It seems that tens of thousands of years ago, we were seeded here by extra-terrestrials in order to provoke advancement of our species to its next evolutionary level. The benevolent aliens responsible for this had, evidently, perfected the art of cloning, i.e., making a perfect copy of a living organism, thus paving the way for tinkering with our primitive chromosomes, fusing them with their own, which by that point was, I'm sure, beyond temptation. It would only be a matter of time before we earthlings uncovered--or re-discovered--this lost art..or science...or whatever.
So say the Raelians, a religious/cult/UFO organization who recently came forward to claim that one of their organizations, Clonaid (that's like Live-Aid, or Farm-Aid, or maybe Kool-Aid, but Clone-Aid), had, in fact, produced the world's first human clone, named "Eve" (snark, snark), somewhere in Korea, and would be parading the miracle baby before god and everybody in the near future. Unfortunately, real, actual scientists also came forward and demanded to see proof of the baby's existence, and further, wanted very much to perform DNA tests. The Raelians reaction? They were fine with that..at first.
Then a lawyer filed suit in Broward County, FL, asking the state juvenile system to take custody, saying that cloning children is tantamount to child abuse since the young-un would face a life of heath mishaps as a result of the cloning process. The Raelians' founder, Claude Vorilhon (also called "Rael") announced he would not separate the clone from its parents in such a manner, so therefore all bets are off. On a follow-up interview on CNN, Vorilhon was confronted with the accusation this was all a hoax and a publicity stunt. His reaction? He couldn't hear the question and other evasive answers.
Scientists, skeptics, naysayers and critics are, not surprisingly, all screaming "hoax". Ignoring for the moment a later report of another Clonaid baby coming over from France, I want to say I'm not sure I get what all this is about. If it is a hoax for publicity to drive up memberships, well, didn't they go to an awful lot of trouble to get all this attention for a claim they couldn't possibly prove? Don't they know the difference between cloning and, say, in-vitro fertilization, or did they think they invented that?
I recall many folks coming forward many times over many years with so-called absolute proof of an alien autopsy or some such thing, only to be shot down because they won't give up the evidence. Therefore their claims wind up languishing in that nether-hell of eternally vague phenomena like Bigfoot or ghost lights. If the Raelians have truly created a successful human clone, it is BIGGER than the reach of state juvenile laws! That lawyer (who I blame more for holding this up--unless he, too, was a plant of some sort) would have to prove clone-child endangerment, before any state agencies come swooping down.
I should probably clarify for some folks the one big reason this baby WOULD be a big deal if it's a true clone: with all the scientists and all the equipment working all over the world all the time to perfect human cloning technology (except in the US where it's banned--so no one's doing it here, right?), only "Dolly", the sheep, was ever successful--and that was a "qualified" success since it suffered from miserable side-effects constantly. Human cloning has been said to be way too complicated to attempt, and there are moral dilemmas too (I don't get them either).
Cloning is basically making a twin of yourself, but at the present time, the growth process can't be accelerated. So if you want to make a clone of yourself to go to work while you stay home (I wish), it won't work that way, it has to grow up the same way you did. Plus, like identical twins, your identical clone won't be identical--it will have minor differences in appearance due to growing up in a different environment. But most importantly, a clone of you is an individual. It's NOT another you. It looks like you, but it is another person.
There is talk of repeatedly "downloading" your personality into a succession of clones in the distant future to achieve immortality, but that's beyond the scope of this column. (There's also talk of downloading your personality into a computer to achieve immortality--that's a different topic, but I just want to say let's hope Windows has improved by then.)
I say leave the Raelians alone, maybe they'll hang themselves with their own rope (or umbilical cord in this case), let them bring the baby into the country with enough legal immunity so scientists can have time to do the DNA testing. Then, we'll see who's right. If this whole thing is a stunt, well....some of my UFO buddies will not like what I have to say about another "typical" hoax. If the Raelians are right....we'll have a lot more important things to talk about.
by William Moriaty
Here's wishing Gus the best in all four of these features!