Fw: Re: Why Not Bring a Neanderthal to Life?
--- On Sun, 2/15/09, Harry Shafer <hshafer@...> wrote:
From: Harry Shafer <hshafer@...>
Subject: Re: Why Not Bring a Neanderthal to Life?
Date: Sunday, February 15, 2009, 9:11 AM
Lets do it. The Aggies need linebackers.
----- Original Message -----
From: Bob Skiles
Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2009 10:16 AM
Subject: Why Not Bring a Neanderthal to Life?
Why Not Bring a Neanderthal to Life?
Now that the Neanderthal genome has been reconstructed, my colleague Nicholas Wade reports, a leading genome researcher at Harvard says that a Neanderthal could be brought to life with present technology for about $30 million.
So why not do it? Why not give Harvard’s George Church the money he says could be used to resurrect a Neanderthal from DNA?
I’m bracing for a long list of objections from the world’s self-appointed keepers of bioethics, who must see this new Neanderthal issue as a research bonanza. Think of the conferences to plan, the books to publish, the donors to alarm! I can imagine an anti-Neanderthal alliance between the religious right and the religious left, like James Dobson and Jeremy Rifkin — what I like to call the holier-than-thou coalition opposed to new biological technologies.
But I’m afraid I can’t see the problem. If we discovered a small band of Neanderthals hidden somewhere, we’d do everything to keep them alive, just as we try to keep alive so many other endangered populations of humans and animals — including man-biting mosquitoes and man-eating polar bears. We’ve also spent lots of money reintroducing animals into ecosystems from which they had vanished. Shouldn’t be at least as solicitous to our fellow hominids?
Granted, it would be disorienting and lonely for the first few Neanderthals, but it would be pretty interesting for them as well as us. (What would a Neanderthal make of Disneyland, or of World of Warcraft?) If our species disappeared and a smarter species took over the planet, I’d take the offer to be resurrected just on the theory that being alive beats being dead.
What do you think? Should we try to resurrect a Neanderthal? And if so, what kind of precautions should we take, and what kind of lives should we help them lead? I welcome all answers, but I hope that we won’t distracted by talk of genocide or slavery. Yes, previous encounters between advanced and primitive civilizations did end badly for the primitives, but I think it’s a stretch to imagine today’s humans trying to exterminate or enslave Neanderthals. Let’s assume we’d do our best to treat them well. How much would they enjoy living today? How much would we learn from one another?
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