In the essay “The Short, Simple Human Gene Map” Laurent Belsie discusses recent scientific advances in understanding of the human genetic code and points out some outstanding questions and unintended philosophical and social consequences of this rapid development. The author does not make any strong arguments nor does he take any specific position with respect to issues discussed but rather conveys to the reader facts and controversy as reported by experts in the field. By this approach he appeals to the reason and educates about the subject but at the same time prompts the reader to think independently and develop own point of view.
This style of essay primarily fits scientific journalism, as its main intention is to explain complex scientific concepts to the general public. Belsie provides some specific information regarding human gene code and compares it to significantly less sophisticated species like, a roundworm or a weed plant. This dramatic comparison and the fact that both sets of genes appear to be fairly similar, raises some serious questions about human race and specifically what makes us so well developed and advanced in the hierarchy of nature.
... human genes, including (1) ownership of artificial human genes or artificial combinations of genes; (2) ownership of works describing human genes or scientific ideas or principles pertaining to human ... genetics; and (3) ownership of processes for analyzing, sequencing, copying, fabricating, or manipulating human genes. ...
This strategy carries some elements of appealing to reader’s emotions as humans throughout history had a sense of superiority. The author explores this contrast repeatedly in the essay in order to grab and keep reader’s attention and increase the desire to understand the reason for such paradox. Rather than trying to answer this question, Belsie provides some speculative possibilities since the science did not advance far enough to be able to provide unequivocal explanation.
Furthermore, as extension to this controversy, Belsie explores some specific issues originating from the rapid development of the genetic science. One of these issues is related to the impact on human race relations as the research shows 99. 99% of our genes are identical regardless of the place of origin. Another issue discussed at volume is the social and legal impact of human genetic code understanding which includes, for example, discrimination based on inferiority of the genetic code for individuals seeking employment or health insurance coverage.
The primary audience of this article is general public with at least intermediate level of education but not necessary specific interest in the field of genetics. Considering the fact that this article was originally published in Christian Science Monitor it is possible that the target audience was slightly better educated and conservative in ideology than average person. Although this web-based newsmaker has rather solid reputation as unbiased, the kind of audience that it attracts is less than average.
This fact could have played a role in how the information was presented. The author avoids taking any sides in the argument but rather leaves unanswered questions or at most provides speculative options. This leaves the opportunity for the reader to fill the gaps based on individual’s personal believes or religious bias. Belsie uses fairly formal language but keeps it at the colloquial level by avoiding complex scientific terms that could confuse the reader. The article is structured in a uniform fashion.
It contains three major sections dealing with main issues discussed. Each section is broken into short and pointy paragraph where occasionally a question is posed, typically answered by the following several paragraphs. Generally, the essay flows well and is clear. It provides a wealth of information, however at the end the reader is left with some unanswered questions. This might have been a deliberate strategy to prompt the user to thinking and to spark the future interest in this subject.
Science Fiction: Genetic Engineering of Humans (1) The pace scientific progress in twentieth century resulted in fact that nowadays, the obtained empirical knowledge, often cannot be thought of outside of moral context. The discovery of DNA and its role in predetermining the physical and mental properties of a human being, allowed us to realize that now it is only the matter of time, before we are ...
Overall, Belsie’s essay is an interesting and absorbing text for an average reader. His selection of information and arguments keeps the reader focused and wanting to follow the scientific developments in the field of human genetic code well into the future. The questions posed in the essay, and left unanswered by the lack of scientific evidence, make the reader think about issues and be intrigued. I would recommend this reading not only to a person interested in sciences but also to anyone sensitive to social, moral, and philosophical issues.