Leading article: Clones, cons and censorship

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The Independent Online

The great cons have always worked because they give people what they want to believe. And there is nothing that the scientific community and the public at large have wanted as much a breakthrough in cloning that would progress the search for a cure for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Which helps to explain why the apparent discoveries of the now-disgraced South Korean scientist, Hwang Woo-suk, were so readily believed. And it is why the South Koreans were so embarrassed by the revelation that he had faked his results when this came to light in 2005.

What it doesn't explain is how it did come to light. It was not because of scientific peer review but because South Korean television took up the cause. Even then the government stepped in to stop its broadcast halfway through on the grounds that it undermined the country's reputation. Indeed it did, which is why a free press is so needed and why it should be given its right to roam.