The BBC News reported on a British-Austrian study whose goal was to determine whether a mature cloned human being would consider himself to be an “individual.” What did the researchers conclude? They concluded that a cloned human being would consider himself to be an individual. Wow! It’s a good thing we did this study! I mean, who would have guessed it!?!?!

 

How did they come to this amazing conclusion, you ask? They interviewed identical twins (a.k.a. natural clones) to see how they perceived their individuality given the fact that they are genetically identical to their sibling. To everyone’s utter amazement they discovered that twins see themselves as two different individuals! (I thought they wore the same clothes because they thought they were the same person…silly me!) Since clones are little more than “delayed twins” it stands to reason that clones would see themselves as individuals as well.

 

Was this study really necessary? Did we need a study to know the answer to this question? Were the personal interviews really required? Does anyone doubt that twins see themselves as individual persons, and function as individual persons? I am being a little sarcastic here, but this study deserves the ridicule. I find it troubling on a couple of levels.

 

First, it demonstrates how study-happy we are. Dennis Prager often remarks that “studies say” is the liberals’ equivalent to religious conservatives’ “the Bible says.” It is the secular Bible if you will. He also notes how our culture (particularly the college educated) puts more faith in studies than common sense. For example, studies apparently show that a mom and dad are not necessary for optimal child development, and yet this contradicts common sense. While studies are valuable in many areas, they are not always needed before drawing conclusions. This is one of those areas. Our common experience and knowledge is enough to answer the question at hand. We no more needed this study to determine whether cloned human beings would consider themselves individuals than we need a study to determine if human beings enjoy pleasure. I don’t need to interview 1000 people to know they do. It is common sense.

 

Second, I have a hunch that these researchers knew exactly what they would “find” before they engaged in this study. The reason for the study was not to discover the answer to the question, but to provide a scientific basis (“studies say…”) and authority for alleviating people’s fear of cloning human beings. In other words, the study was intended for political, rather than research purposes. Geneticist Robin Lovell-Badge, of the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research in London, made some comments that seem supportive of my hypothesis. He said, “Human reproductive cloning is not safe and should not be attempted with current knowledge. In my opinion, there are no strong reasons for even attempting it. But this interesting study…, although small, reveals how we should not have any prejudiced feelings about the idea of genetically identical individuals living amongst us.” That’s a big “but”! (no pun intended) In other words “we shouldn’t do it at this point in time, but if and when we do it people should not think clones are freaks.” He understands that this study is preparing us to think correctly about what is likely to come in the future.

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