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Monday, October 11, 2004
Christopher Reeve, R.I.P.

I watched the whole of the second presidential debate from St Louis, live. (Time junkies will realise that this was from 2.00-3.30 a.m. for me.) It was interesting that the subject of embryonic stem-cell research came up. Here’s a relevant bit:
KERRY: Like Nancy Reagan, and so many other people -- you know, I was at a forum with Michael J. Fox the other day in New Hampshire, who's suffering from Parkinson's, and he wants us to do stem cell, embryonic stem cell. And this fellow stood up, and he was quivering. His whole body was shaking from the nerve disease, the muscular disease that he had. And he said to me and to the whole hall, he said, You know, don't take away my hope, because my hope is what keeps me going. Chris Reeve is a friend of mine. Chris Reeve exercises every single day to keep those muscles alive for the day when he believes he can walk again, and I want him to walk again. I think we can save lives. Now, I think we can do ethically guided embryonic stem-cell research.
And here’s the link to the full transcript.

Because of it’s appositeness, rather than my laziness, I include a piece from Josh from September 2002. I wrote it after attending a lecture by Steven Pinker:
Some of Pinker's most interesting comments were a little off the main topic. President George W. Bush, in deciding to oppose '...perhaps the most promising medical technology of the 21st century...' (human embryonic stem cell research), had consulted 'thinkers' about the concept of 'ensoulment' i.e. when the soul enters the embryo. This is entirely consonant with Dubya's thinking on most things: dark age (see Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate (London: Allen Lane, 2002), p.12).
I can do no better than add another Pinker comment:
The American Policy...was decided by pondering the moral issue as it might have been framed centuries before. [My italics]
Here’s another statistic from TBS, page 2 '...76% of Americans believe in the biblical account of creation...' (I have tried to follow this statistic up without success. It sounds fishy to me; they can’t be that nuts, can they?) Pinker could not resist adding, to the unanimous delight of his audience, that this was at odds with the 'beliefs' of both the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Christopher Reeve's death is untimely. However, Senator Kerry, as a matter of record, highlighted Superman’s insistence on the importance of stem-cell research at a crucial time for his campaign: he said it during a debate with Dubya, just before Chris Reeve died. The death can serve only to highlight the difference between the two camps' positions on voodoo junk medicine. Could this stop Americans re-electing the US Hebrew Gog and his nutcases? One can hope so but I doubt it: if that 76% figure is anywhere near accurate, there isn’t a chance; people who believe nonsense vote for nonsense.

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