Should The “Yuk Factor” Hinder Finding The Good for Humanity?
“Yuk!” is an expression used by some people applied to what they know or see as unnatural or disgusting. The “yuk factor” is how this expression can lead to the action of those people to reject and argue against what they understand is the unnatural. This issue was brought to my mind yesterday with a current news article : "LONDON (Reuters) - Research using hybrid human-animal embryos for experiments is ‘monstrous’ and should be banned, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland said on Friday.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien said a proposed new law -- the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill -- should outlaw the practice." The issue appeared to me as to whether religion or morality should really separate nature into two categories, natural and unnatural and then apply the “yuk factor” to those which are deemed “unnatural”.
I found a well written article on this question in the January 1998 issue of Wired by Oliver Morton titled “Overcoming Yuk”. I thought the following excerpts worth contemplating:
"The Yuk factor boils down to a disgust at what seems unnatural. As we live with the unnatural, though, we begin first to accommodate it, then to accept it, then to appreciate it. ... The natural has no special moral status; it merely has a practical pedigree. That which is natural has the advantage of having been shown to work, and we should bear that in mind. But no gene ever knew what would work in advance, or applied itself to a greater purpose than its own replication; the choices recorded in the genome are not moral choices. Morality has only now come to the genome, because only now is the genome open to deliberate action by people with foresight and responsibility. We can choose life in ways nature could not. But we should not be bound by it."
Hopefully, the expressions by the Cardinal regarding the use of hybrid embryos will not be acted upon since such outlawing of the practice may effectively hinder research leading to the healing or prevention of human disease. Let’s move away from simply saying “YUK!” to creating an uplifting, better, more constructive expression, “AHH!” (Advancing Humanity’s Health). What do you think? ..Maurice.