RE: Dangers of human self-modification

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Sun May 30 2004 - 08:06:49 MDT

--- David Cake <> wrote:
> >On Thu, 27 May 2004 "Philip Sutton"
> ><> said:
> >
> >>Can you tell me how would *you* would envisage we
> could enhance
> >*wisdom* via genetic engineering??
> >
> >1) Engineer an emotional and not just intellectual
> respect for the
> >scientific method. Ever though it works great,
> evolution never gave us
> >the ability to love the scientific method in our
> gut because for all its
> >virtues it works too slowly to help much in
> surviving in the jungle; a
> >controlled experiment examining the consequences of
> running and not
> >running from a Saber Toothed Tiger is not a very
> good idea. This lack of
> >respect is the reason we believe in spoon benders,
> flying saucers,
> >racism, the image of The Virgin seen in a pizza
> topping, and God.
> >
> >2) Engineer a visceral understanding of statistics.
> Flying is the safest
> >way to travel yet many people feel safer driving a
> car even though
> >statistically it is more dangerous.
> >
> >3) In general, when we recognize that one of our
> feelings is irrational
> >we should always have the ability to change it.
> Example: Fear of some
> >snakes is a good idea, fear of all snakes is not;
> Fear of falling is a
> >good idea, fear of working on the 24?th floor is
> not.
> I think for 1&2, its well beyond the
> ability of genetic engineering to do so
> straightforwardly.
> Both statistics and the scientific method
> are ideas that act at the level of high level
> abstract thought. While I can conceive of it
> being possible to somehow re-engineer humanity to
> better balance cognitive judgements with sensory
> biases etc, I don't think its possible to choose
> what those cognitive judgements will be. To reuse
> someone elses metaphor, its like trying to
> enforce particular computer GUIs in the chip
> design.
> The last point is an interesting one. Its
> never going to be genetic engineering alone that
> achieves this, and I think its highly likely that
> genetic engineering will have very little to do
> with whats essentially a psychological question.
> But even if we have such an ability, I thinks its
> unlikely that it will ever be restricted to the
> ability to chance only to feelings that are MORE
> rational, though many of us will try to use it
> that way. I think it far more likely that, for
> every 1 person that has a genuine phobia and can
> remove it, we get 10 that try to re-engineer
> their own personal responses to fit in with the
> demands of their personal relationships, to
> improve job prospects, and other personal goals
> (which nevertheless seem terribly important to
> the individuals concerned).
> Cheers
> David

While I agree with what is written here, I think we
already have many methods for achieving good results
that are simply not being used. For example, in NLP
(neurolinguistic programming) there is something
called the Fast Phobia Technique which purports to get
rid of phobias in a single session by training
deliberately rearranging the sensory modalities
associated with a fearful memory. Apparently (I say
this because I don't have any interesting phobias to
test it on, myself) it works very well. If Jane and
John Q. Public suddenly started using NLP, Wenger
methods such as Image Streaming, EFT, E-Prime speech,
and other such mind-stretching methods, the changes in
our society would be revolutionary and healthy. It's
available. Everything I just listed is free or cheap
(as in buying a few books or tapes). It's just not
common knowledge.

My stepson is a chiropractor, and a very good one.
When he straightens my neck out after I've driven 200
miles, I feel energized and somewhat more able to
think clearly. He says this is because 90% of the
human nervous system is devoted to walking upright and
keeping the eyes on the horizon. If you write
symphonies, build moon rockets, and cure cancer, it's
with the 10% that's left over. If your back is out,
you have a headache, and you're half awake, that 10%
dwindles alarmingly. Humans are not just brains in a
body; the body is an integral part of the mind/brain.
That's just how we are built.

Win Wenger has a program on his website that he
guarantees will add 20 to 40 IQ points in six weeks.
You do just two things. One is Image Streaming (go to to see how that works). The other is
underwater swimming for an hour or so a day, holding
your breath as long as possible. It seems that this
triggers the diving reflex, and your carotid arteries
get a lot bigger, letting your brain get more blood.
It's like putting a turbocharger on your car. He got
this trick from an inventor known as "Japan's Thomas
Edison" who would go in his pool and 'hold breath till
almost die', then record his insights on a piece of
plexiglass with a waterproof marker.



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