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Round 1. PurdueNuc V StrangeLands: Stem Cells

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posted on Jun, 9 2004 @ 03:19 PM
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Debate 4

The topic for this debate is "Medical research involving the use of human stem cells should be permitted."

PurdueNuc will be arguing for this proposition and will open the debate.
StrangeLands will argue against this proposition.

Each debator will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

No post will be longer than 800 words and in the case of the closing statement no longer than 500 words. In the event of a debator posting more than the stated word limit then the excess words will be deleted by me from the bottom. Credits or references at the bottom count as part of the post.

Editing is Strictly forbidden. This means any editing, for any reason. Any edited posts will be completely deleted.

Excluding both the opening and closing statements only one image or link may be included in any post. Opening and Closing statement must not carry either images or links.

As a guide responses should be made within 24 hours, If the debate is moving forward then I have a relaxed attitude to this. However, if people are consistently late with their replies, they will forfeit their replies and possibly the debate.

Judging will be done by an anonymous panel of 11 judges. After each debate is completed it will be locked and the judges will begin making their decision. Results will be posted by me as soon as a majority (6) is reached.

This debate is now open, good luck to both of you.




posted on Jun, 10 2004 @ 02:30 AM
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Before I begin my opening statement, I would like to extend my thanks to Kano for arranging these debates, the judges for taking their time to decide the outcome of the debates, and of course the ATS community as a whole. While it is doubtful these debates will settle these issues once and for all, perhaps we can help open people's eyes and “Deny Ignorance.”

The issue I have the pleasure of debating is one that has garnered quite a bit of attention in the last several years, and has been fiercely debated from several sides, and rightly so. While the debate about stem cell research involves more than just science and medicine, with morality and religion being an important part of the equation, a debate centered around closely-held personal beliefs will achieve nothing. Therefore, I intend to argue my side based solely on fact, and I ask my opponent to do the same.

As I have the honor of opening this debate, I think it would be prudent for me to lay forth the indisputable facts on stem cell research, as much of what the public sees on this topic is clouded by the right versus wrong debate, and as such is subject to spin from the media and special-interest groups. Stem cell research in general can be dated back almost forty years, when researchers first discovered stem cells in bone marrow. However, it wasn't until the 1980's that researchers were able to isolate stem cell populations from mice. This lead to the first isolation of human stem cells from embryonic tissue in 1998, an event that quickly grabbed the world's attention.

It is now recognized that stem cells have several properties that make them unique among cells:
  • They are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods
  • They are unspecialized
  • They are capable of generating specialized cells, a process known as differentiation

It is these properties which make them so attractive to researchers. Starting from a small group of stem cells (~30), it is possible for them to proliferate into a large population (several million), which researchers may then use to generate any number of specialized cells, from heart cells, to blood cells, to nerve cells. Stem cells may be classified into two general categories: embryonic and adult.

Embryonic stem cells are obtained from four to five day old embryos, which are grown via in vitro fertilization, with the informed consent of the donors. Herein lies the greatest focus of the debate, as the embryo is destroyed when the stem cells are removed. However, embryonic stem cells have several advantages over their adult cousins: they can differentiate into any number of specialized cells, and they are able to proliferate for well over a year in laboratory conditions.

Adult, or somatic, stem cells are obtained from adult tissue. They can be found in many locations in the human body, including bone marrow and brain tissue. Unlike embryonic cells, their source is unknown. It is possible that they are “leftover” embryonic cells, or perhaps the body has some unknown mechanism for generating stem cells. It is currently believed that adult stem cells have a limited range of specialized cells that they can differentiate to; with stem cells in bone marrow only being able to generate bone, cartilage, and fat cells, for instance. Also, researchers have been unable to maintain lines of adult stem cells for very long. Isolated cells typically differentiate spontaneously. However, adult stem cells do hold an advantage that replacement tissue could be grown from a patient's own cells, thus reducing the possibility of rejection.

There are many possible uses for stem cells, among them the generation of replacement cells and tissues, and research into cell division and differentiation, specifically how birth defects and cancer cells are created. In my arguments I intend to look in detail at three possible uses for stem cell research, and how these could benefit mankind. I will show indisputably that stem cell research must be undertaken if we are to further medical knowledge on these, and many other, issues.

I now hand the floor, such as it is, over to my esteemed opponent, StrangeLands. I look with anticipation to his opening statement, and hope for a fair and lively debate on this issue.



posted on Jun, 10 2004 @ 07:50 AM
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First of all, I too would like to offer sincere thanks to Kano for taking the time to corral we Fighters - some newly-blessed and wide-eyed, others grizzled and hardy - into the debate forum, and for overseeing our exchanges. Thanks too, to the enigmatic judges for offering their time and wisdom, and to my worthy opponent PurdueNuc.

Stem cell research is possibly the most controversial issue of our age. Dozens of distinct factions have debated the scientific intricacies and moral complexities for over a decade, and the arguments have become, as arguments will, entrenched and passionate.

My opponent has, in his opening statement, neatly summed up the basics of both the mechanical processes involved, and the perceived potential of human stem cell research (HSCR). It is not my intention, therefore, to waste the judges' time by repeating the same bland facts and statistics. Rather, I would like to define the grounds upon which I will contest this debate.

Firstly, I intend to question the medical and scientific validity of current and near-future HSCR. We in the West have become accustomed to the inevitability of medical advancement, but progress is never guaranteed. Many have been swayed by pro-HSCR arguments regarding the anticipated payoff of this research – I will contend that these predictions have underplayed the difficulties, while vastly exaggerating the possible benefits.

Secondly, I will argue that HSCR is financially inefficient. Enormous amounts of money are being invested in high-risk research that may never produce the desired results. In our nascent post-industrial world, can we find no better use for government funds and the resources of private companies? It is my belief that we can, and must.

Thirdly, despite my opponent’s desire to purely debate the scientific minutiae, I feel we owe it to the witnesses of this clash, and to society at large, to confront the ethical and moral quandaries which beset this contentious topic. Morality, after all, is not an indulgence, but a basic necessity for civilisation.

And lastly, there is the issue of popular choice. We live, most of us, in democratic states, where the will of the people is enshrined in law. I will show that the citizens of the EU, the UK and the USA have indicated, on many occasions, that they do not want research into human stem cells to be legal, and that the demands of the majority should always, in a democracy, be heeded.

So, to summarise:


  • HSCR is not as simple, straightforward or promising as some advocates of the research would have you believe.

  • HSCR is draining resources – both public and private - that would be better spent on other projects.

  • HSCR is morally dubious and ethically unsound.

  • HSCR is simply not wanted by the democratically-empowered citizens of most western countries.

I invite my honoured opponent to retake the floor and make his first argument.



posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 02:38 AM
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I must applaud my opponent for his well-worded opening statement. His mastery of the English language is truly remarkable, and I can only aspire to write with such clarity. I see I have my work cut out for me, but I am quite confident that even the lovely prose of Shakespeare himself could not prevail over the facts I am about to present.

The first topic I would like to address is that of cancer and birth defects. Both of these are characterized by abnormal cell development and proliferation.

Cancer

  • Nearly 1.5 million new cancer cases are expected in the US this year [1]. Internationally, over 10 million new diagnoses are made per year [2].
  • Over half a million Americans are expected to die from cancer this year; that's one out of every four deaths [1]. Internationally, approximately 6 million deaths a year can be attributed to cancer (about one out of eight deaths) [2].
  • In the US, the overall costs for cancer in 2003 were estimated at nearly 200 billion dollars [1].

While much progress has been made in recent years on prevention and treatment of cancers, the high death rate attributable to cancer indicates that there is much more work to be done.

Research into stem cells has already advanced the treatment of certain cancers, most notably leukemia. Typical treatment is to kill the damaged bone marrow cells with chemo- or radiation therapy, and replace them with healthy donor stem cells, via either bone marrow transplant or stem cell blood transplant. Similar procedures can be used to treat lymphomas and myeloma [1]. Unfortunately, the need for transplants far exceeds the available donors. HSCR could allow donor cells to be grown in a laboratory, thus providing a nearly limitless supply. Furthermore, the use of a patient's own somatic stem cells would effectively eliminate the approximately 20% rejection rate observed today [1].

Recently, US and Japanese doctors were able to transplant stem cells from a fetus into the mother, who had advanced cancer of the thymus gland, and was not expected to live much longer. Within three days, the woman's conditions were seen to improve. At time of publication, the cancer had been in regression for over one year [1]. The typical treatment for advanced thymus cancers is radiation or chemotherapy, followed by surgery to remove the gland. This is just one example to show the possibilities HSCR holds for cancer treatment.

What other cancers will be able to be treated with stem cells? Further research is necessary; we are merely scratching the surface of stem cell therapy now, but results look promising.

Birth Defects

  • One out of every 33 babies is born with a birth defect, with approximately one third of these being heart defects [3].
  • Birth defects account for over 20% of infant deaths in the US [3].
  • The causes of nearly 70% of birth defects are unknown [3].

Unfortunately, there is a great lack of research in the area of birth defects, despite them being so prevalent. Many birth defects are believed to be due to environmental factors and the mother's diet, including drug and alcohol use. It has been noted that the inclusion of folic acid into a pregnant mother's diet can lead to a decreased chance of certain birth defects, most notably spina bifida, which is a cleft in the spinal cord [3]. However, until the causes of birth defects on a cellular and genome level are understood, there is little hope for their elimination.

Scientists now believe that many birth defects can be traced back to the differentiation of stem cells into germ cells, i.e. sperm and egg cells. Infertility is also most likely linked to this process. By studying how stem cells differentiate into germ cells, researchers can gain insight into these afflictions, and subsequently can determine methods for solving these issues [4]. Similarly, researchers can gain insight into the mechanisms that occur at the very early stages of life, and what impact minor genetic errors have on human development.

Research into the causes of cancers and birth defects, on the cellular level, is necessary if we are to defeat these diseases. Stem cell research holds the most hope, for it will allow scientists to observe the mechanisms that result in regular cell production and proliferation, and thus determine what causes abnormal cell development. As Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

References:
[1] American Cancer Society
[2] World Health Organization
[3] US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
[4] Scientists hail a stem cell experiment, The Boston Globe, 12/11/2003



posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 11:38 AM
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I thank my opponent for his kind words and stimulating argument.

Many, if not most, of the arguments against HSCR are moral, ethical, or philosophical – as, indeed, are most of the arguments against genetic modification and other current areas of rapid scientific advancement. I believe a great many of these arguments have been dismissed without sufficient consideration by an arrogant scientific community that sees itself as being “beyond” such mundane concerns.

With the debate structured so clearly between “scientists” and “non-scientists”, “facts” and “fictions”, it is often easy to forget that there are legitimate technical reasons why research into human stem cells should not be permitted. The facts, in this case, are not all on one side. Indeed, reports of stem cell experiments that produced disappointing results are common throughout the scientific press.

As reported in New Scientist magazine, groups of scientists from the University of Florida and the University of Edinburgh have discovered that adult stem cells (as opposed to those of the embryonic variety) unpredictably fuse with neighbouring cells to produce abnormal hybrids that appear, to the casual observer, to be perfect new tissue.

Additionally, private companies including ReNeuron Holdings Plc., which invested millions of dollars into generating lines of stem cells from human beings, were forced to return to experimenting on mouse stem cell lines due to insurmountable technical problems.

These are prime examples of our woeful ignorance of the processes that occur at such a fundamental level of cellular biology. But it is not just the problems which beset HSCR that should give us pause, significant as they are – it is only now becoming clear that both the current state and the future potential of the technology have been grossly overstated.

The National Institutes of Health Stem Cell Information website has defined the conditions which human stem cells must meet in order to be of use. They must be reproducibly able to:

  • Proliferate extensively and generate sufficient quantities of tissue.
  • Differentiate into the desired cell type(s).
  • Survive in the recipient after transplant.
  • Integrate into the surrounding tissue after transplant.
  • Function appropriately for the duration of the recipient's life.
  • Avoid harming the recipient in any way.

None of the above conditions – none – have been met as at the time of writing. Far from being an inevitable consequence or our insatiable curiosity and generous research funding, the results of HSCR are, in the vast majority of cases, unrepeatable and inconclusive. Yes, treatment inspired by research into stem cells may cure one particular case of cancer, but the same achievement has been accredited to prayer, crystals and spiritual healing.

But the main scientific argument against HSCR is this: our knowledge of the universe around us is increasing at such a rate that it has become impossible for society to comprehend and understand the implications of each new breakthrough. It is imperative, not just for our continued moral evolution, but also for our continued physical safety, that we place restrictions on this research. This is ably illustrated by a quote from an article in Technology Review, written by the esteemed Bioethecist from the University of Pennsylvania, Glenn McGeewas.

“The emerging truth in the lab is that pluripotent stem cells are hard to rein in. The potential that they would explode into a cancerous mass after a stem cell transplant might turn out to be the Pandora's Box of stem cell research.”

Pandora’s box, indeed.



posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 04:59 AM
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For my second argument in this exceptional debate I will discuss two very serious, and currently incurable, diseases: Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Alzheimer's

  • It is estimated that 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's, with the number expected to be over 10 million by 2050 [1]
  • One in ten people over 65 have Alzheimer's, and nearly half of those over 85 have been diagnosed with it [1]
  • The overall costs of Alzheimer's are estimated at around 100 billion dollars per year in the US [1]

Alzheimer's is a very serious condition characterized by the gradual loss of brain cells, which results in dementia in the patients. After diagnosis, people with Alzheimer's survive about half as long as people of similar age without dementia [1]. There is no known cure for the disease, and modern treatment is focused on decreasing the effects of dementia and generally on making life as comfortable as possible for the patient.

Recent findings suggest that HSCR could provide a method to cure, or at least greatly slow down the effects of, Alzheimer's. Stem cells could be implanted into a patient's blood stream, from where they would be deposited in the brain and directed into differentiating into neural cells, thus replacing destroyed or damaged neural cells. A team of US doctors examined several post mortem samples taken from the brains of female patients who had received bone marrow transplants from male donors. They discovered many groupings of brain cells containing the Y-chromosome, which could only have come from the male donors. The existence of these cells in clumps indicates that the cells continued to proliferate after being deposited in the brain [2]. These results, while preliminary, indicate that HSCR may very likely hold the cure for Alzheimer's and other diseases affecting the brain.

Parkinson's

  • There are approximately 1.2 million people with Parkinson's in the US and Canada [3].
  • While peak onset is at age 60 years, Parkinson's has been known to occur in juveniles [3].

Parkinson's is characterized by rigidity and tremor in the limbs, bradykinesia, or impairment of movement, and postural instability. The cause of Parkinson's is unknown, but it has been linked to the malfunction and death of cells in the substantia nigra area of the brain, which produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Current treatment typically involves the administration of levodopa, a domamine precursor. Unfortunately, in many cases levodopa causes debilitating side effects, including severe nausea and vomiting [4]. Some patients may opt for surgical treatment, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), which involves the implantation of electrodes into the brain [4]. Unfortunately, neither of these treatments fully eliminates the effects of Parkinson's, and become less effective as the disease progresses.

As with Alzheimer's, HSCR is showing very positive results towards helping patients with Parkinson's. One of the more promising treatments is fetal cell implantation, where dopamine-producing fetal cells are transplanted into the patient's brain. Within several months after treatment, patients have shown much greater control and functional ability [5]. In the future, it may be possible to administer stem cells through the blood stream, in a similar manner to that being researched for Alzheimer's. These stem cells could then differentiate into dopamine-producing cells and replace the dead or dysfunctional cells.

Quite a bit of research has been done into finding the causes of, and hopefully a cure for, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Unfortunately, progress has been slow, due to the complicated nature of the affected area, the brain. HSCR has shown very positive results for treating these diseases, and further research may help eliminate these debilitating diseases, and increase the quality of life for many of the people affected.

References:
[1] Alzheimer's Association
[2] Stem cells could replace brain damage, BBC News, 1/21/2003
[3] National Parkinson Foundation
[4] Parkinson's Disease Foundation
[5] Parkinson's Information provided by Somerset Pharmaceuticals



posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 07:47 AM
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There is a curious connection between Robert Kennedy, science fiction writer Eric Frank Russell, Carl Jung and the ancient Chinese. They have all, at various times, been named as the source of the evocative curse “may you live in interesting times.”

There can be no doubt that, whereever it came from, the curse has settled upon all of us. Times, it seems, have never been more interesting. A brief flick through any popular science magazine will show you that our capabilities and technologies are increasing exponentially. Our politicians and governments are struggling to keep up, in fact – debates on new technologies, from gene modification to cloning, are always amongst the most heated. The simple truth is that our rate of improvement has exceeded our rate of understanding. It is no longer possible to keep up to date on every new development, which means that it is no longer possible for these developments to be regulated in a manner dictated by the democratic process. Should we legalise research that may unlock powerful, potentially dangerous new technologies, before we can understand the implications fully?

And then, of course, there’s the financial cost.

Even by the standards of complex, high-failure research programmes, HSCR is a remarkably inefficient, expensive proposition. Estimates of the necessary investment to raise HSCR-inspired technology to the point where it can even be tested in a clinical context range from $3 billion to an astonishing $45 billion – and given the history of scientific development, it’s a sure thing that the final figure will be much, much higher than any of the estimates. But even if we assume that the technology could be made trial-ready for the not-so paltry sum of $45 billion, is it really a good investment? I would like to illustrate what else could be achieved with the same money.

  • Effective debt relief to the twenty poorest countries on Earth would cost less than $6 billion. With proper investment and management, our $45 billion could eradicate poverty completely within a generation.

  • Increase global alternative energy research budgets by a factor of ten.

  • Manufacture one hundred space probes to the same specification as Beagle 2 and thoroughly investigate our solar system.

  • Educate every child in the world to Western standards of literacy and numeracy.

  • Build eight and a half EuroDisneys.

Of course, good capitalists will point out that money would not be “ours” in the first place, that the main activity in HSCR is being funded by private biotech companies. But biotech companies don’t just create money – they make it from you, the consumer, on every pack of medicated gum or tube of antiseptic ointment that you buy. Should these companies by legally allowed to spend such staggering amounts of money working on a technology which may never work, may never offer a return on investment? Should they be allowed to control a technology which, if it does result in clinical treatments, even if applied HSCR can meet all of my honourable opponent's "miracle cure" expectations, will be controlled by monolithic biotech firms answerable to no-one but their shareholders?

Could we expand our knowledge of human stem cell technology? Certainly. Should we, when the resources could be better spent on so many other worthwhile projects? Should we, when we risk bringing dangerous new knowledge into the world faster than society can monitor and regulate it? Should we, when the glorious potential promised by the advocates of the technology may never be realised?

It is my belief that we should not.



posted on Jun, 13 2004 @ 02:50 AM
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In my previous arguments I discussed two very serious types of afflictions that HSCR may hold the key to curing or treating. However, even taken together their effect on civilization pales in comparison to the third topic I have selected: Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).


  • 64 million Americans suffered from CVD in 2001 [1].
  • Nearly 1 million Americans died from CVD in 2001 [1].
  • Approximately 17 million people worldwide die from CVD each year [2].
  • CVD has been the number one killer in the United States every year since 1900 except 1918 [1].
  • One American dies every 30 seconds on average from CVD [1].
  • The estimated total cost for CVD in the US in 2004 is over 350 billion dollars [1].

CVD encompasses a wide range of disorders, from high blood pressure to stroke. As such, there is no one blanket solution to curing or treating CVD. While the best way to treat CVD is through prevention, such as eating healthy and exercising regularly, there still exist many cases of CVD with unknown causes. Regardless of how much McDonald's a person has eaten, he or she still deserves a second chance. Let us examine several examples of the progress HSCR has made towards giving people that second chance.

Heart failure, not to be confused with heart attack, is a condition where a damaged heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to support the body. Over half a million patients are diagnosed with heart failure every year in the US [1]. Doctors conducted an innovative study last year on 21 Brazilian end-stage patients, who had a high risk of dying and no alternative treatment options. Fourteen of these patients received injections containing a total of about 30 million stem cells drawn from their own bone marrow. The stem cells were injected by catheter and directed to the damaged areas of the hearts. Within two months, all test patients were showing improvement over the the seven control patients. After four months, the test patients showed sustained improvement in pumping and increased treadmill performance. The researchers were unable to determine whether the stem cells had differentiated into heart cells to replace the damaged cells, or if their presence alone stimulated repair, but what is certain is that the stem cells helped treat the patients. [1]

In a similar study performed with 26 acute heart attack patients, German researchers extracted progenitor cells (stem cells already developing into a certain type of cell) from the patients' bone marrow or blood and infused them into an artery. Per Andreas M. Zeiher, M.D, one of the co-authors of the study, “The infusion of progenitor cells was associated with a reduction in the size of muscle damage, a significant improvement in pumping function, and less enlargement of the heart within four months after a heart attack.” [1]

In 2001 researchers in the US investigated the effects of implanting stem cells into the brains of normal and stroke-damaged adult rats. In both cases the stem cells were observed differentiated into neural cells within seven days after implantation, and began forming connections with adjacent cells. After 21 to 45 days the cells had developed into mature neural cells, with blood vessels growing to support the new cells. "We've demonstrated that transplanted stem cells can survive, multiply and differentiate," explained senior author Daniel M. Rosenbaum, M.D. [1]

Results like these are indicative of the possibilities HSCR brings towards CVD treatment. No other options being studied can offer such amazing results. Surely we cannot stop this research now, when we are on the verge of something so great.


References:
[1] American Heart Association
[2] World Health Organization



posted on Jun, 13 2004 @ 04:09 AM
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Third Argument

I have shown in my previous posts that HSCR, despite the promises and predictions of it’s proselytising advocates, remains untested, inefficient, wasteful and ultimately dangerous. While these arguments are compelling enough in themselves, they do not address the most important aspect of the issue.

Important moral questions of consent and human rights have yet to be resolved by the scientific community. Instead, they have been dismissed – but we know what the results of unfettered scientific progression can be when they race into dark places without the illumination of morality.

I do not intend to reiterate the same moral questions here. There is, after all, no need – any person of moderate intelligence has been intermittently exposed to these concerns for the last five years, if not longer. Rather, I will just remind observers of this debate that those moral concerns have not magically gone away, they have not been answered, nor even adequately addressed.

As I wrote in my first argument on this topic, scientists in Edinburgh and Florida have come to the conclusion that stem cell lines harvested from adults will not be suitable for long-term HSCR due to their unpredictable behaviour and vastly decreased flexibility. This discovery has robbed many scientists of the moral high ground, invalidating their arguments that adult stem cell lines were given with consent and were therefore morally acceptable. Now, the scientific community is returning to embryonic stem cell lines for future research. This leads me to my final point in opposition of HSCR.

As one would expect of so important an issue, dozens, if not hundred, of surveys and polls have been conducted in a great many countries around the world. Around half of the polls which I researched showed, superficially, that popular support was in favour of HSCR, but a closer examination of the propositions and results involved gives a clearer picture. As I showed above, the use of adult stem cells is now considered impractical and unlikely to yield positive results. This, in turn, suggests that some of the polls that reported favourable responses to HSCR were unfairly weighted. When the issue of embryonic stem cells is analysed more closely, the poll results become much more negative:

  • According to a Harris Interactive poll conducted in the US, 67% of people are opposed to HSCR using embryonic lines.
  • According to a NCCB poll conducted in the US, 70% of people are opposed to HSCR using embryonic lines.
  • According to a King County poll conducted in the US, 69% of people are opposed to HSCR using embryonic lines.
  • According to an ABC poll conducted in the US, 58% of people are opposed to HSCR using embryonic lines.
  • According to a MORI poll conducted in the UK, 59% of people are opposed to HSCR using embryonic lines.
  • According to a Populus poll conducted in the UK, 70% of people are opposed to HSCR usng embryonic lines.
  • According to an IFOP poll conducted in France, 66% of people are opposed to HSCR using embryonic lines.
  • According to an Encuesta poll conducted in Spain, 65% of people are opposed to HSCR using embryonic lines (curiously, in this poll 60% of people were opposed to any HSCR)
  • According to a Newspoll poll conducted in Australia, 55% of people are opposed to HSCR using embryonic lines.

There are many, many more examples to be found, but the picture is clear: HSCR using adult lines will not yield significant results, and HSCR using embryonic lines is not wanted by the majority of people throughout the western world.

And that is the bottom line. No matter how accurate the hyperbole and conjecture surrounding HSCR may or may not be, the democratically-empowered citizens of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Spain, France, Australia, Portugal, Germany, Denmark, Italy, New Zealand and many other democracies have already spoken. The law, which serves those citizens, must be changed to reflect their desires. To do otherwise would be to undermine the democratic rights, not only of those opposed to this research, but of all citizens.

Regardless of the other arguments, regardless of the perceived potential, human stem cell research must not be permitted. It is nothing more, and nothing less, than the will of the people.



posted on Jun, 13 2004 @ 05:58 AM
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Despite the thought-provoking arguments my opponent and I have just exchanged, it appears that our audience is getting tired. Therefore, I invite the audience to stand up and come with me on a little walk. The destination is unknown, but I guarantee we will all come back feeling refreshed, and perhaps a bit more enlightened.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” With HSCR we have just taken that first step, with many more to come. The terrain ahead of us is rocky, but we have mastered tougher terrain than that. Certainly we don't want to stop due to such a minor inconvenience?

The ground ahead of us is unfamiliar; untouched by man. Let us send out some scouts and see what is ahead. Without this research we won't know whether we are heading into a clover patch or a minefield. If it's a minefield, than we shall find an alternate route. However, so far we have seen nothing but clover patches, so don't fear, my friends.

We have come across a large ravine. We can cross that; it's risky, but that's never stopped us before. Indeed, have we not discovered in our journeys that the highest risks tend to yield the highest payoffs?

Having crossed the ravine successfully, I am asked about the costs we are incurring. Some of you eat far too much! Regardless, think about how much we would be paying to get the same benefit at home: health club, movies, books, and what not. We are saving money by taking this trip!

As we approach our destination, some of you in the back start to complain. Perhaps you did not hear my full explanation as to why we are taking this trip? Oh, I understand – all you see from the back is a well-trod path and the backs of your peers. Come up to the front, where you may better see the majestic terrain we are traversing! Don't listen to those rabble-rousers; they are trying to deceive you. As you come up, I can see your eyes lighten – the full story is indeed remarkable.

We are back. See, I told you it would be an exciting journey! Now that you are refreshed, let me give my closing statement.

My opponent has referred to my many examples as “miracle cures.” Miracle is indeed an apt word to use, as the people who's lives are being touched certainly see their recovery as a miracle. I assure you, however, that it is not a miracle; it is science. HSCR very well may turn up treatments and cures for these diseases. Conversely, it may prove to be a dead end. How will we know our destination unless we take that first step?

I thank StrangeLands for the rousing debate, and once again I thank the judges and observers. Regardless of the outcome, I certainly have learned a lot while doing research on this topic, and I hope you have as well. Thank you.



posted on Jun, 13 2004 @ 07:40 AM
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From the beginning, it was clear that my worthy opponent and I were faced with a contentious, thorny topic. HSCR has been the subject of so much unfounded hysteria, and equally unfounded praise, that a rational, factual debate is no easy matter. The arguments arrayed against HSCR are often portrayed, by a biased media and scientific community, as being illogical, groundless and impassioned. I believe that I have shown that, rather than a desperate, irrational, pro-lifer’s rejection of new science, those who question the veracity of HSCR do so in the name of reason. I believe I have shown HSCR to be of exaggerated value; to be wasteful and inefficient; to be poorly understood and, rather than a miracle cure for all mankind’s ills, to be potentially dangerous; to be contrary to accepted codes of morality; and most importantly, I have shown that HSCR is unwanted.

My opponent has chosen to illustrate how valuable the potential benefits of HSCR would be, if they are ever realised. I think we can all agree that the terrible conditions he referred to in his statements are dreadful things, which deserve our very best attention. HSCR may, someday, provide the answers we need – but it may well fail at every stage, it may lead us, socially and technologically, to places from which there is no way back. HSCR may be the magic wand which will cure all illness and disease – or it may be a colossal waste of time, money and resources – resources which would be better spent on programmes and technologies that offer real, immediate aid to the suffering and infirm.

That, to me, is the crux of this debate. Should we throw away years and billions of dollars wishing upon a star, hoping that a morally-dubious technology might provide relief to humankind, or should we roll up our sleeves and start making the world better today? Would we, to extend my opponent’s metaphor, be better off not taking the excursion to destinations unknown, but try and better understand where we are now, before we move on?

I would like to once again offer my sincere appreciation to my opponent PurdueNuc for a fascinating contribution. I could not have wished for a more rigorous or absorbing introduction to ATS’ debate forum, and I wish him all the best in this and future contests.



posted on Jun, 13 2004 @ 08:22 AM
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Excellent work guys, a pleasure to read, nice and quick to complete also. Great job.

The judges are nice and ripe so I'll go pick a bunch off the tree and set them to work. Results in a day or so.



posted on Jun, 14 2004 @ 01:10 PM
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Ok, the first result of this tournament is in.

I would like to preface this by thanking both debators for such a high quality debate. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner.

For this debate, PurdueNuc defeats StrangeLands by a margin of 6-4. A close debate, and a wonderful start to this Tournament.

Some judges comments:

Both participants were obviously well informed. PurdueNuc provided references to all his claims. Except for a few mistakes, which I will list below, this debate went very well.

Using examples of the benefits of HSCR enlightens and convinces the audience. However, using five examples that make up 60% of all your text does not. PurdueNuc should have used some of these posts to react to the arguments raised by StrangeLands. In the last post, PurdueNuc did try to respond in a well-written and entertaining response that was unfortunately without much substance. PurdueNuc failed to explain why HSCR has more benefits than disadvantages. Of course curing diseases is wonderful, but more is needed to convince the readers, such as moral arguments or refutations of StrangeLands’ moral arguments.

StrangeLands didn’t explain all of his arguments well either. I think he is not explained well enough why HSCR is dangerous. He doesn’t he even say if he means that it is dangerous socially or medically. He used more argument than PurdueNuc though. The examples that show what the money that’s going to HSCR now can do were really convincing.

All in all, StrangeLands wins this debate. His arguments were much more varied and he responded to his opponents’ arguments better.


First of all, a big thanks to both for an informative, concise and respectful debate.
StrangeLands' argument against was very good, making good points and highlighting facts that need to be considered. However, in the end I had to place my vote with PurdueNuc, who I felt had made a better argument overall. A job well done by both!


Wow! This really was a tough one, I hope everyone else takes it easy on us poor judges. After reading PurdueNuc's first few posts I didn't think StrangeLands stood a chance, how wrong I was.
What swung it for me was that whilst PurdueNuc certainly showed the facts of the research, and backed up the case for it being successful, StrangeLands offered the argument that yes we can do this, but should we?
Now, I think I believe that he was probably wrong on a few points and that they shouldn't be an issue anyway, but he argued his corner so well I couldn't help but be won over. I guess that's what debating is all about, well done both you guys.


This was an exceptional debate by two very fine debators. This debate was a difficult one to judge, and certainly one of the best presented I have seen in all my time of judging. I highly commend and encourage both for their time and efforts. Sadly, though both are deserving of this win, only one can win, thus my vote goes to PurdueNuc. Again, a hearty well-done to both.


Great opening debate. Both sides made great cases.PurdueNuc took the lion by the throat and never let go. He kept hammering his points home, and wrote with passion.


Thanks to both debators, for the obvious effort and research put into this informative debate. I learned much, myself! The reading was easy, and informative. I must confess that a decision is diffucult and was one I considered for most of this day. Thanks again, for a delightful read!


Comiserations to StrangeLands. But I'm sure we will be seeing you again in future tournaments.



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