clonesaga_smWhatever you do, don’t try to raise your own clone. It can only lead to misery.

To understand why, a short discussion of clones is in order, first. Despite what many media sources would have the general populace believe, a clone is not an exact duplicate of the original individual. A clone has the exact same DNA as the original. It’s important to remember that even two creatures with the exact same DNA do not develop into exactly the same organism. In fact, some of the randomness of development occurs even before birth when environmental factors have a muted impact.

Comparing DNA to a blue print is an excellent way to think of it. A blue print will tell you the shape and size and basic design of a building, but it doesn’t tell you the details. It doesn’t tell you what kind of carpet or wallpaper to put in and may not even specify what kinds of materials to use to build the structure. DNA is the same way. It gives an organism a general design, but the specifics are up to chance and environment, especially when it comes to the area of personality.

For proof of this, consider identical twins. Identical twins are, for all intents and purposes, nature’s clones (which one is the clone and which one the original depends on who you ask.) A single embryo splits into two and each one has the same genetic structure. Now, as anyone who has ever known a pair of identical twins can tell you, they are seldom actually identical by the time they reach maturity or even by the time they reach puberty. Differences in personality, temperament, skills, interests and even physical appearance all become evident as they grow older. While strangers often cannot tell identical twins apart, anyone who knows them well can do so with relative ease. And that’s with both twins being raised by the same people at the same time in the same environment. There can be no better possibility for two people to grow up to be absolutely identical.

CloneWarsII-5copyAs an aside, the Clone Wars cartoon and Star Wars prequels in general, for whatever their other flaws actually get this part right. The Star Wars clones are shown as having individual personalities, skills and even physical abilities within a certain range. They do still all look identical, but that one flaw can be forgiven, especially since it helps the audience immediately clue in that they’re clones. If clones in Star Wars worked the way clones usually work in sci-fi there’d be countless Boba Fetts running around and that would just fill the galaxy far, far away with way too much coolness.

All this brings us to the reason why you shouldn’t raise your own clone. Chances are, everyone can think of a thing or thirty that they would have done different if they were in their parents shoes, one (or thirty) things that their parents did or didn’t do that would have made everyone’s childhood a perfect paradise and would have allowed them to achieve all the success and happiness that they’re certain they deserve.

And, what better way to prove this than with a clone? What better opportunity can exist to prove just what a person could have become with the right guidance than to get a chance to do it yourself?

Of course, the first problem is that the clone, just like an identical twin is not going to be an exact copy from the get go. So, even if a person was a perfect parent, the clone they raised wouldn’t actually be an example of what would happen if his or her parents had been perfect. It would just be an example of what a perfect parent can do with a different incarnation of that genetic material. Given the changes that have occurred in the world since most of us were kids, the environment in general is so different that its impact would just add more uncertainty to the whole experiment. Depending on the results and which generation was viewing them, either the advances in education and in the way we look at children or the fact that parents today just coddle their kids would be responsible.

multiplicityBut even after all that, you might still be tempted. Here’s why you should avoid that temptation. Chances are there are only two ways such a stellar scientific endeavor can turn out. First, you’ll be right and your masterful parenting techniques will allow you to raise you, perfected. Second, your parental fumbling will completely ruin your clone and leave you with a poor slob even worse off than you are.

The results of the second option are pretty obvious. Despite all your best wishes and attempts, you’ll end up with some spoiled slacker sitting on your couch, eating your food and doing nothing worthwhile. It will be you, but with all the advantages you have now as a kid and thus with no need to hustle or bother trying to make himself a success. This will be especially true if you actually are successful. Like it or not, many people who had bad childhoods went on to be wild successes because they were desperate to get away from their background and prove themselves.

The downfall of the first possibility is a bit harder to discern. But think for just a moment about what the results would be if you actually did raise a child with your exact genetic material that ended up being noticeably better than you. Just think of how intense sibling rivalry can be. People sometimes seem to literally hate their siblings simply because they share so much history and often feel so similar to each other. They just can’t differentiate themselves enough from their sibling.

Certain public health documents advise otherwise...

Now, imagine that this other person is as alike you as is genetically possible but in other ways is clearly better. Imagine him correcting every mistake you’ve made. Imagine he’s smarter than you, better than you at sports, more successful and has a hotter wife and all because he was just raised better. That would have to be the biggest indicator of how you’ve wasted your own meaningless, pathetic life…or maybe that’s just me. Either way, the kid’s going to resent you, and chances are, you’ll resent them.

In any case, there are your two options: either your clone is going to be a lazy slacker or he’ll be a wildly successful jerk who’s a constant reminder of what you could have been.

I suppose there’s a faint chance that you could actually raise yourself as a well adjusted, perfectly likeable individual…but I doubt it.