St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Missouri stem cell debate
By Eric Mink on stem cells:
Second, if Missourians do not pass Amendment 2 next week, little research using embryonic stem cells will occur at the state's universities, medical centers and research institutes. The research still will be done, but it will be done elsewhere.
The research will take place anyway because restless, obsessive scientific curiosity is one of humanity's noblest, most distinctive traits, and it can not be crushed. It will occur elsewhere because the driven scientific talents who seek new ways to improve human life through the relief of suffering and the prevention and treatment of illness do not want to work where erratic elected officials threaten to criminalize responsible scientific inquiry. Such has been the case in Missouri , and such is sure to be the case again if Amendment 2 is defeated.
It's true that there's a general scientific consensus about the theoretical potential of embryonic stem cell research to remedy such conditions and that there have been some promising results in experiments with animals. But the fuller truth is that this research, which wasn't even possible until 1998, is in a very early stage of development. It would have to overcome formidable hurdles of science and technology before any cures or treatments could be discovered, tested and offered to suffering people. [IPBiz: no mention of Hwang Woo Suk, or the implications of Hwang's fraud.]
A seminal 2004 article by Ohio State University professor Matthew C. Nisbet in the professional journal Public Opinion Quarterly suggests a rationale for this approach. Nisbet found wide variations in the results of surveys of public opinion about stem cell research. Depending on what kinds of words were used in posing questions, polls indicated as much as 65 percent support or as much as 70 percent opposition.
Given the complexity of the subject and the "low level of public knowledge" about it, Nisbet wrote, "the public may be highly susceptible to influence by changes in media attention and media characterization of the issue."
***One IPBiz reader pointed to one obvious problem with Mink's statement:
Gee, if the work will take place anyway, then why should the taxpayers of Mo pay for it? The only people who would be excluded are the state's universities...and who says the academics get to say "tax them, we want our money!" If the academics want to study such, then go work for the companies who are paying for the research.
When Mink is asking state taxpayers to pay for something, he needs to provide a better motivation than "if we don't do it, it will be done anyway."
**Meanwhile, Kavita Kumar on SIU plagiarism:
The chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale and his
writing team should have attributed some parts of the university's long-range
strategic plan to another document, a committee concluded in a report released
October 31, 2006 by the university.
But the committee stopped short of determining whether the "lifting"
of passages constituted "acceptable or unacceptable plagiarism," saying
that fair-minded people could have differences of opinion on the matter when
one person played a major role in creating both documents, but many people
While it was not an academic document, "Southern at 150" was
produced in an academic environment where everyone must be sensitive to "even the
appearance of presenting another's thoughts and ideas as one's own," the report said. So Wendler and his team should have made it clear that some parts were
from "Vision 2020," the report said. In not doing so, they subjected the university
to possible claims of copyright infringement, the report said.
"This is not like copying a teaching philosophy or somebody else's
intellectual work," Wendler said. "What was used here was mine ? We're
talking about my work, my intellectual property. You can't plagiarize yourself."
IPBiz notes that plagiarism involves use of text without attribution. One can "plagiarize" oneself. In the patent context, one notes that there are difficulties when an inventor fails to mention the inventor's relevant earlier work to the patent office. If you published it more than one year before, you can't subsequently patent it, even if it is your own work. In the journal context, editors take a dim view when an author tries to pass off later work as original, when it in fact has been published.
On December 24, 2005, the Houston Chronicle quoted Matthew Nisbet, assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University. He was referenced in article about a potential political backlash from the scandal involving a Korean scientist who fabricated evidence in a stem-cell study. Nisbet said the scandal could be used by political opponents of stem-cell research.
One notes that in the intervening months, little use has been made of the Hwang scandal by US stem cell opponents. [In the above Eric Mink mentioned Nisbet, but not Hwang!] The significant issue is not the SCANDAL, but the fact that embryonic stem cell work (particularly SCNT) is further back than thought. It is separately troubling that none of Hwang's peers (outside of Korea) seemed to recognize that the work was questionable.
Separately, Nisbet was quoted at the time of Ronald Reagan's death: "The public is at a point where they are probably open to the appeals of both advocates and opponents of stem-cell research," Nisbet said. "The battle is on among both sides to define the issue in terms that will help their cause. Reagan's death could make this a higher profile issue again."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Rust) wrote:
69% of 500 likely voters supported embryonic stem cell research, when the questions were couched in terms of finding cures. Certain national polls have shown about 70% support for either side, depending upon whether the questions are couched in terms of finding cures or killing embryos, Nisbet said.