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Stem Cell Research and Science

August 9th, 2004 Posted in Politics

This morning, Laura Bush defended this adminstration’s policies regarding stem cell research: “We don’t even know that stem cell research will provide cures for anything – much less that it’s very close.” I would submit the following question to Mrs. Bush: shouldn’t we find out?

In a related article, Anne Applebaum argues for against the abuse of this topic as a political weapon by the Democrats: “Talk of ‘magic’ doesn’t do much to reverse widespread scientific illiteracy either, which remains a far greater obstacle to scientific progress than the president.” She argues that Bush’s policy of using existing stem cell lines doesn’t actually inhibit stem cell research, and that the scientific reaction against it is a matter of prinicipal: “Although this compromise will soon become a real obstacle to research, for the moment the irritant is largely philosophical.” I have two responses to this. First, I would like to direct Mrs. Applebaum to the Union of Concerned Scientists, and this report that explains how the Bush administration is setting science back by decades:

When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions. This has been done by placing people who are professionally unqualified or who have clear conflicts of interest in official posts and on scientific advisory committees; by disbanding existing advisory committees; by censoring and suppressing reports by the government’s own scientists; and by simply not seeking independent scientific advice.

But then gain, only 48 Nobel Prize winners signed that document; what do they know? That’s not even half a buck.

Secondly, I think it’s about damn time the Democrats started using rhetoric and punditry to their advantage; it seems to have worked pretty well for the Republicans (see Fox News). Bush is screwing things up far too badly for the Democrats to wear kid gloves, especially when the other side isn’t playing fair. This year matters.

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