Friday, December 16, 2005

Hwang trying to put his shoe back on...

. . . but he may not even fill his own shoes anymore.

My wife, who is Korean, watched today's news conference and listened to both Hwang Woo-suk and Roh Sung-il speak about the stem-cell controversy.

Reuters, in an article by Cheon Jong-woo and Kim So-young, "S[outh] Korean scientist says has proof made stem cells" (December 16, 2005), presents a summary of Hwang's remarks but not of Roh's. Here's a sample:
A South Korean scientist whose work is under intense scrutiny hit back at his accusers on Friday, saying he had proof his team had made patient-tailored stem cells this year and he would produce the evidence soon.

Hwang Woo-suk told a televised news conference at Seoul National University five frozen stem cells were in the process of being thawed for analysis. He expected results in 10 days.

"Our six research members made 11 stem cells and all confirmed this," Hwang said at the packed briefing in a lecture hall. "We six researchers have no doubt."
My wife thinks that Hwang is lying. She cited Roh's presentation, which followed Hwang's and which questioned much of what Hwang claimed.

According to my wife, Roh said that he had spoken by telephone with one of Hwang's junior researchers in America, Kim Seon-jong, and had learned directly from him that Hwang had asked him to fabricate data on the article for Science. Apparently, Hwang also promised to obtain a professorship for Kim and make him a team leader in the stem-cell hub if he cooperated. Later, Hwang threatened Kim with a lawsuit if he didn't cooperate.

First a carrot, then a stick.

Roh Sung-il is the man who stood by Hwang only a few weeks ago when Hwang stated that he had not known that two of his researchers had donated ova. Roh supported Hwang's claim and stated that he himself had handled that 'donation' and had told Hwang nothing.

Now, Roh no longer supports Hwang.

While one can reasonably doubt either man, my wife found Roh more persuasive because he spoke at length and answered many questions in great detail, whereas Hwang spoke only briefly and very generally, making imprecise claims and offering uncertain promises, but providing no hard evidence, claiming that most of it had been lost.

As one local wit, Sperwer, put it, Hwang's cloned dog "Snuppy" must have eaten the 'homework.'

We may yet have some time to wait for that second shoe to drop, but when it does, I suspect that Hwang will find himself, not Snuppy, in the doghouse.


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