Science and Ethics

There is an article in the latest issue of Wired magazine entitled “Extreme Science” that addresses seven experiments which would provide profound benefits if they were not so unethical to perform. And I agree, these experiments, which include separating twins and raising them in controlled environments, performing brain biopsies on living patients, and creating human/ape genetic hybrids, sound like they come right out of The Boys from Brazil or The Island of Dr Moreau. But ethics are strange things, and ethics are tied to the societal mores that are prevalent at the time. Things that we take for granted now, such as in-vitro fertilization and taking the organs from a dead person and surgically putting them into a living person, would certainly have been considered horrific experiments in the time that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. But as history shows, our views of what we consider ethical will change, sometimes for the better (such as our views of slavery), but sometimes for the worse (as in Nazi Germany). Will there be a time when it is considered acceptable to create human hybrids? Maybe, but I hope not in my lifetime.

Click here to read the article online.

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