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Book Book Review: How to Defeat Your Own Clone by Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D. Johnson

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Authors Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D. Johnson pretty much have me convinced that human cloning is quite possible and is a future certainty. Kurpinski and Johnson are both bioengineering experts; unlike similar scientists you have seen in b-movies, they both have a sense of humor. I know that there are five people who would be shocked to hear I enjoyed a science book: 1) my high school science teacher; 2) my summer school science teacher; 3) my high school biology teacher; 4) my summer school biology teacher; and 5) my earth science professor who unfairly gave me a “C” because she couldn’t add. My environmental science and geology professors wouldn’t even be mildly surprised. What surprises me is that Kurpinski and Johnson were able to take something as complicated as DNA and make it semi-understandable (let’s face it, I’m a housewife, not a rocket bioengineering scientist). 

“DNA” is tossed around so much that the term has worked its way into abuse and misuse. Enjoying certain types of music is not encoded in one’s DNA, nor is the love of (ugh) chocolate.

How to Defeat Your Own Clone teaches us what is now known to be DNA-encoded, how that happens, and why people with similar DNA don’t look and act the same. It also clearly explains the difference between RNA and DNA (besides that RNA, in its entirety, is easier to pronounce). Once we get a basic understanding of what DNA and its purpose are, How to Defeat Your Own Clone explains cloning and stem cell research. It occurs to me that a lot of people who are anti-stem-cell-research don’t have a clue what they are protesting. The authors provide a concise history of cloning, as well as information about stem cells. The real fun starts when the authors attack various myths about cloning. Apparently, too many people have been watching way too many bad movies and television programs. People, it’s fiction. If, somehow, scientists manage to clone your sorry butt (along with the rest of you), twenty years from now your clone isn’t going to want to kill you and assume your bankrupt, lazy ass, pot-bellied identity. Even identity thieves aren’t interested in all of us. 

Among the myths explored and exploded are “a clone will know everything you know and will act as you do,” ”decapitated heads can be kept alive indefinitely,” and “a clone has no belly button.”  Many of the myths would be comic except that we know people subscribe to them. Kurpinski and Johnson also detail some bioenhancements (my spell-checker hates that word) “that really work.” You see, genes can be manipulated to help you sleep better and be smarter, healthier, immune to disease and pain, and taller, among other improvements. Well…not exactly you, but future generations. Or your clones. When it comes to defeating — actually being in battle with — clones, whether yours or someone else’s, How to Defeat Your Own Clone offers heaps of advice. Of course, it all starts with what the Boy Scouts advise: be prepared.

One of the most important aspects of preparedness is never let your clone (or any clone) read How to Defeat Your Own Clone. That would defeat its purpose. If you do wind up in battle with your own clone, who would be considerably younger than you, remember that it is not you, that it doesn’t know what you know, and that some of its bioenhancements (sorry, spell-checker) will work to its disadvantage. Having said all that, let me just add that if you’re worrying about your clone coming to get you, it’s time to check into a nice quiet place with nice soft walls and let the nice medication  ease your mind. 

Bottom Line: Would I buy How to Defeat Your Own Clone? And how! I loved this book. I’m going to read it again (or maybe just let my clone read it to me)!       

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