“It’s elementary.. dear Sherlock”, so said Dr. Watson to the cloned super-detective.
“It seems unfair that some people don’t get the same opportunity. Once you have a way in which you can improve our children, no-one can stop it. It would be stupid not to use it because someone else will. Those parents who enhance their children, then their children are going to be the ones who dominate the world.”
I can’t wait for the inevitable catfights, the media brow-twitching and the hectoring by frightened politicians.. If the immediate reaction of some of the “bioethicists”is anything to go by, this one is shaping up to be another science-vs-fear debate. Well, guess who wins in the long run..?
For instance, a Mr. Shakespeare (no dead poet, this one) says:
“He is talking about altering something that most people see as part of normal human variation, and that I think is wrong…. I am afraid he may have done more harm than good, his leadership of the Human Genome Project and his discovery of 1953 notwithstanding.”
What exactly is “normal” in human variation? Is dying at the age of 40 from juvenile diabetes normal? Is not having the cognitive skills to get through basic math “normal”? Is a club foot “normal”? Adult Acne?..no?
I think Watson is right to bring this debate to the front burner, using his position and authority to do so. The cost of genetic engineering is going to fall, and knowledge is impossible to bottle up in any case. You’ll have better luck fencing wolverines with scotch tape. What Watson is trying to do is to move beyond just acknowleding this as fact, and pressing the rest of us to create a workable and mostly acceptable ethical framework for it.