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harvard medical school genetics der spiegel preventing disease

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#1 Hum

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 15:07

BOSTON (Reuters) - After spending the weekend reading blog posts claiming that he was seeking an "extremely adventurous female human" to bear a cloned Neanderthal baby - which was news to him - Harvard geneticist George Church said it may be time for society to give some thought to scientific literacy.

Church became the subject of dozens of posts and tabloid newspaper articles calling him a "mad scientist" after giving an interview to the German magazine Der Spiegel.

In the interview, Church discussed the technical challenges scientists would face if they tried to clone a Neanderthal, though neither he nor the Der Spiegel article, which was presented as a question and answer exchange, said he intended to do so.

"Harvard professor seeks mother for cloned cave baby," read one headline, on the website of London's Daily Mail.

But Church explained on Wednesday that he was simply theorizing.

Still, the readiness of bloggers, journalists and readers to believe he was preparing an attempt to clone a Neanderthal, a species closely related to modern humans that went extinct some 30,000 years ago, led Church to ponder scientific literacy.

"The public should be able to detect cases where things seem implausible," Church said in an interview at his office at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Everybody's fib detector should have been going off. They should have said, ‘What? Who would believe this?' ... This really indicates that we should have scientific literacy."

Despite the spate of articles comparing him to the character in the book and movie "Jurassic Park" who attempts to open a theme park filled with living dinosaurs, Church said he plans to continue speaking publicly about his research, which focuses on using genes to treat and prevent disease.

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#2 ILikeTobacco

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 15:16

Public got trolled...

#3 Nick H.

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 15:19

Eh, we've all done it, myself included on this very forum. I quickly scan through something and post my thoughts on the subject, only to find out that I missed a crucial bit of information that renders my point null and void.

Basically, I don't think that it's scientific literacy that needs to be improved, but literacy in general. We need to take the time to truly read something before jumping the gun and posting our immediate reaction to something.

#4 Growled

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:32

The media is so stupid these days.

#5 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:35

"Harvard professor seeks mother for cloned cave baby," read one headline, on the website of London's Daily Mail.


It's no surprise to see the Daily Mail at the centre of it. Gutter journalism.

#6 OP Hum

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 16:40

I don't know why anyone would want to recreate a Neanderthal.

Seems cruel to have someone live with those backwards handicaps.

#7 threetonesun

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 17:31

I don't know why anyone would want to recreate a Neanderthal.

Seems cruel to have someone live with those backwards handicaps.


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'm just a caveman. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the honking horns of your traffic make me want to get out of my BMW.. and run off into the hills, or wherever.. Sometimes when I get a message on my fax machine, I wonder: "Did little demons get inside and type it?" I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know - when a man like my client slips and falls on a sidewalk in front of a public library, then he is entitled to no less than two million in compensatory damages, and two million in punitive damages. Thank you.

#8 HawkMan

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 17:39

I don't know why anyone would want to recreate a Neanderthal.

Seems cruel to have someone live with those backwards handicaps.


Except they would potentially be more intelligent than us...

#9 compl3x

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:41

It's no surprise to see the Daily Mail at the centre of it. Gutter journalism.


Yup. I was about to post the same thing. Anything you read in the DM (if you ever read it) should be considered bull**** immediately.