More Dishonesty In Stem Cell Research Commentary

I've spoken previously about disturbing levels of dishonesty in the current debate over stem cell research:

The more extreme protesters of embyronic stem cell research are at least honest in their motivations for restricting research that will save lives. Not so Eric Cohen, who in a piece at the National Review, uses a variety of extremely dishonest arguments, half-truths, outright lies, omissions, and obfuscations to defend government policies that are causing great harm to our future health, life span, and well being by restricting vital medical research.


Secondly, as I've said before, focusing whether 10, 20, or 60 lines are available obscures the fact that hundreds or thousands of lines are required worldwide for serious research to proceed apace. While government restrictions keep the number of lines low, researchers are proceeding at a comparative slow pace. This state of affairs has a high cost in suffering, disease, and death attached to it - it is a willful blocking of attempts to save lives and find cures.

Chris Mooney, who has spent a great deal of time recently recording political abuse of the science community and scientific method, notes more outright lies on this topic from the current US administration:

Funny, I just spent almost a week out in California interviewing scientists who know a lot more about embryonic stem cell research than Bush or McClellan, and who explained to me in detail why the current policy doesn't allow us to "explore the promise of stem cell research" adequately. A number pointed out that that limitation was even clear three years ago when Bush originally promulgated the policy and limited research to a rather narrow number of lines that are hardly representative of the genetic diversity of America.


And those are just a few of the many scientific reasons why the current lines aren't sufficient. To persist in the claim that there are enough federally funded cell lines to work with, when all the best scientists say otherwise, is yet another abuse on the part of the Bush administration.

Glenn Halpern of HipperCritical has some fairly harsh words for another source of anti-research propaganda:

On the editorial page of today's NY Post, the editors of The Weekly Standard spout that "proponents of expanded federal funding for research on human embryos are waging a slick p.r. campaign," one which "too often traffics in falsehoods". Now that's a pretty damning assertion, but what's their hard evidence? Let's take a look.

He goes on to debunk the various false and shoddy claims used in this case to justify shutting down embryonic stem cell research.

I have to wonder when it was that speaking the truth and engaging in honest debate went out of style. There is no need for dishonesty to make your point if you are opposed to embryonic stem cell research; unfortunately it seems that more or less all the important players on the anti-research side of the fence thrive on this sort of thing. They are dishonest about their motivations, dishonest about the effects of current legislation, and lie about the science. It's a sad state to find ourselves in.


It is important to point out the nonsense, but this isn't anything new, it happens for any politically sensitive subject, and has as long as I can remember. Often there is silliness on each side. Pick a subject: Anything nuclear, global warming, other environmental issues, GM food, SDI/missile defense, medical maurijauna, etc. Just try to have a cool, rational debate in those.

Posted by: VR at June 15th, 2004 5:33 PM
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