damn it people!

john kindly sent me a link to this article. I don't want to get mad about this. But I can't help it. Here's why
  1. Why do we assume that if we can do something that we should? This is basic bioethics. Not everything that pops into our heads--intelligent killing machines with organic skin and Austrian accents called Terminators, for instance--should be attempted. Didn't we learn anything from Jurassic Park 1, 2, and 3? If you screw with something cool and alive, it will eventually outsmart and then eat you.
  2. Are we still arguing from the same logic as the natural theologians of the 1870s? T. H. Huxley proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that human and ape brains are structurally fundamentally similar. That was in 1869 or so. People continued to argue the point for 30 or so years. Then the tactic switched--we must have a chemical make-up or size difference to account for our distinctness from other primates. After all, we're so smart we capture chimps and orangs and put them in padded rooms with lots of ropes and make them learn sign language. If they did the same thing back to us, we might not see ourselves as so unique. But as it stands, we feel that we have to account for the disparity in "intelligence". Do we really want to attibute the gulf between chimps and humans to something crudely physical like the number of organic phosphates created by various strands of DNA? And do we really want to say something like "introducing human cells into non-human primate brains could cause 'significant physical or biochemical changes that make the brain more human-like'"? If the answer is "yes--we want them to not do that because it may make monkeys more human-like" then it follows that our underlying belief is that various biochemical reagents moving around inside of our brains--some of which may have been coded for by segments of our genome--determine what it is to be monkey or human.
I'm not sure if you can sense the sarcasm here or not. But I'm attempting to lay it on. In type. Thickly.


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