Dear Public: please don’t mistake PZ Myers for a representative of my profession.

New(ish) bioethics blog Biopolitical Times has a post up which takes issue with PZ Myers’ response to the proposal to carry out therapeutic cloning using enucleated cow eggs and human somatic nuclei. Myers:

In fact, I want to go further than these scientists propose.
Don’t terminate the experiment after a few days when you’ve got healthy, growing blastocysts. Slip the best looking ones back into the cow. Work out methods for gestating them in a non-human mammal.
I want to be there nine months later when the vet reaches into the cow’s vagina and pulls out a slick, slimy, healthy human infant.
I want to see the Pope’s head explode when he sees it. I want David Cronenberg there with a camera, cackling happily.

Jesse at BT:

All this is proposed to rile up cultural conservatives, whom the blogger ridicules. Speaking as a generally secular political progressive, this attitude frightens and frustrates me. I’ve long felt that embracing the worst aspects of human biotechnology, such as these “Brave New World” scenarios, is a short road for progressives to lose sight of their core values and alienate the majority of the public. Rubbing this in the faces of those who are opposed – a group much larger than religious conservatives – for the purpose of a “fun and exciting” discussion is adolescent.

Now, I think Myers is trying to be funny. It’s impossible to tell, of course, because mixed in with what might pass for humor is his usual brand of vicious elitism and kneejerk prejudice.
The thing to remember about Myers is that, as I’ve noted before, he’s not a scientist (ask PubMed), nor is he an ethicist. He’s just a loudmouth braying into the cozy echo chamber of his blog. Best to ignore him, except that I feel obligated to push back from time to time just in case real people (“Joe Sixpack”, as Myers would have it) start mistaking him for a spokesman for actual research.

One thought on “Dear Public: please don’t mistake PZ Myers for a representative of my profession.

  1. PZ Myers is an ass… but he is a professor at a small liberal arts college. Most scientists at those places do research, but becuase of a much heavier teaching load, it happens at a slower rate than scientists at research universities.
    He is very regularly teaching science to college students, so he does have some vested interest and participation in the general field of science.
    But, yes, he is an ass, and I too think that his prominence as a representative of the “scientific attitude” in the blogosphere only hurts the case of science in the “culture wars.”
    -Rob

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