Friday, March 09, 2018

Making human-chimp hybrids

Psychology professor David Barash proposes:
It is a bit of a stretch, but by no means impossible or even unlikely that a hybrid or a chimera combining a human being and a chimpanzee could be produced in a laboratory. After all, human and chimp (or bonobo) share, by most estimates, roughly 99 percent of their nuclear DNA. Granted this 1 percent difference presumably involves some key alleles, the new gene-editing tool CRISPR offers the prospect (for some, the nightmare) of adding and deleting targeted genes as desired. As a result, it is not unreasonable to foresee the possibility—eventually, perhaps, the likelihood—of producing “humanzees” or “chimphumans.” Such an individual would not be an exact equal-parts-of-each combination, but would be neither human nor chimp: rather, something in between.

If that prospect isn’t shocking enough, here is an even more controversial suggestion: Doing so would be a terrific idea. ...

In his book, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others, David Livingstone Smith examined how dehumanization goes hand-in-hand with racism and genocide. ...

On the other hand, it seems equally likely that faced with individuals who are clearly intermediate between human and ape, it will become painfully obvious that a rigid distinction between the two is no longer tenable. ...

And—more important—for any human being currently insistent upon his or her species’ specialness, to the ultimate detriment of literally millions of other individuals of millions of other species, such a development could well be a real mind expander and paradigm buster. ...
A lot of u=innumerate ppl do not seem to understand that measurements can be continuous or discrete. That is, you can measure something as a real number, with continuous variation in possible values, or as an integer or true/false value, where intermediates are not possible.

This is fifth-grade arithmetic, but is too much for most ppl.

Leftist egalitarians often argue that it is unscientific to distinguish between human races because they can cross-breed and produce intermediates. Some even argue that it is impermissible to distinguish between the sexes, because of tomboy girls and effeminate boys.

So if this guy produced a human-chimp hybrid, would they conclude that humans and chimps were all the same? Maybe so, but I think that it is more likely that most ppl would conclude that some human races are more evolved than others, and that it makes good scientific sense to distinguish them.
After years of opposition, the U.S. National Institutes of Health announced in August, 2016 that it intends to lift its moratorium on stem cell research, which holds out promise for treating (perhaps even curing) many serious human diseases, such as cirrhosis, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. Currently prohibited—and likely to remain so—is funding for studies that involve injecting human stem cells into embryonic primates, although inserting such cells into adults is permissible. Insofar as there is a biological line separating human beings from other species, it should be clear that this line is definitely permeable, not hard and fast, and is based more on ethical and political judgment than on science or technology. All sorts of things can be done; whether they should, is another question.
Did President Obama really have an 8-year moratorium on stem-cell research? I thought that 100 Nobel Prize winners endorsed him in 2008, with their main argument being that he was going to do stem-cell research that was going to make the crippled walk again. Didn't he do that?

The opponents of human embryonic stem-cell research pointed to the slippery slope of degrading what it means to be human. They could have cited Barash as proof.

Barash very much wants to blur the distinction between humans and animals, as he wants to attack Christianity and promote animal rights.
But I propose that generating humanzees or chimphumans would be not only ethical, but profoundly so, even if there were no prospects of enhancing human welfare. How could even the most determinedly homo-centric, animal-denigrating religious fundamentalist maintain that God created us in his image and that we and we alone harbor a spark of the divine, distinct from all other life forms, once confronted with living beings that are indisputably intermediate between human and non-human?

In any event, the nonsensical insistence that human beings are uniquely created in God’s image and endowed with a soul, whereas other living things are mere brutes has not only permitted but encouraged an attitude toward the natural world in general and other animals in particular that has been at best indifferent and more often, downright antagonistic, jingoistic, and in many cases, intolerably cruel.
Now I am beginning to wonder if he is trolling us, but I doubt it. He is just carrying goofy leftist opinions to the next level.

Update: I found that NIH announcement:
The National Institutes of Health announced on Thursday that it was planning to lift its ban on funding some research that injects human stem cells into animal embryos.

The N.I.H. announced its proposal in a blog post by Carrie Wolinetz, the associate director for science policy, and in the Federal Register.

The purpose is to try to grow human tissues or organs in animals to better understand human diseases and develop therapies to treat them.

1 comment:

Sackerson said...

We're too late!

"Blackadder Goes Forth", Episode 4, Scene 3:

BA For God's sake, Baldrick, take cover.

Baldrick Why's that, Sir?

BA Because there's an air-raid going on and I don't want to
have to write to your mother at London Zoo and tell her
that her only human child is dead.