The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Baroness Warnock, the unethical "ethics expert".

Baroness Warnock wants you to die. More specifically, if you become ill with dementia she wants people to be "licensed" to put you down - just like an old dog. Baroness Warnock is, I contend, a far from ethical medical ethics expert.

Let us a take a closer look at what she believes. She thinks that an old person should be killed for the sake of their loved ones or society in general. She believes that such ill people are a burden on society and their loved ones and should be put down, like animals, to save others the burden of caring for them. This is, she considers, the "ethical" thing to do. I am left to wonder if she is quite sane. I think not.

Baroness Warnock thinks that if one burdens others, one should die. She is putting the convenience of society as a whole as a higher value than individual human life. I have seen this kind of thinking before: the Nazis were particularly enamoured of it, putting down whole swathes of people for violating the convenience of society as a whole, as they defined convenience. The convenience of society is NOT and can never be a higher value than human life itself. There is no higher value than human life - and one who does not place human life as the highest of values is not and can never be considered an ethical authority.

Baroness Warnock has revealed herself as a monster. I use the word deliberately, for she shares the outlook on human life (that its value is contingent on what others want) with the Nazis and other monstrous people before them. Human life is of the highest value - and is never and can never be considered contingent on what others want, in any civilized, ethical society. Baroness Warnock's reasoning is monstrous - or perhaps she is, herself, showing signs of dementia (she is 84). By her own reasoning, Baroness Warnock should be put down, therefore, for the demented nature of her own utterances. I don't see her being too quick to volunteer, however - perhaps she places a high value on her own life, but a low value on the life of others (another definite sign of a monstrous personality).

Baroness Warnock says that old people in mental decline are "wasting people's lives", due to the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if not in pain. She insisted that there was "nothing wrong" with people being helped to die for the sake of loved ones or society. She has previously been recorded as saying that old people, who did not want to become a burden, should be helped to die. Now, she wants people to be licensed to do just that: go around killing old people. To my mind, she seems quite mad, in holding such views.

Baroness Warnock holds the kinds of views typical of despots and tyrants and monsters through the ages. Yet, she is supposedly a "medical ethics expert" who has been an adviser to the British government. I am puzzled as to how someone with so little grasp of what constitutes an ethical position could ever have been considered an ethics expert - or allowed to be an adviser on it. Her remarks show her to be most unethical - profoundly so - for she places no value on individual human life, but values the convenience of others above it.

It seems to me that more careful vetting is needed of candidates for the position of ethical adviser. Clearly, the British made a serious error in ever allowing Baroness Warnock any influence on ethical matters at all. Her influence can only be highly dangerous. Just think of what kind of world would come into being if Baroness Warnock were heeded on this matter: a world in which any human who fell sick and therefore inconvenienced others, would be put down. It is a world in which Stephen Hawking would have been killed off in his twenties when his motor disease overcame him. It is a world in which no-one would be allowed to live who troubled others. It is a world in which the handicapped would be executed at birth. It is world in which the stupid would be eliminated. For is not a mentally impaired person a burden on others? It is a world in which all would be relatively young, because the old would be consistently eliminated. It is a world that has been tried before. It is the world of the Third Reich.

Baroness Warnock is clearly impaired mentally, herself. She is clearly not thinking of the broader implications of advocating the death of one inconvenient class of people. Before long ALL inconvenient classes of people would be executed. Then again, what does "inconvenient" mean? Would it be extended, in some countries, to mean all those who don't support a particular political viewpoint? Would it extend to homosexuals? Or holders of another religion other than the official one? You may say that I am extending her argument too much - but I am most assuredly not. Once the idea that society has the right to execute one class of inconvenient people has become entrenched, it will soon be generalized. The taboo against taking human life would have been broken and this would open the way for all kinds of people to be ruled against as "inconvenient". Before long the few classes of people who survive will be living in a much duller, sanitized world - the world of Baroness Warnock "ethical expert".

Baroness Warnock is not a very intelligent woman. That much is clear. Her contribution to the world is not a positive one. What she advocates would destroy the civility of the modern world as we know it. Far from being a burden that must be killed, sick old people should be the focus of a duty of care: it is our responsibility, as fellow humans, to ensure that their lives are as comfortable as possible. In fact, I will go further than this: it is our duty as fellow humans to TREAT their illness and make them better if we can. Our ethical duty is not to kill them, to spare ourselves the trouble of bothering with them, as "ethical", oops, monstrous Baroness Warnock contends, but to cure them of their illnesses. A civilized culture would invest greater funds in research on dementing illnesses so as to cure them. They would not invest in the apparatus of death which Baroness Warnock would like to see brought into being.

The ethical thing to do, in this situation, would be to ensure that Baroness Warnock's plan is never implemented. Furthermore, to safeguard the future of society, the ethical thing to do would be to ensure that Baroness Warnock has no further influence over ethical matters. The ethical thing to do would be to review ALL of Baroness Warnock's past "ethical" decisions and check them for ethical content, against a more humanistic view of the world.

Baroness Warnock, by advocating the early deaths of millions of people, has become an inconvenience to society - for there could be no greater inconvenience to members of that society than wholesale deaths. Therefore, by her own reasoning, it is time for Baroness Warnock to say goodbye to the world. Perhaps she would like to try to establish the wisdom of her own reasoning by providing an example to the world of how a "sick old person" can benefit society by their own euthanasia.

I very much doubt whether she will take her own advice - which just goes to show how valueless it is.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:57 PM 


Anonymous ks said...

Recently on Arts Central there was a programme about a Cambridgeshire man who wasted away with Alzheimer's Disease over a 20 year period. His wife was the main caregiver, as she didn't want him to be exposed to unknown people in the hospital (eg to protect his dignity).

It was sad to see the toll that Alzheimer's takes on the body and the demand that it makes on caregivers. But, unfortunately, very little funding was given to people to care for their sick relatives.

At the end of the programme, the man was given morphine and some other combination of drugs to reduce his full body nervous twitching. Within 3 days he died, wasted away as a skeleton because he could no longer swallow.

While I also believe that human life is sacred, caregivers sometimes feel that the patient would have relief if they were allowed to die without suffering.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

KS the permanent answer to this sort of situation is not to kill people - as Baroness Warnock advocates - but to CURE them. Research into such illnesses could completely change the fate of hundreds of millions of people: that should be our aim, not mass planned death of the sick.

Best wishes.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Miao said...

Casting aside the absurd unethical nature of her appallingly irresponsible comment (I believe that euthanasia can only be performed when the patient himself makes a personal request while still in a reasonably sound state of mind), I think her stupidity is also highlighted by her utter disregard for practical considerations. If her 'advice' is really heeded, there are myriad difficulties that would arise: What is the objective yardstick for determining whether a patient is becoming a 'burden', and how is this cut-off to be determined? What measures are to be taken to ensure that no one abuses this policy? What if unfilial children decide to just put their parents to death even when their parents have a good chance of being cured? If we feel no qualms about getting rid of elderly patients simply because they are consuming too many resources and not contributing anything in return, should we also have no hesitation when it comes to killing young(er) patients who are afflicted with incurable diseases (since, like the old patients, they won't be able to contribute to society anyway)? I am sure there are still many other repercussions - practical, but mostly ethical - that Warnock has not considered. I share your sentiment: I really wonder why she is appointed the ethical advisor. It is unfathomable.

What message do we want to convey to the public? Confucius and many ancient Chinese philosophers uphold filial piety as the most important of all virtues - the idea seems to be that we can more or less derive conclusions about a person's moral character by examining how he treats his own parents. A person who treats his parents with love and respect is essentially still a good person, even if he may have many other glaring flaws. A Chinese idiom also goes: “老吾老以及人之老,幼吾幼以及人之幼。” It means that we should have compassion for and take care of the young and the elderly in our community, even if they are not related to us by blood. Warnock's suggestion is blatantly contrary to this communal spirit - it promotes downright selfish and aborrent behaviour, and thinks that it can be justified by calculating the society's utility units.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Miao,

I am sure that Baroness Warnock hasn't considered the wider implications of her suggested policy. Her world is that of dystopian horror stories. It is the most terrible of worlds. It would be a reign of terrible tyranny and many, many kinds of people would vanish from the world. Once such a process has begun, it is hard to stop: a "socially beneficial" reason can always be found to get rid of yet another class of people. It would end the world as we know it.

Another way to look at it is to ask: is this the way to thank those who brought us into the world and raised us as children: to execute them when they fall ill? Appalling.

I dearly hope that she is not listened to or taken seriously. Her views were published in a Church magazine - so it wasn't an offhand remark - but a response given in an interview in which she argued for her position.

Take care, Miao.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Miao said...

"Her views were published in a Church magazine..."

I certainly hope this doesn't mean that the church actually endorses her views!

7:50 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Miao,

I would hope not too...normally a publication is the vehicle for an opinion but not necessarily the holder of it. However, the question is: why did the Church give a voice to such an EVIL viewpoint? Strange. One would have thought that they would have said: "We are not having those views here, thank you." Apparently, they were suckered by her reputation as an "ethical adviser" (two spellings possible by the way: adviser and advisor...both acceptable!)to the British government.

Best wishes.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She has previously been recorded as saying that old people, who did not want to become a burden, should be helped to die. Now, she wants people to be licensed to do just that: go around killing old people."

It's so sad when old people think this way, when they just wait to die at some institution because they think they're a "burden". Heck no. They should go out and live. I wish, I wish, I wish I could tell my grandma this...

There was a study, a sort of comparision done between two old men. One was a very active gentleman, an architect, who was still designing buildings in his 80s. His mental condition at that time was obviously much higher than than of Warnock's. The other gentleman lived in an old folks' home, lived aimlessly and generally just waited to die. His mental condition was not so good, his mind was a like a scummy pond. Stifling, not life-inducing. The man who never chose retirement for his mind was obviously the happier man.

People slow their lives down when they age... but they should never stop, never allow life to be stagnant. It's so painful to die this way, it's just horrible. Instead of encouraging old people to submit themselves to death, we should be encouraging them to do things that would encourage them to receive death without regrets when it does come, naturally. And we should never let them think that they are a 'burden'.

3:47 AM  

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