Life as an Extreme Sport

Hollywood, Heredity and Humanity

The Scientist has a neat article on Hollywood’s take on heredity and genomics, going through a quick review of movies dealing with the potential of human nature and science – with science almost always unleashing the beast and the bad. In and of itself, it’s an interesting list of movies, and an interesting question: why does science fiction always portray a rather dystopic future, especially when it comes to genomic modifications? The technology is almost always portrayed as possible, but morally problematic.

I answered this question, briefly, a few years back, arguing that we weren’t afraid of the future but the now. It looks like another stab has been taken at explaining it, and this one is a book talking about the genome in popular culture, and the almost spiritual tone scientists use to describe the genome. This would bring about interesting conflict – we have a pretty embedded notion that we should not profane the holy, and wouldn’t manipulation of the holy be the ultimate in profane, to move it away from what is intrinsically holy?

I’d like to read this, it sounds interesting. But I’m also a touch sad – this is very similar to a project Phillip (Thurtle, my former adviser) was working on the last year or so I was at the University of Washington. To my knowledge, his book hasn’t been published yet, and it would have been nice to see him receive groundbreaking credit for something that he’s been working on, both alone and with his students, for several years.