Coming to PBS/NOVA on Sept 9: -- Human Nature

With an extraordinary new technology called CRISPR, we can now edit DNA—including human DNA. But how far should we go? Gene-editing promises to eliminate certain genetic disorders like sickle cell disease. But the applications quickly raise ethical questions. Is it wrong to engineer soldiers to feel no pain, or to resurrect an extinct species?

How far should we go?

Watch a preview of Human Nature

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Might be worth a watch, although I haven’t been impressed with the more recent episodes of NOVA that I’ve watched. I may not be in their target audience, for whatever reason. (I’m too old? :grin:) …and I just checked: it’s two hours (1:50, more like). :neutral_face:

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Yes, I did get to see it, and it was pretty well done, from my lay perspective. Thanks for the heads up.

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Thanks for watching! I thought they did a great job.

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The transcript is now up, for anyone who might be interested:

In chaos terms, these are sinks, not sources, such things go nowhere, like nanotech, 3D TV, Google glass. Nature shakes its head. Invokes unintended consequences that are worse than what they fix.

Finally got to see this CRISPR episode. Pretty interesting. Scary to think of a totalitarian nation using it to breed pain free, extra muscular soldiers. But I think the effort to breed pigs with human compatible body parts is a promising one. It seems analogous to using other animals to create vaccines. Complex ethical questions which it isn’t clear we’re prepared to answer. If some rogue nations decide to implement eugenics would other nations feel compelled to do the same to remain viable/competitive? Hope not.

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Pity the poor sots if they ever did. Most wouldn’t survive past childhood without the gift of pain.


Yeah they mentioned someone who actually had that pain free gene naturally occurring who died at 14 jumping off a house a bet. Pain did not function as a disincentive. Lots of tie-ins to The Righteous Mind.

Isn’t that one of the terrible things about leprosy, and why there can be such disfigurement?

Yep. Sending a soldier onto a battlefield with no capacity to feel pain would be like sending a rocket ship into space, but first destroying all its instruments under the logic that if there are no instruments to stir up a fuss or make any alarms go off, then the pilot doesn’t have to put up with any bad news. Worry-free flight, right?


I remember reading about missionaries in India, I think, where there was a corroded and stuck lock on a door that they could not open. A boy with leprosy came and turned the key without tools – it cut his finger to the bone, but he turned the key. :disappointed_relieved:

Paul Brand wrote about such things in his book “Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants”.

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There is no gene for pain. Pain is a mental construct. That is why you find that people can have pain with no physiological problems.

Animals too. Sure.

Yes, animals too. They can also think, they can also experience.

Then how come local and topical anesthetics work.

Seeing is also a mental construct but there are genes which can cause blindness.

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