Friday, December 7, 2007

21st Century Eugenics (1967)

The CBS series 21st Century aired a program titled, "The Mystery of Life" on February 26, 1967. The program looked at genetics and the future of humanity.

In this clip, host Walter Cronkite interviews biologist James Bonner. Bonner advocates a "large-scale program of [breeding] better people," otherwise known as eugenics. Procreation by committee sounds like tons of fun!

The episode can be found in its entirety on the A/V Geeks DVD Twenty-First Century.

Bonner: Each baby, when it's born, must donate some of his sex cells, sperm or eggs, and these are put in a deep freeze and just kept. The person leads his life, and dies. And after he's all dead and gone, so the heat of passion is taken out of the matter, a committee meets and studies his life.

Cronkite: So during his lifetime then, he hasn't had any children?

Bonner: He's been sterilized, and hasn't had any children in the normal way. After he's dead and gone, the committee meets and reviews his life and asks, 'Would we like to have some more people like him?' If the answer's no they take out his sex cells of the deep freeze and throw them away. But if the answer's yes then they use him to fertilize eggs similarly selected on the basis of review and validation of a person's contributions during his lifetime. He just doesn't get to brazenly go out and propagate his own genes without assuring himself and everyone else that they're the best possible genes.

See also:
Future Shock - Babytorium (1972)
Instant Baby Machine (1930)


Mark said...

This is hilarious and horrible at the same time. I love that taking the "heat of passion" out of the equation is one of the appeals of this system of reproduction. m.

. said...

The other obvious error is that a person's accomplishments have nothing to do with the quality of their genes.

Chris said...

This same nonsense is still floating around today in some futurist and technological fetishist circles. I guess you'd call it Stealth Eugenics, but it's as just as creepy and sinister as ever.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I dunno. With a program like that in place, we could eliminate pasty-faced white guys with bad eyesight from the gene pool in a few generations! :)

Cory Gross said...

It was Jacques Ellul who argued that the only way to achieve a golden scientific utopia is through a totalitarian dictatorship... Who else is going to be this ruling committee that sterilizes our children at birth and decides which reproductive materials to propagate?

As Ellul noted: "That it is to be a dictatorship of test tubes rather than of hobnailed boots will not make it any less a dictatorship."

Anonymous said...

I bet that guy never got laid in his entire life, huh?

Anonymous said...

Did John Doe lead a life in which we, the committee believe is good, virtious and worthy?

Compliant with all laws - Check!
Submitted to all authority - Check!
Did not question society norms - Check!
Laboured hard without illness - Check!

Reproduction approved.