Thursday, May 21, 2009

Terrifying Technology 5/21/09

The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science along with behavior control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers.

Lewis Thomas
Welcome to my lab.
What do I think about human cloning? The fact is I don't think about it. I have a lot of things to worry about without spending any time with that or other such matters. I'll give you a list. No, on second thought, I won't.

When confronted with such topics, some people go into a state of shock or outrage, as if the idea itself was somehow an evil, Satan's tool to destroy the human race. But the fact is that Science is not in a position to take an ethical stand on anything, although many scientists do. Science doesn't make moral choices. It gives us the Hubble space telescope and the hydrogen bomb. That's also true about Nature, which gives us the butterfly and the rattle snake.

The moral choice has to be made by humankind. And that can only be done by putting aside shock and outrage and thinking through in a reasonable manner the implications of what Science can do and what scientists are contemplating doing with it. Along with our other gifts, we humans have been given the ability to reason, to think, to ponder and to imagine. Predicting the future of anything is difficult, one might say impossible, and it may be pointless. History teaches that if a thing can be done, it will be done. And to quote the old saying from Napoleon Hill, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." So nothing is outside the grasp of the scientist with imagination and the tools to employ in making the impossible a reality, good or evil.

So who's watching the scientist? Not the hot headed bomber of abortion clinics, not the fanatical temperance smasher of stills, not the Luddite destroying the machinery, nor the Congressman who refuses to vote for appropriations to keep the space program functioning. Is anyone watching? Is anyone calmly considering the possibilities and ramifications of every scientific intent, research and development, then letting the world know about them in a manner that gains the ear of the scientific community and others?

These are questions that ought to be considered while the scalpels, scuds and space shuttles fly.

May the spring breeze mess up your hair.


Anne said...

I voice my opinions to my government officials. What they do with it...........who knows? Sometimes it's good, sometimes not so much so. As always I enjoy your post. Anne

Indigo said...

Sometimes I think Technology in the race to stay ahead, bypasses certain moral codes on a human scale. That of course is just my humble opinion. (Hugs)Indigo

Karen said...

I listened to a radio station, NPR, on Saturday that discussed the affects of radiation used in the 1950s to shrink the enlarged thalmus glands in babies. Turns out such technology caused thyroid cancer in these poor souls 40+ years later. So, do we eradicate research and technology?

Beth said...

Fascinating subject for me...shocking, I know!

This is why Ethics, Bioethics, and Medical Ethics is such a hot topic right now. At least among scientists! The information is out there for anyone who wants it (I love for information.)

Pure science is about discovery, research, and application. Ethics covers the moral implications, and it can be a very ambiguous area, open to much debate. I've maintained for a long time that "because we can" is not the best justification for something, whether it is a medical procedure or something like human cloning.

I think that if I were just starting out in school, I would take several Ethics classes. The subject often came up in various science classes, but I never took an entire class on it. It's definitely something that is very pertinent today.

Great post! Love, Beth

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Science and technology will continue on, despite those who would limit it applications. You see, you can not legislate innovation, wonder, and discovery.