Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lies and the Lying Liars who Fund Them

NEJM has once again provided a free full-text article to the common rabble, this time by Robert Schwartz, M.D., on stem cell research. It provides a quick, lay-friendly review of the current status of biomedical research using embryonic and adult stem cells.

What I want to chop out for your consideration today is this:

According to the New York Times, Karl Rove, head of the White House's Office of Political Affairs, has declared that embryonic stem cells aren't required because there is "far more promise from adult stem cells." Yet the notion that adult stem cells have the same developmental potential as embryonic stem cells, let alone "more promise," is dubious. It seems that the White House received this idea from David Prentice, a senior fellow for life sciences at the Family Research Council and an advisor to Republican members of Congress. In a report of the President's Council on Bioethics, Prentice claimed that adult stem cells can effectively treat more than 65 diseases. Not only is this assertion patently false, but the information purveyed on the Family Research Council's Web site is pure hokum.

In case you didn't already know, the Family Research Council is a "Christian" organization founded by James Dobson. It is famous, among other reasons, for accusing Sponge Bob of being gay.

Then there are all those "research institutes" that claim that human activity is not causing global warming. Turns out Exxon is paying them to say that. The British Royal Society (equivalent of our National Academy of Sciences) has asked them to stop.

This is the first time the society has written to a company to challenge its activities. The move reflects mounting concern about the activities of lobby groups that try to undermine the overwhelming scientific evidence that emissions are linked to climate change. The groups, such as the US Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), whose senior figures have described global warming as a myth, are expected to launch a renewed campaign ahead of a major new climate change report.

Exxon/Mobile is also, of course, a major contributor to the Republican Party and Republican candidates. Then there are all those researchers who claimed that tobacco doesn't cause cancer and heart disease. Paid for, of course, by the tobacco industry -- also a major backer of Republicans.

Why do all these ideologues and greed heads have to fund their own, private research institutes? Why aren't there scientists working in universities and independent research settings (such as the one where I work) who will say the things they want said? Is it because academia has a liberal bias, and refuses to hire people who don't wear pink underwear?

Nope. It's because reality has a liberal bias. The reason that conservatives lie all the time is because they have to. The truth is their enemy.