Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bad for science, bad for politics
Robert Novak talks about Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's recent positioning against stem cell research: "The outrage provoked by Romney was intense. Dr. Robert Lanza, medical director of Advanced Cell Technology, said of the governor's opposition: 'It is mind-boggling. He is completely out of step with the scientific and medical community.' But Romney is not out of step with the ordinary people of Massachusetts, who polls indicate unalterably oppose cloning."

This irks me to no end. It's the same problem I was talking about just last week—science should not be determined by public opinion. I'm as opposed to stem cell research as the next guy, because I agree with Governor Romney and his wife that we should not be creating and destroying life to deal with health problems, and also because I don't think our science is at a point where we know whether anything will come of it anyway. But I want our representatives in government to make their decisions based on scientific, philosophical, and moral grounds, not because the people feel one way or another. The people do not posess full information, and their scientific judgements are likely to be skewed. This is what screwed everything up in the global warming debate, and we're now headed down that road in a new arena.

It's time to turn back and make some better choices. Thankfully, however, Robert Novak is not the one making them, as it seems Governor Romney did the right thing before making his decision: "Romney met on Feb. 18 with Dr. William Hurlbut, a physician and Stanford biology professor who is working on a way to produce stem cells without a human embryo. I have previously reported how Hurlbut, a member of President Bush's Council on Bioethics, opens the theoretical possibility of solving this bitter political and social struggle."

At least someone is thinking responsibly.

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