I have weighed in on the Hwang fraud
in the current edition of the Weekly Standard
. Since it may not yet be available to non subscribers, I'll quote a few key excerpts here.
After extensively describing Hwang's unraveling, I suggest some of the important issues that need to be explored in the scandal's aftermath:
"This debacle raises several interesting questions: What does it tell us about the thoroughness of the peer review process? Why were younger South Korean scientists able to discover Hwang's missteps when the presumably more seasoned peer reviewers for Science
failed? Will the American media take a cue from their courageous counterparts in South Korea, who pursued this story until it cracked, and finally bring skepticism to their coverage of biotechnology? More to the point, will the adult/umbilical cord blood stem cell successes that have emerged one after the other in recent years finally receive the attention they deserve in the mainstream press, which has been so intoxicated with embryonic research as virtually to ignore nonembryonic breakthroughs?"
I suggest that the media is more likely to circle the wagons than do their jobs on the biotech beat, noting that the pro cloning side is already furiously spinning the scandal:
"The same voices that not long ago railed against President Bush's stem cell funding policies for supposedly allowing America to fall behind the cutting-edge research in South Korea, now indignantly blame Bush for creating a hyper-competitive atmosphere that led to Hwang's failures. 'Ethics can get forgotten as other nations and private companies race to fill the void left by the president's reluctance to fund stem cell research,' wrote bioethicists Arthur Caplan and Glenn McGee in the Albany Times Union
. 'Only a properly funded U.S. stem cell research program will guarantee oversight and the protection of all involved.'"
But, I note, outright science fraud has not been the only problem with the pro-cloning side, discussing as examples the misrepresentation in the pro Proposition 71 political campaign, the hype about therapeutic cloning as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's in the wake of President Reagan's death, and the false assertions about SCNT for biomedical research not really being "human cloning."
I conclude with an overview of the current terrain: "So where are we in the cloning debate? At this point, we don't know whether human cloning has been successfully accomplished or not. We don't know whether embryonic stem cells have been derived from cloned embryos. We don't know to what depths the dishonesty of the seemingly most successful researcher in the field actually descended.
know that cloning proponents in this country are avid in their desire for billions in federal and state money to pay for morally problematic and highly speculative research that the private sector generally shuns. And we do know that some advocates of this public policy agenda are more than willing to play fast and loose with the facts in order to get their way. In short, the human cloning agenda is falling into public disrepute-and for that, proponents of the agenda have no one to blame but themselves."
I am sure that the full article will be available on-line soon. I hope y'all will check it out.