I just wrote a post on this blog about the place of skepticism when reading news, or any other source of spin for that matter. Then I saw this news article, which really got me steamed.
As I mentioned in my prior post, everyone has an agenda. And here, you can see a dual agenda at work – bash-the-government for its stance on not using public money to finance embryonic stem cell research involving the destruction of new embryos (note each word carefully); and, bash company-sponsored research.
This is actually a very encouraging article – using adult stem cells to treat heart failure, a very serious medical problem. My father-in-law died from it. But note how the bias comes out. Here’s an extract from the article; I’ll add my comments in blue:
- The new experiments all use adult stem cells harvested from blood, bone, muscle and fat ( it is worth noting that, so far, treatments with adult stem cells seem to be far more effective, and safer, than attempted treatments with the embryonic variety). Stem cells extracted from embryos may be more effective in rebuilding hearts, researchers have said (what researchers? On what basis is this speculation made?). American trials (all American trials? What about privately funded ones?) use the less controversial (and perhaps more efficacious?) adult cells because the U.S. government won’t finance research that derives stem cells from embryos (existing embryonic stem cell lines? Or new ones?).
The human studies generated criticism from scientists (you can find a scientist, researcher, or doctor who will take a stance on anything – who is being referred to here?) who say it is premature to test stem cells in patients (even in last-ditch efforts, with consent?), and that much of the positive data is coming from company-sponsored trials (the horrors! That means that any results must be invalid).
Many folks want to portray all stem cell research as being condemned by the U.S. government, which is patently false. Often, these same people are desperate to paint a portrait of embryonic stem cells as THE panacea, which again is quite unproven. Solid reporting should make accurate distinctions between embryonic and adult stem cell research, what exactly is and is not supported by tax dollars, what is and is not being researched with private funds, and what the relative successes and failures are.