I originally wrote this ~1997, in response to some of the more fuckwitted reactions to the Dolly the Sheep announcement. It has a couple of dated references to celebrities, which I’ve left in on the grounds that they add an element of period charm.
The idiotic commentary on cloning serves as a sharp reminder of the low intellectual level of the human species.
What follows are some of the more extremely cretinous objections raised against cloning in the weeks immediately following the Dolly announcement, along with remarks highlighting their already obvious imbecility.
1. Cloning will cause a gradual accumulation of genetic defects.
Because gene surgery, like everything else in this vale of toil and sin, will not be perfect, so mistakes will be made, and must inevitably accumulate over time. Asymptotically, the entire human race will be genetic freaks.
Here’s why this argument is moronic: First, cloning and gene surgery are not the same thing. Second, mistakes—mutations—occur all the time in nature, but they don’t accumulate over generations. (Unless they’re beneficial, in which case no prob.) Third, any society advanced enough to do gene surgery in the first place, will be advanced enough to use gene surgery to correct the mistakes made by gene surgery. Following this kind of “reasoning,” cars must be getting worse all the time, because mistakes are made sometimes, and “they must inevitably accumulate.”
2. Cloning will cause a loss of genetic diversity.
Because everyone will just copy himself.
Uh-huh. Yeah, sure. But whatever. Suppose everyone in the world elected to copy himself. Then the genetic makeup of the next generation would be exactly identical to the genetic makeup of this generation, so the level of genetic diversity would also be exactly the same. Fucking duh.
3. Cloning is like incest. (Yes, someone actually said this).
You’re an idiot.
4. Clones would be bought and sold like slaves.
If this isn’t legal for people created the traditional way, why would it be legal for clones? I’m not aware of any clause in existing laws that says “…unless the victim is a clone.” And if there were such clauses, the thing to do would be to eliminate them, not to outlaw cloning. Argument a la mode: “Women are sometimes raped! Therefore we must outlaw… women!”
5. Corporations would own cloned children because they’d be perfect workers, or something.
See above. And if you’re not a perfect worker, a clone of you wouldn’t be either.
6. Cloning violates a person’s right to be unique.
Oh, now there’s “a right to be unique.” WTF?
Round up all parents who have twins or triplets, and string ‘em up.
7. Cloning raises tough questions about the nature of free will.
8. The rich would be able to afford it and the poor wouldn’t.
I suppose if you’re a socialist this seems self-evidently a bad thing. The response from the rest of us: Yeah, so? The entire point of being rich is being able to afford lots of goodies. Furthermore, if you really think it’s unacceptable for anyone to be able to afford stuff other people can’t (and if you have a touching faith in government programs) your argument does not support outlawing cloning; it supports making it an entitlement.
9. It’s like Naziism, what with all the shades of improving the race.
The Nazis were evil because they killed people. If someone resolves to improve the human race by producing children only if the other parent is a physically perfect supergenius, fine, let ‘em. That doesn’t hurt anyone. The same applies to doing it without the sex, even if it’s not as fun. I’m not an advocate of zero population growth, but if any are reading this: An article in The Times on September 13, 1977, made the following droll observation: “The principle that a lesser but early benefit will offset a substantial but postponed liability is one which rules human life; indeed, it is the principle on which the human race reproduces itself.”
10. The government could take an individual who is a perfect soldier – strong, fast, and obedient – and make thousands of copies of him, thus making the military and law enforcement forces more efficient and therefore more dangerous to liberty.
If this really worries you, excellent. Join those of us who want a smaller, less powerful government. Either that, or be consistent and oppose all technology that could, in theory, possibly be used in some way by government to limit individual freedom. Of course, that means all technology.
Also, see the above remarks on the illegality of slavery. If the government can’t own children and dictate that they be professional soldiers now, why would they be allowed to do so for clones? Oh, wait a minute. The government can force people to be professional soldiers; that’s called the draft. Well then, let us oppose a reinstatement of the draft, which is, as a matter of objective fact, unconstitutional, since the Constitution forbids involuntary servitude. See the Thirteenth Amendment. In the absence of the draft, most of the government’s intended military slaves would just say, e.g., “No thanks; I’m going to be a party planner.”
By the way, note the technology available to the government also would be available to private individuals, so they could adopt cloned babies of an individual who is strong, fast, and courageous – thus evening up the odds in conflicts with minions of the State.
Addendum January 2018: How easy would it be to design a bioweapon that would kill 100% of these soldiers: They’re all genetically identical, LOL! (It just hit me that that’s a serious problem with the Star Wars clone trooper thing.)
The glaring common feature in all the above objections to cloning is that they’re all easily refuted by someone who has the desire to be objective about it. Quite evidently, not everyone has the desire to be objective about it. This is a real mystery. Why cloning? What is it about cloning that makes people so prone to spout off without even going through the usual rudimentary activity commonly labeled “thinking”? Will someone who “thinks” like this kindly tell me the emotional reasons, that is, the real reasons, that everyone finds this so horrifying?
I think y’all have been exposed to too much bad science fiction.
If you’re afraid that “corporations” or the government might steal your genetic material, may I suggest, with all due respect, that you’re flattering yourself? Also, why would they? Do they steal kids now? Do they secretly fertilize human ova and train the resultant people to be CIA assassins or whatever? Whoa. Huh huh, that would be cool. But there are easier ways to get assassins, and anyway, it’s a bit too late to worry about it. You see, the ability to do this is a matter of test tube baby technology, which is distinct from cloning and which has been around for decades.
Maybe you don’t like the idea of a rich guy like Ross Perot making a hundred copies of himself. I don’t like that idea either, on aesthetic grounds, but we needn’t worry. If Ross didn’t choose to have a hundred old-fashioned kids, why would he choose to have a hundred clones? It’s not as if it would be less costly to raise a cloned child.
Ah, maybe that’s the issue. Maybe you slightly slow individuals have forgotten about the laws of conservation of matter and energy. You envision this technology creating a new adult instantaneously and out of thin air, by wave of the technological wand. Never fear; this is science, not magic. It’s not even Star Trek. No, there aren’t any matter transmuter thingies. Raising a clone to adulthood would take exactly the same quantity of time and other resources as raising any other child to adulthood. If your neighbors can’t afford to feed, clothe, etc., ten old-fashioned kids, how are they supposed to afford it for ten clones?
There’s this thing called thinking and it would benefit us all if you hoi polloi would try it every now and then. As an exercise in noblesse oblige, I will now take you step by step through an example of this process as it applies to cloning.
Let’s return to the example mentioned just above of the laws of conservation of matter and energy. Since I have two brain cells to rub together, this point is simply obvious to me, but I’ll pitch it down a level to make it easier. Despite what many say, the important thing in thinking is not so much to avoid jumping to conclusions, as it is to actually check the conclusions to which you have jumped.
The first step involved in thinking is to identify in specific detail the scenario you’re thinking about:
Step 1. The scientists press a button and instantly, a Tia Carrere look-alike appears on the laboratory workbench. Also, she’s naked (here at Neurotoxin we believe that learning should be fun).
The next step is to list in detail what would be required for this imagined event to occur:
Step 2. More than one hundred pounds of matter, in the form of gorgeous dark eyes, high round cheekbones, etc., have suddenly appeared next to the Bunsen burner on our laboratory table. This requires one of two things: either matter-energy that did not exist one second ago exists now, or matter-energy has been converted from one form into another very rapidly. The first is impossible; it violates the laws of physics. Also, if scientists had found a way around the conservation of matter-energy the last thing they’d be chatting about would be cloning; it would be about, for example, the best technique for blowing your nose into tissue made of gold, constructing Jeep rollbars out of solid diamond, etc. So we must be assuming instantaneous conversion of matter from one form into another.
Let’s consider the “out of thin air” scenario. Earth’s atmosphere is about seventy-nine percent nitrogen, twenty percent oxygen, and one percent carbon dioxide, which is in turn composed of the elements carbon and oxygen. The gorgeous piece of femininity we’re ogling at is assembled partly from these three elements (i.e., nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon) but also, among other things, iron, hydrogen (in water), calcium, etc. Thus our latest science project could not exist unless we had the ability to convert any arbitrarily selected element into any other one, for example, nitrogen into iron, and so on. As it happens, we cannot do this – that’s another scenario in which you’d be hearing about golden Kleenex. (We can convert some elements into other elements—for example nuclear breeder reactors convert uranium 238 into plutonium 239—but only for a small number of special cases.)
Summing up, for the scenario we’ve envisioned to occur, we’d either have to create matter out of nothing, which violates the laws of physics as we presently understand them, or we’d have to be able to convert any element into any other element, which we cannot do now and may never be able to do.
Finally, note there is also the organizational problem of assembling our black-eyed siren, even if we did have all the ingredients. I mean how, in detail, do you convert eighty-five pounds of water, a bunch of carbon, and so on into a set of working lymph nodes, hemoglobin-laden red blood cells, perfectly proportioned calcium endoskeleton, etc.? Or consider the brain: since we don’t understand how it works, how are we supposed to build a working model, from scratch no less? Now I know you anti-cloners are stupid, but even you should have realized this task presents some difficulties.
Of course in a practical sense everyone does know how to turn so much free oxygen, etc., into living human biomass, but our role in such a project is limited to what can be accomplished in the first thirty minutes or so, with no instruments more complicated than a couple of gin and tonics, some crotchless panties, and a pair of thigh-high spike-heeled black leather boots. After that, we just release the resultant biohazard into the environment and watch the mysterious process of its self-assembly. It’s sort of like downloading a self-extracting ZIP file.
In conclusion: the process of thinking, in the proper sense of the word, requires, among other things, attention to real-world details. You have to imagine specifically, concretely, how the scenario you’ve imagined is to be accomplished. If we’re talking about science then it might occur to you that the laws of physics are sort of relevant. If you’re not sure whether we can do things like violate the classical conservation principles of physics, one way of getting a vague clue is to imagine what the world would be like if we could do so.
For example, if we could say a magic word and have a ton of anything appear, the world would be a very different place, different enough that you’d notice. The price of all precious metals would drop to zero. Formerly starving Africans would suddenly appear rather corpulent. Terrorists would alter the Earth’s orbit by creating another planet the gravitational pull of which would jerk Earth around. And so on. In short, you’d know about it.
Whew! This has been a long exercise in the way a person who is not mentally challenged sees the world. I hope that you have learned something about this activity called thinking. If you don’t believe your intellectual skills have been improved, may I ask that you not vote ever again? Oh, and please don’t reproduce – by any method.