Emu Alert: James Sherley hates science

Many of you may not be aware of my silent fatwa against James Sherley. I guess because I’m generally silent about it, but no more. I’ve been pissed off one too many times. The history: First strike against Sherley is the way he presents his science at meetings. He has this totally provocative model about DNA segragation during stem cell divisions. Which is fine. Except that his data is very circumstantial and he has only been able to weakly test his hypotheses in very artificial systems. So when he has trouble publishing the data in good journals and when it is greeted with skepticism, he probably shouldn’t take that as a personal attack, should he? Well, James Sherley is a big guy. And he’s black. And he’s convinced that this is why he has trouble publishing his dodgy science. You know, because he’s a victim and all. But it didn’t stop with publishing. A few years ago, he was up for tenure at MIT. And, well, he didn’t have many papers, certainly nothing that was high impact, and he really didn’t have many students, and didn’t mentor many postdocs. Oh, but if he doesn’t get tenure, it must be because he’s black, right? Oh, and lots of his colleagues hate him because he’s a rabid anti-abortionist who routinely criticizes the work of people in his field, you know, the ones doing stem cell work in real organisms where every now and then a ball of cells has to be disaggregated. He had the nerve to go to the media with his sob story, and of course they ate it up. I mean, MIT doesn’t have very many black tenured profs, so why shouldn’t he have tenure? MAYBE BECAUSE HE’S A USELESS ANNOYING LUDDITE EMU!!! [Boston Globe backstory here. Both MIT and Harvard have deficiencies in minority and female hiring, but there is a strong case that Sherley did not have the requisite record for tenure on many levels, none of which had anything to do with his race or body type- Pinko]

Anyway that’s the background of my fatwa. His ugly anti-choice voice keeps surfacing in the media because he’s one of the few ‘stem cell biologists’ out there that will always have something negative to say about doing human embryonic stem cell work. And after all, it’s the media’s job to present both sides of every story, regardless of how absurd one of those sides may be, and they love it when one of our own turns against us. Recently, Harvard finally gave the final approval to two groups to proceed with their efforts to do therapeutic cloning in humans. This is pretty significant, given the fiasco surrounding the Korean group, who fabricated initial succesful reports. The guys doing the work, Kevin Eggan, Doug Melton, and George Daley are pretty stand-up guys, and they’ve been working towards this goal for a few years now. The ethical standards are exceptionally high and the public support is very high right now.
Enter James Sherley and his anti-therapeutic cloning editorial in Monday’s Boston Globe. [Registration required (free, sorry), or try the ol' dailykos@dailykos.com pword dailykos trick]

Here are some of my favourite quotes from the article:

They [Harvard scientists] promise that cloned embryos will allow determination of the cause of a person’s illness by analysis of embryonic stem cells derived from the person’s own cloned embryos. They pronounce that this research is too important to not do.
However, they fail to disclose that pigs will grow wings and fly before this approach leads to successful medical therapies.

Bravo James Sherley! The pigs will grow wings counter-argument has been successful for generations. Well played. Oh, maybe he elaborates on why he thinks these approaches will be scientifically unfeasible later in the article. Searching ……. not found.

About halfway into the article, we get to the real meat of the matter. Sherley opposes any thing that leads to the destruction of human embryos no matter what. Rape, incest, health, suffering. He doesn’t care. After all, embryos are people too, right? Here’s how much he seems to believe that embryos are fully functioning organisms that deserve full rights:

If the hands of members of the Harvard review board were sensitive enough, they could come to know human embryos better. They could feel that the smallest such embryos, like us, are warm to the touch, that they move as they grow, and they breathe just as surely as we do.

Are you fucking kidding me? We’re talking about blastocysts in a tissue culture plate here. Human beings are warm to the touch because we have an advanced cardiovascular system that maintains endothermy and a constant 37 degree temperature. Blastocysts are too small to be touched, but are only at 37 degrees because that is the temperature of the tissue culture incuabator we place the dishes in. They have no intrinsic thermogenic character. Blastocysts will move a little as they grow, simply because of the morphogenetic movements associated with their cell divisions. It is not locomotion. In fact, if left in tissue culture too long, the blastocysts will cease growth and development unless transferred to a womb. Breathing? We breathe using lungs. Blastocysts do not have lungs. They exchange gases through a buffered media that is kept in a humidifed incubator that we keep pumping in CO2 to keep the pH uniform. This is not breathing. This is passive diffusion. Dear god. My head hurts too much thinking about this. James Sherley, I don’t think that the Harvard board could possibly get to know human embryos better. You talk to them and they don’t answer. THEY ARE NAMELESS BALLS OF CELLS. What do they say to you?

58 Responses to “Emu Alert: James Sherley hates science”


  • Personally, I’d be all over the flying pork products. Then you could literally get pigs in a blanket with wings.

    Sausage glide, anyone? Teh?

  • Not all of them are nameless – one of them was named Timmy! And just before he was murdered when only 12 minutes old – 12 minutes! do you abortion fiends have no shame? – Timmy’s final words were “Repeal Roe v. Wade” (*). But no one listened.

    And what does it matter that blastocysts don’t have lungs? They don’t live in air! Ever think of that, science boy? They only need to breathe the spirit of Divine Love! So they can have spiritual warmth and be moved by spirit – just like human beings were designed to!

    And were blastocysts designed to be living outside a womb? I don’t think so! So if you didn’t keep ripping them out of wombs, they wouldn’t “cease growth development”. And mercy, they “cease growth and development”? Is that the new euphemism overeducated folks are using nowadays when they destroy human beings?

    And if you think pumping blastocysts full of CO2 is good for them, why isn’t that good for the atmosphere too? Well? You science types can’t stay consistent for two minutes!

    You’re right about one thing though: the Harvard board probably couldn’t get to know human embryos better. Their decision makes it evident they don’t listen any better than you do.

    (*) More here. A couple of years ago, the whole sequence was available on the Doonesbury site. It’s sad they’ve taken it down. The sequence is in the June 10, 1985 issue of The New Republic, but the full text databases to which I have access only give me a citation for that article. Those of you with real academic accounts might do better though.

    p.s. And if being “photogenic” means people think you’re hot in visible light photos, does being “thermogenic” mean you look hot in infrared photos? Thank you, thank you! *dodges flying shoe*

  • This guy is clearly the genetics version of global warming enthusiast Iain Murray. Except, that Murray doesn’t have a science degree.

  • as re the dailykos thing, there’s plenty of passwords available(some hilarious) at http://bugmenot.com

    and wtg on the post. shelley is clearly a cobag parading as an emu. he needs to be exposed!!

  • [Registration required (free, sorry), or try the ol’ dailykos@dailykos.com pword dailykos trick]

    Do you know about BugMeNot?

  • Heh, if I’da reloaded I’da knoweded that aif beat me to it…

  • I will back your fatwa with all my minions. Sherley is a full bucket of chum. He got booed at a stem cell meeting I was at because he was preaching during the comments (wasn’t invited as a speaker of course). Laughed out loud. His ideas are provocative like ID is provocative. When you tell people an emu is a beautiful swan, you are going to get blowback. He will not know peace until the fatwa is lifted.

  • Wow….I see we’ve got our extra-large serious pants on today.

  • The Uncanny Canadian

    Res, they are like XXL serious pants where I’ve undone the belt buckle. The worst thing is when I get going at 2 AM. There are no boundaries to my sleep-deprived depravities.

    Fish, I’m not totally convinced his science is wrong. It’s just that he wlil never be able to prove the immortal strand hypothesis using his limited and arcane technology. In the end, though, he puts his personal religion and politics ahead of science and is thus an emu disguised as a rhea. A massive cobag rhea.

  • Geek fight!!!! The glasses are OFF!!!!

    Do you boys build robots on the weekends, or just play D&D??

    Very cute. :)

  • We watch episodes of classic Star Trek and blog about them with the delightfully obtuse Woodrow. An a certain P. Punko.

  • Oooh, Doonesbury. EDGY. I remember Timmy. His oversized soccer jersey completely swallowing him. Also, being dwarfed by that ant.

  • HA! pwn3d by annieangel! She called you dorks OUT!

  • I seem to remember double-A making RP EAT IT in a big way. See you at the next robot war, RP? They’re gonna have Cthulhu-themed corndogs.

  • I love robots. Especially giant fire-breathing robots with laser eyes. Those are my fave!!

  • Cthulu-dogs? I am there.

    Re: the post

    My choice not to cross picket lines has caused me some trouble at my jobs. I’m not in a unionized profession, but i honor the line.

    But when my personal choices cause professional repercussions, i certainly don’t whine about it.

    I eat it.

  • I think what gets me is the pseudo-scientific argument for what is not a scientific discussion, really. I mean there are ethical questions, but they are not necessarily scientific. And it is certainly fine if your argument is “I think this is wrong for x,y,z religious regions” but don’t make some shit up.

  • mdhatter, I think you hit the nail directly on the head. If you believe something is wrong, you should refuse to do it and bear the consequences of your refusal. In so doing, you make an eloquent testimony for your cause. You may even change minds. That’s what Gandhi did, and that’s what Rosa Parks did. They took their stand and took the consequences, and in both cases that changed the world. What these conservatrons don’t get is that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t take your stand and be exempted from the consequences, and then still expect to have the moral high ground.

    This is similar to the “We want to control everything and yet whine about being a persecuted minority” syndrome.

  • You know, fellow moonbats, let us not forget our finest argument in these sorts of cases: the Godwin argument. After all, who is to say if these blastocysts were implanted in some random womb, say, Ann Coulter’s, that they wouldn’t grow up to be the Next Hitler™? In fact, if the random womb in question were indeed Ann’s, I think there’s a better-than-even chance that the lil’ tyke would be a mini-Hitler™.
    90dw1nn3d!!1!

  • Damnit! 3-B doesn’t know how to display a “trademark” symbol. That is a bad omen, you commie bastards!

  • OK, NOW I am confused. Initially, the “™” symbol displayed as several random characters of gobbledygook. After I refreshed the page (because it won’t let me post 2 comments in a row without refreshing!!!–grr), the “™” looks fine. What gives?

  • I’m looking at five TM symbols right now. ™™™™™

    Check ya browsa, foo!

    Also, that was hilarious!

  • I blame the nanoviruses.

  • Oooh, Doonesbury. EDGY.

    What can I say? When chumpwagons start telling me that the huddled masses of stem-cells are yearning to breathe free, I remember Timmy. And anyway MB-B probably totally hearts GT.

    ——-

    [To the tune of "Suburbia" by the Pet Shop Boys]

    Full human rights for all the blastocysts
    Anthropomorphia
    Fight for the rights of all the blastocysts
    Anthropomorphia

  • Could you grow stem cells to be like really freaky things or do they have to stay as stem cells? Like could you grow a pouch like a kangaroo has from stem cells and then grow some weird kind of stem cell creation in the pouch?

    Could you grow an entire colony of ears on some kind of stretched canvas of stem cells? It would be almost like living art!

    And what about designer cosmetic surgery? Could you grow perfect ears for the ugly? Or a new nose? Boobs?

    I know nothing about this kind of stuff, as I’m not a geek. If you laugh at me, I’ll have some big guy shove you in a locker!

  • Could you grow an entire colony of ears on some kind of stretched canvas of stem cells? It would be almost like living art!

    And what about designer cosmetic surgery? Could you grow perfect ears for the ugly? Or a new nose? Boobs?

    If they can’t, they need to get directly on that. That’s some science I can use.

  • The Uncanny Canadian

    AA, it’s all conceivable and yet way way way off.

    Yet still IT WILL HAPPEN BEFORE PIGS WILL GROW WINGS AND FLY

    Eat it, James Sherley!!!!!@2212111!@!

  • Wow, that’s pretty cool! Maybe you can grow a pig some wings. :)

  • It’s metastasized. Get thee to volokh but I assume your wisdom will shortly be needed all over the right wing blogs.

    http://volokh.com/posts/1170944171.shtml

    Eli Rabett

  • To that end, AG suggests going here:

    http://www.thechemblog.com/?p=403#comments

    These guys seemed pretty reasonable until the end of the post and in comments.

  • It’s metastasized. Get thee to volokh but I assume your wisdom will shortly be needed all over the right wing blogs.

  • This appears to not be spam. How unusual.

  • This appears to not be spam. How unusual.

  • This does not appear to not be spam. How unusual.

  • This appears to not be spam. How unusual.

  • This neither does nor does not appear to not be spam. How not unusual.™

  • This spam appears to neither be or not be, as usual.

  • This neither does nor does not appear to not be spam. How not unusual.™

  • finally a spambot with some taste!!!!!

  • In other news, quantum teleportation has been achieved. Coincidence?

  • This neither does nor does not appear to not be spam. How not unusual.™

  • a very successful site. Also very revealing article. Thanks to the contributors.

  • Not Constantinople.

  • Thanks for such a great post and the review, I am totally impressed! Keep stuff like this coming

  • Polished Brass Toilet Paper Holder

    Hi, need to admit fantastic website you have, i stumbled across it in Yahoo. Does you get much visitors?

    [What seems strange is that this spam is the first time this handle has been used for a 3B comment -- plover]

  • thanks a lot for this wonderful article

  • This is just the detail I was hunting for. I wish I’d have found your web site earlier.

  • If only I’d read this article sooner. I wouldn’t be where I am now…drunk, dirty, and living under a highway overpass.
    ~

  • Amazing how James Sherley seems to attract the spaminators.

  • seriously. that is one hilarious comment thread.

  • What a hyperbolic title you have there. Dr. Sherley “hates science” simply because he opposes the destruction of blastocytic human beings?

    And is someone really arguing that blastocysts aren’t human beings because they “don’t have lungs”? Are the concepts of cell division and human development completely lost on you? There is no “lung fairy” that waves a wand to cause a pair of fully developed lungs to appear out of the ether. All is derived from the first cell.

    Arguing that a blastocyst isn’t a human being because his lungs haven’t developed yet is akin to saying a four-year-old boy isn’t a human being because there is still no sign of facial hair.

  • No Dr. Sherley hates science because he is crappy at it and it makes him mad. Also he doesn’t have enough silly hats.

  • lungs != facial hair

  • cok guzel bir site tesekkurler.

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