April 20, 2010

Clone of Contention

Should Bryan Caplan clone himself?

Julian Simon acolyte Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason U., wonders whether to include this paragraph in his upcoming book:
I confess that I take anti-cloning arguments personally.  Not only do they insult the identical twin sons I already have; they insult a son I hope I live to meet.  Yes, I wish to clone myself and raise the baby as my son.  Seriously.  I want to experience the sublime bond I'm sure we'd share.  I'm confident that he'd be delighted, too, because I would love to be raised by me.  I'm not pushing others to clone themselves.  I'm not asking anyone else to pay for my dream.  I just want government to leave me and the cloning business alone.  Is that too much to ask? 

Unfortunately, Professor Caplan doesn't inform us what his wife thinks about his desire to create a child untainted by her genes. Does Professor Caplan intend to have Mrs. Caplan bear his clone for him? Does Professor Caplan intend to have Mrs. Caplan pick up after his clone for 21 years? Will Mrs. Caplan appreciate it when she and her husband's immature clone get into an argument and Professor Caplan sides with his clone against his wife? Will she be concerned that he might favor his clone in his will over their mutual children?

Of course, that's assuming that Bryan's assumption that he and his clone would be Best Friends Forever is correct. More likely, the opposite would be true.

Generally speaking, people who would like to clone themselves tend to be arrogant and lacking in common sense. Their children will tend to also be arrogant and lacking in common sense. The interpersonal dynamics between cloner and clonee would likely be disastrous.
Are families in which the sons are exactly like the fathers happier? I don't see a lot of evidence for that. In fact, I see a lot of evidence from memoirs and fiction that strong-willed fathers tend to have strong-willed sons, and the two clash relentlessly over who will be dominant. Too much similarity does not always make for happiness within a family.

Of course, this whole cloning thing might be useful if a husband was trying to pawn some illegitimate kid he had with a stripper off on his wife to raise: "Hey, honey, sorry that I forgot to mention it, but I had myself cloned! Be a doll and clean up after little Me Jr. for the next 21 years." This might work on an exceptionally clueless wife.

That reminds me. Back in the 1990s, I pitched a screenplay to that old HBO comedy show about a sports agent, Arliss, in which one of Arliss's clients, a narcissistic gay Olympics superstar modeled on sprinter Carl Lewis, wants Arliss to arrange for his cloning:
Arliss is setting up a grudge match race between a Carl Lewis-style track superstar and his arch-rival, an extremely juiced-up looking Ben Johnson-type. Client Carl shows up, accompanied by his best friend / sister Carol. Carl says he isn't interested in reproducing the old-fashioned way, and asks Arliss to help him clone himself. Carol will carry the clone/fetus and raise the baby. Carol takes Arliss's secretary Rita aside to suggest that they try to get the cloning over and done with real fast. She breaks down and says it's a ruse she's putting over on Carl because she's pregnant -- with Ben Johnson's baby. Arliss asks Carl that in return for making the arrangement at a pet cloning clinic to get the clone signed up for a lifetime deal. But, Arliss is heartbroken when Rita breaks the truth to him.

In general, I have fewer problems with cloning in the abstract than I have deep doubts about the specific type of person (e.g., Bryan) who would want to get himself cloned.

77 comments:

Jokah Macpherson said...

"Generally speaking, people who would like to clone themselves tend to be arrogant and lacking in common sense."

I suspect this is true but is there any empirical evidence for this?

Steve Sailer said...

Well, we now have a sample size of one, and my theory is holding up pretty well.

Kylie said...

Steve Sailer said: "...I have fewer problems with cloning in the abstract than I have deep doubts about the specific type of person (e.g., Bryan) who would want to get himself cloned."

Yes, I've often had the same thought re the US presidency. I have no problem with the office, just with those who aspire to occupy it. Both the type and degree of character traits apparently necessary to win the presidency these days are repellent to me.

Steve Sailer said: "Well, we now have a sample size of one, and my theory is holding up pretty well."

I feel the same regarding my theory and the current POTUS.

Vernunft said...

"I want to experience the sublime bond I'm sure we'd share."

What is this guy smoking? Why would he think this?

"economist at George Mason U"

Oh, an economist. Ok. Idiocy explained.

The Cold Equations said...

It might be a good idea for families with sterile wives.

The Snob said...

Well, presumably Mrs. Caplan is already used to picking up after one Mr. Caplan, so wouldn't one more simply represent returns to scale in household production?

James Kabala said...

Every time I'm tempted to have sympathy for libertarians, something like this comes along to remind me what a large number of them are fundamentally nuts. Liberals may be wrong, ignorant, or even wicked, but much more rarely outright bonkers.

James Kabala said...

Although I see in the comments that even ultra-libertarian Will Wilkinson foresees "Teenage child, disgusted by his own narcissism, murders his narcissistic father/clone to prove to himself that he is not a puppet of fate," so maybe Caplan has gone to another level here.

Anonymous said...

I once followed the blog of a woman was uninterested in "screaming shit machines",as she considered herself too smart to waste her life changing diapers. But she wanted to clone herself and see how it would be watching herself grow up again. As for common sense she was a libertarian who was a member of the free state movement and at 25 was already divorced because neither she nor her ex figured out that he was gay before the wedding.

Dahlia said...

"Julian Simon acolyte Bryan Caplan..."

Ahh, Steve! I know the Libertarians like Simon and their judgement is always suspect, but so do plenty of Christians, especially Catholics.

John Tierney currently has a Simon/Erlich bet going on as well that ends January 1, 2011. $10,000 plus interest is at stake:

"Mr. Simmons said he favored a simpler wager, based on his expectation that the price of oil, now about $65 per barrel, would more than triple during the next five years. He said he'd bet that the price in 2010, when adjusted for inflation so it's stated in 2005 dollars, would be at least $200 per barrel.

Remembering a tip from Julian, I suggested that we use the average price for the whole year of 2010 instead of the price on any particular date - that way, neither of us would be vulnerable to a sudden short-term swing as the market reacted to some unexpected news. Mr. Simmons agreed, and we sealed the deal by e-mail."

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/23/opinion/23tierney.html

Also, Simon believed human intelligence was the ultimate resource. Libertarians forget the part about intelligence and especially that it can be quantified.

Yes, Caplan's desire to clone himself is exhibit #79432 for the notion that "Libertarianism is applied autism".

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2007/04/libertarianism-is-applied-autism.html

The Asian of Reason said...

The Jango Fett-Boba Fett relationship would be an example of this.

Seriously though, I don't see anything wrong with Mr.Caplan's wishes. You're just too hung up on the traditional family that you find anything outside of it fantastical.

Thursday said...

In general, I have fewer problems with cloning in the abstract than I have deep doubts about the specific type of person (e.g., Bryan) who would want to get himself cloned.

This is one of the great insights of virtue ethics: actions themselves may not necessarily have any detrimental effects in themselves, but they may nonetheless reveal anyone who does them to be a bad person. An example, which Chicago Boyz blogger Shannon Love hilariously brought up here, was fucking dead chickens. It doesn’t obviously cause any harm to anyone, but anyone who fucks dead chickens is someone who I don’t want much to do with.

spacenookie said...

What about single women? Should they be allowed to reproduce, given the lack of a spouse / demonstrated poor statistical outcomes for the child? What about (potential) parents with heritable diseases? What about people who really are foolish and arrogant, and bad parents to boot? I think you're protesting way, way too hard.

Tanstaafl said...

Bryan Caplan favors genocidal levels of immigration.

Immigration: Has the Public Been Ignored?, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Meritocracy Without Borders, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Cinco Jotas said...

Just what the world needs, a dozen more Donald Trumps.

Jeff said...

The clone would have a good shot at getting a sweet teaching gig at a major university.

If some smart black guy could make a lot of clones of himself, they could attend all the Ivy League schools. Maybe they could compete against each other in a track meet.

Mostakaj Toluykafo said...

"Yes, I wish to clone myself and raise the baby as my son. Seriously. I want to experience the sublime bond I'm sure we'd share. I'm confident that he'd be delighted, too, because I would love to be raised by me."

Too sick. That is a disturbing peek into the deeply twisted soul of one Bryan Caplan.

The next step is obviously gay sex with the clone: "I would love to be ****ed by me."

Our civilization has entered its Nero phase.

Anonymous said...

A rare article by Mr. Steve Sailer not about race. Kudos!!

Anonymous said...

o/t

is it a coincidence that someone is attempting to de-fund vdare at the same time NRO is reporting that amnesty is coming next month?

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Yes, I've often had the same thought re the US presidency. I have no problem with the office, just with those who aspire to occupy it.

Pretty much no one who's a self-made billioanire got that way by being indifferent to money.

Pretty much no one who's a serious contender for the presidency got there by being indifferent to power and fame.

It's a myth we like to trick ourselves into believing.

Every time I'm tempted to have sympathy for libertarians, something like this comes along to remind me what a large number of them are fundamentally nuts.

It's often said that fascism is conservatism taken to its extreme, in the same way that communism is liberalism taken to its extreme.

Nonsense. Conservatism taken to one extreme is libertarianism (taken to another extreme it's theocracy).

Marxism is government everywhere; government control of everything. Libertarianism is government nowehere; government control of nothing. Like Marxists, libertarians are often very smart but are crazy as cooks.

All in all I'd rather be on the same side as the libertarians, not the Marxists. Libertarians haven't murdered 60 million people on behalf of their "idealistic" cause.

The next step is obviously gay sex with the clone

I've actually seen a few gay/lesbian couples where the two partners looked eerily alike. Just way too creepy...

The Jango Fett-Boba Fett relationship would be an example of this.

Please don't ever again bring up those lame-ass Star Wars "prequels."

Ever.

James Kabala said...

The more I think about it, the more it frightens me that someone this depraved is walking around as an apparently functioning member of society. I wish there were some chance this was a joke, but he seems dead serious. Tyler Cowen's "prove he's wrong" challenge also confirms my fears that even more moderate libertarians often have this dark side.

(By the way, I have to confess that Steve's sitcom plot does not sound funny at all.)

OneSTDV said...

"Of course, that's assuming that Bryan's assumption that he and his clone would be Best Friends Forever is correct. More likely, the opposite would be true."

How so? They'd have the exact same interests, sense of humor, etc.

Though on Seinfeld, upon meeting his exact female replica, Jerry remarks:

"I don't want to marry myself. I hate myself."

Anonymous said...

Steve, it's a bit distasteful to play the man rather than the ball here.

Caplan is mostly on your side regarding the HBD issue. Pretty dumb to call him "arrogant and lacking in common sense".

After all you have to be "arrogant and lacking in common sense" to pursue any idea that the bien pensants haven't already approved for you -- like HBD itself.

Frankly, it's only those who are labeled "arrogant and lacking in common sense" that have the internal strength of will to achieve and create something, whether that be a business, a technology, or a political school of thought.

...regarding cloning itself, you can attack the people who are interested in it as "crazy" or "narcissistic". People are attacking Aubrey de Grey for pursuing life extension now. And people attacked the early transplant pioneers as necrophiliacs and "arrogant and lacking in common sense".

Cloning offers the possibility of an unlimited supply of transplant organs and frankly eternal life. It also offers the prospect to an enterprising Singapore or China of cloning (say) 50 copies of their most eminent Terence Tao types and just flying out in front of every other country's technology.

Cloning also offers the possibility of evading the regression to the mean issue. When you achieve a unique genetic form like a Galton or Newton or Pearson or Fisher, why take the risk that their descendants would be doomed to mediocrity? After all, you already know that genotype can (in the right environment) achieve greatness. That is more than you know about most babies.

Vernunft said...

Steve: Bryan Caplan is weird for wanting to clone himself.

Comment thread: Anyone who wants to clone himself is weird? FASCIST!

Logic: ;_;

Quantifiers aren't THAT hard to figure out, people.

Anonymous said...

That pilot, with good acting and direction, could have been devilishly hysterical entertainment.

Anonymous said...

I always wanted to clone myself to see if I would have been taller if I'd eaten better and not smoked all that pot.

Anonymous said...

Vernunft, the point is that Steve's argument ("people who want to clone themselves are 'arrogant', even if cloning itself is ok) is disingenuous. It's not his real argument, which is that he now opposes cloning in principle.

Now you could come up with some arguments against it. Steve could point out that it'd be weird for you and your wife to live in the same household as a cloned infant self. It might mess up our built-in incest avoidance system. There are several reasonable arguments one could make along these lines.

But instead by attacking Caplan as "arrogant and lacking in common sense", there's no reasonable argument required. It's a classic female-ish way to undercut support for some cause or technology by attacking the people involved rather than doing the hard work of arguing the merits of the technology or premise itself. For example, "Larry Summers only got in trouble because he was arrogant" is a good way to avoid having to take a position on the issue that he actually got in trouble for.

Another analogy: granting that someone somewhere might pass your high-and-mighty filters for "non-weird person who thinks cloning is beneficial" is like granting that nature has some effect in the abstract but denying that it has an effect on any concrete behavior.

It's really too bad that Steve has taken this anti-technology turn because many people came to his website initially because he was farsighted about genetic engineering technology ("nurturing a new nature").

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Most libertarians seem to want the flat society by means other than the State simply squashing everything underneath it into a non-hierarchical form. IOW, they are frustrated Marxists. They also have the attitude that everything not expressly prohibited should be permitted. No law expressly prohibiting masturbation on your front lawn? Have at it!

My view is that a free society would actually have more hierarchy and more restrictions on personal behavior. The State crowds out civil society.

Anonymous said...

Arrogant, lacking in common sense...and delusional, I'd say. Seriously, the guy comes off as mentally ill.

Either that or he's kidding. "I'm confident that he'd be delighted, too, because I would love to be raised by me." Given no context, I'd guess that line was delivered by Ricky Gervais's character in the UK version of The Office: it's that spectacularly and comically un-self-aware.

My favorite pop-cultural cloning reference, from Neil Young's patter on Live Rust: "I'd like to thank my staff...research staff, excuse me...Steve Clone and Steve Clone."

Anonymous said...

It has been said that men as smart as Isaac Newton and Karl Friedrich Gauss come along only once every 300 years or so. Even if you consider that the giants of 20th century physics like Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg etc. were lesser intellectual lights, such men are sufficiently rare to be a resource worth trying to duplicate. Imagine the advantage of having a dependable supply of such men coming along in every generation. I assure you that someone in some secret government office is thinking about such things right now, and that the Chinese will not only think about them they will do them if it seems at all feasible.

What if the Grand Theory of Everything is discovered but turns out to be so difficult to understand that only a handful of men in the whole world are able up to the task? And what if this GTE seems likely to have practical consequences or enormous value--like providing a source of cheap, unlimited power? Don't you think that there would be a mad scramble by governments to find enough super-intelligent people to fully develop the theory?

It is kind of scary, but exciting too. A singularity brought about by human brain power rather than by computers.

bjdouble said...

What wife? The whole point of this cloning exercise is to exclude the wife from the process. He'll have the baby birthed by a surrogate and raised by his cheap Bangladeshi immigrant labor.

The family is an inefficient way to raise your clone anyway, and children are an inefficient way to reproduce your genes, if only half of them are yours. And if anyone disagrees, use the old future perfect, 'anticipatory retrospective' argument: we-will-already-all-have-been-cloned, so who will be left to bother?

Brent Lane said...

"Of course, that's assuming that Bryan's assumption that he and his clone would be Best Friends Forever is correct. More likely, the opposite would be true."

How so? They'd have the exact same interests, sense of humor, etc


This comment from OneSDTV illustrates that most people, even very intelligent people, misunderstand the basics behind developmental biology.

While the evidence is quite clear that genetic heredity has a profound influence on all aspects of a person's physical, mental and emotional development, it is NOT the sole influence.

Every individual, regardless of their biology, faces a multitude of decisions in their lives. Like everyone else, Caplan undoubtedly faced countless dilemma where he chose one path merely on a whim, and it dramatically altered his future. Caplan 2.0 will undoubtedly do the same, quite possibly against his "father's" advice, and will ultimately prove his own individuality. He will learn (or not learn) from his own actions, which will shape his personality (and interests, and sense of humor) accordingly.

Caplan's theoretical clone kid would share all of his 'nature' but none of his 'nurture'. Caplan 2.0 would be his own human being, not an identical copy.

Why is this idea so difficult to grasp?

Dutch Boy said...

The old-fashioned method works just fine and is a lot more fun!

Anonymous said...

"Marxism is government everywhere; government control of everything. Libertarianism is government nowehere; government control of nothing. Like Marxists, libertarians are often very smart but are crazy as cooks."

No that's either anarchism (on the 'left') or anarcho-capitalism (on the 'right')...

David said...

>Caplan is mostly on your side regarding the HBD issue. Pretty dumb to call him "arrogant and lacking in common sense".<

Check out Tanstaafl's links.

Anonymous said...

To evaluate someone's desire to clone himself we need to know how much it would cost him--in other words, what alternatives would he be forgoing? To put it another way: To what is he *preferring* having a baby that is his clone? I think Caplan is imagining a situation in which cloning is easy and cheap; also in which he and his wife could produce a baby normally, or adopt one. Of course, there are many other possible situations.

Anonymous said...

(Cliff Arroyo)

"fucking dead chickens... doesn’t obviously cause any harm to anyone, but anyone who fucks dead chickens is someone who I don’t want much to do with"

This brings up a tangental but disturbing question, what if you raise a clone of yourself that starts fucking dead chickens?
Does this mean you're a latent dead chicken fucker too? Or, even more disturbing, that the only reason you don't fuck dead chickens yourself is that you weren't raised by you?

Stopped Clock said...

How so? They'd have the exact same interests, sense of humor, etc. Do you really think that those things are all genetic? If so you would expect identical twins to also have those things all the same, wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

"Generally speaking, people who would like to clone themselves tend to be arrogant and lacking in common sense."

I think this applies to everyone who wants children.

Anonymous said...

"What about single women? Should they be allowed to reproduce, given the lack of a spouse / demonstrated poor statistical outcomes for the child?"


Hmm, chick is so undesirable that no one will mate with her. Hmm, uh, no. We don't need to clone her.

Anonymous said...

"The old-fashioned method works just fine and is a lot more fun!"


Perhaps Caplan lacks an appreciation for the old fashioned method.

Okay, shame on me. I just couldn't help it.

Outland said...

I remember a joke my cousin told to a co-worker a few years ago.

His macho co-worker complained he was too busy for his own good because he had to support too many girlfriens, party, work on his car and work some regular hours as well too. "I wish I could clone myself to keep up!"

My cousin: "You're probably the only one who feels that way."

There's something to Steve's observation. What kind of character would decide that the world would be better of with more copies of him/her?

Probably not a self-hating introvert.

Anonymous said...

"is it a coincidence that someone is attempting to de-fund vdare at the same time NRO is reporting that amnesty is coming next month?"

No, it's very suspicious but let's not pretend that Vdare is so influential that it has the power to stop amnesty. Every little bit helps, but come on.

Anonymous said...

Bryan's wife will raise the clone.

She will raise the clone in a way that will try to correct the mistakes Bryan's mother made.

The clone will then try to change Bryan.

To Captain Jack about Star Wars, the prequels:

when I saw Jar Jar Binks the first time, I knew he would cause so much pain to modern sensibilities, and I reveled in it.

Made even better when JJ was the pawn that brought forth the emperor.

In a hundred years the movies will be fixed, just as the Jungle Book was, and all will be well.

I would like an alternate history movie of the War of Northern Aggression where Lincoln appoints his manservant, Jar Jar Fetchit as the Secretary of War.

The last scene of the movie would be Jefferson Davis talking to Elijah Benjamin in the White House.

Kent Gatewood

Anonymous said...

I see no problem in cloning yourself. Although it might ensure a generation of effed up kids. The people it would most appeal to are those who feel that they have underacheived. A lot of sideline dads and pushy moms will ensue. I don't think donald will clone himself, his ego wouldn't stand the competition.

When I was a teenager and a arrogent SOB. The idea of future nootropic drugs that would make me merely average in IQ, disturbed me greatly. I came up with a number of rationalizations why it would be horrible for society, our sense of humanity etc. However in reality it was just my ego speaking.

Certain individuals have been key to the progress of humanity, as other posters have pointed out. This is most likely clonings greatest benefit.

Alticor said...

More interesting is the person who wants SOMEONE ELSE cloned. And who that someone is.

If I said I can clone Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, or Marilyn Monroe-who would you pick?

Anonymous said...

OK, another one then: I'd like to myself raise clones of nobel prize winners in chemistry and physics (not really but let's pretend) am I a bad/sick person? I don't think so.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

To borrow from a Tina Fey Weekend Update from years ago:

Details will be published in the coming edition of the New England Journal of Evil.

keypusher said...

Too bad HBO didn't jump on your idea, Steve, so we would know how many lawsuits one low-rated cable program can generate. :-)

Steve Sailer said...

"so we would know how many lawsuits one low-rated cable program can generate."

My thoughts exactly!

Anonymous said...

Steve makes the big time, being quoted by Andrew Sullivan.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/04/clones-are-people-two.html#more

Laura said...

This reminds me of something my great grandmother told her children, "I love you all, but there's none of you I'd want two of."
Kylie had a good observation.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any fundamental objections to cloning. However my attitude towards it changed when I learned that some cloned animals have shortened life spans and weird abnormalities.

Not too surprisingly, it seems the cloning process is not yet perfect, and can damage the genome in ways that would never occur naturally. Whatever other considerations there may be, cloning of humans should be forbidden at least until the process is thoroughly reliable. The last thing we need is a new source of dysfunctional people -- we are already breeding quite enough as it is!

Anonymous said...

fucking dead chickens... doesn’t obviously cause any harm to anyone, but anyone who fucks dead chickens is someone who I don’t want much to do with

Honestly I don't know what all the fuss is about.

*pushes dead chicken into undergrowth with foot*

Anonymous said...

Some people have already alluded to this, Caplan's clone is not going to be Caplan.

This is where we hit the nature/nurture debate. Caplan v2.0 clone may well be a lot like Caplan V1.0 but he won't be exactly the same. Different upbringing, different environment, different world etc.

Just how different will be a good pointer to the relative importance of genes and environment.

Zhora Danov said...

It's "palm off", not "pawn...off".

afafafafaf said...

Interesting. Suppose Einstein cloned himself x 1,000. That'd be way cool. We might stave off IDIOCRACY.

dfafdasfafd said...

I think if we have cloning technology, we should take the genes of some good looking, health, and intelligent white folks and clone them x 1,000,000 and leave them on the doorsteps of people to raise.

adfafadfsdf said...

ATTACK OF THE CLONES. Cool movie and cool idea. I say we create a clone army. Clone Baloo x 1,000,000.

adfafasdf said...

Hey, how about we clone Steve x 1000? It'd be fun to have a 1000 Steves, each with a blog, arguing with one another.
I wonder... suppose a Steve clone baby is put in a liberal household and grows up to be a libber. Suppose a libber Steve arguing with a conzo Steve. That'd be weird, or do you suppose Steve has a naturally conzo gene?

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...
(Cliff Arroyo)

""fucking dead chickens... doesn’t obviously cause any harm to anyone, but anyone who fucks dead chickens is someone who I don’t want much to do with""

This brings up a tangental but disturbing question, what if you raise a clone of yourself that starts fucking dead chickens? Does this mean you're a latent dead chicken fucker too? Or, even more disturbing, that the only reason you don't fuck dead chickens yourself is that you weren't raised by you?"

Reminds me of an old joke: I once painted my house, but nobody calls me a house painter. I mow my lawn every week, and nobody calls me a lawn-mower. But jees, you shag just one sheep...............

Anonymous said...

True arrogance isn't cloning yourself to reproduce.

True arrogance is cloning yourself for spare parts.

Fellow Traveller said...

Einstein cloned x1000?

Kevin MacDonald's worst nightmare.

Surely you've read Arthur C Clarke's Imperial Earth (1976) Mr Sailer?

jimbo said...

The more we learn about epigenetics and other non-genetic factors and the more experience we get with actual cloned animals, the less deterministic genes are looking. In reality, clones are not likely to be more like each other than regualr brothers and sisters, and much less similar to twins who have shared an intrauturine environment.

It hasn't trickled out to the general public get, which still talks about a "gene" for this and a "gene" for that, but genes have been vastly overrated for the last few decades.

kudzu bob said...

If we're going to clone anybody, make it Diana Rigg.

kudzu bob said...

Also, if you abuse your clone, will that make you go blind?

Svigor said...

It might mess up our built-in incest avoidance system. There are several reasonable arguments one could make along these lines.

AFAIK the main defense against incest is that raising a child, or being raised, creates a psychological barrier to incest, in and of itself. In other words, parents who see a child raised in their home for years on end basically stop seeing the child the way they see others of the same sex, and vice-versa.

Caplan's theoretical clone kid would share all of his 'nature' but none of his 'nurture'. Caplan 2.0 would be his own human being, not an identical copy.

Why is this idea so difficult to grasp?


Maybe because it's patently false? Odds are very good that Caplan's clone-kid would share the vast majority of his nurture, not "none" of it.

Honestly I don't know what all the fuss is about.

*pushes dead chicken into undergrowth with foot*


That was hands-down the funniest thing I've read here in a long, long time. Oxygen-deprivation-funny.

I've never understood the "I'd hate him" thing with clones. Sure, it's possible, but more likely than hating a random stranger? Uhm, no. Start by acknowledging that your genetic interests are identical, something that currently only identical twins experience.

Svigor said...

I'd second the Diana Rigg thing.

In reality, clones are not likely to be more like each other than regualr brothers and sisters, and much less similar to twins who have shared an intrauturine environment.

Need evidence for that one.

Anonymous said...

True arrogance is cloning yourself for spare parts.

I took that to mean advancing cloning techniques to the point where spare parts are cloned, not the whole bod.

Anonymous said...

I guess the overwhelming effect of the uterine environment explains why fraternal twins are every bit as similar as identical twins.

Wait a minute . . .

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

AFAIK the main defense against incest is that raising a child, or being raised, creates a psychological barrier to incest, in and of itself.

Exactly. No one "knows" that a person is a relative except that they are raised with or by them. This is why even step-siblings don't tend to end up in romantic relationships.

FWIW, I think it would be rather interesting to be able to raise a clone of onself. It would be like having an identical twin, only 30-40-50 years removed. Would the "parent" be able to guide the child better, knowing what he was probably thinking or feeling at any particular moment; knowing (he'd hope) the best way to motivate and encourage him?

Would you tell the child that he was your clone? When? At childhood, or in adulthood? Or would you let him figure it out, perhaps, possibly, never?



It would be an interesting test of the effects of parenting on childrearing. And cloned children are no less human than any other human being. An identical twin is no less human because he has an exact genetic replica walking around somewhere.

Start by acknowledging that your genetic interests are identical, something that currently only identical twins experience.

Have studies ever been done to determine whether identical twins are emotionally healthier, physically healthier, or financially more successful than those who aren't? It would be interesting to have the data, if so.

stari_momak said...

Well, we now have a sample size of one, and my theory is holding up pretty well.

Bayes, brotherman, Bayes. One is what you got, and you go from there.

ben tillman said...

If we're going to clone anybody, make it Diana Rigg.

Another Emma Peel has already lived and died. I saw her grave in Hearne, Texas, last week.

David said...

>it would be rather interesting to be able to raise a clone of onself.[...] Would the "parent" be able to guide the child better, knowing what he was probably thinking or feeling at any particular moment; knowing (he'd hope) the best way to motivate and encourage him?<

Parents can do this all the time, with their own children, because the children are wholly mixtures of the genes of both of them, instead of just one of them. So the nuclear family is already performing just this guiding and rearing function, only the task is divided between the husband and wife.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Remember also that gene expression in behavior is not mathematically precise. In other words, you could have responded many different ways to different environments (within definite biologically determined boundaries). The clone would not be "you"; he or she might unpredictably behave differently from you. Let's say both you and therefore (presumably) your clone have a rebellious streak under certain circumstances, and have an orderly streak under others. You were reared, let's say, in a permissive environment, and your coping response was to call on your orderly streak, leading you to blossom into the upright example you doubtless are at present. But supposing you were to raise your clone in a (even only infinitesimally) more restrictive, less permissive environment. (Such as an enviroment in which your every move, feeling, and thought were anxiously monitored and commented upon by a weirdo parent.) In that case, the clone's prevalent coping response may be to call upon his/your rebellious streak, leading your supposed copy to become a problematic libertine sort. Both streaks exist in you and (presumably) in your clone; but they are expressed differently, in different balances, depending on the environment. You may find - as many parents do - that much of your guidance and steering will go more or less for naught, no matter how cleverly you might try to anticipate your child's responses. The truth is, neither you nor anyone else knows how anyone - even your children, even your clone - will respond specifically every time. It's possible you may not be able to predict even the pattern of responses over time.

Ask any parent. Again, there is nothing new under the sun.

I think we should be careful not to equate clones and robots.

Here's free advice: find a member of the opposite sex, marry, and mate. Both of you rear the offspring as best you can. No better childraising experience can be had.

Chip said...

To my way of thinking, cloning yourself is arrogant and inconsiderate, but only in the same sense that passing on your genes through sexual reproduction is arrogant and inconsiderate. I'm always amused at how antinatalist sentiment becomes acceptable when the means of procreation differs from the norm. Neither clones nor lottery produced babes asked to be created, so why not leave them to nihil? They'll end up there soon enough, anyway.

http://ninebandedbooks.com/?p=292

silly girl said...

Perhaps his view of himself won't be as favorable once he sees it on someone else. Imagine being strong willed and arguing with your 3 year old clone. How much patience would you have with disagreement from someone that you think should be "just like you"? How about when he tells you how much he hates you for X?

I think it might be destructive to have this idea that you will have a great relationship with this person then you end up devastated by your own unrealistically high expectations.

Travis said...

here is a funny joke I saw about cloning, http://ponderingstuff.com/2010/02/06/should-cloning-be-legal/