Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Challenge to Embryo Hating Lefties

My last post “Stem Cells and Ion Drives” has been up over 2 weeks now and the best opposing argument I’ve received is the following(anonymously from my comment section) :
"And like the forever promising ion drive, embryonic stem cells have offered us nothing to date but false hopes and empty dreams...all funded by the American tax payers."

embryonic stem cells have offered us nothing to date - untrue

false hopes - unproven

empty dreams - not an argument

all funded by the American tax payers - absolute lie

C’mon Lefties you can do better than that. How are you going to convince the American people that Communism is a good thing if you can’t even muster a decent argument promoting your pet pork project, embryonic stem cells?
Ah, but let us not live in the past. In the words of the great modern philosopher Mike Ditka, “Those who live in the past are cowards and fools.”
So moving forward, what great life enhancing developments have occurred in the field of embryonic stem cell research since my last post? Uh...none.
But don’t look so dour, there is some good news. In adult stem cell research, of course.
From Yahoo News:
In promising new research, stem cells worked remarkably well at easing symptoms of muscular dystrophy in dogs, an experiment that experts call a significant step toward treating people.
"It's a great breakthrough for all of us working on stem cells for muscular dystrophy," said researcher Johnny Huard of the University of Pittsburgh, who wasn't involved in the work...
...The study was published online Wednesday by the journal Nature. It used stem cells taken from the affected dogs or other dogs, rather than from embryos. For human use, the idea of using such "adult" stem cells from humans would avoid the controversial method of destroying human embryos to obtain stem cells.

And from Medical News Today:
Johns Hopkins scientists have successfully grown large numbers of stem cells taken from adult pigs' healthy heart tissue and used the cells to repair some of the tissue damage done to those organs by lab-induced heart attacks. Pigs' hearts closely resemble those in humans, making them a useful model in such research.

And from NZZ Online:
Scientists at Zurich University have for the first time grown human heart valves using stem cells from the amniotic fluid that cushions babies in the womb.
This revolutionary approach could be used to repair defective hearts and could overcome the ethical dilemmas connected to stem cell use.

So I am literally begging, I am challenging you Lefties, bring it on. Let’s hear an argument for embryonic stem cells. Educate me. Edify me. Show me the error of my ways.
Let me end here with this one little thought experiment.
Let’s say you have $10,000 to invest(I know that is a stretch, as, if you had that kind of cash you wouldn’t be living in your mother’s basement, but) and you have a choice of 2 stocks to choose from. One stock has never made a cent, yet many experts feel that sometime in the distant future it may earn 50% per year. The other has averaged 10% a year for the past 5 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Where do you invest? C’mon, even you anti-capitalists know the answer to this one.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stem Cells and Ion Drives

Got your attention? Good, now let’s get serious.
I want to begin by building a little thought experiment.
Let us say that back in the 1960's, as it did, America decided it was important to go into space. That is was important we as a country should reach the moon and maybe even the stars beyond.
And let us say that the shout went out to all ends of these United States to uncover and invent the technology with which we could attain this lofty goal.
And that private interests within our country took up the challenge, did the research, and decided that chemical rockets were the way to get us there. All the while,of course, with an eye on a possible future financial boom for them as well. Thus, private industry began to invest in chemical rocket technology and in research and development in that field of study.
So here we have on the one hand, private industry.
Ah, but now let us look at the other hand...big Government. The public interest, politicians, and of course buckets full of 'free’ money. So bigwigs in the House and Senate meet and agree to round up all the greatest scientists on the public payroll and let them decide the best course for America to reach the stars. Soon the best and brightest government engineers, chemists, and physicists sit down together and unanimously decide that it is ion drive technology that promises America the moon. They decree that chemical rocketry is a short term solution and the ion is surely the wave of the future.
So the race begins. Private industry and their chemical rockets vs. Government and their ion drives.
It doesn’t take long before the private sector has a rocket in space. A short time later they are circling the globe. And a few more years still until, yes, a chemical driven rocket lands on the moon.
All this time, the government scientists have been feverishly working on the ion drive. Facing technological wall after technological wall. Fighting their uphill battle, but always looking toward the pot of gold at the end of the ion powered rainbow.
A decade later chemical rockets are sending probes into the furthest reaches of the known galaxy. And a decade after that a robot lands on Mars.
Still the promise of the ion drive is being touted by our government scientist and financed by the American people.
So here we are at the end of our thought experiment, and the reader is still wondering what the hell this article is all about. OK here you are, it is about stem cells.

This morning I experienced the pleasure of watching a campaign commercial paid for by a local Democrat who claimed that her opponent was ‘against embryonic stem cells’. In all truth, she is most probably accurate. Still, I believe she is being deceptive. I believe she is fully aware that the general public has no idea of the differences between embryonic and adult stem cells. Or even that any differences exist at all.
So I, here, will point out a few.

-“Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from embryos. Specifically, embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized...”
An adult stem cell is an undifferentiated cell found among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ, can renew itself, and can differentiate to yield the major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ.”
Unlike embryonic cells, adult stem cells can be taken from a variety of sources, including the placenta, umbilical-cord blood, skin, bone marrow, hair and body fat, with no destruction of human life at any stage.”

-According to Dr. Peter Hollands, the Chief Science Officer of the UK Blood Bank and early pioneer of embryonic stem-cell research, “It is important to note that embryonic stem cells have never been used to treat anyone and that there are no plans to do so...Currently the average person thinks that embryonic stem cells are the only option available … [believing] if we are going to help those people suffering from disease then we have no option but to pursue embryonic stem cell technology. This is completely incorrect.”

-David Prentice, senior fellow for life sciences at Family Research Council and founding member of Do No Harm, the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics claims that in 72 cases adult stem cell treatment has shown some benefit.
(For a complete list, go here)

-An important point from The Heritage Foundation’s web site, “Private investors aren’t funding embryonic stem cell research. They are funding adult stem cell research...”

-From NPR online:
"California... authorizes the state to sell $3 billion in bonds to fund embryonic stem-cell research over a 10-year span.
Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell signed legislation that will provide $100 million in funding over a 10-year span for adult and embryonic stem-cell research.
Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich bypassed the Illinois state legislature to create a stem-cell research institute by executive order...gave the Public Health Department $10 million to fund research
Maryland...authorizing $15 million for research in fiscal year 2007."

-"British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant...Described as a 'Eureka moment' by the Newcastle University researchers, the tissue was created from blood taken from babies' umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth."

-From Yahoo News: "Injecting human embryonic stem cells into the brains of Parkinson's disease patients may cause tumors to form, U.S. researchers reported...Steven Goldman and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York said human stem cells injected into rat brains turned into cells that looked like early tumors."

With that, we return to our thought experiment and the analogy therein.
Like our Chemical fueled rockets, adult stem cells have had successes. Treated illnesses. Grown the world’s first artificial liver. And they are being funded through private investment. Today, adult stem cells are actually showing results, not just promise.
And like the forever promising ion drive, embryonic stem cells have offered us nothing to date but false hopes and empty dreams...all funded by the American tax payers.
So now need ask ourselves a few questions.
How long do we, as tax paying citizens, continue to fund embryonic stem cells before we demand results?
Why, if we should publically fund this research at all, are we not funding adult/umbilical stems cells which have shown results?
Why should we destroy life to save life if there are other avenues that show promise towards that end?
Could it be that the abortion lobby has an interest in embryonic stem cell research?
Let me end by acknowledging that the stem cell issue is more than just a little complicated. But this, in itself, is an important point.
Like many issues, it takes investigation by the individual, himself, in order to acquire a thorough understanding of its ins and outs, its pros and cons.
In the case of stem cells, the media will not provide this understanding, it does not fit their political agenda.
Don't count on politicians to offer it. Keeping the electorate ignorant often helps get them into and/or hold onto power, much as in the campaign ad I spoke of earlier.
Got your attention? Good.