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Sid Tafler

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Should scientists clone a Neanderthal?

A U.S. scientists says we are now capable of cloning a Neanderthal baby by introducing Neanderthal genome material into a human stem cell and implanting it into a surrogate mother. The theory is, cloning a Neanderthal would increase human diversity and show us new ways of thinking or even curing disease.
But what of the moral and legal issues?
Our species (Homo sapiens) and Homo Neanderthalensis both walked the earth 30,000-40,000 years ago in Europe and Asia. Should we try to reach back to those prehistoric times to recreate an ancient reflection of humanity or leave the study of Neanderthal to archaeologists examining bones and stones?

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    Feb 9 2013: Yes we should.

    What evolution science can learn from his behavior, anatomy, cognitive functions... Would be revolutionary. We would have grounds for understanding prosocial norms, instinct differences, and even nutritional requirements - comparing an ancient body to the modern body would be a landmark in scientific revolutions... Most theories of evolutionary paradigms would be answered and thousand more made.

    The negatives would come from HOW much we would want to study him/her - that part might not be the most humane... Depending on if we are probing and poking or observing and interacting. Even after the ethical disputes are resolved, the amount of information learned would be astonishing. I would pay or write my way into meeting such a person - a person separated by thousands of years. What we would learn about ourselves would be stunning, perhaps even world changing.
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    Mar 4 2013: No
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    Feb 11 2013: Leaving morals aside it would be wrong as it would be a colossal waste of time and money. Neanderthal chromasomes in a sapiens cell growing up in a society of sapiens would probably be indestinguishable from the people around them. There is alot more to who you are than just chromosomes. And I mean from a strictly biological sense.
  • Feb 10 2013: No.

    First, it would be wrong.

    Second, It would not be scientifically valid. We could not possibly study him/her in the Neanderthal environment. He/She would not be carried and born of a Neanderthal mother, raised by Neanderthal parents in a Neanderthal society and Neanderthal culture with a Neanderthal diet. At best, everything we learned would be suspect. Such a study could be very misleading.
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      Feb 10 2013: How would it be wrong? Unless we are poking him/her with needles and keeping them in a cage, I see no ethical problems. To allow the individual to be treated like anyone else (besides the various visits from scientist) would most likely occur. Perhaps the fact the individual would be a 'freak' show? Is an issue, but, in these times of information booms, people would have moved on to the next big deal in a short period of time. I really cannot see what would be wrong.

      Scientifically valid? The food s/he wants? The choices? The behaviors? The language ability? Interest? Decisions? Sociability? Attractions? THOUSANDS of cognitive studies which can come from a fMRI (this might be an ethical issue)...

      Indeed, how they behaved together would be good for anthropological or a humanities lesson - but to figure out who WE are as human beings, scientifically, completely valid, you are wrong.
      • Feb 10 2013: How would it be wrong? Right now, this is a matter of opinion, but if someone started this project it would soon become a legal matter..

        "He/She would not be carried and born of a Neanderthal mother, raised by Neanderthal parents in a Neanderthal society and Neanderthal culture with a Neanderthal diet."

        IMO, this is cruel and is wrong.

        Also, we are talking about a human being with human rights. The subject would have to consent to being a human guinea pig, and because its very existence, in this time and place, is completely unnatural, it could never give consent that was completely free of coercion. And that would only be the first of many legal problems.

        "Scientifically valid? The food s/he wants? The choices? The behaviors? The language ability? Interest? Decisions? Sociability? Attractions? "

        Every single one of your examples would be tainted from the very beginning because humans are the product of both genetic and environmental factors. The fetus would not receive the nutrients from a Neanderthal diet.

        In addition, the project would face the exact same problems that make scientific experiments with modern children so difficult. Also, a single subject would be of no value because there is so much genetic diversity within a species that it would be impossible to determine whether anything was due to the subject being Neanderthal or just being different.

        This project would be great publicity for someone, but that would be its only value..
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          Feb 11 2013: Interesting to believe that a human being born outside of their natural time era and culture would be cruel and wrong... Although as you note, they would not demonstrate their instinctual behaviors?

          Or am I confusing your thoughts?

          So, there are two worlds which dictate human growth, the mind and body. So although they would not have their natural time era to build their primitive mind, we cannot learn from their body? I guess, we can learn SOMETHING after all... Perhaps you are unfamiliar with some of the latest findings in evolutionary (or cog) psych?

          There is no question they would have rights, no one is insisting we kill the clone and look inside - on the contrary - we would observe and watch the natural behavior which would come from the thousands of years of 'less' prosocial development compared to ourselves today. How they react, learn, grow and develop naturally is not something taught.

          Yeah, society molds an individuals mind, but we still have instinctual natures.

          As far the subject's liberties, would again be a moral-legal issue. However, consider the 'wild childs' of earlier psychology. Children who were left to develop with strictly primitive instincts, who were studied and the premise for a lot of our contemporary psychology we used today. No child was ever harmed, in fact, treated like family to researchers - because they are scientist they are monsters? No. They would respect the child throughout it's whole life and would definitely prep the child to be able to survive on its own.

          I understand you would feel some type of moral issue would be violated, but you are objectively wrong to believe no value can come from such an experiment.

          Ironic you say nothing of value would come, similar to child psych, without many studies. But, unlike child psych studies where the politics and pharmaceutical corporations have their hands in the cookie jar... A case like this would be so important, less room for corruption,but good publicity from real science.
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    Feb 9 2013: It's gene song will play out, it would be compelled to it's own path. Put in the Zoo.

    It wouldn't be a true Neanderthal would it?
  • Feb 9 2013: Sid Do you have that little bump in the back of your head? This first appeared with the Neanderthals and their larger brains than modern man. Modern 1350cc Neaderthal 1450 cc Cro Magnon 1600cc There were other early men with larger brains. Maybe before modern man a big brain helped in survival. Why not? but they were never completely lost. Once someone says something really dumb - it never goes away Neanderthal's backwardness was bassed on specimen's that may fail to show very much.