January 25, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Steven Pinker

7 min read

It’s germline, heritable human CRISPR time, right? Wrong. But the particularly enthusiastic supporters of heritable human CRISPR often cite hypothetical benefits in glowing terms, but either don’t mention risks or strongly downplay them. These fans also tend to leave alternative, proven and safe technologies such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) out of the discussion or only mention them as an afterthought. In reality, the vast majority of anything that CRISPR could hypothetically achieve heritably in human reproduction can be done better, more simply, and …Read More

1 min read

Science humor can be fun especially if it has an edge to it and if one is a bit burned out on grant writing. In that spirit, we have two silly science jokes for a Thursday. Why did the professor make an ovine-feline chimera? Answer: She had always wanted to herd cats. Why did the bioethicist cross the road? Answer: To “get out of the way” of Steven Pinker and the glorious progress of biomedical research using CRISPR on humans. If you don’t get this one, …Read More

5 min read

Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard has been making the case recently that when it comes to novel biotechnologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 that bioethics should just get out of the way. Further, he has argued that we do not need a moratorium on clinical use of CRISPR-Cas9 for human genetic modification. In fact, he says that such a moratorium would be harmful. I think he’s wrong about that. I’m not a bioethicist so rather than talk primarily about his views on bioethics, I’m going to …Read More

2 min read

Earlier this week I posted an interview with Steven Pinker on CRISPR, human germline modification, and bioethics. With only a few exceptions, I strongly disagree with Pinker’s philosophy in these areas and I knew going into the interview that his answers would likely go against my own views. I also expected the interview would anger some people. That is exactly what happened and I heard from a few upset people, although most feedback was positive on having done the interview. Still, why give a …Read More

1 min read

In the Steve Pinker interview that I posted this morning he was highly critical of noted bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan. I contacted Dr. Caplan out of fairness and balance to invite him to do a post/ask for any comment, etc. for this blog. Here is what he wrote: “Steven Pinker says; “But Arthur Caplan, the country’s most famous bioethicist, argued that the parents of such infants would be so consumed with grief that they could not truly give consent—the kind of paternalistic argument that is …Read More

13 min read

CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology is red-hot right now and I’ve been doing interviews with various thought leaders on it, which today includes Steven Pinker. This technology has great power for research in the lab and there are hypothetical transformative clinical applications of CRISPR too. The latter efforts could include experimental attempts at reversal of disease-causing mutations in one-cell embryos with the hope that they then grow into full-fledged, healthy human beings. Hypothetically CRISPR could also be used for pursuing human enhancement via germline genetic …Read More

3 min read

Last week I attended Biotech & the Ethical Imagination (BEINGS 2015), the summit I previewed on this blog back in early May. It many ways the summit lived up to its lofty ambitions. Steven Pinker kicked off the event by emphasizing the power and importance of biomedical research, noting that almost everyone is affected by disease and imploring the bioethics community to “stay out of the way.” Margaret Atwood followed Pinker noting both the excitement of modern biotech and the perils of the enterprise. …Read More

2 min read

Later this May, I will attend and participate in Biotechnology and the Ethical Imagination (BEINGS 2015). This is an exciting and experimental summit that will focus on advances in cellular biotechnology – including both stem cell science and synthetic biology. The meeting is premised on the idea that the implications of increasing biotechnology power are profound, offering not just potential to improve healthcare, manufacturing and countless other fields but to affect the very future of humanity. The goal is not just to discuss the …Read More