I am reposting here parts of a post I originally did in 2008 ~
Planet of the Apes, 1968
In the 1920s and 1930s, scientists from both the political left and right would not have found the idea of designer babies particularly dangerous - though of course they would not have used that phrase. Today, I suspect that the idea is too dangerous for comfortable discussion, and my conjecture is that Adolf Hitler is responsible for the change.
Nobody wants to be caught agreeing with that monster, even in a single particular. The spectre of Hitler has led some scientists to stray from "ought" to "is" and deny that breeding for human qualities is even possible. But if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability? Objections such as "these are not one-dimensional abilities" apply equally to cows, horses and dogs and never stopped anybody in practice.
I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler's death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons. Or why it is acceptable to train fast runners and high jumpers but not to breed them. I can think of some answers, and they are good ones, which would probably end up persuading me. But hasn't the time come when we should stop being frightened even to put the question?
Richard Dawkins is Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University
Dawkins himself now says that certain ideas of eugenics may not be that bad after all. In a letter to the editor of the Sunday Herald (Scotland), Dawkins says that, while one would not want to be seen agreeing with Hitler, eugenics can be practical and desirable. He writes that, ‘if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?
Dawkins and other prominent evolutionists increasingly apply their strongly held worldviews to issues such as the genetic improvement of the human species which, they say, is a logical consequence of wanting to use genetic manipulation to cure diseases.
ENGINEERING EVOLUTION: THE ALCHEMY OF EUGENICS
Sanger believed that society's tolerance of "morons," "human weeds," and the "feeble-minded' was encouraging dysgenics. To remedy this purported genetic threat, Sanger unabashedly promoted the implementation of authoritarian measures:
The emergency problem of segregation and sterilization must be faced immediately. Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period.... we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded (Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization, pp. 101 - 102, 1922).Killing Babies, Compassionately
AT LAST A HIGH GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL in Europe got up the nerve to chastise the Dutch government for preparing to legalize infant euthanasia. Italy's Parliamentary Affairs minister, Carlo Giovanardi, said during a radio debate: "Nazi legislation and Hitler's ideas are reemerging in Europe via Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate on how to kill ill children."
Not so much.