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Stem Cell Research

It is disappointing to learn how “sluggish” stem cell re search has advanced as described in Drs. Barglow and Schaefer’s detailed chronology, “Stem Cell Research: Still Embattled After All These Years” (January/February 2017). Sadly, violation of the Jeffersonian principle of “separation between church and state” has reinforced obstruction of stem cell research in Congress.

That is, while in-vitro fertilization (IVF) surplus embryos “are routinely discarded as waste” (p. 36), stem cells from embryos increase the probability of successful advances. Contrasted with the rigid, negative position taken by some politicians and religious leaders that any remote link to “abortion” must be stifled, the majority of public opinion on stem cell research is positive and should influence policy in a democratic society. For example, a recent Gallup Poll (2016) regarding use of stem cells obtained from human embryos showed 60 percent of respondents found it “morally acceptable” while 32 percent found it “morally wrong.”

Those who obstruct stem cell research funding show little empathy for persons who suffer from intractable diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, paralysis, etc. Granted there are no assurances that stem cells will produce all of the solutions needed for cures. Yet we will never know that answer unless stem cell research continues with significantly greater support.

William F. Vitulli

Professor Emeritus of Psychology

University of South Alabama Mobile, Alabama

Barglow and Schaefer, the authors of the leading stem cell article (a physicist and a philosopher), better learn some basic biology before they try to support the use of stem cells. As it stands, they may well achieve the opposite. Their example of hair cells only exposes their lack of basic biological knowledge. As most anybody knows, haircuts don’t harm hair cells, only their lifeless out-growths: the hairs. Thus, regarding a haircut as murder is even ludicrous as a thought experiment. The same is true of the cutting of finger-and toenails.

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About Skeptical Inquirer

Surviving the Misinformation Age Vaccines, Autism, and the Promotion of Irrelevant Research: A Science-Pseudoscience Analysis Statin Denialism