X-Message-Number: 15772
Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2001 11:56:29 +0000
From: "Joseph Kehoe" <>
Subject: [off topic] Luddites

The following is off topic and not directly related to cryonics. It is a 
response to a previous post regarding "luddites". Skip if you are not 

Read with interest the reason report on the "neo-luddites".

I agree with some of the report but not all. I have found that some (many) 
scientists can be condescending in

their attitudes to non-scientists when they are debating with them. Many give an
impression that non-scientists

have no right to question them and treat them (the public) like children.  In 
debates this really goes down well!

I am not a luddite by any means but it is wrong to treat people who disagree 
with our views as if

they are ill-informed unintelligent people.  They are correct on a number of 

1. Genetically modified organisms ARE part of the biggest experiment ever run on
the planet.

Whether you agree or disagree with bio-engineering - releasing them into the 
wild (at this early stage) is very risky.

Maybe they will have no ill effects but if they do once they are "in the wild" 
we will be unable to bring them back in.

 If you are willing to take that chance then fine but you cannot dismiss other 
 people who do not want to take
that chance - the outcome will affect them as much as you.

2. Large multinationals ARE using these technologies wrongly.

It is just plain wrong that a company can patent one of my genes.  It is also 
wrong that they be allowed to patent

plant genes. In the real world companies are patenting genes so they can get a 
monopoly on certain markets.

No longer will farmers be allowed to grow their own seed. If you want to grow 
wheat you have to pay royalties

to some company.  If you live in India and grow, say rice, you will not be 
allowed to grow your own from seed -

so you will be further in debt. - More money for the rich less for the poor.  
Terminater genes have already been

developed that when placed in seed will stop them from germinating and producing
more seed.  Companies will

own the food chain!!!  If you do not believe this then check out what is 
happening in the American mid-west.

Private detectives are investigating farmers to ensure the grain they grow does 
not contain a certain companies

patented gene. If it does they are sued. Now if your neigbhour grows that 
gene-specific crop then an amount of

it will cross to your fields so you are in trouble!  This also disallows farmers
from growing their own seed!

Take the example of the outcry in Britian over the gene tests.  The genetically 
modified plants there were modified to be resistant to the weedkiller Roundup (I
think the name is correct). The company developing these plants also owns 
RoundUp (spot the connection) This will alow plants to be sprayed with 
weedkiller much more often.
Result :
a) Greater sales of roundup
b) More weedkiller in the environment

c) wash your veges very carefully before eating them to remove the traces of 
Effect on the poor in the third world
none, they cannot afford roundup
Genes as profit centres!

3. Techno-heaven as an excuse for anything.

I think nanotech is inevitable and am looking forward to the good consequences. 
But it should not be

used as an excuse for doing wrong.  Sure oil will destroy the ecosystem, sure 
whales (or snails or whatever)

are becoming extinct but as soon as we have nano we will put them back! There 
are two problems with this argument

a) Nano will never be able to replace ecosystems we simply do not have enough of
the (any) ecosystem in storage to

replace it therefore only highly depleted versions (approx. 1-5%) could ever be 
brought back and these will not
work (ask any ecologist)

b) It is a form of the ends justify the means argument.  With or without nano it
is wrong to cause pain to
sentient organisms if it can be avoided. It can be avoided so it should be!

* Progress is good but not when it becomes the property of a few faceless 
companies who use it only for profit.
* Genes are not property.
* Some advances do actually have bad effects.

We are part of the privileged few on this planet (in the universe perhaps?) who 
live in luxury.  We should ensure that all

advances are used for the general good not for profit.  Poverty, slavery, war 
and sickness occur more now than at any

time in the past. It is just that we moved them all to the southern hemisphere 
so we would not be reminded of them
when we drive around in our luxury cars.

How many people were given the education to allow them to decide about cryonics?
How many people have the money to afford it?

We should be open to the arguments put forward by these "luddites".  They are 
not all fools and they are sometimes correct.  I think you will find that the 
majority of them are not actually against progress just how it is being used.

If nano is the revolution we think it will be then ethics are more important now
than ever.


If I am incorrect in any of the above arguments then feel free to let me know.  
The following do not count as counter arguments:
1. You are a luddite.
I am not and even if I was - attack the argument not the arguer!
2. You are a hypocrite
Maybe but how does that change the argument?

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, 
with all the existing human ratios
remaining the same, it would read something like the following:
 There would be:
 57 Asians
 21 Europeans
 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
 8 Africans
 52 would be female
 48 would be male
 70 would be non-white
 30 would be white
 70 would be non-Christian
 30 would be Christian
 89 would be heterosexual
 11 would be homosexual

 6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from
 the United States.
 80 would live in substandard housing
 70 would be unable to read
 50 would suffer from malnutrition
 1 would be near death; 1 would be near birth
 1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
1 would own a computer


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