Normal Limits

"Chance is the very guide of life"

"In practical medicine the facts are far too few for them to enter into the calculus of probabilities... in applied medicine we are always concerned with the individual" -- S. D. Poisson

December 03, 2005

NYT Editorial on "South Korea's Cloning Crisis"

Continued fall out of Dr. Hwang Woo Suk's use of his underlings' eggs for stem cell research.

How harshly Dr. Hwang should be judged for such transgressions is a matter of dispute... But what really torpedoed Dr. Hwang was the cover-up: his repeated lies to the effect that his eggs were donated by unpaid volunteers. These misrepresentations led his most prominent American collaborator to sever ties because his trust had been shaken.

Actually I believe Dr. Hwang has only admitted to ignorance of these problems.

The key unresolved issue is whether lying about egg donations suggests that the Korean team may have lied about its scientific results... American collaborators and observers remain confident that the team's achievements were real. But science is an enterprise that relies heavily on trust. The Koreans should not be surprised if their next scientific breakthrough is greeted with extreme caution.

I'm afraid NYT is being a bit harsh here. Is one research group's actions to taint the scientific output of one Department? University? An entire Country?

While their personalities are apparently disparate, I like to compare Prof Hwang with our own Dr. Craig Venter. Both scientists of vision. Both ostracized for the source of their research raw material. (Recall the human genome sequenced by Celera/Applera was Venter's own)

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