The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #107407   Message #2241686
Posted By: Nickhere
21-Jan-08 - 07:39 PM
Thread Name: BS: Still no gods 2008 (continued)
Subject: RE: BS: Still no gods 2008 (continued)
Mrrzzy: No, what I think Bee means is that lots of embryos never become people"

Maybe that's what she means, I'd say she is using the word 'people' in a very loose way. People is the plural of person, and 'person' is an individual human being (Collins English Dictionary). On pro-choice criteria, many adults are not 'people' either. Who gets to decide who's a person and who's not?
Perhaps she, or you could explain to me when you believe the unborn human in the womb becomes a human?

Mrrzy; "And if only rich people benefit from science, that is a failing in society, not in science"

I think one needs to take into account more the context and environment in which most scientific research takes place. Whether done in university, but especially when done by private companies - who often fund university research anyway through grants etc., - scientific R&D is mostly conducted through patronage. And we must ask who are the patrons and what is their purpose in promoting the R&D they do? Science does not occur in a vaccuum. Do any scientists reject R&D money even though they know the results are unlikely to be used for the benefit of the populace at large? Then scientists themselves are part of the problem.

"The point here is to keep people from dying in ways that are preventable - like diseases and accidents - not to keep people from dying at all"

It's a losing battle though. Scientific research and support from NGOs might have helped eradicate smallpox, and I'm all in favour of that, but since then a host of new diseases have appeared on the scene. People are also living longer, long enough to get illnesses they would never have been troubled by in the past.
While science has contributed to our knowledge of the spread of disease etc., what has made the real difference has been more basic - better sanitation and diet principally. Headline-grabbing surgical breakthroughs and new genome mapping techniques (for example) are there too, but compared to the former, are of far less impact overall.

Science will never eradicate disease, I think that old 'hubris' has been replaced by the more realistic assessment that science is only tinkering around on the edges of a system it has a far from perfect grasp on. A typical case in point is the antibiotics example. Hailed as the wonder drug for a while it seemed all our ills were cured. That turned out to be only because scientists hadn't counted on bacterias' ability to evolve and adapt at such speed (which should have been a basic realisation). Science seems to suffer often from the Frankenstein approach - the desire to gain new knowledge is rarely tempered by the more sober thought that the new knowledge may turn out to be a pandora's box. And only of late are scientists beginning to realise they usually cannot forsee all probabale outcomes of their interventions.

But that still does not explain why so much time and energy is spent on curing disease and helping people live longer (at great cost) when another key concern of these latter day Malthusian economists is the over-population of the earth. Why not just encourage people to die off and that problem could be solved? Wouldn't the resources be better spent in ensuring every new human life was protected as much as possible, to introduce 'new blood' into the world? Young energetic and productive people who don't have all the ailments and handicaps of the ageing fogies. This would also comply neatly with the Darwinism you espoused above. Why should science be helping the (albeit wealthy) diseased and infirm of this planet if this is violating the natural order of things?

Once again it seems to me this kind of 'science' is tearing itself in two opposite and contradictory ways, setting istelf contradictory goals.

"Death at the end of a fulfilled life is not tragic; premature death is"

And what is a 'fulfilled' life? Who defines it and why? When is death 'premature'? Surely being deliberately killed before you're even born is the most premature and easily avoidable / preventable death of all?

And if the pensiosn crisis is already on you in the US, maybe it's a good time to rethink the abortion stance?