Skeptic

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Murfreesboro
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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:58 am

My father, a heavy cigarette smoker, died of lung cancer when I was 7 (a young 7, not even 7 1/2). Twice in my life I have been awakened by cigarette smoke at night, once when I was 12, and another time 12 or 15 years ago.

When I was 12, my mother just refused to believe me. She said I must have smelled something drifting in from outside our house, although our house was next door to a vacant lot. Anyone smoking there in the dead of night would have been pretty creepy, too. The thing was, as soon as I awakened and smelled the smoke, I thought it was a ghostly visitation, and I got scared. The instant I was frightened, the smell vanished. Then I felt sad. I felt as if my father had returned to check up on me, but then left as soon as he realized he had frightened me.

The second time was even stranger. It was November, and a chilly rain was falling outside. Our windows were not open, and no one in our house smokes. I awakened my husband, who smelled nothing. But I continued to smell the cigarette smoke even after he said he didn't smell it.

The next morning, he was at work, the kids were at school, and I was rummaging around through some old drawers and stored stuff, looking for cash I thought I had squirreled away. Instead, I ran across a letter my father had sent to my mother during WWII, when he was stationed in England. The letter was in a shoebox I had brought up from my mother's house after she died. They had been newlyweds, and he had clearly written that letter to entertain her. He was a lawyer and wrote well, so I was highly entertained, too. I noticed that the letter was dated the same day I was reading it, but in 1944.

When my husband returned from work, I was all excited about the letter and couldn't wait to tell him what I'd found, but he gave me this weird look and wouldn't speak. I asked him what was wrong. He said, "Don't you remember?" I said, "Remember what?" And he said, "You really don't remember, do you? Last night?" Then I recalled waking him up about the cigarette smoke I'd smelled. He said, "You can stop that now."

I have never known what to make of these events. Perhaps they don't mean anything. But my husband clearly thought the second one meant something.

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NeverMore
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Re: Skeptic

Post by NeverMore » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:34 pm


Wow! Excellent story Murf. Too many people have stories like that for me to disregard the possibility of existence beyond death.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by NeverMore » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:02 pm


Ha! Ha! Hello Dalai! Tossing his hat into the ring.





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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:27 am

I skimmed that article. I have never been too clear on the actual "religion" of the Dalai Lama. He is Buddhist, right? But Buddhists don't believe in a deity, do they? So it is at its core an ethical system, not really a religion, as I understand that term.

If he is saying that people can be ethical without being religious, sure, I agree with that.

I am somewhat skeptical about the ability of science to provide a basis for our morality, though. It seems to me that what science discovers, at least the technologies it enables us to develop, are essentially amoral. We are the ones who invest them with moral meaning or purpose. For example, we have now mapped the human genome, which can provide the basis for new and exciting types of medical research. If our knowledge of the human genome enables us to, say, eliminate some devastating human disease--cystic fibrosis, whatever, you choose--then that would seem to be a good thing. But what if we also, or instead, use that knowledge to mail order the kind of babies we want to have? What if everyone decides he/she wants blonde & blue-eyed baby girls who are super athletes and brilliant mathematicians? Is that ethical or moral? And if we use science to regulate such choices "For the good of the many," society, whatever--who is going to decide what that good is? What kind of government will we have?

IDK. I think these are discussions beyond the realm of science. I actually value science, and the reason on which it is based, as highly as anyone, I think. I believe our human reason is a marvelous gift, a splendid tool. But I don't think it can do everything, or know everything.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by NeverMore » Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:08 am


Yeah about the DL. I gathered from the article that while Buddhists don't believe in religion they do believe in a metaphysical world. The article mentions that some Buddhists don't believe in the metaphysics and are splitting off into their own group.

I agree with what you say about science and technology. Basically, guns don't kill people, people do. Just read yesterday that the technology for mail order babies and superhumans is already here. It's just that nobody is using it yet. Or are they???

Under the Gene therapy section...





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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:02 pm

NeverMore, I just don't see mail order babies or super humans happening any time soon, or ever for that matter. We have yet to even clone a human being, and I hope that a NEVER happens, as that would deminish us in ways that I don't even like thinking about. I very much agree with the Catholic Church's position that cloning, and trying to engineer the human genome is evil and very dangerous. Even with the religious aspect taken out of it, the whole idea of gneticaly engineering human life has a very Orwellian, and even a Hitlerian ring to it.

Mike

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Re: Skeptic

Post by NeverMore » Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:22 pm


Be a skeptic if you want to (clever how I kept it on topic, isn't it?) but it wouldn't surprise me if there isn't already a cloned human somewhere on this planet. We have the technology, only morality is keeping the scientists from going whole hog. As we well know, not everyone is moral. They know it's wrong, they just don't care, though they would be smart enough to keep it under wraps.

Did you know there was a whole storyline in the Superman comics where the Kryptonians cloned themselves just so they could harvest the duplicates for spare parts? This is an issue we humans may have to deal with in the next hundred years or so. There is experimentation currently under way on just growing the organs themselves so hopefully that would sidestep the issue.

I think this is just one example of the morality that you and Murf are talking about? I seriously doubt our religious leaders are going to stem the tide. They tried that when science change the position of the Earth, remember? I think people just have to accept the fact that God gave us the ability to expand on his good work, for better or worse. The churches' new role should be to guide this knowledge, make sure it's used to help all mankind.

And to keep the Halloween vibe going here... speaking of cloning and Hitler... anyone here ever see the movie 'Boys From Brazil'? It's an older movie but it is creepy as heil! In fact, I'm gonna put it in my Netflix queue. Been a long time since I've seen it.



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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:34 am

I did see "The Boys from Brazil," and it was very creepy indeed. However, while a great story, I found it to be highly implausable from both a scientific point of view and a historical point of view. When it comes down to it, it was the conditions of the times in which Hitler lived, which shaped the 3rd Reich. Hitler was exposed to antisemitism LONG BEFORE he ever entered politics. Antisemetic literature was rampant all over Europe, as was fear of Communism. Hitler m ade his choices based on what he experience through out his life times. So even if they could clone Adolf Hitler, he would be exposed to different experiences, and would make different choices. It would, of course, all depend on where he grew up, and what kind of experiences he went through. Adolf Hitler, was a failed artist, who was not addmitted into the Acadamy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Hitler's clone may fancy himself a character actor, or a radio DJ, or a whole host of other things. A Hitler clone may also go into something totaly different then politics. It's possible, that if a clone of Hitler were to come about, he would be exposed to more enlightened thinking and literature that's against bigotry. As an individual, Adolf Hitler made the choice to be a tyrant. He made the choice to promote antisemitism in Europe. If a clone of Adolf Hitler were walking around today, then he, as an individual would also make choices, and they could be choices for either good or evil.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:39 am

Mike, IIRC, the points you make were the ultimate revelation of The Boys from Brazil. The clones shared Hitler's DNA and some of his traits, but they weren't Hitler, because they had grown up in a different world from his.

From what I understand, a "clone" would be an artificially produced identical twin. Identical twins almost always grow up together and are very, very similar, but they are not the same person. Clones would be even more different from their original, I think, because of the difference in environment.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:17 am

A "clone" is supposed to be an exact copy of an individual. But again, the point is moot, because even a clone would develop as a different individual. The thing is, however, is that cloning a human being is probably one of the most evil and deminishing things we could ever do to our race, EVEN IF one is not religious. And when you start cloning the clones, you run into a problem known as replacative fading. Like for instance, some one decides they want to clone a beautiful movie star. When the original person actualy dies off, and they start making clones of her clone, the copies are a little less perfect, until you have a walking dead thing, not even a ghost of the actual person.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by NeverMore » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:37 pm


Ha ha! Mike, you just made me think of something funny. Ever see the movie 'Multiplicity' with Michael Keaton? That very situation arises where they make a clone from a clone and he's... a bit degraded. That movie was hilarious. Another one to put in my queue.

This also made me think of a great costume. Go to a Halloween party as a clone. Get a bunch of friends together and dress normally, but exactly the same. When you all show up at the door or entrance to the party, stand exactly behind each other so it looks like only one person is there. After getting everybody's attention inside the clone group starts moving forward, splitting off as they enter the party. Maybe finish off with a Three Stooges bit. Would make a hilarious video.



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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:27 am

That would be funny in a movie, I think.

Mike, I have suspected that the "replicative fading" you mention might be a real problem with the very first clone, not just clones of clones. Have the animal clones they've made lived as long or as vigorously as their originals? I don't think so.

In a clone, it's the DNA that is identical. I believe that is also the case in the spontaneous, natural phenomenon of identical twins. Since the "clones" happen at the same time, though, one is not conspicuously weaker than the other. At least I'd guess that's why. I also have heard that identical twins are mirror images of each other--one will be left-handed, the other right-handed, that sort of thing.

We are learning so much about human development nowadays that I think it is becoming clear no two people will ever be exactly alike. Even something as "physical" as eyesight is determined in part by how the child uses his/her eyes at crucial periods of development, by nutrition, etc. And intelligence is apparently controlled by a complex interaction of several different genes as well as environmental stimuli. So the answer to that old question, "Which matters more, nature or nurture?"--is "yes."

I don't feel particularly threatened by cloning, even of people. I think anyone who survived as a clone would still be a unique person, due to his/her experiences. My only concern would be if the clone were to be somehow less strong, due to that "replicative fading" you mentioned. If it were to become possible to replace a diseased or defective organ with a cloned organ, that would be a tremendous medical advance, I think. Obviously, though, you'd have to figure out a way to reproduce the organ without reproducing the entire organism, and I'm not sure how that would be done.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by NeverMore » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:22 pm

Murfreesboro wrote:If it were to become possible to replace a diseased or defective organ with a cloned organ, that would be a tremendous medical advance, I think. Obviously, though, you'd have to figure out a way to reproduce the organ without reproducing the entire organism, and I'm not sure how that would be done.

It's being done Murph. They use stem cells and force them to grow onto a scaffolding into the shape of the chosen organ. Of interest to Mike would be that it's no longer necessary to use embryonic stem cells, they are figuring out how to turn regular cells into stem cells.



As for the clone/twin thing? I always figured a clone would be like an identical twin. After all, identical twins are formed when an egg splits after fertilization, hence the same genetic material. My sisters were so alike until their teens I even had trouble telling them apart sometimes. As they got older and went their separate ways they grew further apart in actions as well as looks. Now you'd have trouble telling they were twins.



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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:21 am

NeverMore, I never saw "Multiplicity," but I will put it into my quey.

Murf, I heard about the stem cell thing, and I do agree that as long as they aren't using embryonic stem cells.

Mike

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Re: Skeptic

Post by VanHelsingStandIn » Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:42 pm

Do y'all think Gregory Peck sold the role in Boys from Brazil? I just didn't see him as Mengele. Maybe its just me. I thought he just didn't fit the role.

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