As I noted earlier, Corner-blogger David Freddoso is quite right to call out the dishonesty on the pro-ESCR side. I even mostly agreed with Yuval Levin’s original post about the hopes that Bush’s strategy of caution on stem cells would ultimately work out well for pluralism, even though I still don’t agree that it works out well morally.
But the thing is, where is “Time for Some Truth” Freddoso when his fellow Cornerites and National Review pensters carry out their own glaring omissions and distortions in their presentation of science?
Take this Wesley J. Smith article, rather improbably crediting George Bush as the man responsible for a scientific advance based on what science he didn’t choose to fund. As biologist PZ Myers notes, Smith leaves out one rather important element of the story that is pretty problematic for his whole thesis: that the very research he is touting is in part based on knowledge gained from embryonic stem cell research, and will continue to require yet more research on embryonic stem cells to perfect and take it forwards. In other words, the premise that research on embryonic stem cells was and is a blind alley that has so far produced nothing, and that George Bush actually advanced our scientific understanding by helping us avoid it, is flat out false: a gross oversimplification that’s just meant to play into a politically-correct narrative.
This is what I mean about both sides of this debate coasting along on the falsehoods peddled by their fellows. Both sides whine about the dishonesty and spin of the other side, and then they quietly sit by as their allies play the same game.
Pretty much of what’s being done in this field of reprogramming, regardless of the provenance of cell lines, is about research: unlocking the big mysteries of cell biology and programming. It isn’t directly about making cures: that’s the expectation and the ultimate expected benefit, but not the practical or even really the theoretical focus. It’s dishonest when Democratic politicians pretend that stem cell panaceas are right around the corner (or even more ridiculously, that they already exist but evil Republicans won’t let you have them), but it’s also dishonest when Republican spinsters claim that an immediate lack of direct applications and treatments proves the uselessness of any one avenue of research.
Generally, the only people who hold the other side accountable is… the other side. That’s not unexpected, I suppose. But maybe it should lead more folks to title posts “Time for Some Truth on Stem Cells” with a big emphasis on the “Some.”