Cracking the Code of Life
The glass is half full, but any of the controversial sciences like genetics or stem cells have not yet been poured into the glass. The economical and cultural states of our country reflect the simple fact that, as a people, we are not ready for this medical revolution, and PBS uses key scenes to warn the audience to not get there hopes up about genetic research and related sciences. Certain institutions keep too many people uneasy about the morals and ethics surrounding progressive medicine and science to allow feasible fiscal support and facilitation.
Or is it the other way around? The scene about Haden, the infant who dies of genetic disease, is very impressive and clever writing. Pathos during this episode enforces the pro-genetic research agenda of the program. Presumably, PBS cannot directly support the science, so the ethos of the entire program is left to the audience when Robert Krulwich ends the episode with, (Should we combat genetic disease and prevent this from happening?) Anyone who is not on Thorazene would say yes. What is so impressive about this sob story is not simply the courageous stance PBS takes on the issue, but the way they so charmingly use pathos (Haden) to create the ethos (We should not let infants die, so genetic research is good) through logos (We should not let infants die, so genetic research is good.) All three are woven together seamlessly, subliminally showing that opponents of the research are sacrificing babies for their ‘ethics’. What reason could they have, and who are ‘they’? Lets look back. The religious martyrs that raised hell (no pun) and got stem cell research banned in the 2000‘s are an example of the greatest threat to the research, religious zeal. That is what killed Haden, not cystic-fibrosis. No one seems to remember that stem cell research, and more importantly, its practice, was actually here. Not here as cloning or genetic research is but as McDonald’s and trees are here. Like genetic research, it was “too controversial”, “playing God”, “progressive”. “I disagree with what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Anonymous) Stem cells would have literally offered me the new lungs that I desperately need, but stem-cell research made too many people uneasy, leaving me with cigarette smoke-infested lungs, just as our culture leaves Haden to die.
Our culture does not value progressive medical research enough to have created the proper economic conditions. Genetic research is so important to me that the economic and political scenes actually peaked my interest and are now showing to be an affirmation of our culture’s trepidation discussed above. Within my narrow political scope are stem cell research, if the above did not make that clear enough, and life extension. Our clocks are ticking, and I have often wondered why there aren’t others who feel the same and fulfill that promise of immortality that we have all heard scientists talk about. Competition between corporations and the federal government is indicative of that market’s fragility. The episode about the public announcement that the genome race between Celera and the federal government was a tie, as well as the scene about the genome patenting policy and its problems, helped me realize that there ARE many people working to progress medicine, simply not enough. Therefore, not enough demand, competition, capital, or any other economic prerequisite, for the research to evolve into practice. Politically, the backlog of patent-pending gene sequences that are “only useful for identifying themselves” LOL and tragically keep scientists from doing research on those gene sequences, because the ‘owner’ or ‘discoverer’ would reap the vast majority of the credit, money etc., show that genetics is, sadly, still a young battle ground with a long way to go. Economics and politics should not be taken too seriously, though. After all, even if all these problems were resolved today, the public would make sure it got banned. Look at stem cell research.
Catch 22, as the kids say. Genetic research is not important enough to our culture for capitalism to work its magic, and the economic and political progress we have made with genetic research is causing people to oppose it; they say that the universe is created through paradoxes, though.
-Adam W. Gill
^ I am starting to wonder if people talk about stuff because people want to hear it.