Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Supreme Scientist" Superstar

Colleen Carroll Campbell, a fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center wrote in the National Review about Hwang a few weeks ago. She clearly illustrates the point that embryonic stem cell research is bad for everyone -- not just the embryos.
In fact, Hwang's lies and lapses are a clear illustration of the ethical problems created by embryonic-stem-cell research: the immense demand for human eggs that threatens to transform desperately poor women into reluctant egg donors; the risks to those women of illness, infertility, and death that may go unmentioned by researchers seeking their eggs; and the dire consequences for a culture that makes a commodity of human eggs, human embryos, and human life itself.

Supporters of embryonic-stem-cell research say that we must destroy life to prolong life, that concern for the welfare of those walking among us demands that we disregard the lives of those waiting to be born. One need not be a religious fanatic to see that there is something deeply disturbing about the might-makes-right logic behind embryonic-stem-cell research, and about societies that regard that logic as dogma and its scientific defenders as demigods.

Kass tribute

A nice tribute to Leon Kass from Austin Ruse at the Culture of Life Foundation.

After four years as chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, Leon Kass participated as an associate member of the council for the first time last week. The council held its first meeting under the leadership of the new chairman, Edmund Pellegrino. In an interview with Culture & Cosmos, Kass reflected on the work of the council under his leadership.

During Kass' tenure, the council was often the subject of controversy. It regularly faced accusations from the Left of being "politicized," and it was called a tool of "right-wing ideology," a charge Kass strongly rejects. Kass said that of the original 18 members of the council, "probably seven to nine did not vote for President Bush" in the 2000 election, "and no one on the council cared." Calling this critique of the council "rubbish," Kass asked those who doubt the council's diversity of opinions to "read the council's reports."

The most recent report of the council, "Taking Care: Ethical Caregiving in Our Aging Society," does, in fact, include a caustic dissenting opinion by council Member Janet D. Rowley, who was one of the council's original members appointed by President Bush in early 2002. Her opinion on end-of-life issues clearly supports legalized assisted suicide, a position opposed by the Bush Administration.

Kass said he was particularly happy that the council's reports, under his stewardship, did not "run from the important questions" in bioethics. He said he wanted to make sure that he and his fellow members "kept certain kinds of questions alive, that might have disappeared" from discussion in America today were it not for the council. In addition to its report on ethical caregiving for the elderly, the council has issued reports on alternative sources of stem cells, biotechnology and the pursuit of happiness, and human cloning among other topics. Kass was also a participant in a Culture of Life Foundation conference on religious and ethical perspectives on end of life questions.

Fellow council member, Princeton University professor, and Culture of Life board member, Robert P. George, praised Kass for having "set an example of a deeply thoughtful bioethics" for the rest of American academia to follow.

With the end of his tenure as chairman of the council, Kass will have more time to pursue other interests. Kass is a medical doctor who holds an additional doctorate in biochemistry and is both a professor at the University of Chicago and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He said he is looking forward to returning to his own research at AEI and to teaching again at the University of Chicago this coming spring.

Like a Greek tragedy brought to life...

In the latest chapter of a messy scientific divorce, biologist Gerald Schatten has asked his former collaborator, Woo Suk Hwang, to retract a celebrated stem-cell paper published under both their names. ...

Now Schatten says he has further concerns: not about the ethics of the research, but about the validity of the results. (Source)

This illustrates a timeless truth. People who are ethically challenged in large things (ie. respect for the dignity of human life) are generally going to be ethically challenged in small things (like telling the truth).

Hwang, by all accounts a smart man, has just become another textbook example of human hubris, pride and the fall from grace that inevitably follows.

There is no joy in pointing this out. It only proves how silly and stubborn human nature can be...making the same mistakes, over and over and over again.