Respectful Insolence

Better late than never, given that DrugMonkey has already been all over this. Unfortunately, there was another serious outbreak of antivaccine idiocy over at HuffPo that I felt I had to deal with before this:


It was a great day indeed. For far too long, animal rights terrorists have intimidated reesarchers into silence. According to the L.A. Times:

Competing rallies at UCLA today over the controversial issue of animal research are peaceful so far, with supporters of the research appearing to outnumber opponents by more than 10 to 1.

About 400 people, including UCLA faculty, staff and students, have joined a pro-research rally on the northwest corner of Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue, just south of the campus. The demonstrators are carrying signs with such slogans as “Animal research saves lives” and “Campus terrorism is not OK.”

As numerous police officers stood by, the pro-research group briefly traded slogans across Westwood Boulevard with a smaller, rival rally of about 30 animal rights activists on the intersection’s northeast corner. Opponents of the research contend that UCLA scientists ignore the suffering of primates and other animals used in the experiments.

Two men in monkey suits were among the animal rights demonstrators; one wore chains and climbed into a cage to simulate the captivity of the animals in UCLA’s laboratories.

The animal rights activists, who were marking an annual observance of World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week, eventually moved away, toward the campus, where they were expected to continue their rally and hear speeches.

The animal rights terrorists who have been vandalizing scientists’ cars and threatening violence are a fringe group. However, their voices have always been much louder than the “silent majority” of scientists and the public who support research that improves our knowledge of disease and develops new treatments, as long as the animals are treated well and suffering is minimized. For too long, animal rights extremists have had the public relations stage virtually to themselves, and this Pro-Test Rally was an excellent demonstration of what scientists can do when they refuse to be cowed. Remember, this is about animal welfare, but not animal rights. Animal welfare. Scientists are very much concerned with animal welfare, and animal research is a highly regulated endeavor. Animal rights are not the same thing as animal welfare.

Even better, animal rights terrorists who have been thuggishly intimidating scientists are now facing stiff consequences for their crimes, some of which have included arson, attempted arson, and other acts of vandalism against its professors and researchers, along with many unrealized threats.

You can join the effort too by supporting Speaking of Research and signing a pro-research petition. Here’s hoping that this is just the beginning of a much needed pushback against extremists.

Comments

  1. #1 snerd
    April 24, 2009

    Somewhere in a den in England, Morrisey is gnashing his gums in fury.

  2. #2 Paul Browne
    April 24, 2009

    Thanks for the support Orac, it’s been pretty overwhelming.

    It would be great if as many as possible could sign the pro-research petition and if any of you want to do a little more you can also vote in a poll being run by the LA Times

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/04/activists-clash-peacefully-over-animal-experimentation-at-ucla-demonstrations.html

    Pity I don’t have a hot line to PZ, he might enjoy this one!

  3. #3 Paul Browne
    April 24, 2009

    By the way the actual turnout at the UCLA Pro-Test rally was more than 700, the LA Times report that you cite was filed during the rally and before numbers had peaked. You can tell from the reference to David Jentsch being expected to speak.

  4. #4 DLC
    April 24, 2009

    Good to know that people are standing up for science.
    To restate what I’ve said before — I’m all for ethical standards in animal testing, but if A cure is out there for a disease that can only be found by animal testing, then that’s what needs to be done.

  5. #5 Sabio
    April 24, 2009

    Caution Heresy Follows:
    Can it be that these protesters serve our society well? Of course the researchers serve our society superbly, but perhaps these voice against some of their practices is also very useful. Yesterday I wrote a short blog on the Social Value of Vaccine Resistors.

  6. #6 William Miller
    April 24, 2009

    Oh, I’m so glad people are finally standing up against the animal rights woos.

  7. #7 Paul Browne
    April 24, 2009

    I can see your point Sabio, but there comes a point when protesters/resistors do far more harm than good, and in the case of anti-vaccine campaigners that point was passed a long time ago. There comes a point where skepticism and caution becomes detached from reality and drifts into what people here often describe as denialism.

    I believe in the case of the anti-vivisection movement that is also the case; like the anti-vaccine campaigners many of them they rely to a great extent on lies, misrepresentation and distortion to advance their cause, often with the help of an over credulous media.

    In the case of Pro-Test UCLA there is also the issue of violent extremism, which while comitted by a small minority has the tacit support of a sizeable minority of AR activists, just look up the statements made by some activists in news reports on Wednesday’s rallies(for example http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/stories/2009/apr/23/sdfsdf/) with them is there any possibility of real dialog?. While researchers are afraid to discuss animal research because they fear being targeted there is little room for any real dialog and the progress such dialog can sometimes bring. A major objective of the Pro-Test rally was to allow researchers to face down the extremists and to enable others to stand with them as they did so, an objective that I think was realised, in order to give researchers the confidence to enter into dialog and debate with the more reasonable AR activists, and more importantly with the public at large.

  8. #8 Scott Campbell
    April 24, 2009

    I deplore the use of violence and vandalism by the extremists of the animal rights movement.

    And I support animal rights.

    I think that positioning the use of animals in testing as being “pro-science” is crafty but unfair.

    I am pro-science, but against using animals in testing.

    I think what often gets lost in this debate is that many of us who support animal rights see this as a fundamental ethical issue. This stems from believing that the most logical, scientifically-defensible basis for granting rights to any animal (including the human animal) is sentience, not cognitive capacity.

    Perhaps you could think of it this way, what criteria do we use saying that ALL humans have the right to life and liberty? What basis covers infants, the severely mentally challenged, and other humans who clearly lack the cognitive basis of mature healthy adult humans?

    It seems to me that there are only two possible criteria for granting rights to all humans – one is sentience, the other is membership in our own species.

    If we opt for the latter, then we should at least recognize that this is purely human-centric prejudice, not science. Most of the times, the logic I hear from the pro-testing camp boils down to simple speciesism. That certainly was the case in the videos posted here. We simply state that human suffering matters more than the suffering of other animals. That to me is not defensible either philosophically or scientifically. It’s just dogma — non religious perhaps, but dogma nonetheless.

  9. #9 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    This stems from believing that the most logical, scientifically-defensible basis for granting rights to any animal (including the human animal) is sentience, not cognitive capacity.

    In principle I agree. However, to the best of our current knowledge, the majority of animals are not sentient. (Assuming you mean “self-aware” rather than simply “having sensory input from the environment.”) Therefore, if that is your criteria, you should be ok with about 99% of research–research on chimpanzees and other primates is really quite rare and I’ve never even heard or research on dolphins or elephants that is not intended to benefit the animals directly.)

    Furthermore, one should remember that animals are not cognitively impaired people. One must keep their needs in mind when considering what is ethical and what is not. Consider, for example, the life of the average lab mouse. What do mice want? Company (they’re generally social animals), a place to hide and feel safe, enough food, and protection from pain, predators, etc. Lab mice are kept in family groups, generally have access to food (the IACUC rules on when you can deprive a mouse of food or water are VERY strict), rarely suffer major pain or distress in their lives (again, the IACUC rules for how much distress an animal can be subjected to are actually far stricter than IRB rules for what a (consenting) human can be subjected to–as they should be since there’s no way to get consent from a mouse), and usually live longer–certainly have a higher chance of surviving infancy–than a field or house mouse. How are these mice’s needs not being met?

    Finally, in all seriousness, how would you propose studying questions like how metastatic disease progresses in a living organism–and what decreases the incidence of metastasis–without an animal model? I’m very pro-decreasing the use of animals in the lab–for economic grounds as much as anything I must admit–and would be happy if you could give me an alternative. Seriously.

  10. #10 DrugMonkey
    April 24, 2009

    Thanks for highlighting the event Orac.

    Everyone, the LAT poll has been going back and forth so don’t forget to clear your browser cache and keep voting (and spread the news.)

  11. #11 Alex Reynolds
    April 24, 2009

    Death row inmates would be the logical alternative :)

  12. #12 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    Death row inmates would be the logical alternative :)

    I have to ask, being sarcasm impaired: do you really want me to go over all the reasons that that would be a bad idea?

  13. #13 Paul Browne
    April 24, 2009

    “I have to ask, being sarcasm impaired: do you really want me to go over all the reasons that that would be a bad idea?”

    LOL, and the first thing we’d need to do is to extend the range of crimes punishable by the death penalty, to ensure there are enough subjects.

    Perhaps we could start with arsonists…

  14. #14 Scott Campbell
    April 24, 2009

    Dianne, my definition of sentience includes self-awareness, but not self-consciousness. I would argue that any animal that can feel pain or pleasure has an incipient self-awareness. For instance, when an animal flees from a dangerous situation, it is implicit that it is aware that “it” is in danger, not some other being. This is different than our own self-consciousness, which I would define colloquially as awareness of our self-awareness. Some animals most likely possess this level of self-conscious (particularly many primates). But I use the definition of sentience above as my basis for defining animal rights (and remember animal rights INCLUDES human rights — I find it interesting that many of my fellow evolutionists still speak as if there are animals and then there are humans!). Consequently, I would see that most animals are in fact sentient.

    As Jeremy Bentham, the great philosopher, said, “The day may come, when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognised, that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is there that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversible animal than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month old? But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but Can they suffer?”

    It is interesting to me that on one level, our society recognizes that it is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering to non-human animals — we have criminal laws against cruelty to animals. We recognize that non-human animals have some moral status. I am just arguing that we extend it logically to it’s conclusion.

    Objections to using sentience (as defined above) usually boil down to speciesism. To paraphrase Gary Francione, why is the ability to do calculus morally better than the ability to fly with your wings or to recognize yourself in a mirror rather than in a scent that you left on a bush? Presumably one is better because only because humans have the one characteristic.

    A belief in animal rights does pose some major inconveniences for humanity, since it may mean that we cannot always do research for diseases as we might wish. But rights are always inconvenient to someone. That’s why we have enshrined human right in legal documents so they can be enforced. But in the same way that most of us would find it morally repugnant to experiment on the mentally challenged, or on another race, those of us on the animal rights side find it morally repugnant to use non-human animals as means to human ends.

    Furthermore, while there is no immediate replacement for some forms of medical research, human ingenuity often kicks in when it has no alternative. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

  15. #15 Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac
    April 24, 2009

    Objections to using sentience (as defined above) usually boil down to speciesism. To paraphrase Gary Francione, why is the ability to do calculus morally better than the ability to fly with your wings or to recognize yourself in a mirror rather than in a scent that you left on a bush? Presumably one is better because only because humans have the one characteristic.

    Really? I’m all for treating animals with as much respect as possible, but this arguement isn’t logical at all. Francione couldn’t sit around all day talking about the Morals of “speciesism” without that calculus-thinking brain of his, even if he did trade it for wings and the ability to recognize scent. Personally, i’m glad I can weigh the cost-benifit analysis of animal testing, and with such an ability, comes the requirement to use it respectfully.

    Also, i have a problem with the “speciesism” word. It implies I prefer one species over another, when that is a simplification and misrepresentation. I love my mate and would do anything to protect her. If i encounter a Lion in the wilderness who need to feed it’s mate, will it not eat me because it doesn’t want to be a “species-ist biggot”. Same applies for animal testing. I don’t have to eat animals anymore to survive, but my threats come in the form of diseases and cancers. If I have to choose the life of a mouse or my wife, it’s not “speciesism” to choose my wife.

  16. #16 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but Can they suffer?”

    Fine, agreed even. But my contention is that a lab mouse does not suffer more and indeed suffers less than a field or house mouse. I’d like you to address this premise, if you are interested. Again, if we have the welfare of animals in mind, we must remember that not all animals are humans and that our assumptions of what a good life is are not those of every animal. Especially for non-primates.

    For example, “resucing” a mouse and releasing it in an open field where it has no place to hide and no idea which way to run is quite cruel to the animal. Far more so than keeping it safely in a lab with its litter mates in a warm, safe environment where it has both food and hiding places.

  17. #17 BB
    April 24, 2009

    The concept of “rights” accomapnies the concept of moral choices. I love my dogs but I don’t mistake for a moment that they are moral beings.

  18. #18 Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac
    April 24, 2009

    It is interesting to me that on one level, our society recognizes that it is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering to non-human animals — we have criminal laws against cruelty to animals. We recognize that non-human animals have some moral status. I am just arguing that we extend it logically to it’s conclusion.

    So, just curious, do you not take Anti-biotics, or remove a tick from your skin, or remove tapeworms from your body? Even if they are detrimental to your health? What right do you have to exist anymore than those animals? Isn’t this the “logical Conclusion” of the line of thinking you are proposing.

    I’m just curious on what draws the line for you between cute fuzzy mice and cute 6′ long tapeworms in your gut.

  19. #19 BB
    April 24, 2009

    Sorry for the error, should have written, “I love my dogs, but I don’t mistake for a moment that they are not moral beings.”

  20. #20 bob
    April 24, 2009

    Accusations of “species-ism” have always struck me as specious. (Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week. Try the veal. (Oh, I’m on a roll!)) For instance, I’ve heard Peter Singer say things like, “well, you wouldn’t eat a human, so per evolution you also shouldn’t eat primates, and all other animals are just as connected!” So, he’s saying that all non-vegetarians are species-ists when they eat meat.

    Well, he’s being just as arbitrarily prejudiced as anyone else, he’s merely put his line in the sand in a different place. Per evolution, we’re connected to plants too! And bacteria! If you don’t put the line *somewhere*, you’re going to be committing a holocaust every time you flush the toilet. I personally draw the line at primates. Vegetarians put it at animals, or often only mammals. But it’s still an arbitrary line.

  21. #21 Tracy W
    April 24, 2009

    Perhaps you could think of it this way, what criteria do we use saying that ALL humans have the right to life and liberty? What basis covers infants, the severely mentally challenged, and other humans who clearly lack the cognitive basis of mature healthy adult humans?

    But we don’t say that all humans have the right to liberty. Children are limited in their freedoms, as are the severly mentally challenged and other humans who clearly lack the cognitive basis of mature healthy adults. For example, my brother received a severe brain injury and during his recovery he was shifted to a unit devoted to rehabilitating adults less than 65 with brain injuries, which had locks on the entrances and exits because sometimes a brain injury results in a person being a severe danger to themselves or others, for example an injury can result in a brain ignoring everything on its left-hand side or right-hand side, and since the brain was injured it can’t monitor itself to realise that it’s missing half the world, and people who don’t believe in half of the world are at real danger crossing roads or a danger to others in trying to drive a car. So my brother was legally deprived of his liberty.

    Another example is people whose mental illnesses lead them to be violent to others.

    Nor do we have a right to life. The police can kill you by accident, and, oh well, hard luck. International war law allows both for compulsory conscription and some levels of civilian casulties in wars.

    Rights are how we regulate interactions within society, they’re not handed down by some grand authority up in the sky.

    It seems to me that there are only two possible criteria for granting rights to all humans – one is sentience, the other is membership in our own species.

    Many countries don’t grant rights to all humans, in allowing abortion on the decision of the pregnant woman. I am in favour of abortion myself, but I am well aware that a living fetus is a living human being. I just, for a variety of reasons, weigh the mother’s decision more importantly than that.

    I do agree with you though that the moral use of animals in medical research is outside the realm of science.

    What I do think is that animal protestors are breaching the rules of society. There are certain decisions on which society has to make group decisions, eg what counts as murder. Most rich countries in the world have debated animal research and decided to go with it, with restrictions. The animal protestors are defying that decision and trying to bully researchers out of holding it, while still participtaing in the various other benefits of society such as police protection. They are anti-society, not anti-science.

  22. #22 Kemist
    April 24, 2009

    Furthermore, while there is no immediate replacement for some forms of medical research, human ingenuity often kicks in when it has no alternative. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

    Innovation of that scale takes a lot of time and money, which is already quite sarce in science at most times (think last 8 years in US, and now in Canada). I don’t think you have an idea of just how much of these would be necessary. Would you be ready to promote the expense to tax payers (from whom the great majority of the funding would necessarily come, since no company in its right mind would fund it) ? Would you be ready to explain to a ward of sick children and their parents that their cure must wait, that they may have to sacrifice their lives to those of mice ?

    But if you have a paycheck for me, count me in. I think it would be wondrous multidisciplinary research. But scientists can’t live on love and air (we, you know, need to eat also), and life sciences have much more expenses than just paper and chalk.

    Another point is that a majority of testing is done on lab-bred (and a lot of the time, modified) animals. Animals that generally cannot survive for a meaningful amount of time outside lab conditions. For example, my lab works with Nu-mice. Those are hairless mice which lack a component of their immune system (they are kind of cute). If they are let out of their sterile, filtered air environment, they soon die of infection. Indeed, people who work with those have to be very meticulous to avoid contamination. What would be the point of freeing them ?

    What you call “speciesism” is the norm in the (real) natural world. Species that transmit their genes by competing with others thrive. Others die. I agree that our consciousness allows us a greater vision than other animals, and that we may do “better”. But we need to think about what “better” really means. If it means taking care not to destroy our environment and biodiversity, I totally agree, because, first and foremost, it is in our best interest.

    However, standalone “rights” are meaningless. You want give those “rights” to all mammals ? Fine. Why ? Because they look like us ? Some cephalopods are pretty smart also. Smarter than the dumbest mammals. So, rights for them, too ? How about birds ? Insects ? Plants ? Bacteria ? We share common ancestors with all of them. Why would nerves give some species superior rights ? Isn’t it another form of speciesism to think that way ?

    I think both extreme animal rights movements and extreme mistreatment of animals come from the same problem : forgetting that we humans are, first and foremost, animals ourselves.

  23. #23 Paul Browne
    April 24, 2009

    I agree with Kemist, it’s pointless to talk of animals having rights when we wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) intervene if we saw one animal in the wild kill another, when we would certainly do so (or at least we should do so) if two humans were involved. Domestic animals are of course different, but there concepts such as property rights and duty of care come into play.I would certainly agree that we have responsibilities to look after the welfare of the animals we use, in research and elsewhere, but this is not the same as granting them rights.

  24. #24 MBA
    April 24, 2009

    You are what you do, not what you say.

    It is fine for people to be “against” animal research. They have a right to their opinions. But once you torch a car, harass people at their homes or businesses, injure or kill another person, you no longer get to claim an ideology. You are what you do, period. You are a psychopath, an arsonist, a stalker. Give whatever reason you want for your actions. No one should listen to these so-called “reasons.” They are excuses to behave like a psychopath, nothing more. Does anyone really care WHY Manson killed the Tate family or the LaBiancas? No one should be paying any attention to his so-called justifications. He killed them because he is a murderer, period. Does anyone care WHY those people set the UCLA scientist’s car on fire? Those people are criminal arsonists and potential murderers, period. Their ideology is merely an excuse to act out their pathological wishes. Whatever reasons they give should be totally discounted. You are what you do, not what you say.

  25. #25 Rogue Epidemiologist
    April 24, 2009

    The poll has been Pharyngulated.

    Honestly, I have to wonder why the anti-science terrorism hasn’t been a problem at Berkeley. When I was there, sure, the hippies trashed a transgenic cornfield, but there’s been nothing on the scale of what’s happened at UCLA.

    I hope I didn’t just jinx my alma mater.

    GO BEARS!

  26. #26 Phoenix Woman
    April 24, 2009

    Can it be that these protesters serve our society well? Of course the researchers serve our society superbly, but perhaps these voice against some of their practices is also very useful.

    “Can it be that Ted Bundy served our society well? Of course, the young girls and women he killed serve our society superbly, but perhaps their gruesome rapes and murders at Bundy’s hands was also very useful.”

    Hey, makes about the same amount of sense (that is, none).

  27. #27 Michael Simpson
    April 24, 2009

    The choice between an animal and human life is easy–I’ll choose the human one. This research (whether for Big Pharma or an NIH study) require animals, and that’s that. Philosophical discussions are not going to convince those of us who have used or continue to use animal models for research.

    Other than some non-scientific, nearly religious perspective, when did an animal life become more important than a human one?

  28. #28 Michael Simpson
    April 24, 2009

    One of the comments in the LA Times article said this:

    I bet the Nazi doctors and the racist syphilis experiments, among others, also made or could have made certain biomedical breakthroughs – maybe we should reinstate those, too? They had amazingly thorough rationalizations for why those were OK to do.

    Godwin’s Law is now officially employed. Yeah, the Holocaust is just like animal testing (sarcasm intended).

  29. #29 Rogue Epidemiologist
    April 24, 2009

    @snerd
    I was at Coachella last weekend, and I went to see Morrissey play. but as soon as he caught a whiff of the barbecue, he went off about how the “smell of burning flesh is making [him] sick.” On and on about that. Two songs later, my friend and I walked off in disgust. We saw Silversun Pickups instead, and they were great!

  30. #30 Marcus Ranum
    April 24, 2009

    While I support animal testing, I think we should prefer human subjects wherever possible. Humans are vastly renewable and are capable of giving consent. They’re also able to give much better feedback than animals.

  31. #31 MBA
    April 24, 2009

    That’s funny about Morrissey. I never understood how his psycho-babble became punk rock. It’s just so whiny.

  32. #32 Michael Simpson
    April 25, 2009

    @Marcus Ranum.

    Do you know what percentage of drugs make it through the whole process from discovery to a sales rep dropping off samples to a physician? I can’t find the citation right now (I should have bookmarked it), but I know that around 25 new and innovative drugs are launched every year. Out of thousands of compounds that are investigated. The 97% of chemicals that fail can’t be tested on humans to determine if they fail, because that would kill a bunch of humans.

    Humans may be renewable, but so are rats, mice, dogs, whatever. And humans aren’t going to give consent to dying, unless they’re suicidal, and in that case, they can’t legally give consent.

    Your suggestion fails logic miserably.

  33. #33 Melody
    April 25, 2009

    “Innovation of that scale takes a lot of time and money, which is already quite sarce in science at most times (think last 8 years in US, and now in Canada).”

    Exactly, which is one reason why I wish that these extremists wouldn’t put out their irrational arguments against animal testing (claiming that it doesn’t work) and, you know, terrorizing people. I’d like to see more alternatives to animal research in place for situations where currently there is none, but when these are the voices behind it, who would listen and work on the long, long development process (of course, these extremists who are this far gone are convinced that there already are effective alternatives, and when you are convinced that the current testing is ineffective and there are good alternatives, then they think the scientists conducting research are just doing it because they’re evil to animals). Combine that with the twisted outlook of a terrorist, and while it’s still hard to swallow at least the pieces come together a bit.

    Unfortunately, even among those vegans who aren’t inclined towards activism (whether peaceful or terrorism), the sort of respectable-looking groups like PCRM and some other one I can’t remember what it’s called now, are often circulated amongst vegans, and it would be easy for a new vegan, with the help of confirmation bias to see one of these sites and look at it perhaps a bit less critically, and since most people aren’t accustomed to reading and interpreting scientific literature (and I am only a novice at this, scouring pubmed on my spare time), I can see how one can succumb to a bit of wishful thinking combined with not knowing the extent to which some things are being distorted, such as a quote from a doctor that initially downplayed the role of animal testing in medical research, but then concluded that it is essential. Two guesses which clause is oft quoted and which was omitted.

    Even if not getting dogmatic about it like an extremist, a vegan who’s bought this as credible might say offhandedly, “And it’s not like that research really does much good, anyway.” And such opinions can influence people to think that either alternatives can be used in each instance to replace animal research and/or that alternatives can be quickly developed, rather than looking at it as a complex problem.

    The following question wasn’t directed towards me, but I thought I would answer with my perspective anyway:

    “So, just curious, do you not take Anti-biotics, or remove a tick from your skin, or remove tapeworms from your body? Even if they are detrimental to your health? What right do you have to exist anymore than those animals?”

    My answers would be yes, for the same reason that if a person was attacking me I would hit them, and if a mountain lion was about to kill me and I had some way of killing the mountain lion first, I would do that too. If some organism(s) such as an animal or bacteria are attacking me, then I would find it acceptable to harm and/or kill (as would be the case) as necessary in response. Of course, anti-biotics, as all medications, are tested on animals, which in principle I wouldn’t agree with. Other than the legal requirement to test I am very ignorant of the specific need for animal testing of anti-biotics; obviously for a number of applications there are no known alternatives, most apparently such as for research in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons but I do not know about the other specific situations for which there are and are not effective alternatives to animal research already in place – or for drug development has this not come yet, even if one were to ignore the legal requirements (which would indicate the requirements being based on current research practices)? My best guess would be for eliminating ineffective prospective drugs before getting to human trials and/or looking at dose and toxicity levels, but I would need to be educated on whether we currently would have a viable alternative (if the government were to allow for medications to not be tested on animals in a case where it is shown to be effective).

    If the above were to be the case, then it could be said that I only take it because there is no vegan alternative, much like if I were trapped in some place and there wasn’t any vegan food I would sustain myself as a matter of survival. There are vegans who would swear up and down that they would never ever eat anything of animal origin even if they were starving, but most I’ve met are reasonable enough to admit that ultimately it’s about survival, and it’s not even human versus non-human. It’s more like self-interest first, then family interest, then friends and society interest. And self-interest weighs higher than the already dead parts of a stranger.

    On another note that keeps coming up, I find it odd that the AR terrorists keep targeting the scientists. Could it be because the science lab has fewer cozy memories for the general public than, say restaurants and stuff like KFC? Not that I’d advocate they terrorize more, but I think it’s a bit suspicious, considering that while people who eat meat do gain calories in trade for the animals slaughtered, that there are life-saving drugs and understanding of disease coming out in trade for the animals in research. They do seem to suffer from the “not seeing humans as animals” problem, which when I do see it in a vegan I like to point it out and compare it to people who fail to recognize fish as animals (vegans and vegetarians who have been so long enough have most likely been offered some meal containing fish, most likely because of the definition of meat not including fish and a definition of vegetarian not eating meat, but there are actually a number of people who have insisted that fish are not animals).

    Then again, those who would commit this terrorism aren’t exactly known for being rational. Though I do suspect it is a bit calculated.

  34. #34 Sabio
    April 25, 2009

    Heresy Follow-up
    Since I received several comments, I have updated my heretical posting on the Social Benefit of Vaccines Resistors. Thank you for your comments.

  35. #35 Marcus Ranum
    April 25, 2009

    . I love my dogs but I don’t mistake for a moment that(germa shepherds) they are moral beings.

    Perhaps it is you that is morally deficient, not your dogs.

    Try paying attention to only one of them and see how the others react. Then ask yourself if dogs understand “fair” and let us know. My Miles and Jake (german shepherd dogs) want to tell you they are quite moral beings who will reward affection for work.

  36. #36 Marcus Ranum
    April 25, 2009

    Do you know what percentage of drugs make it through the whole process from discovery to a sales rep dropping off samples to a physician?

    What does that have to do with anything?

  37. #37 Rita Wing
    April 25, 2009

    Many thanks to Scott Campbell for raising the level of this debate. Looking at the posters on either side of the protests, one can see that there will never be a meeting of minds here, because the AR people are not (always) denying the usefulness to humans of using up animals in research, but base themselves on the ethical questions, whilst the pro-test people are vindicating their claims to go on with animal use in research without attempting to answer the serious ethical questions posed, always falling back on the “sick children versus mice” line, i.e., an appeal to the relative importance of species.
    The only ray of hope seems to be that everyone agrees that doing animal research needs careful control, and, of course, reduction, refinement and replacement wherever possible. The studies cited in the Los Angeles Times link seem to show, though, that the line is being drawn rather slackly at present…..
    Rita

  38. #38 Kirk Berryhill
    April 26, 2009

    “To restate what I’ve said before — I’m all for ethical standards in animal testing, but if A cure is out there for a disease that can only be found by animal testing, then that’s what needs to be done.”

    Sounds a LOT like the arguments I hear from people who support torture. People live long enough. This research may be important,but it also may be helping hasten the demise of the planet. People SHOULD die. Pickling the elderly until we live to 150 is un-natural and puts the entire ecosystem of planet earth at risk. Humans are not endangered. Diseases are the only defense this planet has against the awful cancer infecting the earth. I sincerely hope that evolution can develop its own antibodies to help slow the growth of humankind.

    Sure it is sad when some become diseased and die. But I also fervently hope that scientists, of all people, can come to the realization that the natural culling of our species is a necessary action for a healthy world. We are not gods among every other species on this planet. Unfortunately, humankind has developed the power of gods.

    Benefitting mankind temporarily at the expense of everything else – eventually will destroy us all.

  39. #39 Julian
    April 26, 2009

    Nothing like animal rights to bring out the libtards in a group.

    “People SHOULD die.”

    Sums the anti-test side quite nicely, doesn’t it?

  40. #40 Joseph C.
    April 26, 2009

    Sounds a LOT like the arguments I hear from people who support torture.

    Diseases are the only defense this planet has against the awful cancer infecting the earth. I sincerely hope that evolution can develop its own antibodies to help slow the growth of humankind.

    So, torture is bad, but disease is good?

  41. #41 Tracy W
    April 27, 2009

    whilst the pro-test people are vindicating their claims to go on with animal use in research without attempting to answer the serious ethical questions posed, always falling back on the “sick children versus mice” line, i.e., an appeal to the relative importance of species

    Isn’t that the attempt at an answer itself? You may not find the answer convincing, but I don’t see how you can claim that it isn’t at least an attempt at an answer.

    And all ethical answers are at the root arbitrary. Ever spent time with a small child in that stage where they just say “why?” to every answer you give them? You eventually get to an answer that is “because”. Let’s flip it around. Why is it bad for me to kill a random, perfectly healthy human being? Answer: Because I’d be destroying another person’s mind. Why is that bad? Answer: It just is. Or: Because God says so. Why does it matter that God says so? Because he created us. Why does it matter that he created us? Because we should obey our creator. Why? We just should. (Or alternatively an infinite loop).

    There are no ethical answers handed down that are inarguable. There are no rights written in stone that everyone must obey. The rights we have are the result of political debate, sometimes written into laws that are more difficult to overturn than others. You’re not going to get any better answers than what you’re getting.

  42. #42 Leslie
    April 27, 2009

    How about veterinary research? Isn’t a stange of animal testing just as vital for that as a stage of human testing is for medical research?

    Also, I’m reminded of when work on human beings results in increased knowledge of how to treat ill gorillas:
    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/346922_gorilla11.html
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/83254.php

    Since human medical treatment ended up also being “human testing” for the treatments these gorillas received, can veterinary treatment end up also being “animal testing” for treatments some people receive?

  43. #43 Denis Alexander
    April 29, 2009

    @ Scott #14: “For instance, when an animal flees from a dangerous situation, it is implicit that it is aware that “it” is in danger, not some other being.”

    …but single-cell organism can exhibit such behavior by chemotaxis for example. According to your definition, single cells would be self-aware.

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