Friday, July 21, 2006

Three Good Things

1: The Veto
I am very pleased that Bush has used his first veto in such a splendid way. There is no decent rationale for embryonic stem cell research, and the proponents of this research frequently stoop to the worst kind of emotional blackmail in their arguments. I have been repeatedly disappointed that bodies such as the Australian Academy of Science have made statements equating disapproval of this research with disapproval of science.

Q: In terms of therapeutic results obtained, have adult stem cells been more successful than embryonic stem cells?

A: Yes, certainly.

Q: In terms of our current understanding of biology, are there strong reasons to believe that adult stem cells will in almost all cases be more therapeutically useful than embryonic stem cells?

A: Yes, certainly.

Q: On the other hand, are embryonic stem cells more fundamentally interesting for developmental biologists?

A: Yes, certainly.

Q: And aren't all scientists primed by their training to argue with every fibre of their being that their research is incredibly important and should be funded?

A: Yes, certainly.

Q: And aren't people who are dying of horrible diseases and their relatives proverbially susceptible to shysters promising miracles?

A: Yes, certainly. Though I'm not sure I see your point.

Q: Now, would funding for embryonic stem cell research be extra funding in addition to what is already spent on medical research?

A: Yes, cer.. er, who are you kiddng? This is the Bush Administration you are talking about. Look at their appalling record of funding science!

Q: So, is funding embryonic stem cell research likely to take funds away from equally good (or better) research projects with equally good (or better) prospects for valuable therapeutic outcomes?

A: Yes, cer.. You mean, it might threaten my project? For the love of God, we must act now!

2: The Silence
I a very pleased that Bush has not come out with an even-handed condemnation of both parties in the most recent Arab-Israeli fracas. This is a significant advance on the attitude of U.S. Administrations in 2000, 1987, 1982, 1973, 1967, 1956 and 1948. I think since 2003 the U.S. has a much better intuitive understanding of Israel's position and the challenges it is facing. The process of bringing stability, democracy, and Happy Fun WorldTM-nature of the Middle East can only begin when the Great Satan is willing to stand side by side with the Little Satan and say 'pish tosh' to the forces of Islamofascism. I suggest the following:

"Yes, our Litte Satanic pals are not perfect, but there is no moral equivalence between them and you mealy-mouthed murderers. For they are basically right, and good, and you are basically wrong, and bad. We will certainly press our pals to behave more ethically, and we will not fail to chastise them for their failings, but you we shall smite with a great smiting, yea and verily, until the echo of the rumour of the shadow of your presence on this earth is a forgotten memory and all your works have perished utterly, as if they had never been."

Or words to that effect.

3: The End.
On a much more local level, my University has seen the light and has agreed to knock the disgraceful degree programme in Homeopathic Medicine on the head. It will no longer be offered after this semester! Huzzah! [Prolonged cheering]


Dave said...

1) You'll forgive the apparent amorality, but I don't give a damn whose stem cells are being researched, as long as research into curing various bad conditions continues. I expect to have clone vat-grown nervous and circulatory systems waiting for me the minute I need them, and, you know, whatever I need to shrug off Alzheimer's or cystic fibrosis or whatever I catch when I'm 70. If Bush or anyone else blocks that, I'll go to the Russians or the Koreans or whoever's doing the unethical research, if that's what I have to do to survive in good health.

- Signed, (nearly) everyone in the Western World, circa 2030.

2)[and not unrelated to 1] After reading the transcript of Bush's comments in the "caught saying 'shit' on air" scandal, my opinion that he is a drooling, coke-addled, brain damaged moron has become virtually impenetrable. The language he uses makes him sound not like a plain-spoken, morally certain statesmen, but a dim preteenager who didn't bother to read the assignment. Screw the noise about using cuss words - the upsetting point to observe here is that it is painfully obvious that Bush is dumber than paint.

3) Good.

Marco said...

1) I would appreciate Bush's first veto, if I didn't think it had more to do with completely political motives rather than the (as you point out) compelling scientific reasons to concentrate our research efforts on adult stem cells.

Marco said...

2) All-out war against Lebanon is a considerable Beziers curve compared to the straight line of attacking the countries that require regime change for HappyFunWorldTM. Admittedly, the Hezbollah front opening up means that it easier for the Greater Satan to concentrate more linearly on the required regime changes. To look at Lebanon in isolation, a lot of innocents have had to die for every evil that has been struck. I am not convinced that democracy is not now at a greater risk than in Iraq. I think most Lebanese are now thinking (even if it's not true) that things were better with Syria in control. When so many economic targets have been struck, the economy shrinks - this favours a totalitarian regime over a democratic one. Iraq is rebuilding and growing - this will favour democracy even if they are growing from an extremely small base.

Marco said...

3) I actually don't care. I don't believe in doctors much at the best of times. I believe the future is in self-diagnosis and treatment using internet-based tools. If I ever am in a position where I "need" to consult a doctor, it doesn't concern me whether they bought their doctorate, or whether they were taught crack-pot science. I go completely on reputation and experience.

Dr. Clam said...

1: Dear nearly everyone in the Western World. You have a long track record for being clueless saps with a precarious grasp on reason and morality. I see no reason to pay any attention to your opinions in forming my own.

- Signed, (Evil) Dr Clam, ff.2004-?

1: Dear Marco. Motive is nothing! We should pay attention to people's motives only insofar as they are predictors for what they might do in the future. I would like you to unpack your analysis of the veto as something arising from political motives. What is the political motive for Bush to align himself with the 30% of Americans who oppose the bill rather than the 70% who oppose it? Do you think he thinks the die-hard social conservatives would stay home at the mid-term elections instead of turning out and voting Republican? They will forgive him a lot in return for the appointment of Sam Alito and hope for more of the same.

2: Young Dave, "Dumber than paint" deserves a whole post. It shall come!

2: You have cunningly used my own arguments against me, Tricksy Marco! I have to accept your analysis that the prognosis for democracy is rosier in Iraq than in Lebanon- *unless* this war is quick and has a clear-cut conclusion without much Hezbollah left in it. A quick transit to an expansive rebuilding phase of economic growth would then ensue.

Jenny said...

re the last Q&A;

Bwah ha ha ha

Its funny 'cos its true

Dave said...

Re: Everyone in the Western World.

Well, yeah. Note that I wasn't actually disagreeing with you, just making the point that the ethical considerationare not likely to ultimately be given the most weight.

Also, Marco makes my real point better than I did. And with respect to your eloquent counterpoint, motives matter an awful lot to those of us who don't trust Bush's actions to be based on anything remotely resembling reason.

Dr. Clam said...

I know you weren't disagreeing with me, O Wise Dave! :D I was just feeling upbeat and posting about 'Good Things That Have Happened' rather than 'Bad Things That Will Probably Happen'...