Saturday, July 15, 2006

Wingnut Welfare Stem Cell "Research" Challenged

Dr. David A. Prentice is pictured to the left. At The Family Research Council (see PFAW's Right Wing Watch for more on FRC), Dr. Prentice serves as Senior Fellow for Life Sciences, Center for Human Life and Bioethics. His Ph.D. in Biochemistry was earned at Kansas. He was formerly Professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University and is now Adjunct Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics for Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM has him listed as secondary faculty at Terre Haute).

Dr. Prentice is also an Advisory Board Member for Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. (I think just a bad picure, but that mustache hardly represents "human dignity". ) He is a founding member (along with maybe a zillion others from pastors to patients to John Birchers to ...) of "Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics" (Their URL is plus he serves as a Fellow of both the Wilberforce Forum Council for Biotechnology Policy (A Chuck Colson, Nixon's "evil genuis" sent to the slammer for Watergate but guilty of plenty more, operation) and the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future.

I've at least mentioned Wingnut Welfare before as Captain Plaid yet the PFAW's "Buying a Movement" is always a great place to start in examing how the Big Mules get and hold power. Jane's FireDogLake work on Pajamas Media shows how the right tries to stay ahead or at least caught up with all forms of information/media. That "research" is provided by Big Oil and other polluters to muddy the water on climate change should no surprise but this pseudo-science is about getting votes from the Evangelical and related "values voters". Having seemingly legit science behind the politicians and pundits let them play the Mighty Wurlitzer much easier.

Here, finally the readers exclaim, is the inspiration for the post. Rick Weiss of the WaPo gives us "Clash Over Stem Cell Research Heats Up: Scientists Dispute Claims of Leading Foe of Bill to Ease Embryo Restrictions". The article contains the following:

The letter to the journal focused on David A. Prentice, a scientist with the conservative Family Research Council. Prentice has been an adviser to Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) -- a leader in the charge to maintain tight restrictions on the research -- and an "expert source" often cited by opponents of embryonic stem cell research.

Prentice has repeatedly claimed that adult stem cells, which can be retrieved harmlessly from adults, have at least as much medical potential as embryonic cells. He often carries a binder filled with references to scientific papers that he says prove the value of adult stem cells as treatments for at least 65 diseases.

In the letter to Science, however, three researchers went through Prentice's footnoted documentation and concluded that most of his examples are wrong.
"Prentice not only misrepresents existing adult stem cell treatments but also frequently distorts the nature and content of the references he cites," wrote Shane Smith of the Children's Neurobiological Solutions Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif.; William B. Neaves of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo.; and Steven Teitelbaum of Washington University in St. Louis. ...

"By promoting the falsehood that adult stem cell treatments are already in general use for 65 diseases and injuries, Prentice and those who repeat his claims mislead laypeople and cruelly deceive patients," the scientists wrote.

Prentice, in a brief voice message left for a reporter as he embarked on a trip yesterday, said, "I appreciate them pointing out some of the things . . . that need to be changed and updated." But he accused the letter writers of "mental gymnastics" by focusing narrowly on proven therapies, as opposed to the large number of diseases for which the value of adult stem cells is now being tested.

Mental gymnastics indeed. I recently watched J.C. Watts shilling perhaps Dr. Prentice's own "research" and thought of Watt's athleticism qualifying him to play pundit now. He's earned his cred with time in DC. JC had the talking points ready. Just like playing QB at Oklahoma. Coach Rove calls the plays and JC does the rest. And we must give a big shout out to "God's Senator" Sam Brownback. "I am Sam" needs to read this PDF file before citing the "research" on adult stem cells. What's the matter with Kansas most certainly comes to mind with the Sam and Pat show.

Neo-con Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard writing on stem cells was referenced in the reporting. I believe this "Stem the Tide" might be the piece but, if not, it is close enough to reveal his "thinking". Getting us into the Iraq disaster wasn't enough for Bill as he's working on Iran I fear next yet to have him lecturing on "morals" makes me want to Ralph.

On Monday I'll try to call Representative Mike Rogers and Senator Richard Shelby and even Senantor/Presidential draftee Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (maybe Stormie will answer the phone?) to register my position. I'm not optimistic yet we'll hope. I do think that a veto might be a "silver bullet" for the Democrats this fall so at least we might get that from Bu$hCo. Rove can energize the wingnut base for 2006 in a hope to avoid one chamber getting investigations going with subpoena power but this may be a costly move. Peace ... or War!