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As promised, the three videos (and links back to YouTube, in case they disappear into the ether) to anchor a discussion (TBA).
The first two are specifically about bioethics, while the third is a CNN video about a deaf football league. Each of the videos is less than 15 minutes long.
Introduction to bioethics, bioethics at the bedside:
Deaf football team: (vid won’t load, so just click on link).
Bonus vid: bioethics & justice:
I believe that when individuals enter the medical field it is because they have the best of intentions of becoming a physician who is truly committed to help the sick and making a difference in the world by providing the utmost patient care possible. Somewhere along the road – technology has permitted a huge advancement in medicine – where some might feel they are entitled to make decisions that are not their’s to make. Patients should ultimately have the right to make certain decision concerning their health. For that reason I agree that bioethics is a necessary addition to the field because it keeps those doctors who get out of line, and become too cocky, to be held accountable for any damage they may cause a patient who would be an innocent bystander in the situation.
I don’t know that I agree that bioethicists keep doctors in line—I think lawyers and administrators are the main actors, here.
That said, bioethics has been integrated into many medical & nursing schools’ curricula, so these issues are at least being raised for the students. Also, clinical bioethicists are, I think, more useful as a kind of bridge between medical staff and patients (& patients’ families), a resource for the staff when there’s a conflict.
There’s this book I’ve read “Being Mortal” by Dr. Atul Gawande, he explains that there are three types of relationships doctors could have with patients.
He describes the first one as the doctor that knows all and tells the patients what they should do and doesn’t discuss any other options that the doctor does not think are optimal. The second one is kinda the opposite of the paternalistic doctor. They’ll bring out all the facts and figures for the patient and let them make the decision. This is normally best for the simple issues with clear choices and straight trade-offs. But the more complex the issue was, the method breaks down.
The last one is like a bit of the last two. A interpretive doctor would ask, “What is most important to you? What are your worries?” The doctor would help the patient determine what they want and would help them achieve their priorities. This doctor would do whatever they can for their patient to be able to live a comfortable life.
This was extremely intriguing, all the videos really had me at the edge of my seat. The concept of enhancements of the human genome really caught my attention. The way she described the ethical or societal risks that may arise due to such enhancements. I absolutely agree Maggie Little, the aspect of having “two species of humans” will most definitely create a sense of hierarchy if possible. The use of the example of the metal wedges as lower limb replacement and the studies of the speed was a great example. It being lighter and potentially make someone faster, is something someone with perfectly fine legs wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice for. Overall, all three videos really caught my attention and made me really think about the FUTURE.
We’ll be directly addressing those issues this week, starting with the question “what’s wrong with superbabies?”
Also, the question of what is human has preoccupied me for, oh, the last 20 years or so. . . .
I never really understood how individuals with major birth deformities thought of themselves as regular humans. However, Maggie Little’s example,about another species of people with four arms that would consider us as people with deformities, made me understand their case a lot better. It makes sense that since they were born a certain way, and that way is all they know, that they would feel comfortable and normal. This can be applied to her example because,as she said, if the four armed species considered me as less functional, I wouldn’t agree.
Yeah, it’s always good to come at the issue from the other direction, to “de-center” what we usually think of as normal and to ask how “normal” even came to be.
We did a bit of that this past week in our class discussions, in particular, that regarding deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and of the Deaf community.
While Biology is the study of a living organism whether it involves their morphology, physiology or behavior, Bioethics on the other hand helps raise these questions between being Human vs. Being a person. One fascinating example Maggie Little gave us is in how we identity a disabled person? She helped raise questions on how humans generalize the different qualities of life. This connects with our in-class discussion on Religion and wether science has helped proof our assumptions and lack of knowledge. This is because scientific discoveries is an ethical conclusion. To conclude all three videos made a fascinating statement which is to say what makes “US” part of a community? what actually defines who we are? And based on what we are (human, person or animal) who decides over our biological rights given on the natural basis of the law. What might give another person the right or power to decide over those natural opportunities.? I read something similar about this in the book “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, which focuses on community, identity, and stability, helping create the society they lived in. In fact, Brave New World further created a form of caste system, a utopian society.
First, I’m glad you read “Brave New World”, since it actually is a part of the required readings; I assigned it because it goes directly to issues of conditioning, de-enhancement (de-hancement?), and what kind of human society that brave new world even in.
As I told Sebastian, above, I’m just so taken with this question of “what is human”, and how do we even answer that question. We’ll finish out this last week of class by engaging just those questions.
I enjoyed watching these videos especially the one which discussed body enhancement of the genotype. I feel that if scientist and researchers were to further explore this field of research it could be controversial because not many people would support the notion of testing on an embryo and enhancing one’s body. Furthermore, after watching the CNN video I believe that one should feel comfortable in their own skin like the team mates in the football team were. They did lack their sense of hearing however, it did not limit them from living a normal life and participating in daily activities.
One of the concerns folks like me have with enhancement is less with any, one, enhancement on its own, but with the aspect of social coercion attendant to the widespread “voluntary” adoption of these techs. As we’ll discuss in class this week, there are many techs that one may choose not to engage, but that lack of engagement may lead to marginalization within society.
I thought these videos were very interesting especially the video that explained about the different color pigs and their pancreatic genes. With a white pig’s embryo, the gene for developing the pancreas was removed and replaced with stem cells from a black pig. In the end, a white baby pig was born with a black pig’s pancreas. Maggie Little explains bioethics as a rich and broad medical research dealing with sci-fi issues that are moving very quickly. For instance, she considered that researchers have been exploring how to match-up 2 different type of species, but would this be considered ethically moral or immoral? The day when researchers find the way to combine species together, it going to become more complicating because soon researchers would go even further their accomplishments and try to amalgamate 3 or more species together to create an unknown and more advanced species.
Another issue that Maggie mentioned was transmitting human brain cells into great apes giving them the ability to communicate with humans. How could this be a bad idea for apes and for humans? Imagine we do start giving apes the genes to speak and communicate. Just like Planet of the Apes, don’t you think these modified apes would figure out a way to overrun the human race? Apes are already stronger than humans, but with intelligence, they would have an extra advantage to the humans. In my opinion, researchers have to start exploring more into expanding and improving the human’s health and lifespan, instead of discovering new species that could lead to jeopardizing us.
My work on bioethics has centered on issues of biotech (specif, gene transfer & stem cell research), so you are definitely speaking directly to me concerns.
It is always useful, in looking at these (possible) techs, to ask “cui bono?”, that is, who benefits? Who would benefit from giving the great apes human speech genes (not that there’s really such a thing, but you know what I mean)? Would the apes themselves benefit? How would we (humans) treat them? Would they simply become the equivalent of Huxley’s Epsilons & Gammas? Would we enslave them, make them perform work we don’t want to do? How would we respond if they were able to tell us they hated this new capacity, that they would rather be regular, than enhanced, apes?
I think some of this work may be useful in a laboratory setting—and only a lab setting, that is, that researchers may do this as proof-of-concept or to create lab models (not that this is without attendant ethical issues), but that we wouldn’t necessarily see these hybrid or chimera creatures in society.
That said, if someone can figure out how to profit off of them, then all bets are off.
In response to the first two videos, the question about what is a disability was really interesting. I didn’t really think people had different perspectives in terms of what is considered to be disabled. It surprises me that although we see other people with less functionalities than regular humans, they might still consider themselves normal because that’s what they were born with. Ultimately, we might look at some people as disabled but to them, they are not disabled because their idea of disability is relative.
Maggie Little is indeed a very interesting and great speaker. She really has you wanting to listen to her and wanting to learn more. I had no idea that Bioethics was such a relatively new field that has only been around for 20 years. I think it was a great move on her part to create this field because a lot of things that were happening in the medical and science field were not very ethical. She mentioned the black men that were tested for Syphillis and not told that they had it or were given Syphillis by doctors without them knowing. It was funny that she mentioned that as just last week, I learnt about the case in my Epidemiology class.
I liked the example that Maggie used of the amputee athelete with the metal prostheses which makes him run faster than a “normal” human and a “normal” human being wanted those prostheses to run faster. The amputee athelete prostheses would be deemed therapy for him but if the “normal human wanted these to be faster, would it be considered enhancement or transhumanism? Should it be ethical for this type of operation to be done on a “normal” human?
I think it’s really fascinating how some researchers were experimenting with pig’s in order to determine what could happen when you start mixing and start switching gene’s off certain parts of the pig’s anatomy that they choose not to function. The world of bioethics is evolving in some way , which will in the long term help human’s live longer and discover new methods to illnesses. Also, the concept of body enhancement ( how cool is that). I never really thought of that particular situation until now. Nobody is perfect and if you can change something about you to make it better, then in my opinion I think many would like that. You can make yourself better through enhancement.
The videos were very fascinating, especially the second video where Maggie Little discusses disabilities and how people with disabilities perceive the world differently. It is relevant that disabled people still struggle to accept with how their disabilities affect their lives, despite the numerous scientific advances to help them. It is much more than just the science that helps them, but also how society has to accommodate in order for them to ingratiate themselves in society as equals. The analogy of extraterrestrials with multiple limbs was interesting because Little explained how disabled people are perceived and asks the audience how they would feel if they were treated as lesser beings because of their “disabilities”. The discussion about cybernetic enhancement was interesting as well because Little briefly touches upon the potential for cybernetics becoming a reality. The concept of prosthetics would have been seen as only a way to compensate a disability, but now its somehow glorified in the media (i.e. Blade Runner) and seen as a future trend towards enhancing the human race.
I found it very interesting when she was discussing people that we consider deformed. I never really considered this issue that Maybe to themselves they didn’t seem this way. Also how we just label people disabled or consider them maybe less of a person just they’re different. Some things that we might consider a disadvantage to them is just their normal lives. Also maybe we make people “disabled” from how we treat them.
Also the idea of human enhancement I’d think would be pretty interesting. However how can you determine what would be an improvement ? I think living longer or being able to run faster or be stronger an even have a better memory would be great, however others might like themselves just how they are.
Also once we start making these enhancements or improvements how far will it go?
In response to the third video, I feel like climate change is something that will always be affected, in a negative way, by us humans because in some countries, people’s mind functions the same as a capitalist’s mind which is to make the most money possible at that moment and maybe forget about the consequences. There will always be exploitation and negative consequences so despite the fact that some will fight to avoid negative changes, the endgame might still be the same just that it will take longer to reach.
Maggie Little brought up interesting information in relation to bioethics. As she mentions, there was a strong notion of paternalism in the medical field wherein the belief is that doctors and researchers know best. I believe that in order for physicians and care givers to better serve their patients, they must have a broad understanding of not only medical knowledge they must also have the ability to sympathize and respect the values that their patients hold. In relation to this, the video about the all-deaf football team was extremely fascinating to me. In the video, the mother felt that giving birth to a deaf child was the greatest gift she passed on to her son because she did not see being deaf as a disability. Many physicians would argue that allowing the child to use hearing aids or even get cochlear implants would be the best course but the parents would greatly disagree. Although I respect the mom and understood why she felt that being deaf is a blessing, a part of me felt that if I was in that situation I would not wish my child to be deaf. It is because their normal does not really perfectly align with mine. In the same video, the eldest son was the only one in the family who was not deaf and he confessed that he wishes he was born deaf in order to feel a greater sense of belonging to his family.bI think that disability can be defined in multiple ways, it is not just black and white and in many cases it is greatly intrinsic than it is extrinsic.
This videos were attention grabbing; especially the second one. I like the way in which she expounded her ideas. The video that caught my attention was the second one. The part when she asked: What is disability?” was what really caught my eye. In my opinion, people put limitations on their lives. The concept of disability is on our minds, not the definition that society has set. People with deformities considered themselves as normal; they were born that way, they learned to do everything in their daily basis in a practical manner. Society considered disable people less functional, but as Ms. Little said if an interplanetary species with four arms came here and looked at us, they will see us as less functional. This example is a metaphor, it represented how people with disabilities seem themselves and how we see them.
Both Human Body and Deaf football team caught my attention the most and found these videos in a way related to each other. Maggie Little talks about what is to be disabled? Being born, different does not make one less valuable or incapable of doing what others do; it depends on how one feel about oneself. When she makes us imagine about creatures with four limbs coming to where we live and seeing us less important because we have fewer arms than them. I wouldn’t feel bad about myself because being who I am, makes me proud and unique. Which this connects to the video of the deaf football team, these young men especially, Zane “I’m proud of my identity,” they are very successful because they are proud of who they are and learned to adapt themselves to society and they become one of the best football team in California.
I think one of the biggest problems in medicine today is that there is no balance between paternalism and the “consumer model of medicine.” For this reason I have so many doubts about becoming a physician. Like Teri mentioned before bioethics is not enough to keep doctors in line. In fact, doctors go against there own moral beliefs at times because the check is just worth it. For example prescribing medication or even operating when they could have taken another route.
Ms. Little mentions this idea of the “natural lottery,”and I couldn’t have termed the idea any better. We are all born of a certain advantage/disadvantage to one another. But is the role of bioethicists to make sure that this world is fair no matter what status you are born of. Every one should have access to education/basic health needs, because like Little stated you cant truly be a member of a community you cannot participate in. I think the reason some are more advantaged than others is simply the way of the universe keeping a balance somehow. A balance between life,death,rich, or poor. But we can also do more to make sure that even the poorest are somewhat taken care of because after all isn’t that what it means to be human?