Fun with Cloning!

So Slate has an article (as do other newsplaces) about whether we should clone a neanderthal. This idea is most excellent.

Not that I think we should. I like the idea because there's so much to consider! On the one hand, we could really truly find out (to the degree that the scientists are confident they didn't fuck up the clone) whether neanderthals could talk and what they looked like walking around and stuff.

On the other hand, the poor thing would be nothing more than a science experiment and nobody at all would know how to properly parent it. There is no neanderthal Dr. Spock to consult.

On the other other hand, we all remember the hilarity that resulted from a similar experiment in Encino Man. Maybe if we include Pauly Shore in the process it would be ok.

But basically every argument for doing this makes it feel more cruel to the resulting neanderthal. Nobody wants their whole life to be some science fair project.

There's your jumping off point. I wish this could be a Campus Center lunch table discussion, but alas those days are behind me. Please, instead, discuss via comments.


  1. It would make the Geico commericials a lot less funny.

  2. though at the same time, if it made the geico commercials true (as in, if the neanderthal grew up and was all, 'hey that's racist!'), that would be pretty hilarious.

  3. Good morning!

    (I commented on this a week or two ago, but the words got sucked up into some internet vortex. It was a long comment. I got mad at the internet and walked away.)

    This is the kind of science that gets news, that has tremendous cultural implications, and that has been taken out of our hands because of the cultural myth that it's OK to study just about anything in science because knowledge/technology is value neutral.

    So this mornin just the short(er) version.

    Last night KPd and I were discussing what to do with frozen embryos--and there really isn't any easy answer< I guess, except to warm them up, or drop them in formaldehyde, or whatever.

    I was once called to the delivery of a baby in the ED--it was about 17-18 weeks, so it had no chance. I asked the mother if she wanted to hold it, she declined, understandably. It had a heartbeat, it moved, so I wrapped it in a blanket and left it to die.

    An OB/GYN resident saw it, unwrapped it, and dropped it in formaldehyde to send it to the lab as a pathology specimen. Not nice, but neither was leaving it to die.

    What we do has consequences.

    I'll get off my soapbox now.

  4. I don't know that I've ever seen "we all remember" and "Encino Man" in the same sentence before.

  5. @Doyle -

    Sorry I didn't respond earlier--it's not a habit I'm very good at.

    I've always been a pretty science-y person, and love finding out how things work, so I can understand the fascination with wanting to see pieces of the past in such a real way, even if we could only learn limited things from it.

    An even more serious idea coming out of the climate science world is the sun shield. Basically, some people think that a good way to combat global warming would be to put a bunch of tiny lenses, almost like sunglasses, between the Earth and the Sun so that we'd get less light and less heat.

    I think this is a terrible idea for many reasons. First, the high carbon levels in the atmosphere have other detrimental effects that less sun radiation would do nothing to help. Case in point: one day, there will be so much carbon dissolving into the ocean that fish will be unable to grow strong enough skeletons. We'll be left with only the invertebrate fish, which could collapse entire ecosystems. Second, there are still lots of plants that depend on that sunlight--and plants are one of the great fighters of global warming, so why go and shade them to death?

    This also brings up the same profound questions of who gets to decide what happens in any particular field of science? Only this time it has extreme global implications.