Clinton and the Age of Ignorance

Lee Crocker (
Wed, 14 Jan 1998 14:46:22 -0800

This is a letter to the editor I plan to send to my local paper
(Sacramento, CA) and a few other places (including the Pres.
himself, of course), and to place on my web site. It is, like
all of my work, in the public domain, and I encourage everyone
to disseminate it as widely as possible, or edit and paraphrase
it to your liking, in the hope that some papers will have the
courage to print it. Perhaps some will even read and understand it.

President Clinton and the Age of Ignorance

On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy called on the American
people to work toward the goal of landing a man on the moon,
expressing his hope that the nation would "move forward, with
the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space."
The age of discovery that followed his visionary goal saw not
only the moon landing itself but a cornucopia of advances in
science and industry that were side-effects of space research.
Diets improved, diseases were cured, cars and airplanes became
safer and cleaner, communication became faster and more
universal, and "space age" became the preferred description for
anything new and modern that made life better.

On January 10, 1997, President Clinton called on Congress to
ban the use of cloning technology on humans; the age of
discovery is now in danger of becoming the age of ignorance
and fear. With science on the edge of discoveries in
biotechnology that promise to improve our diets, cure and
prevent disease, clean the environment, give hope to infertile
parents, and make life better in a thousand ways no one could
possibly predict, Clinton has allowed the irrational fears of
the Religious Right and the Luddite Left to put the brakes on
this exciting adventure before it has even begun.

Fear of the unknown is no excuse. Much more is known now about
cloning--the form of reproduction used by most species on our
planet--than was known about space in 1961. Identical twins
have been studied for decades. Anyone who thinks a cloned child
is any different from a perfectly normal human baby is letting
bad science fiction stories cloud his understanding.

Clinton justifies his stance by saying that "scientific
advancement should not take place in a moral vacuum." I
wholeheartedly agree. It would be morally wrong for the
scientific community to stand idle and let the legislature
stifle research that could save thousands of lives. It would
be morally wrong to tell two parents who carry a genetic disease
that they must abandon hope of having a child instead of using
a safe technique of science to bear a healthy, natural child of
their own without risk.

Morality and reason must be partners, not enemies. If there are
dangers in the technology, we will find them by research, not by
wild speculation. Shutting down reasearch will close off a new
generation from the benefits of this technology--and the possible
benefits are well known and too many to list here. The possible
dangers are in mostly in the imagination of the uneducated. But
even if the benefits were not well known, the research itself will
create new discoveries and opportunities the way space research
did in the past four decades. I call on the American people, and
Congress, and the President, to look forward to a new age of
discovery in biosience, and all the miracles that it could bring.
I call on the scientific community to educate the people with
greater emphasis on real-life applications. Let us all move
forward with the full speed of freedom toward better lives.

Lee Daniel Crocker
Jan 14, 1998.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>
Web Content Manager, Informant Communications Group