Human Exceptionalism

Using Shameless Emotionalism to Gain Access to the Public Trough

Walsh Stem Cell

The ad represents everything people hate about politics. First, it is dishonest. It has a woman claiming she will get Alzheimer’s in twenty years, strongly implying that ES cells could cure her. But, it is well known that ESCR is highly unlikely to provide a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. One notable researcher even stated that “people need a fairy tale” as the reason the biotech sector is generally permitting people to believe this falsehood about ESCR–sheer mendacity promoted blatantly in this ad.

Second, notice the hubris. Last year the Feds shelled out about $50 million for human ESCR. Yet, the ad has a little girl accuse the Congressman being attacked in the ad for refusing to overturn President Bush’s policy, as somehow “deciding who lives and who dies.” Well if that is true, than any spending under the levels “the scientists” want, is deciding who lives and who dies. Moreover, the Congressman’s vote was not “against” federal funding of ESCR, but to preserve President Bush’s existing policy. That is not the same thing at all.

Third, as usual the tremendous advances occurring in adult stem cell research are utterly ignored by the ad, which thereby implies that ESCR is the only hope. For example, mice have been cured of the very kind of diabetes that the little girl in the ad says she has, and using adult stem cells and other bodily substances, not embryonic sources. The FDA has approved human trials, but the Harvard scientists can’t find enough funding to begin.

Be very clear: This ad is not about “science.” It is not about “cures.” It is about the values of the bioethics/biotech community prevailing in the political arena and about opening the spigot to billions of taxpayer dollars to vested financial interests. And to get from here to there, it unashamedly exploits the anguish of disease sufferers and their families.

Shameful, but alas, probably effective.

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