Someone on the internet was saying that “genetically engineering babies for intelligence etc. probably wouldn’t work. All of our associations are inextricably and unknowably culture-bound (both wrt to time & place)” If I have this right, just because certain genetic variants were associated with higher intelligence in a given place and time (say Budapest, 1900), that doesn’t mean that those associations would hold the day after tomorrow. An equivalent statement: just because John Von Neumann was smart, that doesn’t mean that his clone, conceived in 2019, would be a sharp cookie on maturity. Perhaps the current shortage of Gemütlichkeit, or missing out on the stimulating effect of the Bela Kun regime, would derail the clone’s proper development.
One can imagine ways in which something like this could come about. Suppose that some existing population averaged high scores on mental rotation, but that, 20 years from now, everyone has a little doodad that plugs directly into your brain and makes you far better at spatial visualization (in N dimensions!) than anyone alive today. Those alleles would go from advantageous today to useless tomorrow. Or, if there’s an outbreak of the zombie virus, everybody becomes a zombie. Zombies are known to be deficient in spatial visualization.
So the claim is logically possible. Do I think there’s much chance that it’s true: that increasing the number of plus variants ( as determined by GWAS) by genetic engineering or genetically informed selection would fail, because you can never step into the same environment twice? The same reason that hybrid corn strains only work in the field where they were developed?
No. I think it’s total bullshit.