Notice: Since February of 2019, this website has seen very erratic drops in search engine referrals. So if you consider the information on this page to be worthwhile, I recommend posting a link to the page where you can. Otherwise it is unlikely that it is going to reach very many people. For more on that, see About Dave Conklin.net. 2/23/20, last rev 10/14/21.
So, what is the most important subject of our time?
Yes, it’s a tough question. The answer must have something to do with the ultimate survival of the human race, but there are a number of big issues that come to mind—global warming, weapons of mass destruction, lack of crop diversity, asteroids, super volcanoes, overpopulation. But I have come to the conclusion that there is one that probably beats them all. rev 11/17/20
I ask anyone reading this to share and discuss the following, as I believe it could be the most important subject of our times and also could be the most important web page I have ever written. The subject at hand is the relationship between big for-profit pharmaceutical companies and genetic altering technologies such as CRISPR.
No geneticist here, but this I do know: When gene-altering technology is used on an embryo, known as germline gene therapy, only a handful of cells are involved. Of those, a few can be checked for any off-target errors. And let’s face it; if all is good, common sense would dictate the other cells are most likely the same. But when any gene-altering technology is used in an adult human body, usually involving an attenuated virus to add an extra set of “instructions” to cells, we’re talking trillions of cells and therefore a much higher chance of mistakes.
But if you read over the “mission statements” of the big pharmaceutical companies funding such research, their only goal appears to be using CRISPR research to “find new treatments,” in other words, new drugs and therapies to treat symptoms. Indeed, I have not read any statements from such companies or their research scientists expressing a desire to eliminate genetic related disease or immunity at the source, (only treat all the sick kids later and keep sending them the bill). Therefore I would like everyone to keep the following in mind; it is very important: I do not wish to call anyone a liar before they even open their mouths, but whenever someone talks down germline therapy, exclaiming how dangerous and unethical it presently is, always keep a skeptical eye on them. Find out where their paycheck comes from, what their reasoning is; and study their claims thoroughly.
It seems there is a conspiracy theory for nearly everything these days somewhere on the Internet, and I don’t claim any first hand knowledge of any conspiracies here, but the argument is true that such companies currently have zero incentive to eradicate a disease or condition to the point that no future treatments or vaccines for it will ever be required by anyone. Our capitalist health care system here in the US leaves society only the hope that such companies have a conscience and will act against their self-interests and profit margin. So another aspect of all this is that countries with some form of socialized medicine are probably in a better position to implement a germline-therapy program.
So why do I think germline therapy could be so important to the survival of the human race? That is complicated, but I will try to put it succinctly: Imagine a future where modern medicine has continued to grow, while the safer alternative—germline therapy—has been outlawed on “ethical” grounds. More and more people who would have died from a genetic illness before they themselves had children are cured—through drugs, vaccines, surgeries or other gene therapies—only to pass on their condition, or conditions, to their children; ultimately resulting in a sickly population indeed, entirely dependent on medical treatments just to exist. rev 1/04/21
Now imagine what would happen if there was a technological breakdown due, perhaps, to some major environmental or social catastrophe—no more drugs, vaccines, surgeries or gene therapies.
Also, I’m reiterating stuff I have already written about on this website, but I am optimistic that germline gene therapy might one day (hopefully sooner than later) go beyond eliminating genetic disease and also be used to improve humanity’s better psychological attributes (intelligence, empathy etc.) while decreasing the especially bad (sociopathic behavior, infanticidal or homicidal behavior etc.) . . . which, hopefully, will help solve some of the other looming problems mentioned in paragraph one. rev 9/09/20, 11/17/20
So to me, anyhow, it’s a no-brainer . . . go with the germline.
9/09/20 Just eight days after posting this page I happened to catch the premier broadcast of an episode of NOVA, the PBS science series, titled Human Nature. While the show, which was an hour and a half long, with another half-hour special tacked on, never specifically covers the main issue mentioned here, it is very informative on the subject of genetic engineering. I would definitely recommend it.
9/10/20 Again, I am reiterating, but I, personally, do not support the idea of selective human gene editing and have never supported the idea of using gene editing to change human appearance. Perhaps one day, sometime in the distant future, mankind will go down that path, but for right now the entire concept of allowing people to select certain physical traits for their child is quite insane and could only lead to social chaos. I would hope anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that. I, for one, only support the "package" concept and making it available to all. But as far as turning everyone on earth into highly intelligent beefcakes and bikini babes is concerned: Well, larger people with larger brains (figuratively speaking) require more calories, so unless the human population drops, increased brawn could only mean further strain on resources. I might make one exception regarding appearance related tinkering, though . . . hair loss.
The second most important subject of our time—censorship.
So why on earth would I consider censorship to be tied to the ultimate survival of the human race? Well, if a small group of people are allowed to control the narrative, then there won’t be anywhere to find alternative opinions regarding germline gene therapy, or any other subject, for that matter.
Back when I purchased my first computer and began “surfing the net” the Internet was, for the most part, a bunch of complete nonsense—an information cesspool, as it were, and as slow as molasses. This was before Wikipedia, before Google became popular, before high-speed Internet, and good information regarding a particular subject was often very hard to find online.
Skip to the present (late August 2020): Now we have high-speed Internet, online pages by most news organizations, Wikipedia and, for a little while anyway, we had a good search engine that was politically neutral and directed people to the most relevent websites. The cesspool is still there, pretty much, but sifting through the manure and deciphering the facts by crosschecking multiple sources became increasingly easier. But despite this, we now have people calling for censorship of social media; and, in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, actually encouraging corporations to get involved through boycotting; and we have a company who is using its seach engine, as well as its control over the Internet ad industry, to control websites it does not like. rev 9/04/20
For God’s sake, people, some of these corporate executives must be jumping for joy now that someone has handed to them on a sliver platter a pretext to gang-up and eradicate (or seriously hinder) anything on the Internet that they don’t like (death of the last vestige of free thought). At one time I thought a cashless society was probably the worst idea in the history of man, but now it comes in a close third.
The thing about censorship, and why we have something called freedom of speech, is because censorship is a double-edged sword. Any legal matters related to liable, slander, or copyright issues aside, you may feel happy the day after you managed to silence that liar, person, or organization you disagree with. But someday, sooner or later, those “institutions” that you put in place are going to come back to haunt you, and someone is going to put a sock in your own mouth. And that tyrant or organization that silenced you may go on to do much more sinister things.
One thing that could not be more obvious, here, is that Google’s monetizing services need to be utterly severed from Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Google’s search engine. And the same should apply to all search engines. A search engine having a vested interest in certain (or most) websites just cannot do anything to better serve the public good, and at this point, I would definitely call Google’s search engine a public service, above all else, and in need of regulation. And I swear I do not state any of this out of any personal grudge against Alphabet, but that doesn’t mean I might not gloat a little if it did happen.
Last note: The sitting president, Donald Trump, touts support for free speech. I often wonder how far that extends beyond his own mouth and the Whitehouse fence, but that is all beside the point. Not long ago, he attempted to stop social media from flagging or offering alternative opinions to possible false claims. Well, I have always thought such policy would be a fitting compromise between free speech, deceptive authorship, the so-called “It’s my web site” argument, and so-called “fake news,” if the alternative is censorship. But Trump, in his infinite wisdom . . . Then there is the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, who has expressed support for social-media censorship. So once again, I find my mind drifting towards voter indifference. rev 9/04/20