by Professor J. Scola - 9/3/99
Well, they've really done it now.
According to a study published today in the journal Nature,neurobiologists from Princeton,
Washington, and M.I.T. have found a way to enhance the intelligence of laboratory mice through
genetic manipulation. By inserting extra copies of a particular gene into early mouse embryos,
the scientists have created mice that can learn faster and remember things longer than ordinary
mice. Of course, the mainstream media has come
out in strong support of this "breakthrough,"
waxing optimistic about the possible treatments for Alzheimer's and memory disorders that could
derive from it. The mainstream media, however, has failed to warn the public of potential
consequences that could occur when a new race of super-intelligent lab mice emerge from this
To understand these consequences, let us consider the tests (or should we say ordeals) that these
enhanced mice were forced to endure in the name of scientific research. First, in a test to
measure "emotional memory," the mice were repeatedly placed in a chamber where they received
Painful Electrical Shocks and (according to some reports) were forced to listen to Smooth Jazz.
After a ten day rest, the mice were again placed in this chamber and their behavior was
monitored: the enhanced mice displayed considerable fear, which is apparently what smart mice
are supposed to do when they anticipate yet another session of the aforementioned Painful
Electrical Shocks. The fun, however, did not stop there. When the mice had received so much
P. E. S. treatment that they would become instantly freaked out at the mere sight of
The Chamber, they were again placed within it. This time, however, there were no shocks.
The idea here was to test the "learning response" of the mice by seeing how long it took
for them to resume "normal behavior" from their initially terrified state. The enhanced
mice got over their P. E. S. terror far more quickly than the regular mice.
Now then, let us summarize the procedure that our neurologist friends were foolish enough to
utilize. First, they inserted special genes into the mice to make them really smart. Then
they shocked them a bit, which resulted in the mice getting pissed off. After that, the
researchers shocked the hell out of the mice until the they ceased to even fear the torments
of their human captors. So, after all that, what we end up with is a small army of
super-intelligent, pissed off, fearless lab mice - and I will bet you dollars to test
tubes that they are at this moment plotting their revenge!
Imagine, if you will, what would happen if one of the really bright mice got free from its cage.
Being ultra-smart, and having grown up in a genetics lab, the mouse could surely figure out how
to duplicate the process that had made it so intelligent. That mouse could then sneak out of
the lab, searching for other embryonic mice to liberate through the power of genetic
enlightenment. Before you know it (they breed real fast), there will be lab mouse uprisings
in every lab in the nation; the mice will form unions and militant political organizations
(making scientific research virtually impossible). Then, sure enough, the mice will take over
the Universities, forcing institutions to create programs in Laboratory Mouse Studies, and
courses in the History of Mouse Oppression, and Mouse/Gender/Sexuality seminars, and then,
after they've really dug in their little paws, they will have well-respected scholars like
myself submitting themselves to "Mouse Sensitivity Training," and we'll all have to sit
in a circle talking about the "first time we ever killed a mouse" and "how it made us
feel," and - and all of this because a handful of reckless neurologists caught a little case of
"Nobel Fever." Shame on them, I say!
An additional and particularly disturbing aspect of this project is that the neurobiologists choose
to call the enhanced mice "Doogie" after that memorable pre-pubescent television physician, Doogie
Howser, MD. Although this reporter cannot say precisely what is so unsettling about naming the
mice after that TV show, it still seems damn ominous to associate a genetically enhanced uber-mouse
with Neil Patrick Harris.
See what I mean?
As bad as all this may seem, however, there may yet be a way out of this mess. A
solution to this kind of problem has been suggested, of all places, on the Spielberg-produced kids
program, Pinky and the Brain. As any regular viewer of this cartoon will tell you, even the most
ingenious laboratory mouse intent on world domination can be neutralized if an extremely stupid
sidekick mouse is perpetually at its side. Once again, stupidity saves the day! Human
civilization can be saved, but only if some ambitious genetics lab can quickly develop a breed
of wacky sidekick mice who are genetically disposed to foiling the plans of the genius mice.
Long shot though this may be, it is our only hope!