Re: Gene Therapy & Ethics [was Re: AI Backlash] (fwd)

Robert J. Bradbury (
Sun, 15 Aug 1999 09:53:36 -0700 (PDT)

> wrote:

Re: informed consent for therapies

> And indeed, everyone, no matter how "intelligent" is going to have blind spots.

Agreed. It is part of the job of a "competent" medical practicioner to be aware of this and attempt to educate individuals when that is the case.

> I think this phrase, informed consent, is too vague to be of much use.

Well, you have to give "consent", and it is nice to be "informed" about what you are consenting to. Obviously, a person receiving treatment can rarely understand things as well as the person providing treatment (due to the differences in education & experience). The goal of the process however is to provide an individual with enough information that they can "feel" they are making a correct decision (i.e. they have taken control of and responsibility for the action).

> The other issue you allude to is the extent to which experience shapes
> our perceptions. Someone with a sufficiently traumatic past is going to
> see danger where it doesn't exist. Is this intelligent?

The danger will always exist, it may have a very low probability however. It is probably an indicator of intelligence that (a) a person consider *all* of the possibilities and (b) get the relative probabilities of those possibilities close to what they typically are in reality. An intelligent person with a traumatic past will recognize that their experiences are not reflective of the experiences of the average person in the population. I will grant, that knowing this may not make it any easier to make calm, rational decisions. Traumatic events get wired in at very low levels in the brain.