Nautilus

Human Exceptionalism Stifles Progress

Last November Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced the birth of twin babies whose germline he claimed to have altered to reduce their susceptibility to contracting HIV. The news of embryo editing and gene-edited babies prompted immediate condemnation both within and beyond the scientific community. An ABC News headline asked: “Genetically edited babies—scientific advancement or playing God?”

The answer may be “both.” He’s application of gene-editing technology to human embryos flouted norms of scientific transparency and oversight, but even less controversial scientific developments sometimes provoke the reaction that humans are overstepping their appropriate sphere of influence. The arrival of the first IVF baby in 1978, for example, was denounced as playing God with human reproduction1; more than 8 million “IVF-babies” have been born since.2 As we face a global climate crisis, an article at Religion News Service questions whether proposed climate fixes based on geoengineering are playing God with the climate system.3 For many, the idea that mere humans can or should interfere in lofty natural or human domains, whether it’s the earth’s climate or human reproduction, is morally repugnant.

Where does this aversion to

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da Nautilus

Nautilus6 min lettiEarth Sciences
The Largest Cells on Earth: Deep in the ocean abyss, xenophyophores are worlds unto themselves.
Imagine you’re a scientist, sitting in the cold dark belly of a ship above an ocean abyss. Your eyes are fixed on a panel of screens as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) descends miles below your feet. First the ROV travels through the productive sun
Nautilus14 min letti
The Botanist Who Defied Stalin: His dream of feeding the world died in prison. His dream of a seed bank lives on.
In 1913, 26-year-old Russian biologist Nikolai Vavilov went to the John Innes Horticultural Institute to study at the feet of legendary geneticist William Bateson. While there, Vavilov attended lectures at nearby Cambridge University, and could often
Nautilus7 min lettiPsychology
Why People Feel Like Victims: Getting to the core of today’s social acrimony.
In a polarized nation, victimhood is a badge of honor. It gives people strength. “The victim has become among the most important identity positions in American politics,” wrote Robert B. Horwitz, a communications professor at the University of Califo