The Corner

Embryonic Stem Cell Hype–Was Hype

When George W. Bush put minor federal funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research–he funded it in the hundreds of millions during his two terms–the media and “the scientists” screamed that he was “anti-science” and that he was destroying the “only hope” for CURES! CURES! CURES!

When supporters of Bush’s policy, and opponents of embryonic stem cell research on ethical and scientific grounds countered that the better approach was focusing more on adult stem cell research–they don’t cause tumors like embryonic, for example–they were hooted down as so many Luddites who wanted people to suffer. Indeed, your’s truly was once accused by a prominent bioethicist of supporting a “great endarkenment” because of my advocacy in this area.

Now, some fifteen years later, where are those embryonic stem cell cures? Nowhere, that’s where. From the MIT Technology Review story:

No field of biotechnology has promised more and delivered less in the way of treatments than embryonic stem cells. Only a handful of human studies has ever been carried out, without significant results. The cells, culled from IVF embryos, are capable of developing into any other tissue type in the body, and therefore promise an unlimited supply of replacement tissue.

But Wesley, scientific hypotheses and areas of inquiry often don’t pan out.  And the story notes that research in the field is continuing. So, why rehash old battles?

Because we should not forget how badly we were hyped by the self-proclaimed “pro-science” crowd.

That way, the next time the usual suspects try to bully their opponents and stifle healthy discourse about a contentious scientific public policy issue by proclaiming their opponents “anti-science,” remember all of those people who did not get out of their wheelchairs nor have their diabetes or Parkinson’s CURED by embryonic stem cell therapies.

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