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Thursday, January 17, 20081200576412

Practical Eugenics

Gideon, writing at a public defender, criticizes castration of violent felons because those violent felons may be rehabilitated:

Prof. Berman asks whether chemical castration (if proven to work) should be employed (actually, why shouldn’t it be). As readers might guess, I am uneasy with this proposition. There are several assumptions here: That we know that “high-risk” offenders will re-offend; that all “high-risk” offenders will re-offend. This does dip into some “Minority Report” territory. I’m quite uneasy by the idea that we will assume that all high-risk offenders are going to re-offend and we need to stop that by subduing the sexual urge by reducing levels of testosterone.

Those are some mighty assumptions and I’m uncomfortable with that. There are (have to be) better alternatives to this. What if we have an offender that, despite being “high-risk” is rehabilitated and wishes to live a normal life?


However, to a large extent, speaking about rehabilitation of violent felons misses the point.

Consider: violent crime is heritable:

Estimates of heritability for antisocial behaviour from recent research in quantitative genetics cluster around 0.50. The most reliable estimates come from contemporary studies in the Netherlands, Britain, Norway, Sweden, Australia and the US, because these studies examine large, representative samples using sophisticated quantitative modelling techniques. A complementary meta-analysis of 51 twin and adoption studies yielded an estimate of heritability of 0.41 for the genetic influence on antisocial behaviour. Estimates of heritability below 0.20 tend to emerge from studies with unusual design features; for example, observational measures, small sample sizes, very wide age ranges, small groups of girls, or adults being asked to report childhood symptoms retrospectively. Similarly, some, but not all, studies yielding estimates above 0.70 have non-optimal designs, such as small sample sizes or adults being asked to report their childhood symptoms retrospectively....

The largest estimates of heritability tend to emerge from studies using measures able to array individuals along a continuum from non-antisocial to severely and persistently antisocial. These are studies using other-reported delinquent or aggressive behaviours (such as the Child Behaviour Check List (CBCL) externalizing scale), and self-reported personality traits (such as the MPQ aggression scale). These studies tend to include a very large number of items inquiring about a variety of antisocial attitudes and behaviours. Some of these items, such as robbery, are exhibited rarely by people, but others, such as enjoying violent films, are exhibited commonly. As a result, the instruments are sensitive to population variation in the severity of antisocial behavior. Overall, the distribution of more than 100 estimates of heritability from recent papers approximates a bell-shaped normal curve. This distribution is to be expected from a sample of more than 100 imperfect estimates of a true effect that equals 50% in nature.


Further, we are currently undergoing dysgenics as the most violent mate with each other:

As well as the possibility that genes influence antisocial behaviour, it is also possible that antisocial experience can influence how genes are distributed in the population. This is an implication of the finding that men and women mate on the basis of similarity between the partners’ antisocial behaviour (this is called assortative mating), and that couples in which both people exhibit antisocial behaviour tend to have more children than the norm. Assortative mating on a genetically-influenced phenotype, such as antisocial behaviour has consequences for genetic variation in the population. Because people form unions with other people like themselves, the result is that families differ more from each other on average than they would if people mated randomly. If successive generations mate assortatively, genes relevant to the phenotype will become concentrated within families. Consider height as an example. Whole families clearly differ from other families in terms of height, yet families are made up of persons who are similar in height. Part of the explanation for this phenomenon is likely to lie in the positive assortative mating that occurs for this trait.


Castration of violent criminals, besides reducing the likelihood of a particular criminal breaking the law again (and quite possibly inflicting a punishment seen as worse than a 20 year sentence), does even more good to future generations. Violent criminal parents tend to have violent criminal children, so unless we want future generations to experience violent crime, we need to fight the causes of violent crime.

And part of the solution is eugenics.

On the web: Genetics and Human Behavior: The Ethical Context: Current findings: Quantitative Genetics.

Comments

Well, I don't know if we should go that far just yet. Let's start out with chopping hands and feet off first. Sure, they can still reproduce, but it will still bring their violent crime tendencies into submission.

If that does work, let's bring back Roman stile crucifixion so we can further scare other potential offenders shitless into submission.

Posted by: Jeffrey James | Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jeffrey,

I see the irony in your words, but you're words aren't even ironic to my post. You sarcastically write:

"crucifixion so we can further scare other potential offenders"

A benefit of eugenics is that it does not rely on fear at all -- many of the the violent anti-social personalities that might have to be deterred by fear would simply not exist in the first place.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 17, 2008

Of course, I assume castration wouldn't take place until all appeals have expired.

Time for my own irony and sarcasm. What if I assault someone not because I have violent genes, but because they made the mistake of insulting my mother at her funeral? Then on top of a prison sentence, I receive an additional punishment of castration not because of my crime, and not even because of my own genes, but because of the genes of other people.

Or, if the castration problem is not supposed to be punishment, then why not screen innocent people for antisocial genes and castrate them?

Posted by: Adam | Thursday, January 17, 2008

.5 is a pretty strong correlation, but it isn't absolute. This sentence, specifically, jumped out at me from that genetics page:

"To illustrate, studies of murderers reveal that approximately half have lengthy histories of repeated assaults, rapes, robberies and other offence types, but the other half have committed a single extreme act after a lifetime free from crime."

If you castrate someone (chemically or otherwise) for a violent crime, are you keeping a person with violent genes from passing them on? Or are you preventing the passing of healthy genes that just happened to be associated with a bad upbringing?

One alternative: voluntary reversible sterilization. The government offers free reversible sterilization to everyone in certain rough circumstances of life (bankruptcy proceedings, on welfare, in prison for a violent crime). Everyone who undertakes the procedure can ask for a free reversal later IF they've shown themselves conclusively past the rough points (stable job and finances, parole and probation completed without incident). Anyone who reaches that point but who's sterilization is no longer reversible gets breaks from all but the most essential adoption requirements.

It wouldn't prevent all people with violence genes from breeding, but it would prevent some of them and it would probably be much more easily passed. It also (the reversibility portion) offers people with bad upbringings the chance to have kids once they've turned themselves around.

As a rough genetics test, in short, it would have a lower rate of false-positives than castration of all offenders.

Posted by: Michael | Thursday, January 17, 2008

Adam,

Good comment, but it could be better. I expect constructive feedback from you, even on touchy subjects.

"Time for my own irony and sarcasm. What if I assault someone not because I have violent genes, but because they made the mistake of insulting my mother at her funeral? Then on top of a prison sentence, I receive an additional punishment of castration not because of my crime, and not even because of my own genes, but because of the genes of other people."

On one level, this raises an interesting point about justice: should someone who acts violently because of a temporary lack of emotional control be judged less harshly than someone who acts violently because of a lack of emotional control that is equiavlent in degree but longer-lasting in duration. I think our society's answer is "Yes."

On another level, this emphasizes that mandatory sentences of any sort are probably troublesome.

"Or, if the castration problem is not supposed to be punishment, then why not screen innocent people for antisocial genes and castrate them?"

Your argument collapses to absurdity... by the same token, the justice system should be imprisoning innocent people to preemptively rehabilitate them.

Michael,

".5 is a pretty strong correlation, but it isn't absolute. "

Agreed. This is a vital point. When you get into genetics -- or really any of the human sciences -- you are dealing in probabilities. Absolute standards of evidence simply are not appropriate in social decision making.

"As a rough genetics test, in short, it would have a lower rate of false-positives than castration of all offenders."

Why do you conclude this?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dan-

"A benefit of eugenics is that it does not rely on fear at all -- many of the the violent anti-social personalities that might have to be deterred by fear would simply not exist in the first place."

I am well aware of that, I was just giving off other deterrent options in general.

Sorry for coming off as a insolent asshole.

Posted by: Jeffrey James | Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jeffrey,

Don't swet it. Deterrence is an important part of the solution! :-)

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dan -

The second part of my comment was (mistakenly?) anticipating an argument on your part that the sterilization would not be punitive. Legally speaking, this is an important distinction. Buck v Bell (1927) upheld forced sterilization for eugenic purposes, while Skinner v Oklahoma (1942) forbade forced sterilization for punitive purposes.


Michael -

I'm unsure as to exactly how many people would sign up for this voluntary, taxpayer-funded program.

Posted by: Adam | Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Agreed. This is a vital point. When you get into genetics -- or really any of the human sciences -- you are dealing in probabilities. Absolute standards of evidence simply are not appropriate in social decision making."

True. They often don't work well with non-living objects either:P I was just making sure YOU weren't confusing .5 with an absolute guarantee.

I think I was also under the (apparently mistaken) assumption that you were talking about a mandatory sentence. Assuming that, and a lack of genetic testing directly for violence-provoking genes:
a) Mandatory castration for violent crimes risks neutering people with other reasons for their crimes besides genetic predispositions to violent behavior.
b) Limiting it to serial offenders would still risk neutering people who's only crime was being brain damaged, suffering from PTSD or being raised in grossly abusive or neglectful homes.
c) Under the program I've described above, anyone requesting reversal of sterilization and getting it would be no longer showing the pathological behavior that led them to be offered the initial procedure. In the case of violent criminals, they would have to have spent years successfully avoiding violent behavior.
d) Such an individual would either not possess genetic inclinations towards violence or have developed means of controlling their own inclinations that could then be passed on to offspring (who hopefully won't be had with violent members of the opposite sex).
e) Those individuals who are unable to avoid violating parole or probation wouldn't be offered the free reversal. They would either have to somehow pay for it some other way (in which case they may be able to overcome chemical castration as well), or they would not be able to reproduce. In the latter (more probable) case, violence-inclining genes would not be passed on to a next generation.
f) The only non-genetic offenders sterilized in this manner, other than those who couldn't control themselves, would be those who chose not to have children.

Come to think about it, reduced false-positive isn't that great a term for this. Better to say that the only false-positives that would happen would be those that didn't really matter-- the repeat offender who's likely in prison anyway or the person who doesn't want to reproduce for whatever reason. As the program's participants would effectively become their own judge, jury and executioner vis a vis their reproductive abilities, greater accuracy would be achievable than with a mandatory program.

Posted by: Michael | Thursday, January 17, 2008

A popular example of castration has been that of Wayne Dumond. A man that Huckabee helped to release on parol. He had castrated himself after one of his rapes. However, once released he went on to molest and commit sexual crimes. So how effective would castration be in stopping a mental problem?

What's a better way to stop the spread of violent genes being passed on from sex offenders? Allowing the person who was raped to get an abortion.

Posted by: J. Kauffman | Friday, January 18, 2008

J,

Please pay attention to the thread, so we don't have to repeat ourselves.

"So how effective would castration be in stopping a mental problem?"

As I wrote in the original post: "speaking about rehabilitation of violent felons misses the point."

Certainly castration may have some deterrent effect, but the actual purpose of a eugenics policy is to improve the sort of people you're dealing with a generation down the road. While "Deterrence is an important part of the solution!" (as I mentioned to Jeffrey), I don't think either of those are the entirety of the solution.

"What's a better way to stop the spread of violent genes being passed on from sex offenders? Allowing the person who was raped to get an abortion."

I'm not sure what you mean by "better," but clearly abortion is a form of distributed eugenics [1].

Michael,

Several excellent points.

I agree with (a) & (b).

The problem with the program in (c) is that it relies on self-report of mental defects, which people with anti-social personality disorders are unlikely to do. Indeed, they're likely to have high opinions of themselves.

Ultimately, self-report like this amounts to using a cognitive-attitude scale to determine likelihood of behavior, when a behavioral-attitude scale (counting the violent felons, etc) is readily available.

I'm not arguing that (c) might not be effective, just that it would have a lower false-positive rate.

(d) I'm sure that anybody is able to develop "means of controlling their own inclinations" toward violent behavior. Eugenics is aimed at propensities.

(e) Don't you risk increasing crime as criminals attempt to steal enough to reverse the procedure?

(f)

"Come to think about it, reduced false-positive isn't that great a term for this. Better to say that the only false-positives that would happen would be those that didn't really matter-- the repeat offender who's likely in prison anyway or the person who doesn't want to reproduce for whatever reason."

The concern is your false negative rate is much higher.

"As the program's participants would effectively become their own judge, jury and executioner vis a vis their reproductive abilities, greater accuracy would be achievable than with a mandatory program."

Humans have limited introspective ability, so I disagree strongly with this conclusions.

Adam,

Excellent, high-level comment!!

Skinner v. Oklahoma is an obstacle, and an annoying one as it's based on outmoded science (no genetic difference in mechanism wrt violent and nonviolent crimes???).

Still, upping all sentences for violent felonies by twenty years and offering castration as a way to reduce sentences by twenty years would have a similar effect. We have bad genes manifesting themselves in bad ways that we want to reduce the frequency of. The precise mechanism for this is of course up for debate.

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2008/01/17/hidden-selection.html
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skinner_v._Oklahoma

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, January 18, 2008

Maybe you should read your post again.

You say that talking about it is missing the point yet you close with, "...reducing the likelihood of a particular criminal breaking the law again..." Why bother mentioning it? You're clearly arguing it's effectiveness of stopping future attacks by the same criminal post-castration. My statement wasn't invalid pertaining to the comments made in your post.

Posted by: J. Kauffman | Friday, January 18, 2008

"You say that talking about it is missing the point yet you close with, "...reducing the likelihood of a particular criminal breaking the law again..." Why bother mentioning it?"

Because both are true, yet eugenics is the main point of this comment.

"Why bother mentioning it? You're clearly arguing it's effectiveness of stopping future attacks by the same criminal post-castration. My statement wasn't invalid pertaining to the comments made in your post."

Its effectiveness as a deterrent is probably similar to any other major deterrent: significantly greater than 0, significantly greater than 1. As I mentioned to Jeffrey, clearly both are part of an appropriate public response to violent crime.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, January 18, 2008

"We have bad genes manifesting themselves in bad ways that we want to reduce the frequency of. The precise mechanism for this is of course up for debate."

Ah, I think you've helped me clarify my own thinking here. I tend be be extremely wary of government involving itself in social health projects, even those as benign as warnings on tobacco boxes. Making individual desires secondary to public health is not the state's role, whether we're talking obesity or violent genes.

The 'precise mechanism' I would prefer might just be the hope that violent convicts would make less desirable mates.

I think you might brush aside Skinner too quickly. Assuming we could find a correlation between genes and embezzlement or any other non-violent crime, Douglas's opinion would still stand.

Posted by: Adam | Friday, January 18, 2008

Adam,

"I tend be be extremely wary of government involving itself in social health projects, even those as benign as warnings on tobacco boxes. "

Agreed,

"Making individual desires secondary to public health is not the state's role, whether we're talking obesity or violent genes. "

Disagree. The violently deranged should be locked up, regardless of their desires, because of the importance of public health.

"The 'precise mechanism' I would prefer might just be the hope that violent convicts would make less desirable mates."

Hope is a shoddy mechanism.

"I think you might brush aside Skinner too quickly"

How so?

"Assuming we could find a correlation between genes and embezzlement or any other non-violent crime, Douglas's opinion would still stand."

Why?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, January 18, 2008

"The problem with the program in (c) is that it relies on self-report of mental defects, which people with anti-social personality disorders are unlikely to do. Indeed, they're likely to have high opinions of themselves."

I think you might have misunderstood me here. I'm not talking about self-reporting, I'm talking about the administering state agency having hard evidence of improvements in the form of a criminal record several years clean. It's always possible, of course, that he may still be committing violent acts and not getting caught, but that's a risk with ANY parole or probation.

"(e) Don't you risk increasing crime as criminals attempt to steal enough to reverse the procedure? " I wouldn't say it's impossible, but I wouldn't think it would happen real often. The sterilization was voluntary to begin with, so they would need a reason for reversing it that they didn't have earlier. Remember, too, that one viable reason for getting the sterilization to begin with is a desire to not want to worry about birth control or child support. If one is having trouble controlling one's own actions, the path of least trouble is to get the surgery when offered and leave it as is.

"The concern is your false negative rate is much higher." Readily admitted, but there's one more factor to add into this; many of the people you're talking about will be dead or facing long-term incarceration by the time they come to the attention of an agency capable of castrating repeat offenders. The probability of them reproducing is low. Given the uncertainty- however reduced- of an actual genetic component to an individual's violent behavior, you're left arguing for what most in the West would consider a very drastic punishment for relatively minor crimes.

Posted by: Michael | Friday, January 18, 2008

Michael,

"I think you might have misunderstood me here. I'm not talking about self-reporting, I'm talking about the administering state agency having hard evidence of improvements in the form of a criminal record several years clean. It's always possible, of course, that he may still be committing violent acts and not getting caught, but that's a risk with ANY parole or probation."

My concern is the reverse: people with actual violent, anti-social tendencies are unlikely to opt-in to the program.

"Readily admitted, but there's one more factor to add into this; many of the people you're talking about will be dead or facing long-term incarceration by the time they come to the attention of an agency capable of castrating repeat offenders. The probability of them reproducing is low."

Really? [1]:

"The estimated average prison sentence received by violent felony offenders in State courts decreased from nearly 10 years in 1994 to about 7½ years in 2004" (US DOJ)

"Given the uncertainty- however reduced- of an actual genetic component to an individual's violent behavior, you're left arguing for what most in the West would consider a very drastic punishment for relatively minor crimes."

Considering that only 2/3rds of violent felons serve their average sentence of 7.5 years, this may be: we may have a society that does not want people to suffer negatively for the violence they inflict on others.

[1] http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/fssc04.pdf

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, January 18, 2008

I think we can avoid the castration option by taking steps before the violent offender is even born. I see no reason why we can't pay people not to have offspring? If someone is a repeat violent offender, chronic welfare addict, or multiple crack baby producer, why not pay them $500 or so a month to either receive a birth control shot or have a surgery? This $500 per month will cost much less in the long run compared to the alternative.

Posted by: Seerov | Saturday, January 19, 2008

"My concern is the reverse: people with actual violent, anti-social tendencies are unlikely to opt-in to the program."

Maybe, maybe not. Imagine you're a person in prison with self-control issues. You get offered a surgery that'll allow you to bonk like a bunny with no worries about putting a condom on or getting a girl pregnant with a baby you might get dinged for the support of (Yes I know I'm forgetting STDs: What's the likelihood of this hypothetical you remembering them, and do you care?). What's more, you get to spend time in a nicer, cleaner, probably safer facility with little or no work to do while you recover from the surgery. Unless you actively WANT kids, why would you say no?

""The estimated average prison sentence received by violent felony offenders in State courts decreased from nearly 10 years in 1994 to about 7½ years in 2004" (US DOJ)"

Link didn't work, but it's a fair point. Remember, though, that it's still 7 1/2 years in which they aren't getting any unless they can swing a conjugal visit or two-- with number of guys waiting longer than that. 7 1/2 years to think about the carnal delights awaiting them when they get out. 7 1/2 years in which a vacation which prepares them to better enjoy those delights will sound quite tempting.

7 1/2 years to concentrate your reform efforts on those inmates whose desire for children is strong enough to overcome the above-mentioned temptations. "You want children that badly? Then work with us to make sure you're ready to raise those children." The free reversal also gives the above inmates the option of using the surgery to save their child-making for the day they really are ready.

"Considering that only 2/3rds of violent felons serve their average sentence of 7.5 years, this may be: we may have a society that does not want people to suffer negatively for the violence they inflict on others." Or that we're a society that's so carefree with what we demand prison sentences for that we wind up unable to pay for them all:P

Posted by: Michael | Saturday, January 19, 2008

1. Do you suppose that our evolutionary history has already followed a similar route to root out violence (or lessen it) in men overall?

2. Do you suppose that we got to this point just fine, despite the violence you'd weed out w/ eugenics; or are you aiming for a perfect world?

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Monday, January 21, 2008

Seerov,

I would support a general, voluntary sterilization program, at least for some. However, paying felons to do so obviously created a moral hazard, where people can be better off committing a felony than not doing so.

Michael,

"Maybe, maybe not. Imagine you're a person in prison with self-control issues. You get offered a surgery that'll allow you to bonk like a bunny with no worries about putting a condom on or getting a girl pregnant with a baby you might get dinged for the support of (Yes I know I'm forgetting STDs: What's the likelihood of this hypothetical you remembering them, and do you care?). What's more, you get to spend time in a nicer, cleaner, probably safer facility with little or no work to do while you recover from the surgery. Unless you actively WANT kids, why would you say no?"

Because you have an anti-social personality: you truely believe you are a descent guy who has been treated very unfairly, and that you just need a chance to get things right. As I mentioned to Seerov, such a program might be worthwhile, in conjunction with others.

Additionally, I think you minimize the time-discounting going on by felons throughout the comment. A good working definition of the underclass is people radically now-centered. Arguments about the future may be besides the point.

The 7.5 year prison sentence was in response to your claim that prison sentences were so long they effectively made it impossible for felons to reproduce.

Throughout your comment, I think you exaggerate the time-discounting

(The link wasn't working because of a period at the end of the URL. That's now fixed.)

Curtis,

"Do you suppose that our evolutionary history has already followed a similar route to root out violence (or lessen it) in men overall?"

Yes, more so in some geographical areas than others. [1]

"Do you suppose that we got to this point just fine, despite the violence you'd weed out w/ eugenics; or are you aiming for a perfect world?"

Not a perfect world. Just a better one. That's the proper role of all public policy.

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2008/01/20/review-of-a-farewell-to-alms-by-gregory-clark.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, January 21, 2008

I think you're giving me credit for more faith in human nature than I actually have. We're a society that attempts to make men pay child support; even a sociopath would worry if he thought there was a reasonable chance of getting forced to pay for his offspring. Combine a future threat with an immediate solution and a bribe (a few days vacation from prison), and I think you'd see some interest.

As for the time scale, remember that the government agency offering this hypothetical program WOULD be able to benefit from it even if the inmates themselves would not. You want to have kids? You think you're a decent guy who's been treated unfairly? Fine, you can spend the remainder of your sentence knuckling down to study for your GED, learning a new trade or two and developing better social habits.

Posted by: Michael | Monday, January 21, 2008

"I think you're giving me credit for more faith in human nature than I actually have. We're a society that attempts to make men pay child support; even a sociopath would worry if he thought there was a reasonable chance of getting forced to pay for his offspring.

Smart sociopaths, yes.

Smart sociopaths get jobs as lawyers, and are studied by economists as "economic man."

The element we're trying to minimize are those who are both anti-social and dumb enough to be violent felons.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, January 21, 2008

Dumb doesn't necessarily mean unable to hold a thought in one's head for a few minutes, long enough to also hear about the quick fix, the easy life in the recovery ward and to agree to the surgery.

Put it another way. Suppose you walked into a prison, told everyone there was a nasty disease that would hurt them, told them getting a shot would prevent their ever having to worry about it and offered free beer to everyone who got the shot. How many takers do you think you'd get? Would the disease even have to be contagious for them to agree?

Posted by: Michael | Monday, January 21, 2008

"Dumb doesn't necessarily"

"Necessarily" (and "sufficiently," for that matter) really don't have a place in public policy discussion. All we're dealing with at the end of the day is variation in one thing that attempts to match variation in another thing.

Instead, we have "probably" and "likely." If you're goal is to minimize the number of violent, anti-social, low-intelligence people, using a selection mechanism that skewes to higher intelligence (such as a lower time discount rate) is problematic. It may well be part of a set of appropriate responses, but it's important to realize you're biasing your solution against the problem you've set out to solve.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, January 21, 2008

That seems to be the question, doesn't it? To what extent does this procedure actually bias in favor of intelligence? Seems to me an intelligent person would ask questions about the surgery's safety and know about alternatives to surgery (condoms, for example). I don't know that for sure, though.*shrug*

There's another bias you're overlooking, though, that swings in the direction of the people you're trying to keep from breeding: self-control. Here, sterilization is presented as the easy way out with a nice bonus tacked on; non-sterilization has no bonus and is ideally accompanied by a more rigorous lifestyle that appeals only to someone committed to self-reform. Keeping the sterilisation is the easy way out; saving money to get it reversed, or keeping one's record clean for several years for the free reversal requires discipline.

Posted by: Michael | Monday, January 21, 2008

"That seems to be the question, doesn't it? To what extent does this procedure actually bias in favor of intelligence? Seems to me an intelligent person would ask questions about the surgery's safety and know about alternatives to surgery (condoms, for example). I don't know that for sure, though.*shrug*"

There are a number of subsidized vasectomy programs throughout the world. This should be a factual questions.

Again, though, you're arguing that a biased program is good because it includes another, possibly corrective, bias. Why not just remove the bias in the first place?

"Here, sterilization is presented as the easy way out with a nice bonus tacked on; non-sterilization has no bonus"

A rhetorical trick: This is only true if you define any "bonus" of non-sterilization as a drawback of sterilization.

"nd is ideally accompanied by a more rigorous lifestyle that appeals only to someone committed to self-reform. "

Why would you think this?

You've yet to work around the fact that the underclass discounts time as a much higher rate than you do: Saying "this is a good idea because it will help you later" misses the point.

"keeping one's record clean for several years for the free reversal requires discipline."

Or one can just rob a house to have enough cash to pay for it.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, January 21, 2008

"There are a number of subsidized vasectomy programs throughout the world. This should be a factual questions."

Didn't know that (problem: I tend to underestimate my own ability to find things on the Internet:P); I should look them up.

"Again, though, you're arguing that a biased program is good because it includes another, possibly corrective, bias. Why not just remove the bias in the first place?"

Does the corrective bias make it good, or just less bad? And considering that the alternative which started this debate has its own biases, one would have to question whether it's possible to do a eugenics program based on non-genetic data that ISN'T biased.

"
"Here, sterilization is presented as the easy way out with a nice bonus tacked on; non-sterilization has no bonus"

A rhetorical trick: This is only true if you define any "bonus" of non-sterilization as a drawback of sterilization.

"nd is ideally accompanied by a more rigorous lifestyle that appeals only to someone committed to self-reform. "

Why would you think this?"

They make more sense if you put them together. If non-sterilization means nothing happens, then you're right: there's little incentive to get it. But if refusing sterilization means being transfered to another facility run like a military academy- stricter discipline, lots of classes and working, no lounging around the yard watching tv or lifting weights- then it becomes a lot more tempting.

"You've yet to work around the fact that the underclass discounts time as a much higher rate than you do: Saying "this is a good idea because it will help you later" misses the point."

Discounting it doesn't mean ignoring it: next time you're up after midnight, or don't have anything better to do on a weekday afternoon, watch network tv. How many infomercials will you see for products offering quick solutions to long-term problems? How is this program I'm talking about significantly different? Instead of a get-rich-quick scheme, it's an 'avoid child-support' or 'avoid psychobitch baby-mommy' scheme. For female offenders, it would also be an 'avoid pregnancy' scheme. If you can make them see a potential problem in the future and offer an instant no-work-involved fix for it, many of them will take it.

"Or one can just rob a house to have enough cash to pay for it."

That is true. Like I said earlier, I am trading false-negatives for false-positives. If they develop a desire to conceive and don't wish to wait for the end of parole or probation, they could rob a house for the cash to pay for it. If they succeed, they've beaten the system. If they fail, they're back in the big house as a parole violator and repeat offender on top of house burglar; if conception hasn't already happened, it's unlikely to happen for a while to come. Putting such violators straight into the non-sterilization prison (tougher discipline, etc) if they aren't already looking at life or a maximum security unit would also drive the point home.

Posted by: Michael | Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Michael,

Excellent comment.

"Does the corrective bias make it good, or just less bad? And considering that the alternative which started this debate has its own biases, one would have to question whether it's possible to do a eugenics program based on non-genetic data that ISN'T biased."

True on both. You're only going to get better-fitting or worse-fitting solutions no matter which way you go. Therefore I think a set of approaches is probably wiser than one-or-the-other.

"They make more sense if you put them together. If non-sterilization means nothing happens, then you're right: there's little incentive to get it. But if refusing sterilization means being transfered to another facility run like a military academy- stricter discipline, lots of classes and working, no lounging around the yard watching tv or lifting weights- then it becomes a lot more tempting."

OK, so this sterilization is part of the justice system? I was assuming you'd just recruit people off the streets -- in which case, their alternative is to hang with their friends, play Xbox, etc.

"Discounting it doesn't mean ignoring it: next time you're up after midnight, or don't have anything better to do on a weekday afternoon, watch network tv. How many infomercials will you see for products offering quick solutions to long-term problems? How is this program I'm talking about significantly different? Instead of a get-rich-quick scheme, it's an 'avoid child-support' or 'avoid psychobitch baby-mommy' scheme."

You're dealing with a population that beliefs it is fundamentally smart, normal, and hard-working, and also discounts future gains or losses that are not immediate. A self-enrollment plan works on those who recognize their failings and value long-term outcomes.

"For female offenders, it would also be an 'avoid pregnancy' scheme. If you can make them see a potential problem in the future and offer an instant no-work-involved fix for it, many of them will take it."

Good point on the need to enroll females. A major limiting factor in population increase.

"That is true. Like I said earlier, I am trading false-negatives for false-positives. "

I don't think so. Cognitive attitudes -- which you are measuring in a self-report system -- are less reliable measures than behavioral attitudes -- such as, the observed behavior of robbing a liquor store. You're trading a more reliable system for a less reliable system, increasing false positives and false negatives, while reducing true positives.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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