Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stem Cell Research

Ilya's mentioning of stem cell research aroused me from my ongoing stupor. The debate over stem cell research is an instance among many in which we, the general public, opt for stupidity. When I say we opt for stupidity I do not mean how anybody comes out on a given side of the debate, but rather we choose to have a fundamentally stupid debate due to the laziness and imprecision of our language. As portrayed by the media, the debate about stem cells centers around one's advocacy or opposition to stem cell research. This is false. It is not merely stem cell research, it is embryonic stem cell research that some people oppose, many people who oppose embryonic stem cell research support other forms of stem cell research such as adult stem cell research. Currently, if Pfizer were to chose to do so, it could invest in embryonic stem cell research. There is no federal prohibition on this and thus far none in the offing. The debate centers around whether embyronic stem cell research should be subsidized with public monies. I am frankly ignorant of the arguments against funding embryonic stem cell research and thus won't hazard an opinion as to whether they are valid or invalid. But this is one of the neat things about our federal form of governance, while we here in D.C. may choose to sidestep an issue due to fear of offending broad swaths of the country's moral sensibility, the states needn't do so, as has been the case in California, Maryland, and now Missouri (and probably others).

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