The Science of the Lambs


All humanity flinched when Dolly the cloned sheep was unexpectedly introduced in February. But the outcry of concern that followed–Should this be allowed? What will become of mankind? Let's set some limits!–was less policy or morality than a vein of pop culture come to life. Science-horror had made the front page. Lurking behind Dolly were generations of a folkloric nightmare–the mad scientist–going back beyond Dr. Moreau and Dr. Frankenstein to the alchemists and the popular conviction that science was at the service of Satan.

"There are things man is not meant to know," goes the underlying cliché. Knowledge is dangerous, advance means peril; better to blow out the candle than to see what is revealed in the darkness. It is true that Dolly raises questions: Would you want to be a clone? But it is also true that, one day, this question is likely to be considered socially discriminatory.

NIH scientists admitted that this experiment would never have passed federal grant muster; it asked the "wrong" research questions. Well, here are some of the right questions: What sort of victim-group rights will cloned humans demand? Will Congress have to be redistricted on their behalf? And, if you count cloned sheep to fall asleep, do you ever get past number one?