Gene Machine, Part Deux

Wow, I really got schooled for that last post. “sdf”, I think you’re correct in pointing out that my analysis does polarize the debate in such a way that ignores the highly-informed, well-reasoned voices of the middle ground. I’ll admit, coming from a non-science background, I, myself know relatively little about the field of genetics or its many subfields. Perhaps I would’ve taken a better route in my post to, instead, observe that articles in the popular press reporting on “Science and Technology,” such as the ones I linked to, provide such a vague understanding of the scientific discoveries upon which they report that it makes it quite easy for the general public to jump to uninformed conclusions about where science is headed. Extreme points of view are bound to arise in any situation in which the parties involved are ill-informed. As you mention, of course, this is not necessarily the fault of the press, but of those who fail to seek out the “thousands of publicly available articles on publicly funded research” to give substance to their opinions.

What I perhaps should have referenced in my final paragraph was the power of a well-trained, discerning scientific community to keep scientific pursuits in line with ethical practice. Partly, the issue that I was attempting to represent was that these ethical lines are not so self-evident. Now, I know we’re talking about different genetic investigations and manipulations when we compare cancer research aimed at ending a life-threatening diseases to prenatal screening focused on identifying potential genetic disorders in fetuses. But the practice, itself, of studying human life in these ways results in particular implications for the way we perceive the human body and value human life. I certainly didn’t mean to say that the way we augment our bodies is always, necessarily done in a negative way; instead, in a cultural climate where particular ideals of human perfection decide the importance we place on certain lives, it’s prudent to think critically about the ramifications of explorations into the biological, genetic composition of the human being.