This post will be in the form of a brief synopsis of my thoughts over the past few days and some commentary on various things I’ve read/heard recently
Part 1: On business
Are companies THIS out of touch with scientific research? I work for a company as a biochemical analyst looking at various compounds via HPLC (reverse phase) and occasionally UV/Vis among other techniques. I do not understand why these methods are even still used as immunoassays can provide far more reliable results than HPLC or UV/Vis unless the two are used in conjunction. Fraction columns (even older technology) with immunoassays would work just fine and cost far less as well as be much simpler to prepare samples for. This is just one part of it, I may get into “technologies most companies are completely ignorant about” in a separate post…
Part 2: On vegetarianism
Peter Singer on vegetarianism; where to begin with this one? Well, there’s the whole idea that creationists typically pounce on that “evolution means we should treat animals as humans.” I hate that argument for a number of reasons, but namely because it ignores WHY we should treat humans kindly. First of all, humans cooperate with one another in society, as such, we have developed a set of almost instictive ethics for dealing with other humans. This is what helps OUR societies to function. Show me another organism which contributes to our levels of discourse, and I shall concede the point that we should treat animals as equals. Evolution explains why we have our rules within our societies, it does not dictate what our beliefs SHOULD be, that, ultimately, is up to us as a society. On the charge of energy efficiency, I’ll concede that point, but energy efficiency should not be the sole driver of our dietary needs. Check out Vitamin D, it’s pretty neat shit, live in the arctic/antarctic regions and don’t eat meat all winter without vitamin supplements, see what happens to you, the same goes for B12, if this were not added to your pre-processed food products, you’d completely lack this one. Need Iodine? Hope you like kelp. Why am I so against dietary supplements even though, frankly, my current job hinges on people needing them? Well, honestly, we’ll never be able to have a diet full of every amino acid, vitamin, or mineral we need, so the companies which prepare these pre-processed foods will continue to fortify them. Remember, the longer you live, the more products they sell, so they do have a vested interest in your health. Quit trying to push your beliefs upon others. Also, calling someone a “meat-eater” is like calling someone an “atheist,” just because I incorporate a few extra sources of calories into my diet and may, actually, eat meat, it doesn’t serve a useful means of classification. I would, in the same light, not categorize someone as a “vegetarian.” I may refer to a diet as “vegetarian” or a meal as “vegetarian,” but a person is not. You eat more animals than you may care to think about: spiders, mites, flies, larva, possibly parts of mice…
Part 3: On “Human”
What does it mean to be human? How do we define human life and why should (do) we hold others of our species in higher regard than other organisms on this planet? When do we consider a developing ball of cells “human” for purposes of rights and protection under the law? Let’s begin with explaining that this portion of this post shall not delve into what is right or wrong, but will simply bring up the questions.
- How should we define “human?”
- At what stage of development is a human embryo/zygote/fetus considered a “human” and why?
- Why should we treat “humans” any differently than ALL other organisms (I include plants here)?
- If we consider “human” to be at fertilization, conception, stage x of gestation, birth, Piaget’s Formal Operational stage, how do we address the consequences of what that means; namely that prior to this, said individual does not receive rights, does not qualify for protection under the current laws dealing with people, etc. In addition to these losses of rights, they would gain the freedom to not be punished under those laws. This is not a problem for pre-birth, but for toddlers on up, it certainly is worth mentioning. So, if we consider “human” life to begin at fertilization, why? Is it capable of feeling, sensing, or communicating even at the level of a goldfish? At least one can argue the goldfish can feel pain and has motives and presumably thoughts of some kind.
- Lastly, anywhere we define “human” life as “beginning,” we still must discuss the idea of life “beginning” in an embryo at all. Life does not begin through sexual reproduction, it continues through the fusing of gametes. The real issues with abortion, right-to-die, and other such legislation is not a matter of life itself, but why we consider human life to be somehow special and then defining when one is considered “human.”