November 30, 2009
The craving for knowledge and understanding is a fundamental quality of human nature. Since the dawn of time, mankind has made it his mission to seeking out the unknown and to explore the uncharted. As is evident in our history, from the philosophy of Socrates to the mathematics of Einstein, humanity is a scientific and adventurous species. However, in the human obsession with the gaining of knowledge, it has become evident that too much knowledge and the resulting curiosity and inevitable experimentation is very much a short coming in the quest for understanding. The 1993 film, Jurassic Park, based on the best-selling book by science-fiction author Michael Crichton, addresses this problem by taking the possibility of the revival of dinosaurs on a modern Earth through genetics as an example. Jurassic Park presents a “what if’ scenario based around the central thematic question ‘Should cloning and experimentations in genetics be permitted in modern-day science?’ and, in its presentation, provides a few answers.
The field of science could be seen as a systematic satisfier of curiosity, yielding results brought about by irrefutable processes in most cases and leading to theories that other scientists can interact with and base their curiosities off of. However, scientific curiosity left uncontrolled can yield not only possibly useless results, but can be extremely dangerous, and in the case of Jurassic Park, fatal. The subject of Jurassic Park in terms of the scientific background pertains to cloning and its consequences. Michael Crichton, in his book, basically showed viewers a worst case scenario of a relatively simple act, the cloning of an ancient, extinct species. The ramifications of the scientists experiments in cloning the dinosaurs is the death of almost the entire human population on the island of Isla Nublar including the painful, gory deaths of most of the scientists and the near complete destruction of the once beautiful island. In the presentation of the revival of dinosaurs in this fashion, Crichton is asking viewers, and readers of the book, whether or not the new science of cloning and its benefits are worth its existence given the immediate and factually plausible consequences that could follow. Although the resurrection of the dinosaurs would have innumerable benefits in the scientific fields of paleontology and biology in general, the movie also asks the question of whether or not the dinosaurs could be contained and controlled in their detainment given present day technology.
Genetics and cloning are not all entirely bad. Through the movie presents one possibility of cloning and its possible consequences as being harmful, cloning is used in many beneficial ways. One such example is therapeutic cloning, in which human organs are cloned for transplant patients. This eliminates the concern of a transplant patient’s body rejecting the organ. In regards to the cloning and revival of dinosaurs, however, the movie answers its question with a statement of caution. According to the film, cloning and genetic engineering can be beneficial in some areas, but given a lack of restraint and discernment in the revival and detainment of dinosaurs, velociraptors will wreak havoc and destruction upon the Earth, and, even in the most hopeful of circumstances, there will be no survivors. Ian Malcolm, a character in the film, explains that with the power and potential terror the scientists have contained on the island, eventually, in their experimentation and exhibition of the beasts, something will go wrong, unleashing the dinosaurs. From this view, the obvious answer is no, cloning of dinosaurs will not be possible without the extinction of humanity as a result.
The film answers its own question of whether or not the revival of dinosaurs is a good idea in a few ways. Firstly, it enforces the concept that cloning is not all bad, but secondly, it demonstrates the inevitably deadly consequences of cloning dinosaurs. Ultimately, the film leaves us to form our own conclusion; it is our choice to decide whether or not we will clone some dinosaurs. By the time it is fully possible to do so, there may be no problem with the containment of the ancient creatures, but there is always a possibility that something may go horribly wrong.