World Stem Cell Summit Day 2: Should scientists just stick to the facts?

Every once in a while something intelligent pops out of my mouth.

No, really.

Today I was part of a panel discussion on social media for the stem cell cause at the World Stem Cell Summit.

My fellow speakers John Hlinko, Amy Adams, and Don Reed all did a great job.

Something that one of speakers said in the session that ended right before ours stuck with me as I was giving my talk. This person said that as part of the multi-dimensional team advocating for stem cell research that:

Scientists should just stick to the facts.

I like facts (aka data) as much as the next guy, but when it comes to advocating for stem cell research, my opinion is that scientists need to go beyond facts. We need to use our authority to voice opinions.

In this regard, here’s what I said at the end of my talk. I’ve never quoted myself before and maybe it is silly to do so, but I said it far better on the spur of the moment than I could write it now.

Scientists should not just stick to the facts. They should present the facts and then based on the facts, voice their opinions.

What a great meeting this is. It’s an honor to be part of it. Facts alone have little power without interpretation and formulating argument… and I’m happy to see a lot of intriguing opinions being voiced here in Pasadena.


  1. I thought your session yesterday was great. The whole panel was compelling, and I especially liked your message. The gap between the researchers and the public is vast on the topic of stem cells–you are doing great work (on both sides) to make help close it.

  2. Thank you Dr. Knoepfler for speaking and educating at many levels, including the lay public. Scientific thought needs to be translated to the public, including our politicians, so that informed decisions can be made. My experience on Capital Hill has shown that many politicians are eager to learn from us scientists. Keep up the good work. With thanks and regards, Greg

  3. Paul, it was fun to be on that panel with you. I agree that it’s problematic for scientists to only stick to the facts. In many areas such as stem cell research the facts are complicated enough that a very intelligent, educated lay person may not understand the facts well enough to feel comfortable forming an opinion. I think it really helps to have scientists putting those facts in context for people.

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