It’s a bit off-topic, but I thought I’d share… the strangest phrase to send your child off to school with:
This morning, I was having a conversation with my daughter (DJ Mo, remember?) while waiting for her school bus to arrive. She was describing a basic science experiment her class was performing– putting a plant in food-colored water to see how it travels up the stem. I mentioned to her how this process of experimentation was at the heart of science, and how that differed from religious “thinking,” which simply poses ideas and accepts them on faith.
The conversation progressed into a riff on science, with a lot of “what-ifs” being thrown around. My daughter told me that one idea she thought was especially interesting was to use a “machine” of some sort to put kids in, that could read their DNA and tell you what they’d be like when they grew up. I explained that while no such machine existed, that there are a number of things that could be examined to determine some of a child’s future, such as their eating habits and parent’s health.
Now, I’m pretty sure she was more interested in whether or not her brother’s hair was going to change from his rather unlikely blond to fit the rest of the family than the more questionable uses such a machine might pose, but I decided to talk with her a little about this anyhow.
I explained that some people had previously used the concepts of genetics to push for laws that would only allow “perfect” people to be bred, and to disallow others from having children. I explained that while genetics research could yield many interesting and useful results, that it was sometimes hard for some to draw an ethical line at where to stop– thus leading to the idea of eugenics. I cautioned her with the old sci-fi saw that in a world of eugenics, there might not be room for imperfect folks like us.
It’s heady stuff for 7:00 in the morning, and she was naturally a little upset to see some of the possible ramifications of her machine. As the bus pulled up, the driver opened the door. I called out after her, forgetting I was in full earshot of the driver:
“Have a great day at school, Mo! Don’t worry about eugenics!”