human beings be cloned? Yes, of course!
|How quickly we forget the argument against
abortion, "but what if he/she had been a Beethoven?"
Well we can put that all behind us now because soon we should
be able to clone the modern day Beethoven's, the Einsteins and
any other of the very small fraction of our population that contributes
to the arts or sciences. Mayr has estimated that only 1% of the
population has the intelligence and the motivation to make contributions
for advancing science, culture and the arts. The other 99% of
the population only apply what others have created. But if we
want to expand that 1%, what better way than cloning those who
have proven they have the right genes for advancing culture for
the rest of us. Now that a Riverside, Illinois scientist Richard
G. Seed has announced plans to clone a human, the reactionaries
are really clamping down and trying to defeat science. Do they
really think they can halt progress? One of the couples that
have volunteered for the cloning project are both sterile, neither
can produce a sperm or an egg. Are they to be denied the chance
to reproduce? That is the only pertinent question and one that
is personal, autonomous, and not subject to societies condemnation
A discussion on cloning (Larry
King 6/24/97) between Dr. Ian Wilmut, biologist at the Roslin
Institute in Scotland, and the venerable Dr. Jerry Falwell, religious
cultist, summed up the concerns that I have been reading about
why we should not clone humans. First, they both agreed that
it was to human's advantage to clone animals because it would
advance research, benefiting humans. Jerry seems to be enamored
with wanting to live a very long time, something of a mystery
for me since he claims he is going to a very fine place indeed
after he dies (heaven). Why is it those who should not fear death
seem to shun it the most? A puzzle of faith I guess. But the
old anthropomorphic argument arises that what is good for the
goose (all other species) is not good for the gander (Homo sapiens).
I wonder if all the animals have a sense of how much we appreciate
their sacrifices? The arguments against cloning humans were the
same ones I have been hearing since this debate began.
First, it would destabilize the human condition, disrupting our
faith in the sanctity of life and the high and separate positions
we humans hold over all other species. As one who would like
to see humans "get over themselves," the need to clone
at least one human seems essential. I realize that exposing Jesus
Christ's writings as mostly myth, proving the world is not flat
and we are not the center of the universe, and that we evolved
from apes several million years ago has done little to dissuade
the humans from believing in their own beneficence. But every
little insult to their egos that advances science over mythology
seems worth the effort.
Second, cloning humans will allow additional research into human
behavior, education, crime prevention, and the overall condition
of mankind. The recent Minnesota Twin Studies have shown conclusively
that such human traits such as intelligence, religiosity, and
conscientiousness have a predominantly genetic basis and any
one human is limited by this genetic potentiality. Knowing this
we need to further define how malleable humans are. Cloning is
the next step in environmental experimentation, where donors
can have themselves duplicated genetically and their clones placed
in alternative environments to see how they develop. One clone
can be raised in environment X and another in environment Y and
the results compared a generation later. This type of controlled
experimentation can lead to the final resolution of what makes
us what we are, our genes or something else.
Third, and probably the most exciting,
is the possibility of greatly expanding the number of geniuses
we have in this country to make us number one again. With China's
1 billion population, and with their average IQ's about 5 points
higher than the average American's IQ, cloning may be the only
way we can stay competitive aside from encouraging the very smartest
Asians to emigrate to the West. Dr. Wilmut claims that we should
not clone because genes are only 'part' of what makes one a genius.
But that is precisely why we should clone. By knowing in advance
that a person has all of the genetic components to advance science
or culture, we can invest heavily in their cloned duplicates
to make sure they get the very best training and opportunities
to surpass their originator. What a perfectly sensible and productive
way of channeling our educational resources into those few who
can benefit the nation. Wasting money on the retarded, the disabled,
and the genetically disadvantaged is just sucking the lifeblood
out of the nation's resources. Why play dice with genes when
you can get the genuine articles in the perfect combinations.
Finally, cloning is the only way
to preserve the genetic capital of truly remarkable individuals.
Why not preserve the genes into perpetuity of the very best.
This is equivalent to preserving those rare works of art or historic
buildings, except they can never be reproduced by normal breeding
methods. The most elegant cathedral could be duplicated again
and again, but not the perfect combination of genes. Breeding
can improve the odds, but when the genuine article shows up it
should be preserved for as long as possible through cloning (how
about The Genotype Preservation Project?). Keep replicating those
members of society that have the genes that we all admire. We
can never have enough of the gifted. Giftedness is a trait that
is emergent, that is it is more than just the combination of
the parents' genes, it is a unique combination of those genes.
Sulloway, in Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and
Creative Lives(1997), explains it best, "Just as with a
scrambled telephone number and its resulting connection, genes
that have been scrambled express themselves disparately. For
this reason, many genetic influences are unique to the individual
and cannot be passed on through inheritance. Such traits are
said to be 'emergent.'
The famous race horse Secretariat is thought to have possessed
such emergent abilities. Secretariat won the Triple Crown in
1973. To say that Secretariat 'broke' course records is an understatement:
he smashed them. Most of Secretariat's racing achievements, such
as winning the Belmont stakes by 31 lengths, have never been
approached to this day. Of Secretariat's 400-odd foals, only
one (Risen Star) came close to matching Secretariat's racing
abilities. Risen Star won two of the three contests that make
up the Triple Crown, but even in these victories he was several
seconds behind his sire's record-setting paces. For horse owners
who paid handsomely for Secretariat's stud services, the problem
was simple: once genetically scrambled, half of Secretariat was
never really half. One reason why identical twins have such similar
personalities is their possession of the same emergent traits.
This circumstance explains why identical twins reared apart often
exhibit strikingly similar behavioral quirks, including unusual
habits and hobbies. Even though some of these similarities would
be expected by chance, they are significantly more common when
twins are identical than when they are fraternal.
There has been considerable
debate over whether the genetic variability underlying most personality
traits is adaptive. A good case can be made in the affirmative.
Nonvarying traits, such as the number of chambers in the human
heart, represent evolutionary battles that were fought and resolved
long ago. Traits that vary represent the playing field for evolutionary
battles that are still being contested. These battles are unresolved
because no single genetic solution has proved optimal. Sensation
seeking, which is heritable, provides a good example." Because
of emergent traits, truly unique individuals must be preserved
for the future.
Cloning is the only way to do this, to enhance and expand the
number of people that were lucky enough to receive that unique
combination of genes that make up what we all recognize and geniuses,
those who can push the envelope of knowledge and understanding
through discovery beyond what most people can barely come understand.
Cloning is the only way of increasing the number of gifted geniuses
aside from rigorous breeding programs that still cannot guarantee
the results desired. Cloning can increase 100 or 1000 fold the
number of scientists who are truly exceptional, into the future,
for as long as we want. In the cloning debate, you will hear
over and over again how people are more than their genes, that
environment is equally important. The problem is this is no longer
The Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) of the American Psychological
Association released a report titled, Intelligence: Knowns and
Unknowns, in 1995, in response to the highly controversial 1994
book by Herrnstein and Murray, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and
class structure in American life . In the report the BSA concludes,
"Across the ordinary range of environments in modern Western
societies, a sizable part of the variation in intelligence test
scores is associated with genetic differences among individuals.
We now know that the heritability of IQ changes with age: heritability
goes up and between-family variance goes down from infancy to
adulthood. In childhood heritability and between-family variance
for IQ are of the order of .45 and .35; by late adolescence heritability
is around .75 and between-family variance is quite low (zero
in some studies). Substantial environmental variance remains,
but it primarily reflects within-family rather than between-family
Why should individual differences
in intelligence (as measured by test scores) reflect genetic
differences more strongly in adults than they do in children's?
One possibility is that as individuals grow older their transactions
with their environments are increasingly influenced by the characteristics
that they bring to those environments themselves, decreasingly
by the conditions imposed by family life and social origins.
Older persons are in a better position to select their own effective
environments, a form of genotype-environment correlation."
So now, when the educators and the media tell you that environment,
not genes are primarily responsible for who grows up to be a
genius, you can set them straight. Their dogma is about 30 years
behind the science and is meant to cover up the realities of
good breeding and the enduring contribution that genes make.
They want you to think they can make you smart, through education,
when in fact your own genes will guide you to realize your own
unique potential. If this wasn't true we could make chimpanzees
The final argument against cloning humans is that it is not ethical
or moral to do so. Of course, this is always the fall-back defense
when people want to turn back scientific progress and have no
other means to do so. The reason why so many people are afraid
of cloning is simple, it is one more blow against vitalism, the
belief that there is more to humans than there is to other primates
or mammals. We are in some unique way above all the other species,
we have a soul.
But of course they can't really say that, especially other scientists
that have given up the superstition of religion, but can't give
up the hope and aspiration that we are more than just the latest
permutation of a very different species, one that can selectively
breed itself in a conscious manner. Several billion years ago,
the early species did in fact reproduce asexually, the same process
genetically as cloning. There are many higher species today that
still breed asexually and some that can switch, depending on
the circumstances, between asexual and sexual reproduction. Are
the offspring of these asexual reproductions any more or less
real than any other?
The only reason nature has chosen
sexual reproduction over asexual cloning is because it had certain
benefits with regards to evolution, that is, it was the only
way using trial and error that evolution could find the most
viable genetic traits for survival. But that has all changed
now, especially with regards to many traits that are desired
in humans and animals alike. Once humans started selectively
breeding cows, chickens, horses, sheep and dogs for specific
characteristics we replaced the "Blind Watchmaker"
of evolution with consciously directed breeding.
Unless you can prove that humans are not just another variation
of the primate line of species that have learned to use their
intellect and language for survival, unless you can prove without
a doubt that somewhere lurking inside of us is a soul that no
other species harbors, then there is no logical reason why cloning
a sheep is any different than cloning a human. Cloning, in fact,
is just another step in our evolutionary journey where randomness
has been supplanted by the collective will of culture and has
changed the way we are.
About 10,000 years ago, we left the hunter gatherer tribalism
for an agrarian way of life leading to larger social units. Soon,
reproductive sex was being influenced by Judaism and Catholicism
in the West (primogeniture and celibacy), concubines in the East,
and numerous other deviations from the tribal unit. Today, many
people consciously select a mate with forethought for traits
they want to enhance in their children (beauty, intelligence,
athleticism, etc.). Assortative mating is just another form of
selective breeding, as is cloning.
So any arguments against cloning have already been obviated by
the facts of the evolutionary march from the single-cell to the
multi-cell organisms and now is entering a new phase of intelligent,
directed, evolutionary progress. The only question with regards
to cloning is do I want to be cloned and can it be accomplished.
It is as are all reproductive decisions, up to the reproducer.
And for the first time that decision lies in the hands of one
person, and the well-being of the cloned offspring rests on the
parent, pure and simple.
Just as the state should not step in and make a couple abort
a child with a genetic disease, they should not step in and prevent
someone from cloning themselves on the pretense that they are
concerned with the cloned child. That is not what the moral/ethical
debate is about.
It is the same fear of the unknown
that has always stood in the way of science. And it is just another
good reason why we must breed a more intelligent voting populace
that has a better grip on reality, and not so reactionary about
every change they encounter that seems out of the ordinary. If
science is moving too fast for the masses we must improve their
intelligence or slide back into ignorance, suspicion, and fear.
The future is what we make it. Cloning will help give us the
cognitive capital to carry out programs of advanced science.