Reflections from the Front: Truth Will Out
Dimitrios Karussis, in “Worldwide Status of Clinical Experimentation with Stem Cells in Neurologic Disease”, Neurology 78, April 24, 2012, Pgs 1334-6, discusses current world-wide stem cell research. He introduces embryonic stem cells in his first paragraph, only to dismiss them quickly, ”…the transplantation of undifferentiated stems cells cannot provide a first-line option for clinical applications since it is associated with a high risk of potential carcinomatous transformation.” With the remainder of the review he focuses on adult stem cells, which provide a present and future hope for relief or cure for many diseases.
A few years ago in American academia, the “known truth” among intellectuals was that embryonic stem cells were the only real hope of the future. In a symposium I attended on the University of Illinois campus, 12 of 13 experts all confirmed it. The lone dissenter was a Roman Catholic campus priest. In another symposium I participated in, when I observed that no significant breakthroughs had been made in treating people with embryonic stem cells, and that adult stem cells already had shown great success, the discussant noted that since I was only a clinician and not a scientist, I couldn’t possibly understand the arguments. He did not attempt to engage my truth statement.
Two logical fallacies were employed in these settings. First, the appeal to authority fallacy, “since all the experts agree, we know it is true.” Secondly, the ad hominem approach “since I cannot attack your reason I will discredit you.” But as we know, the passage of time has vindicated the wisdom of our position.
In John 7: 45-52, the Pharisees used the same two ploys. First, “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No!” Secondly, when Nicodemus attempted to raise a legal objection about their attack on Jesus, their response was to attack him, “Are you from Galilee, too?” Interestingly though they chose to disbelieve, they based their criticism partly on their mistaken notion that Christ was born in Galilee. They were all in agreement, but had their facts wrong.
There are many who will choose to refuse the truth, but time will prove the veracity of our faith. So for those of you engaged in the daily battle for truth in the public arena, remember to “not grow weary in well doing for in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not,” and that “Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Truth will out.