One of the main roadblocks to open discussion of cognitive enhancement is the “yuck factor”. The yuck factor a sense of distaste or wrongness that arises when considering alternative expressions of the human condition. It may be seen clearly in the prejudicial aversion to those who are physically disabled, mentally handicapped or mentally ill. From the perspective of evolutionary psychologists, the yuck factor is a deeply rooted, if cruel, means of evaluating the fitness of a potential mate. Radically different morphology or mentality may be interpreted as a sign of reproductive non-viability.

This inspiring 2009 TED Talk given by enhancement activist Aimee Mullins documents her efforts at overcoming the yuck factor when it comes to physical disability. Through various custom leg prostheses, she demonstrates that radical morphology can be not only aesthetically appealing but also sexually attractive. Mullins’ efforts to make enhancement acceptable are inspiring. It is one thing to argue for enhancement from an ethical or practical standpoint, and it is another to see how a person’s self-esteem and quality of life really do improve as a result. Watch her video and see what you think. It may be NSFW for some artistic nudity.


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