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The Conceit of Life Sciences?
Posted: 30 August 2012 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Don’t get me wrong, I’m as pro-science as they come. But lately I’ve been rethinking my attitude. A couple of examples: I went to the museum to see this exhibit on mummies. I’ve done it many times over the years, but this time it struck me…what right do we have to dig up and display mummies? What right do we have to cut them open, pick through they’re belongings, etc. just so we can learn some stuff or have nice displays for the kiddies? 

Another example: I’m reading a book about birds, written by a well known ornithologist. She describes how to learn various things about bird behavior they routinely infect birds with various diseases, to see how mating habits change, etc. Again, what right do we have to literally capture and infect other living things, whatever similar things they do?

In the past I would have not given these things a second thought - it’s science man, back off.  But now I’m not so sure.  What are your thoughts?

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Posted: 30 August 2012 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m confused. What rights do mummies have?

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Posted: 30 August 2012 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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In the 19th Century, the Egyptian railroad, lacking wood often used mummies for fuel. There were thousands And those who mourned them are long gone themselves. It may sound callous but in order to advance man’s knowledge off himself and the cultures that predated our own,we dig into the past; and if that means exhuming bodies for scientific study then so be it. Here in the West the ancient natives are often found, studied then reburied by whatever native group claims them. It’s IMO a humane way to honor their memory while learning from them. As to animals, well that’s a different story. Animal rights activitists are opposed experiments on living species but it depends on how far these experiments advance our understanding of diseases and that knowledge may be beneficial to man or the species on which we experiment. it’s an ethical argument at best.

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Posted: 30 August 2012 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I think we should not be disrespectful with the dead, not because they feel anything but for our own model of human interaction, respect shouldnt end after life, and honor that what was before… at least thats what i think.

I dont think displaying them in a Museum is disrespectful, many pharaohs are now well known through that, in their way of thinking we gave them smoe kind of immortality they longed for.
Burning them for fuel on the other hand is damn disrespectful.

Doing research which could save lifes (not the stuff just to create a better mascara) is always above concepts of respect for the dead, but it shouldnt create unnecessary suffering.

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Posted: 30 August 2012 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I dont think displaying them in a Museum is disrespectful, many pharaohs are now well known through that, in their way of thinking we gave them smoe kind of immortality they longed for.
Burning them for fuel on the other hand is damn disrespectful.

I agree but the Egyptians saw the locomotive as a step to modernity and had lost their connection with those mummified humans from a farbdistant past, besides the Brits had a hand in it as well. Things changed rapidly after Howard Carter found tut’s tomb and mummy-mania began in Europe. Every museum now wanted one. It probably saved them from further destruction.


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Posted: 30 August 2012 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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dougsmith - 30 August 2012 10:10 AM

I’m confused. What rights do mummies have?

The same rights one’s dead parent has 15 minutes after they were buried.  Or let’s put it another way…would it be ok if I had a researcher wait outside the cemetary as someone buried a loved one. Then as soon as they left, he went in there and dug up the body for research? I guess you’d say yes, it’s ok.

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Posted: 30 August 2012 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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That’s a false analogy. Mummies generally do not have immediate relatives who are grieving over the loss of a loved one.

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Posted: 30 August 2012 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 30 August 2012 01:49 PM

That’s a false analogy. Mummies generally do not have immediate relatives who are grieving over the loss of a loved one.

That’s a false argument against my analogy. How is having immediate relatives relevant? Let’s say the single immediate relative is killed in an accident on the way home from the cemetary. All of a sudden it’s ok to dig up the body?  Short of some kind of “voluntary organ donor” type thing (or rather “voluntary it’s ok to dig me up”), I don’t see how it’s ever ok.  I’m not saying I like the outcome, because seeing mummies has certainly benefitted me personally as far as my curiousity is concerned. And maybe the dead person in my analogy has a heart or whatever that could be used to help someone else.  I just don’t see it being ethical unless the person in question said it was ok voluntarily prior to dying.

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Posted: 30 August 2012 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The same rights one’s dead parent has 15 minutes after they were buried.  Or let’s put it another way…would it be ok if I had a researcher wait outside the cemetary as someone buried a loved one. Then as soon as they left, he went in there and dug up the body for research? I guess you’d say yes, it’s ok.

If I were Dr. frankenstein. Seriously, surgeons from the Renaissance to the 19th century often paid for purloined bodies to practice anatomy. It added immeasureably to our knowledge of the human body enabling surgeons to save lives. Once again an ethical issue. But would I be angry if they did then? hell yes. These days though med students practice on bodies donated by the deceased so no problem. Religious beliefs in the past made this illegal. Inhumation was important as the soul would later be reunited with the body. So it depends on the circumstances IMO.

 

Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 30 August 2012 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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TA is right. The only people involved are the relatives and friends of the dead person. Once there are no more relatives and friends around to grieve, the mummy is no more than dead tissue.

Fetishizing the dead is not, I think, a correct attitude.

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Posted: 30 August 2012 04:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I am a person based only on my neural programming.  When I die, all that will remain is a chunk of flesh, bones, and a few odd bits.  It won’t be me, and I could not care less what anyone wants to do with it.  They can bury, cremate, use for medical students, or even decide to barbecue it, that doesn’t bother me a bit.  (Except at my age, I’d probably be fairly tough and tasteless). 

As far as animal experimentation goes, I agree that it’s an ethical issue in that we have to consider the value of the information obtained and the effects on the animal. 

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Posted: 30 August 2012 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The mummy would do it to you if they could. shock

It doesn’t strike me as problematic to display mummies or to perform research on corpses - that said, if the relatives of the deceased do not want the research to take place, then it should not happen.

Animal testing for important research is good in my view.  I guess scientific detachment is really necessary in that case.

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Posted: 30 August 2012 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 30 August 2012 02:46 PM

The same rights one’s dead parent has 15 minutes after they were buried.  Or let’s put it another way…would it be ok if I had a researcher wait outside the cemetary as someone buried a loved one. Then as soon as they left, he went in there and dug up the body for research? I guess you’d say yes, it’s ok.

If I were Dr. frankenstein. Seriously, surgeons from the Renaissance to the 19th century often paid for purloined bodies to practice anatomy. It added immeasureably to our knowledge of the human body enabling surgeons to save lives. Once again an ethical issue. But would I be angry if they did then? hell yes. These days though med students practice on bodies donated by the deceased so no problem. Religious beliefs in the past made this illegal. Inhumation was important as the soul would later be reunited with the body. So it depends on the circumstances IMO.

 

Cap’t Jack

Usually medical students will treat you with dignity, i have no problem with that.
I have a problem with that through my understanding of privacy and dignity if some one does unnecessary and weird things with corpses, like the Body Worlds exhibition of Gunther von Hagens.
It wouldnt be a problem if he would show them to medical students only and/or wouldnt display them in an undignified way like he does.
He thinks that it is some sort of art to put a skinned body on a horse, show a pregnant woman in a lying pose with open belly, or a couple during intercourse, i dont like it, and it is voyeurism he serves with that.

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Posted: 30 August 2012 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Alexander80 - 30 August 2012 05:46 PM

Usually medical students will treat you with dignity, i have no problem with that.
I have a problem with that through my understanding of privacy and dignity if some one does unnecessary and weird things with corpses, like the Body Worlds exhibition of Gunther von Hagens.
It wouldnt be a problem if he would show them to medical students only and/or wouldnt display them in an undignified way like he does.
He thinks that it is some sort of art to put a skinned body on a horse, show a pregnant woman in a lying pose with open belly, or a couple during intercourse, i dont like it, and it is voyeurism he serves with that.

Are you against pornography also?

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Posted: 30 August 2012 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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No iam not, its just not the same.
It would be like watching a video compilation of those beheadings done by islamists.

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Posted: 31 August 2012 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I’m with you, Occam, bodies don’t mean much.  Before I was married I considered not leaving any money for funeral expenses in my will.  They just let dead deer rot beside the highway here in PA, so 150 lbs of rotting meat can’t be that much of a bio hazard.  I figured if any one cared they could do something about my remains.  But, I got married and don’t want my wife to have to deal with the hassle. 

Now, I think I’m going to try to will my body to a medical school.  If I’m diagnosed with something terminal, I’m think I might take a Gray’s Anatomy and head down to a tattoo parlor.  I think it would be amusing and generous if, when they hauled my corpse out of the formaldehyde, the locations of the most of the organs were tattooed on it with dotted lines showing where to cut.  I don’t know how much detail there would be, it would depend on the price and the pain.  ( With my luck the diagnoses would be wrong and I’d end up living on as an illustrated man.)

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