Human Exceptionalism

SHS on the Air About “Euphemisms” in Public Advocacy

A radio interview I gave back in 2004 about euphemisms, confusion, and animal rights on the splendid, but now lamentably defunct radio program Issues Etc., was just posted on-line over at Wittenberg Media blog.

I get a bit excited about some scientists not knowing what they are talking about when it comes to ethical issues and cloning. I had forgotten about this but I wrote about it in the Weekly Standard back in early 2004. From that column:

ONE OF THE MORE DISTURBING hallmarks of the cloning debate has been the inaccurate and unscientific language used by cloning proponents to describe human cloning for biomedical research. There is a reason for this disingenuous approach to cloning advocacy. When cloning is accurately described as creating a new human embryo, the public overwhelmingly opposes it–whether the cloning is undertaken for research purposes or to create children. But when obfuscating terminology is employed to make it appear that only “cells” are created in a “therapeutic cloning” procedure, public support tends to grow.

As it turns out, this also holds true for scientists. A new survey of biotechnology researchers has just been released demonstrating both the political effectiveness of the pro-cloning wordplay and an appalling ignorance among the scientific community about what human cloning actually entails.

In that regard, I think it–and the Standard piece–remain timely. It you are interested, check it out.