History has been shaped by three groups of people: those who wondered what was on the other side of the mountain, those who had no interest in what was there, and those who feared what was there.
Most human achievement has come from the first group, those who had the courage to go to the other side of the mountain. The second group probably stumbled on a few things by accident. The blind hog does find the occasional acorn. But the third group can't claim much. They were the ones who urged Columbus to stay home, the ones who refused to look into Galileo's telescope, claiming they already knew what was there.
Americans are descended from that first group. Our ancestors crossed an ocean to see what the far shore held, and once they got here, they kept going, in covered wagons, no less, with no idea what they would find.
Which is why I am surprised, as Congress faces the question of stem cell research, at the turn our national dialogue on science has taken. While the rest of the world moves at warp speed in every area of research, our national debate has somehow veered away from how to blaze new scientific trails to arguments over how to best limit research. Government serves a public interest when it regulates the products of science. Putting limits on research before we know what the product is can only be counterproductive. Besides, it seems so out of character for us.
By Bob Schieffer