[EDITORIALS]Stop wasteful debatesSeoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk’s team held its “last” media conference yesterday. It took place right after the prosecution raided the homes and offices of key team members, following the university review panel’s conclusion that Dr. Hwang’s research was fraudulent. Dr. Hwang, however, did not retract his original claims, maintaining that his team still has exclusive technology and that he was deceived by MizMedi Hospital. At the media conference, 20 of his researchers accompanied him. He also mentioned new achievements of cultivating stem cells of an aseptic pig and cloning a new kind of animal.
It is now time for Dr. Hwang to lay bare everything during the investigation by the prosecution, which he first asked for. This debacle actually took place because Dr. Hwang failed to check the research progress because he was too occupied with his outside activities. It is not proper for Dr. Hwang to take public opinion hostage and try to convince the people right up to the last moment. That will do nothing but confuse our society even further.
It is also unnatural to see a group of young researchers standing behind him at his media conference. It reminds us of the time, a month ago, when Dr. Hwang was hospitalized with exhaustion, making us feel like we were watching a performance. If Dr. Hwang thinks that the missing stem cells will turn up and his research fabrication will be forgiven by such an event, that is his misjudgment.
We hope that Dr. Hwang’s claims can be proven valid through the prosecution’s investigation. We hope his exclusive technology and follow-up achievements are true. That would be a way to reduce the nation’s disappointment. But, it is a tragedy that even such simple hopes are shaky.
Until now, it was even more heartbreaking to observe Dr. Hwang’s missing conscience and truthfulness than to learn that there were no stem cells. We have witnessed many accounts in which scientists have placed blame on each other in most unscientific ways.
The prosecution has launched an investigation and we must stop any wasteful debates. It is embarrassing to see science research being judged by the law. However, the truth must be sought for our science community’s future and our society’s conscience. The stem cell debacle must not confuse and shake our society any more. The prosecution must carry out a thorough investigation to lay bare the whole truth. The people will quietly wait for the investigation outcome.