On the need for moral guidance of science
On embryonic stem cell research hype:
RG: "To me, at stake was our fidelity to the principle of the sanctity of human life. So I could not have yielded and said, “Well, that’s not important.” At the level of principle, I think probably both sides would say that it’s a big issue. But my sense is that it got blown enormously out of proportion as far as the practical significance of a policy one way or another was concerned. First, because it became useful politically. It was a way for Democrats to marshal their base against Bush in 2004. Ron Reagan, the late president’s very liberal son, to my mind just wildly hyped the potential therapeutic promise of embryonic stem cells. I think a lot of people were led to believe—and to what extent scientists were responsible for this is an interesting question—that if only the regulations were relaxed, embryonic stem-cell science would be central to our medical research and practice going into the future, and that it would massively alleviate suffering and produce cures for dreaded diseases. But it wasn’t true. Prescinding from the ethical questions, my own view is that there are scientifically interesting things that can come of embryonic stem-cell research, but that even without regulation, it wouldn’t be central. It doesn’t promise anytime soon, if ever, the amelioration of suffering or cures for dreaded diseases."
AC: "So far I don’t disagree with that too much. Embryonic stem-cell research was completely overhyped, in terms of its promise. And people knew it at the time. I tried to say so myself at different times myself, even though I support embryonic stem-cell research. But this notion that people would be out of their wheelchairs within a year if we could just get embryonic stem-cell research funded was just ludicrous. Just simply silly."