Science & Ethics

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Snookems
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Science & Ethics

Post by Snookems » Mon May 10, 2004 9:30 pm

I like science, and I love talking about science so I decided to start this thread. Since nobody needs to know anything about ethics to speak their mind I thought that this would be a perfect introduction to spicing up the Arts section with some science.

Here's my question....dumdumda!!!

What do you guys think of stem cell research? What have you heard and what kind of conclusions have you come up with. (I want to know if you guys are going to think me evil incarnate if one day Choyrt's wife ends up working with stem cells. :? )

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Post by Magnus » Tue May 11, 2004 9:38 am

I don't get the controversy around stem-cell research, but then again, I'm pro cloning as well, so maybe I'm not the best person to ask :). But all this talk about ethics and morals, and how they should be used to "temper" science, is pure poo, if you ask me. As far as I can see, people who are most vocal about this subject (against it, mind you), are just insecure about how this new technology will affect *them*, and are simply afraid. Then we also have the religious crackpots, who are opposed to anything ;).

I don't see why "we" can't just research this subject, when it has the potential to do so much good for the human race. Sure, it might not be a panacea, but I think it will have a tremendous impact on the world, as far as fighting diseases go. So as far as I'm concerned, researching stem cells and cloning does not evil incarnate make.
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Post by Lord Tingeling » Tue May 11, 2004 12:10 pm

This qoute fits my opinion on the matter quite nicely:

Why do you insist that the human genetic code is "sacred" or "taboo"? It is a chemical process and nothing more. For that matter -we- are chemical processes and nothing more. If you deny yourself a useful tool simply because it reminds you uncomfortably of your mortality, you have uselessly and pointlessly crippled yourself.

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Post by Magnus » Tue May 11, 2004 12:11 pm

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri? Anyway, he's right.
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Post by Joseph » Tue May 11, 2004 2:34 pm

Agreed. I laugh at the US administration's stance on cloning and stem cell research when they keep trying to force genetically modified food on Europe.

Very true, what is sacred about a chemical reaction? If we can isolate the soul, then sure, maybe that is sacred but...

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Post by Runenklinge » Tue May 11, 2004 3:38 pm

Lord Tingeling wrote:This qoute fits my opinion on the matter quite nicely:

Why do you insist that the human genetic code is "sacred" or "taboo"? It is a chemical process and nothing more. For that matter -we- are chemical processes and nothing more. If you deny yourself a useful tool simply because it reminds you uncomfortably of your mortality, you have uselessly and pointlessly crippled yourself.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, "Looking God in the Eye"
Everything in life can be brought down to relatively simple matters,from sex to nourishment or the by some referred to as "chemical and electrical" processes inside your brain known as thoughts.That doesn't negate ethics or morals.

Personally I do acknowledge not everything in this life was made to be tempered with by humans like naive playful children.

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Post by Phosphor » Wed May 12, 2004 2:36 pm

Stem cell research is, I think, extremely important to pursue and develop. It only makes sense to do so - if we have in our genetic makeup the capacity to cure previously incurable or irreversable conditions, why not make use of it?
The work and research done with stem cells is a major scientific breakthrough, and could have all sorts of potential for us.

Now that being said, the downside is that of the potential impact on population growth. The planet is already over-populated, and humans ceased to submit to natural selection millenia ago, so disease and a moderate life-span is the only thing barely keeping our population in check. If through stem cell research and cloning technology we further increase our stability and longevity, things will be grim indeed.

Still, the research is vital and I wholly support it's progress. Cloning for the purposes of developing a fully functional human being, I do not endorse.
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Post by Runenklinge » Wed May 12, 2004 2:52 pm

^ doing something just because you have the possibility to do so,is exactly what i was talking about

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Post by Phosphor » Wed May 12, 2004 4:51 pm

Doing something because you can isn't reason to do it (ie cloning) but something that can be done and for good reason should be done (ie stem cell work).
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Post by Ewen Brown » Wed May 12, 2004 5:29 pm

cloning is an important research step, however, apart from that, cloning people is totaly pointless, still, i don't condemn it, it's just a dumb thing to do
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Post by Gorth » Wed May 12, 2004 11:41 pm

The stem cell research reminds me a bit of the discovery of how to split the atom. Lots of potential for both use (power) and abuse (boom).

Stem cells have to potential to be a great medical asset, or a devastating weapon in the wrong hands.

Eventually greed will win out over scrouples (spelling?) and it will turn into a race for patents and marketshares.

Fighting against it is silly. We might as well prepare for the inevitable and have laws and regulations in place to "steer" the development in a direction, where it's more useful than harmful. If you can't beat'em, join them.

Future generations will someday grow up in a world, where you can take a vial of stem cells (extracted from you, before you were born) and go down to the human repair shop. Smoker lungs, shrunken liver, lost a limb ? If your credit card can stand the distance, no problem...

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Post by Snookems » Thu May 13, 2004 9:38 pm

:D First of all, I want to thank everyone for their five cents! Keep those thoughts coming!!!

You have stem cells in your body now, they are called omnipotent cells; a cell that has the potential, under the proper hormonal control, to become any cell in the body. So, ideally you do not need to sacrifice a fetus to get stem cells, but adults do not have many. (Thus the need to use embryos.)

Gorth: You are totally right about the power to help and abuse. See, stem cell research has many different implications other than rich people having spare organs. For instance, a doctor here in Boca Raton, FL is trying to treat leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells) by filtering out the stem cells from peoples blood, knocking out their immune system, and then using their own stem cells to reinvigorate their immune system with, hopefully, healthy, non-cancerous, cells. While this doctor was adding the stem cells back into a middle aged patient he had a stroke (the patient that is). The results? The stroke wasn't nearly as bad and he had far less destruction of the brain tissue resulting in a better recovery. The theory is that the stem cells where able to heal the brain tissue; omnipotent cells remember.

So, build new organs, fight cancer, help stroke victims. Not too bad.

But, what's up with the abuse side of the story?

You know how rich people want to have their bodies frozen (like in AI) when they die in case a cure comes along for death and they can be alive again? Well, people want to grow a clone of themselves so that they could have spare body parts whenever they need them. This, and the abortion issue, is probably the main reason why stem cell research is shuned. Could you imagine having your identical twin frozen, without human rights?

Also, most stem cell research will not help people in third world countries. They can't afford the technology. Genetically engineered foods, however, will be a topic for another time :wink:

So now you know a little more...was this the kind of research you guys had in mind when it came to stem cells?

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Post by Phosphor » Thu May 13, 2004 9:42 pm

I was under the impression that cloning does not reproduce an exact copy of the original throughout the growth process. The clone is subject to the same potential diseases, ailments, dysfunctions and abnormalaties than any individual would be. Because you are healthy at a certain age does not mean your clone would be as well.
Is this true?
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Post by Snookems » Thu May 13, 2004 10:04 pm

Phosphor: I was under the impression that cloning does not reproduce an exact copy of the original throughout the growth process. The clone is subject to the same potential diseases, ailments, dysfunctions and abnormalaties than any individual would be. Because you are healthy at a certain age does not mean your clone would be as well.
Is this true?

You are absolutely right. What you start out with is the exact genetic strand (DNA) of the 'mother'. As you know cells mutate and change, but did you know that they change every single time they replicate through one mechanism or another? Ideally, you start the same. If the original has a defective gene for cancer, then chances are the clone could have it, depending on how much the genetic code changes. Or if the clone is subjected to excess sun, the clone could have skin cancer whereas the original does not. But, they may both be equally susceptable to getting cancer. Confused? This is why I love science! :wink:

To answer the second part of your question. . . the whole point in making a clone would be to delete, or fix the bad gene so the clone does not get sick at a certain point.

1.) When dealing with cattle. You'd want to make a clone of a very healthy animal (like we do with crops) and fix any problems and then you have animals with certain idealistic characteristics. Ie, longevity, immunity, etc.

2.) If you have kidney disease you could fix the gene and grow another kidney....theoretically.


One point to mention though....exact clones have a tendency to die. Go figure. :?: I don't know much about that aspect, but it happened to dolly.

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Post by Phosphor » Thu May 13, 2004 10:25 pm

Snookems wrote: Ideally, you start the same. If the original has a defective gene for cancer, then chances are the clone could have it, depending on how much the genetic code changes. Or if the clone is subjected to excess sun, the clone could have skin cancer whereas the original does not. But, they may both be equally susceptable to getting cancer. Confused? This is why I love science! :wink:
Not at all confused, it seems pretty straight-forward, really.
One point to mention though....exact clones have a tendency to die. Go figure. :?: I don't know much about that aspect, but it happened to dolly.
I wonder if the randomness of the original genetic code matters in some capacity? When reproducing an exact copy, that randomness of a newly-formed organism is diminished or removed, and something goes wrong down the line?
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