A Modest Proposal

Mon Sep 19 17:37:09 EST 1994

I am a little unsure whether such trash should even merit the
cluttering up what little bandwidth we have, but just in case someone
should take this idea seriously some statement should be made I

I believe that the pursuit of  such an idea in any serious fashion
would constitute a serious perversion of the values that have motivated
many of us to pursue science in the first place: that is to facilitate
improvements in the human condition.  To commit mass assault on very
large numbers of people would be a crime that would ramk those who
committed the act with such luminaries as Joseph Stalin, Hitler etc.

I submit that if anyone ever receives the slightest wiff that someone
is pursuing this idea seriously, that such persons should be exposed
for what they are and prevented from pursuing such avenues.  It was bad
enough the The Bomb had to be invented.  To produce biological weapons
with a similar human destructive potential would actually be worse,
because the would not even be the excuse of a world war to justify
maiming millions of people.

It is fortunate that the proposer is obviously not a serious
immunologist and does not appreciate the complications in the
production of such a virus, the resources required for such a large
effort, and the unforseen effects produced by such a monstrosity.  If
such a thing would be produced, it would most likely be through the
sanction of some government with substantial resources.

I think that the main benefit of that so-called "modest proposal" is
that it shows that there are always people who are willing to pervert
science for hideous ends in the name of one "good"thing or another be
it "population control" (nice ephemism! It's been used before!), or
"racial purification".  We must all be vigilant for such things.   We
can never let up, even for a second, or there could be more

> Fellow scientists and friends of the earth,
> The biggest problem facing the world today is the population explosion.
> The events at the Cairo summit prove (if any proof was needed) that
> voluntary means will never suffice to reduce the population growth to a
> sustainable level.  Unless something radical is done, the quality of life
> will be drastically reduced for everyone alive on Earth within twenty years
> (it is already bad for a most people alive today).
> Neither world-wide war nor any epidemic like those of the past will be able
> to reduce the population sufficiently.  These phenomena are likely to
> happen, but they can only be viewed as symptoms of the problem, not as the
> cure.
> But here is a proposal.  The idea is based on an article in the news about
> a year ago -- that researchers at CSIRO in Australia developing a
> genetically engineered virus that would be rapidly spread among rabbits,
> and which would sterilize the females by stimulating an immune response in
> them to male rabbit sperm.  But the virus would not kill them and need not
> even cause significant morbidity.
> Mathematical models show that this intervention would lead to enormous
> reductions in the rabbit population within a few generations, and would not
> be as quickly evaded by genetic adaptation as the type of virus that kills
> or disables its host.
> My proposal is to apply this technology to the human species.  It could be
> viewed as a form of involuntary birth control.  No one would be injured,
> and the advantages would begin to accrue within less than a generation, as
> resources were freed up that would have gone into raising children.  It
> would have great advantages over all other realistic scenarios for the
> reduction of population.
> The reason for sterilizing females obviously has nothing to do with
> misogyny; sterilizing males would be ineffective, as those males who proved
> resistant could easily fertilize all the females in the world.  For similar
> reasons, the exact technology being applied in the rabbit case should not
> be used here, as it would allow wealthy populations a simple escape from
> the desired effects: ova could be extracted and fertilized in vitro.  The
> stimulated immunological attack should be directed at some component of the
> female's own reproductive system, possibly the ovum itself, or at
> components involved in implantation.
> Such a virus would not cause the extinction of the human species.  For one
> thing, a certain percentage of females would prove resistant and would
> continue to breed.  Second, adaptation between the host and virus would
> occur within a few generations.  Third, medical science would not stand by
> idly, and probably would find ways to mitigate the virus.  But even if the
> reduction or reversal of population growth only lasted a generation or two,
> it would give human culture some breathing room, after which another
> solution could be found.
> In order to minimize morbidity I suggest starting with some common human
> respiratory virus, or perhaps even several viruses.  These could be
> engineered to closely resemble the human cold and to become endemic,
> possibly replacing existing respiratory virus populations in some cases.
> The feasibility of doing the sort of genetic engineering required is
> illustrated by the large number of labs doing similar work; one example
> recently came to light when the USDA approved the first category III
> live-virus vaccine for use in chickens (a category III virus is one to
> which has been added foreign genetic elements).  Evidently it is strongly
> believed that such viruses can be constructed and used safely.
> The development of this technology would require the coordinated efforts of
> a small number of people well equipped and trained in the relevant
> disciplines.  It would probably have to be carried put in secret.  I
> propose that we try to assemble a group of people able and willing to do
> this sort of thing by establishing a trusted network via encrypted and
> anonymized email and newsgroup discussions.
> The first important discussion is how to organize such a group in such a
> way that everyone's personal safety is maintained, but still allowing the
> necessary exchange of technical results.
> Please respond publicly in the newsgroups; you may want to do so
> anonymously.  If you need to find out how to do this, a good starting place
> is to read recent postings in the newsgroup alt.privacy.anon-server.
> You can respond privately to the sender by posting a PGP encrypted reply in
> alt.anonymous.messages.  Please put the words "Modest Proposal" in the
> subject header of any such messages so I can recognize that they are meant
> for me.  My signed PGP public key is attached at the end of this message.
> To establish and protect my identity from others who might try to appear to
> be the same anonymous person as myself, I will cryptographically sign this
> and subsequent messages with the same public key.
> Version: 2.6
> iQBVAgUBLn4P53G3FGlCVWS1AQHgmwH8D6jwRzrAAnMgRLo0ubHlOKK/YmHtkT7j
> bUcjM+hTKdQ1M+FwkPogSZFaBiBLy8V81LmYJbwSBQZuTEwIzHy6+A==
> =0o4s
> My key:
> Version: 2.6
> b250cm9siQBVAgUQLnu2OHG3FGlCVWS1AQFNGgH+Ol8rPhOHI0aYcyQwx+F/e+Ge
> lbe5AGC/YJshO2JiXuMNi4hGLx4JuyHE6bLKiBxRY7B0KkBXe24tITA7XdZeLw==
> =yHQ7

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