Saturday, July 02, 2005

Too Much Misinformation....

T-Steel from Palm Trees In The Ghetto talks about stem cell research citing how President Bush is supporting supposedly theoretical stem cell research but won't back research that has shown promise. According to an article he linked to, the GOP is considering legislation that will spell out some guidelines for researching utilizing Embryonic Stem Cells. Basically his argument implies that the act of researching to cure diseases and ailments is like a war and therefore some sacrifices have to be made to benefit the majority.

There is a lot of misinformation in this article he linked to regarding stem-cell research. It paints the stem cell debate with a broad brush and depicts ESC (embryonic stem cell) research as being more promising than any research has shown. Nor does it really explain the fact that ASC (adult stem cell) research has shown far more progress and results in many areas of affliction, including paralysis. ASC research hasn't shown the same promise or testing results, if anything there is more theory behind ESC and more fact to support ASC.

While I agree with T-Steel that in times of war, certain sacrifices are made for the "greater good", yet equating war between nations with a "war" against disease comes off as disingenuous. It is similar to the so called "war on drugs" or "war on poverty" or the "war on terrorism". You cannot wage a war against an ambiguous "enemy" or concept. You will come to find that you are actually fighting yourself. So a war against disease in general isn't possible. Yet, performing research with a specific goal of eradicating or at least curbing the affects of a given disease or physical ailment is possible and praise-worthy. What I find fascinating is that many diseases can be prevented simply by healthy living, good diet and exercise as well as a healthy moral lifestyle. In so far as other genetically acquired diseases, much of the same can be true when it comes to combating them or at least curbing the effects. You don't hear about that though from the U.S. Health department, the MSM, or from many drug companies, research organizations or your own doctor for that matter. Gee, I wonder why?

But I digress, the core of T-Steel's argument seems to be that fighting disease makes the sacrifice of these embryonic lives worth it, the needs of the many out weighing the few and all, yet one key difference is ignored. In times of war between countries, men are able to make the choice of whether or not to fight and sacrifice their own lives, in this instance, it is quite apparent that these innocent lives are not given the ability to choose. They don't have the ability. We are choosing for them. Not only is such a thing unethical but it is quite strange that many people, especially blacks, tend to support such a notion in spite of our own history with such a practice of having others choose our destinies for us. Can anyone say Tuskegee experiment? The African slave trade? Jim Crow? As far as anyone else, you have the holocaust as a reference as well. So what is the deal? Why is it that it appears that so many people support Embryonic Stem Cell research? My guess is a lack of knowledge. It seems that most people do not take the time to educate themselves with the facts. They take their cues from the MSM and your friendly neighborhood politician.

In addition to the above moral and ethical reasons for not supporting Embryonic Stem Cell research there are practical reasons as well. Number one being that ESC hasn't shown any major or significant progress in any of the areas that it's proponents claim promises of healing in. An excerpt from Wikipedia to drive home this point...
Success of adult stem cells
Adult stem cells have successfully treated over 100 medical conditions including blindness [16], Krabbe's disease [17], diabetes [18], Parkinson's disease [19], acute renal failure [20], and sickle cell anemia [21]. Opponents of embryonic stem cell research have thus argued that embryonic stem cell funding restrictions in the U.S. are not significantly impeding the overall advancement of stem cell research, and that even without the ethical concerns regarding embryonic stem cells, public health funds should focus on extending adult stem cell research successes. Also, proponents of adult stem cell research argue that the proponents of embryonic stem cell research over-promise the benefits of embryonic stem cell research because embryonic stem cell research has never produced a successful treatment. [22] [23]. Proponents of adult stem cell research point to a well-known exaggeration by supporters of embryonic stem cell research.

During the U.S. presidential election, 2004, Senator John Edwards claimed that if candidate John Kerry was elected and embryonic stem cell research was expanded, movie actor Christopher Reeve would get out of his wheelchair and walk. [24]

All of the above cases are documented and no similarly documented progress from ESC research, yet we have countless efforts and demands by different groups for funding from the federal government. Why is that? What business does the government have funding such research anyway? Why not seek other areas for money, such as the private sector? I'll answer my own question, because there is no return on investment for ESC. Let me put it this way, I am a business man, when someone approaches me with a business opportunity I first evaluate it to see if it will bring me a reasonable ROI (return on investment). There are several ways to determine this, one of the simplest is to see if others have tried it and find out what their results were. If good, then its a go, if bad, then it is see yah later! The same is true for any investment whether it be real estate, purchasing a car, or even buying groceries. ESC research has failed in the private sector for that reason, as a result very little funding is available and due to the lack of progress made with it as well as the moral implications of cloning, many investors don't want to touch it, so the future for ESC is bleak, hence the efforts by many bio companies to push for federal funding. There simply isn't any immediate or short term ROI. Plain and simple. Now, let me ask this, if the private sector doesn't want to touch it then why should our tax dollars flip the bill?
It is up to the average citizen to educate themselves about this issue before it is too late. Personally, I believe at the core of this whole issue is the desire to clone human beings for whatever purpose. I believe this is the truth of the matter. It is not about finding cures for diseases, there are already countless remedies for many of the ailments that people suffer from, including cancer and even AIDS. You don't hear about it due to the medical establishment being overly regulated by the government and many health practitioners not wanting the general public to know at the risk of losing business, as well as drug companies for the same reason. At the risk of sounding too much like a conspiracy theorist, it is about advancing a small group of individual's personal agenda, what that agenda is, I don't know.

"Do we believe that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few anymore? Have we ever? Cause if we don't feel that way, how are we ever going to rid or limit ourselves of various afflictions?"

To answer your question T-Steel, I don't think it has ever been accepted that this phrase means the needs of the many are to be at the expense of the few, especially if it involves the loss of life of those precious few. We will never get rid of disease or sickness, the reason being...that is for another day and another conversation.

Resources on Stem Cell Research:



T-Steel said...

The wonderful notion of choice when truthfully we all are having our "strings pulled". And not necessarily by a great conspiracy either. Hmm... Maybe I'm blog about that issue.

Ee in the United States of America like to play the game of Business. "The business of America is business" goes the ol' adage. And we with our lovely free markets have decided to market everything. Including health. As much as morality, ethics, and choice gets mentioned, the business of disease fighting is the issue. If stem cell research will cure, curb, and prevent some major afflictions, it would cause money loss in significant areas. This isn't a conspiracy, just business. So I don't put much into choice in certain areas as much as I factor opportunity. Besides, we all know that the dollar is the de facto ruler of us all. So maybe I should change the "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" to "the needs of business outweigh the realities and moralities of is all".

Jerry McClellan said...

T-Steel, you make an interesting point about what drives our society. To a degree I would agree with you that money is a strong motivation for business and the business of science. A good example is the drug industry and FDA being in bead together. There are countless "natural" remedies for much of what ails us yet these scientist have yet to do any emperical studies on them since for the most part natural goods cannot be patented.

I think I might get what you mean about all of us having our strings pulled too. You got me thinking on that one. In so far as the busines of health, I agree , it is a business yet even within the realm of business there needs to be limits from a legal perspective as well as a moral one. As far as stem cell research is concerned, it curing any condition woudn't put industries out of business it would in fact create new industries for these companies to evolve into. Its sort of like my field of graphic design, at the onset of the digital revolution many type houses closed down because of the popularity of desktop typesetting. Typesetters lost their jobs as well as Letraset specialists (transferable type). Yet, at the same time many of these same companies simply evolved into digital houses or font foundries, Emigre comes to mind. It didn't necessarily end an industry ,since fonts and typesetting is still something that is needed and many artist don't really know how to set clear, aesthetically pleasing type faces. Many of the old typesetters became font experts and are working for large digital companies now. The same will happen in the health care industries when Adult Stem Cell research leads to cures or successful treatment of certain conditions and may create whole new facets of the industry. This I look forward to.

At the core of the stem cell debate IS the ethical and moral implications, the problem is that the MSM is not reporting on this accurately by continually framing it as a religious debate, yet it goes beyond mere religion and crosses into the realm of potentially repeating many of the atrocities of past history. You have to wonder, in light of much of the evidence demonstrating the viability of Adult Stem Cell research, why is there such a push to have federal funding for Embryonic Stem Cell research? Why not focus on the research that has shown more promise, this is a standard practice in the realm of experimentation. Answer that question and you will find the truth behind this whole controversy.

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