Firsters should move to Israel," or maybe it just means "any non-Jew offended by any Jew evuh." I'm not certain and I suspect that most of those throwing the word around aren't too sure either.

Anonymous said...

the Social Darwinist attitude of Brit administrators on the question of famine relief while millions died at many points during the Raj.

And millions more have starved elsewhere since even after empire and even in places never part of the empire. Truly the reach of the Raj is mighty.

togo said...

And millions more have starved elsewhere since even after empire and even in places never part of the empire. Truly the reach of the Raj is mighty.

No famines in India since independence:
http://democraticpeace.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/if-democracies-have-no-famines-what-about-india/

Lord Curzon on the question of famine relief:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famine_in_India#British_response
(..)
"Any government which imperiled the financial position of India in the interests of prodigal philanthropy would be open to serious criticism; but any government which by indiscriminate alms-giving weakened the fiber and demoralized the self-reliance of the population, would be guilty of a public crime."[14]

He also cut back rations that he characterized as "dangerously high" and stiffened relief eligibility by reinstating the Temple tests.[14] In total, between 1.25 to 10 million people were killed in the famine.[14][15]
(...)

togo said...

The pug and bulldog HISTORICALLY, for 100s of years, have had traits that are genetic defects, in that their short faces cause them to have difficulty breathing. But because those defects are a historical trait of the breed, they are acceptable..

What is now called the (English) Bulldog was created specifically for the show ring in the 19th Century:
bulldog history.

Svigor said...

Anon, I apologize, I read in haste and that buggered my reply. I read it as the the usual U.S. vs Israel colonialism comparison when it was much more specific. I've never actually considered the comparison made.

Sloppy work, my bad. And it's actually an interesting question since it's obviously far more apples-to-apples than comparing the original American colonies to Israel as I've usually seen the argument put.

And, no matter how you slice it, America’s claim to Texas and the Southwest is certainly far less morally compelling than Israel’s is to its land.

But let's face it, there's little chance of that argument blowing the stink away; you can put one kind of professor on the air, and not the other, and that fact remains no matter how much you shift the comparison into the apple category.

Svigor said...

Exactly why was British Palestine, which began to be settled by Jews in the late 1800s - Jews who agreed with your essential thinking that Jews do not belong living among Europeans - not kosher for the establishment of a Jewish state?

Ah, and now I'm 0 for 2 because I get what you were asking. Guess my brain wasn't all the way awake. Well, to answer your question, I suppose it's kosher, in the literal sense of the word. :)

But really now, setting up a Jewish ethno-state in the middle of the 20th century, in Muslim Arab territory? Isn't that pretty much totally contrary to the flow of the modern Zeitgeist? Doesn't it make a laughingstock of that Zeitgeist? How can the U.S., Europe, or Organized Jewry be taken at their word in the face of that?

David said...

Anything can be misused. Guns can either

a) help innocent people
b) kill innocent people.

Automobiles can either

a) run over people
b) transport people conveniently.

Nuclear physics can either

a) murder millions in atomic explosions
b) cure millions through radiotherapy

Knowledge can either

a) be used to help people
b) be used to destroy people.

Eugenics can be used for good or ill, depending on the morality of the person - or the mores of the society - using it.

To my knowledge, nowhere in the scientific reasoning of eugenics is it concluded that Jewish people are bad or fit for extermination. That bit seems to be added. To assert that Nazism is the "ultimate" or logical result of eugenics is silly, despite how often and how widely this assertion is made.

Remember that eugenics, strictly speaking, only means selective breeding. The real controversy is over who does the selection. But the idea that the very fabric or structure of eugenic science is antisemitic is not justified. Nazis should not be let off the hook with the equivalent of the excuse: "the gun made the criminal do it." No. The criminal is responsible, not the gun. The Nazis are responsible, not eugenics.

Just as the Nazis chose to use guns and automobiles for bad ends, they also used eugenic science (to the extent they actually did...) for bad ends.

Eugenics can be used for good or ill.

Also I suggest that readers make a list of peoples whose histories do not include the committing of genocide for tribal-/racial-related reasons. It will be instructive, and very sad. I venture to say that the list will be relatively short.

tommy said...

No famines in India since independence:

Would there have been democracy or a lack of famines in India without colonialism?

The English language has tied together the elites of the many ethnic groups in India who might have otherwise went their separate ways.

Exposure to European technology was critical in revolutionizing Indian agriculture. Rather than look at the post-colonial condition of India, it would be better to look at the frequency of famine in India prior to colonialism.

David said...

Uh oh. Kiwi off the reservation. Don't tell Jonah. He'll plotz!

Truth said...

"Sloppy work, my bad."

A mea culpa from combined with deft use of Charleston ebonics?

Not bad Sviggey!

Anonymous said...

Svigor, apology noted and appreciated.

And yes, a Jewish ethnostate goes against the zeitgeist in some regards, but given the history of the Jews and their (former) status as a stateless people, it makes a good deal of sense too.

I have often seen claims that Palestine was sparsely populated before the Zionists settled there. I believe the matter is still disputed, though the British must have kept some decent records.