Aug 24, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Cloning, Doubles, Doppelgangers and Designer Babies: The Grim World of the Future?

In 1954 a sci-fi novel, titled The Body Snatchers and written by Jack Finney, appeared in serial form in Colliers Magazine. In the following year, 1955, it surfaced in full-length book form. Then, in 1956, it was made into a classic and excellent piece of big-screen paranoia: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, starring Kevin McCarthy. A pretty good remake appeared in 1978, with Donald Sutherland taking the lead role. A not bad version – Body Snatchers – hit the cinemas in 1993. And a downright awful version was unleashed in 2007: The Invasion. Most people know the general scenario of the story, even if they haven’t seen the film: the Earth is being invaded by hostile extraterrestrial entities. But, the takeover of the planet doesn’t occur in a laser-guns-blazing, Independence Day-style assault. Indeed, there’s not even a single UFO in sight. Just a bunch of curious-looking flowers that are springing up all over the place. Things quickly progress, albeit not in a good fashion. People are quietly, systematically, and one by one, replaced by identical clones of themselves, which are grown in giant-sized pods. The clones, however, are cold, emotionless monsters. And, when they spring to life, the person whose appearance they have adopted, dies. So why am I mentioning all this? Well, as incredible as it may sound, there are those within some of the more extreme fields of conspiracy-theorizing who do believe that we are being replaced. 

Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, several British-based UFO investigators (from the now-defunct newsstand publications of that era, UFO Magazine and UFO Reality) were given the details of a bizarre story that, they were assured by their Deep Throat-like sources, was absolutely true. So the tale went, late one night, at some point around 1991 or 1992, a number of animal-rights activists broke into Porton Down, Wiltshire, England – one of the most secretive installations in the UK, whose work focuses to a very significant degree on matters of a chemical and biological nature. If a real-life zombie apocalypse ever erupts, none should be surprised if it begins at Porton Down. When the activists were actively searching for all the many and varied animals they were intent on freeing – mice, rats, monkeys and so on – they entered a room which was filled with dozens of approximately 8-foot-long containers, all carefully positioned on sturdy tables and all containing seemingly lifeless, or sleeping, duplicates of famous, then-current British politicians. The terrified activists fled Porton Down, never to return. Of course, the outlandish tale has never been verified, and as for the activists, there’s not a single one who has gone on the record. 

(Nick Redfern) Porton Down: A saga of epic proportions!

It must be said, too, that stories of people going into the “wrong room” and coming across something terrifying are commonplace within Forteana. I very well remember being told a highly disturbing story – probably around 1995 or 1996 – of someone who took a wrong turn in a British hospital years earlier, and entered a room filled with dozens of people – from babies to adults – all exhibiting hideous and impossible deformities. Again, no proof, or a name, was ever forthcoming. In the late 1970s, and throughout the 1980s, “crashed UFO” researcher Leonard Stringfield was given dozens of accounts of military personnel going down the wrong corridor, opening the wrong door, and seeing alien bodies, cryogenically preserved in missile-like containers. They were warned to never, ever reveal what they had seen. Clearly, then (to me, at least) the Porton Down story is simply a piece of entertaining folklore of very similar proportions. And, on the matter of politicians being replaced: one of the most hilarious things I ever heard was that you can easily tell the ones that are the clones. Want to know the secret? Well, here it is: when a politician gets elected, if he or she breaks the promises they made before they were elected, that’s a definite signal they have been replaced. No it’s not, actually.

Politicians make and break promises for one single reason: they’re politicians! That’s what they do.! And the voters fall for it, time and again. No need to invoke weird tales of duplicates, whether originating in outer space or from the dark depths of a secret, government lab. Is it possible that something along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers could really happen? Well, as strange as it might sound, there really is a technology that could, in effect, allow for duplicates of us to be created. It’s called cloning – and, as it develops, it’s a subject that is going down dangerously controversial avenues. it possible that, one day, the tried and tested fashion for having a baby – a fashion that has worked very well for millions of years – will be no more? Incredibly, could it be the case that our children will be “designed” and even “grown”? Might we be able to create clones of ourselves?

Certainly, the twords “modified babies” – as the Guardian terms them – should be enough to ensure that we never got down a path which sees us becoming something less than we are – something that can be controlled and regulated. Of course, everyone should encourage medical advances, but turning significant portions of the human population into subservient, unquestioning slaves is hardly what the vast majority of people would term a positive prospect. The biggest problem with all this is not just the fact that the technology exists and is ripe for manipulation of a sinister kind. No: the major issue revolves around the fact that throughout the world hard and definitive legislation does not exist to prevent scientists from going down the roads they have no business going down. Since it’s an area that is filled with definitive unknowns, it’s equally unknown how exactly we should proceed. Of course, that is all understandable, but it’s also an issue that needs far more research – specifically to ensure that 100 years from now we are not all under the control of crazed scientists whose mandate is to create a superior-class of people and an inferior one. The rise of a real master race? Don’t bet against it. Even the Guardian, which sees the positive aspects of the technology, admits that unchecked developments might push us down “a path towards non-therapeutic genetic enhancement.”

Then there is the NCSL – the United States’ National Conference of State Legislatures. Its staff state that “Fifteen states have laws pertaining to human cloning. The issue was first addressed by California legislature, which banned reproductive cloning, or cloning to initiate a pregnancy, in 1997. Since then Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Virginia have enacted measures to prohibit reproductive cloning.” The NCSL also notes that Arizona and Missouri have measures that address the use of public funds for cloning, and Maryland prohibits the use of state stem cell research funds for reproductive cloning and possibly therapeutic cloning, depending on how one interprets the definition of human cloning in the statute. Louisiana also enacted legislation that prohibited reproductive cloning, but the law expired in July 2003.

The NCSL continues that Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota laws extend their prohibitions to therapeutic cloning, or cloning for research purposes. Virginia's law also may ban human cloning for any purpose, but it may be open to varying interpretations because the law does not define the term ‘human being,’ which is used in the definition of human cloning. Rhode Island law does not prohibit cloning for research, and California and New Jersey human cloning laws specifically permit cloning for the purpose of research. Jonathan Moreno, an ethicist, is highly concerned about all this. He states: “We know from farm animals that they’ve had problems with their neurological systems, that they’ve had tumors, that they’ve had problems of premature aging. So we don’t really know what the health consequences are going to be for this child.”

What all of this tells us is that as our science, technology and medical knowledge all advance – possibly even at exponential rates - we are going to be faced with awkward, disturbing and challenging situations.  If it’s down to the medical community to do the right thing, one hopes they will do exactly that. If, however, the Controllers get their hands on the technology, it’s not at all impossible that we’ll see a situation in which the Human Race as we know it may not exist in fifty or one hundred years. As sinister and as disturbing as it most assuredly sounds, there could well be different tiers of people – those that wield the power, and those genetically “modified” to do their work. It’s up to everyone to ensure that we don’t fall into that situation. And, if we do, it’s also up to us to turn the tables on the Controllers – for the sake of everyone.

Is it possible that such a thing has already happened? To answer that question, we have to focus on the somewhat creepy phenomenon of doppelgangers. The Britannica website says of the Doppelganger, that it is “… in German folklore, a wraith or apparition of a living person, as distinguished from a ghost. The concept of the existence of a spirit double, an exact but usually invisible replica of every man, bird, or beast, is an ancient and widespread belief. The BBC have addressed this issue, too: “Folk wisdom has it that everyone has a doppelganger; somewhere out there there’s a perfect duplicate of you, with your mother’s eyes, your father’s nose and that annoying mole you’ve always meant to have removed. Ancient Origins provides the following: “The mythology of spirit doubles can be traced back thousands of years and was present in many cultures of the past, holding a prominent place in ancient legends, stories, artworks, and in books by various authors. Perhaps the most well-known reference to spirit doubles or ‘alter egos’ is the doppelgänger, a word still used today to refer to a person that is physically or behaviorally similar to another person."  Now, let's take this issue further. 

(Nick Redfern)

Your shadowy double?

One of those who suspected that the Doppelganger phenomenon may have been caused by (wait for it...) time-traveling doubles was the late paranormal authority and author, Brad Steiger. He had a very good reason to suspect that was the answer to the mystery. And why might that be? Well, I’ll tell you: Brad had a fascinating story of his very own to tell. He shared the story with me just a few years before he died. It goes, in Brad's own words, as follows: “The cases above are baffling, but in the following cases I suspect a human agency involved in a strange campaign that was conducted regarding Steiger imposters who spoke at various conferences around the United States. On occasions the imposters allegedly conducted themselves very well, thus making the whole enterprise of Counterfeit Steigers a seemingly futile project. On other occasions, the imposter’s assignment was quite obviously to taint my reputation." Brad continued:

“On an unfortunate number of occasions, I received letters complaining of my outrageous and insulting behavior while speaking at a conference. There were claims that I had openly berated my audience, calling them stupid for accepting the very premise of UFOs. A close friend happened to arrive on the scene after one pseudo-Steiger had departed and tried his best to assure the sponsors of the event that the rowdy, disrespectful speaker could not have been the real Brad. In his letter, my friend warned me that he had visited a number of lecture halls where the imposter had damned his audiences. “Someone seems out to damage your reputation,” he advised.    “In a most bizarre twist, dozens of men and women have approached me at various lectures and seminars, congratulating me about the manner in which I bested Dr. Carl Sagan in debate. The event allegedly occurred after a lecture when I happened to bump into the great scientist in a restaurant.  The eatery, according to the witnesses, was crowded with those who had attended the seminar, and they egged on a debate between myself and Dr. Sagan. I mopped up the floor with him, countering his every argument against the reality of UFOs.

“The truth is that I never met Dr. Sagan, therefore, neither had I ever debated him. But from coast to coast, there are those who claim to have witnessed my triumphal bout. Even more individuals claim to have been in the audience when I delivered a rousing message from the Space Brothers in Seattle.  Regardless of how often I deny that I was not in Seattle at that time and have never channeled the Space Brothers, those who were at that event are puzzled why I would deny my eloquence.” Multiple Brad Steigers wildly careering their collective way throughout the time-lines? Don’t bet against it. Doppelgangers, clones, medical "advances," and designed babies: one day there might be one of me, of you, and of everyone else. Think of that!

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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