For now, be shocked with me at the latest report on “bio-unethicus” from Dianne Irving, PhD & C.Ward Kischner, PhD:
C. Ward Kischer, Ph.D. is an emeritus professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, specialty in Human Embryology, University of Arizona, College of Medicine. He is also Chairman of The American Bioethics Advisory Commission and adult stem cell researcher.
The New Tower of Babel
C. Ward Kischer
Reproduced with Permission
Survivors of the biblical flood decided to build a tower rising into heaven in order to reach God. However, God did not want this, and the tower, made up of inferior materials, collapsed. At that time God also decided to punish the people, who were of one language, by confounding them with a variety of tongues. Thus, they could not understand one another. The result was Babel, which means confusion.
This story is instructive, metaphorically. There have been several pretenders who have rewritten human embryology for the past 38 years. Ignorance of scientific facts is one thing; but, deliberate distortion of facts is quite another. In their search for what they believe as truths, they have used inferior and false justifications. As a result, their truths, eventually, have been collapsing due to inferior support. Their efforts have left a new tower of Babel, so confusing that we can hardly speak with one another.
Who are these pretenders? And, how did they become so dominant?
Harry Blackmun, Supreme Court Justice, decided to reach for new truths; so, in 1973, writing for the majority in the Roe v. Wade decision, concluded that the beginning of new human life could not be determined1 We do not teach such nonsense in medical school, and never have. This case hinged on the determination of when new, individual, human life began. Blackmun’s silly and pathetic conclusion has given rise to a plethora of fake science, which lasts to this day.
Aside from Blackmun’s false and deceptive reasoning there were several other major problems with this case, among them: 1. Robert Flowers, arguing for Henry Wade, District Attorney for Dallas County, Texas, was intellectually unprepared to plead the case for the unborn. 2. The court, principally Blackmun, did not seek out any source of Human Embryology. If there were any amicus curiae briefs containing facts of Human Embryology, the court simply ignored them. Had the Court apprised itself appropriately, the case for Roe would have collapsed.
The Roe v. Wade decision provided support for many subsequent and outrageous claims. In 1979, a frog embryologist, Clifford Grobstein, coined the term “preembryo” in a publication in Scientific American2 and claimed the embryo [now, the “preembryo”], lacked the requirements for a new individual human life until at least 14 days after fertilization, and also declared the embryo at that time was a “preperson”. He also claimed that the preembryo had a different moral status than an established embryo. These claims were amplified by a Catholic priest, no less, Richard McCormick3. Neither Grobstein nor McCormick ever answered repeated questions nor any attempts to dialogue about the issue. The term “preembryo” has since been rejected by every known human embryologist4.
Emboldened by the Roe decision, several women activists made claims that were not only bizarre, but, well, just plain stupid. Eleanor Smeal, a past president of NOW, in 1989 publicly declared “everybody knows that life begins only after birth.”5. This was also a reference made by Blackmun in the Roe decision when speaking about the belief by the stoics of ancient Greece. In order to make such a claim sound believable, such claimants had to diminish or reduce the significance of the human embryo.
Scott Gilbert, a Professor of Developmental Biology at Swarthmore College, published his multiple definitions of “life”6. Gilbert is particularly deceitful because it is rather easy for a college instructor to “snow” somewhat ignorant students. Gilbert’s definitions were a clear attempt to obfuscate the simple truth of when life begins.
The effort has been made to dismiss the beginning of new, individual, human life on the basis of size! David Baltimore, past President of Cal Tech, publicly declared: “to me a tiny mass of cells that has never been in a uterus is hardly a human being – even if it has the potential to become human”7.
Dr. Mary Hendrix, a PhD, and former faculty member of an Anatomy Department at Arizona and at Iowa, testified before Senator Tom Harkin’s Committee on stem cell research, and said the early embryo was “so small it can fit on the tip of a sewing needle”8. Hendrix, having had experience in anatomy, should know better.
Another example of absurdity is the claim by Bill O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox Cable News. He has consistently spoken of the embryo as “potential life”. I have consistently written to him in an attempt to enlighten him, and been told personally by one of his former producers, Mary Bennis, that O’Reilly had seen my letters. But, he has never attempted to respond to me, nor acknowledged my attempts to contact him.
Where is the fallout from such absurd statements? The sources of Human Embryology are not sought out by the mainstream media. The publications referring to Human Embryology are extensive, but they are written by pundits, politicos, lawyers, clergy, bioethicists and developmental biologists, and they tend to reinforce each other with fake science.
Jonathan Turley, a constitutional lawyer, has written an extensive piece on stem cell research and referred to the early embryo as “a holy dot”9. I wrote a rebuttal to his article, sent it to him, but he refused to reply.
Recently, there have been articles written by Maureen Condic, neuroscientist, Patrick Lee, bioethicist, and Robert George, political scientist and member of the Princeton faculty10. All three disregard the simple facts of human embryology, and, in particular the Carnegie Stages of Human Development, and claim the new individual human being does not begin until the zygote stage [Carnegie stage 1c]. That is 24 hours after first contact of fertilization. Within that time unethical experiments can be done, and have been. None of these authors have ever referred to the Carnegie Stages in any of their writings.
These are just a few examples of the myriad claims by fake science, which have plagued Human Embryology for the past 38 years. There are many pretenders who have overreached for the truth of science, just as those who built the ill fated tower of Babel. They have built their claims on inferior sources, just as the original tower used inferior brick instead of stone, and slime instead of cement. The tower came crashing down and the fake science claims are similarly crashing down; but, left in its wake are the remains, like the original tower, Babel. The situation in science today is dire because the pretenders will not discuss their fake claims. They will not admit they are wrong.
In all of the presidential Commissions established within the past decades, there has not been a single human embryologist appointed as a member, let alone been called as a witness.
It is not only authors who are pretenders, but certain publications are also assisting in this chicanery. National Review and National Review On Line have published articles with gross errors concerning human embryology, but have categorically refused any rebuttal. The Westchester Institute and the National Catholic Register have done the same. The American Association of Anatomists also has the same kind of record11.
The Linacre Quarterly, the official Journal of the Catholic Medical Association, resolutely refuses to publish any more articles by a human embryologist. It is the Editor’s job to select reviewers who are familiar with the subject of articles submitted for publication. However, the new Editor of the Linacre Quarterly, William Williams, is unable to do that.
How is it that these and other Journals and publications have virtually shut out attempts to correct the false science so pervasive in the literature? Dr. Dianne Irving has written extensively on the fake science12,13. I, also, have written many articles on the same fake science14. However, the pretenders keep on coming, seemingly, with little letup. Readers must question the veracity of all claims and use every source to discover the truth. Also, it is incumbent upon authors, editors and reviewers to seek out human embryologists and persons with resources on Human Embryology to ensure the most accurate information. These three groups of authority must finally become honest with their responsibilities.
The top several human embryologists in the world are authors of Human Embryology textbooks. It is understandable that they do not want to engage in polemics for fear of hurting their book sales. However, the amount of fake science being foisted on the public is reaching crisis proportion. These authors must now speak out and bring reason and truth back into the public discourse.
In 1989 I predicted that Human Embryology would be rewritten according to political correctness. My prediction has come true. Babel has come to the world of science, and, in particular, to the world of Human Embryology.
1 Syllabus” Roe et al. v. Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County. No. 70-18. Decided January 22, 1973, page 44. [Back]
2 Grobstein, Clifford. 1979. External human fertilization. Scientific American, 240:57-67. [Back]
3 McCormick, Richard A. 1991. Who or what is the pre-embryo. Kennedy Instit. Ethics Jnl. 1: 1-15. [Back]
4 Personal communication from FICA (Federated International Committee on Anatomic Terminology), 2009. [Back]
5 Smeal, Eleanor. 1989. Speech before convention of NOW. [Back]
6 Gilbert, Scott et al. 2005. Bioethics and The New Embryology. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, MA. [Back]
7 Baltimore, David. 2001. Stem Cell Research. A Debate. Don’t Impede Medical Progress. Wall Street Journal. July 30. [Back]
8 Hendrix, M.J.C. 2001. Testimony before the Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee. FASEB News, 35:1-4. [Back]
9 Turley, Jonathon. 2006. The Case for Macroscopic Humans. USA Today, July 18th. [Back]
10 George, R., P. Lee and M. Condic. 2009. Grail Searchers. National Review On Line, July 20th. [Back]
11 Kischer, C. Ward. 2006. The American Association of Anatomists and Stem Cell Research. The Linacre Quarterly, 73:164-171. [Back]
12 Irving, Dianne N. September 15, 2008. http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/em/em_132embryologychurch1.html [Back]
13 Irving, Dianne N. October 9, 2009. http://www.lifeissues.net/writer/irv/irv_170ama1.html [Back]
The following is from Dr. Irving, dated 5/1/2010
It has occurred to me from time to time that, because this issue has been so politicized for so long, these same deceptive people (across the fields, and on both sides of the aisles) that Dr. Kischer noted (the tip of the iceberg, I can assure you) fail to understand fully the larger picture. If they are willing to boldly lie about such long-known and internationally acknowledged fundamental and basic empirical objective facts of human embryology, then they are also willing to lie about any scientific facts — including those with deadly and destructive consequences to adult human beings. It is the basic science performed at the research bench that is then translated into medical applications, and incorporated into medical textbooks.
What massive scientific artifacts and lies can we expect to have medically applied to all of us — especially the false human genetics and false human genetic engineering — that we would all necessarily suffer from? Even now the before-isolated issues of abortion and human embryo research are united, as physician-researchers implant experimentally derived genetically engineered human embryos into unsuspecting women — and then aborted (naturally or by “choice” or protocol design). I could go on, but my point is that the related issues of abortion, human embryo research, human cloning, human genetic engineering, etc., have a far larger context that has yet to even be discussed and debated. It is just “done”, and even good people say not a word because their false “concepts” prevent then from even knowing the truth. This is why I sometimes use the following quotes in my writings:
As Aristotle so wisely noted over two millennia ago, if we are to be able to think straight, our empirically derived concepts of the material world should correspond with it. If they do not then we are precluded from thinking critically — we will have lost the Categories (Aristotle, Analytical Posteriora 2.19, 100a 3-9, quoted in McKeon 1941). Similarly, if people cannot even accurately know the empirical reality involving the human embryo addressed above, how then can they think critically or rationally about issues involving the human embryo, or reliably form their consciences correctly regarding it? Their consciences are truly darkened, leading not only to immoral personal decisions (Irving 1994a, pp. 42-62; Irving 1999a, pp. 22-47; Irving 1999b, pp. 203-223), but to immoral professional, political, public policy and legal decisions as well (Irving 1993b, pp. 243-272; Irving 1993c, pp. 77-100; Irving 1994b, pp. 82-89; Irving1999a, 22-47; Irving 2000a, pp. 44-55; Irving 2001a, pp. 1-24; Irving 2001b, pp. 1-12; Irving 2001c, pp. 1-17; Irving 2001d, pp. 1-32; Irving 2002a, pp. 1-22; Irving 2004, pp. 1-31).
As extensively noted, violations of the dignity of these early human beings are usually accompanied by the use of erroneous science and deceptive linguistic jargon in the attempt to justify these immoral actions. This use of contrived rhetoric to refer to the newly created human embryo or fetus is now amazingly extensive; for example: a pre-embryo vs. an embryo; a being on the way vs. an already existing one; a seed vs. an organism; a phase sortal vs. a substance sortal; information content there vs. information capacity there; a biological individual vs. an ontological individual; a transient nature vs. a stable human nature; a biologically integrated whole vs. a psychologically integrated whole; a biological life only vs. a personal life; an unconscious biological life vs. a conscious personal life; a lower-brain life vs. a cortical-brain lif”; no one home vs. some one home; a zoe vs. a bios; a possible or potential human being vs. an actual human being; a possible or potential person vs. an actual human person; an object vs. a subject; an evolving member of the human species vs. an actual member of the human species; no rational attributes or sentience there vs. rational attributes or sentience there; no human cognition vs. human cognition, a ball of cells vs. an organism. Politicized terms such as spare or left-over embryos or products of conception are often used. Further rhetoric includes the false distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning, the deconstruction of therapeutic cloning to mean stem cell research, and the deconstruction of totipotent to mean pluripotent (Biggers 1990, pp. 1-6; Denker 2008, pp. 1656-1657; Irving 1991, pp. 1-400; Irving 1993a, pp. 18-46; Irving 1994a, pp. 42-62; Irving 2003a, pp. 1-42; Irving 2004a pp. 1-31; Irving 2005 1-36; Kischer and Irving 995, pp. 4-13, 129-184, 224-247, 248-257, 267-282). As noted above, even the centuries-old honored term “conception” itself has now been erroneously redefined as beginning at implantation rather than at fertilization, even in the law.
Yet new, clever and ever erroneous scientific claims and linguistic rhetoric continue to confuse and darken the human conscience. Josef Pieper, a contemporary Catholic philosopher and theologian, recently wrote an amazing small book concerning the advertising and communications industries, The Abuse of Language – Abuse of Power, that is astonishingly applicable to the rhetoric found in these related debates about the human embryo today. Such rhetoric, he notes, is not new. Plato attributed it to the Sophists whom he described as, “highly paid and popularly applauded experts in the art of twisting words; able to sweet-talk something bad into something good and to turn white into black.” The truth itself cannot in all honesty be the decisive concern of those who aim at verbal artistry, he notes. Rather, as Plato forces Gorgias to admit, “such sophisticated language, disconnected from the roots of truth, in fact pursues some ulterior motives.” Language is thus invariably turned into an instrument of power. “The place of authentic reality is taken over by a fictitious reality; my perception is indeed still directed toward an object, but now it is a pseudo-reality, deceptively appearing as being real, so much so that it becomes almost impossible any more to discern the truth.” This is precisely what bothered Plato with his own contemporary Sophists. What makes the sophists so dangerous, said Plato, is that they “fabricate a fictitious reality.” That the real world in which we all live can be taken over by pseudo-realities whose fictitious nature threatens to become unnoticed is truly a depressing thought. And yet this Platonic nightmare possesses an alarming contemporary relevance, for the general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find out about the truth but also become unable even to search for it. (Pieper 1992, pp. 7, 18-20, 34-35).
This darkening of the human conscience on these various but related issues concerning the early human being is of considerable concern to the Church:
The end result of this is tragic: not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to be born or in their final stage extremely grave and disturbing, but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life. … [W]e need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. … Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 1995, pars. 4 and 58).
What is needed, the Church recognizes, is a cultural transformation: “The first and fundamental step towards this cultural transformation consists in forming consciences with regard to the incomparable and inviolable worth of every human life.”
[[“Human Embryology and Church Teachings” (September 15, 2008), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/em/em_132embryologychurch1.html; also published in The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Supplement 2009, (Detroit: Gayle), pp. 287-312, as “Embryology, Human”; see http://www.gale.cengage.com/NCE/]]
May God help us,