Good post :)
BTW, slightly OT but still a science topic, a new find has been announced in human evolution. And if this is not a hoax and the information I’m seeing is accurate, then it’s the biggest thing since A afarensis (Lucy). And maybe even bigger.
Nice job of identifying the issues without passing judgment.
A friend of mine who was preparing a talk on this topic a couple weeks ago is undoubtedly disappointed that you didn’t post this earlier, Joe! Well done.
“Because there is no general consensus on the morality of ESC research, the federal government has chosen to withhold its full support even though it does not wish to entirely prohibit the activity.”
Offhand, I can’t think of a more compelling argument to support the Bush Admin’s position.
Your article is a good start. I can see your attempt to show all sides of this issue, but you missed some important points that are often overlooked, but necessary to a primer on the subject.
Your answer to the question “Why does it matter if tax dollars are used for the research?” suggests that it only matters because federal funding would mean federal approval. But there are actually several other reasons why it matters, that you fail to mention:
1. While private companies have shown initiative in forming their own ethical review boards, federal funding under the auspices of NIH would provide the most transparent, public, and rigorous oversight of stem cell research. NIH guidelines have been thoroughly and publicly vetted, and would trigger a number of other federal oversight guidelines already in place.
2. Privately funded embryonic stem cell research may be limited to discovering just those applications with the most commercial appeal, for just the most widespread diseases, and in a very focused manner. Federal funding would allow for more basic-level research, and in more laboratories – especially by academic scientists. The potential benefits across a broader spectrum, and a better understanding of the basics of stems cells, would be more likely with federal funding.
These important benefits of federal funding should not be overlooked.
You might add a section on umbilical stem cells. My wife and I chose to save our son’s umbilical blood through Cord Blood Registry. It contains stem cells useful for certain treatments and research. There seem to be some limits to the usefulness of umbilical stem cells. Nevertheless, there would be an abundant supply if more people saved cord blood.
“a new find has been announced in human evolution. And if this is not a hoax and the information I’m seeing is accurate, then it’s the biggest thing since A afarensis (Lucy). And maybe even bigger.”
A little information about “Lucy” for those unfamiliar with the reference:
“To many people, Lucy is regarded as a certain link between ape-like creatures and man
Learn to read – the post from Lucy does not claim that the “many people” she refers to includes anthropologists. There are any number of instances in which “many people” believe something that no specialist believes; what is wrong with providing those non-specialists with facts that may eliminate a misunderstanding?
Ward Cleaver aka Hugh Beaumont advises me to
“Learn to read – the post from Lucy does not claim that the “many people” she refers to includes anthropologists.”
Agreed. I never suggested otherwise. I just assumed that one of the “many people” who had an opinion on Lucy might just have a background in anthropology. I am highly dubious that any of them made a statement such as that suggested by Lucy’s comment, that the fossil Lucy “proved evolution.” Hence, my challenge.
“There are any number of instances in which “many people” believe something that no specialist believes”
You ain’t kidding about that!
“what is wrong with providing those non-specialists with facts that may eliminate a misunderstanding?”
Nothing. Nothing at all. But it is wrong to spout off fake comments allegedly made by “many people” who aren’t qualified to have an opinion, and then pass those comments off as fact. That is what “Lucy” did in his/her comment above. I took it upon myself to point out the problem. And yes, you’re welcome.
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