Sunday, February 13, 2005

Idiocy at the United Nations


I still haven’t fully recovered from my bacterial infection, and I’m feeling rather zonked, and yet I was still instantly able to see this article was a big bunch of worrying over nothing: Yahoo! News - U.N. Talks Seek Compromise on Human Cloning Ban. This is a downright pointless issue, since there is nothing to panic over.
  1. No one actually holds that early embryos have the same status as fully developed humans. If they did, they would have to argue that forms of contraception that prevent fertilized eggs from implanting (“morning after” pills) are murder.
  2. Cloning for reproduction is not an affront to individuality. Many individuals on this planet share the same genome without anyone (of any intelligence) claiming there is any affront. We call such people “twins”, “triplets”, “quadruplets”, etc.
  3. Cloning for reproduction, even if it were available at very low cost, would be an idiotic way to reproduce regularly. The canonical method of reproduction is much more fun and results in children with a wide variety of genomes. The latter is critical for our species, because widespread cloning would result in too many people who are all susceptible to the exact same diseases. (Even non-epidemiologists ought to be able to recognize this side effect of too much cloning as bad).
  4. Given the previous, the only people likely to resort to cloning to reproduce would be egotists, those obsessed with the silly notion of “racial purity” (such as the Saudis), and those unable to reproduce in any other manner. Only for the latter is anyone seriously advocating reproductive cloning.
  5. Just to preempt the whole notion of an evil army of clones: forget it; that’s just too stupid. The clones would take just as long to grow to maturity as anyone else. They would require the same resources as anyone else. They would turn evil no more easily than anyone else, and they would not be any easier for a dictator to control than anyone else. And let’s not forget the aforementioned disease problem: to disable the whole army, the enemy would only have to find a disease that disabled one of them. In short, a dictator foolish enough to bother with a clone army would probably be easily conquered by enemies who chose to invest in more practical weapons, such as nuclear bombs. (Believe it or not, someone actually used the “evil clone army” argument against cloning on me, and I did not hesitate to explain why this was a stupid idea to him.)
If anyone knows of anything the UN is actually doing right, please let me know.

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