Saturday, December 09, 2006

Totto said 'What is for breakfast dad?'

I have just finished reading a new book by Michael Crichton called ‘Next’. I have been one of his fans for many years. I find his writing thought provoking if not always the accepted view. His book on climate change, ‘State of fear’, was so mind blowing as I read it just two weeks before the terrible Tsunami tragedy. It almost seemed prophetic. This is a book of fiction but so full of real life drama. Michael poses the question. Is science inventing climate change in order to bolster the income of research companies and universities looking for funding? He lectures widely and puts his alternative view very strongly.
So it was with some trepidation that I opened his new book ‘Next’. ‘Next’ is about stem cells. “Next’ is about cross genetic experiments and is illustrated by a talking monkey that is so human that he wears clothes and goes to school, quite apart from his ability to talk and think. A thinking talking and mathematically talented parrot joins him. Between them, they make this into a fascinating drama, with high finance, learned professors on the make, and kidnapping all thrown into the exciting tale. These animals have been the subject of stem cell experimentation.
So why talk about it on Forget me not?
The news these days is full of claims that some scientists are making for stem cell technology. Not many days go by without claims that cells injected into the brain, the heart etc cause amazing and healing results. Men walk again after paralyzing strokes and Jesus Christ is again on the earth. It is good that Michael has published his book at this time. Perhaps as a timely warning. Test and vigorous clinical trials, with exhaustive requirement of proof are needed. The acquisitive and the unscrupulous must weeded out from the genuine seekers of the advancement of science and the health and happiness of all creatures on this earth. That includes the animals that they use for experimentation. The senseless use of animals to test trivial products must be stopped.
What kind of answer is that? Good question. I live with ten monkeys. I rub shoulders with talking parrots, this is my life and theirs. Is it going to change? Are they going to start talking to me intelligently? Already I know that the Howler monkeys have a language, which appears to be universal. Wherever our monkeys come from, they make the same sounds in response to their mood, happiness or fear. For me this book comes very close to home.

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