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A Genetic Manhattan Project?
The Minority Report ^ | 24 October, 2007 | .cnI redruM

Posted on 10/24/2007 9:46:45 AM PDT by .cnI redruM

The successful efforts of the Human Genome Project rightfully stand amongst the greatest intellectual achievements of human history. The brilliance and diligence displayed in this research cannot be quantified or described in a way that does it all justice. However, the question now becomes what we actually do with the knowledge of the human genome?

Given the previous history of human technology, the heroic industry and intelligence of the scientists who achieved this discovery will in no way guarantee that it won’t fall into the hands of evil despots or malicious haters. It becomes possible that human beings as we know them will become a thing of the past. As our mysteries are increasingly solved, we lose them and become a piece of genetic machinery to be assembled, modified and terminated to someone else’s moral specifications.

I truly admire and wish I could emulate the scientific genius of a man like the 1953 Noble Laureate James Watson. His discovery of the structure of DNA stands on a level with Einstein’s mathematical description of Brownian motion. Just as Einstein’s work enabled the derivation of Avogadro’s Number, Watson’s discoveries led to the successful mapping of the human genome.

For all of Watson’s intellectual brilliance and diligence, other aspects of his resume do not inspire as much praise and admiration. His views on race and intelligence remind me of Patrick J. Buchanan at his virulent worst. Like Famous Harvard Professor, Louis Agissiz’s racial classification scheme, Watson’s comments on the issue of the intellectual character of Africans suggest a contemptible level of profound ignorance that has no place in intellectual circles or in any aspect of polite society.

Watson informed The Sunday Times magazine that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really."

Having nimbly inserted one foot into his mouth, he had to reach down and grab the other ankle.

He recognized that the prevailing belief was that all human groups are equal, but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."

Just to demonstrate that his heart was in the right place, and that he was a big prince of a guy, he went on digging a grave for his reputation as a rational man.

He told the interviewer, a former student of his, that he had recently inaugurated a DNA learning center near Harlem, and would like to have more black researchers at his lab, "but there's no one to recruit."

One valid line of argument would posit that Dr. Watson is perfectly entitled to act like a bigot on his own time, as long as his scientific judgment remains professional and solid inside the laboratory. Some of us drink, others curse and still others forget to flush at the urinal. The fact that Watson has personal faults shouldn’t discourage us from appreciating him or wanting him to continue advancing his science. If science only involved theory, this would be highly plausible and libertarian.

Unfortunately, as Nobel, and Guillotin discovered to their sorrow, the ideas can be applied in ways that their creators would never necessarily condone. In some cases, it’s the originators themselves who genuinely need ethical help.

Why a eugenicist, bent on growing the uber mensch in a test tube, would enjoy reading a map of the human genome shouldn’t require deductive reasoning to figure out. Dr. Watson describes some of the possible “benefits” of his work.

"If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease," says Watson, now president of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, New York. "The lower 10 per cent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what's the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, 'Well, poverty, things like that.' It probably isn't. So I'd like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 per cent."

Watson, no stranger to controversy, also suggests that genes influencing beauty could also be engineered. "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great."

Even without the map of the Human Genome, the intelligent application of Bayes Law and medical technology have combined to significantly increase the rate of Downs Syndrome detection. Many wonder whether this a decent application of probability theory and high technology. Over 90% of all fetuses testing positive are aborted soon after prenatal detection. This leaves people wondering whether we are improving the ability of new parents to prepare for a disabled child or just raising the number of abortions performed every year.

Increasingly, we lose a sense of what our basic uniqueness and dignity really are. Existentialist Gabriel Marcel described human dignity as “an active and even poignant experience of the mystery inherent in the human condition.” With all the mysteries being solved, and all the differences we see as disabling being zapped like bugs from the next version of Microsoft Windows, are there any poignant mysteries left to actually experience?

If Dr. Watson gets to engineer the races he doesn’t like out of existence and if the medical establishment detects and aborts all the disabled fetuses, we may end up short far more human beings than the scientists who work on topics like the human genome would ever believe possible or morally countenance. The gas chambers the Germans built were originally invented to euthanize the terminally sick and the hopeless mentally ill. I remember that part about the humanitarian German Doctors and their mercy-killing machine every time some scientist tells us that we should ignore Dr. Watson because he really isn’t serious.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: designerbabies; designerbaby; dna; eugenics; genetics; genome; humanity; intelligence; race; racerelations; races; racial; racism; racist; racists; watson

1 posted on 10/24/2007 9:46:46 AM PDT by .cnI redruM
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ping for future (if this leads to comments about designer babies, and not direct racism).


2 posted on 10/24/2007 9:49:25 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: .cnI redruM

Would put Einstein on a much higher level than Watson. Einstein theorized about things on a level that while in one sense could be observed, in another sense were not easily observable. Watson had a lot of help—much of the discovery went to Rosalind Franklin, from whom Watson and Crick stole a critical clue to the structure of DNA. His stealing and not giving credit actually illustrates something about his moral character, if not his intellectual one.


3 posted on 10/24/2007 9:53:48 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
I willingly gave Watson credit for his science. I’ll generally give someone the benefit of the doubt on that, unless they put their indecency on display, the way Watson did on his racial views. Given the other things Watson has said, it doesn’t shock me to find out he works the way Senator Biden writes campaign speeches.
4 posted on 10/24/2007 9:56:10 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Columbia U has fewer ROTC cadets than Iran has practicing homosexuals.)
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To: .cnI redruM

People are angry with Watson because he disagreed with their egalitarian faith.


5 posted on 10/24/2007 10:02:40 AM PDT by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd

Count me as one of them.


6 posted on 10/24/2007 10:03:23 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Columbia U has fewer ROTC cadets than Iran has practicing homosexuals.)
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To: .cnI redruM

Dr. Manhattan?

7 posted on 10/24/2007 10:04:36 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (What would a free man do?)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
I didn't know he stole it. I thought Rosalind was freely sharing her spectography photos with Watson and Crick. Still I never felt she was given the credit she was due. They could not have had the breakthrough when they did without her work, and Linus Pauling was hot on their tails in America. They were in a race to be first. Someone else would have figured it out; they just happened to get it first.

Also, one of them majored in ornithology, can't remember which. So he went into the project totally unprepared (which is inspiring one one level), relying on mathematical expertise there at I believe it was Oxford, been awhile since I read The Double Helix.

8 posted on 10/24/2007 10:05:30 AM PDT by Aliska
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To: .cnI redruM
Generic Manhattan Project? Would that be a nuclear device with a barcode on it, with a little label that says "bomb"?

...Ok, maybe you need to be from Maine to get it...

9 posted on 10/24/2007 10:16:45 AM PDT by wbill
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To: Aliska

The story which have heard was that some of Rosalind’s research was stolen without consent. And that research was a large part toward leading to the discovery of DNA’s double helical structure.


10 posted on 10/24/2007 10:16:58 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

Should be Franklin’s instead of Rosalind’s (last name used).


11 posted on 10/24/2007 10:17:32 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: Aliska
Here it is: Franklin's colleague, Maurice Wilkins, gave data to Watson and Crick without Franklin's consent.

from PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/bofran.html.

Seems that Watson is off the hook--for this--for being thief.

Though, more on Watson and his view of women's beauty.

12 posted on 10/24/2007 10:27:50 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
Considering Watson looks similar to Eleanor Roosevelt, he shouldn't be critical of ugly people.


13 posted on 10/24/2007 10:34:13 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
One word: Gattaca

See the movie, it will scare you where this can lead. All current technology used to be science fiction with a bit of imagination, time, and desire added. Someone even proposed genetically modified lethal diseases that would target a specific race or group. Not there yet, but don't doubt for a moment someone is looking at it...

Dubh

14 posted on 10/24/2007 10:43:08 AM PDT by Dubh_Ghlase (In the land of Clinton, where the shadows lie...)
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To: wbill

Available at Walmart, HAHAHA


15 posted on 10/24/2007 10:51:04 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Columbia U has fewer ROTC cadets than Iran has practicing homosexuals.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
Yeah, the potshots at Watson (and Watson deserves to be given grief) should not be the focus. What should scare the hell out of people is this:

Even without the map of the Human Genome, the intelligent application of Bayes Law and medical technology have combined to significantly increase the rate of Downs Syndrome detection. Many wonder whether this a decent application of probability theory and high technology.Over 90% of all fetuses testing positive are aborted soon after prenatal detection. This leaves people wondering whether we are improving the ability of new parents to prepare for a disabled child or just raising the number of abortions performed every year.
16 posted on 10/24/2007 10:51:46 AM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: Dubh_Ghlase

I sort of think this where we could head with this. It’s another way to leave no children behind.


17 posted on 10/24/2007 10:51:55 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Columbia U has fewer ROTC cadets than Iran has practicing homosexuals.)
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To: Dubh_Ghlase
On the other hand, viruses could also be used to alter DNA. If an unborn baby is diagnosed with a genetic mutation for which many babies are being murdered each year, modified viruses could remove/replace the mutation to make that part of the genome 'normal.' If an 'intelligence' or 'stupidity' gene is found, genes could be altered so that the entire population has the 'intelligence gene.' Maybe even changes could be made to larger, already born, adult humans. Genetic modification holds both hope and threat.

It's a power, and power can be used for both good and evil; and it's the duty of the wielder of that power to use it responsibly.

18 posted on 10/24/2007 10:57:24 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: af_vet_rr

While a ‘giver of potshots’ to Watson (as you’ll see if you read more of the comments which have posted here), agree with you that children being aborted in droves annually because of genetic defects is a more pressing issue.


19 posted on 10/24/2007 11:00:33 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

Thanks for the info and links. They will shed more light on that part of it. I do remember a little skullduggery about getting the particular spectrographs that were instrumental in unravelling the molecular structure enigma.


20 posted on 10/24/2007 11:37:41 AM PDT by Aliska
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
It's a power, and power can be used for both good and evil; and it's the duty of the wielder of that power to use it responsibly.

And I totally agree. However there has to be someone who wields the power, and we all know the saying: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Imagine the hildabeast and her cronies with this power? You can bet your bottom dollar that "common folks' would be on the short end of the stick here. See the movie...

21 posted on 10/24/2007 2:16:13 PM PDT by Dubh_Ghlase (In the land of Clinton, where the shadows lie...)
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