Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cardinal Sins and Sushi Journalism: Fudging Rational Debate in the Discussion of Stem Cell Research

Maisy Ward said of her father that he would have been happy to have a "papal encyclical to read at breakfast" every morning. Me? I'm satisfied with reading The Age. It always gives me something to get grumpy about, and that makes me feel better immediately!

Today's offering comes from Sushi Das, entitled "Cardinal Sins: Fudging the science of stem cell research". Her main complaint is that Cardinal Pell has used "shrill language" (???) and employed "errors of fact" about what the stem cell research will involve.

Question to Sushi Das: On your own evidence, don't you think the Cardinal's claims were quite justified?

Exhibit One:
Pell asserts immature eggs taken from aborted girls would be fertilised with adult male sperm creating "a human embryo with an aborted baby girl as its genetic 'mother' ". With current technology, immature eggs, which are the type you would get from aborted foetuses, cannot be extracted from ovaries, let alone be fertilised in a lab. One day scientists hope to work this out. [My emphasis]
My analysis: Cardinal Pell says that eggs will be used from aborted foetuses. Sushi Das says that this is an "error of fact" because scientists can't do this yet. BUT they are working on it. I ask you, dear Reader: Was the good Cardinal therefore wrong to point out the fact that this is a distinct possibility as a result of this legislation??? Was this, in fact, an "error of fact"?

Exhibit Two:
Pell's statement also said the legislation would allow human-animal hybrid embryos to be created to test for sperm quality. Yes, animal eggs can be used to test for sperm viability in the context of IVF, but the legislation does not allow human-animal embryos for therapeutic cloning. [My Emphasis]
My analysis: embryonic research scientists CURRENTLY use animal eggs to "test for sperm viability". One assumes that they do this by fertilising an animal egg with a human sperm. The result? An human-animal hybrid embryo. It may not be kept for very long. It may never be used to harvest stem cells for therepeutic cloning. BUT it is used EVEN NOW as a part of the process. I ask you, dear Reader: Was the good Cardinal therefore wrong to point out the fact that this is a distinct possibility as a result of this legislation??? Was this, in fact, an "error of fact"?

Exhibit Three:
In an exquisite example of absurd logic, Pell argues embryos created for the purposes of research cannot be "saved" by being implanted in a woman. It is inconceivable that any scientist would create and use an embryo for experimental purposes and then allow it to be implanted into a woman. That really would be unethical. [My emphasis]
My analysis: Cardinal Pell was pointing out to folk who might not have understood that the baby human created for the purpose of stem cell harvesting COULD NOT BE SAVED--ie. IT WAS DOOMED TO DIE. Sushi Das' reply is simply: But of course. You don't think we would want to save something we had been playing around with do you? Ugh. Yuk. How gross. I ask you, dear Reader: Was the good Cardinal therefore wrong to point out the fact that this is the reality which will result from this legislation??? Was this, in fact, an "error of fact"?

Sushi Das has at least allowed that "Pell should certainly let Catholics know where the church stands on life issues." But her call for him to "at least get his facts right" seem superfluous as she has just corroborated everything he has claimed.

1 Comments:

At Friday, June 15, 2007 11:41:00 am , Blogger LYL said...

She takes a *creative* approach to "logic."

Well dissected.

And there's no way I would start my day reading The Age - I'm grumpy enough already!

 

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