An Annie Hall Moment: Krauthammer Faced With Contradiction of Groundbreaking Scientist

From Annie Hall:

. . . MAN: Now, Marshall McLuhan--

WOODY ALLEN: You don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan's work--

MAN: Really? Really? I happen to teach a class at Columbia called TV, Media and Culture, so I think that my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity.

WOODY ALLEN: Oh, do you? . . . Oh, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here. Come over here for a second?

WOODY ALLEN: Tell him.

MARSHALL McLUHAN: -- I heard, I heard what you were saying. You, you know nothing of my work. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.

WOODY ALLEN: Boy, if life were only like this.

Sometimes it is. Via Josh Marshall, Charles Krauthammer gets his comeuppance on some nonsense he wrote on stem cell research. Groundbreaking stem cell researcher James Thomson delivers it:

Krauthammer's central argument -- that the president's misgivings about embryonic stem cell research inspired innovative alternatives -- is fundamentally flawed, too. Yamanaka was of course working in Japan, and scientists around the world are pursuing the full spectrum of options, in many cases faster than researchers in the United States.

Ah, sometimes life IS like this.

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    Durrr (1.00 / 1) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 08:33:15 AM EST
    The conservative braying about how it is possible to completely undifferentiate cells - that's right, demethylate and acetylate exactly the right combination of genes - is so woefully counterfactual, I don't even know where to begin. Since I'm currently taking developmental biology, as soon as I saw the headlines I thought this technique would be extremely limited in its applications, but that the wingnut endzone dance wouldn't be.

    Looks like I was right on the money. Not only will this result in zero new therapies, but the theocons will try to use it to end any promising ones in the pipeline.

    Charlie (none / 0) (#4)
    by HeadScratcher on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 02:21:03 PM EST
    You are currently studying developmental biology.

    Mr. Krauthammer earned his M.D. from Harvard, is paralyzed (and has a vested interest in this matter), and is hardly a right wing religious nut - read some of his writings on religious theocracy...His family history has a few things to say about fascism.

    Until I know if the full effects of coffee, butter and red wine, I look at medicine as nothing more than the best system we got. In a thousand years they will laugh at what we once thought was amazing. Sort of like we do now with bleeding and leeches.

    Good luck with your studies.


    talk about counterfactual braying! (none / 0) (#5)
    by wumhenry on Thu Dec 06, 2007 at 10:57:17 AM EST
    Durrr, on what do you base your certainty that "this will result in zero new therapies"?  Do you know something Thomson doesn't?  All he said in the op-ed was "we don't yet know whether this approach is viable for treating human diseases."

    The policy that Krauthammer advocated in his op-ed is moderate. He's in favor of allowing research with new lines of embryonic stem cells provided they're not taken from embryos that were deliberately created to be "harvested." It's not clear from anything Thomson said in his counter op-ed that he sees anything wrong with that.


    Embyonic stem cells are still needed (none / 0) (#2)
    by lilybart on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 09:29:04 AM EST
    to make these "new" cells and I believe one of their tasks now is to figure out how to get the starter cell's DNA out of the final cell, or something like that.

    Just like fertility research, it takes embryos to refine the technology. I know many people who insist THEY are moral because they only implant two embryos during an IVF. Well, how do they think IVF techniques were created in the first place? and the on-going research. AND when those sainted frozen embyos are thawed, they almost never thaw 100% so they know they willo "kill" one during the thaw.

    Remember the line before that exchange? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 12:58:21 PM EST
    Alvie waiting in line with Annie, listening to the blowhard professor pontificate behind him, says, summing up how I often feel, "I need a large sock full of horse manure."