Re: SOC/BIO: Frito-Lay campaign

From: E. Shaun Russell (
Date: Sat Feb 19 2000 - 11:41:26 MST

Max wrote:

>Greg, I agree with you on the silicone implant business. But I think you're
>conceding too much here. I don't really know what people thought about
>smoking earlier, but I would *not* make a blanket statement that
>Thalidomide is "bad". It's actually a tremendously effective and safe
>drug--for everyone *except* pregnant women. Banning it entirely was an
>overreaction that deprived many people of its benefits. The sensible
>response would have been to require regular pregnancy tests (or only
>prescribe it for men) rather than banning it. I believe there have recently
>been some moves towards reintroducing it carefully.

        Unfortunately, despite the potential uses of Thalidomide, it is the cases
like this which help cement the public's fear of the sciences. Not only do
bans on drugs and other health\science products deprive any potential user
of the good aspects of the products, but it also creates a widespread
aversion to any similar products. Due to the ban on Thalidomide (the
ban...not the drug itself) any similar seeming cure-all will be viewed with
great suspicion, and will be forced to spend far more time than necessary
in research and development before the FDA will allow it to go to market;
this could, depending on the nature of the drug, kill people due to
governmental negligence.

        In all sciences, it is apparently easier for the public to recall a
negative precedent rather than a positive one. With genetic engineering,
Hitler's war-time experiments is the predominant thought association; with
space travel, people think of the recent failures of the Mars probes rather
than the euphoria of the moon walk thirty years ago. With AI, the thought
is of Hal...sentience gone awry, rather than the potential benefits.

        Though perhaps I am straying off topic, I believe that the main reason for
the negative reaction of the public to new health and science research is
the bias of the media. Most people who read newspapers and watch or listen
to news broadcasts only learn of the catastrophic stories as opposed to the
ones which espouse potential benefits to mankind. In the eyes of most
media publications and broadcasts, the "bad" is far more newsworthy than
the "good."
Even when scientific breakthroughs such as cloning make the headlines, the
public only hear the facts through the grimy mirror of the reporter's bias.
 As a result, the general public accepts the bias itself as fact --as a
clear reflection-- rather than the whole story itself.

        Though I often hear Extropians and other futurists claim "...we'll drag
[the public] along with us whether they like it or not," I think the only
way to really have mankind itself progress (not just those of us who will
do our best to create these futures ourselves) is to keep people informed
honestly. I would like to see local and national newspapers and broadcasts
with a positive bias, rather than a negative one. It would take time, but
I would rather have a society that is somewhat neutral or supportive of
scientific progress than the one we have now which is constantly suspicious
and against it.
E. Shaun Russell Extropian, Musician, ExI Member <KINETICIZE *YOUR* POTENTIAL>

*The creation of the future is in the creation of the present*

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