Re : NYT article on gene engineering in sport

From: Joao Pedro de Magalhaes (
Date: Fri May 11 2001 - 06:34:23 MDT

I actually think a MJ II would likely become a better runner than MJ I
because of environmental factors; from childhood, his parents would interest
him in running, give him the best coaches, etc. because they would know that
under the proper conditions he would become a great runner. There could
always be accidents -- including genetic ones -- to prevent him from
reaching his predecessors' excellence but I bet that more than 50% of MJ
clones would be better than MJ himself in running.

>At 06:43 PM 5/11/01 +0930, Emlyn pointed to:
>I find the following a typical bizarre pseudo-argument.
>There appears to be little fear that human cloning will have a significant
>effect in sport. If say, Michael Johnson were cloned, the result would
>almost certainly not be the same world record-setter as the original,
>researchers say, because environmental, nutritional and motivational
>factors also play significant roles in developing athletes.
>"If I'm the clone of Michael Johnson, I've got to bend myself into all
>sorts of shapes to run, because genetically that's what I'm destined to
>be," Dr. Friedmann said. "I run and run and run, and I can't ever get
>anywhere. Then what am I? I'm a Michael Johnson who can't run. That's a
>nobody. That must be a crushing experience to
>learn you're not what you're genetically destined to be."
>I agree with the general moral sentiment, and that cloning will seldom
>yield a xerox copy, partly due to stochastic developmental cascades, party
>because of the factors listed in the 1st par. BUT having allowed this, how
>likely is the scenario in the 2nd? From infancy you are given this (perhaps
>soul-destroying) enhanced environment to make you MJ Mark II, and even so
>you *can't ever get anywhere. Then what am I?* What indeed? A proof that
>god intervenes deliberately to turn one twin into a nebbish just to spite
>impious cloners? This is question-begging of a remarkable order, I reckon.
>It might be true of an Einstein, of course, since it's surely harder to
>replicate the unknowable experiences of a genius, and the multiple genes
>involved in creative intelligence presumably offer vastly more stochastic
>pathways to go haring off in different ways.
>Damien Broderick

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