April 26, 2012 Should doctors and scientists tamper with intelligence? In the novel “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, a group of scientists and doctors are experimenting with a process to improve human intelligence. Charlie Gordon a mentally challenged man is chosen to be the subject of the experiment. Charlie is motivated to become smart because he believes, “If your smart you can have lots of frends to talk to you and you never get lonely by yourself all the time” (p. 13).

In the novel the experiment goes wrong and Charlie is left to suffer a lonely life in which he is worse off then before the experiment. The idea of man tampering with intelligence is not new to the world. We should not be tampering with the fundamentals of life. There are things we do not fully understand such as what constitutes a worthwhile existence, who should be trusted to make decisions about creating and changing life and how much should humans be altered in the pursuit of a perfect society. A meaningful life is not determined by intelligence.

The mentally challenged Charlie Gordon shared the same body, the same soul and the same ambition as the genius Charlie; they are the same. It is important to remember that even as a mentally challenged person, Charlie was still a human being, and he had the right to be respected by others. In the book, it describes how discriminating we as a society are; we treat people with mental disabilities as inferiors. “How can I make him understand that he did not create me? He makes the same mistakes as others when they look at a feeble-minded person and laugh because they don’t understand there are human feelings involved.

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He doesn’t realize that I was a person before I came here” (p. 145). As a society we must learn to be tolerant of all individuals. A worthwhile existence is not measured by intelligence. Le Dressay 2 There are a lot of moral and ethical problems that can arise with the future development of intelligence. It becomes impossible to decide what is allowed and what should be prohibited. We cannot agree on very basic and simple rules of existence as a world, how could we possibly begin to decide on how we should change human intelligence?

Even if we have the best of intentions, the world today is full of people mistreating and taking advantage of others. There is no way to control the outcomes and how does this make the world a better place? The pursuit of a perfect society with intelligent humans will not change the world, as we know it today. In the novel, Charlie becomes more intelligent, his interactions with people are more sophisticated and his knowledge is endless, but at the same time his life becomes more difficult and painful, “I’ve learned that intelligence alone doesn’t mean a damned thing” (p. 49). A perfect society is one that respects all individuals, people are given equal opportunity, and people do not suffer at the cost of others greed. Intelligent people alone will not make a perfect society There are some things that scientists and doctors should simply not tamper with; the intelligence of humans is one of them. There are many ethical and moral questions that arise. Trying to correct the flaws of human intelligence will not change the world. What Charlie has taught us, is that we should respect all people, no matter how different they are to us.


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