Thursday, 17 January 2008


Following today's dreadful news, I repeat what I wrote on 18th November:

The world’s most famous ever sufferer from Parkinson’s Disease was the world's leading opponent of [embryonic stem-cell] “research”, held up as the solution to Park'n'Alz, but in fact advocated, like cloning, and like the ghastly creation of hybrid and chimera embryos, by people who genuinely could not care less if everyone else in the world succumbed to either or both of those diseases.

What matters to them is the dehumanisation of the embryonic human being, the depersonalisation of human beings generally, the desanctification of human life. The mere popular knowledge that these procedures are taking place at all is an important part of that entirely non-scientific project, the true character of which is philosophical, economic, social, cultural and political.

The attempt to normalise the (necessarily artificial) cross-breeding of human beings and other species is so as to entrench in the public mind the view that human beings are, as it were, nothing special. This is not least because of the obvious answer to the question of what, or Who, it is that makes human beings special. And it so also, closely relatedly, because an economic and political system which can treat animals as people can just as easily treat (or, very often, simply carry on treating) people as animals.

Or vice versa, of course. Some of the people who want this want to treat people like animals, some want to treat animals like people, and some want to do both. But all want to blur the distinction. And which people will suffer? It won’t be them. Well, of course not. As Chesterton said, wherever there is animal worship, there is human sacrifice. Professor Wilmut [who, at the time of writing, had just given up such activities] is most heartily to be congratulated for breaking these ranks.

Meanwhile, who is going to be on the new regulatory body that we have repeatedly been promised? Chosen by whom, by what means, and on what criteria? I think we should be told. And I think that at least some of the members should be elected by, and from among, the general public.

The record of this "research" stands in stark contrast to that of research into adult stem cells, which has already produced 73 treatments for human beings, compared to none from what is of course, as set out above, not really a scientific enterprise at all.


  1. " by people who genuinely could not care less if everyone else in the world succumbed to either or both of those diseases."


    I advocate stem cell research. So do many of my colleagues. So do a number of the researchers from Newcastle who I've met, privately and at conferences.

    What on earth gives you the ability to know our motivations? In public and in private I've never encountered the opinions you ascribe.

    Criticise the cost. Criticise the science (though I'd prefer you didn't just make unsupported assetions while doing so). Criticise the moral balance struck by scientists and HFEA.

    But unless you can supply some evidence, making blanket statements about all researchers working in this area is not helpful to the debate and gives me cause to worry about the intelligence and integrity behind the decision-making process of the BPA.

    A little more reasoned argument and a little less puerile name-calling please.


  2. I said that people with such concerns, or lack of them, advocated it. I didn't say that they were the only people who did. But they are politically (in the broader, more cultural sense; and indeed in the narrower sense) the most significant people who do.

  3. Quite so, David. It is people like that who issue, or don't issue, licenses. Their concerns are economic, social, cultural and political.

    Of course this is entirely as it should be. Everybody has economic, social, cultural and political concerns, and so they should. What matters is making sure that the people taking these decisions have the right economic, social, cultural and political concerns. At present, they very clearly don't have.

  4. I thought I was the only one. None of this "research" has anything remotely to do with science. It has to do with turning (poor) people into animals and animals into people. It has never produced a single medical treatment and it never will, because it's not supposed to.

  5. They've just approved research in Bristol into using adult stem cells to treat heart attack patients (see today's Guardian)-amazing stuff really. No human embryos, or pig eggs with human nuclei involved. And this is happening now! How long before we can inject embryonic stem cells into people's hearts? Why would we want to?