Photo by Newtown grafitti [sic].

Photo by Newtown grafitti [sic].

I can’t stop thinking about “The Audacious Plan to Save This Man’s Life by Transplanting His Head”. It’s a fascinating article. Both the patient and his doctors seem delusionally optimistic. Long story short, we don’t have the technological capability to do this even semi-safely.

On the other hand, progress happens when people push the envelope, not when people plod along, dissatisfied with the status quo but willing to let it change incrementally over the course of many decades. That’s why the world needs activists and idealists — they make a lot of noise and force shifts in public sentiment, at which point the pragmatists start reworking their plans.

The irony is that I’m the second type of person, one of the plodders. I’m a cynic and an incrementalist, especially when it comes to politics. For example, I’ve written before about my frustrations with anarchists and libertarians, even though I share many of their goals and principles. I just don’t have much faith in visions of utopia — even though utopians are the ones who push all of us toward slightly less awful realities.

I think the disconnect is that I expect people to be selfish, and I’m skeptical that we can figure out a general resource-allocation method that’s better than markets. (Certain things like healthcare are b0rked by markets, but in some ways even healthcare is over-regulated.) I’m not sure I believe in a world without hunger, or rape, or corruption, or any number of bad things.

But hey, maybe, if the overzealous doctors get approval from the Chinese government, soon enough I’ll believe in a world where quadriplegics and people with degenerative diseases can get head transplants. Perhaps not successful head transplants — that will come later.