Bit of a ruckus breaking out in the comments of my jokey “Staff Shortage” post about the cloning of human embryos. I think the two Davids are both right. Yes, I should be cautious about speculation and yes, as a scientist I ought to try to share my understanding of the technology with others so that at least one tiny segment of the public can debate the implications of such work in a more informed way. There are scientists who have reasonably successful careers without properly grasping their own little twigs of specialized knowledge, never mind other branches of their discipline. Modesty doesn’t forbid me from believing that I am not one of those. (I have a crap career, but I try my hardest to to get my own stuff right and review other people’s work rigorously.) I had some discussions yesterday with a colleague who, funnily enough, is just back from a gene therapy conference [she edits The Journal of Gene Medicine], and I had planned to post a crash course in the cell and molecular biology of stem cell science here and to tackle the broad question of what therapeutic cloning is and isn’t about this week. So give me a chance, guys. But first I have to go to one of those quaint ceremonies where they bless the future work of collaborators in unregulated experimentation in in vivo cell fusion.