The Electric Commentary

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Bad Idea

The President has a new man in charge at the President's Bioethics Council. Leon Kass wasn't very good to begin with. His replacement, Georgetown University bioethicist Edmund Pellegrino, seems much worse.

Here's Reason's resident bioethicist, Ron Bailey:

Pellegrino has been active in the national political debate over various biotech developments. For example, he participated in a press conference sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) in 1999 opposing all human embryonic stem cell research. At the press conference, Pellegrino urged that a congressional ban "should be extended permanently to include privately supported as well as federally supported research involving the production and destruction of living human embryos."

The bottom line: Pellegrino's appointment as chairman of the President's Bioethics Council will, if anything, increase that body's opposition to a lot biotechnological progress.

This reminded me of a post that MDS wrote yesterday which made an excellent point on the President's support for (ugh) "Intelligent Design." Clearly he's the guy we want regulating complex developments in medical science:

Read the whole article, and you'll see that because of Mbeki's complete ignorance of science, he wasn't able to discern the difference between the real medical breakthroughs that have been made in the fight against AIDS and the fools who espoused the idiotic idea that anti-retrovirals were toxic and there was no proof that HIV caused AIDS. As dhodge said to me, "It's very reminiscent of the ID/evolution debate in the US in many ways. A head of state propping up lies and pseudoscience in the hope of political (or perhaps financial) gains. Fortunately, no one is the US is dying due to ID."

At least, no one is dying yet.

Update: Stephen Green chimes in:

Getting coal or oil was a simple, mechanical process. All we needed was the wit to save up some capital, and the luck to have those natural resources under oil soil. Building cars and ships wasn't much different, but required more brains, less brawn, and a lot more capital. Computer chips require a ton of capital and lots of brains; the only natural resource needed is sand – and you can find that most anywhere. So as we've progressed, we've relied less and less on resources and muscles and mechanisms, and more and more on brainpower - human capital.

So what do I mean when I say biotech dwarfs all are past glories? Because biotech holds the promise to exponentially improve and indefinitely extend our human capital.

How bright is the future of a nation whose best minds can contribute to the economy for a century or more, instead of a mere 40 years?

How bright is the future of a nation that can produce better minds in an ever-growing portion of the population?

How goddamned stupid are some people, for wanting to put a legal cap on our human capital?

And concludes:

The starter's pistol has fired, and our President and his Council are busy tying their shoelaces together. As another, smarter President Bush once said, "we're in deep doo-doo."


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