The Real Story of the Stem Cell Debate

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by PoliticalChic, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Medical writer Michael Fumento has a handle on some of the reasons most folks imagine that embryonic cell search deserves research funds and media attention...

    From his article "Why The Media Miss The Stem-Cell Story:"

    1. "There’s little doubt that opponents of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research have their work cut out for them. Polls repeatedly show large majorities (in the 60-70 percent range) want the federal government to promote and fund the research.

    2. …the polls often feature loaded questions that begin with tales of the medical miracles ESCs will allegedly bring us: cures for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, you name it….they don’t mention possible alternatives – namely, so-called adult stem cells (ASCs), which are obtained without the ethical conflicts of harvesting human embryos.

    3. But the biggest reason may simply be that the mainstream media are doing a lousy job of informing the public on the state of stem-cell science. By and large, they’re telling people all about the potential of ESCs – especially the supposed ability to become any type of cell-without talking about certain little drawbacks, like a tendency for ESCs to be rejected and even to become cancerous.

    4. As a science writer who has covered the topic extensively, I know something about this. I see the media coverage practically every day. On rare occasions I’ll find blatant falsehoods: Last August, for example, influential New York Times science writer Gina Kolata told readers "so far, no one has succeeded" in getting adult stem cells to treat diseases. That statement either reveals startling ignorance or is an outright lie: Adult stem cells routinely treat or cure more than 80 different diseases, while no ESC research is anywhere near becoming a human clinical trial.

    a. In a recent Washington Monthly piece by Chris Mooney, for example, Weissman claimed there is "no independently verified evidence today" that a non-embryonic stem cell of one type "can turn into another [type of] tissue at all." Sure, that claim is contradicted by countless published, peer-reviewed papers to the contrary, all available at the push of a few keys at the free Internet database PubMed.

    5. I talked to a number of stem-cell researchers and the only journalist willing to be interviewed for this story and found a consensus that there’s a strong media bias. What interested me most, though, were their thoughts on how and why that bias comes into play – and the role of factors like attitudes toward religion, manipulation by the pro-ESC lobby, and just plain ignorance and laziness.

    6. Many pro-lifers suspect that the media’s pro-ESC bias has to do with their politics on issues like abortion and euthanasia. There may be something to that, but it’s hard to pinpoint. The only major example is a 2001 Newsweek column by Anna Quindlen, who spoke warmly of the prospect that fetal-tissue and ESC treatments could soften public opposition toward abortion, bringing "a certain long-overdue relativism to discussions of abortion across the board."

    7. More likely what’s going on involves reporters’ attitudes toward religion-or more precisely, religion in science and public-policy debates. In their minds, ESC backers have a purely scientific motivation while ASC backers have a religious one. Many journalists may see themselves as defending science against religion: They may have missed Galileo’s trial, but by golly they’re here for this one. (That attitude is sometimes seen most clearly outside the mainstream media. In the liberal magazine The American Prospect, for example, Chris Mooney wrote a recent piece sneering at "the Christian right’s new ’science.’ ")

    8. As these reporters picture themselves standing for the cause of reason against the forces of dogma, they also don’t realize that the ESC research vocabulary-so filled with "mays" and "coulds" and "one days," promising a miraculous future somewhere down the road-reflects a dogma all its own.

    9. Consider Harvard’s Douglas Melton, a diabetes researcher better known for attacking successful ASC efforts than making any real progress on his own with ESCs. He’s one of the most-quoted stem-cell experts in the country, and was named last year’s Policy Leader of the Year for 2004 by the politically correct Scientific American for having "advocated and enabled more extensive studies of embryonic stem cells." But what, precisely, has Melton accomplished toward curing diabetes with ESCs? When interviewed by The Wall Street Journal last year, the most he could say was "We are convinced we can do it. We just don’t know how." That’s not science; that’s faith. But it’s not a religious faith, and so reporters don’t see it for what it is.1

    0. The very fact that the science isn’t on their side dictates that the ESC lobby must do something to make up for it – so they work the press, to their benefit. ASC researchers feel much less pressure, often believing success is the best PR – so they neglect the press, to their detriment.

    11. In a November 2002 article, Munro lambasted the media for almost never informing "readers that these supposedly disinterested scientists have great financial stakes in the debate." That hasn’t changed. Indeed, a Nexis search this March found over 600 mentions of Weissman and stem cells, but only 23 that included his affiliation with Stem Cells, Inc.; the rest merely associated him with Stanford. There were 344 mentions of Melton and stem cells mentioning his Harvard connection; just two mentioned Curis (and one of those was written by Munro). "Reporters don’t treat scientists as entrepreneurs," says Munro, "and I suspect it has something to do with scientists advertising their affiliation with universities rather than traditional corporations," he says.

    12. Which brings out yet another irony. Embryonic stem-cell backers often charge their critics with caring for abstract religious doctrine, not for suffering people. Yet that description arguably may be best suited to many if not most of the ESC advocates themselves. ASC researchers, on the other hand, are almost always practicing physicians. They watch people suffer; they watch them die. They want to help them and to do so as soon as possible.

    Read the article at:
    Michael Fumento: Why the Media Miss the Stem-Cell Story
     
  2. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Amazing how incapable the media in general are to handle issues more complicated than the Oscars.

    M. Fumento is a hero for all of his work to point out the incompentence, bias and laziness in the media.

    Public opinion is worth a lot less than it USED to be eh?
     
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  3. Volatire
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    Volatire Rookie

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    It's a real pain for those of us with those diseases. (Type 1 Diabetes)
     
  4. Cecilie1200
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    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

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    On the contrary, I think it's worth about what it always was. The difference is, more people now are aware of how little that actually is.

    My husband and I were flipping through TV channels the other night, bored out of our minds, and he decided to stop on a "House" rerun. In this episode, House lambasts and ridicules a patient for being foolish enough to believe in God (apparently not an uncommon occurrence). THEN he dramatically announces that the only POSSIBLE hope for the guy not to die in the next five minutes (and I don't mean just five minutes worth of the show) is for him to agree to a treatment involving embryonic stem cells. Naturally, the religious lunatic patient would NEVER agree to such a thing, so House "nobly" tricks him into believing God has abandoned him so that he accepts the "cure". His condition clears up in a matter of minutes (again, not just minutes in terms of the runtime of the show, but literally in minutes according to the STORY), and House smugly tells him how he was duped for his own good.

    Now, knowing as my husband and I do that there is no such cure for ANY disease involving ESC, nor anything even approaching the possibility of one, and having very little tolerance for such blatant religious bigotry and hatred, "House" is banned in our household from this moment forward, much as we would ban "At Home with the Klan", if such a show existed.

    So, SOOO tired of this misrepresentation in all branches of the mainstream media, be it "news" or "entertainment". If you have to lie about your side of the debate, you've already lost.
     
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  5. Wry Catcher
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    Wry Catcher Platinum Member

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    What's your agenda PC?
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  6. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    her agenda is that she'd rather living people die than use embryonic stem cells to save lives. so she and the other propagandists keep spewing.
     
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  7. Cecilie1200
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    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

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    Looks to me like the agenda is "Telling the Truth", one that I realize always makes you froth at the mouth.
     
  8. Wry Catcher
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    Wry Catcher Platinum Member

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    "Froth at the mouth"? The Truth? I suppose one who forms opinions from a Fox TV show and concludes it is broadcastin a liberal agenda is a tad mixed up. But that's conjecture. Hoping you're not one of the willfully ignorant - though posting an ad hominem so quickly makes you suspect - I offer the following as a counterpoint to the news report posted by PC.

    It's short, to the point and produced by the National Institute of Health:

    Stem Cell Basics: Introduction [Stem Cell Information]
     
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  9. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Saw that.. But I figured it was also a good parable about "do-gooders" and their "end justifies the means" arguments. The ARROGANCE made me mad. The "curing" part was just laughable.

    If you keep banning shows on political content, pretty soon you might as well use the "aquarium screen-saver" on your 52" TV. Comcast provides one "on demand".
     
  10. Cecilie1200
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    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

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    Oh? SHE'S a propagandist, is she? Then please name for us ONE treatment to "save lives" from embryonic stem cells, you lying sack. Name us one that's even in human trials.

    Someone around here is spewing, and as usual, the vomiter in question is YOU.
     

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