Another attack on a researcher

This time it appears to be a physical assault and an attempt to enter a home of a researcher that works with mice.

The researcher described the attack in which people wearing masks attempted to break into her house during her daughter’s birthday party. Although her identity is being protected, I admire her moxy, she’s not going to back down.

“I’m a scientist, I do research that’s really valuable,” she said. “One in seven women get breast cancer.”

She also said she refused to move from her Westside Santa Cruz home, where police say six masked intruders banged on her door and tried to forcefully enter.

“I’m going to keep on keeping on,” she said. “It’s my home.”

The researcher said one of the assailants struck her husband on the hand with an unknown object after he confronted them on the front porch, but he is OK. She said her two children, 2 and 8, who were home at the time, are “terrified” but OK.

Are people beginning to understand yet that this is a problem for more than primate researchers? This type of behavior will only escalate, and it’s because the basis of the beliefs of the ARAs is totally warped. If you listen to what they say and what they do, they believe that science tortures animals, that the research is of no value, and essentially we are inhuman monsters that should be killed. Think I’m kidding? See the comments on my last thread.

The fundamental problem isn’t the absence of appropriate safeguards and regulation of science, we have plenty. The problem is an ideological movement that lies about how we do research, and the scientific basis for using animals in research. It is classic denialism.

If you don’t believe this is terrorism or that it will only get worse see the list of recent actions listed by the ARAs themselves. It’s not going to go away and seems to be spreading to the US. Researchers are going to have to stand up for what they do and not let themselves be intimidated over this. And if they do want to have a debate about the use of animals for research, it will have to start from the premise that without animals biological research is impossible. If you believe that animals shouldn’t be used in research, that’s fine. We differ in opinion. But what can not be denied is the critical utility of animals at all levels of the scientific enterprise. If you are OK with ending most meaningful biological discovery, bully for you, at least you’re honest. I don’t think the majority of people will go along with you though. That’s why they have to lie to support this ideology and that’s why they are denialists. Their position is untenable scientifically and politically.

Comments

  1. #1 Anonymous
    February 28, 2008

    “his type of behavior will only escalate, and it’s because the basis of the beliefs of the ARAs is totally warped. If you listen to what they say and what they do, they believe that science tortures animals, that the research is of no value, and essentially we are inhuman monsters that should be killed. Think I’m kidding?”

    I am a scientist who dose behavioral research on animals, and recentley came under some fire from some animal rights activists. The problem is that I was very supportive and even participated in the movement for gaining animals some legal rights, and using scientific research to support this. It saddens me to see how the movement has changes from concern and discourse over animal place in society to repugnant anti-intellectualism and fanaticism which seeks the segregation of human and animal worlds. I encourage those in the scientific community and other who still care about the legal status of animals to distance themselves from the “animal rights” movement and begin anew (maybe under the banner animal “person hood” movement??!)with a science based discussion (from neurobiology and behavioral sciences) of which animals deserve,and what type of legal liberties.

  2. #2 Alan
    February 28, 2008

    As unusual as it may look on paper, it’s actually moxie.

    Sorry, pet peeve. I’ll go back to lurking.

  3. #3 Whodunnit
    February 28, 2008

    It occurs to me that many of these activists have no idea how animals are actually treated in labs and such. I took a course that involved surgically inserting a catheter in the arteries and veins of a rat. It was actually one of the most rewarding practicals I’ve done. I was quite surprised to learn that the worst things one could do to the rat was to leave it alone overnight. The sting of a needle was nothing compared to the level of stress the animal would experience being alone in a cage. Rats are very social animals.
    If the activists were given a tour of the fascilities the animals were kept in, I think at least some would reconsider their prejudices.

  4. #4 Dunc
    February 28, 2008

    Good grief – fracking mice!? Shouldn’t they be going after pest control workers instead then?

    I can possibly kinda see the argument (not necessarily agree with it, and certainly not condone their tactics) when you’re talking about higher primates, but mice?

    I blame Walt Disney. And no, I’m not joking.

  5. #5 sinned34
    February 28, 2008

    The sting of a needle was nothing compared to the level of stress the animal would experience being alone in a cage. Rats are very social animals.

    I’ve had rats as pets, and they definitely are social animals.

  6. #6 Nomen Nescio
    February 29, 2008

    Orac had a thread on this incident, too, and i was among the chorus there who noted that these guys are playing with fire. conducting home invasions in the USA is asking to get shot; if they make any habit of such activities, it’s really only a matter of time before somebody catches a bullet. i hope law enforcement can convince them to return to safer methods before it comes to that.

  7. #7 random guy
    February 29, 2008

    I blame Walt Disney. – Dunc

    This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that argument. Bambi might be more responsible for the modern animal rights movement than anything else. I like that idea, it has certain irony to it. Who would have thought that personifying a fictional animal would lead some people to devalue human life in the name of protecting a real version of the animal? Realisticly though I don’t think Disney is entirely too blame.

    Some of the blame has to go to modern living. Its interesting to note that the most virulent animal rights people come from suburban or urban areas. Any animals that you would be exposed to in these areas live lives of little bloodshed. Most creatures are scavengers, rats, pigeons, cockroaches, etc. The few animals that are pets get feed from bags and cans bought at the store. To a human observer the city removes the tooth and claw of nature from animal behavior, human violence appears much more prevelent than animal violence. I think this atmosphere breeds the “innocent animal/evil human” dichotomy that animal rights activists hold. Compound that with the fictional depiction of personified animals in media and I think you get a group of people that are vulnerable to this kind of sentiment.

    I grew up watching wild discovery as a kid, seeing a lion rip the throat out of a baby gazelle every night kind of made it impossible for me to feel to bad about bambi’s mom. All this just makes me wonder how these animal rights people think nature works.

  8. #8 TTT
    February 29, 2008

    It has nothing to do with “Disney” or “modern life.” People have been projecting their own sentimentality onto animals basically forever, and by no means always for the animals’ benefit. Listen to hunters long enough and they’ll start sounding like Bambi-huggers too, about how cruel it is for the poor things to be overpopulated and hungry (because a billion years of evolution was awful, then humans arrived to make it merciful and sweet). Read back on the views of Teddy Roosevelt et al about wiping out predators such as cougars–because they’re “cruel” animals that hurt their prey.

  9. #9 Nomen Nescio
    February 29, 2008

    Listen to hunters long enough and they’ll start sounding like Bambi-huggers too, about how cruel it is for the poor things to be overpopulated and hungry (because a billion years of evolution was awful, then humans arrived to make it merciful and sweet).

    well, no. a billion years of evolution was awful, then humans came along and wiped out most of the large predators that had previously kept the herds in check. there are probably more deer in north america now than at any time in the past, even with less land available for them after we’ve moved our cities in; that’s why we need deer hunting.

  10. #10 Lab Lemming
    February 29, 2008

    Mark,
    If I recall, most of the recent home invasion scenarios you have described happened in California. Are these sorts of attacks also on the rise in states like Texas, where the traditional American gun culture is still intact?

  11. #11 james
    March 3, 2008

    “worshiping” human life above other forms of life and then torturing animals to over populate the planet doesn’t seem cool. theres cancer in my family. guess what, it happens. ppl are born , people die. just right now, theres too many being born and not enough dying.

  12. #12 Skemono
    March 3, 2008

    ppl are born , people die. just right now, theres too many being born and not enough dying.

    Therefore, animal rights terrorists are justified in balancing the scales?

  13. #13 Lilly de Lure
    March 4, 2008

    ppl are born , people die. just right now, theres too many being born and not enough dying.

    OK – who would you like to condemn to death in order to balance up the scales (unless you are offering to volunteer yourself)?

  14. #14 Cheryl Hoofnagle
    March 5, 2008

    Until recently I was unaware that animal rights organizations, such as PETA, are actually against the domestic reproduction of ALL animals. That means they don’t want people to have pets, period. 97% of the animals PETA “rescues” are EUTHANIZED! What kind of rescue is that? And yet people like
    Pamela Anderson brag that the proceeds of her movie “Blonde and Dumber” (or whatever it is called)are going to PETA. Does she have a clue? Sorry, a dumb question. Obviously not. As a dog breeder, PETA and the like are my Al Queda
    (or however its spelled).
    thetopdoc

  15. #15 Freehand
    March 5, 2008

    As has been noted, PETA “rescues” typically result in many animal deaths. They do not love animals so much as they hate humans, especially accomplished humans. They do not attack McDonalds or developers. The throw paint on rich ladies fur coats, or attack researchers or their labs. They do not spray paint bikers in their leather jackets, nor constructions workers with their leather toobelts. Just the rich and the educated, preferably when they’re not armed.

    Two years ago some PETA folks were convicted of “rescuing” adoptable dogs and killing them, then dumping their carcasses in dumpsters.

    http://www.petakillsanimals.com/petaTrial2.cfm

    If they come near my pets they will find that those critters are indeed my family, and I will protect them as such.

    Nobody can be a denialist and moral at the same time.

  16. #16 Suricou Raven
    March 7, 2008

    “They do not attack McDonalds or developers.”

    Oh, they do.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/474136.stm

    The ‘Bambi Effect’ is probably a contributing factor to the rise of the extreme animal rights movement, but its certinly not the whole story. I can see a few causes:

    - Cuteness! Animals are fluffy and cuddley. They can trigger the empathetic and infant-protection instincts easily.

    - Augmented by the Bambi Effect. Interestingly, dispite being in the furry community where anthropomorphic animals are extremally common, I dont see any animal-rights people in there. Perhaps because furs know they are enjoying fantasy. But for those being influenced on a subconcious level, the bluring of human and animal could be confusing.

    - The old ‘What is natural is good and vice verse’ fallacy, so beloved of anti-gay campaigners, works just as well for the animal campaigners. Animals are natural, therefore they are good. Humans are in opposition to nature, therefore they are bad.

    - The isolation from nature helps a lot there. Urban and suburban humans see very little of the violent side of nature. I am in what would be considered suburban to americans, and the closest to predation I have personally experience with is the occasional half-dead bird brought back by the pet cats. Unfortunatly I have to then spend a few days trying to nurse them back to health (Dispite a release rate of 0%) because, if I were to take the natural option of letting the cats keep them or the minimal-suffering option to breaking their necks, I would face many weeks of punishment from an absolutly horrified family for my percieved cruelty and lack of respect for life. Human rules demand that so long as there is even the tiniest chance of recovery, every effort is made to save them.

    (The next time a clearly doomed bird gets delivered, I am tempted to sufficate it when they arn’t looking – no marks to identify the cause of death then.)

    Anyway, my point is that humans are so isolated from nature that when they see even natural predation in action, their immediate response is to protect the ‘victim.’

    - The ‘moral crusader’ drive that fuels many social and political causes – the need people have to see themselves as the Good Guys battling Evil ensures that any cause that offers a black-and-white view of the world will always enjoy support. (See also: Most religiously-driven campaigns, many of the less scientifically-grounded environmental campaigns).

  17. #17 Andrea
    March 10, 2008

    So people are attacking members of their own species in efforts to protect members of other species? This is clearly not an inherited trait, or it would not have gotten very far in nature.

  18. #18 patrick
    March 20, 2008

    Although I do not advocate harassing researchers, I have concluded that there is a myopia about mistreating animals in pursuit of cultural or economic goals. To start, the food production industry in particular cafos (concentrated animal feeding operations) and the post production slaughterhouses, the food preservation and mediocre surveillance for food borne diseases make any protestation about how carefully researchers attempt to insure the ethical treatment of animals — ludicrous. Adding genetic insult to gaia we have corporations and corrupt govt. safety organizations using the general population and the global environment as test subjects for genetic engineering, biological cloning, mass distribution of tainted product whether antibotics, pesticides or even biohazards like prions. All the while govt and industry makes every effort
    to hide the truth about the highly unethical and unsafe methods in use in industrial agriculture in our so called modern world.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!