Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 30, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

CLONES....Responding to a PZ Myers post making the point that a cloned dog wouldn't be the original dog, Kieran Healy says:

Ive half-joked before that, purely because of this basic point, sociologists should welcome human cloning with open arms. Technically achieving the sort of things many people imagine they could do with cloning recreate a lost child or relative, produce a new version of themselves would in fact have just the opposite effect. It would show just how important social structure, local environment and historical contingencies are to forming people. And thats without even getting in to the metaphysical questions of whats essential about peoples identity. Some people are going to be really upset when they realize that the genome is not some kind of magic essence of self. I hope public understanding catches up with the reality before actual cloned people are subject to the resentment of their creators.

Is that really the current state of public understanding, though? It's true that the last few years have produced a flood of headlines about the genetic basis of various personality characteristics, but surely very few people believe that genes are the sole basis of personality, do they?

I'm genuinely sort of curious about this. One of the things I find annoying about the whole nature/nurture debate is that both sides have a tendency to portray the other side in its maximalist version, whereas I've never read a single book, article, pamphlet, or blog post that suggested personality was anything other than some mysterious combination of both. The maximalist position (all nature, all nurture) just doesn't exist today in mainstream discourse.

In any case, we already know the answer to the clone question. Identical twins are clones, and although twins can be remarkably similar, any parent of twins can tell you that they also have very distinct personalities. It's not all in the genes.

On the other hand, it might be different for cats and dogs. I mean, I'd like to pretend that Inkblot has such a distinct personality that I could tell him apart from his hypothetical clone, but I wonder if I really could? Just for starters, he's only conscious for four or five hours out of every day, and the rest of the time he mostly just sits around and looks sort of puzzled. I'll bet a clone wouldn't be much different.

Or would he?

Kevin Drum 12:02 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (94)

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Comments

I agree with Healy. I think that whereas most people understand that monozygotic twins are two distinct people, most people believe that a clone will be some kind of duplicate of the cell donor.

Posted by: Disputo on March 30, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

I recall in the late 90s reading a New Republic 'deep thoughts' commentary on clones that took as a given that human clones wouldn't have souls.

I tend to think of clones as delayed identical twins.

Posted by: Misplaced Patriot on March 30, 2006 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Rut roh. I remember the last thread touching on the topic of cloning and pets going terribly, terribly wrong.

Posted by: shortstop on March 30, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin,

Cats are known to sleep 70% of the time, and groom another 10%. Typical of predators. Ask a Marine. But cats don't have the stamina of a Marine. [Grin]

My cat does her sleeping and grooming during the day, then runs through the house at a dead run [Start - run - stop - look about wildly - pounce or run again - and so on.] usually between midnight and two A.M. Most cats are like this, I'm told.

But I bet not many will wait until I am reading on the bed, come up on my lap, peek - then leap - over my book onto my chest, lie down there and start purring, and demand to be stroked. This takes a long association with me and trust that I won't kill her. I bet that cats each have unique ways of being spoiled.

Posted by: Rick B on March 30, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Who needs to clone deceased pets? According to a book I read, there's this cemetery in Maine...

Posted by: Mark on March 30, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe cloned pets wouldn't be exact duplicates of the original when they grew up, but bereaved pet owners would probably make a lot of allowances to convince themselves that this was "their" pet back again. I see pets as being a big market for this technology.

I think a human who wanted to clone a lost human loved one would be very disappointed by the outcome. People are not as simple as pets, and it would not be simple to make allowances for the much different person that would be the result.

A human who wants to clone himself has issues.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 30, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Make that a "sematary."

Posted by: Mark on March 30, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

he's only conscious for four or five hours out of every day, and the rest of the time he mostly just sits around and looks sort of puzzled.

I thought of Jeff Goldstein when I read that and cracked myself up. I don't even know who he is other than liberal bloggers think he's a dullard. Power of the meme I suppose.

Posted by: Tom on March 30, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

I cloned a cat once and all I got was this lousy tee shirt.

Posted by: Rex Cornish on March 30, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

A clone would almost certainly be more different from the original than monozygotic twins are from each other. First, it would incorporate any mutations that had occured in the somatic cell of its origin, second, it would have a different prenatal environment, and finally, the cloning process itself is known to introduce significant differences from normal infants.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on March 30, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

With the technology we have today a clone would probably be less similar to the DNA donor than twins are to each other. I've read that there are still many problems in getting all the genes in the donor DNA to turn on properly during the development of the new organism.

(Sorry, this is not my field so that is as precise a statement as I can produce.)

Posted by: JohnK on March 30, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

What's all this cat reporting this evening. First, Keith Olbermann has a segment about a cat that has been placed under house arrest for attacking the Avon Lady and now this cat cloning blog featuring Inkblot. Odd, Kevin's Inkblot and Olbermann's Lewis look remarkably alike. Are Lewis and Inkblot clones. Is Kevin safe? Does he sell Avon? Oh My.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 30, 2006 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

I understand that a clone of me wouldn't have my fingerprints, so I expect there will be a large number of subtle differences that would add up to being some different person. Though obviously a person of considerable grace, intellect and beauty.

Posted by: cld on March 30, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

...placed under house arrest for attacking the Avon Lady

Why is that even a crime? What have we become in this country?

Posted by: shortstop on March 30, 2006 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus, Kevin. Everybody knows that the only way to truly reproduce a person is to have someone look into a little machine that flashes for a second before cloning, which records your memories and personality, and then have Robert Duvall install them in the new body. Sheesh.

Posted by: Kiril on March 30, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

I have french kissed my dog.

Posted by: Matt on March 30, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Even if my clone is my exact genetic duplicate, he will not have had my life experiences. (And it goes without saying that he would also be a newborn. How many people grow up with a "twin" 45 years older than themselves?)

Posted by: KTinOhio on March 30, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Is that really the current state of public understanding, though? It's true that the last few years have produced a flood of headlines about the genetic basis of various personality characteristics, but surely very few people believe that genes are the sole basis of personality, do they?"

-Well, here I think you run into the difference between what people believe and what they belive. Or the difference between what they will tell you they believe if you ask them and they think about it, and what they they believe on the level that it shows up in their daily speech and reflexive or impetuous action. for instance, my dad's wife (I'm too old to have a stepmother I think)probably wouldn't say that males are innately pre-disposed to not be readers, but she will remark offhand that a half hour a day is just too much reading to expect her eight year old son to do, because he's a little boy.

so, on that last level, the reflexive/language level of belief, the one that's very self-reinforcing, I think alot of people "believe" that genes do magically hold the essence of being and personality. It's kind of shortcut thinking, tho it's the kind that never actually gets you home early. (and, in it's proneness to error, it's very UNLIKE shortstop thinking.)

RE cats and dogs: I think that with cat's nurture still plays a significant (tho obviously less than human) part in the behaviors that we cat lover's call "personality." I know that my cat is probalby calmer and more affectionate than she would be if she hadn't gotten alot of love and attention virtually everyday from me. One of her kittens, a loud, scary, hooty siamese was just starting to show signs of being a decent little pet (after about a year and a half)when I gave him away because I was moving. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I do think that the ocnsious effort I was making to be nice to him was working its way into his tiny brain.

Dogs? Much more nurture responsive. Terribly so, as anyone who's ever had to deal with a dog that wasn't socialized as a puppy.

Posted by: URK on March 30, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Uh, that was supposed to be "ask anyone..." oops.

Posted by: URK on March 30, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

One of the things I find annoying about the whole nature/nurture debate is that both sides have a tendency to portray the other side in its maximalist version, whereas I've never read a single book, article, pamphlet, or blog post that suggested personality was anything other than some mysterious combination of both. The maximalist position (all nature, all nurture) just doesn't exist today in mainstream discourse.

Probably because: (1) research today can provide only limited confidence in the relative contribution of nature/nurture for specific personality traits, but cannot define the contribution with precision; which (2) leaves the rest, or "mysterious combination", as TBDs; and (3) the maximalist position remains a useful reference point, or point of comparison, but not a position that anyone (in the mainstream anyway) would seriously promote or defend.

Posted by: has407 on March 30, 2006 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

Clones would be useful for normal organ transplants but for blood cancer they just aren't that useful. You need to have some donor mismatch for a successful BMT (and a low cancer recurrence rate). I suggest both cloning research and recombinant DNA research.

One of your commenters here is pretty far out on the nature limb and relatively well published. Maybe he'll make a comment.


Posted by: toast on March 30, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

I dont think that the research reports on cloning have much to do with the public perception of what a human clone would be like. I woould bet that a scary StephenKing-ish movie in which a cloned human has the memory and habits of its genetic source would grab the public imagination more securely than a hundred magazine articles that remind us that clones wont remember their source.

At least that Scarlett Johansen movie got the cloning bit right. Scarlett's DNA didnt remember her past. Or was it Obi-Wan who didnt remember his clone source? Golly, popular culture is so hard to keep track of. "The Island" I think.

Posted by: troglodyte on March 30, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

I think the really serious problem with the cloning debate is that neither conservatives nor liberals have clearly defined communal positions on these issues, and therefore we are able to indulge in a civil discussion without insulting each other, threatening to kill each other, or even mentioning Nazis (despite the obvious Boys from Brazil references waiting to be dropped).

This sort of thing has got to stop.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 30, 2006 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

One of the things I find annoying about the whole nature/nurture debate is that both sides have a tendency to portray the other side in its maximalist version,

Nice try with the false equivalence. Please point me to any "naturist" who discounts the role of nurture in these issues, for instance with questions like why Black and Hispanic mean IQ is lower than the mean IQ for Whites and Asians. The position we hold is that there is a role for both nature and nurture. I haven't read one account which puts all of the influence on genetics.

I asked you to point out a "naturist" who is guilty of your charge, so it's only fair that I provide you with an example of "nurturists" who are guilty of the maximalist charge. We caught this very environmental bias in this post in which we note that Pinker wrote:

the extreme position (that culture is everything) is so often seen as moderate, and the moderate position is seen as extreme" is that those with extreme environmental biases can make any unsubstantiated claim they want, stated in the most factual of ways, with total impunity and with full preservation of their reputations, while scientists exploring/discussing genetic possibilities like Jensen and Herrnstein who carefully qualify their statements with agnostic and probabilistic language find themselves beleaguered and tarnished erroneously for these misconducts anyways.

It is the Leftist Creationists who hold the extreme nurture only position.

I'm middle of the road in positing that there are genetic and environmental reasons that explain the IQ differentials. Watch me get attacked by the maximalist environmental proponents who don't allow for any group level differentiation on the question of mean IQ.

Look, I'd be very happy if sociology and psychology departments would start incorporating genetic factors into their models of how the world works, but am I guilty of unfairly portraying them in a maximalist fashion when they actually conduct themselves in such a fashion?

Posted by: TangoMan on March 30, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect that, if human cloning becomes available, there will be enormous demand -- and not because people will expect replication of personality. Physical replication alone will be enough for many people.

How many unamarried women wouldn't want to give birth to a Mel Gibson? A Paul Newman? Or any super-hot male chosen from a catalog of available lines?

Posted by: JS on March 30, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

You'd be able to tell Inkblot and his clone apart because they'd look different. The markings on cats' fur aren't uniquely determined by genetics, but also depend in part on prenatal environment or just random fluctuation. (This isn't speculation. Cats have been cloned, and the first cat clone did not look exactly like her mother.)

Posted by: Matt Austern on March 30, 2006 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

Please point me to any "naturist" who discounts the role of nurture in these issues, for instance with questions like why Black and Hispanic mean IQ is lower than the mean IQ for Whites and Asians.

TangoMan, I don't have time to do this, but there are a lot of people out there making exaggerated claims for genetic influence on behavior with very little grounding in evidence. See for instance Daniel Dennett's claims regarding a genetic basis for the human desire to believe in a higher power in his latest book. There's absolutely no evidence for this claim, one way or the other, but Dennett feels entitled to make the claim because of the general pro-evolutionary-psychology intellectual environment these days. It's a cultural moment similar to the days in the late 1800s when the advent of Darwinism made popular wild speculations in vaguely Darwinish-sounding language regarding social structure, or the days in the early 1900s when advances in physics made possible wild speculation on the deterministic nature of the universe and the inevitability that science would eventually solve all possible predictive and manipulative challenges.

Obviously no one argues that literally *everything* about human characteristics and behavior is genetically determined; Chinese babies adopted by American parents do not spontaneously speak Chinese. But no one in about 30 years has argued that everything about human behavior is determined by environment, either. What they do usually argue is that evidence linking particular genes to particular behavioral characteristics tends to be thin. These arguments have lost ground as the science linking genes to behavior has gotten better, but there are still a lot of people out there making very thin, speculative claims for the genetic groundings of behaviors, and a lot of great new data on the power of social influences on human behavior that gets ignored because it's not as "sexy" in the current pro-genetic intellectual climate.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 30, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

There was a report on homosexuality on 60 minutes a few weeks ago... it included identical twins, raised under the same roof in the same family... one is gay one is straight. Go figure.

My parents, staunch Republicans, believe the nature side of the equation to be much more important than the nurture part. (Of course they acknowledge that extreme cases - abuse, etc. - can strongly effect a person.)

Is it a red state / blue state thing?

Posted by: Lee on March 30, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe,

Obviously no one argues that literally *everything* about human characteristics and behavior is genetically determined;

I agree.

But no one in about 30 years has argued that everything about human behavior is determined by environment, either.

The people who hold up Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, etc are still holding such positions. Do you think that programs like NCLB account for any genetic level influence? How about feminist positions allowing for genetic level factors being the causal agents for differential outcomes? How about professionals who study disparate levels of crime and imprisonment? How about a university professor hypothesizing that genetics may account for social phenomona? Do you think he won't be greeted by braying mobs for even raising the question? Shall I go on? I think that all of these groups allow no role for nature in their worldviews. I'm not saying that they're not convinced, I'm saying that they don't even allow for the question to be modeled or investigated. Let's see how the career of a sociology graduate student progresses if she starts modelling genetics into her work.

Posted by: TangoMan on March 30, 2006 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

even if they experience the same things both will emote[Relate] them differently.
Thought isn't matter as far as Im concerned, but the energy contained in that matter. =)
[Quantum Nucleonics]
-------------------------
Anyway heres something I picked up this eve for you Amazement!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
]_|_[ (O) ]_|_[ !!

Check this out Y'all. I was reading thru this house transcript about secret 'holds' on Bills. This Senator Mr Sessions [alabama] had this to SAY about the Reality of Bills that Pass that indeed, like Michael Moores Movie, "Don't you Know we Don't read all those Bills?" Is absolutely true. This is copied from:

Transcript of Congressional Record "Eliminating Secret Holds"
And also Amendment 2944. Where we find thus; =)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I want the American people to know how bills are passed in this
Senate. We were talking about some sunshine here. Let's talk about it.
There is a system we have called a hotline. What is a hotline? In each
Senate office there are three telephones with hotline buttons on them.
Most evenings, sometimes after business hours, these phones begin to
ring. The calls are from the Republican and the Democratic leaders to
each of their Members, asking consent to pass this or that bill--not
consider the bill or have debate on the bill but to pass it. Those
calls will normally give a deadline. If the staff do not call back in
30 minutes, the bill passes. Boom. It can be 500 pages. In many
offices, when staffers do not know anything about the bill, they
usually ignore the hotline and let the bill pass without even informing
their Senators. If the staff miss the hotline, or do not know about it
or were not around, the Senator is deemed to have consented to the
passage of some bill which might be quite an important piece of
information.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Well you won't read this stuff on your nightly news. But their you have it on Public Record.

Bills, apparently quite a few, don't even get looked at,Indeed they flow like Water as the Senate said, the Lobbyists get even more preferential treatment than ever expected or acknowledged simply because no one ever Bothers to read these Bills until after the Pork Has passed...Behind CLOSED DOORS no less!

And if someone doesn't want that to pass the Bill may get a secret 'Hold' which further stifles public debate.

Adding insult to this already blatant injury to the public debate President Bush comes along with His Legal Toadies [Addington Gonzales etc]and make "signing statements" that further undermine the public debate and knowledge or "sunshine"

Also this Record shows that it's possibly Kennedy and Kerry that are holding up the Intelligence. Mr Sessions goes on to say;
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Senator from Oregon [Mr Wyden]
has also stated that the intelligence authorization bill is being held
up based on a secret hold. In truth, it is not a secret. I will tell
the Senator who is holding that important intelligence bill: It is the
two Senators from Massachusetts. Senators Kennedy and Kerry have
objected to considering the bill because they want to offer amendments.
Some say they are poison-pill amendments, but they are amendments they
want to offer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So there you have it Folks. Take that to the Bank because it has been certified as patently true that Senators DO NOT READ or LOOK at many Bills.

A Pork Barrel Pig Fest to be sure.

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 30, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

Now Back to your Regurlarly Scheduled Oprah Politics and umm. errr Clones...

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 30, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

Identical twins aren't clones, they are collectively a clone.

Posted by: John on March 30, 2006 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

I see nothing around here has changed. Some jerks are still glorifying themselves as human predators, and the rest don't call him/her on it. Please don't wonder why the rest of the world hates Americans!

there are so many Americans trying to pretend they are Canadian in Europe this year!

Posted by: Michele on March 30, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

There are people (models, for example) whose livelihood and economic viability are entirely the result of their genes. Others, such as movie stars and other celebrities, have public images that are so compelling that it'd be just about irresistible to clone them and use the clones as if they were the original. Suppose there were another John Wayne, or another Bogey. Can you imagine the financial pressure to make a "new" Duke Wayne or Bogart movie? What network wouldn't kill for a Walter Cronkite clone to read news?

Or maybe it'd work the other way. If famous clones were a dime a dozen, then perhaps it'd strike dead the culture of celebrity worship. A glut of new Bogies would leave most of them having to work as Wal-Mart greeters.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 30, 2006 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

Puddy.

Posted by: The Blue Nomad on March 30, 2006 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

Cats have very unique and strongly varying personalities, I have not encountered any two identical cats. Some are outgoing and gregarious, some more introspective. Some have a great sense of humour, others are a bit overly serious. You never know. Their kittenhood experiences are probably quite essential especially as regards interaction with their human servants.

Posted by: jonathan on March 30, 2006 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

Cloned cats don't have the same color pattern as the original, for one, as the exact placement of pigment is not genetic.

So a clone of inkblot would be similar, but the blot would be different.

Posted by: Crissa on March 30, 2006 at 5:05 AM | PERMALINK

Brooksfoe: isn't Dennett's claim more evolutionary than genetic? He's an extreme adaptationist and memeticist, so it's not that he believes "nurture" doesn't affect behaviour, including God-belief. It's that nurture (ie culture) is affected by natural selection on memes.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on March 30, 2006 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus, Kevin. Everybody knows that the only way to truly reproduce a person is to have someone look into a little machine that flashes for a second before cloning, which records your memories and personality, and then have Robert Duvall install them in the new body. Sheesh."
Posted by: Kiril

No, No, No. You have to have the original lay on one side of a spinning table along with an semi-amorphous mass (somewhat human shaped) laying on the other. then you spin the table at a high rate of speed with those flashing light that you were talking about...Well, that's how they cloned Capt'n Kirk. *shrug* What? I'm juss sayin.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is that many Americans have formed their understanding of cloning from horror movies. Many people think clones come into being as fully formed adult human replicas.

Posted by: The Fool on March 30, 2006 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Their kittenhood experiences are probably quite essential especially as regards interaction with their human servants.
Posted by: jonathan

Truly much of feline behavior is 'hardwired' - possibly 90% - they all exhibit seemingly random weirdness like the 'nocturnal crazies' described above.

They are preferentially nocturnal predators, after all, as many small rodents imprudent enough to come within the ambit of my household feline learned briefly and to their mortal cost.

You've only got a 7-9 week window to socialize kittens - and in the best circumstances you have the invaluable assistance of a well-socialized and attentive queen. That's when the 'imprinting' period is active - when the feline brain accepts 'new learning'. They just don't have much in the way of forebrain capacity.

We'd scold ours: "Look I know you've only got a brain the size of a walnut but...."

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

"But I bet not many will wait until I am reading on the bed, come up on my lap, peek - then leap - over my book onto my chest, lie down there and start purring, and demand to be stroked. This takes a long association with me and trust that I won't kill her. I bet that cats each have unique ways of being spoiled."

I dunno, I have had a long line of cats who like to do the "jump on chest to interrupt reading" bit.

"Cloned cats don't have the same color pattern as the original, for one, as the exact placement of pigment is not genetic."

Very true! Interesting factoid (well, interesting if you like cats): most Siamese in Siam (Thailand) do not have a full set of markings. The development of the Siamese mask and other markings is temperature dependent, with the markings appearing on the cooler parts of the body. The temps in their home country are hot enough year-round to prevent full development of the pigmentation, whereas Siamese born in more temperate climes will usually develop much fuller markings.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 30, 2006 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Well, there is definitely both nature and nurture in dogs and cats, as well: it's easy to spot a dog that's been kicked around a lot when it was young. Cats that have been separated from their mother before beign weaned are just plain weird.

Posted by: Osama von McIntyre on March 30, 2006 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

"Cyteen" by CJ Cherryh remains the definitive speculation on cloning personalities.

Posted by: scotus on March 30, 2006 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Cats that have been separated from their mother before beign weaned are just plain weird.
Posted by: Osama von McIntyre

That's absolutely so. We rescued four 4 week old kittens when queen was killed. All four (two in my household, one with my mother and one elsewhere) - all four had serious weight problems - they were binge eaters and never abandoned 'nursing behaviors' including 'nursing a bathroom rug to the point of rendering it practically threadbare.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

1) Kevin, as Matt says above, you would not have any difficulty telling Inkblot from his close. The coloring pattern is determined as genes express during development, and is not strictly a function of the genetic code. So you would likely have a different shaped blot of ink on Inkblot II.

2) Regarding cats that had been separated from their mother: both of my two adopted cats were separated from their biological mothers, and raised by a third mother. Neither has any pathological problems. Although one is underweight, the second is indistinguishable from any 'normal' cat (and indeed, was the friendliest cat in the shelter).

3) As for the state of public understanding, consider the film 'Godsend'.

http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0335121/

Cloning is evil, dontcha know? Any child created as a result of anything other than the random mishmash of heterosexal copulation is going to unerringly be a hellspawn put on the earth to wreak evil.

Right?

Posted by: RickD on March 30, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Call me old-fashioned, but I still like to do my cloning in the back seat of a car.

Works for cats too, but use your friend's car.

Posted by: serial catowner on March 30, 2006 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

"Cats that have been separated from their mother before beign weaned are just plain weird."

Not necessarily. Several years back I rescued a litter of 3 kittens that had been abandoned shortly after birth (the mother had placed them, inexplicably, behind the chimney on the roof of my parents' house). They were a little odd at first, but eventually became as normal as any cat. One of them became a mighty hunter in the woods surrounding the house and lived to 9 years old before dying of a puncture wound (mom thinks she was shot with a pellet gun by one of the dumbass exurban neighbors they have acquired- bastards!).

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 30, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

As a human geneticist married to an identical twin, I suppose I should make a few comments. First, the obvious. My wife and her clone (her term, not mine) are very similar physically and difficult to tell apart over the phone. However, the two sisters have quite distinctive personalities and very different lifes.

This is not surprising, given the major influences that environmental interactions have on neurodevelopment in children. (The postnatal environment affects not only the way the brain's software runs but also influences how the hardware develops, including which neurons live and die.)

Two of earlier comments hint at other reasons why serial clones born from sequential pregnancies wouldn't be identical: accumulation of mutations in the somatic cell used for cloning, differing interuterine environments, and the effects of somatic cell reprogramming on gene expression (imprinting). Somatic mutations do are occur, however they are unlikely to be a significant factor due to the low frequency of occurance and the difficulty of a given mutation causing any critical functional change in the genome. Perhaps a more worrisome issue is the loss of telemere length at the ends of the chromosomes in the cell used for cloning. This can result in premature aging and other medical problems (Dolly the sheep had these problems).

Interuterine environment would likely be a big factor, since two different women would be carrying the pregnancies. Finally, while we are able to reprogram gene expression in a somatic cell so that it can be used for cloning, it not clear that this reprogramming is a perfect mimic of the expression profile of a fertilized egg. Nor is in vitro manipulation without risk, as indicated by the low level risks associated with IVF and other assisted reproduction techniques.

Posted by: Platypus on March 30, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

"...he's only conscious for four or five hours out of every day, and the rest of the time he mostly just sits around and looks sort of puzzled. I'll bet a clone wouldn't be much different."

Or a stuffed cat.

Posted by: jim on March 30, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

MJ - you were lucky indeed.

My two (Tristan and Mimi) and their sibs all had a constellation of identical behavioral problems although the queen, Lucy, was well established as a 'good' mother.

Tristan (almost perfect Siamese markings and blue eyes - different dad from the others, clearly) was a spectacular hunter who brought down a fully grown male Blue Jay and delivered whole rat families - neatly laid out in a row.

He was bonded to me to the extent that when I'd visit neighbors with 3 rambunctious retrievers Tris would insist on coming in with me and standing guard at my feet.

I was exceptionally fond of him but I think his better adaptation was due to the traits he inherited from his father since he and Mimi shared the same home environment.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Heck, even if you could clone not just the genome, but the memories/personality (via some sort of mind upload or whatever) - your perfect clone would immediately become someone else, as they immediately begin gathering new experiences and memories that you do not share.

At the very least, one of you suddenly has to deal with their status as "the clone."

Posted by: Adam Piontek on March 30, 2006 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Our six cats all have distinct and quite noticeable personalities. I have no doubt that clones would be very different, in many ways.

Posted by: Peter on March 30, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Read Matt Ridley's "Genome" and "Nature vs Nurture".

He explains things clearly. (A battle goes on in the womb between male and female genes that if not clearly won results in a gay or lesbian baby. Yes, they are born that way!

(Azimov # 1 just thinks he's superior to the rest of us.)

Posted by: Isaac Asimov # 4 on March 30, 2006 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Platypus
"As a human geneticist married to an identical twin"

If I may, I'm curious about the degree of similarity between a given pair of twins DNA. Also are the differences usually focused in a particular area of the DNA?

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Reference my last post.

Yes it IS a serious question and please answer in lay-person terms please. I know nothing of genetics but would just like to satisfy a curiousity of mine.
Thank you.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Some theoretical physicists a few years ago stirred things up by proposing that quantum teleportation is actually, theoretically, quite possible. This is the "beam me up, Scotty" type of thing.

Such instantaneous travel would be possible because all sub-atomic particles found in nature have "twins" somewhere in space that react simultaneously even across the vastest distance when some influence affects their brother. Using such effects, it is theoretically possible to transmit the complete quantum state of a human being (a load of information actually much more complex than mere DNA, as this would include all memories and all the most recent environmental scars and inputs on a body.)

Thus, you could be re-created in a quantum receiver in a distant galaxy and that copy, for an instant, would be materially identical to you in every measurable respect. If all we are is material beings, then new "you" should continue your state of consciousness without missing a beat.

The problem is the old you, back on Earth. To really be considered a means of travel and not just a method of cloning, the old you should be instantly destroyed, something the process itself may not accomplish. If you aren't eliminated, you will instantly start to diverge from the new "you" elsewhere.

To travel by quantum transportation you kinda have to have a lot of faith that all you are is a bunch of bio-chemical information, therefore that new you really will seem TO BE you, no problem therefore destroying the redundant copy.

Hmmm, this resembles what Martin Luther King said about the difference between ham and eggs. In making breakfast the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 30, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Let's see how the career of a sociology graduate student progresses if she starts modelling genetics into her work. Posted by: TangoMan on March 30, 2006 at 2:19 AM

I did and had absolutely no problems in getting my PhD in sociology.

I think the extremes usually argue that all the "interesting" or "important" aspects of personality are determined by genetics or the environment. Dawkins himself so strongly implied that in his earlier books that he had to backpedal quite a bit because it did sound like he was claiming that all of human personality was genetically determined.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 30, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

"To travel by quantum transportation you kinda have to have a lot of faith that all you are is a bunch of bio-chemical information, therefore that new you really will seem TO BE you, no problem therefore destroying the redundant copy."

This is something I have thought a lot about (I'm weird that way). Personally, I do think that all people fundamentally are is a bunch of biochemical information, and that theoretically a perfect copy of me would be- from anyone else's POV- essentially the same as me. What worries me is that, from my POV, it wouldn't be me. From my perspective, making a perfect copy of myself, even one that would think it was me, is no good if it means that my consciousness doesn't go with it- it is essentially a suicide machine that saves a backup copy of someone in a remote location.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 30, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

My mother is an identical twin, and she was shocked when I told her that she had the exact same DNA as her twin.

Posted by: JP on March 30, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

As a human geneticist married to an identical twin, I suppose I should make a few comments.

Somebody get this guy the hell out of here. He actually knows what he's talking about. How are the rest of us supposed to have any fun?

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 30, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I thought I read an article where some scientists actually (or so they said) did this with a short beam of light. I've been trying to find the story but so far have come up dry.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

What worries me is that, from my POV, it wouldn't be me.

MJ, this is definitely the most important thing you should be worrying about at this moment.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 30, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

"Somebody get this guy the hell out of here. He actually knows what he's talking about. How are the rest of us supposed to have any fun?"
Posted by: brooksfoe

Aww c'mon. Wait till he answers my question first pu-leeeeeze. *grins*

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

I did and had absolutely no problems in getting my PhD in sociology.

I'm sorry, but Dr. Morpheus has got to go, too. Bringing actual valid real-world experiential evidence into this blog simply cannot be tolerated. This blog is for weightless bloviation only. If we wanted to read reasoned statements grounded in observed evidence, we'd subscribe to the freaking BMJ.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 30, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

AH-HAH! Found it.

http://www.newscientisttech.com/article.ns?id=dn8756&feedId=quantum-world_rss20

Quantum physicists have moved beyond teleporting individual photons to imitating a classic science-fiction scenario a teleportation machine that generates two near-identical copies of the original.

In the fifth episode of the original Star Trek series, the transporter malfunctioned and beamed up to the Starship Enterprise two copies of Captain Kirk, which looked identical but behaved differently. A new experiment has now demonstrated quantum telecloning transporting a whole laser beam to two separate places.

However, the two new beams differed slightly from each other and the original an inherent difference arising from quantum mechanics, says Sam Braunstein at the University of York, UK, one of the researchers.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

"bloviation"?????

O'reilly, is that you???

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Don't over think this. Supposedly 50% of the population thinks the sun revolves around the earth. Whatever the context and details of that survey, the fundamental truth is that most people don't deal in nuance. They deal in stories. And the cloning story is full of mad scientists and freaky organ farms.

Posted by: Chuck on March 30, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Everybody knows that the only way to truly reproduce a person is to have someone look into a little machine that flashes for a second before cloning, which records your memories and personality, and then have Robert Duvall install them in the new body.

That reminded me of my favorite MST3K joke about a scientist with a strange machine, "Oh, yeah. This is when science didn't have to have any specific purpose."

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 30, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Supposedly 50% of the population thinks the sun revolves around the earth."

Good God man! 50% of the population of what!!??? The planet?? I can understand, like south american indians thinking that but nobody even remotely civilized. (maybe that should be remotely technological)

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Good God man! 50% of the population of what!!??? The planet??

Sadly, no

Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Good God man! 50% of the population of what!!???"

The White House. Dubya hasn't managed to get his head around that whole heliocentrism thing.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 30, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

MJ Memphis wrote: From my perspective, making a perfect copy of myself, even one that would think it was me, is no good if it means that my consciousness doesn't go with it

The problem is your illusion that there is such a thing as "your" consciousness.

There is no more "your" consciousness than there is "your" gravity.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 30, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

There is no more "your" consciousness than there is "your" gravity.

Hey! I resent that!

Posted by: craigie's gravity on March 30, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

About two-thirds of the US adult population knows that the Earth goes around the Sun, and of those who get that right, about two thirds know that it takes a year, when given choices of day, week, month, and year.

Identical twins have pretty similar personalities, compared to the general range of personality differrences. Their IQs are more similar than that - correlation is high (~0.76) even when raised separately. But the correlation for many other things is lower - ~75% of the twin brothers of homosexual men are heterosexual. The relative influence of genetic and non-genetic factors depends on the trait.


Posted by: gcochran on March 30, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Does this "orbiting the sun" business make me Yankee dollars? Is it mentioned in the Bible? Or is it just another politically correct bullying campaign by overwrought liberal control freaks?

Posted by: shortstop on March 30, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Does this "orbiting the sun" business make me Yankee dollars? Is it mentioned in the Bible? Or is it just another politically correct bullying campaign by overwrought liberal control freaks?
Posted by: shortstop

Hold on a sec and I'll poll the holy sheetrock.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: Does this "orbiting the sun" business make me Yankee dollars? Is it mentioned in the Bible? Or is it just another politically correct bullying campaign by overwrought liberal control freaks?

In the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study In Scarlet, the narrator Dr. Watson relates that he was astonished to discover that Holmes did not know whether the Earth orbited the Sun or the Sun orbited the Earth. When Watson informed Holmes that the Earth orbits the Sun, Holmes complained that he would need to make an effort to forget that fact, since it was of no use to him in his crime-solving work, and he believed that the human brain had a finite capacity to store information, so he would need to free up the space consumed by that useless fact to make room for more useful information.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 30, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan,

I am definitely a layman when it comes to this field, but I find this conversation maddening, so I'd like to put in my $0.02 worth. I think you are very much mistaken to say that the 'nuturists' are denying any role to nature. Let me explain.

The shape of my eye is without doubt shaped by my genes, that is nature. I will happily disallow any role to prenatal, or childhood environment in determining that shape and therefore the distorted image formed on my retina when I use my unaided eyes. However, my actual ability to read at any given distance is equal to that of my office mate whose eyes are shaped, also by genes to be more perfectly spherical. The reason for that is the particularly shaped pieces of glass suspended in front of my eyes, what I would consider to be an environmental effect. In short this is an example, and there are others, of a characteristic that is certainly determined by nature and also completely determined by environment. I am in no way denying a genetic role to my eyesight, but it is still determined by my environment.

The problem some of us have is when the naturists seem to insist that if genes play a role in shaping a characteristic then there is necessarily a limitation on what environmental changes can do. I know of no reason to believe this. Some characteristics are indeed very insensitive to environmental changes, others, however, are very sensitive. Therefore in cases where

1) There exist between group differences that it would be socially desirable to reduce or eliminate

2) There is no prospect of changing the genetic components that lead to these differences

it would be a good idea to look for environmental changes that could eliminate the differences. Some of us get very frustrated by the argument that we should not look for environmental changes solely because someone has identified a genetic component.

Also, let me say that I do not know the arguments you have or have not made prior to this thread. It occurs to me that I might be attributing to you positions that you do not hold. If so, please accept my apologies in advance.

Posted by: MSR on March 30, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is your illusion that there is such a thing as "your" consciousness.

Well, in that case I guess all these years when we prohibited murder, it wasn't necessary. After all the only thing being extinguished is the illusion that somebody has consciousness. Since they don't, we can all whack each other as much as we feel like. (Except that "we" don't feel like it since our sense of "we" is an illusion too.)

My question is, if consciousness is an illusion, what is it that experiences the illusion? Can't be the consciousness, since it's illusory.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 30, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

jimBOB wrote: My question is, if consciousness is an illusion, what is it that experiences the illusion? Can't be the consciousness, since it's illusory.

I didn't say that consciousness was an illusion. I said "The problem is your illusion that there is such a thing as 'your' consciousness."

To answer your question with a question, if you believe that there is such a thing as "your" consciousness, then who is this "you" who "has" consciousness?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 30, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I can understand why human cloning would be emotional to many people, but...

it's reproduction in another way. If someone is the exact genetic copy of someone else, so what? They would have all of the rights, privileges, responsibilities, and protections of any other baby born in any other hospital. I'm assuming you couldn't harvest your child's organs nowadays, why would that be different if the child was a clone?

Posted by: American Citizen on March 30, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Genes are the tools you use. Give two men identical tools, they will always do different things with them, they can do nothing but.

Posted by: DRoell on March 30, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

SecAn: When Watson informed Holmes that the Earth orbits the Sun, Holmes complained that he would need to make an effort to forget that fact, since it was of no use to him in his crime-solving work, and he believed that the human brain had a finite capacity to store information, so he would need to free up the space consumed by that useless fact to make room for more useful information.

Well, yeah, but he was fucked up on coke at the time (or was it opium? I can't recall, but a more serious student of Doyle will). And the American masses aren't using their memory space for more useful info, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: shortstop on March 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I have never come across anything that claimed 100% genes. I have, however, come across quite a few (always lefty) types who have claimed pretty much 100% nurture. About the most they will admit
is that maybe, just maybe, the ability to speak language is genetic, but even get that sort of admission out of them is like pulling teeth. The sad fact is that for every ID idiot on the right, there is a Blank Slate idiot on the left, both united by a fierce unwillingness to let facts change their minds.

Two examples of this are:
http://realserver.bu.edu:8080/ramgen/w/b/wbur/connection/audio/2000/11/con_1129a.rm
(Stephen Pinker and Franz van de Waal on the side of sanity)
and
http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/audio_library/od_raoct02.asp
with Stephen Pinker on the side of sanity.

There is plenty more of this sort of thing at
http://www.reitstoen.com/pinker.php
with the radio interviews frequently having as guests opposite Pinker these sorts of idiot leftists who will, unashamedly, make claims like "All the violence innate in human beings is put there by the Capitalist system".

As a final point, the way you can tell whether someone talking about this subject knows what they are talking about or is simply an idiot is to probe their views on two issues:
(1) Do they think "Nature vs Nurture" is a useful description of the world? Everything we now know as we probe this more closely is that stochastic behavior, random chance, is an astonishingly large portion of how animals/humans grow, and a world-view that does not, at least, see the world as a genes/environment/randomness in about 1/3 each effect is an ignorant world view. (For example C Elegans clones raised under identical physical conditions will nevertheless have widespread variation in morphology, lifespan and so on.)
(2) When it comes to nurture, how large a role do they apportion to parents vs peer group? If they obsess about parenting styles, once again they're all about morals, traditional values and folk psychology, but they're not about science and facts.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on March 30, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

What worries me is that, from my POV, it wouldn't be me.

But your POV would have shifted to a new location, and the "you" at the new location would think it was you. I guess if you insisted on taking up a new identity, with a new personality and behavior patterns, after every teleportation, you could force yourself to be different, but why argue with your immediate sense of self? To what purpose?

If, upon teleportation, the new you thinks it's you, why wouldn't it be? Your old POV wouldn't be around anymore to disagree.

It's all about preserving a perception of continuity in your POV. Personally, I find the "lost time" of medical anesthesia more disturbing - there's a major break in POV continuity. I think space-shifting your consciousness would be less jarring than time-shifting your consciousness. Or at least no more jarring...

Posted by: Adam Piontek on March 30, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting question in quantum teleportation, if your bits remain entangled you and your double might share the same mind.

Posted by: cld on March 30, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum wrote:

Just for starters, he's only conscious for four or five hours out of every day, and the rest of the time he mostly just sits around and looks sort of puzzled.

C'mon Kev!...Enough with the Bush-bashing already...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 30, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop-Holmes was fucked up on coke, not opium.

Posted by: URK on March 30, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be easy to tell a clone of inkblot from inkblot. I expect someone has claimed this upthread and someone else has refuted the claim, but I would guess that the black and white markings of the clone would be different.

If I understand correctly, some cells which make black pigment migrate from above the spine. The inkblot pattern occurs in cats where the black pigment making cells are sluggish (no correlation with waking only 5 hours a day). Exactly where they end up depends on, well wandering around and bumping into other cells and stuff.

It is quite clear that in mammels the exact number and location of cells is not pre programmed (it is in these little worms called nematodes but not in big complicated fruit flies). Thus the black and white pattern is not genetically programmed but depends on what happens during development.

Evidence for this is that it is not, as far as I know, possible to breed cats with a particular black and white pattern (say a black head and a white body). It's like the allele says "make some random black blotches on an otherwise white cat."

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on March 30, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, URK!

Posted by: shortstop on March 30, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin says atheists like him dont have irrational faith in belief systems. Oh yes they do. No one has cloned an animal yet that is near normal. They all have something funky about them. But Kevin is certain science will one day do it. Thats faith.

No group of people, outside of the Bush White House, is so full of hubris as scientists. Every time they make a new discovery, they think they are now just a little short of knowing everything. Genes being the latest discovery, they pin everything on the poor little critters.

I was a bottle-fed baby. So was every kid in America back in the fifties. Why? Science had convinced everyone in America that it had improved on mothers milk. What a joke. First comes the certainty, which inevitably turns into uncertainty. It happens over and over and over.

Posted by: James of DC on March 31, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

And - yikes - 30 cloned QH cutting horses already in the works.

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-clone31mar31,1,743049.story?coll=la-news-a_section

That faint whirring you may hear off in the distance is my Great Uncle, the late A. J. West, breeder, rider and trainer of Grand Champion (the great Red Man & his daughter Black Juanita) cutting and roping horses, spinning in his grave.

You seen one of A.J.'s horses BTW - that big gorgeous buckskin gelding 'Matt Dillion' used to ride in the opening credits of 'Gunsmoke'...that's Blue.

A.J., after selling the animal, decided that a sack of potatoes would be a better horseman than James Arnes and that the horse would be 'ruined' thereby - got on a plane, flew to L.A. and bought Blue back.

So I've a picture of myself, aged about 9, sitting 'Marshall Dillon's' horse. Grinning to beat the band, too.

Posted by: CFShep on March 31, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK


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