The Cost of Beliefs:
Economics and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Research — By on June 7, 2005 at 2:07 am

Men willingly believe what they wish. — Julius Caesar

Stress causes ulcers.
Until a few decades ago, almost everyone ‘



  • http://www.watchpost.blogspot.com Tyler Simons

    Luckily, if the Republicans pass a foetus rights amendment, we won’t have to worry about any of this. As best as I could figure from the CDCstats, at least two-thirds of the embryos created in an IVF lab never make it to term. If each of those embryos is granted full personhood, isn’t IVF itself morally objectable
    If IVF procedures themselves knowingly result in the death of the majority of the embryos created, are they somehow less opposable than ESC research? Do the benefits of one child for a couple outweigh the deaths of two embryos? I think that this is an issue best left up to families, with the government staying out of the way. Then again, I feel almost this way about abortion, too.

  • http://inkan.blogspot.com pgepps

    Hey, Joe, could you get rid of the troll for us?
    I think this debate has just begun to unfold, and I’m pretty sure no one’s going to be completely happy with the real-world results. IVF as generally practiced is, I think, objectionable on similar grounds to ESCNT, but it’s going to be hard to make that case.
    Again, Joe, I agree with you, but I’m hard-put to find the convincing argument. I think it’s good that we have folks out arguing it, though, and arguing it publicly in ways that do included moral concerns–because until the gov’t stops intervening *in favor of* this or that bit of research, it cannot be benignly neutral about the morality of that research.
    Take care,
    PGE

  • Franklin Mason

    I’m curious. My twins were conceived via in vitro fertilization. But a few embryos were left over at then end of the process and were thus frozen. Each year, my wife and I had to decide what to do with those left: either keep frozen, dispose, or use for research. For many years, we kept them in storage although we had no intention to have them implanted in my wife. We simply didn’t much like the other options. I wonder how many people are in this situation? They don’t opt for disposal or research, but have no real intent to ever make us of them. If the number is great, the low percentages of those who have chosen either disposal or research might drastically underestimate the number of embryos that will never be implanted.
    Joe, you say that extraction after super-ovulation is painful and risky. I can testify to its painfullness. I witnessed my wife go through it. But I don’t recall that we were ever told that it was risky. Indeed, if I recall the details of the procedure, it seems low-risk.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    This all hinges on the words ‘may be needed’. The fact is we have no idea how many cells would be needed to produce useful insights (let alone treatments). In economics these questions are usually resolved by their simple logic. If research shows the only way to get anything useful out of stem cell research is to use 250 million embryos then the research will almost certianly be stopped. Why? Because as Joe points out the cost of obtaining such a large amount of embryos would be huge.
    On the other hand there is simply no way to know that research will not uncover treatments that will not need huge amounts of new stem cells. Or perhaps research will combine the study of adult stem cells to create a treatment where a person could clone his own organs & tissue as needed and bypass the need for an embryo.
    Trying to prove the research a dead end before it actually happens, though, isn’t going to work. It’s better to concentrate on how the research can be done ethically. After that let the private market worry about whether it will justify its cost.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Franklin,
    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t there a limit to how long they can be kept frozen? After a certain point won’t doctors refuse to even implant them due to the risk of birth defects and such?

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    PgeppsAgain, Joe, I agree with you, but I’m hard-put to find the convincing argument.
    Considering how closely related the issue is to abortion, I think it will be difficult to come to a moral consensus on the issue. But from an economic perspective ESC research simply makes no sense at all. I suspect that the more people learn the truth (that the research is valuable as research rather than for finding cures) that the support for this morally problematic line of inquiry will quickly fade away.
    FranklinBut I don’t recall that we were ever told that it was risky. Indeed, if I recall the details of the procedure, it seems low-risk.
    The primary risk of using ovulation-inducing drugs is that it can lead to Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). While it affects 20% of the women who take the drugs, the effect is usually minor. Severe hyperstimulation is rare, occurring in only 1 percent of treatment cycles. For a couple wanting to conceive this low percentage is probably worth the risk.
    But because millions of eggs are needed, cases of OHSS would occur more frequently. At the rate of 1%, there would be 10,000 women suffering from this for every million given the drugs. Also, taking the drugs for numerous cycles may increase the risk for developing ovarian cancer. Are we really willing to sacrifice all these women for highly speculative research program that shows no signs of producing cures?
    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t there a limit to how long they can be kept frozen? After a certain point won’t doctors refuse to even implant them due to the risk of birth defects and such?
    Although embroyos have survived thawing after 13 years in cryopreservation, most doctors probably wouldn’t implant one that has been frozen for more than 9 years.

  • http://www.sufficientscruples.com Kevin T. Keith

    It is important to remember that there is, basically, a two-step process envisioned: first there must be research on a relatively small number of cell lines to develop genetic techniques and potential cures; then those cures can be made available by processing stem cells as needed for patients, which will require a much larger number of cell lines (“hundreds of thousands”) to match the patients genetically.
    If I understand your argument, you are suggesting that embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary because it cannot, in fact, be used to produce the benefits hoped for, and that that is true for two empirical reasons: there are not enough “spare” IVF embryos to support the research necessary, and there is no way to create the “hundreds of thousands” of cell lines needed for therapy (because, again, there are not enough spare IVF embryos, and because cloning is unlikely to fill the gap).
    I think you’re grasping at a particularly strained version of the most-negative possible spin on the facts.
    First, the claim that 88% of stored embryos are awaiting implantation does not mean that 88% of stored embryos will be used for implantation. It just means that those embryos belong to patients who are not done with their IVF attempts yet. Many of them will remain unused after their egg and sperm sources (“parents”) either succeed and no longer need more stored embryos, or give up for health or financial reasons and can no longer use them. That’s where embryos currently used for research come from, and where many more will come from when, inevitably, that 88% of currently-stored embryos wends its way through the process. And since there is no let-up in demand for IVF, there will always be a source of such embryos. (Note, too, that the demand for “embryo adoption” has fallen vastly short of the ever-increasing stock of unused embryos. In a country that sees [white, affluent] parents searching overseas for the “perfect” baby while thousands of [older, or sick, or non-white] babies go unadopted here, the idea that tens of thousands of adopters will choose to “adopt” a frozen embryo with a high likelihood of dying in gestation seems far-fetched. So far, fewer than 100 such implantations have been attempted, after 8 years of organized efforts to promote it, including Congressional and state-level bills to encourage it. The movement to promote such “adoptions” has more to do with embryo-obsessive grandstanding than with the realities of IVF embryo wastage.)
    In addition, your “11,000” figure is a product of the small number of spare embryos that have been released for research. But that is far more than are needed for research today. It is too few for widespread therapeutic use, but if the public knew that practical therapies were in hand, beyond a doubt the percentage of people with unusable IVF embryos who would agree to release them for development of therapeutic tissues would go up, likely dramatically.
    Given the constant influx of more and more unusable embryos, and the likely greater willingness to make them available for therapy when that becomes a practical option, it seems easily imaginable that large numbers of cell lines could be developed in a reasonable period of time.
    Which brings us to cloning. Stem cells harvested from cloned embryos have the advantage that they genetically match their donor already, and therefore should not pose any tissue-rejection problems. But each clone requires a donated egg harvested from a woman, which is a significant invasive procedure.
    The barrier to using cloned embryos, however, is only one of practical effectiveness and money. The egg-harvesting procedure is the same used in IVF – which thousands of women undergo every year, and which Ivy League co-eds are lining up in droves to undergo for payments of less than $10,000, to donate eggs for IVF for infertile women. Apparently the new Korean technique requires eggs from two harvesting cycles, on average, to produce a viable embryo. That is not so different from IVF, and it would not take a huge improvement on that technique to bring the costs and practicality of cloned-embryo stem cell therapy roughly equal to those of donor-egg IVF. These are burdens many people are willing to bear to have a baby, and no doubt many would be willing to bear to cure their diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or whatever. (Note that the two quotes you give, from the article on the Korean breakthrough, are aimed entirely at the practical limitations of using cloning to produce stem cells for therapy. Those quotes sound rather absurd, since we are currently using donated eggs for medical procedures – IVF – every day, and at not much greater efficiencies than the Koreans have achieved for cloning.)
    Thus, both IVF embryos and cloned embryos can be expected to be available in numbers that roughly match the need if a few easily-imaginable increases in supply come about (namely, that more donors agree to release their unusable embryos for therapy after learning that such therapy exists and will have real, practical consequences, and that the efficiency of cloning at least doubles again to the point that it roughly rivals IVF as a source of viable embryos). Not only do the circumstances mentioned seem possible, they seem likely.
    In other words, the practical limits you see on these procedures exist only by assuming that the worst possible aspects of the current situation will persist forever – if cloning always requires large numbers of eggs per attempt, or if only 2% of the current supply of IVF embryos are made available for research. But cloning efficiencies will, if anything, only get higher, and the number of unused IVF embryos will only get higher. It seems we have only to carry on as we are and we can expect to have abundant resources for the time – if and when – practical therapeutic uses for them exist.

  • http://inkan.blogspot.com pgepps

    I agree, Joe, that the practical costs/benefits have seemed, thus far, to be in favor of other approaches. So far as I, a non-expert, can tell. I do join some other conservatives in finding the IVF parallel troubling, though–seems it’d be hard to get even a majority of pro-life-leaning folks to be strongly opposed on that one, and if it gets seen in that light . . . then this is cooked.
    Thank you for getting rid of the troll, hope no one thinks I was referring to Tyler’s to-the-point post.
    Cheers,
    PGE

  • POed lib

    The stem cell debate is not about stem cells. Rather, it is about the conflict between stem cells (which are incipient or potential humans) and actual humans (like my grandma or my mother). The wacko christian fundi nutcase right wing believes that cells are the same as my grandma or actual people. I don’t. The cells, which would in many cases be discarded, are not human until they in fact become fetuses. As potential fetuses, they are never in the most case going to proceed to actual fetushood, unless someone implants them.
    In 99 % of the cases, there is not the slightest chance of this happening. It won’t happen.
    Why not? The egg- and sperm-donors have signed papers forbidding it.
    In fact, egg and sperm donors often do not care or are actively in favor of the use of the eggs for SCNT research.
    THis is the problem with religion. It actually makes many of its adherents into genuinely stupider persons.

  • http://www.watchpost.blogspot.com Tyler Simons

    Thanks, pge, I totally thought you were talking about my post, (I can be troll-like sometimes) and seeing as how no one has yet explained how IVF is okay even though ESC research is, obviously bad, I thought I must have been being a troll. Is there a legitimate answer? I’ve written on my own blog about how ignoring this question could well blow up in Republicans’ faces. As a Democrat, (most of the time) this is rather intriguing to me. Y’all should get your act together. If evangelical christians compromise on (or ignore) politically problematic positions, as it seems to me they’re doing, that should bother a couple of you, methinks. I might be totally wrong, though, although no one has suggested to me why or how.

  • Mr Miscellanea

    POed lib The wacko christian fundi nutcase right wing believes that cells are the same as my grandma or actual people. I don’t.
    The cells in view here have a name: embryo.

  • tgibbs

    At the moment of conception an entirely new being, with its own unique genetic code

  • mmmm … sultry

    “For a country that has 125,000 adoptions every year, it would be reasonable to assume that most, if not all, 11,000 embryos could eventually be implanted by adoptive parents.”
    … ummm … not to confuse you with the reality of the situation, but most people adopt because they CAN’T carry children to term.
    “a 2003 survey by researchers at the RAND Corporation found that 88% of the embryos are being stored for their original function: to make babies for their parents. Only 2.2% of the embryos have been designated for disposal and less than 3% for research.”
    … well OF COURSE they’re designated for implantation … no one goes through all that just to make embryos for fun! Couples who go through IVF make a SURPLUS of embryos because they may need to go through the procedure MULTIPLE times before the pregnancy goes to term. Not everyone is lucky enough for the procedure to work on the first take.
    Geez-o-pete … this whole argument reminds me of the history behind the smallpox vaccine and how people didn’t want to implement it because it came from the “godless hoardes” in Turkey. Faith and medicine have NEVER been a good combination …

  • Rob Smith

    sultry–This is not necessarily an argument between faith and medicine, but between morality and science. It is a matter of trying to resolve the question between what we can do and what we ought do. Many atheists are against abortion and embryonic stem cell research because they believe that the “clump of cells” is a unique individual with rights.

  • Paulg

    As an addendum, your opening metaphor is flat-out flawed. While bacteria may contribute to the formation of ulcers, one can not definitively say that the cause of ulcers is bacteria. The body maintains a delicate balance of microorganisms in the GI tract. Sustained elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, wreaks havoc on the body in a number of ways, not least of which is by suppressing the immune system. The immune system, unable to act as the “janitor” of the GI tract, will open the door for already-present opportunistic bacteria to cause all sorts of problems, one of which may be ulcerations. Also, it has certainly not been shown that the only cause of ulcers is bacteria.
    Also, many many embryos are destroyed in the fertilization process. In fact, fetuses are also destroyed if multiple eggs implant in the uterus. And not destroying life to save life? Isn’t that what we’re supposedly doing in Iraq? It seems to me that you’re making your conclusion and then finding the evidence afterwards to support that. It’s dubious reasoning at best. Just because a cure isn’t on the horizon, doesn’t mean we should stop looking for it. I don’t mean to sound trollish.

  • mmmm … sultry

    “This is not necessarily an argument between faith and medicine, but between morality and science.”
    ahaaa … but it IS about faith and science – it is about “I don’t want *my* tax dollars going to fund something I believe is morally wrong” … if it was about ethics, then they would be FOR government funding because it 1) establishes open-source foundation research (thus minimizing the number of embryos needed by eliminating redundant experiments) and 2) establishes ethical guidelines.
    … if it wasn’t about faith, then why-oh-why would our president be up on the dais saying that it is ESC research is counter to the “culture of life” …

  • http://jimgilbertatlarge.blogspot.com/ Jim Gilbert

    sultry, you’re right that the debate is about faith and science, but check your history: You’re dead wrong that “faith and medicine have NEVER been a good combination.” Look back to the beginnings of science and medicine, and you’ll see that we would have had neither without a motivating belief in Providence.

  • mmmm … sultry

    “Look back to the beginnings of science and medicine, and you’ll see that we would have had neither without a motivating belief in Providence.”
    *at best* you can say science and religion have a love/hate relationship. Aristotle was condemned by the church for his teachings of philosophy – even though Thomas Aquinas defended him, there was a second round of condemnations after Aquinas’ death.
    do we even have to go into the fact that Galileo was only *recently* de-excommunicated? (hell, Copernicus originally thought that the planets revolved around the sun but was afraid to publish because of the biblican literalists of his time)
    women who practiced natural, herbal healing and had rudimentary understanding of science were condemned and executed as witches (by a variety of religions, not only Catholicism)
    Martin Luther said that science and religion were and should remain two separate entities (so did Immanuel Kant about 300 years later)
    Thomas Hobbes was accused of being an athiest because of his beliefs in matter and fixed laws.
    Charles Darwin. Criminy – he believed in God, he just believed that things change and adapt, as well. And look at how religion has treated him.
    Sorry, like I say – *at best* it’s been a love/hate relationship – but religion has NEVER embraced science.

  • http://twoorthree.net seeker

    Has anyone posited that embryonic research is OK, but fetal (i.e. after 8 weeks) is not? Why not draw the line there.
    http://twoorthree.blogspot.com/2005/03/citizens-for-reasonable-abortion.html

  • http://twoorthree.net seeker

    Has anyone posited that embryonic research is OK, but fetal (i.e. after 8 weeks) is not? Why not draw the line there.
    http://twoorthree.blogspot.com/2005/03/citizens-for-reasonable-abortion.html

  • Larry Lord

    Joe writes
    “Like most of us, Marshall

  • Larry Lord

    Jim Gilbert
    “”Look back to the beginnings of science and medicine, and you’ll see that we would have had neither without a motivating belief in Providence.”
    Gosh, what a pleasing script. According to Jim, our ancestors would all have killed themselves but for that “motivating belief” in deities (which merely inspired our ancestors to kill each other, as it continues to inspire people today).

  • Garry

    If you don’t believe in science, you don’t get to comment on it.
    Talk about “god” all you want, but you’re out of your depth.
    Again.

  • Larry Lord

    Joe C.
    “Currently, believing that embryonic stem cell research will actually lead to cures is a relatively “low stakes” (unless, of course, you happen to be an embryo).”
    What a strange statement. What did you believe, Joe, when you were an embryo? The alleged beliefs of human embryos are about as relevant to this discussion as the alleged beliefs of bacteria. Did you talk to any bacteria, Joe? There are a lot more of them than there are of us — each one allegedly designed by God! Funny that they aren’t mentioned in the Bible, given that they are the most numerous and diverse living organisms on the planet by far.

  • http://jimgilbertatlarge.blogspot.com/ Jim Gilbert

    Larry Lord said: According to Jim, our ancestors would all have killed themselves but for that “motivating belief” in deities (which merely inspired our ancestors to kill each other, as it continues to inspire people today).
    Larry, I don’t know where you get the “according to Jim” wisdom, but I never said anything of the sort. You’re starting to take your last name too seriously.

  • C Grace

    Larry,
    “Reasonable people change their beliefs about a phenomenon when the evidence supporting different explanations is favorable. Everyone here does this all the time. All coherent sane humans do, as do many animals.
    People who look to to other sources — Bibles, preachers, etc. — change their beliefs when they are told to do so by self-proclaimed authorities,”
    Where does the “evidence” come from? It has to come either from some outside authority or direct experience. Do you believe in black holes because you have seen one or because you trust the authority of the scientists who have researched them? No coherent sane human rejects all knowledge given to them by others, relying soley on their own experience. Reasonable people evaluate what authorities and information they think are reliable and develop beliefs according to the knowledge and experience they have gained.

  • http://sierra-faith.com/index.php/2005/06/07/embryonic-stem-cell-math-and-the-future Sierra Faith

    Embryonic Stem Cells and the Chosen Ones

    Just as Dred Scott is rightly viewed as ignorant, Roe v Wade and the killing of the embryonic Lesser Ones in the service of the Chosen Ones will likely be viewed in the future as barbaric practices maliciously ignorant of science….

  • Ed

    Joe,
    “How do we decide whether we should change our minds about a belief?”
    If we can choose our beliefs, why can’t you believe that you’re a dead female tree frog in the Amazon rain desert?

  • cynthia

    “For a country that has 125,000 adoptions every year, it would be reasonable to assume that most, if not all, 11,000 embryos could eventually be implanted by adoptive parents.”
    You don’t have the facts straight. These ‘leftovers’ are such because the donors of the embryos Do Not Wish Them Adopted By Others, and don’t plan on using them themselves. It wouldn’t matter how many couples might line up for these embryos (which is exceedingly unlikely, due to the expense, the incidence of multiple pregnancies due to the necessity of implanting several embryos, the lessened viability of frozen embryos, etc.) – they are disallowed for adoption, period. NOT AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION.
    I enjoy your writing, but please pay more careful attention to what you present as a fact.

  • Tim Berry

    I am reminded of the dept of fisheries by a lot of this embryo talk. They snag fish as they go through the ladders, slit them open, remove their roe, then snag other fish to squirt sperm on the roe.
    I guess it seems normal to people who don

  • http://justwhatitis.blogspot.com Rob

    It seems that some of us are forgetting the most important thing God gave us. CHOICE. Regardless of the morality of it, if I CHOOSE to give my Embryos (and frankly they are mine until they go to college or move out on their own and get a job) to science for research then that is my CHOICE.
    It may be the wrong choice but God gave us choice INSTEAD of making us a bunch of “yes monkeys”.
    The good thing about this is that you can choose NOT to give away your embryos and no one can make you kill them.

  • Larry Lord

    C Grace
    “Reasonable people evaluate what authorities and information they think are reliable and develop beliefs according to the knowledge and experience they have gained.”
    Absolutely. And as a whole, over the past 100 years or so, the earth’s scientists has proven themselves remarkably efficient at predicting and discovering useful facts aboutt the universe, the earth, and the life that lives on the earth.
    By comparison, what have 20th Century Christian preachers accomplished? Why would anyone pay attention to someone like Jim Swaggart or Jim Bakker or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell or Jim Dobson who do nothing but sow fear and smear scientists and distort their discoveries?
    And before you say something irrelevant like “I don’t follow those people,” please recognize that millions of evangelical Christians do.
    Why is that?

  • http://www.watchpost.blogspot.com Tyler Simons

    I don’t want to get boring, but has anyone justified why In Vitro Fertilization is ok, seeing as how it necessarily results in 2 dead foetuses (I know the embryos haven’t developed to the point where I can call them foetuses, but I love to write that) for every child carried to term? All I’m looking for is an argument that it is less bad than abortion enough that one can support it in good conscience. If this is impossible, is it not hypocritical to oppose abortion and remain silent about the evils of IVF?
    Did I just miss this arguement?
    Joe?
    anyone?

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Tyler,
    Joe?
    Good suggestion. I plan to tackle that subject either Monday or Tuesday of next week.

  • http://www.watchpost.blogspot.com Tyler Simons

    Thanks, I look forward to it.

  • brandon

    Garry:
    If you don’t believe in science, you don’t get to comment on it.
    And exactly how did science tell you that?
    Besides, the point Joe was making wasn’t towards science. It was about a non-scientific thing called belief. He could have used an example that did not use science, such as a logic problem or an experience.

  • Ed

    Men willingly believe what they wish. — Julius Caesar
    But men do not will or wish what they wish. — Naturalism
    To

  • Ed

    Tyler,
    I am completely psyched that someone (other than Gordon, who repeats himself endlessly despite his having been refuted numerous times, see the “Return of the Zombies” thread) has responded to me. For some reason Joe refuses to. Anyway, I apologize, but I do not think that I catch your drift. You say that naturalism can’t say anything. Okay, fine, replace naturalism with my name. I showed where Joe has to a degree “parroted” naturalist assumptions. Anyway, if you already have done so, please forgive my not catching it, but could you attend to the following statements:
    But men do not will or wish what they wish. — Ed & many, if not all, other naturalists
    To

  • http://blogotional.blogspot.com/2005/06/what-do-your-misguided-beliefs-cost.html Blogotional

    What Do Your Misguided Beliefs Cost You?

    As bloggers, we need to examine this concept carefully. Why do we blog, and why do we blog about what we blog about? Most of us don’t see a dime, but there is a benefit to it — community, some meek form of fame, emotional ventilation…. Does that a…

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Ed,
    You say that naturalism can’t say anything. Okay, fine, replace naturalism with my name.
    You are begging the question by assuming that since you can say something that it must mean that your position is true. But the reason you may be able to say anything (as most of us who disagree with you would claim) is simply because you are not determined.
    I showed where Joe has to a degree “parroted” naturalist assumptions.
    Um, no, actually, I think you just showed that you aren

  • David

    I have to admit I was shocked to see the quote from Cibelli and was sure that it must have been taken out of context so I clicked the link and still can’t tell what the context of the quote was.
    I was shocked because Jose Cibelli is pretty clear on how important he feels embryonic stem cell research is. Quoted below (from http://businessweek.com/technology/content/may2005/tc20050527_7309_tc120.htm) in reference to the role that private funds may play in fostering ESC research in this country ….
    “”These efforts will keep the U.S. in the game — but not in the unchallenged lead. “We’re really in the Dark Ages,” charges Cibelli. “We’re failing at the core — at providing the federal money that would lead to new biotechnology and new companies able to take this to patients.” Unless the Administration changes its stance, many breakthroughs will continue to come from outside the U.S.””
    see also
    “”The bill passed by the House would allow scientists to create more cell lines from thousands of embryos now slated for destruction at in vitro fertilization clinics. While that could bring several hundred more stem-cell lines into play, the bill “is like getting a foot in the door and trying to open it a little, when other countries are building huge gates,” says cloning expert Jose Cibelli, professor of animal biotechnology at Michigan State University””

  • David

    I have to admit I was shocked to see the quote from Cibelli and was sure that it must have been taken out of context so I clicked the link and still can’t tell what the context of the quote was.
    I was shocked because Jose Cibelli is pretty clear on how important he feels embryonic stem cell research is. Quoted below (from http://businessweek.com/technology/content/may2005/tc20050527_7309_tc120.htm) in reference to the role that private funds may play in fostering ESC research in this country ….
    “”These efforts will keep the U.S. in the game — but not in the unchallenged lead. “We’re really in the Dark Ages,” charges Cibelli. “We’re failing at the core — at providing the federal money that would lead to new biotechnology and new companies able to take this to patients.” Unless the Administration changes its stance, many breakthroughs will continue to come from outside the U.S.””
    see also
    “”The bill passed by the House would allow scientists to create more cell lines from thousands of embryos now slated for destruction at in vitro fertilization clinics. While that could bring several hundred more stem-cell lines into play, the bill “is like getting a foot in the door and trying to open it a little, when other countries are building huge gates,” says cloning expert Jose Cibelli, professor of animal biotechnology at Michigan State University””

  • Larry Lord

    Here’s my question:
    What have 20th Century Christian preachers accomplished? Why would anyone pay attention to someone like Jim Swaggart or Jim Bakker or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell or Jim Dobson who do nothing but sow fear and smear scientists and distort their discoveries?
    And before you say something irrelevant like “I don’t follow those people,” please recognize that millions of evangelical Christians do.
    Why is that? Why do millions of self-identifying evangelical Christians believe Jim Dobson when he smears scientists and tries to peddle “intelligent design” as a scientific theory?

  • Ed

    Joe: For a true determinist, any action would lead to the same outcome even if we were completely unconscious of our own will.
    What does this mean? That action A taken by a chimp under circumstance B would lead to the same outcome C that action A taken by a human under the same circumstance B would? Why do you reject this? What is your idea of the relationship of mental phenomena to behavior in non-human animals?

  • Ed

    Joe, I have a feeling I am indeed not understanding what you are saying.
    Joe: But the reason you may be able to say anything (as most of us who disagree with you would claim) is simply because you are not determined.
    This reads: “The reason you can say anything at all is because your choice to say anything at all was not determined by circumstances that existed prior to your saying it.” But that does not follow. That I say something does not preclude my saying something’s being determined by circumstances prior to my saying it (say, by a choice-making faculty with intentions I could not possibly have intended to possess). Please help me understand your argument.

  • Larry Lord

    David
    The context of Cibelli’s quote can be found here
    http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v11/n5/full/nm0505-459.html
    Note that Cibelli is not suggesting that research using embyronic stem cells is a valueless exercise.
    He is merely pointing out that the numbers of human egg cells available to researchers will always be limited and that ultimately (he predicts) methods which rely on different (non-egg) sources of non-differentiated pluripotent human cells will become more feasible and/or successful and/or popular.
    I agree this is true for the same reasons that Cibelli does. If methods of making pluripotent cells from adult cells (e.g., skin cells) become available, then certainly that would be more favorable than surgically obtaining eggs. The issue is what to do in the meantime if/when egg-based cloning does become feasible and useful in the treatment of some diseases?
    I guess we’ll know the answer when some Christian Republican’s daughter gets really sick. What do you suppose will happen then?

  • Ed

    Joe,
    Also, if being conscious of our own will (basically via linguistic operators) is what makes us not determined, then is a human determined that has since birth been deaf and blind? And, if you would deem them to be not able to will freely (determined), does that mean that THEIR urges and drives and motivations and wants and choices are functions of their physical brain, unlike yours, which are the function of an incorporeal something or other? Is their incorporeal something or other languishing in frustration as their body is (impossibly, under non-materialist precepts) being ordered around by their brain chemistry?

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

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