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

Vous lisez un aperçu, inscrivez-vous pour en lire plus.

Plus de Nautilus

Nautilus15 min de lecturePsychology
Humans Are Wired for Goodness: We’re not as bad as the headlines make us out to be.
Nicholas Christakis and I are on the same page: We would definitely sacrifice our lives to save a billion strangers, perhaps even several hundred million, plucked at random from Earth’s population. But, for sure, not a thousand strangers, or a millio
Nautilus6 min de lecturePsychology
Why Did Witch Hunts Go Viral?
It’s hard to make sense of witch hunts. Many people of early modern Europe and colonial America seemed to have genuinely believed that witches posed a serious threat. But if witch trials—like the ones in Salem, Massachusetts, and in European communit
Nautilus5 min de lecture
Physicists Peer Inside a Fireball of Quantum Matter
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. A gold wedding band will melt at around 1,000 degrees Celsius and vaporize at about 2,800 degrees, but these changes are just the beginning of what can happen to matter. Crank up the