Yesterday the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Life Sciences Communication published the results of a poll of Wisconsin adults on the issue of stem cell research.
I haven’t seen the actual poll results, methodology or the text of the questions, but the results are intriguing (and probably fairly representative, despite the small sample size, the possibility of UW science community bias, and the narrow context–the 2006 Wisconsin gubernatorial race).
The researchers found that what motivated Wisconsin adults to “participate” in the stem cell issue was the promise of economic benefit and an “interest in progressive science policy outcomes” (i.e., more taxpayer dollars for UW stem cell research). How thrilling for the UW Department of Life Sciences.
According to researchers, they could not find any significant relationship between religiosity and the stem cell issue.
What did influence voters on the stem cell issue? Mass media coverage and the “portrayals of patients who might be aided by advances in stem cell research. ” I can believe that. Who can forget the Michael Fox issue ads from the 2006 race?
Given the influence, I guess I’m not surprised that economic benefit and “progressive science policy outcomes” were the motivating factors, if the poll is in fact representative. If the truth were told (not necessarily the specialty of the mass media), voters might be more influenced by the ethical dilemmas and economic waste of human embryonic stem cell research.
The truth, for instance, that over a decade of human embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce one successful treatment for disease while adult stem cell research has been used to successfully treat over 70 diseases and conditions.