Don't you just love science? Don't you love it when scientists just go ahead and do something that will radically impact your life, and you have no say in it?
Take genetic engineering.
Genetic engineering is the altering of a plant (or organism) by sewing part of another plant onto it--thus changing the first plant's DNA, or gene blueprint. In other words, if I cross a redwood tree with a sunflower, I might get a reddish, wooden, five-hundred-foot-tall sunflower.
The alleged purpose of genetic engineering is to increase the food value of plants, or to make them more resistant to insects or chemicals. About 70 percent of the foods on your grocery store shelf have been genetically tampered with without your knowledge.
There are pro and cons.
A con is that the side effects of gene changing (there are always side effects to everything) have never been studied. What are you going to do when you've been eating the same brand of carrots for five weeks and your right ear overnight swells twice the size of your other ear? Don't blame the Mexican laborer who picked the carrot.
On the other hand, what if we could design a carrot that would dramatically increase the size of a sexual organ? That could be a pro.
Of course, another pro would be that we could have more carrots than we've ever had before. We could ship excess cheap carrots to poor starving countries and cause the swelling of their right ears.
Another pro (or con if you're on the receiving end), is that food could become a weapon, like biological or chemical weapons, the ultimate food fight. We could deliberately ship genetically altered food with harmful side effects to countries we don't like, France for example. A tomato in your salad could become a weapon of mass destruction.
Genetic engineering also might result in herbicide-resistant weeds, a pro or con depending on whether you like weeds (I depend on them to cover my lawn).
Think of the potential if we crossed DNA from Michael Jackson to that of a trout. You'd get a small, weird fish that jumps around a lot. Or an extinct mastodon bone with a banana. A gigantic, furry fruit with an ivory tusk.
The possibilities are endless. Of course, a total breakdown of the natural food chain is possible (a con), but scientists assure us not to worry. They have a long history of accurately predicting the after-results of their experiments, from Dr. Frankenstein, to Chernobyl, to DDT.
That definitely qualifies as a con.
What about brain fingerprinting?
One of the inventors of brain fingerprinting, Dr. Lawrence A. Farwell, touted the new technology's benefits, saying the criticism that it's Orwellian-as in George Orwell's book 1984--is unfounded.
"Use of the term Orwellian is misplaced since Orwell described a society in which innocent people were constantly in fear of an extremely controlling government that did not value the truth," Farwell said.
Hey wait a minute!
That's exactly the way our government is right now.
He described it to a tee.
In brain fingerprinting, a subject (or victim) is hooked up to a newly developed "electroencephalographic" machine, a headband equipped with sensors, which can read brain waves and impulses stored in your brain (nature's computer) to detect guilty information. Thus, if you've committed a crime, you are shown images similar to the crime (or related words), and your memory reveals that you know all about it, information that only the perpetrator of a crime could know.
The recognition impulse that gives you away is called a "Mermer."
This invaluable tool will not only catch domestic criminals, but will allow us to apprehend terrorists trying to enter the country before they can carry out their schemes. Sit an Arab down, take off his turban, hook electrodes to his head, and show him a picture of bomb making. His eyes flash with recognition. The meter reads in the red and bells go off. Take him away to jail.
Simple. (We might be better off trying to address Palestinian grievances rather then depend on technology).
Farwell says the testing is 100 percent accurate. How many times has it been tried?
There are a couple minor potential problems.
What if the terrorist is a dumb guy? You show him a picture of a bomb-making manual, and he's never read it. He's a poison-the-water-supply man.
On the other hand, what if he's an innocent genius? He knows a lot about a lot of things. He could set the brain-wave meter off accidentally.
Yet another anomaly is the guy who, like O.J. Simpson, manages to block the crime from memory (or at least a portion of it).
Unlike a fingerprint, which is physical evidence left on the spot, or DNA, a brain wave is air, that's all. A person who can misspeak--can mis-think.
Any machine that can read--can misread.
We all know the long list of inventions claimed to be infallible, from the Titanic (unsinkable), to the Space Shuttle (safe as riding in an airplane), to Frankenstein's monster (he'll go around doing good).
But let's assume all the claims are true. If it can be used for good catching criminals, it can also be misused. Who would want to misuse such a device? Let's see. This application could be expanded. I might be a company that wants to check up on you to see if you were ever arrested for drunk driving, show you a picture of a drunk driving arrest, and find out that in fact you were arrested--30 years ago.
You're not hired, even though you paid the price in fines and service time and learned from your mistake.
I could check your credit history by showing you a picture of a guy not paying his bills on time.