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.

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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.

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