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First Human Clone Born? 667

Posted by michael
from the grand-army-of-the-republic dept.
slantyyz writes "A religious cult, the Raelians, has claimed that the birth of first human clone is one of theirs. While this hasn't been corroborated yet, it's making headlines in Canada, where the cult is based. There's supposed to be a press conference on Friday in Hollywood. This story just may have legs."
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First Human Clone Born?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:07AM (#4965750)
    Don't bother, they're already here....
  • Legs (Score:5, Funny)

    by YellowSnow (569705) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:07AM (#4965754)
    Hopefully the clone will have legs too!
  • News? (Score:2, Funny)

    This is news? Come on, who among us didn't expect the first cloned baby to come from a Canadian religious cult? Duh People!
    • Re:News? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why is any religion not of Christian origin called a "cult"?
      After all, Christianity itself is merely one of the few socially acceptible cults.

      That being said, I wonder how they managed to cull the genetic goofs that cloning invariably leads to? After all, how many sheep were born warped before Dolly existed? And even she wasn't perfect.

      • Re:News? (Score:3, Funny)

        by stevejsmith (614145)
        Merrian-Webster [m-w.com] defines a cult as a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious. I think that a majority of us can agree that the idea that we were cloned from aliens is unorthodox.
      • Re:News? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by carlos_benj (140796)
        Why is any religion not of Christian origin called a "cult"?

        This is simply incorrect. Major world religions with some history behind them are not called cults while many sects that have their roots in Christianity are considered cults.

        That being said, I wonder how they managed to cull the genetic goofs that cloning invariably leads to?

        I would imagine their story would be that the aliens taught them how to goof-proof the process.
      • Re:News? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by susano_otter (123650)
        Why is any religion not of Christian origin called a "cult"?

        I guess it mainly depends on who's doing the talking... anything can be called a "cult", if you like. But here's one variant of the generally accepted indicators that a community is a cult. These signs can be applied to Christianity, too, and often rightly so. But when you compare the mainstream religions to the "cult" religions, the difference between the two is extreme. E.g., my parents are Christians--have been all their lives--but they've never exhibited any of the signs of a cult [rickross.com].

        Well, maybe the "if you leave the church, you're wrong" sign, but that can be said about any standard: If you cross on a red light, you're wrong; that doesn't mean that traffic laws are a cult, though. Certainly I've never seen Christians, or Buddhists, or Neopagans punish their ex-members the way the Scientoligists or the Jehova's Witnesses do.

        I don't know if the Raelians meet the more technical definition of a "cult", or if they're simply being discrimintated against because they're non-Christian. I suspect it's a little bit of both, though. Since they're refusing to publish their methodology, open their experimental process up to peer review, offer any sort of supporting evidence, or allow for independent corroboration of their claims, I'm content to let the media put them in the "cult" bucket pending clarification of the matter.

  • by CrazyDwarf (529428) <michael.rodman@gmail.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:08AM (#4965761) Homepage
    the first human clone has probably already been walking around for a while. I have a hard time believing that the experts would sit by not doing it because people are afraid. As many people as are looking at cloning, surely someone had already done it before this.
    • Yeh, I have a twin borther and have had for hte past 20 odd years. Old news.
    • by ErikZ (55491) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:12AM (#4965789)
      Er, I'd believe that they would sit by and not do it because they're afraid.

      They're afraid that the technology isn't mature enough. Even the cattle cloning industry has a disturbingly high failure rate.

      They're afraid of public backlash costing them their jobs, or perhaps shutting down the company they work for.

      They're afraid of loosing their friends.

      They're afraid of screwing up, and ending up with a...thing. At that point they'll have to decide if they're going to put it out of it's misery or not.
    • have a hard time believing that the experts would sit by not doing it because people are afraid.

      Yes, we call it "having sex". It's an amazing cloning technique that nature gave us that allows one to combine traits and create "clones". If you really want purity, incest might be in order: Some sisterly love and you'll have a virtually perfect family clone.

      Of course then there's the small problem that we've tinkering in things that we have only the slightest clue of. Already cloned mammals are showing shorter lifespans and other ailments clearly pointing a massive spotlight on the fact that they aren't a pure clone: There is something going wrong, but to use paraphrase a lame line from Jurassic Park "We're so caught up in if we could that we never question if we should".

      • by greenhide (597777) <jordanslashdot AT cvilleweekly DOT com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:33AM (#4965907)
        Yes, we call it "having sex". It's an amazing cloning technique that nature gave us that allows one to combine traits and create "clones". If you really want purity, incest might be in order: Some sisterly love and you'll have a virtually perfect family clone.

        No.

        Clones are, by definition, genetic doubles. The whole point is that clones aren't a combination of genes through the fertilization of an egg by sperm. Rather, a clone contains *exactly* the same gene material as its original. Thus, even the offspring of a brother and sister would not be a clone, since it would not have identical DNA to either its mother or father.

        Simply by the fact that one pair must have XX (yeah, I'm going to ignore the relatively rare XXY and XXX) genes and the other XY genes in order to mate, it is impossible for the two parents to have identical genese, let alone their offspring.

        Even if a pair of male twins were to mate with two female twins, it's more likely than not that their offspring would not have identical genes.
      • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:38AM (#4965938) Journal
        As a side note, alot of research has been put into why cloned animals have shorter lifespans. What has been found is that there are specific bits of DNA that change over time and act as a kind of life clock... Since the DNA used is from an adult animal, the DNA has already counted upwards from it's start position... (they should have set that variable to zero!)

        Learning how to set these markers to their original settings may be the fountain of youth, or not... (that moral quandry is left for the reader to decide...) However, I think that if someone were to try to greatly extend their life, they'd have to start early (mid 20's maybe) though personally, I don't feel 80 years is long enough for me to learn all that I want to learn...
      • virtually perfect family

        the same as a virtual class, these can never be instanciated, they're it's only used as a base class to the dysfunctional familiy class (of which every instance of the family class is instanciated from.

        "We're so caught up in if we could that we never question if we should".

        there are talkers and there are do-ers. you can spend you time going around wondering about everything, or you can put the rubber to the pavement and get some shit done. you make mistakes, you learn from them.
      • by Flounder (42112) on Friday December 27, 2002 @11:50AM (#4966359)
        Yes, we call it "having sex". It's an amazing cloning technique that nature gave us that allows one to combine traits and create "clones". If you really want purity, incest might be in order: Some sisterly love and you'll have a virtually perfect family clone.

        This is Slashdot, mind you. Most of us are closer to being able to clone ourselves with ordinary household items then we are to having sex with another person.

        I've been trying to clone myself for years. I guess jacking off into a paper towel just wasn't the proper medium to propogate life, eh?

    • This is no big deal. The music industry has been cloning teen idols, and whole boy bands for a long time now. You did notice that New Kids on the Block, The Backstreet Boys, and N'Sync are all the same, didn't you?
    • by Otter (3800) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:32AM (#4965898) Journal
      As many people as are looking at cloning, surely someone had already done it before this.

      Mammalian cloning is not a trivial thing to do -- there are only a handful of labs in the world that can make it work. It requires specialized equipment and cell lines, an excellent tissue culture setup and a tremendous degree of technical skill.

      It's not like making beer, where you buy a bunch of things and mix them together in your basement. A Dr. Evil-like figure with tremendous money and resources could pull it off, but it would be prohibitive for some random loon.

    • by mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:54AM (#4966050) Journal
      the first human clone has probably already been walking around for a while. I have a hard time believing that the experts would sit by not doing it because people are afraid. As many people as are looking at cloning, surely someone had already done it before this.

      As a biologist I find it easy to believe that there are no clones among us. It is not that the technique is morally controversial so much as current techniques still need more work. Scientists are ethically obligated to provide as much data as possible from a living creature for research (hmmm.... a clone for example) while having the minimum required amount of disturbance. These are the rules for normal mammals (dogs, cats etc...) the rules for Chimps are MUCH more strict as they are humanlike. (I would quote them but I am unfamiliar with them) the rules for a human would be IMMENSELY more strict. Scientists do not risk lives lightly, that is the job of the politician.
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:55AM (#4966056) Homepage
      the first human clone has probably already been walking around for a while

      And you base this on what? Your abundant lack of knowledge about cloning technology and basic biology?

      The first adult mammal cloned was Dolly the sheep [sciam.com]. She has some rather serious defects as a result of that cloning, such as rapid aging. It took 277 attempts to produce a viable clone.

      A cow was cloned in 1998 without the aging problems, and it took a "mere" 104 attempts. [bbc.co.uk]

      China cloned their first cow [xinhuanet.com] in October of this year. Brazil attempted to clone a cow [ananova.com] and wound up with a bull instead.

      Cloning isn't easy. It's not like you can just go to the corner drug store and buy a clone'o'matic [sun-sentinel.com]. It requires a great deal of lab resources, time, and lots of money.

      And while you may very well find scientists who would try to clone a human, you also have to find 50-100 women willing to be implanted with a cloned embryo, given that 90%+ of them will miscarry (the human body is pretty good at detecting and aborting non-viable fetuses -- and I apologize right now to anyone who has had to deal with a miscarraige in their family, I know they are deeply traumatizing). This immediately increases the number of potential leaks.

      Right now is about the earliest it would have been possible to clone a human... after all, no matter what you try to do, it's going to take 9 months from implantation until birth.

      It has nothing to do with fear, at least not for me. I think the ethics are questionable at best, primarily due to the large number of failures in current cloning methods. For the record, I'm pro-choice, but that doesn't mean that I would want dozens of women subjected to the trauma of a miscarraige (or worse), or that I think playing with human life this way is a good thing.
    • I'm surprised that over the past year or two, in all the furor over real cloning, that nobody has looked a decade or two into the past.

      There was a claim and book, "In His Image" written by someone who claimed to have performed human cloning. Don't remember the year, but the name "David Rorvik" was attached to it. Don't know if it was the father, son, or author.
  • Hollywood? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Paul Burney (560340)
    There's supposed to be a press conference on Friday in Hollywood

    Hollywood? Come on. This is just some funky promotion for Lucas' next Clone movie.

  • Probably fake... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bartmoss (16109) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:10AM (#4965773) Homepage Journal
    Let's assume this is just PR by a cult sect. But still, it is worrying - that here we have people who are willing to perform what amounts to human experimentation *despite* the defects shown in many of the cloned animals. Doing this to a human being is in my eyes not any better than the medical experiments conducted by the Nazis.

    We need to regulate this type of research and deal with rogue 'scientists' and 'doctors' who are willing to do such acts. Please note that I think an outright ban on human cloning is not a good idea, there is too much promise in the technology - just, we need to be very, very careful what we're doing with it.
    • Maybe there is a legal loophole that allows them to do it because of religious reasons? I hope and doubt not. Now there's one for the courts.

      If ppl can strap dynamite around their waist a blow ppl up at a cafe or crash planes into buildings for religious reasons (okay that's debatable), then I'm sure there are ppl out there who would allow doctors to use their body to perform cloning in secrecy for religious reasons too. When they claim to of succeeded it can't be confirmed until a govt agency investigates too.

      The scary thing about cults is that they have total control and are well funded. In many regards cults and islamic militant groups are not too dissimilar.
    • by Xzzy (111297)
      > amounts to human experimentation *despite* the
      > defects shown in many of the cloned animals. Doing
      > this to a human being is in my eyes not any better
      > than the medical experiments conducted by the
      > Nazis.

      and it's somehow worse than doing it to other animals? What makes humans so special that we should be exempt from any kind of experimentation? We generally know more about ourselves than we do any other species on the planet, seems like we'd be the best candidates.

      Not that I'm suggesting we open the floodgates, I'm being rhetorical. But saying it's a bad idea just because the Nazi did it doesn't help either.
      • and it's somehow worse than doing it to other animals?

        It depends whether you believe that humans are, in any way at all, fundamentally different to animals. Which in turn depends on your religous (or otherwise) beliefs.
      • by gillbates (106458) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:42PM (#4967629) Homepage Journal
        What makes humans so special that we should be exempt from any kind of experimentation?

        This is very shallow reasoning, but unfortunately very common. When the line between animals and humans is blurred, treating humans as animals becomes ethically justifiable. If the notion that humans are little more than advanced animals is allowed to lodge in the collective political mindshare, then abuses far worse than what the Nazis did will become commonplace.

        The battle over cloning is not a battle to prevent the advance of technology. The problem is one of ethics - if cloning becomes widespread, humans may very well become disposable - subject to arbitrary termination when their "useful" lives are over. The primary problem of the human condition has never been the cure of disease, but rather the lack of respect that various groups show each other. All of the major atrocities in history start with the devaluation of the human: the Nazis devalued the lives of Jews; Stalin devalued the lives of his opponents; Pol Pot, the lives of his people; the American South, the lives of Blacks. Once the notion that certain classes of people were somehow inferior to others arose, it followed logically that the inferior were not worthy of the respect of the superior (whoever they claimed to be...) Cloning represents the separation of humans into two classes, cloned and uncloned. Once this distinction is made, and once obtaining an "ideal" (read: obedient, hard-working, easily exploitable) human becomes a matter of technology, people in general will become commodified and exploited in ways far worse than they have been in the past. There will be little need to treat a person with dignity and respect once obtaining a "replacement" becomes a simple matter of gathering a few hairs and calling a cloning agency.

        • by Xzzy (111297)
          > This is very shallow reasoning, but unfortunately
          > very common. When the line between animals and
          > humans is blurred, treating humans as animals
          > becomes ethically justifiable.

          You got a good point.. but in response, again I say, what makes humans so special that we should treat ourselves better than we do animals? :)

          I'm not a PETA nutjob or anything, I'm simply acting as a devil's advocate.

          Put it this way, if there was some higher conscience out there, something so advanced that humans and other animals would appear equally primitive, what do humans have that would make them a less likely target for experimentation?

          Or in the moral sense, what would this advanced conscience see in the behavior of humans compared to the behavior of mice that would encourage them to decide that devaluing humans was worse than devaluing mice?

          The entire human history is barely a word long in the novel that is the entire universe. I have no expectation that anyone out there sees me as anything of value, and while I do have a vested interest in staying alive, I do it with the detachment to realize I'm equally as important as the aforementioned mouse.
  • another news link (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChristTrekker (91442) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:10AM (#4965777)

    Saw this earlier today. Probably based on the same news feed, but what the hey. Here you go. [wnd.com]

  • Raelians == UFO Cult (Score:5, Informative)

    by SystematicPsycho (456042) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:11AM (#4965779)
    I wouldn't put too much weight on what they Raelians say, this is a publicity stunt and I wouldn't be surprised if the Scientologists were saying the same. There definition of a cloned human probably follows their guidelines too and not scientifically sound.

    In my neighorhood for quite some time the Raelians have been trying to recruit ppl. They drive around in this van with sparkling stickers - kind of like a moving target. I got one of their fliers one day and had quite chuckle. I don't think they are too far off Scientologists either. There is some info on the Raelians here [skepdic.com].
    • "The Raelians, who claim 55,000 members worldwide, believe human life was created by DNA brought to earth by an alien race. Their founder and leader is Rael, a former French journalist known as Claude Vorilhon.

      The group's headquarters, called UFO Land, are located in Valcourt, Que., about 200 km east of Montreal."

      I have to agree. These guys come in pretty low on the credibility meter, although ABC and the BBC are carrying the story. These are the same folks who announced that US and Korean scientists implanted an embryo in a Korean woman in July.
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/214 8864.st m
      http://english.pravda.ru/main/2002/07/25/33137. htm l

      I know I've read of others claiming to have cloned a human, to be born this year. They usually come across as crackpots. Of course I wonder if the "crackpopts" are claiming it, what are the "non-crackpots" up to? I wouldn't be surprised if it has already happened.
  • clones (Score:5, Funny)

    by ryan89 (586976) <ryanlearned@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:11AM (#4965780)
    Just what we need, a bunch of cloned Canadiens... Why didn't they choose to clone some Swedish chicks?
  • I travel through Canada regulrly, enroute to the more western portions of the US.

    It appears that they have finally invented a way to overcome boredom up there.
  • Cloning has the potential to really help some couples with fertility issues - it's too bad that the popular discussion of cloning has obscured that point. Certainly nuts like these Raelians don't help matters much!
    • Re:Too bad... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Waab (620192)

      Cloning has the potential to really help some couples with fertility issues

      Adoption also has the potential to really help some couples with fertility issues. Granted, it doesn't carry the same pride of ownership, but it's still a proven alternative. After all, modern medical science has pretty much got the entire adoption procedure down. Rarely, if ever, do adoptions produce the kinds of defects seen in animal cloning and feared possible in human cloning.

      • Unless you've been through the struggle of working through these issues, I wouldn't casually toss out the recommendation of adoption. That's a slap in the face to those who want a child of their own flesh and blood more than anything.

        Not to say that adoption is a bad thing at all - but that the majority of folks who can have kids easily never face that prospect. When science makes advances that allow more people to have their own babies, it's obviously the more preferred choice for those who could use it.

  • has been verified through any other party. I really think this is irresponsible, it took 20-30 attempts (can't remeber the exact number) to clone Dolly.

    SO how many attempts will it take to get a human right? Reminds me of all those failed Ripleys in Aliens 3 (alright a bit dramatic).

    Also what scientific knowledge has been gained by these ppl who are based at

    The group's headquarters, called UFO Land,
    • 30 attempts? It took 277 attempts to clone Dolly.

      Does that mean 277 sheep were impregnated to get one clone? How many humans did they have to impregnate to get this one?
      • No, 277 cells of cloned DNA were created; only a small percentage of those split and showed promise of being successful. They impregnated 10 humans -- 5 fetuses (feti?) were "terminated," one baby has (apparantly) been born, and 4 more are due in the next month or so. Side note: some cloning guy on CNN said that cloning success rates in established labs (not with humans, of course) could be as high as 60% relative to the number of impregnations. So this claimed 50% rate doesn't seem too unbelievable.
  • Newsworthy? (Score:2, Informative)

    by zazas_mmmm (585262)
    Without empirical evidence, this is just fringe cultists making a radical, unsubstantiated claim. I'm frankly surpirised how much attention mainstream news sources have given this. It's a sad state of affairs when anyone can make wild claims and without showing any evidence, they can grab headlines.

    By the way, did I mention I performed successful cold fusion experiments?
  • by phr2 (545169) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:14AM (#4965808)
    The New York Times explains [nytimes.com] (reg. reqd. blah blah):
    Raëlians are followers of Raël, a French-born former race-car driver who has said he met a four-foot space alien atop a volcano in southern France in 1973 and went aboard his ship, where he was entertained by voluptuous female robots and learned that the first humans were created 25,000 years ago by space travelers called Elohim, who cloned themselves.
    That's a lot more believable and less violent than the Xenu and the volcanoes story. There aren't even any body thetans stuck to us. So hey, where do we sign up?
    • where do we sign up

      Its not their beliefs that worry me when it comes to scientology. Its their brainwashing methods, money extraction techniques and the way they control people's lives that worries me.

      I don't know anything about the Raelians, but they could be just as bad in that respect.
    • probably at www.rael.org
    • Oh man, somebody mod this guy +5 Funny :)

      That's the dumbest story I've ever heard. It sounds like the plot for a very low-budget 60's sci-fi movie.

    • 1. Found obscure cult involving aliens.
      2. Ask "tithes" for support and basic nescecities. (6 acres of land, 4 million USD villa, heated swimming pool, turkish sauna, botanic garden, 4 wives, 4^n children, 3 Mercedes', 2 BMWs, 2 Cessnas, 1 Learjet, 1 converted Boeing 727 and a division of lawyers to keep the 4 wives from running away with all aforementioned "nescecities".)
      3. Profit!
    • Raëlians are followers of Raël, a French-born former race-car driver who has said he met a four-foot space alien atop a volcano in southern France in 1973 and went aboard his ship, where he was entertained by voluptuous female robots and learned that the first humans were created 25,000 years ago by space travelers called Elohim, who cloned themselves.

      Too bad. If they were located in NASCAR Country, we could expect cloned version of Dale Earnhardt, Sr, surrounded by a bevy of beauties from Winner's Circle.
    • those old Twilight Zone episodes are looking more boring every day....
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday December 27, 2002 @11:23AM (#4966214)

      ...where he was entertained by voluptuous female robots and learned that the first humans were created 25,000 years ago by space travelers called Elohim, who cloned themselves.

      ...

      That's a lot more believable and less violent than the Xenu and the volcanoes story.


      Eventually it'll come out that the Raelians' and Scientologists' belief systems were based on visits by the same alien race. Its just that the Scientologists got stuck with intergalactic Puritans. Rael's aliens? Apparently cosmic hippies out spreading free love and having a good time.
    • by dkoyanagi (222827) on Friday December 27, 2002 @11:40AM (#4966303)

      Raëlians are followers of Raël, a French-born former race-car driver who has said he met a four-foot space alien atop a volcano in southern France in 1973 and went aboard his ship, where he was entertained by voluptuous female robots and learned that the first humans were created 25,000 years ago by space travelers called Elohim, who cloned themselves.

      Hmmm, let's see...
      Volcano, check.
      Space ship, check.
      Clones, check.
      Short "alien", check.
      Fembots, check.
      What? Where are the sharks? I asked for sharks with friggin "lasers" on their heads.
  • As per the article:

    Other experts say that even if cloning were possible, the babies would likely be born with defects. Cloning research has produced many deformed and dead animals. The first mammal to be cloned -- in 1997 -- was a sheep named Dolly, who later developed arthritis at an abnormally young age.

    If the clones are supposed to be exact replicas, why do the clones have defects? This suggests we're missing something...Perhaps they're not exact after all?

    • Telomeres (Score:5, Informative)

      by cat_jesus (525334) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:42AM (#4965961)
      To put it simply(and maybe inaccurately) Telomeres are strands of "junk" DNA that show the age of an organism. It is also thought that the length of the telomeres act as an aging trigger. As you age your telomere strands get shorter and shorter. During normal reproduction the telomeres are regenerated to full length. Dolly's shorten telomeres have been documented. Now, you could conceivable get around this problem if your donor cell was from a child.

      As far as other defects are concerned, you must remember that you are moving delicate strands of DNA from one place and putting it somewhere else. There is no guarantee that the DNA you pinched is viable to begin with, though it may function well enough for that differentiated cell to work properly.
      • Re:Telomeres (Score:2, Informative)

        by LudditeMind (587926)
        Telomeres are strands of "junk" DNA that show the age of an organism.

        Telomers don't just show the age, they're the buffers at the end of our DNA. When each cell undergoes mitosis the process damages the end of the telomer. Once the telomer gets too short the process starts eating into the DNA itself, which then causes the cells to reproduce incorrectly. Thus we age. We've discovered a species of Turtle that doesn't seem to age. In fact it gets healthier as time goes passes. I'll try and find the article, it was in either Scientific American or Discover.
    • They are geneticly identical so they are clones.
      The problem is that it also seems to bring the age of the animal(maybe human) over. It would be interesting to know if the cloned sheep also has arthritis and when it developed it to the exent,if it has, that Dolly has.
    • If the clones are supposed to be exact replicas, why do the clones have defects? This suggests we're missing something...Perhaps they're not exact after all?

      You may find the following article article [findarticles.com] very interesting.

  • by Aggrazel (13616) <aggrazel@gmail.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:16AM (#4965818) Journal
    "I've missed a period" - girl
    "Shit! ... are you sure?" - cult leader
    "Well, yes, dammit. I told you to use protection! What do you care, you've gotten half the women in this cult pregnant." - girl
    "Yeah, but they're not 15 ... this could be bad. Uh... I know! We'll send you away for a while!" - cult leader
    "What about the kid? What do we do when he comes back?" - girl
    "We'll put out a press release saying he's really a clone, we'll even post it on slashdot! I'm sure everyone will believe us!" - cult leader
  • by rant-mode-on (512772) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:17AM (#4965821) Homepage

    • This story just may have legs

    Yes, but how many?
  • by DCowern (182668) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:19AM (#4965837) Homepage

    A woman gives birth to an exact clone of herself. A couple years down the road, the child learns to speak and its first word is a cuss word. It turns out that the child is an EXACT replica of the mother except for the fact that it can only speak swear words. This drives the mother crazy and eventually she drives to a large canyon and pushes the child in. When she returns home, the police arrest her...

    For making obscene clone falls! Ba dum ching!

  • So a "cult" creates a press release to announce they've cloned a human and it becomes news? I'll wait for an indendent DNA test, thank you. What are the editors on /. thinking?

  • by ianscot (591483) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:21AM (#4965842)

    Some basic exposition is missing from this story. We get the words "religious cult" and then no explanation other than that they want to clone people.

    The Raelians, who advocate the cloning of humans, created a company called Clonaid in 1997. The company's web site says its "main goal is to give life to the first human clone."

    ...The Raelians, who claim 55,000 members worldwide, believe human life was created by DNA brought to earth by an alien race. Their founder and leader is Rael, a former French journalist known as Claude Vorilhon.

    The group's headquarters, called UFO Land, are located in Valcourt, Que., about 200 km east of Montreal.

    So, um, what about this "cult" is "religious"? You read a story like that, and the labels get used, but what exactly are the "religious" aspects of the cultism, here? 'Cause I'm kinda curious.

    • religious: having to do with religion
      religion: A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

      nearly every belief can be categorized as religious...its all about devotion and faith, it doesnt need a divine or supernatural power. its the belief that matters...

      id say aliens cloning themselves to create humans is just as powerful a 'belief' as an omnipotent god.
  • For your INfo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eric_ste (446052)
    Raelism is a cool religion. Rael was actually abducted by aliens and came back with all this knowledge about how life on earth was created in alien laboratories.

    One nice thing I like about this cult is that sexe is good and evryone can have sex with any one. They even set up big picnics in nature where everybody have sex.

    Also, Rael is a car racer. Unfortunatly, when he was engineered by the aliens, he was not implemented with the good racing dna.

    There was a controversy lately with them trying to recruit student from secondary school, which is, in my opinion, not worst than Catholic religion trying to recruit in primary schools ;) And as far as plausibility of what the religion says, I think that it is more likely that we have been engineered by aliens than by a misterious god somewhere that is supposed to know and see everything. ;)

    • There is nothing cool about Raelism. It's a cult, pure and simple. Cults create private realities, and then sell these to their members little by little. The "free sex" angle just gets young men hooked and young girls broken before they realize that the only ones getting free sex are the cult leaders.
      Any group that actively recruits is dangerous because it inevitably puts the welfare of the group ahead that of its members. Recruiting school children into a cult ranks around the same as giving them free heroine.
      Check out the Cult Information Centre [cultinformation.org.uk] if you still think cults are cool.
    • With all due respect, the "engineered by aliens" idea merely re-directs the question of "first cause."

      Who engineered the aliens?

      From my perspective, it makes a great deal of sense that we were engineered by that "mysterious god who knows and sees everything."

      "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us." Acts 17
  • No way to stop it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nomad7674 (453223) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:25AM (#4965864) Homepage Journal
    I have found it amusing how religious and political leaders have been rushing to "ban cloning" in an attempt to keep it from happening. While I am a religious guy and do consider cloning to be a major moral problem, there is no deterent value in these actions. The fame and place in scientific history for the person or group who produces the first human clone are more than enough incentive for the crazies of the world to do it. The consequences (read: legal punishments and moral condemnation) will be seen by these people are irrelevant, because what they really seek is recognition and a place in history books.

    Still, I suppose we have to try and slow down some of these changes to the human race. The nuclear bomb came before we were ready for it, and we are still struggling to catch up to it politically and morally. Cloning has the potential to change the world even more, so the more lead time we have for legislators and philosophers to work on this, the better.

    But I will be shocked if the first legal and widely advertised cloning clinic is not openned in 2003 or 2004.

  • by Halloween Jack (182035) on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:37AM (#4965930) Homepage
    From a Salon article [salon.com] on the cult:

    I'd heard that a disproportionate number of Ralians come from the exotic-dance community.

    Hey, we want these people to clone themselves!

  • Two quotes:
    • "According to Grescoe, "Raël's success seems to derive from providing a structured environment for decadent behavior: He offers a no-guilt playground for hedonism and sexual experimentation.
    • Like all good religious leaders, Raël expects his followers to support him. A 10% tithe is the norm.
    Hmm... this guy's got it made. All the unrestricted sex he can have, and his followers all pay him to live like a prince. I thought you had to be a U.S. President to live like this!

    -Lokatana
  • A religious cult, the Raelians...

    A cult, yes. Religious? How? They believe in aliens, they don't appear to profess any belief in a God or gods, so that would just make them a plain old cult.

    But I digress. I believe this probably isn't a publicity stunt and that these guys have actually gone and done it. It makes me sad on several counts. First of all, once proven, it may give these lunatics more followers. More importantly, cloning is a dangerous thing right now. There is a good probability that this baby will develop all sorts of medical problems related to cloning. Just do a search on Google for: clone problem health

    There are plenty of potential problems and this baby may be born to a short life of pain and suffering all because a bunch of lunatics took it on themselves to produce the first human clone. I think it's sad and it's sick.

    I don't know that I have any moral problems with cloning in general. I just don't think the science is there and I really think there needs to be more debate about the moral implications.

    I can't really find any that bother me, but maybe further debate could bring those out. It's way too early to be doing this. These guys are no better than the Nazis that experimented on the Jews. They're using humans as guinea pigs and that's just wrong. Their victims may be willing. That doesn't mean the victims truely understand what they're getting themselves into.
  • The story just hit CNN. Click Here. [cnn.com]
    -Lokatana
  • by billmaly (212308) <bill.maly@mc[ ]dusa.net ['leo' in gap]> on Friday December 27, 2002 @10:51AM (#4966028)
    Most cloning experiments done to date have resulted in abnormalities that manifested themselves later in the cloned animals life. Well, an animal can be put down pretty quickly, and the ethics behind doing so are mostly cut and dried. Not so with a human life, cloned or otherwise. If there is a life threatening condition down the road, the cloned person may have to endure a lot of pain and suffering that would have been avoided had they been a normal conception and birth. Bottom line, there is too much we don't know about cloning to rush to create a cloned human for the purposes of prestige only. This is not responsible or ethical science.
    • If there is a life threatening condition down the road, the cloned person may have to endure a lot of pain and suffering that would have been avoided had they been a normal conception and birth.

      I do believe it's important to point out that the "normal conception and birth" isn't an option for this person -- either they're born as a clone, or they live and die their entire life as but a single cell from the "superior original".

      How supremely odd...a ban on cloning is, literally, a denial of a right to life -- one that extends before even conception.

      --Dan

  • The religious and alien science stuff aside, this has huge potential.

    Basic questions of existance are going to be answered, and argued. Nature vs. Nurture comes to mind first.
    Is it true or a publicity stunt? According to the press conference we should know in 9 days.
    The assumption I'll have to make until then based on the technical process used in animals and the care that can be taken in a lab, the previous efforts that resulted in test tube babies is that is is likely, and all it really took was someone with the resources and the will to do it.

    As the project leader said in the news conference I hopr the press, governments, and the rest of the world give the girl, and the family some kindness.

    As unlikely as that is, I hope they do, or we may have to wait decades for the child to reach an age where she can come forword on her own.

    There's a good chance that the world changed again today, this time with a birth, not with a bomb.
    Let's hope the child(ren) is/are healthy.
  • .. probably not just a coincidence that Eve was born on Christmas. Probably also not a coincidence that she was named Eve...

    I wonder if the birth date and name were a part of the contract that the parents had to sign?
  • Extremely bad idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by kindstickysoft (632171) on Friday December 27, 2002 @11:35AM (#4966276)
    From the articles [accessatlanta.com] that I have read on this very suspect claim it hints that they used the same method as was used with Dolly. I did my Senior Thesis on Geron [geron.com], the company that purchased the rights to the methode that cloned Dolly; therefore, I have a fare understanding of what is involved with Nuclear Transfer. Although I am not an expert and have never attempted the process in a lab, I have read enough to know that it is a terrible idea to try this on humans at this point.

    There is a easy to understand FAQ [bbsrc.ac.uk] on the Roslin Institute web site written by the people that actually cloned Dolly. Here are some interesting highlights:

    Are clone embryos like IVF and normal pregnancies?
    Not so far. The scientists at the Roslin Institute, who pioneered this work, have repeatedly found that the clone foetuses grow much larger than normal ones, and there is a much higher chance of the pregnancy failing, of stillbirth, or of forced Caesarean sections. Dolly was the one successful pregnancy of more than 277 embryos.

    What do the experts think? "I think you are always going to run the risk of having aging DNA," says Professor Lord Robert Winston, an IVF pioneer. "I would hate to think of a child of mine being cloned because I think it would be very likely he would have an accelerated aging process." Dr Jamie Grifo, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at New York University, says: "Cloning is no better than any of the other treatments that are out there. A biological child is the husband's sperm, the wife's egg. A clone is not a biological child." Dr David Stevens, of the Christian Medical and Dental Society, asks: "Are we really willing to sacrifice hundreds of embryos - developing human beings - to make one baby who may suffer monstrous consequences?"


    So, there are two very important points that must be stressed. The first is that there is a high percentage probability of genetic defect supported by further experiments [biomedcentral.com]. Think of the threat of genetic abnormalities in a fetus that managed to survive as much higher than if you had children with immediate family members.

    The second is that each cell has an "age" that is determined by the number of times that a cell has divided. If you use DNA from adult cells that have divided many times, than all of the cells cloned from that DNA will be older. A cell can only dived around 50 times before it dies at which point you reach the Hayflick Limit [sciencewatch.com]. Although there are ways to prolong the life of cell lines similar to the way cancer spreads through a body, I doubt that this group of individuals thought of adding telomeres back to the end of the chromosomes that would be used to clone a human baby.
  • by redwoodtree (136298) on Friday December 27, 2002 @11:42AM (#4966310)
    This is incredibly hard to prove, because of "ethical" and "privacy" reasons there is going to be no way to prove this. We don't know where the baby is born, there's no picture, there's no video tape or any other details.

    So now, the cloners are allowing a freelance journalist to get together a group of scientists and they're going to take samples of DNA from the mother and the child and send them back. How much do you want to bet that they won't let the scientists take the actual samples?

    For example, I could give you two samples of my own DNA and tell you I have a clone. The microchondial DNA would of course be identical.

    There's going to be more to this story once these journalists and scientists get to the location.
  • A few holes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tall Rob Mc (579885) on Friday December 27, 2002 @11:45AM (#4966329)
    The Raelians, who claim 55,000 members worldwide, believe human life was created by DNA brought to earth by an alien race. Their founder and leader is Rael, a former French journalist known as Claude Vorilhon. The group's headquarters, called UFO Land, are located in Valcourt, Que., about 200 km east of Montreal.

    1) Their leader is French.
    2) He calls himself "Rael," moved to Canada, and started a cult.
    3) This cult believes that aliens created humans from DNA they brought to Earth.
    4) The cult's headquarters is called "UFO Land."
    5) They claim to have cloned a human.

    Now, why the hell should I believe 5 if 1-4 serve to discredit any idea that intelligence and legitimacy may be present here?

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