Friday, May 25, 2007

Nature Neuroscience/First Things fight over embryonic stem cells

An IPBiz reader sent in the following text from FIRST THINGS, June/July 2007, page 64:

The word is out: You will not dissent from the established line on embryonic stem cell research. The word was delivered with particular force to Dr. Maureen Condic, author of "What We Know About Embryonic Stem Cells,", January 2007. (In First Things.) It will be remembered that Condic very persuasively challenged the claim that drives the campaign for public funding of human embryonic stem cell research (hESC), namely that it will provide near-miraculous cures for a wide range of human medical conditions in the near future. An editorial in the prestigious journal Nature Neuroscience has now attacked the article and author, claiming that Condic is "trying to spin science ...to fit an anti-scientific purpose." The editorial refers to "the conservative Roman Catholic magazine First Things." (We are an ecumenical and inteerrreligious journal of religion, culture, and public life.) ........Interestingly, the editors do not question Condic's central claim that, as they put it, "there are formidible hurdles to overcome before hESCs might serve therapeutic purposes." That is why they want more billions of dollars in addition to all that has already been spent on such research. In fact, the editorial does not challenge any of Condic's scientific claims. Her crime is that she publicly dissents from the campaign for public funding."........A curious aspect of this controversy is that the editorial appears in Nature Neuroscience, one of several scientific journals put out by the Nature Publishing Group. One might think an editorial about stem cell biology would be more appropriate in a journal devoted to stem cell biology. As it happens, however, Dr. Condic's primary field of research is in neuroscience. If you wanted to smear Condic in the eyes of her professional colleagues, to prevent her from getting articles published in sicientific journals and from obtaining research grants in her field of specialization, well, Nature Neuroscience is just the place to do it. Moreover, the editors refused to publish Condic's letter responding to their attack on her. This is intellectual censorship of a low order.

IPBiz has presented posts related to the thought --"there are formidible hurdles to overcome before hESCs might serve therapeutic purposes."-- including

Did campaign ads for Proposition 71 violate fair trade laws?

IPBiz has presented posts related to the thought --"Moreover, the editors refused to publish Condic's letter responding to their attack on her.-- including
More on the bad coverage by Union-Tribune on stem cell matters [IPBiz notes that as of May 25, 2007 neither Somers nor the Union Tribune responded to the emails of LBE. The emails were ignored. Of course, if Nature truly refused Condic the right of response to an attack on Condic, that is something worse than merely printing something that is incorrect.]

2 Comments:

Blogger mastreips said...

How can it be that our Founding Fathers, steeped in religion as they were, saw the need for a separation of church and state and yet our modern society, replete with automobiles, antibiotics and the internet, insists on debating this nonsense. Leave religion in churches and science in laboratories.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert said...

Unless mastreips thinks Nature Neuroscience refused to publish the response because of religious reasons, mastreips has really missed the point of the issue raised by First Things. This isn't about religion; it's about whether therapeutic cloning is realistically achievable on a ten year time scale. California's CIRM is giving millions to Cha's RMI to do therapeutic cloning, and, if this is a waste, it's an economic issue, not a religious issue. Keep unrealistic fools out of the pockets of taxpayers, or present evidence that the game plan is realistic. Deflecting the issue by saying it's "religious" is disingenuous.

6:51 PM  

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