Hwang Woo-Suk is a douchebag - how does this affect stem cell research?
If you follow science news at all, you should know about this by now. On the off chance that you don't:
Basically, it came out that a leading researcher has faked just about everything he's ever done (except, according to NPR, the cloning of a dog). This includes cloning human embryonic stem cells.
I don't want to get into a debate about the merits/morality of stem cell research, since those have proved to be just as fruitful as trying to change someone's religion.
What I would like to discuss are the potential ramifications on stem cell research at large. I think the general public has very little idea why people are spending so much time and money researching these, and that this will probably make up a lot of people's minds that it's not something worth pursuing. It could even make a generally anti-science public even more so. How many times have you gotten the standard "Well, scientists used to think the world was flat!"? Now there is just more ammo for this.
In my opinion, someone prominent needs to come out and explain why this is a good thing. Yes, it's terrible that he was able to mislead people, but as soon as it was found that he was full of crap, he was fired, and his work has essentially been tossed into the trash. It shows the strength of the peer review and the fact that no work is untouchable, even one that people want very dearly to be accurate. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure this will not happen, and we'll see stem cell research become even more marginalized, since the researchers will not only be accused of playing God, but also just making things up.