Originally Published: July 15, 2006 4 a.m.
It keeps popping up like weeds in your garden.
Just when you think you've weeded out all their myths and falsehoods, the advocates of embryonic stem cell research are back at your door and demanding your tax dollars to pay for this latest example of junk science masquerading as the real thing.
The Senate once again is taking up the matter at the behest of Majority Leader Bill Frist, a doctor who ought to know better and who is going all out to revive the issue and push for federal money to pay for embryonic stem cell research, now all but banned from getting taxpayer dollars by presidential fiat. As always, the proponents of stem cell research have one big thing going for them: vast public misunderstanding.
Thanks to the liberal media, opportunistic politicians and a highly vocal segment of the dollar-hungry research community, the public sees opponents of embryonic stem cell research as being against stem cell research. The media never identify them as being wholeheartedly in favor of non-embryonic stem cell research, the most promising kind, but instead as being against all stem cell research, period.
This is an important distinction which no one has made, so the majority of the American people think opponents of embryonic stem cell research are a bunch of yahoos who don't understand or appreciate science and those who practice it, or the medical miracles embryonic stem cell research promises.
Poppycock! Let's say this right up front: At this time those promised embryonic stem cell research miracles are merely the products of the proponents' hopes and dreams, and mostly based on the now admittedly falsified claims of a South Korean scientist ‹ not of the current reality, which is grim.
Yet you hear proponents say that cures for Alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries are right around the corner, and if only science could go ahead with embryonic stem cell research, a long time ago it could have cured my dad of Alzheimer's.
The embryonic stem cell research community based most of their inflated claims on the work of South Korean scientist Huang Woo-suk. People widely acclaimed Dr. Huang who later disclosed that he had fabricated key data in two papers published in the U.S. journal, Science. Now, he has admitted the fraud, and a grand jury has indicted him.
It's important to remember that nothing bans embryonic stem cells research. Anybody who wants to do it is free to do so; he just can't do it on the public's dollar. If it held the promise that proponents claim, top pharmaceutical companies would be vying for chances to throw their research dollars at it. After all, if it worked as promised, they could expect to make huge profits. That they don't see such prospects should tell us something.
As a result, those seeking to continue to spend their time working on embryonic stem cell research have to go looking for other money sources, and all that's left for them is the federal treasury. And that's what it's all about.