T Nation

Is Modern Medicine Doing a Disservice?


Does modern medicine allow for the survival of inferior and recessive genes in people? Is it paradoxical in the sense that as it saves one individual it allows that individual to pass on their weaker less resistant genes to others and make them weaker?

Nature has a way to survive only the fittest and healthiest most robust subjects of the highest adaptability and intelligence. Are we short circuiting that system with modern medicine? Are weakening humanity?

I know the very topic is very sensitive and i certainly would not follow any kind of logic like that if i or anyone i know was in sick.


We're human beings not livestock.


Maybe, rather then weakening humanity, we are strengthening it through medicine.


I'm not sure if this is just a knee-jerk sort of offended reaction ("I'm not an animal!"), but you actually make a very good point.

The survival of most animals is enhanced by their ability to fit into their surroundings. Species of the the genus Homo are unique in that their survival depends on their ability to adapt themselves to the environment (or adapt the environment to suit themselves), which is a function of the neocortex (though not exclusively, consider beavers).

In that sense, modern medicine may be guiding Homo sapiens sapiens towards a physically inferior body with superior mental abilities... Stephen Hawking is a good example.

In short, I don't know, and even if I thought I did, I wouldn't have the right to deny medical care to "inferior" specimens.


I think people shouldn't be able to pass on their gene's without having to first pass a IQ and personality test to be quite honest. Stupid/Irresponsible parents breed more weakness into humanity than western medicine ever will.


You read my mind, that's the exact tangent i'm pursuing. I see that as an inevitability down the line. We already see the explosion in people with bad eyes needing strong corrective lenses to see either far or close or both.


Gene diversification so long as the population can sustain it should benefit humanity in the long run I would think.

There could well be some inbred fucktard who just happens to have some recessive gene that happens to be very resistant to radiation when we finally decide to blow ourselves up atleast some portion of the human race will survive and carry on(likely not in the best interests of the universe).

Or maybe someone who has a gene that is resistant to some unknown virus yet to exist that is highly contagious and higly deadly.

But yeah, I agree manditory testing for qualification to procreate.


And maybe in 2000 years the very concept of correcting eyesight will seem absurd, because we will live in caves, floating in nutrient vats which support and feed our pale, withered bodies and giant brains, while we telepathically control half-walrus, half-eagle slave creatures genetically engineered to do our bidding in the physical world and protect us from the hordes of armored orca-squid-turtle hybrids unleashed by a society of rogue dolphins.

I'm not being serious, but I think you know what I mean. Just because we see a certain trait as maladaptive right now, does not mean that it is maladaptive in the long run, it may turn out to be neutral or even adaptive, with the right changes in environment (it's important to remember that the rest of the genome is part of the environment of a single gene).

Natural selection appears to function so well precisely because there is a large variation in the gene pool, including seemingly maladaptive traits. Perhaps by preserving those traits with modern medicine, we are actually increasing our ability to cope with rapid, unforeseen changes in environment, thereby increasing the chances of our descendants existing in some form over the long term.


You beat me to it.

Really? Then who sets the standards? Who has that right? And how is this form of selection any less artificial than modern medical care? The potential for abuse is just too high.


Just abit of irony Tom, I don't really believe that :wink:


My bad, I didn't get that.


So you saw Gattaca in the opposite way it was intended :wink:

Anyway, joking aside, there is not much survival of the fit in the context of a modern industrial/agricultural way of life, at least not in the sense you might mean with animal models of evolution.

Most diseases of 'weak genes' don't affect people until middle age or later (predisposition to heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc) and therefore are not 'ironed out' by 'nature' either. Most genetic afflictions that show themselves in childhood leave the person unable (or simply unselected) for mating so they're not passed on strongly.

In other words i don't think the 'diluting' effect you think might be at play is as strong as you may think - I'm sure it has a role, but not as strong.

Diseases being treated may allow weaker immune systems to 'pass the test' perhaps, lesser genetic faults might be treated and so also allow one to 'pass the test' too, but is that so bad, is that a powerful effect?

And I'd add that an Einstein may not have the best immune response to some particularly badly timed disease pandemic - how wasteful for such a gift to die over something like that. The environment that shapes evolution is 'blind' and 'it' may not value the traits we value.

Also, and this is something I've read, if you take 10 Einsteins and breed them the 10 Marie Curies then you don't get all geniuses, generations later things tends to 'normalize' back to the middle of the distribution curve. Sure they may all be notably more intelligent than a hypothetical 'control group' but not as radically as the original 'stock', it's supposed to work the other way too.

I'm sure we've noticed how the kids of great achievers are often good but not that good - i know there are more complex reasons at work but maybe 'normalization' is involved too.

Anyway, interesting


To quote some dude (Charles Darwin maybe?) - It is not the strongest of the species that survive, or the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.


I'll be happy if we keep passing on the traits possessed by the individual in hardgnr's avatar. Traits like that should be preserved and mandatory for all females of our species to have...

I have tons of empirical evidence to back this up...but the bouncing has me transfixed...


Medicine isn't doing that much to keep sick/defective people alive.


Thats a good take on this. You presented some things i didn't think of.


That's a sentiment we can all get behind.

I, for one, would be willing to do my part to help hardgnr's avatar propagate her genes.





Yeah, nobody talks about the good ideas Hitler had.....like Eugenics.
How about Johnathan Swift's "A modest Proposal"?

It's a slippery slope, what human decides the worth of humanity?


Add a spelling test to that list. Proper punctuation is a beautiful thing! Sorry, could not resist, what with the superior tone.