Unfortunately this article merely repeats well-worn tropes and also repeats the intellectual errors behind them. Let’s unpick some of the logical mistakes.

Firstly, arguing implicitly that a certain thing should be banned because it has some potential for misuse is akin to arguing that we should ban electricity because some use it for electro-convulsive therapy and some States use it to power electric chairs. If we follow the logic of this argument we must ban everything, including fire (because arsonists can use fire).

Secondly, the implicit assumption that it’s a terrible thing to want to increase the average intelligence level is also strange. It’s clear the human species is not over-endowed with intelligence; this is why we actively try to improve matters by sending children to school, for example. When we embrace stupidity and ignorance we get the Trumps of this world — is that really a good outcome?

Thirdly, the idea that only the wealthy will benefit runs counter to all our experience of material goods since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Yes, it’s true that initially the wealthy are the first adopters but learning curve effects and mass production (which would apply to genetic engineering as much as to making automobiles) drive down cost to the point where such goods become ordinary staples for everyone. We’ve seen this with air travel, road travel, domestic appliances, and nearly everywhere else we look.

Fourthly, as we’re now firmly into the Age of Populism, and as populist demagogues depend almost entirely on stupid people for their support, it seems infeasible (to say the least) that our new generation of wannabe tyrants would seek to eliminate their base of support. Indeed, if anyone in Trump’s cabinet were capable of even rudimentary reasoning they’d be agitating for a Eugenics of Stupidity, to lower the average IQ by at least 30 points and thus ensure continuing electoral success into the distant future.

So all in all, the scare-mongering around genetic engineering (which is really being used to attempt to cure hereditary diseases) is a massive distraction at a time when we need to focus on more urgent matters such as “how do we get ourselves out of this race-to-the-bottom world we’ve stumbled into?”

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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