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Clones, Sdi Etc.


Lots of liberals — Ralph Nader, Peter Beinart come to mind — hinge their opposition to “Star Wars,” or National Missile Defense, on the assertion that it just doesn’t work. This has always been an unsatisfying argument since all new technologies don’t work until they work. Why spend money on a cure for cancer since, so far, the cures don’t work? Saying missile defense doesn’t work is a fig leaf argument used to conceal the fact that liberal opposition to missile defense is based on a love of parchment and arms control arrangements. They know that saying America shouldn’t defend itself against missiles because it will anger other countries just won’t fly.

But I do find myself making similar arguments about cloning. It is almost inconceivable that the Raelians — Hale Boppers without the good sense to take themselves out of the gene pool — succeeded in cloning a human being, especially on the first try. But I find it very difficult to reach a conclusion on the larger issues around cloning. So, I simply point out that it should be banned for now because it doesn’t work and attempts to clone a baby today would likely result in scores of mangled and deformed mistakes before a single successful baby was produced. My thinking on the subject has been heavily influenced by my very good friend Ronald Bailey. Ron is a hardcore libertarian and decidedly in favor of cloning and pretty much every other form of biotechnology. But he favors a temporary ban on cloning because scientific ethics and plain old morality demand one. See his latest piece on the subject here.

Ron is absolutely right that eventually scientists — not cults — will figure out how to clone successfully and he can’t wait. I’m still ambivalent — and in search of a better argument against it.


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