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Biotech United States

The President, The State of the Union, and Genetics 921

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the god-schmod-i-want-my-monkey-man dept.
At last night's State of the Union, the president said "Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research, human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling or patenting human embryos." Jamie happened onto a link today which humorously and insightfully addresses this bit from the speech. It's worth your time. Relatedly segphault writes "Ars Technica has an interesting look at scientific research and technology proposals included in Bush's State of the Union address."
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The President, The State of the Union, and Genetics

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:01PM (#14619699) Journal
    Ok, here's one from kindergarten: Actions speak louder than words.

    Ok, I'm fairly certain that I can find a lot of evidence revealing how many leaders of academia actually feel about George W. Bush. And there's a lot of documentation on his actual actions regarding science and research in the nation.

    Harvard's Howard Gardner [csicop.org] calls Bush's science adviser a "prostitute." And we all remember the Scientists and Engineers for Change [commondreams.org] organization compromised of sixty Nobel scientists and Tech Leaders. I'll let you guess out their stance on bush. Don't forget their open letter [scientists...change.org] to the American people stating, " President Bush and his administration are compromising our future."

    Remember, he only said he supports it. Let's see some actual actions to follow that up.

    And if you have time to read up on Bush's actions in the science community, take a look at the Politics and Science in the Bush Administration [house.gov]. I find it hilarious that anyone could expect me to swallow Bush's "scientific research and technology proposals" when his actions are no more proposals than death knells.

    Indeed, it seems the hardest issue regarding science that Bush is struggling with is how to silence it [usatoday.com].
  • Oh, Democrats (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zilverfire (819134) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:01PM (#14619700)
    I think my favorite part of the entire speech was when Bush was discussing social security and mentioned how legislation for it had not been passed in congress last year, and the entire side of Democrats stood up and applauded.
  • by FatSean (18753) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:01PM (#14619705) Homepage Journal
    I usually watch the Address, but I skipped last night. Did he invent any new words?

    I think that last bit was just pandering to the far-right religious wack-jobs. They got him into office, and he's been neglecting their hot issues:
    - preventing gays from mayying and ruining the institution of marriage (now >50% divorce rate!)
    - Keeping Freedom safe from Terrorists

  • Why not just do like Bush's original science proposal, and send him to Mars. Maybe the WMDs are hidden there - there's no sign of them on this planet ...
  • by FortKnox (169099) * on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:03PM (#14619732) Homepage Journal
    Its not an article about the state of the union... its straight out poking fun of it. Granted, I know that slashdot is biased (far from), but don't be surprised to see pudge (editor and slashdot code guy) come in and start fighting back.

    Me? I won't claim a side, just put on my asbestos suit and enjoy my charred marshmallow.
  • by TheNoxx (412624) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:04PM (#14619735) Homepage Journal
    You mean nobody's doing their job to prosecute him yet for the illegal wiretaps, let alone all the rampant corruption and cronyism? Fuck this, wake me up when someone does some real good work in DC...
  • by stubear (130454) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:06PM (#14619769)
    ...but I find it rather hypocritical when many slashbots trash corporations for creating genetically modified foods yet they see absolutely no problem creating genetically modified people. Either genetic modification is OK or it isn't, do we really need decisions made on the basis of how much you hate someone?
  • by Soporific (595477) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:08PM (#14619788)
    Yeah, you'd think if they were so pro marriage that they would ban divorces...

    ~S
  • One would hope... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sexyrexy (793497) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:09PM (#14619810)
    One would hope that Bush's statements on scientific advances prove that he is not anti-science, no more than pro-lifers are anti-women. It is silly (though convenient) to label someone with whom you disagree as evil - it doesn't make sense that any President would actively work to thwart something like scientific progress in general. It DOES make sense that a President would try to do what's best for the country, and that is where the disagreement lies.
     
      Rather than saying "I am for progress and Bush is against it because I am Good and he is Bad", try to understand why his position is what it is - you just might discover that there are intelligent arguments on all sides of the table.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:09PM (#14619811) Homepage
    It bears mentioning in mind that virtually all of our nation's supply of insulin is generated by human-animal hybrids.

    While I doubt that the President's intent is to stop the manufacture of human insulin, I can't help but notice that legislators are historically bad at crafting good legislation on complex scientific subjects. Here's hoping the whole human-animal hybrid thing has the legs of the "stop steroids in baseball" and "manned mission to Mars" schticks he's thrown out in past State of the Union addresses...

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:12PM (#14619855)
    Put aside your hatred of Bush and judge on the merits. No, I don't agree with the position but it is a defendable position ethically. And there is a lot there I can agree with.

    A ban on the "buying, selling or patenting human embryos" should be fairly universally acceptable, especially the bit about no patenting here amongst the slashdot hordes.

    A ban on "creating human-animal hybrids" is more debatable but we damn sure better get a line drawn somewhere and we better do it fast or science is going to race out ahead of ethics and make one hell of a mess for someone to clean up.

    And that leaves his call for a ban on "human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments" which is where most of slashdot parts company. Fine, lets have it out in Congress, again so some boundraries can be drawn up. And you liberals had better actually pass a bill this time because if you leave it to the courts like you did with abortion you will really get burned because of the shift in the Supremes. So lets actually debate it and come to a political decision we might all be able to live with this time.

    Personally I'd like to see medical science be able to use some super advanced cloning tech to make me new spare parts from my own DNA so I wouldn't take immune supression drugs for life if I ever needed a transplant. But I don't really like the thought of creating and killing millions/billions of things that are/maybe/might be/could have been/sorta/etc humans to get there. I suspect a lot of folks are caught in that halfway position.
  • Re:Oh, Democrats (Score:2, Insightful)

    by operagost (62405) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:14PM (#14619872) Homepage Journal
    They applauded because congressmen have their own retirement plans, and do not contribute to nor receive entitlements from Social Security. The rest of us, however, will have to contend with its demise.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:15PM (#14619877)
    A human embryo does not have a brain. Nor does it have a functional nervous system. Therefore it can neither think nor feel. Therefore, experimentation on them involves no suffering or loss of freedom (for the embryo).

    An embryo is not a person, and only qualifies as 'human' by virtue of the DNA it contains. So, please tell me, why is this morally wrong?

    If it is because this aspect of science should remain under God's jurisdiction, then I must insist that God has harmed us by not disclosing this information. We need it to fight the diseases which God allows to plague us, and to heal injuries that God allows to happen to us. This information qualifies as critical, need-to-know information, and if God won't give it to us, then we have no choice but to figure it out for ourselves.

    Besides, "Thou shalt not use embryos in scientific experiments" isn't in the Bible anywhere. I read it cover to cover. It's not there.

    So, again I ask, why is this *morally* wrong?

  • once upon a time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:17PM (#14619908) Homepage Journal
    china enjoyed a heyday of invention: paper, fireworks, pasta, etc., while europe languished

    later, before columbus, a chinese explorer, chen ho, was said to have discovered america... chinese officials burned his boats when he got back. were it not for this governmental backwardness, perhaps i would not be living in new york city with it's famous chinatown, perhaps i would be living in new szechuan city with it's famous europetown

    after that ignomity, china continued to languish while europeans made massive strides in exploration and scientific discovery and invention, culminating in china's humiliation in the 1800s at the hands of european powers (the opium wars and the concession of hong kong, for example)

    so obviously, with such backwards, luddite, anti-scientific thinking now on the lips of the west's most powerful leader, it seems we have a signal that it is china's turn once again (along with korea and japan) to pick up the reigns and lead humanity in the next era of scientific discovery and space exploration, while the west drowns itself in religious fundamentalist simplemindedness

    maybe some centuries/ decades from now, the west will be humiliated by the east's wealth and knowledge, and be encouraged to pick up the reigns again, but for now, i see a changing of the guard in the world today in terms of scientific leadership and discovery

    the east is beginnig to eclipse the west

    and, as an american, that such idiocy and ignorance should be on the us president's lips, i am only deeply ashamed
  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:17PM (#14619920)
    Don't forget that for every scientific, ones and zeros, logical, "scientific truth is the only answer" person out there, there's several thousand religious people who don't like science. How so many people can believe in something that has no proof, no explanation and no evidence baffles me, but they're welcome to their opinion. Until I'm proven wrong, however, I'm sticking with the evidence to the contrary.

    No matter what you believe, things have really turned against the scientific community lately. The religious people out there now have enough people in power to push what they want through for quite some time to come. I guarantee it's not going to be the US who finishes solving the stem cell puzzle. Putting another conservative judge on the supreme court didn't help either.

    On the other hand, there's this. Every time I get mad at people and wish they'd listen to reason, I remember what the communist states did to suppress religion, and how it didn't work. Replacing someone's core beliefs with unquestioning loyalty to the state is obviously the wrong way to go forward. You need an open society to prevent collapse. However, how do you move society forward while letting those who hold progress back believe what they want?
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:23PM (#14619985)
    I mean, if you look at the far-right Christian view of genetic engineering and biological science... and you look at the far-left enviornmentalist view of genetic engineering and biological science... they are nearly identical. So why do the far-left and the far-right stop the pretending and just admit they are the same thing? All of you people crying about GWB on Slashdot should be quiet, because you know if Greenpeace said the same thing you would be agreeing 100%!

    Unfortunatly for those of us who aren't ludites about genetic engineering and such, there is no powerful politcal force to turn to.
  • by Whammy666 (589169) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:24PM (#14619995) Homepage
    It's well documented that Bush's anti-science stance is quite real. Bush has been critisized by virtually every scientific discipline for his interferrence with basic scientific research. Unlike those trained in the scientific method, Bush draws his conclusions first, then cherry picks or suppresses any research that supports/challenges his predrawn conclusions. Not only does this represent a poor understanding of the scientific method, it's any incredibly stupid way to form public policy.
  • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:27PM (#14620036) Journal
    An embryo is not a person...

    Yes it is.

    That's the problem with opinions. Everyone's got one, and yours is no better than anyone else's. "Person" is a subjective term, and it would seem Bush believes that an embryo qualifies as a person and has rights.

  • Most people don't realize that those who back Bush have exactly zero interest in Social Security.

    The "Social Security" plans are designed to get amateur stock investors into the stock market, where the professionals, who back the plan, can take the amateur's money.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:28PM (#14620051)
    And when/if the rights of one person supercede the rights of another person.
  • rough subject (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apocalypse76 (254086) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:29PM (#14620062) Homepage
    I think what Bush was trying to say is there's a fine line between doing genetic research that's good for society. And doing genetic research that's destructive to society because it has a possibilty of cheapening life.

    Think about the implications of both scenarios for a min. In one way we find amazing life saving drugs, and in another we become slaves because life doesn't matter anymore. Yes, that is extreme in both ways but look at the way most people here are reacting to his speech.

    Problem is I don't trust all scientists enough to let them do unlimited research. I also don't trust congress to lay down sane laws that govern the science research. Mainly because who knows what is right or wrong in this situation? The science behind genetics is still relatively new. It should not be strictly goverened by heavy handed laws that are laid out without some serious considerations of thier implications.

  • by thebra (707939) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:35PM (#14620127) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot is so far to the left. What does this have to do with anything? Science? I think not...
  • Re:Oh, Democrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lilmouse (310335) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:36PM (#14620142)
    <sigh>

    They applauded because Bush's proposals to "fix" social security were terrible and no one wanted them except the investement firms and big business who would get to play with all the money. They applauded because they actually managed to stop some small part of the Bush agenda (albiet a small part). I'm surprised they didn't all get arrested for Disturbing the Peace (or whatever it is they use these days to remove disruptive elements).

    --LWM
  • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:37PM (#14620149)
    Good point. This is more of a "let's make fun of Bush" thread. Everyone likes to bash Bush even if they are contradicting among each other: "Like He's sooo stupid and stuff! He doesn't know what his is doing" but at the same time "He is really shrewd and evil and colluded with all these companies to enslave the American peole" etc...etc.

    Why isn't anyone mentioning his call to research alternative forms of energy along the infamous "let's ban stem cell research". I thought that was a pretty good point. But of course it is easy to see everything in black and white, that is how the American society works -- everyone has to be in a certain category. "white male christian racist pro-life-but-also-for-capital-punishment republican", "white atheist pro-choice-but-also-for-peace liberal", "black angry racist criminal", or "immigrant stupid naive terrorist". Everyone is stereotyped into some category and no matter what they say or do, they will be judged first based on that category.

    Same goes for heads of state. If he is a republican than no matter what he says the democarts will hate him. If he is a democrat all the republicans will hate his guts: "OMG Clinton got a blow-job in the office!!!" but they have no problem with Bush killing Iraqis for oil, like that's not immoral.

    By now if you are still reading you are probably asking yourself, "Wtf? Who's side side is this guy on, he bashes Bush-haters but he also critisizes Bush...Huh?" If you ask yourself this question read the second paragraph again...

  • by ignorant_newbie (104175) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:37PM (#14620156) Homepage
    >how do you move society forward while letting those who hold progress back believe what they want?

    ooh! ooh! I know this one! I know this one! "Seperation of church and state".
  • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:39PM (#14620182)
    ...but I find it rather hypocritical when many slashbots trash corporations for creating genetically modified foods yet they see absolutely no problem creating genetically modified people. Either genetic modification is OK or it isn't,

    "Genetic modification" is an abstract term. It covers a vast range of disparate concretes.

    "Killing people" is an abstract term too, and most of us recognize there are situations were killing people is ok and situations where it is not. A lot of people would find the following amazingly shallow: "I find it rather hypocritical when many slashbots trash murderers for killing people yet they see absolutely no problem with soldiers killing people. Either killing people is ok or it isn't."

    There are, of course, some who take such a black-and-white stand on killing. But most mature individuals recognize that not all killing is the same--even some of the more extreme pacifists will admit that killing in self-defense as a last resort is justified.

    So it is with genetic modification. My own critique of GMOs is simply based on the certainty that the genes will get loose. The issue with Monstanto et al is not that they are genetically modifying organisms, but that they are willfully releasing those organisms into the environment, where their modified genes (particularly the Terminator) will certainly do great damage to innocent people by reducing their yields. This is evil, pure and simple.

    Genetic modification of lab animals for medical research is a different situation entirely. Far from being flung willy-nilly into the common environment they are kept very carefully isolated. There is some risk they will get lose, but their numbers are fantastically small compared to crop plants, and the risk of harm coming to innocent people from them is nil in the ordinary sense of the term.

    So it is possible to be in favour of GMOs for medical research and against GMOs for agriculture, because "GMO" is an abstract term that covers things almost completely unlike each other in every respect. Just as knowing that something is an apple tells you nothing about whether it is good to eat (is it rotten? crab? poisoned?) so knowing that someone is creating GMOs tells you nothing about whether they are doing good or evil.

  • Re:huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:40PM (#14620189) Journal
    Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research [...] creating human-animal hybrids

    It does sound rediculous, but how else are we to study human genes except by inserting them into animals? We can't breed, experiment on, and collect tissue samples from humans at will, so we have to use mice. You can't just study mouse genes, because who cares about mice?

    I'm currently trying to clone the human FGF9 gene into mice so that we can study its regulation. What am I to do when chimeric models are outlawed?
  • Pretty much. :) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:41PM (#14620203)
    Because "person" is a subject term, but almost everyone will believe that THEIR definition is "objective" and why won't the rest of you see plain logic? :)
    I like toasted marshmallows.
  • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:44PM (#14620252) Journal

    The truth in your argument reminds me of most of the rest of the anti-Busy retoric.

    If you can give me a clear and concise argument of something Bush does bad, why he thinks it is good, and why you think it is bad please do so.

    Q1. something Bush does bad?
    A1. He lies. To everyone. Including himself.

    Q2. Why he thinks it is good?
    A2: He must think he's good at it, because he keeps on doing it.

    Q3. Why you think it is bad?
    A3: WMDs, Iraq, the deficit, wiretapping ...

  • by ignorant_newbie (104175) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:49PM (#14620312) Homepage
    >We tried that one...worked for 200 years and died for some reason. :-)

    It died because we got lazy and stupid. If we had been paying attention when the religious fundamentalists took over instead of feeling sorry for ourselves we'd still have it.

    The good news is that we have a revolving door govt in America, and if we can pry our lazy asses off our couches for long enough to vote next time, we might actually get some representation in our government.
  • by skarphace (812333) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:52PM (#14620348) Homepage
    Bacteria does not have a nervous system, but its self aware.

    Bacteria is NOT self aware. It does not know what it is doing or how it affects it's environment. It is an automoton wiggling around sucking things up excreting things. There is no awareness there.
  • Re:Extremist? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by valkraider (611225) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:53PM (#14620351) Journal
    Sure, it's nitpicking... Right... Thats why he has the lowest approval rating of any president other than Nixon. Because he is doing so well.... You do not have to be "radical" or even a "liberal" to think bush sucks, and will continue to suck. And this has everything to do with science. Will we get funding for ACTUAL science? Or Junk science - like oil company funded research that claims global warming is not happening? Will his cleaner domestic energy sources be real - or is he just saying that? Has he lied about things in the past? Should we trust him now? Is genetic engineering to cure MS wrong? Or is some genetic engineering OK and others wrong? Where is the line? What constitutes an experiment? Technically - life is an experiment. State of the union addresses are simply taxpayer funded campaign speeches.
  • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:53PM (#14620361)
    A ban on "creating human-animal hybrids" is more debatable but we damn sure better get a line drawn somewhere and we better do it fast or science is going to race out ahead of ethics and make one hell of a mess for someone to clean up.

    I would be happier if Bush concentrated on cleaning up the mess he has already created in Iraq with the war and America with the deficit, rather than making noises about cleaning up an entirely hypothetical mess in an area where a great deal of good and important medical research is being done.
  • by c0n0 (901224) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:53PM (#14620362)
    while europeans made massive strides in exploration and scientific discovery and invention, culminating in china's humiliation in the 1800s at the hands of european powers (the opium wars and the concession of hong kong, for example)

    Yeah, you forgot about the millions of native americans that died due to exploration, the plagues they brought to america, how bad they were starving before coming to america and how little they could accomplish with all the gold they stole. I could go on.

    I don't think that europe exploring efforts resulted in the best possible outcome. I think our conception of 'moving forward' doesn't always mean that we are 'moving forward'.
  • by N3Roaster (888781) <nealw@[ ].org ['acm' in gap]> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:54PM (#14620377) Homepage Journal
    My grandfather didn't think Social Security would be there for him. It is. My father did not think that Social Security would be there for him. It probably will be. For those of us who are farther away from retirement, Social Security will be there for us EVEN IF the baby boomers bankrupt the system. It's an extremely popular political program and Congress will do whatever they need to in order to keep it going in some form. Will they wait too long to fix any problems? Certainly. That's a given. It'll be a big, ugly, expensive mess with long term consequences, but at the end of the day we'll get our checks because there is no political future for the politicians who let Social Security die while they're in office. Count on it as a primary source of interest after retirement? Of course not, but it'll be something.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:55PM (#14620384) Homepage Journal
    cloning for research purposes will just relocate to the country that permits it.

    Just ask all the scientists who actually use it.
  • by dR.fuZZo (187666) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @05:55PM (#14620388)

    ...but I find it rather hypocritical when many slashbots trash corporations for creating genetically modified foods yet they see absolutely no problem creating genetically modified people. Either genetic modification is OK or it isn't, do we really need decisions made on the basis of how much you hate someone?

    If you genetically modify, say, corn and plant it in a field, if your modifications have some unforeseen consequences, you could have already cross-pollenated a huge area before you could do anything about it.

    If you genetically modify a person, the short term consequences are that you screwed up one person. It would be 20 years before you have to start worrying about the tainting of the entire gene pool.

  • by Bob3141592 (225638) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:01PM (#14620448) Homepage
    Maybe you guys disagree with Bush's proposal. But HOW would you change it? What would you remove? Is it valid to sell or buy a human embryo? To clone embryos? To make human-animal hybrids? As with all controversial issues, it's not possible to please everybody. So I'd like to ask slashdot what parts they agree and disagree with, and why.

    The debate is premature unless we have a clear and reliable definition of what human life and personhood is. That's not as easy as it sounds, as it has to include everything that should be included and exclude everything that should be excluded. Is it legal for a parent to allow a child to starve to death or is it murder (easy one there)? But is it legal to remove the feeding tube from an anechpalitic baby, or not to provide the tube in the first place? What about cases like Terry Schiavo? At the point they removed her feeding tube, did she have all the legal rights and privilidges and obligations of a human person? What about charging for IVF? What about destroying fertilized ovums? How damaged does the ovum have to be before this is considered murder? What about bone marrow transplants if the stem cells it contains could be manipulated into becomming a person?

    Want to declare all abortion illegal from the moment of conception? Then how can you avoid charging a pregnant woman who miscarries with (at least) involuntary manslaughter?

    What's a human animal hybrid? Pigs chanting "Are we not men?" (Does anyone else find it ironic that Bush takes his cues from Animal Farm but not 1984?) How about goats with human genes to produce immune hormones in their milk? Where's the line? Want to make a law about it, and the line has to be drawn clearly and not in the sand.

    Unless we decide, not just philosophically but legally, what it means to be a human, to think and feel and live as a human being does, there's no way to decide these issues.

    Personally, I suggest that humanity resides in the brain. Life isn't defined just by a beating heart, or just by breathing. Those old methods of deciding when someone was alive and when they were dead didn't work well, and can't always be applied to featuses or people undergoing cardiac surgery. Id like to see some definitive evaluation of brain function based on remote fMRI studies. Before that point, a fetus isn't a real human being and so abortion isn't taking a human life. After that point, maybe restrictions on abortion would be defensible. If a patient is brain damaged and can't maintain that level of organized neural activity, then that person is brain dead, or more simply dead. Where exactly to set that point, unambiguously and as an absolute dividing line? I don't know, but then, I Am Not A Doctor.

    Research on human tissue lacking that intrinsic humanity is acceptable, but manipulating people for research isn't. Find a way to direct a blastocyte to develop mature liver cells without developing the neurological capacity or humanity, and I don't have a problem with it. Why should I? It doesn't bother me if fibroid tumors are excised and treated as trash. Any other hunk of meat without the capacity to think and feel as a human doesn't get any more consideration.

    What's remarkable is that the religious right and the policicians who cater to them take such an unbiblical view of these issues. According to the Holy Word of God, personhod is established by breath. The Bible explicitely excludes causing the death of a fetus from the "life for life" punishment system. A man who assaults a pregnant woman and destroys the fetus, as long as no other injury to the woman ensues, at most pays a fine. Therefore the fetus is not a human life. But what the Bible says God wants has nothing to do with how the religious pursue political power.

    Okay, now, as Johnny says, "Flame On!"
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:04PM (#14620498) Journal
    I missed where buying and selling of embryos is bad. There will be supply and demand for such scientific items, and remuneration when such property transfers ownership. Organs are sold right now, though it's not called that. It's merely a fee for the cost of the service of human organ transfer, but it's no different than any other raw material with a zero material cost and a high man-hour / processing equipement cost. Call me cynical, but there are real costs associated. If there is no remuneration, research will be hindered (which is the point GWB is getting at, I believe).

    Patents on the human genome - or any genome - should be banned, along with a great deal of other information patents. Now, if you'd like to create a novel implementation of a device which uses the knowledge gained, go for it. Make sure you make up a 12x12x12 scale model and have the capability to manufacture your patent in commercial quanitities, or we'll send the mandatory licensing police after you (in my ideal world).

    As for the rest, I'm not sure politics is going to do complex scientific matters much justice.
  • by FatSean (18753) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:04PM (#14620502) Homepage Journal
    I agree...no politician would let it lapse. So the big question is, who's going to be picking up the tab? You can fix anything if you throw enough money at it...but where is that money going to come from? Punitive taxes? Subjugating some other nation? Man, I dunno...but it's not gonna be good.

  • Re:Extremist? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:09PM (#14620547)
    Opposing human cloning, selling of human embreyos, and creation of human/animal hybrids is not extreme.

    Cloning of entire humans is not extreme, but theres a lot of people who'd love to be able to replace a finger, or an ear, or get a skin graft after a burn... banning ALL THAT starts to get extreme.

    Selling embryos -- ok, yeah, i think all of us find it repugnent when capitalism meets medicine...whether its fetuses or kidneys or even simply being denied the cure to your disease because the 90 cent pills you need are being charged at $2000 a dose (to cover 'research', 'development', 'shareholder profits', and 'litigation & insurance expenses'). Most of us will concede that the drug corps -need- to cover r&d, legal, and still lookout for the shareholder... but its still 'evil' to let a person die over few pills where the incremental cost of *those* pills was under a dollar.

    And the creation of animal human hybrids? Again, sure rejecting the creation of the habitants of the Island of Doctor Moreau isn't 'extreme'. But what if you needed a new heart and they could grow the cloned your own heart inside a pig host, along with a supply of your own blood to use in the transplant operation? It would give you a heart that wouldn't be rejected, solve blood supply issues, and may neatly dodge the issue of cloning full on 'human beings' for organ harvesting.

  • by lbrandy (923907) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:10PM (#14620554)
    Bush is anti-science.

    Anti-abortionists are anti-women.


    I guess according to the OwnedByTwoCats School of Shitty Logic that Anti-War people are also Anti-Soldier, and Pro-abortion people are anti-life.

    Hi, welcome to the wonderful world of terrible generalizations and inflamatory rhetoric, say goodbye to rational debate on the way in.
  • by Sir Pallas (696783) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:11PM (#14620565) Homepage
    Aristotle talks about the four types of causes,namely: first, material, formal, and final. The final cause, he says, is superior to the first cause if the first cause anticipates the final. In a very real way, a conception is the first cause of a human. And though not all first causes are seen through to finality, the potential is there for the finality. I believe this is what makes GWB and his ilk feel ill at the idea of doing the kind of experiments he is asking for a ban on: because though they are not (necessarily) being done on sentient life, they are being done on potentially sentient life and the research is preventing the fruition of that sentience.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:12PM (#14620587) Homepage
    try to understand why his position is what it is - you just might discover that there are intelligent arguments on all sides of the table.

    Yeah, except the problem is that his position is based on theology, not intelligence or thought. It's one thing to be opposed to scientific research because of potential complications, and working to address those very real issues -- it's another to outright ban entire realms of research because you think they go against what God intends.

    it doesn't make sense that any President would actively work to thwart something like scientific progress in general. It DOES make sense that a President would try to do what's best for the country, and that is where the disagreement lies.

    But he IS actively working to thwart scientific progress in our country. He believes it makes us closer to what God wishes, but the EU, Canada, Cuba, China, Japan, etc will all continue researching these topics and will be the source of all major medical breakthroughs for the next 50 years because of it. We're spending the better part of a decade having research inhibited, and researchers refused entry to the country, and it is our nation that will suffer the social, medical and economic consequences of those actions. His motivation may be wonderful, but the end result is a giant shit sandwich for our country to munch on.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:14PM (#14620598)
    Fundamentalist Christian world view: humans on top and all else is subject to Man's dominion (says so in Genesis)

    Far Left Environmentalist world view: Nature (i.e. everything but Humans) is supreme and people are a plague on the face of the earth.

  • by lbrandy (923907) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:16PM (#14620619)
    The "Social Security" plans are designed to get amateur stock investors into the stock market, where the professionals, who back the plan, can take the amateur's money.

    At least then I have a fighting chance... as opposed to letting the ship sail on it's current course where my money (the aforementioned 'amateur stock investor') goes directly to someone else, with no questsions asked, via a program that mathematically cannot be sustained, and thus, is giving me nothing in return. Look, I'm not really a fan of any of the asinine "solutions" Washington has come up with Social Security... I just want to be reasonably sure that the money taken out of every one of my paychecks is going to end up coming back to me... otherwise stop taking my money and telling me it's for my own retirement... and right now, there is no "mathematical" way out... so let's stop selling this pile of shit, and start calling Social Security what it really is.. a tax on this generation, to support their parents, and eventually, someone, is gonna have to eat it and foot the bill. It's a god damm pyramid scheme.
  • by Lijemo (740145) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:20PM (#14620670)

    Or, if they were so "Pro-Life" they wouldn't be sending people off to die overseas for questionable (at best) reasons.

    What really irks me are pro-lifers who are against education and/or against birth control. Huh? What better way to avoid abortions than preventing unwanted pregnancies from happening in the first place?

    Ardent Pro-Lifers and ardent Pro-Choicers can agree on one thing: in an ideal world, if no one involved wanted to raise the child, then no pregnancy would occur in the first place.

    Pro-choicers who are anti-education and/or anti-birth control are making the statement that imposing their version of abstinance morality on people is more important than preventing abortions.If they did not value the life of the feotus less than they value controlling other people's bedroom activities, they'd see education and birth control, at worst, as "neccessary evils."

  • by Chagatai (524580) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:21PM (#14620673) Homepage
    OT, I know, but it needs to be said. The State of The Union address last night was one of the weakest speeches I have ever heard. The State of The Union address is intended to be a report to the members of Congress, the government, and the American people, so it will naturally cover myriad topics. In this case, there seemed to be no cohesion or thought behind the address.

    President Bush jumped from topic to topic. "Coretta King died. Iran is bad. No more monkeymen!" I kept waiting to hear about the mission to Mars for humanity or at least to go back to the moon again.

    I found that while the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia looked like a smarmy man and had some difficulty in reading the teleprompter he had a definite message behind his thoughts. While I am normally unimpressed by the rebuttal by the minority party, I paid attention to what he said because if nothing else he was not shouting sound bites at random.

    I agree, the Social Security moment was a highlight, if for no other reason than to see G. W. get a little upset.

  • by emlprime (877074) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:21PM (#14620678)
    But I don't really like the thought of creating and killing millions/billions of things that are/maybe/might be/could have been/sorta/etc humans to get there.


    I think it's important to stress that Bush isn't interested so much in protecting human life. Even if his motives are genuine and straightforward, he's only interested in protecting human life at an arbitrary age cutoff.

    Bush has sent a significant number of humans, some of them my family members, in harms way without, it turns out, verifying the validity of his research before acting. What gets me is the forked tongue speeches about the sanctity of human life on one hand, and the wholesale slaughter on the other.

    This does however put me in mind of one of my favorite lawyer jokes.
    Why are lab scientists increasingly turning to experimentation on lawyers instead of white mice?
    • Population predictions indicate that there will probably never be a shortage of lawyers.
    • Studies have shown that research scientists often develop emotional attachment to white mice.
    • There are some things you just can't get a white mouse to do.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:27PM (#14620742) Homepage Journal
    As someone who has done his share of technology [geocities.com] policy [geocities.com] politics [geocities.com], I can tell you that Congress and the government needs to be limited to issuing prize [geocities.com] awards [wired.com] for achievement of objectively defined milestones. Picking winners is bad enough in industrial policy but when you get Congress handing out money even indirectly through "top men" in grants for proposals, it is way too fraught with potential for institutionalizing the "search [google.com]" for solutions rather than the achievement [geocities.com] of solutions.

    Make up lots of objective goals and make the prize awards really big because you can afford to since you're paying for results rather than mere proposals to achieve results.

    Making the real achievers of objective goals rich beyond their wildest dreams will lead to far more effective R&D spending of those dollars than will handing them over to life-time bureaucrats.

    PS: A big problem is exemplified by a USA Today article about prize awards for technical achievement [usatoday.com]

    Last June, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation put an exclamation point after "grand challenge" when it announced one of the richest in history. The Grand Challenges for Global Health pledged $436.6 million (including $31.6 million from British and Canadian sources) toward solving some of the world's worst health problems. Preliminary funds have been granted to 43 groups attacking 14 challenges.
    Why is it that no one can see how much of an obscene mockery this use of the term "grand challenge" is?

    The fact that no one understands the difference between awarding a prize for achieving X vs awarding a grant for a proposal for achieving X is illustrative of why technology policy fails miserably generation after generation.

  • by ta ma de (851887) <chris.erik.barne ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:30PM (#14620767)
    His statment suggest that science can clearly delinate between human and non-human DNA. For example suppose I want to use AGTTCCCAGGTTC from a human and stick it in a silkworm to make fake hair for a wig. Suppose that same DNA set is found in monkey's too. Is it a human/silkworm hybrid or a monkey/silkworm hybrid?

    Where human begins and ends is a fairly small subset of the genes which many animals share.

    this was just a silly example please don't parse the technical issues ... I put as much thought into this as Bush ... well maybe a little more.

  • by Baron_Yam (643147) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:31PM (#14620789)
    Athiests will never betray the concept of the seperation of Church and State. Athiests will never make policy based on the precepts of a particular faith. Athiests will never favour the moral code of one small group over their multitude of neighbours because they attend the same church. An atheist believes life is very precious because when you die, it's over. Some religious fundies are a little freer with human life because the afterlife is so much better if you're good, and if it isn't you deserved it anyway.
  • Re:Wha? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:36PM (#14620843) Journal
    Pfft, there are LOTS of people who are against everyone else getting to do what they personally do on a regular basis. It isn't just liberals whose underage, knocked-up daughters are getting abortions and whose short sons are getting illegal growth hormone injections. Think about speeding: I think most people are in favor of some sort of speed limit, and most of them speed. It's quite rational to want everyone else to have to obey laws and live under restrictions that you don't have to, coz it helps your competitiveness.
  • Re:Oh, Democrats (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:42PM (#14620924)
    Ted Kennedy hasn't killed 30,000 or more people like Bush has. Funny how whenever Ted is mentioned by the lunatic right *redundant* the death of Mary Jo Whatshername always came up, but they have no problem with Bush killing 30,000 innocent people.
  • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:44PM (#14620951) Homepage
    It proves that he's a fucking idiot. Where am I supposed to get my insulin, once he's banned the human-bacteria hybrid that produces it?

    I can address your point in either of two ways:

    1. You can get it from wherever it was obtained prior to the discovery of the human-bacteria hybrid you're referring to. Insulin production predates that discovery, you know. However, I will obviously concede that this is a far less convenient solution.

    2. You'd think that if you're goint to go sit down and stutter out a rant you might have someone actually check it over to make sure it doesn't sound like you have absolutely no touch with reality. Bush's ideas ban federal funding for such research. Private industry is free to do as it pleases, and if there is any kind of financial incentive to produce insulin using human-bacteria hybrid, you can be it will (continue to) do so.

    Maybe if you listened more to...well...anyone instead of those raving anti-Bush voices in your head, we might start looking at you as less "anti-logic."
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:49PM (#14621010)

    I agree, it is not an ignorant position. It is a well crafted and very wrong position designed to give Bush a talking point that the uneducated or uninterested will not strongly oppose, while people who have a clue about science will be very angry and vocal about. This gives Bush a way to frame a debate he does not care about at all in such a way that his opponents waste a lot of time fighting an uphill battle educating people and to stop him from stopping scientific progress.

    A ban on the "buying, selling or patenting human embryos" should be fairly universally acceptable, especially the bit about no patenting here amongst the slashdot hordes.

    You can't patent an embryo now. Bans on buying and selling embryos serve what purpose again other than as a talking point and a way to interfere with capitalism and make research less effective?

    A ban on "creating human-animal hybrids" is more debatable but we damn sure better get a line drawn somewhere and we better do it fast or science is going to race out ahead of ethics and make one hell of a mess for someone to clean up.

    Issues of "debatable" ethics should be left to individuals to decide. hybrid human-animals are very, very important to a lot of research, from producing insulin, to models for curing basically every genetic component to every human disease in existence, whether it is cancer, MS, autism, or a huge range of other ailments. If you can't put human genes in mice and then do a lot of testing, there is just not really a lot of workable alternatives in many cases.

    And that leaves his call for a ban on "human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments" which is where most of slashdot parts company.

    Or we could wait until there is at least one documented, unethical practice that this is purporting to stop, and otherwise just let people do what they need to.

    But I don't really like the thought of creating and killing millions/billions of things that are/maybe/might be/could have been/sorta/etc humans to get there.

    Ok, then, what makes life valuable? Is it our genes or is it our personalities, intellects, and other actual human traits? A embryo, or hybrid that is useful for science has less in common with me than a lab rat and in my estimation is less valuable than a lab rat until it gains those traits.

    So you feel uncomfortable or unsure about the ethics of this. That is just fine. If you have doubts, don't make any hybrids. Simple huh. Just don't try to force your views upon other people who feel differently. Every person must be responsible for themselves and needs to make their own choices. Arbitrary laws made to sway the uneducated, with 30-second sound bites, designed to get votes is not the way to do this. Passing laws is completely unneeded and counterproductive. The only reason this argument exists is as political fodder. Its easy take a topic that is hard to understand, then think up some questionable use and try to use that to propose over-broad legislation that will seriously stop the progress of science. Wait for your opponents to kill themselves trying to educate the public on how this means no more insulin, while occasionally feeding disinformation. It has worked for Bush up until now and it is still working.

  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:50PM (#14621020)
    you are not thinking and feeling, either. In such a case, does that mean I am not taking your freedoms when I put a bullet in your brain?

    Potential matters. When you are sleeping or unconcious, you do not have sufficient intellect to earn rights. What gives you rights is the fact that you will wake up and be an intelligent being. When this is not the case (for example, Terry Shiavo), we correctly deem that the hunk of meat that was an intelligent being no longer has rights, and should be cared for as per that person's wishes and contracts.

    The "potential matters" principle is the only one that is consistent across a wide-range of situations. Here are some others: Imagine you had a real AI, sufficiently intelligent to deserve rights, living on your cellphone. If the batteries ran out, could you then destroy the phone? Does it make sense to say "I can't destroy the phone when the batteries are charged, but I can when they are empty"? Or how about this. What if humans started their lives as catapillars, then became butterflies, and then, after a second larvae stage became babies. Could we kill the butterflies? What if the situation ran backwards, and it went human-butterly-catapillar, followed by a spore stage that created new humans. Could we then kill the butterflies?

    Another problem with your logic is that humans do not become intelligent enough to deserve rights until well after birth, unless you put the bar so low as many animals have rights. So now, you either are stuck with arresting people for manslaughter when they run over a cat and putting Fido on trial for killing a rabbit, or permitting infanticide. Which do you prefer?
  • by BRSQUIRRL (69271) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:50PM (#14621032)
    Anti-abortionists are anti-women.

    I'm sure all of the pro-life women out there agree. :)

    I am pro-life, but my opposition to abortion has nothing to do with women. I am not some crazy fundie nutjob who just wants to "keep women in their place". By your argument, anyone who thinks heroin should be illegal is just harboring some deeply-held prejudice against hypodermic needles. OK, so that isn't a perfect analogy. :) The vast majority of homicides in this country are perpetrated by men. I am opposed to murder...so I guess I hate men as well.

    It is just that in my experience, many people who are unable to defend their position on abortion without obsessively fixating on gender equality issues are just trying to cover for the fact that their logical gas tank on the subject is about a teaspoon short of bone dry. Not saying that is you, but your statement is a bit of a generalization.

    And I was about to moderate in this thread. Oh well...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:51PM (#14621042)
    "But I don't really like the thought of creating and killing millions/billions of things that are/maybe/might be/could have been/sorta/etc humans to get there."

    Better stop masturbating then, oh, and tell your girlfriend or wife to stop throwing all those little people away once a month.
  • Re:because... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mahou (873114) <made_up_address_ AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:51PM (#14621043) Journal
    not really, i guess you skipped biology in high school. embryo are more human than my sperm. sperm are not complete cells. yes they are formed from human cells but they are just sperm. half of a cell. when a sperm joins together with a egg, it creates a complete cell. it is human because it has all the DNA which is needed to classify something as human and it is a functioning biological organism. sure it's not developed, and people might say it's no more human than a skin cell is, but that is a matter of personal view. but sperm and eggs are not complete organisms.

    but besides that, retards aren't self aware, can i do science experiments on them?
  • Re:Oh, Democrats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 2short (466733) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:00PM (#14621147)
    Yes, congress has a retirement plan that involves more than just Social Security. As does anyone who has a good job, plans to retire, and is not an idiot. Social Security is/was designed to ensure that people don't work until they get too old to do so and then starve to death. Relying on SS alone is stupid if you aspire to do any better than not starving to death. The Democrats applauded because they successfully stopped Bush from "improving" SS in ways that would remove the garauntee you won't starve to death, and wouldn't extend it's solvency at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:04PM (#14621180)
    So you all can prepare to welcome your "100 years scientifically ahead of USA" European overlords!
  • Re:Oh, Democrats (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JPamplin (804322) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:05PM (#14621188) Homepage
    You are absoLUTEly right, Slime-dogg. Unfortunately, politics has become such that both parties will get in the way of any progress on any subject if the other party would get credit for it.

    Bipartisanism is dead.

    Further, Congress thinks the public is stupid and will blissfully go along with anything they say, and forget anything they say that's terribly wrong. They also know that they have created a system in which THEY have all the power and THEY will not give it up, ever.

    Never mind that both Democrats and Republicans are lead by the extremists on both sides, because it's the extremists that can raise the most cash and make the most noise. The common man is ignored.

    Representation is dead.

    Even though it's nearly impossible to break into this elite club, I do believe it's time for a third party. There have been so many attempts, but that's only the tip of the iceberg - the fact that the Green Party or the Libertarians have ANY traction at all is an indication that the general public is tired of the bullshit. Most of us do NOT think as the far left, or the far right, but we're all fairly fiscally conservative when it comes to spending taxpayer money.

    So that, my friends, is the platform that the new party will go by. Whatever form it may take, despite the strong measures that Dems and the GOP will take to prevent it, it will happen.

    How fast or how slow, depends mainly on you, me, and everyone else. If we sit there and care about ourselves more than the country, then nothing will happen.

    I hope that is not the case.
  • Re:Oh, Democrats (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darby (84953) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:05PM (#14621193)
    Damn, dude. Kennedy is *such* an easy target and the best you can come up with are "the Iraq war being "made up in Texas," and that the Iraqi torture chambers... were reopened under new management,"

    I hate to break it to you but those are, as we now know absolutely, statements of fact.
    Seriously, the guy says probably ten retarded things a day and the *best* you can come up with is where his statements are:
    1) Correct
    2) Unarguably pro-freedom and anti-fascist

    WTF?!?

  • Ban Twins!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by An Ominous Cow Erred (28892) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:06PM (#14621200)
    The president says we should ban cloning in *all its forms*! Let's start by banning the oldest form of cloning -- identical twins!

    Because obviously a human with the same genetic makeup has the same soul, thus leading to one clone never knowing if they're "real" or not! (Or is it a soulless evil, husk? I'm never quite sure what the Luddites believe.)
  • Re:Oh, Democrats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Forbman (794277) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:06PM (#14621201)
    ...and before that, nothing from the Republicans during Clinton's reigh was anything more than "not Clinton", to the point they actively tried to remove him from office.

  • by tyme (6621) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:32PM (#14621429) Homepage Journal
    lbrandy [slashdot.org] wrote:
    I guess according to the OwnedByTwoCats School of Shitty Logic that Anti-War people are also Anti-Soldier, and Pro-abortion people are anti-life.

    Three points:
    1. OwnedByTwoCats [slashdot.org] wasn't making a logical argument (there was no series of assumptions and theorems leading to a conclusion) but simply stating the facts based on observation (George Bush, by his actions and policies, has demonstrated a disdain for science. Anti-abortionists are opposed to the recognition of the fundamental human right of self determination and control of one's medical affairs for women).
    2. Many anti-war people, while they may not be opposed to particular individual soldiers, are, in general, opposed to the institution of soldiering: that is to say, they are anti-military, at least in as much as the military exists to fight wars, and if there were no more wars (however improbably such a condition may be) there would be no need for the military.
    3. Unlike the anti-abortion crowd, the pro-abortion crowd, in general, supports life in other situations that do not conflict with the fundamental human right to controls one's medical affairs: most pro-abortion folk are also anti-death penalty, anti-war and pro-enviornment, all of which are, arguably, positions in favor of 'life'. Most of the anti-abortion folks I know are for the death penalty, oppose environmental and endangered species regulations, oppose government sponsored health care for the poor and elderly, and are perfectly happy to have folks in other parts of the world (including pregnant mothers and their unborn embryos or fetuses) bombed into oblivion for no good reason.

    This isn't a matter of logic or rhetoric -- though many people in the conservative, right-wing, religious party seem to think that rhetoric is all that matters -- it is a simple matter of examining the statements and actions of people and groups. If someone advocates policies that undermine the teaching and progress of science (teaching religious dogma in biology classes, defunding or outlawing basic research, squelching scientific reports that conflict with administration policies, etc.) it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that that person or group is anti-science.
  • Re:Zuh?! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:36PM (#14621459)
    With only 227 comments to your name you are a new-comer to this line of thought.

    It's that "quantity not quality" train of thought that has ruined every internet forum that I have participated in.

    Just because you don't know when to shut the fuck up, doesn't mean you're more knowledgable or experienced. Why should postcount mean anything? You are often better off using that posting time reading others' posts to gain new knowledge and insight than to constantly post for the sake of looking important.

    Next time you post something, wait 10 minutes before re-reading it, and ask yourself, "Am I contributing to the signal or the noise."

    Nine times out of ten, the correct course of action is "cancel", rather than "submit".

    -AC

    P.S. Fear my postcount.

  • by DarkBlackFox (643814) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:44PM (#14621519)
    But at the same time the research has great potential to save or prolong hundreds, thousands, or millions of already established sentient lives. Is not the sacrifice of a handful of potential lives worth saving a virtually infinite (as the procedures established will no doubt be kept in the realm of human knowledge until it's improved upon, or humans cease to exist) number of already established lives?
  • Re:Pretty much. :) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TIMxPx (859220) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:47PM (#14621538)
    "Person" is subjective? To think that most of the world has been believing falsely that a person is a sentient, intelligent living being. I haven't thought much about whether that qualifies as an every-and-only definition, but i believe it is widely accepted.

    Personally, i'm highly opposed to all forms of cloning and embryo creation (other than the natural method), and i think my reasons are legitimate. But i don't believe logically that an embryo is a person. As much as we can certainly call it human life, the embryo hasn't exhibited any sentience or independent intelligence. I believe (it is my opinion based on logic) that it is a *potential* person, because it contains the elements of human life, and since we cannot say with certainty which potential people will become people, we must give all potential people the rights that people have.

    If you don't like a person's definition, you should provide an exception which disproves the rule, or a more feasible definition. Just saying that a thing is subjective doesn't make it so, and preferring, enjoying, or wishing a thing is not remotely similar to properly defining a term.
  • by metamatic (202216) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:57PM (#14621626) Homepage Journal
    What scares me is that approximately half the voting public agrees with him [...]

    That's actually not true, for several reasons.

    Firstly, most Americans don't vote, so it's hard to say whether they really agree with him.

    Secondly, if you take the small number who voted for Bush, and actually ask them for their opinions on various issues, you find out something interesting: Bush supporters disagree with him on many major issues [talkleft.com].

    So the interesting question is: since most Bush voters are in favor of abortion, against the war in Iraq, in favor of reducing the deficit, and so on, why do they vote for Bush?

    The answer is simple. It's also the single most important thing to understand about US politics, in my view. Here it is:

    Most Americans who vote, don't vote on the basis of issues. Instead, they vote on the basis of which guy they like the most.

    That's what the Democrats keep getting horribly, horribly wrong. They picked John Kerry, who nobody particularly liked as a person, even in his own party--a guy with the personality of a sack of wet sand, who spoke like a schoolteacher. They picked Al Gore, of the robotic demeanour and irritated sighs, and teamed him with Lieberman in case his displayed personality wasn't already enough to repel voters. They'll probably pick Hillary Clinton too.

    What's even more odd is that once he had lost, Al Gore suddenly started displaying a personality and a sense of humor. So apparently the powers that control the DNC have this idea that pressing candidates into acting "presidential" (i.e. dull as all hell) is a good thing.

    Meanwhile, the Republicans field a guy who has learned to convincingly fake a friendly Texas accent, and act dumber than he is. (e.g. the recent clowning when he couldn't get a door open.) It doesn't matter that he's from the exact same educated upper-class background as Kerry; he's learned to put on a persona that seems friendly and likeable to average people, and that's why he got elected.

    Note that I'm not saying this is a good thing. It's actually pretty awful, because the best outcome is likely to be that White House policy is effectively random over time, depending on what the beliefs are of the guy who randomly happens to have the nicest personality. The worst possible outcome, of course, is that someone appears who is a raving fascist, but is a master showman who can appear to be a likeable man of the people. We all know how that turns out.

  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:09PM (#14621719) Homepage
    Potential does indeed matter. Trouble is, we're all working on a sliding scale.

    Potential exists in a gamete; how troubled are you by the loss of billions of potential lives during the course of one man's life? How troubled are you by the thought that people using condoms or birth control pills actively want these gametes to never realize their full potential as human beings? What of the father of four seeking a vasectomy--is it his right to nip all that potential in the bud? What of the young woman in need of a hysterectomy--is she more deserving of life than the multiple potential lives she could one day carry to term? What of the celebate--people who have actively decided that they're not even going to try to give all these potential lives a shot?

    Yes, I go to extremes in my examples. That's just the problem, though; though extreme, these scenarios still sit on the same scale of "potential", and we each still need to choose where "extreme" starts. I know for a fact that many people decry the use of condoms, an attitude I personally feel falls comfortably on the "extreme" end of things. Other people feel comfortable with things like late-term abortion, which frankly makes me squirm just to think of doing such a thing. I honestly don't know exactly where I comfortably sit on this scale. It isn't a clear, easy call for me to make. I do realize, however, that at some point we all stand up and say, "OK, that's where I no longer have a problem with cutting off the potential". To paraphrase the old joke, we already know what kind of decision this is. We're just haggling over the price.

    The fundamental problem in this matter is not that the "other side" fails to see what is right. It's that we're all called upon to make a judgement on a matter that none of us are truly able to see clearly.

  • by Mr. McGibby (41471) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:17PM (#14621776) Homepage Journal
    You might. That's why it's called "involuntary" manslaughter.
  • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:39PM (#14621913) Journal
    Money invested in the stock market is money that represents capital. It's money in the economy and it keeps the economy thriving.

    Money stuck away (fictitiously, I might add) in a 'Social Security Trust Fund' is money sunk into 'Government Bonds' and other political schemes by Politicians to rip off the people.

    It's no surprise that a bunch of politicians feel very threatened by the idea of partially privatising Social Security. It's their slush fund that is at stake.
  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:40PM (#14621917)
    Analogously to criminal law, I use a standard which, mathematically, is probably somewhere between 2% and .1%. It does not matter which number you choose within that range, however. Why? Because a sperm has far, far less than a 1/1000 chance. So does an egg or a skin cell. However, a fertilized egg falls well on the other side (about 30% at fertilization, much higher a few days later after implantation). Therefore, where exactly we draw the line is rather irrelevant, as it is clear that before fertilization we are far to one side, and after fertilization we are far to the other.

    I would say the same standard applies at the end of life. If Shiavo had a 10% chance of recovering, killing her would have been wrong, don't you agree? But the fact was that her chances of recovering were vanishingly small. That is why pulling the plug was ethical. Now, if a fertilized egg has a 30% chance of surviving, why would we also not grant it rights?

    Yes, you can carry the "potential" argument to extemes. One could claim the lint in my belly-button has rights, because there are probably sufficient atoms to spontaneously rearrange into a zygote. But clearly, the probability of this is trivially small. Therefore we can safely discount it.

    As a final point, I also believe in granting the benefit of the doubt. This is an important manner with lives literally hanging in the balance. We should error on the side of protecting life.
  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:45PM (#14621957)
    I can hypothesize all sorts of beings without a brain or nervous system that I would consider to have rights. An AI, for example.

    See my post below about potential. I use a "reasonable doubt" standard, falling somewhere between .1 and 2%. Sperm, skin cells and mud all have the hypothetical potential to be humans - but are extremely unlikely to ever be so.

    A dead person has brain structure. So does a cat. So does a late-term fetus. On the other hand, many as-yet-unknown extraterrestrials or AIs may very well not have a "brain structure" but be perfectly intelligent. I hardly see how "brain structure" has any relationship to rights.
  • by Sir Pallas (696783) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:48PM (#14621980) Homepage
    I guess the question becomes: is it OK to destroy potential beings in order to potentially create a potential extension for other lives. The second half has a double "maybe": there is hope that this kind of genetic research has benefit, but it's not certain and that's why it's research. On the other hand, there is no reason that other kinds of genetic research can't yield the same results. The last (and perhaps most important) point is that nature has (seemingly) designed us to die; so, is it right to deny a full life to someone in order to (maybe) marginally extend the life or quality of life of another person or another class of people? That, at any rate, is the moral basis (the question of the pc) for that part of this year's State of the Union address.
  • Re:Pretty much. :) (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jotok (728554) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:58PM (#14622034)
    Check out Peter Singer on abortion.

    Singer (who is no friend to the pro-life movement) demolishes all of the arguments in favor of abortion on merely logical grounds: When you make moral statements, the premises must have some kind of moral content, such as whether or not a person has done something wrong. Skin color, ethnic background, socio-economic background, level of intelligence or "development," ability to survive without assistance--none of these things have any moral content. So it makes as much logical sense to say "You can enslave blacks because they have dark skin" as to say "You can destroy a foetus because it is not intelligent."

    In order to justify abortion, you need to redefine "person" such that it disincludes people below a certain developmental level, or people who require a significant amount of assistance to survive from day to day. Singer has acknowledged that this would permit infanticide, involuntary euthanasia, and the "mercy killing" of the mentally handicapped and aged, and he's pretty much ok with that.

    Under this view you cannot kill cows, but you can have sex with them.
    No, really. I'm serious. Check it out for yourself:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer [wikipedia.org]
  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:14PM (#14622112)
    You seem to believe that a person is part of this "society", and therefore has rights. Why? Who decides? Who or what gets included? My "talk of rights" means little to a six year old, too. Are they not part of society? What about a two-year-old? An infant?

    I agree with you on one point - the boundry line of intelligence is the ability to conciously respect the rights of others. However, it is clear that we repect of the rights of humans (infants, the deranged, the senile) who cannot accomplish this goal. Why?

    Your last line is particularly dangerous. At one time, the rights of slaves were not recognized by all societies. The rights of women are still not respected by many. How does that diminish the argument in favor of granting rights by expanding "society" to include such individuals?

    The expansion of the concept of "society" has been a long-running trend. History tends not to look favorably upon those who argued for its limitations. Do you think in 500 years, there will be abortions? Neither do I.
  • Sociopath (Score:2, Insightful)

    by justanetgod (554210) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:18PM (#14622128) Homepage

    see E. L. Doctorow's essay on Bush. Doesn't really matter what he says (Bush). It's completely Orwellian anyway. We torture under the auspices of the Department of Love, didn't you hear? I think Bush as sociopath may explain my gut instant dislike even hate for this person. The smirk. The constant litany of lies. I find it just amazing we have sunk so low as to have leadership like this. Damn shame. Used to be an amazing place, America.

    By E.L. Doctorow

    The Unfeeling President

    But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.

    He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

    But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.

    They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life . . . they come to his desk as a political liability, which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

    How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.

    He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

    Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing -- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends.

    A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the president who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the 40 percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills - it is amazing for how many people in this country this president does not feel.

    But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest 1 percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the quality of air in coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:34PM (#14622238)
    Genetically modified cells could be generated that reach embryo status and then terminate. The clump of cells will never progress to being a human, anymore than a clump of skin tissue can. The inherent "potential" to become a living being is just the same as for the clump of skin tissue (as we could use the DNA to create a clone).

    So what's the problem?

    I think the pro-lifer, anti-genetic crowd who claim life begins at conception, should take a look at themselves, and their ignorance. For instance, for all those who claim that as soon a conception occurs the fertilised egg has a soul, I would ask this: Why does your God love to cause over 50% of all conception events to fail? That's right, at least half. And of those, 15% or so fail significantly after implantation into the uterine wall, resulting in a spontaneoue abortion from anywhere from a few weeks to just before birth.

    It is a derail, but it points to the same fact in each case - opposed religious people like Bush don't understand what they are saying, and don't understand that the world is already different from the way they believe it to be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:49PM (#14622327)
    I believe this is what makes GWB and his ilk feel ill at the idea of doing the kind of experiments he is asking for a ban on: because though they are not (necessarily) being done on sentient life, they are being done on potentially sentient life and the research is preventing the fruition of that sentience.

    The religious right really has a problem on their hands explaining how they can be pro war and anti embryo research at the same time. On the one hand they're perfectly willing to kill people to free other people from mere political problems (at best), but unwilling to kill embryos to free a hell of a lot more people from diseases.

    The argument goes deeper than that. For instance, even without war embryos have the potential to develop into humans and then die at some point in life. Through scientific research about aging, it's possible that future embryos won't *have* to die, at least not naturally. Either some embryos die and some live forever, or *all* embryos die. Realistically, we probably shouldn't expect to outlast the heat death of the universe, but optimistically there will be some way to avoid eventual death or at least come to much better terms with it than humans have available now.

    Obviously I'm not arguing that each embryo will live forever in heaven or hell despite what happens on earth, but there's a cute argument *for* embryo research in religious terms. If God is good, he clearly won't send innocent baby embryos or fetuses to hell, so killing them just gets them to heaven faster. If God is evil and sends innocent baby embryos or fetuses to hell, wouldn't it be a good idea to try life extension here on earth before having to meet said evil God?
  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @10:03PM (#14622423)
    First, I would like to point out that you are also "just a lump of living genetic material". I hope you do not feel diminished by that. I still respect your rights either way.

    It is obvious that a first-trimester fetus does not feel or think in any meaningful sense. However, it will, in all likelyhood. Is this sufficient basis for rights? If we limit ourselves to "real world" scenarios, the closest analogies would be people who are sleeping, unconcious, and in comas. Do these people have rights? Apparently there is wide agreement that they do. Yet they are not thinking or intelligent in any meaningful sense, especially the latter two groups. Why do these groups have rights? There is one difference, of course, between these groups and fetuses. The unconcious people not only will be intelligent but also have been intelligent. Does this make a difference? Why?

    One ethical system I particularly like is to imagine that we all do have souls, and are sitting around in a committee before we are born and our bodies are selected. What rules would we choose, if we had no idea who we were going to be? Would we choose a system of rules that allowed a 25% chance we would be killed before we ever got out of the womb, even if it did make life better for the lucky 75%? I doubt it. One of the problems we face in the "real world", of course, is that it is that winning 75% that are calling the shots. Is this ethical?

    You seem to be caught up on "thinking and feeling". Tonight, when you are asleep, I could flood your room with carbon monoxide. You would never feel a thing. Is this OK? If not, why not? As for animals, they indeed "think and feel"; however, they do not do so at a level which I consider worthy of rights. More critically, they never will.

    You should not limit yourself to "real world" situations. Hypotheticals can be quite enlightening. With respect to AI, you had better get used to answering these questions. They are coming quickly enough.
  • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @10:22PM (#14622533) Journal

    "What exactly did he lie about with WMDs? Iraq? Deficit, or Wiretapping?

    WMDS? Well, first off, the CIA confirmed the WMDs didn't exist, then backed down from squaking loudly about it because of political pressure from Bush. Same with the aluminium tubes. Unlike in the US, the rest of the world got to see the interviews on TV with the inspectors debunking the tubes the day BEFORE Powell went to the UN and knowingly lied through his teeth.

    Iraq? That one is easy. There was no reason to invade Iraq. Period. First, it was supposed to be Bin Laden. Then it was WMDs. Then it was "Democracy and peace". It was ALWAYS about oil. That "Those who aren't with us are against us" was the biggest lie going, slandering countries that didn't have their heads up Bush's arses. And the "quick war - 6 months tops - minimum casualties" is really working well - if you don't know how to count.

    The deficit? Lets look at the campaign promises:
    http://www.americanprogressaction.org/site/pp.asp? c=klLWJcP7H&b=137673 [americanpr...action.org]

    "To restore confidence in government, [George W. Bush] will...attack pork-barrel spending."
    BushCheneyHalliburtonAndCo really fixed that one
    "As President, Governor Bush will...pay the debt down to a historically low level."
    Instead, the deficit is at an al-time high, and the government is pretty much bankrupt.

    Wiretapping? Have you been hiding under a rock this last month over the conflicting stories he's pushed about the true extent of the wiretaps? Or are you afraid that if you write about it, there'll be a knock at your door?

  • by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @11:13PM (#14622840) Journal
    There's a wider variety of opinion on Slashdot than virtually any other webforum I've frequented.

    That said, there is a HUGE difference between the genetically modified crops industry and genetic medical research. Very very very few slashdotters oppose GM crops in principle. Only a science-fearing luddite would be against such a thing. HOWEVER, if you take a good look at what's happened with companies like Monsanto, you'll see why many slashdotters are against GM food companies. Monsanto makes GM seeds, farmer A plants them, next door farmer B's fields get contaminated with GM seeds deposited by animals, Monsanto successfully sues farmer B for patent infringment. I think a lot of geeks around here are against patenting genes, especially the ones who are against computer code patents. Few here object to Bush's stance against patenting human embryos. Short-term (e.g. 14 years or less) copyright, sure, but patenting code, be it genetic or computer, is just messed up. On top of this, Monsanto has developed GM seeds with terminator genes and while they have yet to put these seeds on the market, it could lead to many small-time farmers being put out of business in addition to rising food prices. It might even affect the evironment quite drastically if cross-pollinated plants turn out to be sterile or stunted.

    A lot of geeks here loved it when Bush made the declaration that we were going to Mars (though they were very rightly skeptical.) A lot of geeks here love corporations like Apple, Novel, Red Hat, even IBM. I'm all for fighting groupthink, but that doesn't mean exaggerating or inventing groupthink where none exists.

    Stop modding this shit up! It's just not true.
  • Re: Oh, Democrats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) * on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @11:20PM (#14622870)
    > The video of that will be played by their opponents for every election from now on. Speech writers know how each side will react when they write these things. I'm amazed that the Democrats fell for it.

    If the Democrats are smart they'll be the ones playing it.
  • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:04AM (#14623654) Journal
    Those must be some really good 'shrooms. Guess you guys are prosecuting the "wr on drugs" justa as effectively as the "war on terror."

    WMDs, well first off we knew he had them because we sold them to him. It wasn't a question of weather or not he had them it was weather or not he was still ready to use them and what he was going to do with them. We just had Sadam's #2 state that they did have WMDs as recently as 2002 but they were shipped out as discretly as possible. It wasn't only the US that said they had WMDs either it was pretty much everybody. Of course France and Germany had their heads so far up Sadams ass to get oil that they like to change what they had said. If Sadam didn't have any he was going out of his way to make people think he did.

    The WMDs in question had already expired. Nerve gas dosn't keep indefinitely under less-than-ideal storage conditions. As for Saddam's guy saying they still had them, he said it in exchange for $$$$, LOTS OF $$$$. And it WAS only the US that wasy saying they had them - everyone else was saying it wasn't the case. Thats why nobody wanted to invade - there was ZERO credible evidence, and everyone else in the world knew it, and that Bush was a brain-damaged cokehead/alcoholic whose opinions couldn't be trusted. Or don't you think that other countries don't have shrinks on hand to make evaluations of the heads of state of foreign countries and deliver their appraisments? Bush is THE biggest threat to world peace, and people were saying that well before the invasion of Iraq.

    Oil? where is this mythical oil that the US is suppose to be getting? Why is Bush saying we need to get rid of our dependancy on oil? Or are you just paroting lies from the other side.

    Guess you didn't hear that even with the changes Bush mentioned in his speech, imports are expected to stay at current levels OR INCREASE through to 2025 and beyond. His "cutbacks" are BS. But then again, so is pretty much everything he's said since "winning" that first election.

    Pork barrel spending is something that congress does. Bush has attacked it at every point that he can. Congres has been rejecting everything he has suggested because it would kill their little pork projects.

    The biggest pork barrel project is Bush's war. He did this because (1) he has an inferiority complex (okay - he does't - he really IS inferior to his predecessors), and (2) $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Follow the cash.

    I'm still trying to figure out what he's lied about with the wire taps? He seems to be telling congress pretty much everything. He belives he has the right under executive power in a time of war, they think he was wrong and should fill out extra paper work. If you don't want to be wire tapped then don't communicate with terrists. It's really that simple.

    Over the last 3 years he has continually "expanded" what he claims are his rights to tapping, as more and more stuff leaked. Until it leaked, he said it was less than 1,800 intercepts, not the millions we now know.

    All this and I really don't like Bush. Go figure, I just pay attention.

    You've been paying too much attention to US media. Try some of the international stuff. The self-censorship in the USA is just as bad as anything China is making google do.

  • Re:Pretty much. :) (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eclectic4 (665330) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:35AM (#14623742)
    "we must give all potential people the rights that people have." Using these "potentials" could save the lives of hordes of "actual" humans. You sir are evil to deny us "actuals" the benefit of scientific discovery via these "pontentials". And what about other forms of sentient life on this planet? What magic (*cough!* religion) gives the human flavor of animal special rights in this area? We slice and dice them like corn stalks without asking first (believe me, they would deny our tastebuds their juicy flesh). Interesting logic you use.
  • zerg (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:45AM (#14623765) Homepage
    If we ban human-animal hybrids, does this make us more or less likely to find Osama bin Laden?

    Lovely priorities, really.

    The only thing I've learned is that furries pose a bigger threat to America than terrorists. -_-
  • no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SteelRat (11640) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @03:11AM (#14623840) Homepage
    Ok. An embryo is not a voter and until it is, I do not agree with splitting my political representation with one.

    Not all opinions are equal. For instance, the opinion that people with mindsets like yours get to be the arbiters of what is sentient/worthwhile life and what is not pompous and infantile.

    It's to be expected since people who follow your line of reasoning like circular patterns.

    In short, I hope your god gives you up to the ironic experience of acquiring a debilitating illness that this type of research is working to cure. Perhaps then you will find some merit in working for the greater good instead of bronze-age logic of "a big dude in the clouds says so."
  • Re:Pretty much. :) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ziggy_zero (462010) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @03:48AM (#14623946)
    Potential people? Everything is a potential person, if you go back far enough. Choosing to start the potential for human life at an embryo is completely arbitrary. What will you say if/when it becomes possible to fabricate an embryo from scratch in a lab? Are the (presumably) "non-living" ingredients potential people? How about the ingredients for the ingredients?

    We're just elements combined together in a certain way, like everything else. Humans just got shitty luck and realized it.

    Make all the animal-human hybrids you want, I say.
  • Re:Pretty much. :) (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plunge (27239) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @04:58AM (#14624103)
    "Then it's widely accepted that stupid (unintelligent) humans are not "persons"."

    No, it isn't.

    And regardless of what anyone thinks, believing that a clump of cells with no nevous system to speak of is something deserving of legal protection, or calling the destruction of it "murder" has just plain missed the whole point of morality.
  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @06:37PM (#14630557)
    In general, drastic changes in policy are not a good idea. With respect to abortion, I would advocate slowly tightening the restrictions as we slowly convince people that it is wrong. The fraction of people opposed to abortion is growing. Indeed, only 40% of people believe most abortions to be moral. Only in the exceptional cases (rape, mother's health, diseased fetus, etc do majorities support abortion (around 80%). Most studies conflate these two and find that majorities support abortion rights, even though most people are against 99% of abortions.

    As for women's rights, there is no disagreement so what is there to discuss? I am quite sure that I am likely to grant women more rights than you. However, if the fetus is a person, its rights win. No one, whether male for female, has the right to kill an innocent person. If the fetus is not a person, then it is clearly a woman and her rights vs a hunk of meat, and she wins. In short, people disagree about the fetus. They do not disagree about women. I generally feel that if people start talking about the woman's rights, it is because they tire of being forced to argue that a living human being is property that has fewer rights than a farm animal. Therefore, they switch to arguing a point where they are correct, but virtually no one disagrees.

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberrys!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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