Sunday, April 13, 2008

Craig Venter on playing God

"Oh, we don't play"

Now if I've ever heard an argument against biotechnology, this is pretty much it in the superlative. Craigger needs to keep his ego at bay if he wants to win over the general public on this one.

For some reason when Venter comes up in class or discussion, my blood boils. Maybe it's because he's such an arrogant ass. Probably it's envy. Whatever the cause, I can't help but get mad because he seems to have got fame in the scientific community and even to a degree the mass media just by throwing money at things instead of the traditional method of systematic scientific discovery. This actually says something important about my bias of how I think science should be done. And not in a good way. Also, because I know I'm not alone, you can extend this to much of how the scientific community thinks as well.

I have stopped criticising Venter for saying he can do what seems impossible, Those people who do criticise him keep getting proven wrong. I have to respect the people that can actually deliver on their promises and while he's a egotistical, pompous jackass, he produces results. And does so in a way you'd never find an academic able to do, be it a question of resources or willingness to take risks.

So while Venter pisses a lot of people off, he's accomplished a lot already and shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down in his endeavours. He seems to have filled a void where the scientific community could not or dared not go. While he seems to lack a certain respect for the enormity of the research he undertakes, it may be that quality that seems to keep allowing him to push the envelope at the frontiers of molecular research. A shoot first and let the ethics committees clean up the mess later approach.

I have to respect his accomplishments and that he has driven science to new levels in the last 10 years. But while I'm forced to respect him, I don't think I'll ever be able to actually like the Craigger.

Unless his next big scientific undertaking involves making himself more likeable, that is.

I dunno though, next to making Venter agreeable, synthetic life seems like a walk in the park. Even the best science has its limits.

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