Not only has our new president reversed Bush's stem cell policy, and directed his science adviser--who really, really needs to be Senate confirmed--to "develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making" (something I and many others have called for). But in some ways better still, he has given a big speech about embryonic stem cell research that is scientifically accurate, cautious, and does not oversell its potential--while still explaining why we ought to support it.
At this moment, the full promise of stem cell research remains unknown, and it should not be overstated. But scientists believe these tiny cells may have the potential to help us understand, and possibly cure, some of our most devastating diseases and conditions. To regenerate a severed spinal cord and lift someone from a wheelchair. To spur insulin production and spare a child from a lifetime of needles. To treat Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease and others that affect millions of Americans and the people who love them.
But that potential will not reveal itself on its own. Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research - from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit - and from a government willing to support that work.
These words are right at the outset of the speech. They don't hurt its rhetorical force one little bit. And they make the speech scientifically sound--much different from the over-promising that some times occurs in the stem cell arena. Heck, Obama even gets in a great explanation of why we need to support basic research, even though it doesn't always pay off in predictable ways.
Man, what an anti-science president we've got here. I can see why the political right is so up in arms.
Last week the website Fark had a note that this would occur today. Their "headline" for it:
Reality: On Monday, President Obama will lift the ban on government spending for stem cell research.
What the right wing will say: "On Monday, Obama will legalize killing babies."
I fear those types of comments will begin all too soon.
Speaking of the War on Science, what's the status of Mr. Mooneys' op-ed to the Washington Post re George Wills' big lies? By the way, apparently Dr. Wills isn't backing down as evidenced by an interview in the Pittsburg Tribune which, if I am not much mistaken, is the screed of Richard Mellon Scaithe.
Mr. Mooneys' fellow science blogger, James Hrynyshyn, has noted that the Washington Post has claimed that George Will is basing his articles on some 20 sources but is refusing to divulge the identity of those sources. Can anyone imagine somebody attempting to submit an article to a peer reviewed journal and making a claim that assertions made therein are based on articles that the author will not identify?