Category Archives: science

Where’s the Line?

Last week in my post about genetic privacy I asked if technology was moving too fast and if we needed new guidelines to help us cope with this new world. This week my question to you is this. Is society better off if we allow science to progress with minimal restrictions?

I read in a recent article on the Huffingtonpost about naloxone and how this anti-opiate’s use to treat overdoses has been fought. The critics say it will lead to more drug use and overdoses.

However the larger picture here is that bureaucrats and politicians are deciding what’s right for people. Once again the will of the populous is being ignored so those in power can look good and line their pockets with bribes, I mean campaign contributions, from the pharmaceutical industry.

The old adage goes: there’s no profit in a cure. What does this have to do with science you may be asking yourself?

Everything.

Imagine if penicillin or the polo vaccine were denied to people on the grounds it would increase a person’s likelihood of engaging in activities that could put them at risk for these diseases.

Like wise imagine getting sick and when your doctor asks how you got that way and he/she didn’t like the answer could refuse to treat you. This is exactly the scenario which the blunt amendment allows for.

Doctors and other workers could refuse to treat patients on moral grounds or deeply held beliefs. What’s more your employer could do the same and opt out of covering things like birth control and treatment for AIDS/HIV.

So the question I again pose to you is this. While me need common sense legislation to address the rapid increase in technology and how we deal with each other, how do we also allow for those advances without stifling them?

Where’s the Line?

Last week In my post about genetic privacy I asked if technology was moving too fast and if we needed new guidelines to help us cope with this new world. This week my question to you is this. Is society better off if we allow science to progress with minimal restrictions?

I read in a recent article on the Huffington post about naloxone and this anti-opiate use to treat overdoses has been fought. The critics of the say it will lead to more drug use and overdoses.

However the larger picture here is that bureaucrats and politicians are decided what right for people. Once again the will of the populous is being ignored so those in power can look good and line their pockets with bribes, I mean campaign contributions, from the pharmaceutical industry.

The old adage goes: there no profit in a cure. What does this have to do with science you may be asking yourself? Everything.

Imagine if penicillin or the polo vaccine were denied to people on the grounds it would increase a person’s likelihood of engaging in activities that could put them at risk for these diseases.

Like wise imagine getting sick and when your doctor ask how you got that and he/she didn’t like the answer could refuse to treat you. This is exactly the scenario which the blunt amendment allows for.

Doctors and other workers could refuse to treat patients on moral grounds or deeply held beliefs. What’s more your employer could do the same and opt out of covering things like birth control and treatment for AIDS/HIV.

So the question I again pose to you is this. While me need common sense legislation to address the rapid increase in technology and how we deal with each other, how do we also allow for those advances without stifling them?

Will the Right to Genetic Privacy be the Next Casualty of the Police State?

Henrietta Lack’s cells where harvested from a biopsy without her family’s consent. They became the first immoral cells, able to be replicated in a culture and have been used in some 70,000 papers on genomic research as well as in research for the polio vaccines.

However Lack’s family didn’t know about the so called Hela Cells until twenty years after the fact. By then researchers had begun doing experiments on her children without their knowledge. Their medical records where then released and published without their consent.

In a recent decision the NIH which oversees the immortal cells created a council to govern who has access to the cell line. Lack’s family were asked to sit on the council and agreed. However this raises a larger question. (Wynne Parry via the Huffington Post tinyurl.com/mm5k46p)

As genetic research advances what’s is there to prevent you from having you genome sequenced and having that information published or sold to corporations? What’s to prevent HMOs from using this data to justify charging higher copays and deductibles to people predisposed to certain diseases? Especially given that the ACA mandates everyone must have some form of insurance.

What’s to prevent life insurance companies from using this data to deny paying claims by arguing a person didn’t die of natural causes and was a genetic time bomb?

While this information could be used for good purposes such as screening for various diseases or enabling gene line therapy to remove them from any children you may have, it could as easily be used to nefarious ends.

Given the current trend towards militarized police forces and an ever expanding spy apparatus ,what’s to prevent the government or private corporations from using your gnomic data to track you via DNA scanners.

What’s to prevent us from losing basic rights because we don’t measure up on the Gnome scale? This brings to mind the Movie Gattaca in which such a reality was the case.

Every aspect of your life was determined by your genes and the only way to work your way up was by posing as one of the genetic elites who had fallen on hard times and sold their DNA to so called Invalids.

Sure you’re thinking that could never happened. But this is already a reality for millions of people awaiting transplants. Getting on the list can be a task in itself, then once politics, money and race enter the mix your position on these waiting lists is subject to whims of bureaucrats.

There was recently a case of a black teenager who was denied a spot on a heart transplant list for allegedly having low grades and run ins with the law, which the hospital argued showed he had a pattern of not following orders.

After the story broke the hospital revised its decision and he was put on the list. But what about the next time something like this happens and the media doesn’t pay attention?

While I’m all for scientific progress there should be discussions about how these new technologies may be abused. For instance while Google Glass may be cool it does raise privacy issues.

Having the capability to record everything you see doesn’t mean you should. Nor does it mean you have to right to record others without their knowledge or consent.

We are hurtling to a world where the line between humans and technology is blurring by the second. In this new world we need new guidelines to govern how we interact with each other. Are we gong treat each other with respect or like a series of codes to be traded like commodities?

 

3 Major Reasons Not Knowing Everything is a Good Thing

Introduction
Science doesn’t know everything, nor does it claim to. However it is the best and most accurate method we have for understanding how the universe functions.

1.Facts are subject to change
As new information becomes available our knowledge must expand to incorporate this data. Far be it from being a weakness, this ensures what we know is accurate.

2.Information Paradox
New questions are raised when attempting to answer old ones. In this way we will never “know” everything. Rather than being disappointing this gives us unlimited areas to explore.

3. Omniscience is boring
At the turn of the last century it was said all there was to know about physics had been discovered. Then Einstein and others came along and changed the game. If there were no more questions to answer the world would be a stagnant dead place.

Conclusions
Because there are gaps in our knowledge doesn’t mean you can insert whatever supernatural or new age crap you want. Nor does it mean you should askew learning new facts. After all were it not for science many of the things you enjoy today would not exist.