Glenn McGee, one of the editors, pseudoeditors and bloggers over at the American Journal of Bioethics blog, Blog.Bioethics.net, posted a portion of his column, “The Kavorkianization of Dolly” for The Scientist.
Subscription is required for The Scientist, but you can read part of the
snide column on the blog.bioethics.net site (or here). It may be worth subscribing just to have access to a complete copy of McGee’s own words on why “physicians should kill dying patients” and “scientists should kill embryos” are pretty much the same subject.
In the blog, McGee daydreams about what he believes that Richard Doerflinger might be thinking. (We all do that, don’t we?) McGee also manages to pack in a high ratio of insults per paragraph against “neocons,” and others who might not agree with his own “progressive” and political views.
Professor McGee does a pretty good job of discrediting ACT and Ron Green, his old ACT ethicist-for-hire sibling:
Advanced Cell Technology people decided that the correct way to please the right to life crowd was to take IVF embryos (all together now, chant with the predictable pro-life response: “IVF=murder”) that have been put through genetic diagnosis (“PGD=eugenics”) and grow their cells in a way that might or might not yield good stem cell colonies but likely would produce at least a few totipotent cells as a byproduct (“cloning is evil”).
To make sure the experiment aimed at pleasing pro-life would actually work, they tried it on 16 embryos first, then killed them all (Inside the mind of Richard Doerflinger: “please, please let these guys stay in the paper just one more day…”) and justified the fact that none of the people who were supposed to love their experiment actually did by calling them (Lanza’s words) “irrational” (“scientist=athiest or anti-catholic”).
If there is a school to teach scientists how to screw up the pursuit of PR, ACT has the professors on retainer.
What is so puzzling is that the piece that reported this great innovation [well, great in the mind of William Hurlbut, though not particularly interesting to anybody who doesn’t buy the science or ethics of these continuing, idiotic schemes to make “part embryos” in order to get Bush money] in Nature was interesting – at the level of a piece that merits publication in Nature – only because it was supposed to solve the ethics problem by appeasing those who seek embryonic cells created without an embryo. Hence there was no PR officer, just the ethicist, since the whole business amounts to an “ethics experiment.”
So here is the ethicist and Lanza, the former constantly (and inaccurately) referred to as “unpaid” as though he spoke from a distance, defensively spinning this experiment rather than bothering to even consider the objections raised by those whom the experiment was supposed to please. It was like reading that “ask the ethicist” nonsense in The New York Times: as recently as yesterday Green was actually quoted as saying that if it weren’t for all this controversy, there might be tons of new stem cell lines very soon [without any destruction of embryos] (which the experiment didn’t prove), and that – my favorite – the controversy about the experiment just proves that there is lots of interest in this work.
Go team. Except, not.
The controversy proves unambiguously that ACT can cause half of the U.S., including the intended audience to be appeased, to believe that the people with whom they disagree are not so much trying to respect their beliefs as to create monstrous half-embryo things using technologies that only Frankenstein could love – and then to duck and cover when things go badly. And to sell it all with the ethicist who is “unpaid” doing PR. ACT has been through four or five cycles of scandal, depending on who is counting, each time repeating the same cycle of misbehavior. It’s time to stop blessing these guys with ethics PR. Please, Ron, give it up before ACT becomes the undoing of embryonic stem cell research.
I’ve already read five commentaries by major conservatives comparing ACT to Hwang. It is awful and irresponsible but you guys are asking for it. Can’t we just be honest and say that we favor embryonic stem cell research, at least for now, since that’s what happens at ACT (and since it is true), even though the research destroys embryos? Can’t we just say that the Bush policy is idiotic and that the new “alternatives fund” is worse yet? Must you pander to the neocons?
I continue to be amazed at the degree to which this company manages to do more harm to the battle to get embryonic stem cell research funded than could any concerted right wing campaign against the research. ACT is the Kevorkian of stem cell research.
About half of my comments make it through their moderator these days, especially when I respond to the name calling and flight of ideas over there, at the American Journal of Bioethics Blog.
So, I’ll post my thoughts here, as well:
You missed one of the possible thoughts going through Richard Doerflinger’s head: “Please, please let these guys continue to compare embryonic stem cell research to physician assisted suicide.”
By the way, why isn’t PGD one aspect of eugenics? Do you actually object to eugenics?
>There is lack of understanding on both sides of this debate. Neither one understands the other, and neither wants to.In this case, a few scientists tried to work-around ethical objections without understanding them. Unsurprisingly, their attempt was not recieved well. There are very few people who understand both the science and the ethics angles to things like this. Plenty of people understand one or the other – they either have science unrestrained by ethics, or ethics founded in a moral panic without reason.
>My point, exactly, SR! Well, that and McGee doesn't get it, either. And, that his impulse disorder is showing, again. Thanks!