Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Canada’s CBC Pushes Suicide Culture


The media are society’s premier suicide pushers. 

Oh sure, they decry suicides of teenagers and veterans. But they push suicide for the elderly, the disabled, the chronically and terminally ill–sometimes even, the mentally ill. 

Canada’s CBC is the latest example. It interviewed an octogenarian about his plans to commit suicide before becoming too old. Then, after he died, they ran the profile.  From the story:

A Toronto man’s decision to end his life, simply because he felt it was time to die, has raised questions and concerns among family, friends and experts, some of whom say it could take the assisted suicide debate down a “slippery slope.”

John Alan Lee, a former professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, died in December. He had carefully planned his own death for months and discussed his decision with a CBC crew.

Do you see how insidious this is? By going out with cameras and wide-eyed reporters to cover his suicide plan, the CBC actually validated Lee’s desire to die. Indeed, I would warrant it would make it harder to walk back.

How often have we seen this? Suicides are given high profile, even laudatory coverage. And the “experts” are quoted as saying we have to have the difficult conversations about permitting assisted suicide.

Then, once we do, the conversation is over forever because a new “right” has been created that can’t be taken away.

The CBC gives great respect to the idea that suicide can be “rational,” a dangerous meme in the mental health professions against which I have been warning for years:

Lee’s position reflects a broader philosophy known as “completed life” or “rational suicide.” The Dutch Parliament recently debated giving seniors over the age of 70 the right to euthanasia, regardless of illness.

The story even says Socrates embraced his own [rational] suicide as a way of avoiding old age–without mentioning that he drank hemlock in the context of a death penalty:

John’s philosophy that you choose the time of your death to avoid physical decline is controversial, but not novel. Centuries the Greek philosopher Socrates famously welcomed an early death, telling his followers he was avoiding the worst part of life.

The media’s favorable stories in support for the assisted suicide movement pushes ”rational suicide.” If suicide is a proper answer to human suffering, there is no way to materially limit what constitutes “suffering” for which suicide should be made available.

Beyond that, when the media promotes suicides, it pushes us–with malice aforethought, in my book–toward a suicide culture. That’s why the WHO Media guidelines urges media not to highlight particular suicides–it validates suicide and gives some readers/viewers ideas.

But media have taken sides on legalizing assisted suicide, big time!  So, WHO go away. Media will only refuse to glorify suicide or laud those who so died when it involves cases with which they disagree.

Celebrities Push Suicide Pacts


A celebrity UK couple are publicly pushing suicide–in the context of planning their own if they become seriously ill. From the Telegraph story:

TV couple Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan say they have given each other “a pledge” to help end their lives if they become seriously ill. The pair, who have just announced their choices for their latest book club, said the recent death of Madeley’s mother had got them thinking about the subject.
He told the Daily Telegraph: ” If Judy was really ill and in logical mind, and at that point where you just need a little push to go over the edge I wouldn’t give a tuppenny f*** if there was a risk of being prosecuted. I’d do what was right for my wife. And I’d take the consequences. That is your job, that is your responsibility as a partner.” Finnigan agreed, telling the newspaper: ” And I’d do the same. Stuff it all. We’ve made ourselves give each other a pledge along those lines.”

Why limit it to illness? If life becomes unacceptable to your beloved, help push him or her off suicide cliff. 

It is particularly dangerous when the famous and admired give their blessing to suicide. It can cause those barely able to stay on this side of the line a license to take the step.

Ah Wesley, so what? What matters is them. They are, after all, celebrities!


Unilateral Non Resuscitation at Mass.General!


Can this have something to do with Romney/Obamacare?

According to a medical study, since 2006, Massachusetts General Hospital’s Bioethics Committee has forced people to not receive wanted resuscitation by imposing unilateral DNRs. And apparently, it’s all done in Star Chamber secrecy. From Thaddeus Pope’s blog (quoting from a medical symposium presentation):

Unilateral Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) orders are a specific type of medical futility decision in which clinicians withhold advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of cardiopulmonary arrest despite objections of patients or their surrogates. There is little information on how often and to whom unilateral DNR orders are applied. The ethics committee at Massachusetts General Hospital has had a unilateral DNR policy since 2006. We investigated the incidence, sociodemographic and clinical predictors, and outcomes of patients with unilateral DNR orders.

If I read this correctly, thirty-eight percent of those upon whom the unilateral DNRs appear not to have been at the end stage of a terminal disease:

Patients for whom unilateral DNR was recommended were more likely to have conditions judged to be endstage rather than potentially reversible (62% versus 41%, p=0.05).

And who can be surprised that non whites were more likely to have an involuntary DNR imposed?

This is medical tyranny. People are refused potentially life-saving treatment based on the secret views of strangers in committee who have given themselves the power to so dictate.


Transumanism and the “Will to Evolve”


I am covering a conference on transhumanism and religion, about which I will write at some length elsewhere.

For now, I have to say that my previous opinion of transhumanism as a materialistic religion–or perhaps better stated, a worldview that seeks to obtain the benefits of religion without submitting to concepts of sin or the humility of believing in a Higher Being–are being substantially borne out.

It is interesting how important evolution seems to be to the entire concept. But in so doing, it seeks to transform human evolution from a purposeless phenomenon to one steeped in meaning. As one participant stated:..

Transhumanism is a thrust toward transcendence. It is not classical mysticism but seeks a temporal transcendence The driving force behind this is evolution…

What is reality? Reality is evolution. It has a direction from the simple to the complex; the most complex [outcome] is intelligence. Thus evolution is aimed at intelligence.

We should thus have a will to evolve. We have a moral responsibility to increase evolution and do so by continually striving to expand our abilities throughout life by acting in harmony with the evolutionary process…

Science and technology move us toward Utopia. One of the most exciting things about transhumanism is that all will be fixed.

Tellingly, from my perspective, we have seen no real discussion of love at the conference–except an oblique reference to a “Chrisitan transhumanist” (not present) who disagrees with the thrust toward intelligence.

For now, I want to focus a bit on what could be called transhumanism’s will to Utopianism, perhaps the most alarming ideological drive of the movement.  

Religion isn’t the source of evil. Neither is atheism, agnosticism, or other isms. But all of these can become very dangerous when they presume that facilitating their views into wide acceptance is of such importance broadly that they justify all means. That leads to horror and tyranny–as in the French Revolution–a secular movement–and Al Qaeda, a religious movement.

Thus, I am not overly concerned with the technological aspirations of transhumanism. For example, I don’t believe we will ever upload our minds into computers. But I do worry about the value system and the zeal to achieve a materialistic New Jerusalem that transhumanism can engender.

Utopian transhumanism is also profoundly anti-human exceptionalism–from both sides of the coin. First, it holds that there is nothing special about human life per se. And it so asserts toward the end that we presume license to seize control of our own evolution and remake ourselves in our own image.

I don’t see any way that can lead to a positive outcome. We don’t have the wisdom to intelligently redesign ourselves into an inherently different being–as contrasted with, say, using technology as a tool to improve our circumstance, for example, the grafting of a prosthetic arm after amputation.

We are, after all, the species that built the unsinkable ship Titanic.

Execution by Assisted Suicide


So many of those who believe in assisted suicide and euthanasia don’t agree with the death penalty. The recent problems in executing a man–who buried one of his murder victims alive–has sparked an idea in Practical Ethics. From, “Lethal Injection: Time for the Chop:”

In recent times, doctors have reflected on the most gentle and effective ways to kill people in the context of end-of-life care. In Oregon, for example, the Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill persons to end their lives by taking an oral dose of a barbiturate. A similar system could be devised for death row inmates, giving them the freedom to choose when to ingest the lethal cocktail, within a given period. The doomed inmate, once offered the drugs, would retain some autonomy on when to die.

I call such ideas cruel and unusual death with dignity. Of course, the authors are actually against the death penalty:

Lethal injection, the preferred method in many jurisdictions, is the aesthetic choice, rarely offending the sensitivities of the viewers. It is, however, a technical procedure that is prone to failure…

Cutting a person’s neck is more graphic than lethal injection but, if the public favours capital punishment, it must confront the true nature of the act. It is the premeditated killing of a human being who does not want to die. If the sight of a severed head or the sound of falling blade awakens people to the violence of the act, then that is a good thing. Stopping the heart and causing havoc to the internal organs does not make the execution any less brutal. The brutality is simply hidden from view.

Ditto euthanasia and assisted suicide. Yet, advocates say it is the essential alternative to violent suicides.

Back to the piece:

The case of Clayton Lockett reminds us that, for all the disagreements on the issue of capital punishment, one point is beyond dispute: the most effective way to avoid botched executions is not to execute people.

Again, why couldn’t we say the same thing about assisted suicide? Surely it is the act of killing that can cause the physical distress, not whether someone wants to die. 

And what if a murderer wants to die as an act of contrition? It happens. Should they be granted assisted suicide?

Some have said yes, as well as for those sentenced to long term incarceration. Like I said,, cruel and unusual death with dignity.

By the way, as a study out of the Netherlands demonstrated, there are severe adverse physical side effects–other than dying–associated with lethal injections and swallowed assisted suicide.  Indeed, fewer with lethal injections. Hmmmm.

Following the logic of the piece, if you don’t want botched “deaths with dignity,” doctors shouldn’t do it. 


Australia Pro Life Legislation Sparks Firestorm


A Victoria MP is creating major storm waves because he wants to bring the state’s abortion law into some measure of reason. From the Herald Sun story:

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said maverick MP Geoff Shaw was “off the reservation” and Labor would not support a debate on his radical proposed changes to abortion legislation…

The MP, whose vote keeps Premier Denis Napthine in office, had been expected to introduce a Bill that would end the obligation for anti-abortion doctors to refer women to specialists who performed the procedure. But Mr Shaw has told the Herald Sun he has now changed his mind and will push for six radical changes to the state’s abortion laws.

Radical? What’s so [expletive deleted] radical? Here they are:

Protect the consciences of doctors who oppose abortion by repealing the requirement that they refer to fetus-killing colleagues: That’s about freedom;

Ban Partial birth abortion: That’s about basic decency;

Require saving the lives of babies born alive after a failed abortion: That’s because they aren’t fetuses anymore, they’re babies;

Require pain control for fetuses being aborted capable of suffering: That’s because it can hurt to be killed;

Outlaw gender selection abortions: That should be a matter of basic human rights to prevent discrimination, particularly against females, who are the usual victims.

– Informed consent and counseling before abortion; Destroying a fetus is a huge decision. Surely, adequate information before proceeding is warranted.

Those aren’t radical or anti-choice. They are humane and just.

It is a measure of how radical the pro abortion movement has become that a bill that promotes common decency and takes the issue of abortion seriously would create such outrage, not to mention, biased reporting.




Turning UK Patients into Human Guinea Pigs


Well, this is alarming. A proposed bill in the UK would permit doctors to experiment on their patients. From the “Medical Innovation Bill:”

(2) It is not negligent for a doctor to depart from the existing range of accepted medical treatments for a condition, in the circumstances set out in subsection 3), if the decision to do so is taken responsibly.

And get the open-ended license subsection 3 creates:

(3) Those circumstances are where, in the doctor’s opinion—(a) it is unclear whether the medical treatment that the doctor proposes to carry out has or would have the support of a responsible body of medical opinion, or (b) the proposed treatment does not or would not have such support.

That’s inexcusably vague. So what does it mean? UK law professor Jacqueline Laing explains on her blog:

Medical practitioners in the UK will be given considerable freedom to experiment on patients if the new Medical Innovation Bill becomes law. Ignoring human rights concerns, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt reasons that it is the role of the government to do whatever is needed to remove barriers that prevent medical innovation. “We must create a climate where clinical pioneers have the freedom to make breakthroughs in treatment”, he argues. He has, however, fundamentally misunderstood the responsibilities of government to protect the lives, freedoms and safety of its citizens…
The draft bill offers few if any concrete restraints on medical experimentation on patients whether terminally ill or otherwise. On the contrary, the proposed legislation invites widespread, unaccountable, degrading and inhuman treatment.

I’d say that’s pretty clear since the bill only requires that “the decision be taken responsibly.” For that matter, Neither is there anything in the bill restricting the unapproved experimentation to the dying.

Laing is also disturbed by the lack of standards:

In short, medical experimentation on patients is mainstreamed while no clear conditions as to what would constitute degrading and inhuman treatment are anywhere outlined. Indeed, the very possibility of degrading and inhuman treatment is not considered, whether in the language of the bill or in any preamble, and safeguards nowhere outlined.

Sorry. In our increasingly utilitarian medical milieu–and where costs are a factor–such loosey goosey language should be completely unacceptable. Laing agrees:

Routine medical experimentation on patients, particularly the dying, naturally undermines patient safety, endangers the desperate, and makes forensic determinations of medical wrongdoing almost impossible….


Mainstreaming medical innovation on the dying, while refusing to address the very real danger of degrading and inhuman treatment leaving it to multi-disciplinary teams governed by easily alterable GMC guidance, suggests the bill introduces new human rights incompatibilities over and above those produced by existing mental incapacity and clinical trials regulations.

I agree. Indeed, given the utter lack of standards by which to measure a physician’s experimentation, I can’t see coming to any other conclusion.

Hippocrates Pushed Torture!


The Hippocratic Oath is no longer taken by most doctors–which explains a lot. But it is still important symbolically, promoting the view that doctors should respect all human life.

Toward that end, the Hippocratic Oath bound doctors to foreswear performing abortions. This was also the overwhelming social view for centuries. Indeed, non therapeutic abortion was outlawed by most nations within my lifetime.  

But times changed and the international progressives now see the right to kill fetuses as absolutely essential to female equality. That is certainly the view of those who claim to think and speak for the vaunted international community. Now on abortion they are trying to brand the Catholic Church as supporting “torture” for its pro-life position. From the Washington Examiner story:

The United Nations is stepping up its attack on the Catholic Church’s historic opposition to abortion, suggesting at a meeting Monday in Geneva that it amounts to “psychological torture” of women and should be repealed, a move Vatican officials refuse to consider.

A member of the United Nation Committee Against Torture also charged that the church’s anti-abortion stance has led women to seek out dangerous abortions, according to a pro-church representative at the Geneva hearing Monday. “They are almost blaming the Catholic Church for unsafe abortions,” said Ashley E. McGuire of the group Catholic Voices USA in a telephone call from Geneva. “The church doesn’t believe there is anything as a safe abortion,” she added.

Certainly not for the fetus.

Modern secularists are cultural hegemonists who want to impose their cultural views by any means necessary, including now, defining torture down. That not only demagogues legitimate policy differences, but shamefully disrespects those–such as the poor kidnapped girls made into sex slaves in Nigeria–who suffer true psychological torture.

But that’s typical for the UN course, whose committee commissioners are about as diverse in their cultural views as chalk.

Stop the Cosmetic Surgery Madness!


We have doctor shortages and other pressing pressures on the medical system. Yet, how much of our limited medical resources are wasted–as in not doing anything about actual medical problems–by and on the cosmetic surgery industry?

Yet, no matter how extreme and expensive the procedures that are developed, the beauty/youth demon is never satiated. And now this. From the Daily Mail story, 

Three British women have undergone a revolutionary new operation to fit a ‘bra’ underneath the skin to combat sagging breasts. The ‘internal bras’ comprise a fine hardened silicone cup placed under the breast tissue, and fine silk straps screwed into the patient’s ribs to lift the breast.

They are invisible under the skin and will enable women to go bra-less.

Part of this will deal with reconstructive surgery after mastectomy. That’s not what I am upset about. That’s cosmetic, technically, but it is to remedy the serious physical consequences of a bona fide medical treatment.

In the real world, most of these procedures would be entirely cosmetic, marketed as a “cure” for the horrible scourge of saggy breasts:

’It has been marketed as a magical solution to address saggy breasts with very little scaring…’If a patient has had a proper breast lift and is concerned about the occurrence of sagging, this operation could prove effective.

’But it is unlikely to be effective on its own. It is important that a women has procedures to address the skin as well as the breast tissue itself.’

Talk about stoking decadence. Talk about promoting low self esteem for women who have lived real lives!

Saggy breasts are not an illness! It isn’t right to use waste precious medical resources on a ”cure” for something that isn’t a health problem. And why risk life and health over something so unimportant?

The only way to stop this is for consumers–note I don’t use the word “patients”–to shun the market. Keep spitting into the wind, Wesley. Keep spitting into the wind.

Why Doesn’t Pelosi View Sanger like Sterling?


What’s wrong with this picture? Democrat billionaire Donald Sterling has been declared persona non grata for terribly racist comments made in a private conversation. Former Speaker of the House Nancy proudly accepts Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award.

Yet Sanger was a far worse–and public–racist than Sterling has ever dreamed of being, seeing her birth control crusade as one of many tools to control the “unfit,” including people of color. She even proudly spoke to the KKK! From, “Margaret Sanger, Racist Eugenicist Extraordinaire,” by Arina Grossu:

She recounted this event in her autobiography: “I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered” (Margaret Sanger, “An Autobiography,” Page 366).

Sanger’s vile eugenicism should mark her as much an American villain as eugenicist Charles Davenport and anti-Semite Fr. Charles Coughlin.

Her pernicious views were highlighted by Edwin Black in the splendid history of eugenics, War Against the Weak. From his book:

Sanger surrounded herself with some of the eugenics movement’s most outspoken racists and white supremacists. Chief among them was Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy. Stoddard’s book, devoted to the notion of a superior Nordic race, became eugenic gospel. It warned, “‘Finally perish!’ That is the exact alternative that confronts the white race…If white civilization goes down, the white race is irretrievably ruined. It will be swamped by the triumphant colored races, who will eliminate the white man by elimination or absorption…We now know that men are not and never will be equal.”

Black tries to defend Sanger as not personally racist, even though she surrounded herself with blatant bigots. I don’t buy it in the least. From my HE post, “Margaret Sanger was Too a Racist:”

Sanger enabled racists. Sanger gave them respectability. Sanger befriended them. Sanger viewed them as valued colleagues. Her wicked social Darwinism would have had a devastating and disproportionate impact on minority communities.

Oh, and as the above embed–a reading of her autobiography–proves, she spoke to the Klu Klux Klan, and looked forward to receiving more invitations to speaking in front of similar groups. Add it all up, and Sanger was R.A.C.I.S.T.

I am not into comparative evil. Wrong is wrong. But why the opprobrium of Sterling and the historical amnesia about Sanger?

I can only think of one reason: The blood of abortion has bleached Sanger’s sordid history. In the minds of pro abortion absolutists like PP and Pelosi , that makes her cleaner than newly fallen snow.

Yahoo! I Had an Abortion!


So, an abortion clinic counselor doesn’t use birth control and gets pregnant. It’s termination time! And she filmed it.

It was, like you know, such a positive experience! From, “Why I Filmed My Abortion,” in (where else?) Cosmopolitan:

I remember breathing and humming through it like I was giving birth. I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be.

Except, the “birth” was to end life, not bring it to fruition. Otherwise, I see it. No diff.

It will always be a special memory for me. I still have my sonogram, and if my apartment were to catch fire, it would be the first thing I’d grab…

Every time I watch the video, I love it. I love how positive it is. 

Ah. good times. Becoming irresponsibly pregnant and then having a birth-like experience of destroying a fetus–complete with pictures

Her bottom line message:

I am grateful that I can share my story and inspire other women to stop the guilt.

But you know, sometimes guilt is healthy. Sometimes there’s a reason conscience knocks on our door. Sometimes it’s the first step toward gaining wisdom. And forgiveness. Because some things are just wrong.

The Green War on Africans


In my ebook, The War on Humans, I argue that the mainstream of the environmental movement has become anti-human–both in its advocacy (people are cancer, etc.) and its policy goals and outcomes.

The throttling of African development is a cruel example I commonly give–focusing on how the green anti-humans want to prevent Africa from fully electrifying until it can be done with renewable methods. But that will take decades, during which time Africans will continue to suffer from bone crunching destitution.

Indeed, when I did the liberal Thom Hartmann Show, he said we should focus primarily on using solar panels to electrify the continent. He also said he believes the earth is a sentient being. Ridiculous! That kind of irrationality hurts African people in the name of “saving the earth.”

Africans need electricity–now–not in 2050. Lives are at stake, as a liberal activist named Caleb S. Rossiter eloquently describes in the Wall Street Journal. From, “Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change:”

I oppose my allies’ well-meaning campaign for “climate justice.” More than 230 organizations, including Africa Action and Oxfam, want industrialized countries to pay “reparations” to African governments for droughts, rising sea levels and other alleged results of what Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni calls “climate aggression.”

And I oppose the campaign even more for trying to deny to Africans the reliable electricity—and thus the economic development and extended years of life—that fossil fuels can bring.

“Well-meaning” and working to deny Africans “reliable electricity” is oxymoronic.

Because Rossiter isn’t caught up in the human-sacrificing cult of green, he wants to let Africa industrialize. Completely:

As an Africanist, rather than a statistician, that I object most strongly to “climate justice.” Where is the justice for Africans when universities divest from energy companies and thus weaken their ability to explore for resources in Africa? Where is the justice when the U.S. discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a “global warming” tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?

Even if the wildest claims about the current impact of fossil fuels on the environment and the models predicting the future impact all prove true and accurate, Africa should be exempted from global restraints as it seeks to modernize.

Why? Because human lives are at stake! Because we should not sit on people’s aspirations to live better lives:

Bringing more-reliable electricity to more Africans would power the cleaning of water in villages, where much of the population still lives, and replace wood and dung fires as the source of heat and lighting in shacks and huts, removing major sources of disease and death. In the cities, reliable electricity would encourage businesses to invest and reinvest rather than send their profits abroad.But the green anti-humans would rather take the wealth of the West and give it to the destitute as “reparations.” That would make us poorer. Much would be lost in corruption. And in a terrible way it would generate an unhealthy culture of dependency in Africa, while doing little to alleviate the continent’s general misery.

Leftists protest so-called war mongers at the drop of a hat. Yet the global warming hysterics promote continued misery and suffering on the continent and much of the left applauds. 

That’s why it’s called a war on humans. Good on Rossiter for busting the hypocrisy. Put people first.

Government Should Not Induce Kidney Supplying


Psychiatrist and American Enterprise Institute senior fellow, Sally Satel, received a donated kidney from the writer Virginia Postrel, saving her life. Good for Postrel. Happy for Satel.

But Satel wants kidney providing to become a compensated endeavor–to the potential significant detriment of the poor or financially struggling.

Periodically, the New York Times gives her space to pitch organ markets. Her latest approach is to have the government or a charity provide the compensation. From, “Why People Don’t Donate Their Kidneys:”

Donors would not get a lump sum of cash; instead, a governmental entity, or a designated charity, would offer them in-kind rewards, like a contribution to the donor’s retirement fund, an income tax credit or a tuition voucher. Meanwhile, imposing a waiting period of at least six months would ensure that donors didn’t act impulsively and that they were giving fully informed consent.

Prospective compensated donors would be carefully screened for physical and emotional health, as is done for all donors now. These arrangements would screen out financially desperate individuals who might otherwise rush to donate for a large sum of instant cash and later regret it.

The donors’ kidneys would be distributed to people on the waiting list, according to the rules now in place. (People who wanted to donate a kidney to a specific person — say, a father to a son — would still be able to, outside this system.) Finally, all rewarded donors would be guaranteed follow-up medical care for any complications, which is not ensured now.

Sorry. No sale.

Here’s the thing. Kidney supplying is serious surgery. It can be dangerous. Rarely–but it happens–people die from the procedure. Later, their remaining kidney could become injured or dysfunctional, and they might then wish very much that they still had their second.

That’s why I don’t believe in kidney buying–however it is done.  People should not be induced to take such a potentially life-altering risk Indeed, I think it would especially egregious if the government induced a person struggling financially to sacrifice their health or life–even if it was for the good cause of saving another person’s life.

Keep it altruistic. Once the door was opened to kidney financial inducements, the financial schemes would only multiply. Those waiting for help are not the only lives involved.

SF Chronicle Turns Against CA Stem Cell Agency


In 2004, California voters passed Proposition 71 under an avalanche of mendacious CURES! CURES! CURES! hype: Children would get out of wheelchairs! Diabetes would be conquered! Mendacity, mendacity, all was mendacity.

Ten years later and the spin has spun. Now, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will need voters to renew its borrow-and-spend mandate. That will be a tough sell since the hype won’t work again.

Showing which way the wind may be blowing, the San Francisco Chronicle–a very enthusiastic cheer leader for Proposition 71 in its editorials and reporting–has sent a strong message in an editorial that the public spigot should be turned off. From, “Stem Cell Agency Hasn’t Lived Up to its Hype:”

As far as the public is concerned, nagging questions remain: Has the institute been effective enough? How good should California taxpayers feel about the institute’s use of their $3 billion?

The answer is a decidedly mixed one. Part of the problem is that California taxpayers had outsize expectations when they passed Prop. 71. Looking back at the advertisements for Prop. 71, we see that research advocates and celebrities promised that lives would be saved by its passage.

That’s putting it mildly. Proponents lied to voters to create that misimpression. And too much of the anti-Bush and disdaining of pro-lifers media–seen as the primary opponents of 71–went happily along.

And here’s an ironic assertion dripping of the old anti-pro-life bias and reeking of blatantly revisionist history:

The good news is that scientists since have discovered that “adult” stem cells may be tremendously powerful for cures (thereby neutralizing the antiabortion crowd). The bad news is that all of the research is taking scientists much longer than the public had hoped.

“Neutralizing the antiabortion crowd”–as if pro-lifers oppose adult stem cells? To the contrary: Pro-lifers and other opponents were the ones screaming throughout the campaign that adult stem cell research–rather than the “only hope” embryonic–showed the greatest promise! They were right.

Here’s the Chronicle’s bottom line:

Prop. 71 was an initiative passed based on the politics of the time. It’s difficult to call it a total failure, especially during a time when U.S. public investment in scientific research is so low.

But stem cell research has finally gotten off the ground all over the country, and the institute’s operations over the past decade haven’t inspired the confidence California voters would need to offer the agency more money. The agency will need to rely on private investment if it’s to continue its mission.

Folks, that mildly worded last sentence is an atom bomb. If a newspaper that in the past has been such a huge booster of CIRM believes that CIRM’s time has passed, I am hopeful that the mismanaged agency may actually be shown the door.

Turn out the lights as you leave. We’ll be paying your debts for decades to come. 

Surrogacy Industry’s War on Women


Biological colonialism is a terrible problem in which the well off exploit the body parts and functions of the destitute in much the same way colonial powers used to extract natural resources from the conquered.

Now, an important article by a Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics points out how badly destitute women are abused in the international surrogacy industry–a huge component of biological colonialism.

Author Jonathan W Knoche hits many important points, such as the public health risks. But space only permits me to highlight a few. From the article, authored by Jonathan W. Knoche:

The international market of industrialized reproduction necessitates the uterus to be viewed as a mere commodity—something distinct from the whole woman. Within this market-oriented mentality, the commodity of a womb is fungible (i.e. any one of them can be substituted for any other similar commodity, given that the quality and price are the same).

Thus, a gestational surrogate is essentially seen as a glorified incubator. Carriers become commodities. To view human persons as parts or commodities primarily for our use and exploitation is dubious. No human being—or her parts—should be treated as a commodity precisely because we are whole subjects, not fragmented organs…Thus, to view and treat a woman as a mere incubator belies her dignity and worth as an individual person and defies the core tenets of international human rights.

But what about choice?

While a general commitment to reproductive choice in high-resource countries is well established, values such as free choice, personal autonomy, and privacy may not be transferable in an international setting where different cultures, traditions, and pluralistic notions of life exist. The begetting and rearing of children and the relationships of those involved may suffer when reproduction is industrialized and commercialized. In a society with few technical limitations whose mindset is overwhelmed with making, the free choice to create children in order to satisfy a want or deep desire may predominate.

Knoche concludes:

Perhaps equally concerning is the market mentality that enables “value free” decisions that commodify carriers. This objectification similarly shapes our understanding of “having” children as if they were market goods. The international surrogacy enterprise thus denigrates our view of humanity. In the end, we must ask ourselves whether the elation childless couples experience following the birth of a genetically related child is sufficient to offset the health risks, the violation of a surrogate’s autonomy and her potential exploitation, the commodification of her person, and the resultant alteration of societal values.

The answer is no. Whatever you think about commercial surrogacy, please read the whole thing. It is well worth your time.

For the impact of commercial surrogacy domestically, see the CBC’s Breeders (for which I am a paid consultant).

Adopt. Adopt. Adopt.

War on Meat Part of War on Humans


I don’t care if people decide to go vegan or vegetarian. That’s a personal decision demonstrating our exceptionalism. What other species would forego natural and nutritious food to make a moral point?  

But the idea that most of us will give up meat to “save the planet” is, well hogwash. Yet, the “what if” articles keep coming. 

The latest is from Slate, byline B.V. Anderson, who asks: “What if Everyone in the World Became a Vegetarian?”

In 2009 researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency…predicted that universal veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by 17 percent, methane emissions by 24 percent, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent by 2050.

What’s more, the Dutch researchers found that worldwide vegetarianism or veganism would achieve these gains at a much lower cost than a purely energy-focused intervention involving carbon taxes and renewable energy technology. The upshot: Universal eschewal of meat wouldn’t single-handedly stave off global warming, but it would go a long way toward mitigating climate change.

The world is almost saved!

At least Anderson notes that doing away with food animals would ruin economies (which is what many warming hysterics want):

If the world actually did collectively go vegetarian or vegan over the course of a decade or two, it’s reasonable to think the economy would tank. According to “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” the influential 2006 U.N. report about meat’s devastating environmental effects, livestock production accounts for 1.4 percent of the world’s total GDP.

The production and sale of animal products account for 1.3 billion people’s jobs, and 987 million of those people are poor. If demand for meat were to disappear overnight, those people’s livelihoods would disappear, and they would have to find new ways of making money.

Yea, well good luck with that.

Actually, Anderson’s article doesn’t even begin to assess the economic obliteration that doing away with meat animals would cause. Indeed, she fails to address how thoroughly animal products grease the wheels–literally–of society. Here’s a quote from the animal rights fanatic lawyer Steve Wise in my book, A Rat is a Pig, is a Dog, is a Boy:

Today, the use of nonhuman animal products is so diverse and widespread that it is impossible to live in modern society and not support the nonhuman animal industry directly. For example, the blood of a slaughtered cow is used to manufacture plywood adhesives, fertilizer, fire extinguisher foam, and dyes.

Her fat helps make plastic, tires, crayons, cosmetics, lubricants, soaps, detergents, cough syrup, contraceptive jellies and creams, ink, shaving cream, fabric softeners, synthetic rubber, jet engine lubricants, textiles, corrosion inhibitors, and metal-machining lubricants.

Her collagen is found in pie crusts, yogurts, matches, bank notes, paper, and cardboard glue; her intestines are used in strings for musical instruments and racquets; her bones in charcoal ash for refining sugar, in ceramics, and cleaning and polishing compounds. Medical and scientific uses abound. And there is much, much more.

The subtitle to my book is, The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement. That’s just one reason. Without animal industries, we would suffer an economic obliteration.

Notice how every bit of the steer is used. (Even their penises, which are made into dog treats.) That’s productive, efficient, and I think, respectful of each animal’s death. (Let the screaming begin.)

Good nutrition aside, the catastrophic economic impact of forcing people to stop eating meat–a key goal of the animal rights movement–is one of many reasons why animal rights is part of the ongoing war on humans.

Child Euthanasia in the UK?


Euthanasia is a virulent affliction of the modern era. (For one of the reasons why, see my current First Things column.)

The Netherlands allows euthanasia down to age 12 and so tolerates infanticide–technically murder under the law–that baby-killing doctors felt confident enough to publish the Groningen Protocol, a bureaucratic check list for which sick or disabled babies can be euthanized.

Belgium has now legalized child euthanasia with no age limits.

Medical authorities are investigating whether UK doctors kill sick children. From the AP story:

British doctors have secretly killed terminally sick children by giving them ‘huge’ overdoses of painkillers, it was claimed yesterday.
Health officials are investigating claims that terminally ill children have been illegally euthanised by British doctors. An official investigation has been launched by the Department of Health into the allegations, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

In February retired GP Michael Irwin claimed that medics have given sick children overdoses with painkillers. At the time Mr Hunt said he would look into the issue and now he has confirmed that the Department of Health is investigating.

Irwin is a complete madman on euthanasia, but he is not afraid to bring killing practices into the light of day. His hope, of course, is to normalize euthanasia in all its manifestations.

There may be method to his madness. The way things are going with Brits flying to Switzerland for assisted suicide, if the answer to the probe is yes, the call will not be to punish the child-killing doctors, but rather, to legalize their dark practice so it can be done in the light of day.

Embryonic Stem Cells Cheered Better Adult Ignored


This has been a pattern for more than a decade in the media. Success after success in adult stem cell research receives scant press attention. In humans

Then, an animal embryonic stem cell success in the same field happens and the media turn summersaults.

Latest example, in heart regenerative medicine. From the Business Insider story with hyperbolic headline, “Scientists May Have Found a Cure for Heart Failure:”

A cure for heart failure could be just a few years away after scientists successfully regenerated the damaged hearts of primates using human stem cells. The breakthrough, which was hailed as ‘very significant’ by British experts, will be tested on humans within four years. If successful it would mean that even people who are bed-bound with heart failure could be “up and about” again within a few weeks.

Elsewhere, the experiment was called a “triumph” in headlines.

Then, the story makes a highly misleading claim:

Currently heart muscle cannot be repaired and people with severe heart failure must wait for a heart transplant. Wrong! Adult stem cells are rebuilding heart muscle in human trials.

But look, such treatments are already succeeding in rebuilding heart muscle (and potentially avoiding transplants) with ethical adult stem cells in human trials–not even mentioned in the media’s swoon over the ESCR experiment. From a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2014;311(1):62-73.):

Although our study was not powered for mortality outcomes, infarct size reductions are of a magnitude that might have the potential of a mortality benefit. Efficacy findings were detected in several clinical outcome measures, but definitive demonstration of the value of TESI remains for future trials, including in the sickest patients for whom cell therapy might answer an urgent unmet need.

This is still early human work, and more needs to be done. But adult stem cells are far ahead of anything embryonic. Yet, where are the headlines?

Answer: Too often–still–adult stem cell successes are the wrong kind of stem cells.

(See embed at top of post to see the incredible impact an early adult stem cell experiment–accompanied with bypass surgery–appears to have had on one human heart patient subject.)

I’d Like Prime Rib of Cricket Please


The other day, I posted about an interview on Ezra Klein’s new Vox site, in which an “ethicist” worried greatly about the suffering of insects. Then, on Twitter, I received a nice note from “Little Herds,” a start up that raises insects for consumption to save the planet.

Their Tweet kindly invited me to check them out. So I did.

Little Herds gives 5 reasons why we should eat our six-legged friends. From the website:

The average American unintentionally eats over 400 insects a year, but we SHOULD be doing better than that. Eating more insects might just save the world!

Environmentally sustainable.

They use less land, less water and produce fewer emissions than traditional livestock.

Nutritious. Bugs provide excellent protein as well as heart healthy Omega-3 fats, and important vitamins and minerals.

Easy to Farm. Bugs have a short life cycle and can be raised in urban environments, freeing up the country-side for oxygen-giving forestry and wild life.

Ethical. They can be easily and humanely euthanized for ethical harvesting. Delicious & Versatile. They are tasty, easy to prepare and highly versatile.

And best of all for the save the earth set, it’s a nonprofit!

But don’t tell PETA. They will say that eating bugs is the equivalent of eating children.

Thanks to Little Herds for their interest in my blog. Here’s an idea for a good theme song for the industry:

A Technocrats’ Black Market in Greasy Tacos


A few years ago I warned that the fight against obesity was becoming the new global warming, e.g., a way for the international technocracy to grab control of our economies and lives in the name of saving the planet us from the fat.

The technocratic class has been wringing their hands about how much regulation they can get away with. Some think it will require  ”hard paternalism.” What is that, you ask? From, “Limiting Liberty to Prevent Obesity,” by Thaddeus Mason Pope: 

[Soft paternalism are] measures which alter the decision making environment, yet do not wholly eliminate unhealthy choices…[H]ard paternalistic measures ban the unhealthy choices and make them impossible.

Pope quotes another article which despairs that soft paternalism will be sufficiently efficacious to shed fat, but that the people will refuse to accept hard paternalism that could reduce obesity. Pope is more “optimistic,” which seems inverted to me. (If hard paternalism on food would work, that makes me pessimistic about the future of freedom.):

The Rolling Stones may be right that “you can’t always get what you want.” But they are also right that “if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”This will be my overarching theme: we can get the hard paternalism that we need.

Pope lays out a lot of technocratic principles and conditions about when hard paternalism would or would not be justified, including this trip to Fantasyland: 

The fourth necessary condition for justified strong hard paternalism requires that it be a “last resort,” that the only available liberty limiting principle which the regulator can use to protect the subject from significant harm

Folks, let’s get out of the deep gray matter for a moment and get real. How many of you think that bureaucrats only resort to mandates as a last resort?

Here in the real world, we know that much of regulation is ideological. It isn’t that the regulated absolutely need the constraint on liberty, but that “our betters” in the technocracy want to impose it upon us to further their worldview. Think Obamacare. Think EPA. 

Another Pope pipe dream:

The seventh necessary condition for justified hard paternalism requires that the agent interfere with the subject’s liberty no more than is required to achieve the objective.

Right. Like that would ever happen. Bureaucrats are natural hegemons. They wield bludgeons, not scalpels. 

Pope concludes on what he considers to be an upbeat note:

The public health challenges that we face are enormous. Regulators have a broad array of legal tools to address these challenges. But, increasingly, the required regulatory tools are (and must be) hard paternalistic…

I have demonstrated that there are wider opportunities for hard paternalism. My promising conclusion is that regulators can have their cake and eat it too. They must simply ensure that they enact only those hard paternalistic measures that are weak or justified strong.

Actually, continuing the hard paternalistic legal prohibition on marijuana might do more to fight fat–fewer people with munchies–than hard food paternalism. (Talk about creating a black market in greasy tacos!) But that is the subject of another day.


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