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Posted on Sun, May 27, 2012 : 10 a.m.

Stem cell editorial used faulty reasoning to make its point

By Letters to the Editor

It is not my intent to argue the pro or con side of stem cell development and use in research, but I do object to your fallacious reasoning in your editorial (Sunday, May 13, “Michigan lawmakers have no business meddling in stem cell research”) and the statement that "If there is any serious question in Michigan whether stem cell research is a valuable and morally acceptable means, it was resolved in 2008 when voters approved a constitutional amendment … "

I would infer from your reasoning (or lack of same) that anything approved by the voters and enshrined into law, like slavery was, would then be morally acceptable. I hope that you wouldn't find much support for your apparent position that anything approved by the voters is MORALLY ACCEPTABLE. The checks and balances built into our government has been an attempt to shield the citizenry from the tyranny of the majority.

I sincerely hope that your future editorials will be more thoroughly thought out. I can partially understand this lack of basic logic since most graduates of today don't go through the rigors of a Jesuit education that I was fortunate to do.

William H. Burkhardt
South Lyon



Mon, May 28, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

It's unfortunate that the author of the letter chose to end his comments with the reference to Jesuit instruction. It's a total distraction to the valid comments he made and only brings out religious invectives that dilute and deflect from the merits of the argument he presents. The real issue for comment is's self-serving, conclusory assertion that the morality and value of stem cell research was asserted by a 2008 election result. Democracy is no moralist. It is a system of populism ascertained through a legally-binding poll-a law passed by a majority of those who actually voted on a given day. That's fine--that's how the legal system works, but don't try to equate that to establishing morality and value. Morality would be fickle indeed if it was defined solely by the latest election result. Regardless of where you stand on stem cells, to argue that a poll determines its morality and value undermines any subsequent substantive argument for or against the topic in the article. The 2008 election amended the constitution of this State to enshrine a scientific research endeavor as outside the reach of prohibition by any state or local law. The medical value of this research is yet to be determined as it competes with alternative technologies--but the economic value touted hasn't come close yet to living up to the claims made during the election--even the most ardent local supporter left for a job in Texas. The research may be protected from proscription, but as we learn with medical marijuana, that doesn't absolve the work from all regulation. Laws- whether the product of representative legislation or direct petition-are interpreted and enforced mainly by lawyers and judges. Who can argue they form our best foundry of morality and values?


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

I'm not sure why this was posted as a featured letter to the editor. I thought that making comments that impose your political or religious beliefs on this site wasn't allowed.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, May 27, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

That's because you weren't fortunate enough to get the great Jesuit education that inculcates the views of the church as the truth.

Paul Taylor

Sun, May 27, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

Slavery was not established through a voter-approved ballot measure. I didn't have a Jesuit edumacation, and even I know that.


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

At first I was like WHA?!?! They posted a opinion that was CRITICAL of an editorial? Then I read it and got to that last little gem..... This guy is either trolling or really is this narcissist. Either way it made for an amusing read. However, please don't misconstrue any of this as a compliment "snooze."


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

"The rigors of a Jesuit education that I was fortunate to do"...looks like those Jesuits should have taught you basic grammar skills, because you don't "do" education, but you can "have" or "get" one.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Actually, "do" associates with "go through the rigors". So, he's saying not many go through the same rigors as he was fortunate to do in his life. That's ok.


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

I don't have a dog in the stem cell fight, and I agree that sentence in the editorial was poorly phrased. A bit like your last sentence: I'm pretty sure your Jesuit teachers didn't dedicate their lives to providing your education just so you could trumpet your superiority. Nonetheless, if you think the Michigan legislature's stem cell reporting requirement was proposed because our state representatives are concerned about the morality of the human condition, then you haven't been paying attention.


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

mr burkhardt:Your last sentence says it all as to the "pure logic" you supposedly advocate.... talk about 'foundations built on sand" or ( if you want to play 'philosobabble' ) " logics based on flawed epistemologies".

Basic Bob

Sun, May 27, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Mr. Burkhardt makes a valid point about the education system, even though he does it from the standpoint of imperfect epistemology. Many people base their moral imperatives on "because I know" rather than a reasoned and logical belief based on shared morality, personal experience, and rigorous synthesis of information. No matter the source, it comes across as self-righteousness. We should all be wary of accepting the popular view as truth.


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

You really had me with you until that last line. Not clear if that was genuine or in jest (which if it were, I suppose would be a mark of the best sarcasm).