Dr Raskolnikov wrote:
think this article is written in a measured tone and is not at all worrying or shocking. It's essentially basic scientific research; who knows what the beneficial medical applications may be from the new knowledge and technical know-how developed from such projects?
I don't think the article
is worrying; the research itself worries me slightly (emphasis on slightly), not in it's current stage, but as they get to the more complex applications of it, it could produce less than pretty results (as it clearly did with the mice).
And I do believe the article is sensationalising the science; no, it's not a tabloid article, but it is misleading. Journalism articles, as a rule, contain the most important, relevant information first; each consecutive paragraph should contain less important information. The story leads with the possibility of procreation for lesbian couples, and repeats this possibility again in the fourth paragraph. The fact that this possibility is still highly theoretical isn't highlighted. You have to read rest of the article before you cop on that this claim is a bit premature (the most optimistic quote they have uses the qualifier "in principle"; I wouldn't consider that the basis of a lead in for a news story, myself.)
Aside from the implications made on the basis of journalistic style, there is the very simple fact that this is a featured story of the Health section of a national news publication. It is not in a science journal or even a science section - the Health section. The people reading it are unlikely to be science minded. Which presents the following problems:
"Possibility" in everyday language can easily sound like "likely". And when people read about scientific research that might improve their life, they tend to interpret "one day" to be relevant to their own timeframe, when it, in reality, could mean several decades from now.
Furthermore, they take the time to explain about sex chromosomes (something I assumed common knowledge since I was at least 11) as if to an ignorant audience, but then they skip right through the bit about the fact that this theoretical sperm is still only primitive and must go through meiosis in order to be viable for fertilisation. To me, that sounds like another rather large, complex obstacle. We can assume that not all members of the audience are unlikely to understand this, since we've already taken to time to explain to them the fact that women do not possess Y chromosomes.
The step from primitive to viable sperm put aside, it still stands that it's for people who are not science-minded (and I meet very few such people in Ireland outside of this forum), it is a misleading article. And as it's an article in the Health section, it's likely to reach an audience that are interested in the "we can have babies!" aspect and not the "this is still highly theoretical research!" aspect.