Marie Stopeshttp://www.infowars.com/royal-mail-honors-eugenicist-nazi-sympathizer/Royal Mail Honors Eugenicist & Nazi Sympathizer
Paul Joseph Watson Prison Planet
Friday, September 12, 2008
Royal Mail is set to honor Marie Stopes
, a feminist who opened the first birth control clinic in Britain in 1921 as well as being Nazi sympathizer and a eugenicist who advocated that non-whites and the poor be sterilized, by adopting her image for a new set of stamps.Carl Djerassi
is a sicko ....http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/helthrpt/stories/s214672.htmCarl Djerassi
Broadcast Monday 20 November 2000
with Norman Swan
Professor Carl Djerassi was one of the scientists who invented the Pill. He is also an accomplished author and playwright. Professor Djerassi talks with Norman Swan about his work.
Norman Swan: Welcome to a Health Report on sex. Hello from me, Norman Swan.
One of the huge social and biological changes wrought by the invention of the oral contraceptive, the Pill
, is that once and for all it divided sex from the act of fertilisation
, of conceiving a baby.
And one of the scientists responsible for this earthquake in human behaviour was Carl Djerassi, Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University, whose work on reproductive hormones allowed the Pill to be developed.And now, about 50 years later, Carl Djerassi thinks there’s a good argument to be made that men’s reproductive abilities are becoming progressively redundant, mainly because the technology’s available to replace blokes.
But in order to advance his argument, Carl Djerassi has resorted to what has become his second career as a novelist and playwright. He has best sellers to his name, often with a theme close to the moral, ethical and biological dilemmas created by researchers themselves. He has a play which explores the death of sex for reproduction in the 21st century
I had a conversation with Carl Djerassi recently in the United States, where we started from the usual point I suppose, namely that there can’t be many chemists who are successful writers.
Carl Djerassi: Primo Levi was a famous chemist who certainly did a lot of writing but I think he was primarily a writer who also happened to be a chemist. He was not a great chemist; I think I’m a very much better chemist, although I think he was a better writer.
Norman Swan: You talk about the genre, and you describe the genre as science in fiction. What are you trying to achieve?
Carl Djerassi: What I’m trying to do is to use fiction as really a method of smuggling serious accurate scientific ideas, concepts, behavioural aspects, even facts, into a public’s mind that is either ascientific or anti-scientific or not interested in science, or not aware of the issues. Everyone likes to hear a story. And then in fact after they’ve heard the story, and hopefully it was an interesting one that kept their attention, they actually learned something. And in the process of course of my trying to write this, to do that, which is not easy to do, I have learned something in the process too.
Norman Swan: What have you learned?
Carl Djerassi: I have learned how we scientists
, who come from a very tribal culture, know very little about how we actually behave. We do not analyse our own behaviour
, we analyse the world ourselves. We are fantastic analysts, that’s really what we are, you know, every chemist really in a way is an analytical chemist even though we call ourselves other things. We analyse the world around us, in intimate detail. The only thing we don’t seem to analyse is our own behaviour
Norman Swan: One of the things that pervades any area is stereotypes, and scientists, doctors, medical researchers, they have the stereotype, whether it’s uncaring, technological, ruthless or even conversely, warm-hearted and generous. But presumably those stereotypes just simply don’t apply; there’s as much diversity amongst researchers as the general community.
Carl Djerassi: Absolutely. When you talk about the warm, good-hearted one, that’s usually the sweet, romantic image of a physician. It hardly ever is of the scientist. I’m a chemist, I wish some people would talk about warm-hearted chemists; they don’t. We are usually Frankensteins, Strangeloves or nerds. And frankly I draw a distinction between physician and scientist. Let me tell you, medicine sometimes is a science; much of the time it’s an art and sometimes even just mumbo-jumbo.
Norman Swan: And you’re not talking about stereotypes, of course. If we just take some examples of your writing. I mean the one I know best is ‘Cantor’s Dilemma’ which is this story of fraud. That must have been quite uncomfortable for your fellow scientists to read.
Carl Djerassi: ‘Cantor’s Dilemma’ is an interesting case because it’s become a text document in many American Universities, in courses where they teach ethics and research, sociology and science and so on. It’s too black and white to call it a story of fraud. It’s the story of something grey, and I believe it’s the grey issues that are much more important. Here is a superstar Professor of the warm kind, ambitious but kind, whose students adore him. And when he has this fantastic idea, you know it’s like an Epiphany you say, ‘My God, this has to be correct, this is too beautiful’, and you know, sometimes it’s true, but you should never fall in love with your idea, that’s one of the most dangerous things in science. So he thinks of an experiment and he goes to his favourite student, and he says, ‘Jerry, drop what you’re doing. Here’s the experiment, you’ve got to do it, you’re the best one, and this experiment has got to work and it’s got to be finished in three months.’ And while the student goes and he does experiment, and he delivers the goods within three months, and the Professor is delirious, and they write up a paper and then it creates a sensation the paper. And eventually they win the Nobel Prize. Of course people have to confirm that, and there his colleague as well as competitor at another institution at Harvard, tries to do so. Here I try to make a very important point: science is both the most collegial of all intellectual enterprise and at the same time the most brutally competitive one. There are very few things where you have these two extremes, where the brutal competition comes from your colleagues, and vice versa. Now that is very important and what drives it is ambition, and ambition and more ambition. And ambition is both the nourishment that makes all these things possible, and the poison at the same time. Now that mixture is a very potent thing and the balance between the very tricky and usually you don’t plan it that way, and name recognition counts for everything and is name recognition by your colleagues and not at all by the public and therefore most of as scientists couldn’t care less about the public, get no Brownie points for communicating with them or talking to people like you on the radio, because you can do nothing for me as a scientist. So that was the situation, that’s why they couldn’t repeat it, they couldn’t repeat the experiment. But in fact it was probably just you didn’t worry in the beginning because sometimes you can’t do this, you don’t have all the details, but after a while he distrusts his student, and that of course is the worst thing in science, because everything depends on trust. Ours is a totally vertical enterprise, we’re dependent on the results of people below us, behind us, before us or on each side, and if you can’t trust them you can’t do any research. So that was very serious and if you can’t trust your favourite collaborator, that’s the worst thing.
And yet he doesn’t want to admit that he doesn’t trust him because then it would mean that his theory is false, so instead he pretends that this guy is going to do another experiment, he himself the Professor, does it himself, a different type, which in fact confirms his hypothesis, so his hypothesis is correct. But now lo and behold he gets a Nobel prize for it, but the thing that was published was the inappropriate experiment or the incomplete one. So the student also gets a Nobel prize; he just faces the situation what do we put up in Stockholm? I don’t want to give the story away because it’s very realistic and it’s very grey, and it is not obvious what the answer is. And in fact it shouldn’t be. And I’m a great believer in all my fiction and now in my plays, not to give the answer.
Norman Swan: In one of your most recent works, ‘The Immaculate Misconception’,
you kind of return to base because a lot of your work in the past has been on reproductive biology of one kind or another in terms of work on the oral contraceptive and reproductive steroids. Just again, briefly tell us the plot here, and what do you think it tells us about the future?
Carl Djerassi: ‘The Immaculate Misconception’ is my first play which has now been performed in a number of theatres. I’m interested in bringing these issues to the public also on the stage rather than just through reading, for people who are not even going to read, but they’re willing to go to the stage. But what I really tried to do is talk about what I consider the issue of the next millennium, and that is the impending separation of sex and reproduction
Sex of course still continues to be done in the usual way and that’s for reasons that we always do: love, lust, pleasure. But reproduction separately, fertilisation, under the microscope, so to speak, now this separation of sex and reproduction which of course was not possible before, so therefore implicit in every sexual act was the fact that you might get pregnant, and that of course is you might say the Catholic dictum: you should not have sex for fun, you should have sex with at least the possibility, you can do it for fun but only with all the possibility of reproduction.
Well that stopped, that really stopped in a way you could say in 1960, with the introduction of oral contraceptives and IUDs, because these are the two methods of contraception that separated sex from contraception. So therefore anyone who was on the Pill, that’s a decision you might make on the 1st January and the first time you might have sex is 5th March, so therefore you clearly made a decision the 1st January, the woman in this case, you know the couple if you wish, that ‘I do not want to have children, but I want to be ready for sexual intercourse.’ Now that was the beginning of that separation, but the real next step was –
Norman Swan: Steptoe.
Carl Djerassi: Steptoe and Edwards, in other words, the introduction of in vitro fertilisation, and that at least made possible the ex utero fertilisation that is, you remove an egg from the woman
, fertiliser it in the usual way, that is, you expose it to millions of sperm as if the sperm were ejaculated, of course you put it in the Petrie dish, then after fertilisation a couple of days later, you put the fertilised egg, the embryo now, back into the woman and she has a normal pregnancy, hopefully.
Norman Swan: It’s a long way from IVF though to saying that the world is going to move towards, that normal fertilisation is going to be outside the body.
Carl Djerassi: Ah, but of course that’s where the next invention comes out. For me I think the most loaded one ethically, and that is ICSI, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which is an invention only published in 1992, maybe 1991, in Belgium, which is a direct injection of a single sperm into an egg, again, under the microscope
Now you can do it with only one single sperm. That has the normal implications and these are in fact illustrated in my play, and some of the implications are that you could now make possible post menopausal pregnancies, predetermination of sex, aspiration of sperm of a dead man, and then fertilising months or years later an egg. I mean there are all kinds of implications. And the most important of them all is that if you now have the embryo outside the body and only then put it back in the woman, you can genetically analyse it before you put it back. So there now is a moment where you can practice eugenics
. Now this is personal eugenics, we’re not talking about the master race or that sort of thing, we’re not talking about test-tube babies, but we’re talking about a form of genetic analysis which is possible to eliminate let’s say, certain diseases.
Norman Swan: But what is it about the intracytoplasmic sperm injection that’s different from just standard IVF, that you think is such a leap, because you could always, since IVF has been perfected, you could always stick an egg, even somebody who donated their egg before they were menopausal, and fertilise it. What’s the difference from being able to inject the sperm?
Carl Djerassi: Well to give you just one example, I wish I’d had the scene from my play to actually show it, because that’s of course exactly the question, that a man asks a woman, and the woman says, ‘Ah ha, but you see we knew how to freeze eggs but we didn’t really know how to fertiliser these thawed eggs. With ICSI you inject it directly into the egg, it makes no difference what happens to the outside and so on, but the fundamental point, you make a good question, is what is different. This was developed for male infertility
. You can take men who are absolutely infertile; they have no mature sperm, they have no vas deferens which is the duct that leads sperm to the urethra. Such men of course are 100% infertile, and yet you can use their sperm, their immature sperm, and create babies and one has done that.
So now it’s possible to inherit the uninheritable. This is unbelievable. Inherit the uninheritable. Because you cannot inherit congenital infertility, you know you’re infertile therefore you can’t have any offspring. Suddenly you can do that. Does that imply that your offspring is now also infertile and the implication mostly that it is, and the answer, as it is in my play is, Well, like father, like son. But the son used ICSI as well, so you get now a series of ICSI generations. Is there anything wrong with this? There may not be, but there may be
.We have now the first ICSI child born in 1991, nine-and-a-half years old, less than ten years old. By now there are over 10,000 ICSI babies already.
By the time you really will have answers to the questions I’m saying, which is another 20 years, because you have to wait until these things are adults, and you find all the things, you have 100,000 ICSI babies and more than that. That genie is out of the bottle.
Now of course it only happens in affluent countries, probably only the affluent people. And in some countries like the United States, we have hardly any government restrictions to this but it’s not covered by insurance. So it’s the affluent people in the affluent places that can do this, and you can then also by doing this embryo selection, apply a form of eugenics, which the poor people cannot afford. Now you have another increasing gulf between the rich and the poor, which is now at the micro personal eugenic level.
At the same time you are skipping evolutionary barriers: presumably the reason why these people are infertile you might say, you can say God did it, Nature does it, you know, whatever you want to call it, but clearly there are evolutionary selection reasons for this. We overcome all these now. That was not possible before, because you want to remember in vitro fertilisation, the Steptoe Edwards one, which was a very important step, you need that fertile sperm, you could not do it with infertile sperm. You of course needed a fertile egg. The only thing that they tried to cure is women couldn’t get that egg down to where they have to do it, but now with ICSI and the Steptoe Edwards in vitro fertilisation, you’re talking about a different proposition. You’re talking about another quantum jump.
Norman Swan: What’s the dramatic story that you tell in the play?
Carl Djerassi: It’s actually a good story, if I may say so. In my play I have a woman make the invention, ICSI, because I’m a great believer in this; I’ve done this in my fiction, and women have often asked me ‘Why did you men work on the female Pill, why didn’t you work on a male Pill?’ A very good question. So at least in my fiction I have a woman do it in my last novel which deals with treatment for male impotence, like Viagra, I have a woman discover this rather than a man. So in this case I have a woman discover ICSI, and she is a woman who knows her biological clock is ticking loudly, she has no children, she’s in her late 30s, and she invented ICSI and she’s ready to do the first ICSI experiment, and decides to experiment on herself, with her own egg.
But she needs some sperm and she’s the sort of person who cannot go to an anonymous sperm bank, and she falls in love with an infertile man in a very intense but very short way and she decides to ‘steal’ the sperm by simply keeping the condom, they use a condom. He asks ‘What the hell do we need a condom for, I’m infertile.’ She says, safe sex, you know, we gotta have it. So she does it, she preserves it, in a thermos, runs to the bathroom and puts it in a thermos and there’s a funny scene in the play, and then in fact tries the first ICSI experiment on herself, becomes pregnant and eventually has a child.
She does not inform him, because she doesn’t want to burden him, he’s married, etc. etc. The ethical question has she stolen something, in other words he is infertile, he’s always thrown his seed away so to speak, he was useless. She takes his garbage.
So she uses his junk on her egg with her invention. All that is perfectly OK. She hasn’t stolen anything, or has she? Because of course she creates new life, and that new life you could not have created without a man’s junk. And at that point of course, you really get into the ethic, and that is a fundamental ethic for me, the preoccupation by people to become parents, who can’t usually become parents, and usually are obsessed by realising parenthood without paying very much attention to the product of that, namely the child.
And there may be all kinds of things that then will apply to the child that will be produced in a child, that would not be produced ordinarily, but because of these interventions. And the final real argument, and it’s ironic perhaps for me who let’s say was involved in an invention that made possible to have sex without life and now I write about creating life without sex, is that I think in the future gradually contraception will be unnecessary because if everything I described will, it will be possible that it will be practised more widely.
Norman Swan: We’ll have a world populated by infertile people?
Carl Djerassi: No, not so much that, but everyone would then – see, this can of course also be used by fertile people. A young man stores his sperm, a woman stores her young eggs,
going for of course super ovulation, then you can get sterilised. There’s no reason to practice contraception because you have them in the bank. Whenever you want to have a child, you go to the bank, you check out your material, you now have several embryos, you pick the best embryo, this of course is loaded with ethical questions, and you create a child that you really want.
Norman Swan: How do you feel being somebody who helped to create the revolution that really created the need for Steptoe and IVF? Because one argument is that with oral contraception women were more able to have a career, delay pregnancy, and there was no doubt that in your late 30s you’re far less fertile than you were; your eggs aren’t in terribly good shape and your husband’s more likely to be sub-fertile, and therefore the need for that, you could sheet a lot of the blame back to people like you.
Carl Djerassi: Well you could, but it’s too black and white. You asked a grey question and you’re not going to get a black and white answer to a grey question. You can only get a grey answer. And I think it’s shades of grey. And it depends how you want to interpret it, because of course, that was not the reason why the Pill was developed. And in fact what I just described, the other, if you want to call it horror scenario, is not why ICSI was developed. The interesting part is that scientists carry out in this case technological inventions or applications of their work, with a very specific aim in mind, without realising particularly in reproductive biology, the other application in which it can be used.
For instance there’s no question that at the time that the work with the Pill was done, remember we synthesised the Pill in October 1951. This will be the 50th anniversary next year. It was first introduced in medicine in 1960. It was as a contraceptive. Well we didn’t think this was going to cause the sexual revolution.
Well in fact, did it cause that? It’s blamed or credited it caused this. I’m not quite sure, that experiment can never be repeated. Remember the 1960s were not just the introduction of the Pill, and the two countries where it was most widely used at the time interestingly enough, was first the United States and then Australia.But at the same time those were the years of the drug culture, those were the years of the rock ‘n’ roll music,
and there’s no question if you’d had no Pill whatsoever, you would have still had a sexual revolution in the context in which people look at it, with a lot more misery.
There would have been a lot of illegal abortions, there would have been a lot of unwanted pregnancies, but there’s no question in my mind that it would have happened in one way or another anyway; perhaps not exactly the same way. And I think the Pill was a contributing factor in the same way the Pill was a contributing factor to what you’ve just mentioned. But again what you mentioned is you blame ‘the Pill’ on the fact that more and more women moved not only into work, but into difficult and complicated work, into professions from which they were kept out, and where they therefore postponed child bearing until as you correctly state, you reach middle, late 30s when you are getting frequently sub-fertile and so on
But that may have happened anyway. For cultural reasons women were discriminated. The women’s movement, you’re not going to credit the entire women’s movement to the Pill, it would be nice if you could do so, but it would be inappropriate. So all these things happened, so the Pill facilitated certain things, it stimulated certain things, it catalysed certain things, it also inhibited certain things. I can tell you right now that there are some negative things, the fact of the matter that men have paid less and less attention to contraception, simply said it was another thing that women can now do. Were it not for AIDS, not that I’m advertising AIDS, but you know, condom use would have kept on going down, and that was certainly just reversed at that time,
but you don’t find any pharmaceutical company really working on male contraceptives these days. So that is not being done.
Norman Swan: Just coming back to where we started, and finally, do you think that using drama, using fiction, can actually ever truly replicate the actual ethical dilemma, since you have to stretch the truth? You have to create a situation which is slightly bizarre and unusual to just create that edge. It’s got to be larger than life.
Carl Djerassi: Well you know yes and no. The fact of course is that you could try and, let’s talk about plays because I’m particularly interested in using drama, the stage, to present the scientific things. You could use it just as a form of interesting lecture, but people are not going to go to that sort of theatre, or if they do, that’s it –
Norman Swan: It’s showbiz, you’ve just got to accept it as.
Carl Djerassi: Yes but I really would like to make it also exciting, and there’s nothing wrong. You do that too, you don’t have a radio program on some very dull subject, you pick something where you think there’s a certain interesting twist, even though frequently you talk about dull subjects, dull not in an intellectual sense.
Norman Swan: You don’t listen to my program.
Carl Djerassi: Yes, that’s also true. But in that context I would say if you want to say I partly plead guilty, I would say nolo contendere; one has to dramatise it, but this is to me the important thing in my science and fiction; if you read my novels you would see that. I am not trying to exaggerate, I’m trying to, I don’t just want them used for didactic purposes, I’ve got to also amuse and entertain. People have to be willing to turn the pages and keep on reading, people have got to be willing in a theatre to pay attention and to not walk out, and then of course hold their attention. But that is part of a good story and I think one doesn’t have to be ashamed for that or apologise for it.
Norman Swan: Carl Djerassi, thank you very much.
Carl Djerassi: You’re welcome, thanks.
Norman Swan: The amazing Carl Djerassi, who’s Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. His play is called “An Immaculate Misconception” and the book mentioned is called “Cantor’s Dilemma”, published by Penguin. We’ve been told that it’s out of print.
Dr. Carl Djerassi
Professor of Chemistry,
Stanford CA 94305-5080
An Immaculate Misconception
Author: Carl Djerassi
Publisher: Imperial College Press, London, ISBN 1-86094-248-2
Author: Carl Djerassi
This book is out of print http://www.djerassi.com/