Recently a group of scientists at a company called Clonaid announced that a human baby has been born, that is a clone of another person. This is, of course, big news.
Let me go on record (potentially setting myself up for looking silly) by saying that if I had to bet $100 on either (a) Clonaid is faking everything or (b) Clonaid has produced a clone, I'd put my money on (b). The CEO of Clonaid, Brigitte Boisselier, was on Crossfire (link leads to a transcript) tonight and frankly I thought she sounded sincere. She was not defensive in the least. I am a skeptic by nature, and of course I am eager for the real scientific proof that the baby is a clone, but hey, why not? I am a definite layman in this field, but if they cloned a sheep six years ago, why would we think that cloning a person would be so much harder? Why not more "that sounds interesting, let's see the evidence" and less "she looks like a soap opera star, they're UFO freaks, they're Dr. Frankensteins"? In any case, hopefully this will all be resolved one way or the other in a week or so, once the necessary tests have been done.
I thought Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson, the two Crossfire hosts, got really sidetracked, posing all sorts of rather condescending or irrelevant questions. In the introduction to the show, Carlson even called her actions "indefensible", which is a pretty strong term, one I don't expect to hear when the outcome is the birth of presumably normal baby. Then there were the ad hominem remarks and smirks about the Raelians, the cult / religion / sect to which the scientists belong. Raelians believe that humans are the result of a scientific experiment by aliens. Now, I highly doubt that, although I don't know what their evidence is for that, but noone dismisses scientists who practice mainstream religions, with equally unprovable tenets. Can we not leave their beliefs out of the matter for a little while and examine their claimed actions?
They showed a poll which suggested 90% of people believe cloning is "morally wrong" (7% believed it was OK, the other 3% presumably undecided). I find that pretty amazing. Polls are almost never that one-sided. If you had a poll asking if Michael Jackson would make a good babysitter you'd probably get more than 7% of people saying yes. Anyway, count me in the 7%. It's having an identical twin, on purpose. Nothing more, nothing less. No one's going to create clone armies. The clones would be human beings just like the rest of us and no one would need to know the difference. People will continue to have kids the normal way, when they can. News at 11.
Even if Clonaid is full of hot air, as everyone else seems to think, human cloning is going to happen within a few years. The time is now to discuss this issue rationally and look at the potential benefits as well as possible risks.
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