Brave New Worlds: Staying Human in the Genetic Future

Author:Bryan Appleyard

Fatalism must be fought against, argues Appleyard's latest book, whether it be in the form of genetic determinism (á la Nazi eugenics and future applications of gene technology) or a society coaxed to feel that the rarified and rationalist discourse of science leaves no room for moral dissent. He encourages critical responses to genetics by means of thoughtful, accessible examples of how genetic applications will have widespread consequences. From religion to health insurance to homosexuality, sensitive issues will generate myriad difficulties and debate. Citing the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazi Holocaust, Appleyard reminds us that unthinkable cruelties have been carried out as a scientific extermination of “bad blood.” If history's lessons are any indication, our ethical consciousness will not progress at rate equivalent to our capacity to gauge an individual's genetic makeup. Nevertheless, this is a hopeful book. Science may be neutral and disinterested but its applications never are, and neither should we be.