The Black Clinics of Kolkata

There’s a lot of interesting data in the recent PEW poll on public attitudes to gene editing research, though it’s really just the increasing intelligence part (4th column) that’s of civilizational significance.

Gene editing for IQ is still a philosophical discussion at this stage, despite very fast progress in the relevant fields. So these numbers are likely to change in all sorts of ways when more concrete things are brought to the table.

Even so, it’s worth reiterating a wider point I’ve made before. We basically have three choices for the coming century:

  • Large-scale eugenics programs
  • Create an AI superintelligence and hope it doesn’t eat us
  • Allow gene editing for personality traits

Alternatively, we can opt for the assured dysgenics-driven collapse of civilization into a neo-Malthusian idiocracy. (Or getting brutally outcompeted at the national level if other major countries go ahead while yours doesn’t).

China is missing from the PEW poll. However, another 2018 poll found it at a surprisingly low 23%, which is not that far away from Europe and North America. Here are some other historical polls.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

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  2. How about we just stop subsidizing the negative characteristics in the society and allow those that rely on long term support to just die off?

    Stop welfare as it’s currently constituted. Let the religious institutions that don’t pay taxes take over the support of the indigent. Because their funds are limited, they’ll weed out the career moochers from those that actually do need a helping hand to overcome some obstacle and return to being a productive person. Donations to those institutions would increase markedly IF people realize their donation was actually doing some good, not like free stuff state welfare.

    How about we stop sending food, medicine, everything to Africa and other areas of the world that can’t seem to get their act together even after decades of support. Let those people die off. There’s no shortage of people in the world.

    Just stop subsidizing failure and allow that to gradually reduce the problem.

  3. The Spirit of Enoch Powell says

    If such a technology ever became available, most people would use it, despite the qualms they may express in polls like these.

    On a side note, Richard Lynn writes in Eugenics: A Reassessment


    While in the last decades of the twentieth century eugenics became widely rejected in the Western democracies, in much of the rest of the world eugenics was viewed favorably. We noted in Chapter 2 the robust program of positive eugenics that was introduced in the late 1970s in Singapore by Lee Kyan Yew, the prime minister between 1959 and 1990, which consisted of a range
    of incentives for university graduates to have children. Favorable attitudes to eugenics in a number of countries outside the Western democracies were found in a survey of the views held by geneticists and physicians in 36 countries carried out from 1994 to 1996 by Wertz (1998). For instance, geneticists and physicians were asked to evaluate the statement, “An important goal of genetic counseling is to reduce the number of deleterious genes in the population.” The most common form of genetic counseling consists of advice on
    whether to terminate a genetically impaired fetus, and to do this in order to reduce the number of deleterious genes in the population serves a eugenic purpose in addition to the promotion of the well-being of the prospective mother. Fewer than one-third of the geneticists and physicians in the larger Western democracies supported this eugenic objective of genetic counseling,
    but in a number of countries this objective was endorsed by the majority of geneticists and physicians, including China (100%), India (87%), Turkey (73%), Peru (71%), Poland (66%), Russia (58%), Cuba (57%), and Mexico (52%). Even in a few of the smaller Western democracies, a majority of geneticists and physicians approved of the eugenic use of genetic counseling,
    including Spain (67%) and Greece (58%).

    In another question in this survey, geneticists and physicians were asked whether eugenics is “the major goal of genetics.” This statement was endorsed by all the geneticists and physicians in China and by majorities in India, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Thailand, Russia, and Greece. Asked whether they
    would give “pessimistically slanted information” designed to persuade pregnant women diagnosed as carrying a fetus with Down’s syndrome to terminate the pregnancy, a majority of geneticists and physicians said they would
    in several countries, including China (96%), Cuba (93%), Russia (89%),
    Greece (87%), Thailand (76%), Hungary (75%), Belgium (71%), France (66%), and Sweden (58%). The only countries where fewer than 20 percent of geneticists said they would do this were Canada (9%), the United States (13%), and Britain (14%). Broadly similar percentages were obtained for a similarly worded question about spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, and sickle-cell anemia, and somewhat lower but still appreciable percentages were obtained
    for achondroplasia (dwarfism) and Klinefelter’s syndrome.

  4. How about we stop sending food, medicine, everything to Africa and other areas of the world that can’t seem to get their act together even after decades of support. Let those people die off. There’s no shortage of people in the world.

    How about we ride pink unicorns that poop rainbows. About the same chance of happening. Future of corporate sales growth is going to be in places like Nigeria. If you interfere with that process, it ain’t going Africans dying off. Actually, one of the reasons our friendly overlords seek to destroy Western nation states is to preempt your kind of thinking. Corporations need consumers to justify stock market valuations, and if they need to plow over some fringe movements to accomplish that, it will done.

  5. Meh. First off, good on India. I see them becoming a global superpower by 2100, but with those pragmatic attitudes, it may happen even sooner.

    Second, while I’m a huge supporter of genetic engineering, including for IQ, I’m not sweating the current fashions. IQ is lower priority for me compared to radiation resistance, bone density increase, and immune system boosts.

    If we can demonstrate clear benefits to people through genetic engineering in just a few of those areas, I think opinions will change and people will be more accepting of IQ improvements as well.

    Do not resist the fashions, flow with them and subvert.

  6. I do not think there will ever be large-scale gene editing available to masses. I just cannot imagine a method that will be precise enough at molecular level, especially inside living zygote/oocyte for more than handful edits. The probability of getting all wanted target mutations goes down with the number of edits, and the probability of non-targets goes up, both in geometric progression. From certain number of edits (and you probably need at least hundreds for detectable change in IQ) the probability of introducing at least one new unknown harmful effect is close to one.
    The technology with much more perspective is IMHO de-novo chromosome synthesis. It has been successfully done for bacteria – and single human chromosome is only 10-50x larger.
    De-novo synthesis offers infinitely more possiblities – in single run we can disable or repair all deleterious mutations, kill transposons and set the desired alleles for 10 000-s of polymorphisms – instead of designing CRISPR probes one-by-one and praying that they do not cause non-target mutations.
    It will be harder to swallow for prospective parents, of course. Instead of “repairing” your own chromosomes child will get newly synthesized ones. But this will probably be overcome, especially as the benefits could be really huge.
    Of course neither of these methods is actually NEEDED for a population – as long as it is willing to use tried and tested old-school selection methods.

  7. Imagine if they could create the black god that they so badly want to worship, and if they could alter the genes of non-blacks to create clonal lines of cucks.

  8. Eh, the dysgenics is long-term eugenics. Farewell to alms but global

  9. Sure, but only problem is, it will take many centuries to play out:

  10. Oh well, yes, the eternal problem of time and whether or not some unfortunate event happens and ruins everything.

    I’m all for genetic modificiation. Eliminate idiocy, along with some other physical quirks (like that dumb nerve that goes around the neck through the chest but ends near the jaw on both ends, or our inverted cheek sinuses not adapted to flat faces which is why we get colds so often)

  11. YetAnotherAnon says

    I’ve asked before and not got an answer – how does this genetic editing work?

    I can understand the concept of editing the DNA in the egg immediately after the male and female chromosomes join – you’ve only got one piece of DNA to change. Presumably this is done in vitro not in utero.

    But a human body – even a foetus after a few weeks – has millions of cells if not billions – how on earth do you change the DNA in each cell?

  12. Swarthy Greek says

    Well our faces are supposed to be forward grown, not flat like most people today. If people had better physiological development in childhood and teenagehood people would waste much less money on pointless stuff like dentists and would live much longer.

  13. Bardon Kaldian says

    Gene editing of a (human) embryo principle is easily understandable: you edit (non)desirable parts of DNA in that earliest stage & then you’ll get a different human. Won’t talk about ignorance of mechanisms, complexity etc.- that’s another topic.

    Adult human gene editing is quite another issue. After I’m born- that’s it. I have my DNA in all cells in my body. From hair to dick and toe and brain and heart and retina. Adult gene editing means treating just a part of the body- say, I get a located disease, perhaps an eye tumor- they’ll get these cells out, edit them & bring them, repaired, back by injecting them so that this part of my body is repaired. Won’t go into details I don’t understand, but it’s acceptable in principle.

    Of course, it is impossible to “edit” the whole tissue, or entire body. DNA is, topologically, everywhere. It is absolutely impossible to alter the entire, non-located DNA of the body. It’s beyond sci fi. That would mean, say, to change sex, race, height, ..anything of the already existing human being- which is unimaginable.

    Gene Therapy: Changing genomes to treat disease

    There are two distinct ways gene editing might be used in humans. Gene therapy , or somatic gene editing, changes the DNA in cells of an adult or child to treat disease, or even to try to enhance that person in some way. The changes made in these somatic (or body) cells would be permanent but would only affect the person treated. One way this is already being done is by editing a person’s immune cells to help them better fight cancer.

    Germline Editing: Changing the genomes of future generations

    But there is a much more controversial way that human gene editing could be used. In germline modification, gene editing would change the DNA of embryos, eggs, or sperm. Because germline DNA is passed down to all future generations, any changes — whether they had beneficial or harmful effects — would be as well. Some have proposed that germline editing could be used to prevent inherited diseases, but this would carry unacceptably serious safety, ethical, and social risks.

    Scientists Take Steps Toward Gene-Editing Therapy In Adults

  14. You and many others on here overestimate the importance of aid to Subsaharan Africa. Subsaharan Africa (SSA) has a GDP of 3 to 4 trillion USD. Aid to SSA is about $50 billion a year. This is important but it is not existential. Aid is less than 3% of SSA’s GDP. Covid will slash about 3.5% off SSA this year, for example, and tens of millions are not dying.

    Aid is important, it gives African countries budgetary space to invest in education, health, infrastructure etc… take it away and millions fall back into utter poverty. It is, however, not existential.

    Africa will continue to grow its population without aid and will simply import grains from Argentina, Brazil, and the US. It will be poorer but the population boom will continue, and the Amazon will be gone.

  15. Western aid to Africa is an unforgivable scam:

    “There are a couple of misconceptions about aid that we need to clear up. First of all, aid, foreign aid, is not free. It is a very soft loan, which is given to a government at concessional rates. Now, the second thing about aid is that aid is tied. Eighty percent of U.S. aid to Africa is spent right here in America — on American contractors, American suppliers, and so forth. French aid is even worse…”

  16. The indians are the only ones who are consistently rational in this scenario. If you are willing to ensure through gene editing that your children are born without physical handicaps (disease, deformity etc) then what’s stopping you from ensuring they are born without mental handicaps (stupidity etc)?

  17. Autists Anonymous Rehab Camp Fugitive says

    I do not think there will be large scale car usage in the 20th century. Simply unfeasible with the current technology. Nothing will beat the horse drawn carriage.