I don’t know whether I’m mad or stupid


A while back, I volunteered to participate in a university forum on designer babies. It’s happening tonight via Zoom. So I teach a class this morning, have a student doing her capstone experience, a senior seminar, at 1, go in to teach an in-person lab at 2, come home at 5 to have dinner, and then hop online at 7 to experience two philosophers ganging up on one biologist, and when that’s over, prepare for tomorrow’s class.

I’m at least one of those two things in the title, but maybe you can think of a third. Yeah, I’m inviting you to diagnose me and call me names. I need the flagellation.

Comments

  1. christoph says

    Flagellation is okay if it’s done as a sexual fetish, but you run the risk of being seen as a religious fanatic.

  2. cartomancer says

    The trendy flagellant-about-town in the 14th Century made sure to tear parallel strips in their clothing. This was to show contempt for worldly things like fashion and appearance. But they had to be parallel strips in a pattern that couldn’t be mistaken for just usual wear and tear. The point was to show that you were dismissive of the world, not merely so poor you couldn’t afford new things.

  3. JoeBuddha says

    “You’ve got to know what you’re doing. I mean, some people think I’m mad. The villagers say I’m mad, the tourists say I’m mad, well I am mad, but I’m naturally mad. I don’t use any chemicals.” – Monty Python

  4. Pierre Le Fou says

    I wouldn’t use the words ‘mad’ or ‘stupid’ to describe you. Nope. I think there isn’t a proper adjective to describe what you’ve done, an adjective which would mean “to not be particularly careful about scheduling one’s time and therefore getting into being too busy for one’s own good”. Yep, that’s a lot of words.

  5. KG says

    The trendy flagellant-about-town in the 14th Century made sure to tear parallel strips in their clothing. This was to show contempt for worldly things like fashion and appearance.

    Thus demonstrating exactly the opposite, of course! Oddly enough, this particular fashion has returned – without, AFAIK, involving flagellation. But going about in a Scottish winter with jeans torn in this manner does strike me (no pun intended) as masochistic.

  6. blf says

    [G]oing about in a Scottish winter with jeans torn…

    Unusually wise, diehardfrozen Scots normally go about with socks and a kilt. (He snarks sipping a Scottish Single Malt (Deanston), presumably imported before brexit shut down imports.)

  7. clsi says

    Why not both? I know from personal experience that mad and stupid are not mutually exclusive states.

  8. blf says

    @9, Yes, but they had the intelligence to only battle in the summer, when cold wasn’t the problem — just highland midges and the odd English loon. Running about largely unclothed swinging a whacking great broadsword at small biting flies and wretched lessor southern pansies is perhaps picturesque, quaint even, but has not noticeably bothered either the midges or the southern pansies.

  9. says

    Well, I hope two things
    a) you got some smart philosophy folks who actually DO question the ethics of such things
    b) they weren’t hoping for a “mad scientist who wants three headed babies because we can” vs “sensible philosophers” cage fight.
    Though, if a is not true, it could still happen with the roles reversed…

  10. birgerjohansson says

    Ian Drury: “Hit me with your rythm stick, hit me! Hit me!
    Hit me with your rythm stick,
    It’s nice to be a lunatic
    Hit me!”

  11. Rob Grigjanis says

    @11: It was snowing and hailing, turning to rain, for the Battle of Culloden. Scottish “spring”.

  12. says

    You’re an academic, and therefore both mad and stupid. According to other parts of academia and public discourse.

    You’re stupid because you haven’t become a multibillionaire through exploitation of some fringey scientific knowledge, and then used that to be a full-time bully venture capitalist.

    You’re mad because you’re asking the question in the first place.

  13. Rob Grigjanis says

    @16:

    And still the small biting flies and lessor southern pansies weren’t bothered !

    If by “southern pansies” you mean Englishmen, you’re wrong. At Culloden, quite a few (mostly artillerymen, I think) of them were killed or horribly maimed by claymores.

  14. davidc1 says

    @9 “Is anything worn under the Kilt?”
    “No it’s all in Perfect Working Order ”
    @16 Loons ,Pansies? Something tells me you don’t like us English .

  15. blf says

    @18, Roughly 300 lessor southern pansies were inconvenienced, compared to 1500 or more greater northern nakeds.

    @19, “Something tells me you don’t like us English” — They not only eat, but enjoy eating, mushy peas !

  16. Prax says

    The point was to show that you were dismissive of the world, not merely so poor you couldn’t afford new things.

    Shades of Ann Romney’s “We can be poor in spirit” and “I don’t consider myself wealthy.”

  17. Tethys says

    There is a word that describes PZ’s schedule…overextended.
    I read the linked article on gene editing and find the entire concept of selective gene editing for designer embryos creepyAF.

    Screening them for genetic defects is only necessary if you have to conceive via artificial means in the first place. The vast majority of humans are capable of making embryos via the no tech traditional methods.

    On the subject of broadswords and nekkid fighting, this practice was not limited to the ancient Scots.
    It may have had a sound medical basis, beyond terrifying your opponents.
    Clothing was not washed with much frequency, nor did the majority of people have multiple sets of clothing.
    Before antibiotics, having a filthy bit of cloth inside a puncture wound would be far more hazardous to life and limb than merely being stabbed or suffering from frostbite.

  18. nomdeplume says

    Have I understood – you were flagellating yourself with two philosophers? Surely one would be enough?

  19. blf says

    @26, “[Y]ou were flagellating yourself with two philosophers? Surely one would be enough?”
    Depends if they are wretched lessor southern pansies or midgeful great northern nakeds. One of each is, of course, at least theoretically possible, but would probably result in a… welsh scandinavian cartoon viking… hum, possibly onto something here, poopyhead claims to be of somewhat similar origins…
    The exact metaphysics is obscure, rather messy like biology… hum, possibly onto something here, poopyhead claims to a biologist…
    The idea seems absurd… hum, possibly onto something here, poopyhead is plagued by absurd e-mail and perhaps even sillier commentators (stops to think about that, and then slinks away to have dinner…)

  20. answersingenitals says

    Pierre Le Fou @6

    Let’s invent a word and see whose is the first to get into Marriam-Webster or The Oxford Dictionary of the English Language. I propose ‘malchronofied’ and ‘malchronofication”. The winner gets a hoody with PZ’s image on it (provided by PZ, of course).

  21. davidc1 says

    @23 &24 ,Flipping heck ,do i need to put up a sarcasm sigh .
    Yes i know it was a sword ,and that mining in warfare as been around for centuries .
    I am depressed ,well more than normal .

  22. answersingenitals says

    To a particle physicist, bioethicists are like quarks: you never find them in isolation but only in groupings called Committees, and if you try to separate out one of them you merely just generate new groupings called Subcommittees.

    Bioethics is not a branch of philosophy, it is a branch of journalism merely reporting on what the current common attitudes are. Most parents already spend extreme energy to produce designer babies with intense educational, athletic, medical, and grooming programs. Note the recent scandal of some parents to get their kids into the ‘right’ school. So why should swapping a few base pairs (out of 6 billion) be such a big deal? Often, the current techniques to maximize babies potential are to no avail since the little bastards unfortunately have a mind of their own.

    As a brilliant science historian observed, when the technology is read, the populace will be ready.

  23. says

    I squeezed in some time to scribble up a speechified script, which I’ll post here later, if the philosophers don’t eviscerate me. I felt the need because right now I feel incapable of spontaneity, and fear my brains might fall out of my nose if I tried.

  24. Pierce R. Butler says

    davidc1 @ # 30 – Don’t worry: I first read your # 20 as “they didn’t have mimes in the 18th century”, which gave me pause to consider how much more brutal warfare has become since 1745.

  25. Rob Grigjanis says

    davidc1 @30: Now I feel bad about my atrophied sarcasm detector. Must have a drink. Well, I was going to have one anyway…

  26. =8)-DX says

    I’m at least one of those two things in the title, but maybe you can think of a third.

    As blf used in #28, I think “poopyhead” is the appropriate moniker. Good luck with your megaday!
    =8)-DX

  27. says

    Tethys @25

    Screening them for genetic defects is only necessary if you have to conceive via artificial means in the first place.

    There is never a “need” to conceive artificially.
    There are, however, tens of thousands of children waiting to be adopted.

  28. battycat13 says

    “Busy.” I’d say you’re busy. Good thing to be.
    Unless, as was the case for me throughout the entirety of the 1990’s, it doesn’t end. A couple of days like that here and there make your blood rush. A decade of it brings you several car accidents, a short fuse and thinning hair.

  29. davidc1 says

    @34 I think the use of mimes in warfare is banned under the Geneva convention .
    One time the TA over here in GB ,because of spending cuts were reduced to shouting BANG when on exercises .
    don’t know if that comes under miming .
    @35 Well said ,think i think join you.

Leave a Reply