Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society

Cary Funk and Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center, January 29, 2015


Modifying a Baby’s Genes

The survey also asked the public about two possibilities in the realm of genetic modifications. One question sought people’s views about changing a baby’s genetic characteristics in order to make the baby more intelligent. A separate question asked about changing a baby’s genetic characteristics in order to reduce the risk of serious diseases. Public views about the appropriateness of genetic therapies of this sort differ widely depending on the circumstances considered.

An overwhelming majority of adults (83%) say that modifying genetic characteristics to make a baby more intelligent is “taking medical advances too far.” Just 15% say this would be an appropriate use of medical advances.

By comparison, fewer are negative about genetic treatment to reduce the risk of serious diseases. But opinion about this circumstance is closely divided, with about half of adults (50%) saying genetic changes for this purpose would be taking medical advances too far and a nearly equal share of 46% saying this would be an appropriate use of medical advances.


Patterns Among the General Public

Women are a bit more negative than men about genetic modifications to reduce the risk of serious diseases (54% among women vs. 47% among men say this would be taking medical advances too far). Strong majorities of both men and women are opposed to modifications aimed at increasing a baby’s intelligence, although opinion is more negative among women (87%) than it is among men ( 78%). There are no differences, or only modest differences, in views about genetic modification in these circumstances by race, ethnicity, or education. Younger and older adults also tend to hold similar views on these questions However, those under age 30 are a bit more likely than older adults to say that changing a baby’s genetic characteristics in order to reduce disease risk is appropriate.


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  • DaveMed

    I don’t feel comfortable with this either.

    Avoiding genetic diseases makes sense. Designing your child(ren) as one might customize a car, however, goes too far, in my opinion.

    • IstvanIN

      It is already done, even in this country, if on the sly, for sex selection.

    • JP Rushton

      Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about the ethics.

      The first country to do this and produce a high average IQ population will rule the world. Ashkenazi’s only have a 115 average IQ and they dominate in every sphere. Imagine if you could make an average 130 IQ population, they would rule the world quickly.

      • Raymond Kidwell

        There is a law of diminishing returns. South Korea has the highest average I.Q. of any nation. They have too many college graduates. Their college graduates have a high level of unemployment. Their high I.Q. don’t translate to world dominance either. There are number of factors from personality, to physical health etc. What I think is you have a certain threshold, once you fall below that you can’t function in a civilized society. Going above that level might have some gains, but small. So long as you can do a common job correctly, not commit crime, act civil to your neighbors, make competent decisions in your personal life etc. you are good. You only need a handful of super smart people at the top. Not everyone needs to be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon.

        The problem we are developing around the world though is a huge underclass of people who can’t reach that basic level. They commit crimes. they aren’t smart enough to read or write, or add or subtract. You give them a new home and they destroy it. They are prone to drug addictions, violence etc. They are a burden to themselves and to others.

      • Realist

        You are exactly right. But integrity is a trait that is sadly missing in way too many people. There is really no test for integrity….humans lie.

  • dd121

    Even if they tried, what makes anybody think the procedure would even be effective with blacks?

    • MekongDelta69

      Didn’t they say humans in the article?!

    • John Ambrose

      I can’t imagine the infrastructure (modern clinics, getting people to stop conceiving the “old fashioned way”) required for IVF and embryo screening to ever gain a foothold in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Chip Carver

    You can the bet the usual suspects will be vociferous in their media campaigns against eugenics while making sure that the cutting edge of research in this area is applied to their own people.

  • So, the low IQ think that raising IQ doesn’t matter.

    • Sick of it

      Those with lower IQ are the ones who need it.

      • Realist

        Stupid people don’t know they are stupid.

  • D.B. Cooper

    As I said a few days ago, it won’t stop with increasing a child’s IQ. They will keep playing around until they get a Rocket Racoon, or a Gorilla Grodd.

    • Is that the cover of the Philadelphia Inquirer ?

    • Speedy Steve

      I Am Weasel was a pretty funny cartoon. His nemesis was I R Baboon.

  • MartelsGhost

    Isn’t all this just simulating what men and women have been naturally doing for thousands of years? People have been selectively seeking out partners based on certain genetic attributes that they see as necessary to give their offspring a better chance and better genes right?

    I mean it’s not like people have only been selecting mates based on money or fashion or perceived social status……………………….right?

    The left seeks only to imitate the God they are convinced doesn’t exist. So as a truly evolved human I should no longer believe the “left” exists…………correct?

  • superlloyd

    It’s not just low intelligence that makes blacks so awful. Check out the gene for aggressiveness and criminality – MAOR. blacks have a greater frequency of short repeats that makes them more criminal as the stats confirm. Meanwhile. as they improve black intelligence( if they can) other races will be surging ahead as evolution hasn’t stopped pace Nicholas Wade.

  • E_Pluribus_Pluribus

    Richard Lynn at his 2012 American Renaissance lecture, “Eugenics and Dysgenics”:

    The most promising development of positive eugenics, which lies in the future rather than the present, is that of embryo selection. This procedure consists of a couple producing a number of embryos . . . as they are produced for IVF, in-vitro fertilization, and these embryos can be assessed for their genetic qualities . . . that [embryo] deemed the most desirable of the number that are grown is selected and implanted…Most couples produce children with a wide range of intelligence, as is known from everyday experience. Siblings are not all that closely similar for intelligence. In many cases, one sibling will have a high intelligence and one a substantially lower intelligence. So if couples are able to implant the ones with high intelligence, well then the IQ of the population will increase considerably.

    This will probably be taken up initially only by small numbers of people. As is the case with any technological invention, initially it’s taken up by a few who can afford it. But eventually it trickles down to everyone, or most people . . . and the same can be anticipated for embryo selection — though rather slowly because probably the illegality will be retained . . . Nevertheless clinics will be set up somewhere in the world which will carry out this procedure and some couples will go to them to have it done.

  • Luca

    Blacks are afraid that if they altered the genetics to have smarter babies the babies would lose their sense of rhythm, their ability to play basketball and would have White features.

  • haroldcrews

    The more likely step and one that is already occurring is genetic screening. Embryos, sperm cells, and egg cells are being screen now albeit mostly for genetic diseases. Very little genetic modification is taking place. Once screening becomes more ubiquitous then at that point modification will be accepted by most people.

  • John Ambrose

    Modifying your babies genetics? I don’t think that would ever be possible except for maybe altering how exiting genes are expressed. I think what they meant to ask is about the alteration of embryonic DNA which is still a long way off. The only realistic way perspective parents will be able to select their babies genes for the foreseeable future is to create multiple embryos and then selecting the one(s) which happen to have the best DNA.

  • forsakenamerican

    As most I do have mixed feelings on this….like most things, I can see this perverse into something that mankind may regret doing.

    • IstvanIN

      Unfortunately just about everything can be used for good or evil, even a shoelace.

      • Sick of it

        Shoelaces can be thrown away. DNA is eternal.

        • WR_the_realist

          Bad genes are eternal.

    • WR_the_realist

      Require that all risks be fully disclosed but otherwise keep the government out of it. That’s the best way to ensure that genetic modification won’t turn into a force for evil.

      • MG Huffman

        How could it be used as a force of evil?

        • WR_the_realist

          The government would be happy to manufacture an army of obedient stooges.

          • MG Huffman

            A person’s political ideology isn’t determined by genetics. There is no gene that exists which can make a person a Marxist or a capitalist from birth. What you’re talking about is science fiction, honestly. From your original post I thought you were serious.

          • Chasmania

            You are a hopeless romantic if you think that nothing can be done to the genome to give traits enhancing compliant behavior – if not more – but can make one more intelligent. They can already do so with drugs, so how much easier could it be with the gene ?

          • MG Huffman

            Some people are more socially impressionable, that is, they have the “lemming factor” which makes them more prone to follow the attitudes and opinions of others around them. Which I think may be what you mean by compliant. And this is an inherited personality trait, so yes it is genetic. But it’s idiotic science fiction to think that there would be a government conspiracy to interfere with genetic engineering to make this gene more expressed in the population. Obviously most parents would choose not to have genetic modifications. They would just conceive the child normally and show up at the hospital when it is due. And the few parents who did choose to have genetic modifications would have all the options at their fingertips. Any abnormalities in the child could cost the medical establishment that administered the modifications millions of dollars in lawsuits.

      • Realist

        “….keep the government out of it.”
        You’re kidding, right?

  • Whitetrashgang

    This is our future,its one of the few ways to stay above the mud so to speak.

  • They are in effect saying that in spite of paying black and brown diversitards to overbreed in our country, we don’t have enough stupid people yet.

  • SentryattheGate

    Didn’t the Chinese buy a Silicon Valley genomics company, with promising developments for selecting out human embryos with the genes for higher intelligence? I thought I’d read an article posted by Amren a year or so ago. They already believe that they have a superior (and longer-lasting) culture; aren’t queasy about experimentation and will surely seek to use that technology to their advantage.

    • JP Rushton

      There was news out of China that they are trying this very thing. They have the government control, money and ambition to do it. In 20 years expect very smart Chinese to start popping up in powerful positions all over the planet.

      • SentryattheGate

        That is a scary thought, given their ruthlessness! The pen is mightier than the sword, but intelligence trumps everything else!

    • 李冠毅

      Not all of us believe we are superior. I, for one, always believed in the superiority of Ashkenazi Jews.

  • Sick of it

    It’s nice to know that women are uncomfortable with the idea of someone playing with their baby’s genes. Considering modern trash manufacturing, I would not want to imagine how much these (likely third world) idiots would screw up a child.

    • Speedy Steve

      I’m sure they’ll keep some of their more fun superstitions like Female Genital Mutilation.

  • LHathaway

    “to make the baby more intelligent” I had to laugh at that one.

  • WR_the_realist

    So nearly half of the people polled don’t even think it is right to use genetic modification to prevent a genetic disease. They’re hopeless.

    As for making a child smarter, if we actually knew how to do that in a way that had no serious negative side effects (which we don’t at present) it is hard to see what’s wrong with that.

    Everyone wants their babies to be healthy, intelligent, and attractive and most people think it would be terrible to do anything proactive to bring that about.

  • MG Huffman

    What’s wrong with it? We need more intelligent people to help solve the problems the world is headed for… like overpopulation and climate change.

  • Speedy Steve

    For some reason I think Trofim Lysenko comes to mind.


    Political correctness will permeate every aspect of all sof science and a lot of the hard science. Better keep the peasant wisdom handy, people. Hard times are coming, and the elite deserve to get it good and hard.

  • Raymond Kidwell

    I don’t see the need for any advanced procedures. We just need sane social policies that keep ghetto trash from having an unreasonable number of babies. I have met several different black people from the ghetto who have over 60 grand kids. All of them paid for by welfare. It seems kind of extreme to me and I think it would be reasonable just to require someone on welfare to get “fixed” after about the third baby or so or maybe after the first one. And then besides that some cultural or government policies to help college students have children or create single provider homes.

    Similar with limiting births from people who have heritable genetic illness.

    That being said if I could improve my own children through a medical technique I would.

  • MarkTenneyNewMathDoneRight

    NonWhite immigration is the practice of lowering White IQ and depressing birth rate of high IQ whites. Some group is doing this already.