RE: virus: Strange attractors and meta-religions (was God and

Wright, James 7929 (
Fri, 04 Apr 97 08:15:00 EST

Mark Hornberger wrote:
<Snip backquote>
>I think the first two above examples are different from the third. A
>percentage of those in experimental medical programs volunteer because
>feel they have nothing to lose - someone with AIDS might rationalize the
>'risk' by saying that they're going to die anyway, so what's the point
>being cautions about the treatment?

I didn't have these people specifically in mind. When Walter Reed was
investigating the treatment of yellow fever (then a virulent killer), he
asked for volunteers to determine whether or not it was spread by
mosquitoes. Those already infected would not be suitable subjects; it was
HEALTHY volunteers he asked for, and received.

>As for Galileo, people like that have
>an internal drive to understand the world, to discover and push the
>envelope of knowledge - the motive isn't precisely to help others. <

Agreed, but to save his own skin pain and grief he might as well have
kept the knowledge for himself, arranged for the information to be
published posthumously, or written under a pseudonym - none of which he
did. He pushed it, then and there, against the opposition of the

> That
>this may be the end result of both of the examples is excellent for the
>rest of us, but we should not confuse it with the original intent of the
>person acting.<

Intent is difficult to determine, which is why I tried to pick general
examples. I apparently didn't succeed all that well.

> As for the third example, the answer is usually a 'yes,' but
>I think that's largely hard-wired into us, and I would be hard-pressed
>attribute it to a conscious decision.<

A good point, but is it really hard-wired? I can present counter-examples
of negligent parentage.
Thank you for a well-written and thoughtful post.