Item description for Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World by Wesley J. Smith...
Overview Cloning researchers claim to have created an embryo that is mostly human, but also part animal. Biotech companies brag about manufacturinhuman embryos as "products" for use in medical treatments. Echoing long discredited master-race thinking, James Watson, who won a Nobel Prize for co-discovering the DNA double helix, claims that genetically enhanced people will someday "dominate the world." Events are moving so fast-and biotechnology seems so complicated-that many of us worry we can't have an informed opinion about these issues that are remaking the human future before our very eyes. Now Wesley J. Smith provides us with a guide to the brave new world that is no longer a figment of our imagination, but right around the corner of our lives. Smith starts with the basic questions. What are stem cells? What is the difference between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, and which are most promising for medical therapy? What does embryonic stem cell research involve and why is it so controversial? What is its relationship to human cloning? In addition to explaining the science of stem cells, this highly readable and carefully researched book reports on the gargantuan "Big Biotech" industry and its supporters in the universities and in the science and bioethics establishments. Smith reveals how this lobby works and how the ideology of "scientism," mixed with the lure of riches, threatens to impose on society a "new eugenics" that would dismantle ethical norms and compromise the uniqueness and importance of all human life.
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Studio: Encounter Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.36" Width: 6.24" Height: 0.96" Weight: 1.18 lbs.
Release Date Nov 30, 2004
Publisher Encounter Books
ISBN 1893554996 ISBN13 9781893554993
Availability 0 units.
More About Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J. Smith, a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute, is the author of the prizewinning Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America, as well as Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World and Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and the New Duty to Die. He lives in Castro Valley, California, with his wife, the syndicated columnist Debra J. Saunders.
Wesley J. Smith currently resides in Oakland, in the state of California.
Reviews - What do customers think about Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World?
Embryos are human beings Sep 19, 2008
This book is fantastic! Anyone who is interested in the stem cell research debate from a secular point of view. There is no mention of God or religion or the bible. Just clear, rational thinking about the debate. Smith, I believe, is the pioneer of the "human exceptionalism" philosophy, which I very much admire him for.
How brave a new world? Sep 20, 2005
In 1932 Aldous Huxley wrote his prophetic and chilling novel, Brave New World. In it he mapped out a future in which science, instead of being a great help to mankind, becomes the undoing of human nature and personhood.
Seventy years on one has to ask where we now stand. Smith thinks the picture does not look good. While we can all be grateful for advances in science and technology which have extended life, healed diseases, and made us all much more comfortable, there is also a dark side to this progress. It is this negative side, and its potential, that this volume addresses.
Smith looks at many of the recent and controversial issues in biotechnology, chief among them, genetic engineering, human cloning and stem cell research. He does a good job of explaining where we are with these developments, and the various possible shortcomings they may raise.
But of real value in this book is the author's concern to not just focus on the biotechnologies alone, but to look at the bigger picture. Where are these developments taking us as human beings? How are these new advances impacting on our understanding of humanity and human worth? Are moral and ethical concerns being swept under the carpet as we race ahead with scientific breakthroughs?
Smith reminds us that it is all too easy for prudence and ethical interests to be sidelined in the chase for fame and fortune. Careful, objective science can easily be compromised and marginalised when so much is at stake.
Smith notes that we now see the rise of a new scientific-industrial complex, every bit as worrying as past alliances with the private sector. Both academia and the scientific community are becoming increasingly cozy with the profit-making community. While that may not be bad in itself, an unduly cozy relationship may well mean trouble ahead.
Thus the reality of Big Biotech is now a genuine concern as much as is Big Oil or Big Tobacco. As but one indication, in the past quarter century $100 billion has been poured into the biotech sector. As a result biotechnology companies today are largely research and fund-raising machines. And the old adage of `those who pay the piper call the tune' is very much a real concern.
And the money trail flows in all directions. Not only does Big Business drive much of the biotech agenda, but the latter in turn spends billions each year in public relations and political campaigns. The industry has many staff working full-time as paid-lobbyists and PR wizards, actively seeking to influence not only public opinion but the flow of tax-dollars.
Of course many of these biotech companies have ethical advisors who are meant to act as a safeguard against any untoward influences. The real fear is that this is just a case of ethics for sale. Many of these bioethicists are simply putting the company spin on things. Few are genuinely objective, neutral and independent. Most are in the pay of their masters and will happily do their masters' bidding. After all, if the main concern is to get a good return on investment to stockholders, what company will hire an ethicist to work against that concern?
Smith documents numerous cases of such questionable ethical advice, and how financial concerns very clearly determine much of the direction of the biotech industry.
Another major concern highlighted in this book is the transformation of objective science into scientism. Scientism is the idea that science alone, unclouded by any moral and other input, can decide what is best for us. Science is seen as saviour and the sole source of truth. The humility and objectivity needed for good science are jettisoned for an ideology that eschews other considerations.
This of course is a real concern, since much of the new bioscience is dealing with issues that have profound consequences for humanity and society. With so much at stake, other influences need to be brought to bear. Philosophical, theological and ethical input is crucially needed, but is often rejected altogether. Science begins to be seen as an end in itself, instead of a means to an end.
Thus science itself is becoming tainted in this process, and any concerns about how humanity may suffer as a result are seldom discussed. But Smith certainly raises the issues. He knows that the political and financial pressures brought to bear on the biosciences are having a very real negative effect.
One clear negative effect is the return of eugenics. This can especially be seen in the rise of Transhumanism. This philosophy states that any means available could and should be used to enhance individuals and their progeny. A very well funded and organised Transhumanist movement is quite clear about its goals: the transformation of human evolution by means of bioengineering and other emerging techniques. The aim is to create a "posthuman" species, free of the defects and limitations of mere humanity.
But the pursuit of human perfection always comes at a price. We should have learned our lessons years ago. But we are ignoring those lessons and repeating those mistakes. All the warnings of Huxley and others are falling on deaf ears.
Thus this book serves as a wake-up call. There are tremendous goods and benefits to come from the new technologies, and Smith is quick to point those out, but there are very real fears as well.
The future is very much in our hands, and Smith reminds us that it is not enough to have science alone or the marketplace alone determine how we proceed. The advances of science and technology need to be counterbalanced by advances in ethical and social reflection. And this volume very nicely serves that purpose.
Fascinating and Illuminating Nov 25, 2004
I found this book to be extremely informative and learned quite a bit from reading it. Prior to reading this my exposure to the issues inherent in some of the biotechnological initiatives discussed here was what is presented/argued about in the mainstream media. Mr. Smith has done an admirable job in describing the details associated with cloning and stem cell research , embryonic as well as adult. His arguments regarding the scientific and ethical dilmma that these potentially powerful technologies represent are thought provoking and logically presented. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there regarding these issues on both sides of the argument. This book lays out the conservative viewpoint in scientific terminology and I beleve that Mr. Smith has made a valuable contibution to the debate that our society is engaged in on which direction to take with these technologies.
Outstanding Intro to Cloning, Issues in Biotech & Bioethics! Nov 23, 2004
Wesley Smith is a leading voice in the public debate surrounding the hottest issues in bioethics and biotechnology. His latest book, "Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World," is essential reading for those who wish to better understand many of these important issues and what is at stake.
Smith makes abundantly clear the ethical dangers involved with embryonic stem cell research (ESC) and human cloning. The creation of human life in laboratories purely for the purpose of destroying it and harvesting it as raw material is a frightening prospect. And Smith makes a strong case for the banning of human cloning.
All the while, he is careful to draw a distinction between research involving ESCs and research involving adult stem cells (ASC). The latter procedure is NOT controversial and to this point has proven the most promising in terms of positive medical breakthroughs. In fact, Smith goes on at length in describing all the many wonderful benefits that we can expect and should actively seek through biotechnology.
Biotechnology is very exciting and quite promising. Government funding for biotech is entirely appropriate and should continue. Private R&D should likewise be promoted. But, like in any industry, there must be at least SOME ethical guidelines that should be adhered to if we value the equality of all human beings. When the genetic makeup of humanity is itself altered--like through the creation of clones or human-beast chimaeras--the equality of all human beings is eroded.
What Smith warns against is scientific research completely unhinged from ANY sort of ethical bounds or considerations. He speaks out against a new eugenics that would allow human life to be treated as a resource for harvesting, as if it were a scene right out of "The Matrix."
Smith also provides insight behind the radical ideology driving many cloning advocates (scientism, elitism, transhumanism, etc.) Very important is Smith's discussion of the PR campaign waged by Big Biotech, which seeks large infusions of cash from governments by making lofty promises about the sorts of immediate medical breakthroughs that can come from cloning and ESC research. Such promises play upon those who find themselves or their loved ones in desperate situations, offering imminent miracle cures, when serious medical progress remains years or decades away.
This book is very readable, highly engaging, and strongly recommended!
(This reviewer works for the Discovery Institute, which the author has an affiliation with. Yet, I had zero input or involvement on the book and these views are my own.)
The book everyone needs to read Oct 23, 2004
The title is tongue in cheek: This is the ordinary person's guide to how NOT to end up in the nightmare scenario of Aldous Huxley' "Brave New World." The author is a non-scientist, which actually helps, as he explains terms like "somatic cell nuclear transfer," "embryonic stem cell" and "regenerative medicine" so the generally educated reader is enlightened rather than turned off. Smith's argument is that these new biological powers have implications that are far too important to be left to the scientists, the biotechnology companies, and the tame ethicists who work for them -- they pose dangers to our very idea of human equality and human rights. The book closes with sensible recommendations for things society should oppose, and things it should support, to advance medical progress without losing our sense of humanity. A very timely must-read.