Porcine Philosophy

Richard Bruskiewich rbrusk1 at wave.home.com
Wed Jun 3 08:39:15 EST 1998

Ah gee, Brad. I always get worried when someone in DC thinks that way...

(P.S. Although the pork barrel'rs north of the 49th aren't much better

Richard Bruskiewich

Bradley K. Sherman wrote:
> Well I liked this a lot; your mileage may vary.
>     --bks
> >Next: Pigs That Fly?
> >--------------------
> >
> >Andrew Kimbrell, founder of the International Center for Technology
> >Assessment in Washington, D.C., describes one of the "classic" experiments
> >in genetic engineering this way:
> >
> >   Dr. Vernon Pursel inserted the human growth gene in a pig.  Pursel
> >   hoped to create giant pigs that would be major meat producers.  The
> >   problem was that though the human growth gene was in every cell of the
> >   pig's body it did not act in the manner the scientists expected.
> >   Instead of making the pig larger it made it squat, cross-eyed, bow-
> >   legged, smaller than an average pig, with huge bone mass, a truly
> >   wretched product of science without ethics.  Pursel tried to find a
> >   silver lining in his experiment gone wrong by claiming that the pig was
> >   leaner.  Pursel's argument was that people are worried about
> >   cholesterol, so maybe we can sell this as lean pig.  Did he really
> >   think the public was ready for pork chops with human genes?
> >
> >That pig strikes me as a good metaphor for the constructions of the
> >Information Age.  The prevailing notion is that we have this massive
> >collection of information -- exemplified by several hundred thousand
> >snippets of human genetic code -- which we can merrily pass from one
> >database to another, inserting this piece here and that piece there.
> >
> >But there is no such thing as an "objective piece of information".  Like a
> >word in a sentence, a bit of information *means* a particular thing only
> >within a given context.  Pursel's pig symbolizes the kind of result you
> >get when you ignore context and try to build things from the bottom up --
> >that is, when you start with the reduced products of your sophisticated
> >analyses, forgetting what it was you were analyzing in the first place.
> >
> >Context in the present case means, to begin with, the pig itself.  Pursel
> >was willing to see fragments of DNA -- and even lean pork chops -- but did
> >not care to see the pig.  Such is the technological mindset we now trust
> >to re-engineer the human being.
> >
> >Exactly the same trust is at work wherever information is glorified as the
> >decisive form of capital, the basis for problem-solving, and the
> >fundamental ingredient of all knowledge.
> >
> >
> [...]
> >
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