Stem cells in the 2012 Presidential election


My friend and colleague at Berkeley Laurel Barchas has entered the blogging world with a post at Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars. We mostly follow the creation/evolution fight here at PT, but the battles over things like climate change and stem cells seem to have become similarly politicized and religious-ized in recent years. And proponents of good science will sometimes get flack over it, as Laurel found out here (random example, although that guy spelled Berkeley as Berkely).

Laurel got in the game early on stem cell policy in California several years ago, and she is the Director of Academic Outreach for the Genetics Policy Institute, which is advertising the World Stem Cell Summit in December in Florida. See her post for an update.

Meanwhile, science rolls on, with a Nobel Prize today going for important discoveries in the history of stem cell research.


One of the more ridiculous politicizations of science is the scientific controversy over human cloning. No, not the ethical / religious / political controversy over whether it should be done. That is not a scientific controversy.

No, there must be some scientific controversy over whether human cloning is technically possible. Because all these “academic freedom” laws promoted by the Discovery Institute (and others) seem to contain the same list of controversies for which teachers are to be allowed to introduce dubious material: “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning”. That phrase is in several of these laws.

Now, we know that the Religious Right thinks that science has it wrong about the first three topics. But about human cloning? Most scientists would say that human cloning is probably technically possible. (Whether or not it should be done, that is a different matter). So I guess that the same people who think science is wrong about evolution, about the origin of life, and about global warming also must think that human cloning can’t work.

If so, that is big news. Because what would follow from that is that we can stop worrying about whether someone will clone a human … apparently it was impossible all along.

Either that, or the people who wrote these “academic freedom” laws are clueless.

Either that or they are just a bunch of lying hypocrites and frauds who are trying to conflate moral and ethical issues with scientific ones in order to sow seeds of doubt with ambiguous and misleading language because they don’t have the facts on their side, only words games and false inference. That’s another possibility.

Can you believe that the Unimaginably Dense ID/creationist website is now claiming that Opposition to fetal stem cell research encouraged Nobel-quality research?

Embryonic stem cell research is still needed to discover exactly how to induce stem cells to form tissues. People who claim that embryonic stem cells are no longer needed because some adult cells can be reset to a partial stem cell state are either misinformed or lying. It is like someone claiming that a bulk videotape eraser is all that is needed to produce videos.

A Mission Transforming Material Science into Spiritual Science:

This last is also spam, having nothing whatsoever to do with the thread.

Spam. Can it.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on October 8, 2012 3:11 PM.

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