ESCR, NPR, and Me

Stem Cell Research — By on July 20, 2006 at 1:38 am

On Tuesday, NPR ‘



  • Daisy

    Now, that’s not fair. I heard you on some other radio show (Hewitt maybe?) and thought you had a fantastic voice for radio. Don’t be unkind to yourself.

  • http:/mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    I wish people like you would stop using the phrase “sanctity of life.” I see nothing holy about your position; only evil: equating zygotes to living, born people is to degrade the concept of humanity.
    It is why we had 9/11 and Iraq and Katrina: because if people are the same as zygotes, they are as insignificant as zygotes, and there is no reason to “foresee” consequences of bad behaviors toward them. “Nobody could have foreseen…” was the response the Bush regime has given to 9/11, and Iraq, and Katrina. Nobody can forsee whether a zygote will become a human being or, like a plurality if not majority of them, simply be expelled from a woman’s body. Nobody can forsee anything. So who cares to make preparations? Human beings are “sacred life” to you but your concept of the sacredness of human life is but a concept; it has no meaning except to hurt the less powerful more than they’re already hurt.
    Do you disagree with the concept of in vitro fertilization?
    Are you willing to proscecute those who have children by no other way?
    Your talk, and NPR’s covering of it, would be morally repugnant to me in the same way that if they carried the “opinion” of white supremacists and the KKK, except for the fact that it is good to point out the moral sewer in which apologists for the Bush regime inhabit.
    And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

  • The Raven

    I caught a bit of this yesterday – and it occurred to me that NPR is not serving the community well by attempting to “balance” opinion in the FOX manner. Science and knowledge require us to move in a certain direction. We can weigh and view the evidence, consider facts and the alternatives, and make a decision.
    We don’t need to hear from the bible-thumpers on this. FOX and right-wing radio have that angle covered. NPR should stand for something better.

  • Terry

    Mumon-
    Who exactly is equating a zygote with a “living, born person”? A human zygote has some characterstics in common with a living, born person — it has the same genetic structure & it is alive, if nothing else. Isn’t this argument about whether a zygote shares certain metaphysical traits with a living, born person? How can you speak in such absolute terms (‘evil’) about a metaphysical truth unless you are making a metaphysical argument yourself?

  • Tim L

    Raven,
    Science without any moral foundation? Talk about morally repugnant. You can obviously disagree with the views expressed here but to say that they should be excluded from scientific debate is at the very least scary. I would bet that you only feel that way because the “moral” opinions expressed are not yours.
    What I find interesting are viewpoints that are somehow validated because of a persons current situation. Because Terry Smith had diabetes, Nancy Reagan’s husband had Alzheimers or an individual is a quadriplegic, they are right about the view point that they are expressing regarding ESCR. How is this so.
    This isn’t the only debate that I have seen this of course. How many times during a debate about flag burning or any kind of “desecration” of the flag have you heard somebody say, “well I served for __ years…”. I definitely respect the time served but that does not make your view point right.

  • http://tbotalks.blogspot.com Justin Thibault

    I caught a bit of this yesterday – and it occurred to me that NPR is not serving the community well by attempting to “balance” opinion in the FOX manner. Science and knowledge require us to move in a certain direction. We can weigh and view the evidence, consider facts and the alternatives, and make a decision.
    We don’t need to hear from the bible-thumpers on this. FOX and right-wing radio have that angle covered. NPR should stand for something better.
    I am an avid NPR listener and I can tell you this: Joe Carter makes up an under-represented demographic on NPR. NPR, while left-leaning at time, was following their standard practice and was right to put Joe on the air. I found his essay to be thoughtful.
    Now charging NPR with outright bias is an old tale. They can’t help it; because when the cover public affairs – they are 60%/40% leaning liberal (at best). When they cover cultural issues (music, art, etc.) – one can’t help but talk to liberals almost exclusively. All that being what it is, NPR is the only mass medium to get an intelligent and balanced take on the news – without constantly adjusting RSS feeds.
    As someone who works in a controversial scientific area (Nuclear Power), I can tell you that dissent from those many of my peers view as being less scientifically informed (i.e. Sierra Club) do offer an important check before a state or utility takes all of society down a potentially dangerous road. While they usually lack scientific training and never offer any viable alternatives, science and knowledge – by themselves do not “require us to move in a certain direction” only because they are there. The thoughtful and judicious application of science insures a certain public trust. That’s the price that we pay. We haven’t broken ground on a new Nuclear site in 25 years, and our air is dirtier for it; but if the industry were able to move without heeding dissent – I doubt the plants would be as safe as they are today.
    Likewise, a balanced approach to Human ESCR is a way by whic the whole of stem cell research will be accepted by the society at large and will not become the polarizing, entrenched, and unproductive debate that abortion is today.
    I was able to have a discussion with someone who thought that this veto would be a ban of stem cell research. She wasn’t someone who was woefully uninformed – she was someone who worked in biotech and was going to NCSU in the fall to work with stem cells. During our discussion, I challenged her view on the basis of this being a ban. We were able to come to a point where she stated she would need to looks some stuff up. We didn’t have a shouting match. It was an exchange that would only be possible by two informed individuals with adequate resources on both sides of the argument.
    I cannot say that a wholeheartedly agree with Joe’s stand on Human ESCR or the President’s veto; but I do think that both will lead to a more thoughtful application of this technology.

  • http://bevets.com/grapevine.htm bevets

    I wish people like you would stop using the phrase “sanctity of life.” I see nothing holy about your position; only evil: equating coloreds to white people is to degrade the concept of humanity.
    murder: killing an innocent person when you have the ability not to kill that person.
    person: someone with unique human chromosomes that will continue to grow if provided with nutrition and protection. The only reason to suggest ANY other definition is to justify killing other people.
    child: a person with 2 parents
    It is wrong to kill children no matter how bad your reasons are.

  • Bryan K Mills

    Raven… I’m saddened by your response on this.
    “We don’t need to hear from Christians on this issue” (I cleaned up your insult for you). How tolerant and broad-minded of you! If your side of the issue is so enlightened and sure of your moral stance on the issue, what have you to fear from a bunch of ignorant, knuckle-dragging Christians? Why suppress their voice–why not let the idiots speak and reveal their folly?
    I am constantly amused (disgusted, actually) by the rigid intolerance of those who espouse tolerance.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Joe,
    Not only do you have a suitable voice for AM radio :) but you did a fine job tailoring your speech to suit the style of NPR. (NPR is by nature a monotonic bore. Not you, just their style.) I need to listen to you otherwise for a better perspective. But well-done none the less.
    This matter provides an excellent example that Evangelical Christians often separate from modernity (if it can be done, it must be done) as well as other social movments, that we’re not simply sheep, culturally or politically. But alas.
    An additional trend that’s visible here is the move toward a secular society, not just a secular government. It’s symptomatic of the pressure to keep even the *voice* of faith out of funding matters. (And clearly classing the funding matter with “science”, making question funding the same as questioning science. A skilfully-executed obfuscation.)
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    bevets:
    Preventing people from being able to develop cures for diseases which kill is tantamount to murder, so your position, as well as Carter’s is morally bankrupt.
    Child: a born person.
    BTW, I wonder how/why NPR contacted Carter for this?
    Is an ex-Marine recruiter who knows HTML somehow qualified to pontificate on ethics? Why? Is it because he made ridiculous arguments like “I’m morally opposed to it therefore the government shouldn’t pay for it?” (Which begs the question: since many are morally opposed to all war, shouldn’t the government ban that?)
    It is an affront to taxpayers and NPR supporters that NPR seemed to imply that Carter was somehow an expert in ethics, when he is not.

  • Dan

    It saddens me to see that the last two comments have completely ignored Justin’s wonderfully moderate post. He acknowledged the scientific necessity to address the concerns the conservative base. Personally, I appreciated his (Justin’s) thoughtfulness of the matter.
    Let bigots like Raven spew their biased viewpoints, they are more concerned with addressing the insecurities of their own ego.
    Right, before I get a slew of hatred for my last comment: I’m not a fundie, I’m a democrat. I came to this like from leanleft.com and Conservative evangelicism is just as annoying to me as it is to post-modernity.

  • Dan

    I was addressing the Bevets and Brians posts.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Who exactly is equating a zygote with a “living, born person”? A human zygote has some characterstics in common with a living, born person — it has the same genetic structure & it is alive, if nothing else.
    Human personhood is nothing more than a genetic structure? A zygote also has many characteristics NOT in common with a living, born person. For example, a functioning brain. As I pointed out on the previous thread we don’t define death as when every cell with the human beign’s unique DNA has died…we generally define death when the brain has died.
    Isn’t this argument about whether a zygote shares certain metaphysical traits with a living, born person? How can you speak in such absolute terms (‘evil’) about a metaphysical truth unless you are making a metaphysical argument yourself?
    What’s wrong with making a metaphysical statement? This argument seems to be something like “ohhh we can’t make a metaphysical statement so determining when a unique DNA code is created for a human beign is about as non-metaphysical as we can get so that needs to be our definition for when the life of a human beign begins”.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Terry:
    Does a zygote or blastocyst move on its own? Does it reason? Does it breathe? Is there evidence of conciousness?
    Can it exist outside of a uterus belonging to a living, breathing, born woman?
    This is not metaphysics; it’s common sense.
    And I notice that nobody’s touched the real issues: Do you prosecute parents who do IVF? Would you save 10 blastocysts or the two year old in a fire if you could save only the two year old or the blastocysts?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Boonton:
    Human personhood is nothing more than a genetic structure?
    Let me add in a wrinkle, which came up in a private conversation with Brendan Frey, who happens to be a real information theorist doing biology: The human genome is different for every single human being; there is no single human genome that represents all humans.
    That means that even at the level of DNA, there is no hard and fast dividing line on “what it means to be a human.”
    Some humans have more than 46 chromosomes, and yet are human. (I don’t know if some have less). A few bits of genes – OK, about1- 2% of them- mixed here and there and the “person” becomes a chimpanzee.
    And even chimpanzees aren’t what they used to be.

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

    Mumon I wish people like you would stop using the phrase “sanctity of life.”
    Spoken like a true Buddhist. Oh wait

  • http://nihilfit.blogspot.com Chris Gadsden

    Nice job on the NPR commentary, Joe. You were thoughtful, winsome and intelligent. You must not be a TRUE evangelical. Talk a little slower next time.

  • JHadji

    “Preventing people from being able to develop cures for diseases which kill is tantamount to murder…”
    I’m with you. Fur coats to keep us warm, an animal testing free for all and whale blubber for heating oil.
    No cost is too high to preserve mankind, because that’s all there is so that’s all that matters. Let’s have a good time and make it last!

  • kwbr

    A few rays of light to penetrate some immense moral and idealogical blinders:
    Preventing people from being able to develop cures for diseases which kill is tantamount to murder, so your position, as well as Carter’s is morally bankrupt.
    Who is preventing anything here? No research is forbidden, merely the use of government (our) money to pay for it. If you can’t grasp the difference you are out of your intellectual depth. If you do, and deliberately fudge them, you are a liar. Suggesting that the decision to withold government funding for research is the same thing as forbidding it is both intellectually and morally bankrupt.
    As an insulin dependent diabetic for over twenty years who has suffered real consequences that might putatively be ameliorated by the results of such research (even though, despite the claims of embryonic stem cell boosters, no such benefits have been demonstrated as experimentally likely) I would forego any such treatment that required the deliberate destruction of a living human being.
    And a blastula, zygote or embryo at any stage is human, living, and genetically distinct. This is not a theological observation, but a scientific fact. Does it not develop? Is it some other species? Does it not merge outside genetic information from sources other with what it obtains from the mother? So it might not feel or think. Neither would someone under anesthesia. A zygote cannot survive by itself outside the womb? Neither would a month old baby for very long. Neither condition intrinsically allows destroying the human to harvest useful cells.
    There is no suggestion of prosecuting doctors or clients using in vitro fertilization for homicide, nor is there any consideration of prosecuting scientists. “Person” and “murder” are legal constructs, that presently don’t apply here even if human beings are being killed. (Unless no word has any meaning.) We’re just not going to pay for it out of public coffers. If the use of embryonic stemcells, as opposed to adult stemcells, is so much more promising, where are the companies and investors and benefactors lining up to provide private funding?
    Why should a former Marine recruiter who knows HTML be unqualified to speak out on ethics, but an information scientist doing biology (or any scientist, journalist, or private person) be qualified?
    If there are some well considered arguments in favor of government funding for embryonic stem cell research that address the facts feel free to present them. So far there has been nothing but fulminating pro-death prejudice.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Who is preventing anything here? No research is forbidden, merely the use of government (our) money to pay for it. If you can’t grasp the difference you are out of your intellectual depth. If you do, and deliberately fudge them, you are a liar. Suggesting that the decision to withold government funding for research is the same thing as forbidding it is both intellectually and morally bankrupt.
    Wow, not just factually incorrect but both intellectually and morally bankrupt. Isn’t it odd that you so casually overlook the implications of what you’re saying. You’re arguing this is murder…but its ok as long as taxpayer money isn’t used. If it’s murder then shouldn’t you be demanding it be outlawed entirely? And while we are at it shouldn’t the IVF clinics that are creating surplus embryos and killing them ANYWAY be outlawed first?
    And a blastula, zygote or embryo at any stage is human, living, and genetically distinct. This is not a theological observation, but a scientific fact. Does it not develop? Is it some other species? Does it not merge outside genetic information from sources other with what it obtains from the mother? So it might not feel or think. Neither would someone under anesthesia. A zygote cannot survive by itself outside the womb? Neither would a month old baby for very long. Neither condition intrinsically allows destroying the human to harvest useful cells.
    A sperm or egg cell, before fertilization, is both human and living. Hence it appears the trigger here is the creation of a genetically distinct DNA code. It is only a scientific fact that genetical distinction happens upon fertilization. It is nothing more than an assertion that is the the beginning of a human beign.
    And speaking of shifting goalposts, Joe, that standard is not used to measure the end of a human beign. We do not wait for every cell containing a person’s genetic code to die before declaring that person’s life has ended. We only wait for brain death, after that it is not considered murder to harvest the person’s organs, disconnect support or whatnot.
    Indeed a person under anesthesia cannot feel (probably cannot think either) but that is an artificially induced condition that cannot be maintained for very long. Removing the artificial anesthesia the person returns to the state of being able to think and feel. If he does not, if his brain dies then he is considered dead.
    Why should a former Marine recruiter who knows HTML be unqualified to speak out on ethics, but an information scientist doing biology (or any scientist, journalist, or private person) be qualified?
    I agree with you here. IMO Raven underestimates the importance of ethical and philosphical discussion and overestimates the ability of science to just ‘go’ where it needs to go. However Joe has made himself look foolish by pontificating on things is not qualified to know. For example on the previous thread he declared that the existing lines Bush has permitted research on are ‘sufficient’. When asked how he could possibly know such a thing his reply was that those ‘without a financial interest’ said so. In this case ‘without a financial interest’ seems to mean blowhards whose judgements on this matter have no impact on their living while those whose jobs depend on making accurate judgements are deemed unworthy to contribute.
    Needless to say I offer Joe this help free of charge and I’m sure he won’t even give me credit when the MSM interviews him!

  • The Raven

    Joe: “If you ever wonder why you are misunderstood, Raven, it could be because you tend to make vague claims like this that are open to considerable interpretation.”
    True enough – no argument from me on that observation. By the way, did you catch the update I posted to the previous comment thread on this? The nice people at the stem cell research foundation provided an excellent explanation of why the WIRED article was wrong – the 22 lines are not useful for the kind of research that needs to be done.
    And the point is this: When it comes to science in particular, and matters of fact and reason in general, if someone like yourself makes a scientific claim (such as “mouse protein growth factors can be easily extracted from stem cell samples”), we can discover the veracity of the assertion readily. I am contending that in matters of this type, while questions of ethics are always discussable, they should be presented in a secular fashion. That is, as to whether we ought to vigorously fund stem cell research, the perspectives of people who believe in angels and demons and suchlike are mere distractions.
    You raise a very sharp point on Nazi experimentation. Remember the debate a while back on whether current studies of hypothermia ought to consider Nazi-collected data on the same subject? There was a lengthy discussion on that, with proponents on both sides, and eventually it was decided that the use of the Nazi data would be unethical. The ends did not justify the means. Here, regarding the use of stem cells, the issue is rather similar.
    Look, if I want to know the Christian perspective on these matters, I’ll drop in on my local church and ask. Or maybe I’ll look at the Christian Science Monitor or the like. But when I tune into NPR, I expect that the opinion of scientists, professors, researchers and similar experts will be presented for consideration, and that no attempt will be made to “balance” fact with the opinions of people who believe in angels and demons and invisible superbeings.
    This stuff seems like it isn’t all that important, but it is. Look at global warming, f’rinstance. We have what appears to be a very serious crisis emerging and our media does us a disservice every time they present the ideas of some crackpot lunatic with the same gravitas that they would forward those of the director of NOAA. In like guise, you are not (to my knowledge, pardon me if I’m wrong) a professional medical ethicist; the latter viewpoint, surely, being the one NPR should have sought out for further comment.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Science does not exist in a vaccuum. It always operates within a framework.
    A science without any metaphysic, even a Kantian approach, is merely utilitarian. At least with some level of practical morality we can see that “human” does not require the disconnection of the umbilical cord but is a biological, genetic construct. (i.e., “science”) The Christian comes with a transcendent morality rather than a mere common morality.
    To benefit one person at the expense of another was the method of the 1940s, which should be rejected by all as a suitable framework for science.
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  • http://parableman.net Jeremy Pierce

    Mumon, who said anything about the sanctity of philosophical positions? The view Joe defends is the view that life is sacred. He is not defending the view that the view that life is sacred is itself sacred. So arguing that the view isn’t sacred is just stupid. The view really does hold that life is sacred, and thus it’s an accurate label for the view to call it the sanctity of life position.
    You can disagree all you want about the substantive issues, but you’re trying to call the label for the view inaccurate simply because you don’t think the view itself is holy. That’s just a category mistake.

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

    Raven By the way, did you catch the update I posted to the previous comment thread on this? The nice people at the stem cell research foundation provided an excellent explanation of why the WIRED article was wrong – the 22 lines are not useful for the kind of research that needs to be done.
    So let me get this straight. You are saying that we should not trust the word of the CEO of a biotech company that is doing research with these lines but instead should trust a non-profit that is headed up by the president of an Alzeihemer

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Joe,
    There is a proverb about answering a troll according to his folly …
    Collin

  • http://tbotalks.blogspot.com Justin Thibault

    It saddens me to see that the last two comments have completely ignored Justin’s wonderfully moderate post. He acknowledged the scientific necessity to address the concerns the conservative base. Personally, I appreciated his (Justin’s) thoughtfulness of the matter.
    Moderate doesn’t get traffic – that’s why my blog peaks at 50 vistors/day. :-)

  • http://alienationchurch.blogspot.com darin

    While I am glad that President Bush has applied the veto to this act, I am still concerned about the inconsistency with which the President applies this ‘Sanctity of life’ ethic. He is quoted at CNN.com as saying that he will not support or allow tax-payer money to support the destruction of life for the saving of life. Wonderful. But what about all of the death row inmates whose capital punishment was meeted out while on his watch as governor of Texas? Doesn’t this strike anyone as inconsistent? Some have stated that there were more executions under his watch than under any governor in recent history. If the president is so concerned about the sanctity of life why are detainees treated as they are at Gitmo, reportedly tortured and humiliated regularly? If the president is so concerned about the sanctity of life why have so many been killed in the war in Iraq. These aren’t even potential lives, but realized and actual lives. What about the sanctity of innocent civilians?
    No, in the War for the sanctity of life Bush has won this battle, but lost every other.

  • http://tbotalks.blogspot.com Justin Thibault

    The Raven:Look, if I want to know the Christian perspective on these matters, I’ll drop in on my local church and ask. Or maybe I’ll look at the Christian Science Monitor or the like. But when I tune into NPR, I expect that the opinion of scientists, professors, researchers and similar experts will be presented for consideration, and that no attempt will be made to “balance” fact with the opinions of people who believe in angels and demons and invisible superbeings.
    Dude, you don’t listen to enough NPR. If anything, the pull too much from people who aren’t creditialed experts. For instance, Diane Rhem has an entire hour of journalists talking about public policy (with a 20 minute call-in time for angry, unemployed liberals to complain about what Bush did this week). Why doesn’t she have, um, public policy experts? Well, it’s more engaging to have journalists who are informed and trained communicators…even though they aren’t experts.
    How many times does Terri Gross have some actor/muscian/installation artist/grown-up trustifarian who opines about government policy? At least once or twice a week, based on my recollection.
    I work around “experts” every day and, believe me, only a handful of them would make engaging commentators

  • http://wondersforoyarsa.blogspot.com Wonders For Oyarsa

    Raven: I was always under the distinct impression that Joe is director at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. As such, he probably has the right to speak to the media on such issues. But then again, I could be wrong…

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    So let me get this straight. You are saying that we should not trust the word of the CEO of a biotech company that is doing research with these lines but instead should trust a non-profit that is headed up by the president of an Alzeihemer

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    So let me get this straight. You are saying that we should not trust the word of the CEO of a biotech company that is doing research with these lines but instead should trust a non-profit that is headed up by the president of an Alzeihemer

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Joe Carter:
    Buddhists’ view of life is far more nuanced than that bit from Beliefnet would imply…it arises from the overall goal of transcending suffering
    kwbr:
    So many Americans think the war in Iraq is immoral- probably far more than think that stem cell reseach based on cells from blastulae or IVF is immoral…so?
    a blastula…is human, living, and genetically distinct…
    Only because you’ve defined a “human” in the same way as if you cut yourself and a piece of skin falls off. Which is a weird definition.
    If there are some well considered arguments in favor of government funding for embryonic stem cell research that address the facts feel free to present them. So far there has been nothing but fulminating pro-death prejudice.
    It is your side that has the pro-death prejudice, only it masquerades as “pro-life.”

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Boonton:
    The financial angle is interesting: as Joe Carter makes his living from a think tank (who fudns it?) he himself has a financial interest here.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    As I pointed out elsewhere, the question of whether the research would be useful or not is distinctly different from whether it is ethical. It may indeed be useful but unethical which honesty would demand that we acknowledge it as a sacrifice…not happily assume it is useless BUT the few existing lines are AMAZINGLY useful and the alternative of adult stem cells are STUNNING etc. etc.
    It would also tell us whether it would be sensible to explore ways to do the research while satisfying ethics. For example, extracting embryonic cells in a manner that does not destroy the embryo.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Andrew Sullivan has an intereting take in support of Bush’s call:

    I think the argument for the benefits of such research is compelling; there’s little doubt that this avenue could be extremely fruitful. I live with one of the diseases, HIV, it might help cure or treat. For those reasons, I don’t believe such research should be banned – or even that individual states shouldn’t, if their citizens support it, directly finance such research from the public purse. I’m a federalist. But when a very significant number of Americans feel deeply that this really is morally unconscionable, and when the research is taking place anyway under other auspices, I see no reason why the feds should actively finance this research as well. I don’t think that Bush’s compromise is so unreasonable, in other words. This isn’t a ban on such research; it’s a decision not to throw the weight of federal financing behind it. I respect the case of those who favor it; but, when push comes to shove, I’m with Bush on this. It took political courage to take this stand. And the morality it reflects – a refusal to treat human life as a means rather than as an end – deserves respect even from its opponents.

    http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/07/bushs_veto.html
    Ironically Bush’s ban may end up causing more ESC research than if he had relaxed it. Without a ban any ESC would have to fight for Federal research dollars in competition with other proposals. If ESCR really has as little promise as its critics claim and if other types of study such as adult stem cells are so much better then even sans ban a lot of ESCR will simply not happen because it would fail to win when in competition with other proposals.
    Now, though, many states such as NJ and CA are responding by setting up their own taxpayer funded ‘research centers’. Korea went after such research, it seems, as more of a point of national pride rather than an objective analysis of its value. With research centers dedicated to ESCR , ESCR proposals will naturally enjoy no competition from competiting proposals and as a result will end up getting funded more often.
    I don’t think this is a good thing for either side. Those against embryo destruction would end up seeing more of it than they otherwise wood and those supporting research would not see research dollars optimized. Despite Bush’s attempts to politicize science, the Federal system has a good reputation for resisting politization and fads and evaluating proposals objectively (or at least as much as they possibly can).

  • Elwood

    Mumon,
    I’ll admit that given the choice between saving a 2yr old child or my 10 frozen embryos, I would save my 2yr old child. (to be clear, though, I wouldn’t have 10 frozen or unfrozen embryos to begin with because I’m opposed to creating embryos in the lab, and if one is created, I’m opposed to freezing it for the powerful’s convenience.)
    Will you admit that if you were in the process of going through IVF with your wife and you had to choose between saving an embryo or saving a piece of your skin that you cut off, you would save the embryo?
    It wouldn’t be a hard choice for me, but by degree, I suspect your dilemma would be infinitely easier to decide than mine.
    So, even if you maintain that a born-child is different to you than an embryo, admit that it ALSO isn’t as inconsequential a piece of cut off skin.

  • http://bevets.com/grapevine.htm bevets

    I wish people like you would stop using the phrase “sanctity of life.” I see nothing holy about your position; only evil: equating coloreds to white people is to degrade the concept of humanity.
    bevets
    murder: killing an innocent person when you have the ability not to kill that person.
    person: someone with unique human chromosomes that will continue to grow if provided with nutrition and protection. The only reason to suggest ANY other definition is to justify killing other people.
    child: a person with 2 parents
    It is wrong to kill children no matter how bad your reasons are.
    mumon
    Preventing people from being able to develop cures for diseases which kill is tantamount to murder, so your position, as well as Carter’s is morally bankrupt.
    Citizen: a white person.
    Joe addressed this point in the NPR piece. It is easy to define persons out of existence, how do you justify your definition?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Will you admit that if you were in the process of going through IVF with your wife and you had to choose between saving an embryo or saving a piece of your skin that you cut off, you would save the embryo?
    Good counter Elwood, the difference is if you don’t consider an embryo a full human beign you would still treat it as more valuable than a piece of skin for the simple reason it is difficult to create and has important potential. Likewise if there was a fire in a medical lab and you had to choose to rescue either a routine blood donation or a kidney destined for a transplant patient you would choose the kidney but not because you consider it a human beign in itself.
    bevets
    Joe addressed this point in the NPR piece. It is easy to define persons out of existence, how do you justify your definition?
    Ahhh yes the ‘bad things happened when humans were defined out of existence’…except this presupposes two things:
    1. Embryos were considered human beigns to begin with and only now are being kicked out of the club by those who support research, IVF, abortion or whatnot. Both in history and even by the behavior of even pro-life people this has not been the case.
    2. The question of what defines a human is considered settled in the background of this argument when in fact it is the core of this argument.
    As has been pointed out here defining human persons too broadley leads to just as bad outcomes. In the previous thread I used the hypothetical of some yahoo who gets unfertilized eggs and sperms defined as human persons. The result of such a policy would be to harm actual human persons as research and other important things are not done for real human beigns while resources are mandated for things that should not be equated to human beigns.

  • http://mumonno.blogpsot.com Mumon

    Elwood:
    It depends on how much skin we’re talking about. Cut off too much, and the risk of death if not serious incapcity results.
    bevets:
    What Boonton said.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    bevets :
    I missed your apalling racist remark the first time I scanned your comment.
    It doesn’t surprise me intellectually, but still I’m apalled whenever I see such things; it verifies the close kinship between some of the darker right-wing forces we’ve seen and the present one.

  • Cheesehead

    Whoa! Talk about moonbats on steroids! I wonder if the level of vitriol from the usual suspects here has more to do with ESCR, or NPR envy. With Mummmmmmon I suspect he’s just mad because NPR won’t interview him.
    Last time I checked there were nine conditions now being treated with thereputic ASC treatments; 1175 clinical trials underway using ASC research and 63 more conditions for which ASC research holds promise. The numbers for ESC research are zero, zero, and zero. http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YjliM2MwZTU1MzI5NTc2ZWFhNTE1NmMwNzNhZDA3MGM=
    Anyway, keep howling at the moon, guys! The comic relief is great!

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Cheesehead:
    Their source is The Family Research [sic] Council?
    Got any real scientists?

  • http://www.grphmon.com Patrick (Gryph)

    Let me know what you think about my audio essay, Mr. Smith

  • Cheesehead

    Actually, Mumon, the source for the 1,175 clinical trials is…the US government. The National Institutes of Health, to be exact. If you care to follow the link (notice the extension is .gov): http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/search;jsessionid=514DFF775B35F02A469A55E31FBA2D7C?term=stem+cells&submit=Search
    But we can’t let a little thing like science get in the way of a good bashing of the fundies, now can we?

  • http://bobramsey.blogspot.com Bob Ramsey

    Joe:
    I appreciate where you ended your NPR piece. I too wish this were the first step to rolling back an unfortunate trend. Sadly, while you and I both wish this was what the President was saying, it wasn’t.
    He used absolute principles to justify a tactical choice. We need a serious discussion of this issue and the President’s unserious use of “principle” made it harder for us to have that discussion now.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon
  • Chris Lutz

    Mumon:
    It would help if you got your facts right. ESCR has existed much longer than ASCR. The first mouse ES cells were derived in 1981. It wasn’t until the late ’90s, early 2000′s that AS cells were even shown to have the potential they have.
    http://www.abcam.com/index.html?pageconfig=resource&rid=10089&pid=10039
    Claiming that people are lying because they don’t mention the number of ESC lines is pretty weak. It’s especially weak since ESC’s have been researched much longer than ASC’s and have no practical results. It seems weird to complain that the government is not funding massive research for a procedure that has produced no practical results. Meanwhile ASC’s are actually being used in medical trials. Smart money supports success, not consistent failure, hope, and possible far-off potential.
    Here is a good article from 2002 that gives a nice layman’s level understanding of the hurdles faced by both ESC’s and ASC’s.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0201/articles/condic.html

  • The Raven

    “It seems weird to complain that the government is not funding massive research for a procedure that has produced no practical results.”
    Regarding ESC, we’re still at the level of basic research. That term, “basic research,” has a particular meaning academically and is synonymous with “fundamental research” or “pure research.” These terms are used fairly interchangeably depending on the field that uses them, but mathematicians and biologists to name two groups use that language to refer to studies in areas that simply need to be done in order to support further advances in a given field.
    Such research normally does not have an immediate payout, a known payout, or even an estimated payout. ESC appears to be in this category. It is conceivable that these cells may hold the key for regenerating nerve tissue, just as it has been suggested that they could unlock the mystery of cancer. We don’t know. If we don’t push forward, we might never know. That’s what basic research is for.
    Unfortunately, our universities are on ever-tightening budgets and private industry generally works on tasks that are profitable. Pure, fundamental research in many cases is a federal responsibility because it is of a national, strategic interest that America be the leader and authority in a given field. While private research is proceeding as best it can with ESC, a federal effort might allow a breakthough earlier or reveal that this area of inquiry is unpromising and lead to other research that is.
    As a related aside, a Republican senator made a speech two days ago in which he lambasted Bush’s veto, noting that the President is not “our moral Ayatollah,” and noting as I did earlier that we should either forbid all ESC research or support it fully. The half-way measure in place is cobbled-together political structure that is about as bad as it gets.
    PS: Joe asks me a few questions above and I’m not ignoring them. I’m considering some additional material that has bearing on a response.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Chris Lutz:
    Read what I wrote: isolating ESCs and directing them to do something are 2 radically different things, and it’s not in illuminating comparison to match one against the other.
    I feel personally about this for a reason which might not seem at all connected: in recently revisiting some literature for my one research I noticed, in one particular area, which for years seemed “closed,” has become “open” again with very active research due to one particular development by maybe 2 or 3 mathematicians. The same phenomenon has been true in information theory, in an entirely unrelated area.
    This appears to be the “zeitgeist” (I hate that word but can’t think of another) of R&D in general: things sort of muddle along until somebody finds something incredibly useful, and it upsets everything.
    Here’s an open question in radio engineering: is it possible to construct a bandwith efficient waveform that requires an amplifier with very loose linearity characteristics to transmit? It’s of crucial importance because a positive answer to this question (aligning with certain other positive answers to other questions) would make radios vastly more energy efficient and spectrally efficient. Nobody knows the precise answer to this question yet. But when they do they’ll turn the whole field upside down.
    It is a matter of commonsense that ESCs have less “design constraints” than ASCs. While there are numerous technological and political hurdles to ESC research (and I’m no expert in the field and neither are you nor Joe Carter), it is undoubtedly the case that designing with less constraints for a particular goal is harder not easier: you have to ask yourself, “What do we really want?” “What are the constraints?” (Because there are always constraints, with less of them, they push the question somewhere else.)
    It’s for all of the above reasons that the minute I perused that “National Review” article, I suspected nonsense, ignorance, obfuscation, and/or downright dishonesty.

  • Eric & Lisa

    How come we are still at the level of basic research for the group which we have been studying for a longer time and are passed basic research for the group that we have been studying for a shorter time?
    And how long do we have to fail at this basic research before we pass the stage of basic research into abject failure?

  • The Raven

    “And how long do we have to fail at this basic research before we pass the stage of basic research into abject failure?”
    This comment takes a big yellow magic marker and vigorously underscores the reason why religion and science ought to be kept in their respective spheres of what Gould referred to as, “non-overlapping magisteria.” Because, as E&L make so vibrantly clear, the Christian perspective decides, prior to investigation, what the desired outcome ought to be. Then, the tools and goals of research are inexorably bent and twisted until the result matches the prediction. It’s quite literally the opposite of what the scientific method seeks to accomplish.
    Per Joe’s queries earlier: “You are saying that we should not trust the word of the CEO of a biotech company…”
    That’s exactly what I’m saying. In questions like this, we shouldn’t be trusting anybody’s “word.” The science should be explainable, replicable, provable or falsifiable. There’s no “trust” involved. Even more telling is this phrase Joe employs with respect to the same point: “But if you are going to play dueling sources you have to come up with a better trump than that.”
    It isn’t a question of “dueling” anything. There’s just correct and false. True and untrue. Everything I’ve ever read – with the single exception raised by Joe – reiterates the fact that there are less than 20 viable ESC lines approved for federal research and that even those are so aged and mutated as to be suspect, if not outright corrupted by mouse protein factors. If the overwhelming preponderance of evidence indicates that this is correct, then a single objection to the contrary is non-suasive. That the medical community concurs is sufficient, and a quick check proves this to be the case.
    Regarding ethics and secular frameworks: “Let

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Eric & Lisa:
    The question I asked about radio signaling has been around for about 4X as long.
    What The Raven wrote above is spot on:

    we do, as sentient human beings, have the right and the obligation to construct laws for ourselves that are self-referencing and logically coherent, designed to maximize freedom and provide a positive environment for the populace. Such laws, like medical ethics, should be open to discussion and reformulation to adapt to changing circumstances, and not be rooted in ancient concepts and myths that have out-lived their utility (assuming they had any to begin with).

    And I would add that these laws should be about sentient human beings, and shouldn’t degrade humanity to the point where sentient humans are treated the same way as corpses or blastulae.
    That I think it the ultimate travesty of the “pro-life” position: it as actually against sentient beings from a moral perspective. The idea that somehow any of this is “moral” would be a joke, if it weren’t for the fact that there’s real, sentient human lives at stake, humans that any commonsense definition of humanity would admit.
    It is because their position is so contrary to what any person with a brain would identify as human that they have to resort to the dishonesty evidenced by the “Terri’s eyes followed a ballon in the video.”

  • http://www.neumatikos.org Kyle

    Let me guess… West Tennessee? The U’s are wrong to be Georgia