The Public Interest

Biodemocracy in America

Adam Wolfson

Winter 2002

RECENT breakthroughs in biotechnology have led to all kinds of speculation about America’s future in the twenty-first century, the “biotech century.” The discussion has been lively and entertaining, even informative at times, but the fact is that predicting the future is a fool’s game. The collapse of communism in 1989 caught us as unaware as the terrorist assault on America in 2001. Nor does our track record improve when the relevant variables are well known and quantifiable. A few months before the 2000 election, several prominent political scientists, using state-of-the-art modeling techniques, predicted that Al Gore would defeat George W. Bush by a landslide. If we lack the ability to forecast events only a few months off, surely it would be ludicrous to attempt to divine how as-yet-unknown discoveries in such complex fields as biochemistry and genomics will affect our society.

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