Worldview: Philosophy: Send in the clones…

I had a far ranging debate last night that, among its several features, touched on clones. They weren’t what that debate was really about, and this post isn’t really what that debate was about. But, it got me thinking about how we think about clones.

I suspect, if pressed to give an off-the-cuff answer, most of us would describe a clone as a copy. And, because we think of them as a copy, we tend to think of them as being some kind of facsimile of the original. As such, we imagine them having many of the same characteristics of the original, even going so far as imaging them to have the same personality or even memories.

The reality of clones are far more complex. For clones gestated from contributed biological material, the similarity to the original may only be as much as that biology allows, which can often be far less than we imagine. Even with exact biological similarity, time, nature, and experience will mold the clone into something ultimately independent of the original beyond the constraints biology creates. Even if, somehow, the clone is an exact biological and experiential replica of the original, the moment it becomes independent, it becomes individual.

I think our preconceptions about things like clones speak to our preconceptions about a lot of life. It’s useful to sometimes take a step back and examine those preconceptions because, sometimes, we discover what we thought isn’t what’s true at all.

DLH

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Worldview: Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: And so much more…

I’ve discovered over the past five years that people have huge preconceptions about what being a farmer means. I know, coming in, I had all sorts of them, and I know I am surrounded by fellow farmers who have deeply held ideas about their profession. One of my first posts on this site dealt with one of them, and dredged up the almost predictable responses (I’m not linking to it simply because I want to talk about something else).

One of the preconceptions I had coming in was the nature of what farm work meant in the first place. Many people, including my onetime self, have the idea that farming is as simple as growing and harvesting a crop or raising and selling an animal. I’m here to tell you firsthand that, whatever kind of farming one does, that could not be further from the truth.

Even at its most monoculture, farming is a polyculture because it cannot be anything else. Farming demands knowledge of everything from agriculture to zoology and demands the farmer be everything from an accountant to a zoo keeper.

It’s not an accident, then, that history notes the rise of farming intertwined with the rise of what we think of as civilization. Domesticating, planting, raising, harvesting, and slaughtering plants and animals for food in more effective and efficient ways is the necessary mother that gave rise to everything we take for granted today, either by inventing the things we have or by enabling the things we have to be invented.

And so, in the end, I can think of few other undertakings as intensive and broad as that of the farmer. Granted, the hurdles are tall and the valleys are deep, but if anyone wants to fully challenge himself in the pursuit of life, the vocation of farmer is a place to do it.

DLH

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Worldview: The science of do as I say

For whatever reason, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about science recently, especially as it applies to getting kids interested in science and keeping them interested.

One of the points I keep coming back to in this thinking is how often science is sold to kids in a very narrow and limited view of the universe. This view seems to say that science is this small set of things and that anything that lies outside that set is not real science.

What I see in this view is teaching a worldview to kids that does not mesh with what scientists, especially physicists and biologists, are revealing to all of us about the universe. Even as scientific inquiry reveals the universe to be more complex and more bizarre than we imagined, the worldview sold to kids seems to be becoming narrower and more boring.

What I would love to see happening in the scientific world is encouraging kids to explore their environments free of preconceptions. Sure, teach them what we think we already know, but be sure to emphasize we only know it until new or better evidence comes along. We should teach kids to find the flaws in what we think we know instead of proclaiming we already know it.

After all, isn’t that what the scientific world demands of other ways of thinking? That should be a demand that cuts both ways.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...