“Scientific information largely ignored when forming opinions about stem cell research”


It’s below the surface, so I might just be imagining it (I’ve done that before); but is there a note of frustration in this Eurekalert article?

Scientific information largely ignored when forming opinions about stem cell research

For one thing, the headline is completely misleading. Where in this, for example, does it say that people are ignoring what they know about science?

“Highly religious audiences are different from less religious audiences. They are looking for different things, bringing different things to the table,” explains Scheufele. “It is not about providing religious audiences with more scientific information. In fact, many of them are already highly informed about stem cell research, so more information makes little difference in terms of influencing public support.”

“Highly religious audiences” bring more to their decision process than scientific information, probably because we know there’s more to the question than science. We do it just the same if we’re highly educated about the science or if we know little about it.

I think some scientists think that if everyone knew what they knew, they would believe what they believe. “More information makes little difference” – – that’s where I sense some frustration. But more information won’t change the fact that this is about embryonic stem cell research. No matter how much might be learned about human disease and health, these are still very young, defenseless, humans being experimented on. They’re not signing informed consent agreements. And we don’t sacrifice our babies to help ourselves.

9 Responses

  1. Jacob says:

    I didn’t read the article.  But I don’t doubt that there was some sense of frustration.  I mean, when someone believes they are speaking the truth of the matter and people don’t respond appropriately, I’m sure a sense of frustration does arise.  I’ve seen and read empiricists, or naturalists, become incensed at people differently interpreting some phenomenon through a religious lens.

    Do you know of any highly religious people that support stem cell research?

    If not, do you think that it is even possible to be highly religious and to also support stem cell research?

  2. Heath says:

    I am highly religious, and I support embryonic stem cell research. What I do not support if the destruction of the embyo. You can build a stem cell line from an embryo without destroying the original embyo… However some argue that each stem cell constitutes another embyo, so that is an area of the debate where highly religious people might disagree with one another.

  3. Jacob says:

    So, would you say that the issue isn’t so clear cut?  Tom seems to suggest that highly religious people don’t support stem cell research.  Period.  You seem to be saying that the issue isn’t so simple.  Does that sound like a fair description?

  4. Charlie says:

    If not, do you think that it is even possible to be highly religious and to also support stem cell research? 

    Hi Jacob, 
    Bearing in mind the subjectivity in the term “highly religious” I can attest to the fact that they can be in support of stem cell research, euthanasia, abortion, and even eugenics. I was. At the same time I was a Christian who read his Bible daily and prayed several times a day. I even would have considered myself a right of center political conservative.
    What I was very uninformed about at the time was not the science but the morality.
    My change of heart has had nothing to do with acquiring more scientific information or even more cultural, political information. It has come from viewing the Bible in a new light and having a renewed understanding of what a human being is.

  5. Charlie says:

    There are all kinds of views of what it means to be religious, what religion one practices and what degree and commitment is reflected in the term “highly religious”.
    As you can see, Tom was quoting the original author and responding in kind to the point he had made about a certain group of people who had already been characterized by their belief and their actions.
    Again, you are picking at the most irrelevant of details just to show that you can disagree with Tom in some way.

  6. Tom Gilson says:

    I don’t think I said “highly religious people don’t support stem cell research,” and I’m not sure the article did either. Now, it would be fine with me if that were true, since I think that would be a good position to take. But we weren’t talking about that, and it was not my intention to introduce that topic. We were talking about whether science education influences the attitudes of “highly religious” persons regarding stem cell research. That’s a different, more focused question.

    You might have caught that if you had read the article. It’s pretty short.

    (For the record, we’re talking specifically about embryonic stem cell research here. Other stem cell research is hardly controversial, if at all.)

  7. Jacob says:

    We were talking about whether science education influences the attitudes of “highly religious” persons regarding stem cell research.
    The question is how science education influences the attitudes of highly religious persons regarding stem cell research.  Do they reject science education?  Accept it?   Take some, leave out other as pects?  Etc.

  8. Tom Gilson says:



    I don’t think there’s enough information in the report to answer any of those questions. The researcher said “a lot has to do with people’s values.” That’s a separate construct, and as far as I know, orthogonal (statistically and theoretically independent) to how people deal with science education.

  9. Tom Gilson says:

    Speaking of the non-controversial side of this issue, here’s some very good news!

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