At least he’s an honest transhumanist

I can be sympathetic to transhumanism — I do believe that we’ll be gradually increasing the incorporation of biotechnology in our lives — while also thinking most of the transhumanists around today are a gang of goofy twits. In particular, this guy, Ben Greenfield, a “biohacker” who brags about trying every wildly improbable, untested biomedical treatment he encounters, is a transparent fraud. That way lies eventual catastrophe, but at least he’s up-front about what he’s trying to do.

In November, Greenfield visited U.S. Stem Cell, a controversial clinic in Florida, to have his penis injected with his own stem cells. If the name of the clinic seems familiar, that’s because it’s the same Florida clinic that last year unintentionally blinded three patients in a clinical trial of an unproven stem cell therapy. In August 2017, the Food and Drug Administration sent U.S. Stem Cell and its chief scientific officer Kristin Comella (who appears in the webinar video with Greenfield) a warning letter for “marketing stem cell products without FDA approval and for significant deviations from current good manufacturing practice requirements, including some that could impact the sterility of their products, putting patients at risk.” U.S. Stem Cell Clinic, the FDA said, even tried to interfere the FDA’s investigation by denying agency employees access to facilities. (U.S. Stem Cell did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

“I wanted to go from good to great, and to get a bigger dick,” he told Gizmodo. “I’m not going to lie, that’s why guys without erectile dysfunction would do this.”

This is the worst of transhumanism, a guy who is trying to find a magical solution to his inadequacies, and meanwhile, even if they don’t work, he gets to call himself a brave “biohacker”. More like a biocharlatan — there’s no science here. An n of 1 in an uncontrolled “study” in which there is no assessment of elementary stuff like dosage and side-effects and even any measurement of primary effects is just garbage — it puts himself at risk with no possibility of learning anything new. And get a load of this:

Nonetheless, Greenfield said in the webinar that the procedure had made him “noticeably better hung.”

Three or four days after the procedure, he said, it was “almost like it grew.” His erections were also bigger, his penis got harder, and his orgasms were better, he said. The better orgasms, he said, might be a placebo effect, but the anatomical changes in size “cannot be denied.”

Gizmodo asked Greenfield whether he had measured his change in size.

“I haven’t taken out a ruler,” he said, explaining that he felt the size fluctuates too much to get a consistent measurement. But he thinks it looks noticeably larger.

“When inside of my wife, she can tell,” he added.

almost like it grew — oh, that’s persuasive. Everything he’s looked at is entirely subjective, and I’m sorry, but his wife’s vagina is not a calibrated scientific instrument, nor is her motivated opinion an objective assessment. That he hasn’t even bothered to try measuring the range of sizes before and after the treatment is a terrible indictment.

Penis enlargement scams seem to be a popular thing, though, at least from my observations of typical spam advertisements. US Stem Cell is going to get some business from desperate sad sacks with poor body image — I wonder if Greenfield gets a cut? They seem to be promoting a kind of sloppy pseudo-biology with the science removed.


  1. leerudolph says

    unintentionally blinded three patients

    Hey, if the gold standard for clinical trials is to be double-blinded, surely triple blinded must be the platinum standard!

  2. says

    This preys on one of the most primal feelings of inadequacy men have. Even ones who are normal sized. There’s a huge market for any that claims to provide surcease from perceived lack of size.

  3. microraptor says

    Admit it, who else thought the story about Mr Biohack was going to end with him going to the hospital due to a nasty infection in his penis that required amputation?

  4. monad says

    No fault to anyone who enjoys them, but there is something about worrying about the size of organs with zoological purposes like reproduction, promoting bonding through pleasurable stimuli, and waving at rival males that feels fundamentally out of step with the minds-over-matter ideas that make up most transhumanism.

  5. Raucous Indignation says

    Of course he gets a cut. And I have experience with these quacks. They charge cash in full up front. And are happy to tell the acutely ill patient that the high fever they’re having means the “treatment” is “working.” All the way to the ICU.

  6. sockjockwarlock says

    Ugh, transhumanists. The problem with them is that even if they leave religion out of it; even if they claim “There’s no such thing as God”; they’re replacing the magical thinking of religion with their own magical thinking.

  7. Crudely Wrott says

    Ahh, transhumanists. Sort of like pretend? Like we did when we were little?
    That was lots of fun back then but we stopped when we learned more.
    Well, most of us did.

  8. lanir says

    Transhumanism sounds like a very interesting trick in literature. Think of the familiar from a weirdly different but potentially similar perspective. It’s also a subtle way of poking at the fear of Otherness. Trying to pretend it’s a thing in the real world though? That’s sort of ridiculous.

    I also don’t get the size issue thing. It seems like breast size or long hair. I like long hair in my partners because I love to play with it. But I realize it requires an obnoxious amount of upkeep, so I never make a big deal about it. It’s their decision. If I had a partner who wanted to get cut open for unnecessary surgery to enlarge sexual characteristics, I’d be wondering what I’d done wrong. I’d be the first person trying to gently talk them out of it and figure out if there was some underlying issue that could be addressed in a less risky, physically altering way.