[extropy-chat] Nicholas Kristof and `irreversible' genetic changes

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 25 23:19:37 UTC 2004

--- Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com> wrote:

> What we are headed toward, McKibben asserts (in his
> wooly confusion), is a 
> regime of `programmed' lives, known totally in
> advance, which will be 
> `ineradicable' (because by then, even if the prowess
> remains, our will 
> shall have been sapped; we will be contented
> Stepford Hive drones). 
> Absurdly, given where he is avowedly coming from, he
> writes as a 
> simple-minded genetic determinist. Once those
> devilish genes are locked in 
> place, we will be obliged to march forever to their
> drumming, without 
> passion or challenge or the poignancy of death and
> its rewarding, decent 
> return to the embrace of Nature.

Well spoken, Damien. To think that engineered genes
could make us less human, "sap our will", and oblige
us to march to their drumming is silly. It ignores
precisely what it means to be human. Being human is
all about having a mind and a will capable of defying
any genetic programming. After all the normal
"god-given" genes I have now tell me to do all sorts
of bad things like sleep with other men's wives, steal
their stuff, and beat them to a pulp if they annoy me.
The reason I don't do any of these things is that my
mind rejects these urges and in this and only this am
I exercising what truly makes me human and not some
dumb animal.
      This McKibben seems to think that if I were to
get engineered genes to lower my cholesterol or see in
the dark, I would suddenly forget I have a mind and
become some mindless drone or savage animal?
Ridiculous. If he worried about future generations
having their will sapped and living "programmed lives"
he would be better off campaigning against mass media
marketing than against genetic engineering. After all
it is television (actually the unscrupulous elite that
control it) that will be mostly responsible for
sapping our wills and turning our kids into fat, lazy,
complacent, mindless drones that only get off the
couch long enough to rush out and buy "super-sized"
fast food or whatever garbage the Madison Avenue spin
doctors hail as the next big thing.
     What is it with people that they would rather
tolerate a familiar evil than risk an uncertain good? 

The Avantguardian 

"He stands like some sort of pagan god or deposed tyrant. Staring out over the city he's sworn to . . .to stare out over and it's evident just by looking at him that he's got some pretty heavy things on his mind."

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