Monday, December 16, 2013

Why Science Gives Me the Heebie Jeebies

It's a common debate simulated on my radio dial, which when I control the car is frequently tuned to the local NPR affiliate (not for ideological reasons, mind you, but because I have a visceral hatred for radio commercials). On the one hand you have the monolith of "Scientific Consensus," while on the other you have the "don't-mess-with-nature" folks. I don't have any particular affinity for either camp on an absolute basis. In the case of the latter, it's because their arguments are driven fundamentally on sentiment. I certainly don't object to messing with nature when it's trying to kill me - which is why I reserve some of my most potent disdain for the yahoos in, e.g., the anti-vaccine movement.
But then there are things like this that come from the Science-knows-besties that make me question how well they understand the ideals of their particular golden calf. To tout genetic modifications in food crops as an unmitigated good, or genetically-tailored drugs as the silver bullet against disease, when we are tampering with a blueprint the language of which we can read imperfectly at best (in this case missing potentially a fairly critical half of the thing) is in my humble estimation hubris in a capital degree.
Then again, maybe I'm unfair. I approach virtually every aspect of life with the assumption that the known is dwarfed by the knowable-yet-unknown. The fact that the contents of the universe is finite doesn’t weigh much when my means of coming to knowledge of that content are so very flawed.
Maybe Science should hire me to talk some sense into her acolytes. It's got to be at least as probable as my offer to the anti-vaccine folks of a personally-delivered swift kick to a sensitive area for each card-carrying member. Nobody returns my calls these days.

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