Friday, September 15, 2006

The Post-Dispatch has a revised version of the article I criticized and parodied yesterday with a more appropriate headline, which I suspect is what was printed in today's paper. Good for them. I'm sure they would say the web version yesterday was so imbalanced because they didn't have time to get both sides before publishing. But this begs the question of why there was such a rush to get this out. Was there anything time-sensitive about that information? Would it make a difference if voters received that information 12 hours later? No and no. And it's difficult to imagine the Post-Dispatch treating a press release from the other side in such a manner. The Post-Dispatch's job is to accurately report the news, not the ensure that the Coalition for Lifesaving Cures gets their propaganda out as fast as possible.

The revised version still has some things worth pointing out.

One of the criticisms those opposing embryonic research often hear is that we're "against science." In this very article, those supporting amendment say that striking it down would create an "anti-science environment" in Missouri. Science is about testing hypotheses with experiments and data, and using that data to draw conclusions. But check this out...

The study also says that banning embryonic stem cell work, as has been attempted by state lawmakers in recent years, would put a chill on biotech research of all kinds, stifling a promising industry.

Winship contends the state's biotech industry won't suffer if embryonic stem cell research is banned, especially because a lot of Missouri's biotech work is based in agriculture. Michigan banned certain types of stem cell work, but it has a vibrant biomedical sector, she said.

Donn Rubin, chairman of the coalition and a leader in building St. Louis' biotech sector, said Michigan business leaders have called seeking advice on how to reverse that state's ban. Their biotech cluster is beginning to lag, "their research infrastructure is going to continue to decline, and their potential for generating a 21st Century economy is going to decline if they can't undo it," he said.

Here we have:

  • One side make an assertion, with no data to back it up.
  • The other side responds with relevant data.
  • The other side dismisses this data with anecdotes and more conjecture

Which side is making unsupported assertions and using anecdotes to trump hard data? That would be the side that accuses the other side of being against science.
Daniel Shipley captured things well: "They say, 'If every person was adequately cured by a totally unproven medical procedure, then the following would occur.' I could make a lot of business cases based on such assumptions and go to a bank, and they would laugh me out of there." But Missourians are supposed to rewrite their Constitution based on this.
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