Happiness gene identified

A gene has been identified which causes people who have it to report a higher degree of happiness than others. (The gene causes the brain to recycle serotonin more efficiently.)

I contend that it is now irresponsible and immoral to let a child be born without first ensuring that he or she has this gene.

Allowing children to be born without this gene is to create people who will be less happy than they could be.

Comments

Jožek said…
In my opinion, it is precisely unhappiness that moves the world forward, both in the technological and in the social sense. If everybody had been satisfied (happy) with living in caves, we would still be living that way today. Likewise, if slavery, bigotry, etc. had been making everybody happy for all the time in history, these wrongs would still be with us today.

This also holds true in the personal sense: if someone is unhappy (sad or dissatisfied), they will strive to improve their condition, except, of course, if they are happy with their unhappiness (as many people actually are!). For example, a defeat in a chess game might make you truly sad or angry, but in the long run, it may be much more useful for you than a series of ten wins, simply because it gives you the best opportunity to analyze and improve your play.

Of course, unhappiness by itself is not enough; it should be accompanied with determination, vigor, and courage in order to bring about positive change.
denis bider said…
In my opinion, it is precisely unhappiness that moves the world forward, both in the technological and in the social sense.

What exactly is "forward", if not towards greater happiness?

If everybody had been satisfied (happy) with living in caves, we would still be living that way today.

If everyone was truly happy that way, what would be wrong with that?

Likewise, if slavery, bigotry, etc. had been making everybody happy for all the time in history, these wrongs would still be with us today.

If slavery and bigotry made everyone happy, they wouldn't be wrong.

This also holds true in the personal sense: if someone is unhappy (sad or dissatisfied), they will strive to improve their condition

They will strive to improve it towards happiness.

For example, a defeat in a chess game might make you truly sad or angry, but in the long run, it may be much more useful for you than a series of ten wins, simply because it gives you the best opportunity to analyze and improve your play.

You can learn the same amount from losing a chess game without having to feel sad or angry.

In fact, you are likely to learn more by analyzing the loss out of curiosity (which is compatible with happiness), than out of anger (which isn't).

Of course, unhappiness by itself is not enough; it should be accompanied with determination, vigor, and courage in order to bring about positive change.

Unhappiness, by itself, is unnecessary. Being happy doesn't need to mean lacking motivation.

If anything, less destructive irrationality arising out of negative emotions is a good thing.
Anonymous said…
They said the same thing ,with the same arguments and the same conclusions in Europe and exterminated disabled people, homosexuals, cross-eyed people and others. And I am not talking about Germany.

In this case:

"Conversely, 26 per cent of those with two short versions of the gene said they were dissatisfied with life, compared with 20 per cent of people carrying two long variants."


Yeah right, big deal...

De Neve stresses, however, that many other factors play into how happy we feel with our lot. "There's no way you should interpret these gene results as deterministic," he says. "If you're very unlucky throughout your life, losing your job or close relatives, it will be a more important source of unhappiness than any particular genes you carry," he says.

But I guess all of this has happened before and it will all happen again.

Moreover... reported happiness level, experienced happiness level and observable and quantifiable happiness... you get my point..

Plus, the fact that the very definition of happiness is certainly related to a specific moment in a time and place.. to a specific cultural setting then..

Very dangerous ideas indeed.

But Denis, why do you hate so much ?
denis bider said…
They said the same thing ,with the same arguments and the same conclusions in Europe and exterminated disabled people,

I'm not arguing for anyone's extermination.

Other than that, improving the lot of humanity is a worthwhile goal.

You're going to have a hard time convincing me that our current number of people with serious shortcomings is somehow, magically, just the right number.

If you're advocating anything, you're advocating doing nothing and letting things go their own way. But when you have the capacity of doing something, doing nothing is doing something.

If you have the option to do something, then whether you do it or not, you are choosing an outcome.

It just seems like you don't have the guts to take responsibility.

But doing nothing doesn't avoid responsibility for your choice of outcome. If you have chosen to do nothing, you're responsible.

If you choose to do nothing, you have to explain to the future generation why you allowed such and such percentage of people to be created with worse genes, when you had both the knowledge, and the means, to ensure that people with better genes were created.


Very dangerous ideas indeed.

No, you're just coming up with excuses to justify doing nothing.


But Denis, why do you hate so much?

People who are simultaneously arrogant and stupid annoy me.

But the real question is, why do you still beat your wife?
Anonymous said…
Happiness is a skill which anyone can acquire by learning. The gene only reflects the talent (ie. speed of learning).

It's the same as having a talent for football or music. If you nourish this talent, it will grow and develop. If you don't, it won't. We all have different talents, but (almost) anyone can learn to play football and sing. What makes some people better and happier is realizing what their potentials are, and pursuing them.

Basing a life vs. death decision on a gene is wrong. It leads to "human 2.0" paradox. Would you agree with "it's immoral to let a blue-eyed child be born, because it will have a higher chance of developing a skin cancer"?
denis bider said…
Happiness is a skill which anyone can acquire by learning. The gene only reflects the talent (ie. speed of learning).

Good point. But could you not say the same thing about IQ?

Or how about athletic performance?

Anyone, despite IQ or inherent athletic talent, can invest effort to learn, or to become a better athlete.

However, her genes control how fast she can learn, or how fast she can train.

Furthermore, her genes do eventually put a limit on how good she can become.

With a low IQ, she can become "good enough", but she will not be able to compete with the world's top thinkers.

With low inherent athletic ability, she can still become competent, but will not be able to compete with top athletes.

Given that real world statistical differences have been observed between people who have the long version of this gene, and others who do not, I'd say that having this gene improves your chances of finding happiness.

That's a good thing.


Basing a life vs. death decision on a gene is wrong. It leads to "human 2.0" paradox.

Where's the paradox?


Would you agree with "it's immoral to let a blue-eyed child be born, because it will have a higher chance of developing a skin cancer"?

If increased chance of skin cancer was the only effect, then of course, why let people have blue-eyed children?

But it's not the only effect. For one thing, blue eyes are attractive to other people. Appearing more attractive may well serve the person much better than she is hurt by the increased chance of skin cancer.

I don't think you can come up with an example that is not either ambiguous (e.g. blue eyes), so I'll say other factors may outweigh the negative; or it's clear cut negative, so in that case, sure, I'll say we shouldn't produce children like that.

For example, should we allow children to be born blind and deaf, if we can prevent it? According to your logic, we should allow children to be born blind and deaf, because otherwise we fall into this "human 2.0" trap. Whatever that is???
Anonymous said…
The problem is that we don't actually understand anything about this world. We have statistics, we have theories, we have models, but that's as far away from the truth as anything can get.

To use this limited knowledge to pretend that we know what's best for somebody else is (pardon the bluntness) extremely arrogant and stupid. By trying to create a better race through genetic manipulation, we might just as well be causing exactly the opposite.

So, as you've already put it yourself, it's really about judging others. For example, we do not understand autism, so we consider it a disease and try to prevent it. But take a closer look, and you'll se that the autist's mind is in many ways superior to ours. They could just as well be thinking WE should be prevented.

Nature is fault-tolerant and full of redundancies. Everything is connected in one way or another, and the choices we must make are never simple. If you want to change the world, you can change yourself - that's more than enough. (And I'm not saying it's simple.)

I encourage you to pick Matt Ridley's book Genome. You'll love it.
denis bider said…
The problem is that we don't actually understand anything about this world. We have statistics, we have theories, we have models, but that's as far away from the truth as anything can get.

That's quite an exaggeration. Apparently, you understand enough about the world to write this reply.

Therefore, your models of your chair, desk, your computer, and of the internet, are workable.

Randomness is, in fact, as far away from truth as you can get. Statistics, theories and models are much closer.


To use this limited knowledge to pretend that we know what's best for somebody else is (pardon the bluntness) extremely arrogant and stupid.

If that's the case, perhaps we shouldn't send children to school.

What do we know about the world, right?

Who are we to say that learning to read and write is of any use?


By trying to create a better race through genetic manipulation, we might just as well be causing exactly the opposite.

Imagine you made a similar statement about antibiotics.

"Trying to cure disease with antibiotics, we might just as well kill the patient outright!"

I'm quite sure that inappropriate use of antibiotics has killed a large number of people. But proper use has cured many, many more.


But take a closer look, and you'll se that the autist's mind is in many ways superior to ours. They could just as well be thinking WE should be prevented.

That reminds me of deaf parents who want their children to "experience the deaf culture", so they want to select for embryos with deafness genes, or have their hearing removed in some manner.

It's not about what the parents want. It's about what the child would want if he/she could choose for herself.

Imagine that the child you are creating is going to be your own life. Your one and only life. Would you prefer the gene that makes it harder to be happy? Would you prefer to be deaf? Or autistic?

Feel free to do any research you think you need to do to make a choice. If you then still want to be autistic, then perhaps we have a case for making autistic children!


Nature is fault-tolerant and full of redundancies.

Nature gives us cancer.


I encourage you to pick Matt Ridley's book Genome. You'll love it.

Thank you for the recommendation. :) It looks like an interesting work with good reviews. I added it to my shopping list.
vasectomy said…
I don't really get the point. Of course people strive for happiness, but you're arbitrarily drawing a line in my opinion. I mean you could just legalize morphine if happiness was all that matters. I don't see how we're able to decide which level of happiness is the ultimate. If people were always happy, they'd just starve to death - happily. So there has to be some lack of happiness motivating us to stay alive, or life ends.

Greetings from Germany,
Vasectomy
denis bider said…
vasectomy,

happiness and intention are less related than we think.

We decide to do things regardless of whether we are happy, or whether those things will make us happy.

Lack of happiness is not what gets you out of bed every day.

In fact, happiness gets you out of bed and ready to do something great, whereas unhappiness keeps you in bed, depressing.

The comparison with opiates is again flawed because happiness and incapacitation aren't the same concept.
denis bider said…
If anything, I would say that people who lack capacity to feel happy resort to incapacitating drugs as a way out. But they use those drugs only to incapacitate the brain that makes them unhappy.

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