Designer babies

  1. Just the other day, i was talking with my friend about Designer Babies, and he was like going, "It's disgusting! We are going against nature!" Stuff like that.

    Aren't babies/children/adults being shaped psychologically? When young, if we did something "wrong", like not doing our homework, being rude to adults, etc. We get scolded and "taught" not to do this again, in other words, we are molded psychologically. And when we are children/teenagers/adults, the government does mass campaigns like "Clean and Green" campaigns, which also shapes us psychologically.

    Since people are comfortable with the idea of designing babies/children/adults psychologically, why do are many people so uncomfortable with the idea of designing babies physically?

    Just a side question, 'cause i don't think this question warrants a new topic for it. Why do we have humour? Why do we find humour in ridiculous things like people falling flat on their faces, etc. What purpose does this serve, evolutionarily speaking?
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    God. People think thats playing God.
  4. russ pretty much has it. People get really freaked out by the possibility of taking control of the evolutionary reigns, so to speak. The ones not concerned about god are more concerned with possible health problems of the baby, but I don't think those are the ones that get freaked out by the entire topic. They're more likely to say "proceed with caution."

    There was an article about laughing in the March or April Discover magazine - basically it serves as a function to bond humans together as social beings. Apparently monkeys also do the same thing. As far as people falling on their face etc., it seems a lot of humor has to do with people doing/saying the unexpected. The element of surprise is usually a big factor.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2003
  5. A lot of is it the belief/feeling that psychological shaping is natural, whereas genetic engineering is unknown and dangerous.
  6. actually i think it is a matter of time to the humans(that is us).designing babies the dna take up less than a year...its cause and effects are immediate, whereas designing ppl physically is a long perod of time like 10 to 20 years, its causes and effects are hardly felt so that is maybe people dont see a difference...
    As for humour...laughing is the best medicine isnt it?
  7. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    That's just fear of the unknown then. It isn't necessarily dangerous, its only FEARED to be dangerous. Its the same as the "debate" over genetically modified foods. The idea scares people even though there is absolutely no evidence that it is harmful.
  8. People have already been taking control of the evolutionary reigns, just take farmers for example, in the past and present, they have been crossbreeding plants to get a "perfect" plant that produces higher yields and can survive better. Pet owners have also cross-bred their cats or dogs and that's how some species of cats or dogs came about.
  9. LURCH

    LURCH 2,507
    Science Advisor

    Don't know if anyone here has seen or read the story "Gattica", but there are some fairly hefty social ramifications to consider when it comes to genetic programming of our children. Those who are allowed to be born naturally may be seen as less valuable, even less evolved than the rest. And what about the expense? The prohibitive cost of getting one's child "made to order" would mean that only the elite social classes could have it done. This could render the wealthy a seperate race from the rest of humankind, and I don't know what that would do to the world, do you?

    As for fear of the unknown, it's not a bad thing. As a species it has served us well. After all, if our ancestors went stuffing themselves on every new thing they saw jsut because there was "no proof it isn't food", the proof would have come in the form of our extinction. Better to try things on the small scale first, in as controlled an environment as possible, and see if it is going to lead to disaster or not.
  10. Even if scientists could say for definite that no side effects would occur there are numerous ethical considerations which are, I think, impossible to avoid. The problem really boils down to people. Most parents want the best for their child, i.e. education, relationships, financial security, happiness etc. So what parent if given the option to make their child better than they would have been otherwise, is going to pass it up. I'd say a good portion fo humanity would go for this option. But this will have to come at a price ... and so social division occurs. People may be very cautious about it now but if they had confidence in the procedures then the slippery slide would probably start.
  11. Njorl

    Njorl 818
    Science Advisor

    Humor is a reaction to fear or other stress. Think about how you feel when you've been afraid, then the fear is gone. It is usually a giddy feeling. Most humor is based upon applying stresses such as fear, pain or embarrassment to a sympathetic subject, then relieving that stress. We seem to sympathize slightly with the stress, but greatly with the relief, if it is done well that is. In the case of Pauly Shore, we generally do not wish for the stress to be relieved.

  12. LURCH

    LURCH 2,507
    Science Advisor

    Yes, I've even heard it said by human behavior experts that a laugh is actually an aborted cry.
  13. The evolution of teaching/demonstrating behavior to children goes back to our oceanic ancestors, as damgo suggested. Human chromosome modification today may circumvent birth defects, but its compensation decreases when seemingly trivial DNA mutations incur serious unforeseen synergies with other genes.

    It is in general a fallacy to think we can design better humans through technology; evolution's process recognizes that all genes in its history have played an important role, whether benign or pathological. This field of study must use the same ethical standards as other medical research on humans. We have to understand the ramifications of DNA engineering throughout our lives before we attempt to control society through our scientific hubris.
  14. I don't mean to side-track the thread in any way, but I recommend the book called "Beggars in Spain", by Nancy Kress. It is a novel, but it shows how hostile people are against "artificially" designed humans. It's a very real outlook, because people (in general) do really hate people that they consider to be "better" in some way than themselves.
  15. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 7,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Kress has a whole series of "Beggar" novels, showing the interactions, the challenge and response of the desigees, and it's a fine and fascinating contribution to SF. Highly recommended.
  16. Anyone heard of the current case in the UK of the parents who wish to select an embryo to have a child corresponding to the tissue type of their first child, so that they can save the first child's life?
  17. Monique

    Monique 4,445
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    No, I DID hear a personal story of the director of my department who does genetic screening on embryo's. A couple had a child that was sick, a genetic disorder, so they came to him to implant an embryo without the deleterious gene. Not that much out of the ordinary, until they came to him and asked him to match the HLA-type to their existing child so that the newborn child could become a (blood)donor to their existing child. If my memory is correct, I believe that they DID screen for the right HLA-type and the baby was born. It was a big controversy though.
  18. This is the start of the slippery slope. It might seem the right thing to do now but this will probably lead to cosmetic changes being demanded in the name of the childs development. Anybody else worried by a loss of genetic diversity as a result of this?
  19. I don't know how valid that slippery slope theory is. It seems to me that as long as people are still as opposed to social genetic modification as they are today, we would never get into that situation. And if society changes so we are no longer opposed to these, who are we really to judge?

    Just my 2 cents
  20. I agree that social pressure is immense in these situations .... however I do think that a parent looking out for the well-being of their unborn child would be able to go against this pressure. I'm fairly sure that most people would look at the case of the parents you mentioned and say that it is morally wrong, however if put in their shoes I can quite imagine a lot of people would follow the same course. Nothing much anybody can do though.
  21. Another God

    Another God 985
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I am with FZ 100% here. If people are opposed to Genetic engineering their children...then they won't do it. If people aren't opposed, then they might do it... But who are we to tell them they ahve to act either way?

    Society changes. People need to realise this, and let it happen, guiding it down enjoyable paths...
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