So this guy has the power to cure cancer, but there's this tiny little problem...

Yes, it’s another Rhymer speculative! Persons who don’t like them are encouraged to go someplace else.

Here’s the sitch. Let’s say that a patient in a state-run hospital is discovered to have the ability to cure cancer. He doesn’t claim to be Jesus Christ reborn, or any other sort of faith-healer; he just has the inexplicable ability to not simply arrest the growth of tumors anywhere in a patient’s body, but also to reverse the effects of metastasis. He must do the usual laying on of hands to do this; no other physical contact is required, and it doesn’t matter where he touches the person. In other words, hand to hand is fine. The more advanced the person’s cancer is, the longer it takes him to heal them, and he can’t do jack shit about injuries, malaria, or any other sort of ailment. Our miraculous healer demonstrates his power by bringing a patient with terminal lung cancer back from the brink, and when various skeptical scientific authorities–the Centers from Disease Control, the World Health Organization, James Randi, you name it–bring him patients, he is able to repeat his feat in double-blind testing.

Our healer has limits. He himself has to be in fine fettle, for one thing–well-fed, well-rested, exercised, and so forth. How often he can perform his wonder depends on his own physical state and on how advanced the patient’s cancer is. If the cancer is in the very earliest stages, he can do a maximum of one person every other day, as he needs at least twenty-four hours to recharge. If it’s somebody in what would otherwise be end-stage, metastasized bone cancer, he’ll need a solid month of rest and relaxation before he can help anybody else, no matter how minor the next patient’s cancer is. Our healer’s 40 years old, and he’s been able to do this since he turned 18; he’s done so quietly and about two dozen times since then. None of his prior patients have had any recurrence of their cancer since receiving his healing touch, and none of them seems in any way psychologically unbalanced.

Oh, and the tiny little problem?

The healer’s a serial killer, and he’s on death row. There’s no question that he’s guilty, as he liked to videorecord himself in the act of torture, rape, murder, and cannibalism so that he could watch the tapes during down times. The police caught him with one live victim waiting her turn in his dungeon of horrors, and he was dining on her predecessor’s pancreas at the time. They found dozens of shallow graves on his property, each filled with a prior victim. But our miraculous healer seems entirely sane, or at least as sane as any such monster can be; that is, he doesn’t hear voices or see ghosts or think that Yahweh commanded him to do his deeds. “I did it because I get off on it,” he says.

The healer/monster kept his secret under wraps until all his appeals were exhausted. Now he wants a deal. He wants his sentence commuted and a lifetime of pampering at state expense, and in exchange he’ll use his power to cure cancer victims. How often he’ll be willing to do so depends on how much luxury he gets.

What shall we do with him?

Clone him.

The premise is impossible.

ETA, I meant to choose the “other” option. Put him in a concrete box and let him rot. He can’t cure anybody’s cancer, so there isn’t any loss there, and even if he could, he would never be able to cure more than a tiny fraction of the millions who have it. It would result in a free for all of people desperately trying to get on a list, with no fair way to decide, so I say fuck 'em all.

It’s been done. Stephen King’s The Green Mile.

Make him happy, put him to work.

Best wishes,

That’s the first thing I thought of too, but the Green Mile guy was innocent (which was kind of a gutless choice on Steve King’s part).

Ever notice how I don’t post in threads about, say, football, basketball, baseball, or golf, because I have no interest in football, baseball, basketball, or golf, and thus don’t have anything to contribute to the thread, but yet am not offended by people who wish to talk about them?

ETA: I typed the above before reading your edit. The below, afterwards.

I was thinking of The Green Mile when I began the thread.

I said kill him and dissect him. Let’s say he averages two heals a month for the next 20 years. That’s less than 500 people he’s healed. And how do we decide who gets the benefit of his healing? Touches to the highest bidders? Fuck that.

Crazy premise aside, he’s murdered/tortured/eaten people. He’s been sentenced to death. Kill him, dissect him, see what makes him so special. Replicate if possible.

I have to say, Rhymer, this is by a wide margin the greatest poll you have ever created.

Put that bastard in a scientific lab and let them do whatever they want with him, short of killing him or causing any kind of severe lifelong damage. Not too long ago, we were more than happy to put people in workhouses just because they were poor. I don’t think we’ve come so far that we wouldn’t extend the same courtesy to a serial killer who can cure cancer.

Let us know how you really feel, killjoy.

Research him as he does his healings.

We execute people because they deserve it and there’s no way of paying society back for what they’ve done except death. But this guy has a way of giving back. Let him do it.

I’m going to take it that meant to type killed above, where I bolded. I’d say something cruel, but I am entirely certain I’ve committed worse typos this week. Hell, today. Hell, I see one in the OP. :smiley:

To answer your questions:

How do we decide who gets the benefit of his healing?
A lottery. We put the names of otherwise-incurable patients in a hat. Once a month we pick one. He’s 40; he can easily live another 35-50 years. Tht’s 420 to 600 people we can save. It’s not enough to balance his crimes, but it’s a hell of a lot closer than killing him as planned, ain’t it?

As for dissecting him: you’re assuming that we can figure it out that way. Seems to me that killing him is not a good method for finding that out, as all his internal bodily processes are going to degrade and eventually stop altogether if he is killed. That is what killing means.

And of course the premise is crazy. The OP is a well-known nutjob.

I protest your implicit refusal to allow me to have anything to do with this research. That is not fair. :smiley:

What if he heals a child who grows up to be Hitler?

If we have a time-viewer, we can know that, but that is not part of the silly premise.

Yes, but it’s fair to question whether the healing would all be automatically the right thing to do.

I say “move him to a secure medical research facility, where he’ll be studied, and heal in exchange for not being dissected.”

We’ll end up dissecting him eventually, anyway—he’s already middle aged, and people don’t live forever. When he gets sick or starts slowing down, we 731 his hide.

And if we discover how he’s able to cure cancer before then, and can replicate it without his help, then it’s off to Old Sparky. For his contribution to science, he can get his own Jar of Honor™ in the museum of Health and Medicine.

Let’s just hope the SCP Foundation doesn’t get to him, first. :smiley:

Well, yeah. But since the number of Hitlers is human history is a lot less than number of ordinary boring dudes, I think the odds are with us. Even rank & file murderers and rapists are enormously outnumbered by the rest of us. By your argument, we should think twice before saving any life in danger.

Well, I generally assume the worst about people. I also favor natural selection and a healthy natural death rate, so I don’t think I’d be comfortable magically healing people that the universe wanted dead. Where would we be if nobody ever died? We’d all be dead.

I’ve got no big problem with him being able to live a life of comfort, so long as, first, he’s under sufficient security that he can’t kill anyone else; second, he continues the healings as fast as he can do them (whether it’s a bunch of small healings or a few big ones would have to be decided by medical professionals, but the maximum given that); and third, that he allows what he does to be studied. Other people with such ability have to be rare enough that deterrence is irrelevant, the public will be kept safe from further crimes by him, and he’s doing the closest thing possible to making reparations for his crimes, so there’s no further legitimate grounds for punishment (no, I don’t consider “revenge” or some eye-for-an-eye notion of “justice” to be legitimate grounds).

Of course, the real quandary might come after it’s figured out how it works. This guy is an extraordinary healer, and he’s also an extraordinary killer. What if that’s not a coincidence? What if it’s precisely his torture and slaughter of innocent victims that enables him to cure his non-victims? There, we have a moral dilemma.

What the hell?

The universe doesn’t want anything. At least, not in my world view, and I’ve always presumed not in yours. The universe gives no sign of sentience that I am aware of; and in the unlikely event that there is a God, He/She/It/They gives every indication of not giving a good goddamn about any of us one way or the other. (Or, maybe, is actively evil.)

The universe doesn’t want anybody to live or die or marry only someone of a given gender or pay tithes, because, my affection for Marvel Comics notwithstanding, it is not a person. Similarly, evolution doesn’t want anything and has neither purpose nor aim.

It makes sense for, say–let me find someone I feel safe insulting–it’s makes sense for John Edward, Pat Robertson, or similar nincompoops to talk about the universe wanting things. But you are not a nincompoop, and I am honestly curious as to why you would opine otherwise.

Anyway, I’m pretty much at war with nature as it is. If the Rhymers surrendered to nature, I’d be dead from diabetes, and my favorite niece would have died of a congenital heart defect. If the universe wants that, the universe can go fuck itself.

As to thinking the worst of people: what, you assume that every single guy in your office is planning to rape every single woman, in revenge for the way every single woman in that office has cut off another man’s penis?