If Irrationality is What It Takes...

We humans are downright irrational beings - witness the fact that the possibility of a cure for baldness arising from stem cell based regenerative medicine garners just as much interest as a cure for heart disease using the same technology.

I think that the Onion had it right in its satirical treatment of the topic.

"I've always said I don't believe in that Frankenstein-type research, but lately I've been thinking that there might be something to it," said Tell, a 43-year-old father of two and victim of male-pattern baldness. "If there are people out there who could truly benefit from that stem-cell stuff, who are we to deny them?"

The shift in thinking occurred just three days after Tell received a haircut that revealed a large, bare patch at the crown of his head. The bare patch accompanies the recently converted stem-cell-research advocate's receding hairline, of which he has long been aware.

I'm not one to tell other people what they should be thinking, but fixing the fatal conditions before the vanity issues sounds like the better way forward to me. Still, if vanity is what it takes to get people to understand and support stem cell research...

Randall Parker has more on the most recent work on mice and their adult skin stem cells - and what that means for hair regrowth in humans.


Actually, it makes sense in an evolutionary perspective. Curing heart disease would allow people to live longer, which preserves their genes both in their body and by allowing them future oportunites to mate. Curing baldness may not help preserve their genes in their current bodies, but it makes them more atrractive, which allows them more oportunities to mate and with "better" pairings for there genes.

Posted by: Matt XIV at September 4th, 2004 12:41 PM


Now if only they could associate stem-cell research with penile enhancement.

Every disease ever suffered would be cured in about a year.


Posted by: ed at September 4th, 2004 2:35 PM

Flippantly spoken like a man with a full head of hair. Same goes for the Instapundit himself. Nothing irrational about it, really. For a lot of people (men), hair loss hits a lot closer to home than the down-the-road possibility of heart disease. In truth, I'm no more afraid of dying of heart disease than I am afraid of dying of "old age."

However, helplessly and prematurely losing my hair, my attractiveness, my youth, is humiliating and terrifying. Most importantly, it's REAL to me. No-one makes fun of fat people for wishing they were skinny, but a balding man who would like his hair back is called petty. My appearance is my identity, and quickly losing my power to attract love is heartbreaking. That's the heart condition that matters most to me these days.

Posted by: rem at September 4th, 2004 4:04 PM

A cure for baldness isn't just a vanity issue. It speaks to a deep-seated need to attract the opposite sex in order to pass alongs ones genes to the next generation. Compared to that overwhelming need, the fear of heart disease seems a distant concern.

Posted by: Jeff at September 4th, 2004 4:05 PM

Why to we want balding guys with bad hearts spreading their...


Sorry, Vice President Cheney.

Posted by: ET at September 4th, 2004 6:41 PM

Going bald shouldnt have anything to do with whether or not you can be attractive. Christ fellas, just shave your head and be done with it. Guys are allowed to be bald nowdays. Of course, it doesnt hurt to be in shape if you're gonna go skinhead.

Posted by: Henry at September 4th, 2004 6:45 PM

Um. . . Some skinny guys with shaved heads look like dildos.

Posted by: rem at September 4th, 2004 10:59 PM

rem: sorry, but for the record, I make fun of fat people for wanting to be thin far more than bald men who want hair.

Posted by: ksc at September 5th, 2004 12:40 AM

Of course, this was done with adult stem cell research, which nobody is opposing.

Posted by: John McG at September 5th, 2004 5:09 PM

I have for some time now predicted that as soon as stem cell therapy becomes practicable some enterprising researcher will use them to grow mammary gland tissue.

Posted by: Bryan Lovely at September 7th, 2004 3:11 AM

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