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Scientific Morality?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 12, 2007

More evidence of the ills of the scientific establishment comes from Paolo De Coppi, an Italian expert in stem cell research. De Coppi claims that it took him seven years to get a paper published on his extensive experimental evidence that stem cells derived from amniotic fluid are more promising than those taken from embryos. After being rejected by four different journals, the study finally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Nature Biotechnology.

The publication created something of a sensation, making De Coppi the center of media attention. In an interview with the Italian ANSA news agency, the ground-breaking scientist stated his judgment that his study met with “resistance to the idea of finding an alternative to embryonic stem cells.” He attributed this resistance to the fact that many leading researchers are heavily invested in embryonic stem cell research, especially in the United States.

Indeed, whatever one may think about why the scientific community and its backers initially insisted on an approach to stem cells which completely disregards the right to life, embryonic research is now a highly-funded enterprise. The desire to keep one’s funding has always been a powerful motive for scientists to derail the promising alternatives of their colleagues. Some scientists are noble in their pursuit of their careers; others are not.

The scientific profession has no greater guarantee than any other against sloppy work, preconception, bias, obfuscation, chicanery and outright deceit. In science, as in everything else, gamesmanship and dishonesty thrive wherever large sums of money are at stake. Paolo De Coppi has stated that he is not personally opposed to embryonic research. But the difficulties he has faced speak volumes about the other moral problems afflicting today’s scientific establishment.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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