The religion of stem-cell research.

Science, technology, and life.
Aug. 10 2004 7:11 PM

Revelation of the Nerds

The religion of stem-cell research.

(Continued from Page 1)

Two days after Weiss' article appeared, Kerry used his radio address to peddle the Alzheimer's fairy tale. He spoke of "the limitless potential of our science" and of things unseen: "the cures that are there, if only [scientists] are allowed to look."

He emphasized the power of will, hope, and belief in the absence of evidence.

There is a moment after you get the call from a doctor that you or a loved one must face a disease like Alzheimer's where you decide that it can't mean the end—that you won't let it. So in our own way, we become researchers and scientists. We become advocates and friends, and we reach for a cure that cannot—that must not–be too far away. Some call this denial. But I'm sure that Nancy Reagan—the wife of an eternal optimist—calls it hope. … Millions share this hope, and it is because of their commitment that stem-cell research has brought us closer to finding ways to treat Alzheimer's and many other diseases.

Advertisement

A month later, on the eve of her convention, Pelosi called stem-cell therapy "the biblical power to cure." At the convention, Ron Reagan likened it to "magic." Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin trumpeted its "medical miracles." Rep. James Langevin of Rhode Island, a paraplegic, proclaimed his "strong faith that we will find a cure." "I believe one day I will walk again," said Langevin, adding, "Embryonic stem cell research offers new dreams to so many people." Democrats even engraved the myth in their platform: "Stem-cell therapy offers hope to more than 100 million Americans who have serious illnesses—from Alzheimer's to heart disease to juvenile diabetes to Parkinson's."

In his radio address this weekend, Kerry blamed Bush's stem-cell restrictions for "shutting down some of the most promising work to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer's." With the salesmanship of a faith healer, Kerry dangled promises no responsible scientist would countenance. "At this very moment, some of the most pioneering cures and treatments are right at our fingertips, but because of the stem-cell ban, they remain beyond our reach," said Kerry. "To those who pray each day for cures that are now beyond our reach—I want you to know that help is on the way. I want you to hold on, and keep faith, because come next January, when John Edwards and I are sworn into office … we're going to lift the ban on stem-cell research."

Kerry's appeals to faith and prayer don't end there. He asks voters to believe, on the same spiritual basis, that science will create ethical boundaries for itself. "We must look to the future not with fear but with the hope and the faith that advances in medicine will advance our best values," he pleaded in a recent speech promoting stem-cell research. "I have full faith that our scientists will go forward with a moral compass," he added. All we must do, he advised, is "pursue the limitless potential of science—and trust that we can use it wisely."

I want to have faith, John. I want to hope and dream. I want to believe in the magic and the miracles and the power of prayer. But if you want to preserve trust in science, stick to the evidence.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

What Hillary Clinton’s Iowa Remarks Reveal About Her 2016 Fears

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 15 2014 3:44 PM Home Work Prudie advises a man who wants to be a stay-at-home dad, but his wife refuses.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.