Respectful Insolence

I hadn’t really planned on writing anymore about animal rights extremists. The topic seemed as though it had played out over the few days. But those who’ve followed this blog know that I’m nothing if not tenacious when I grab onto a topic, and sometimes certain topics demand several posts. More importantly, over the last few days, I’ve had a minor infestation of animal rights extremists into my blog. Heck, Camille Marino even made an appearance. However, one animal rights apologist has been particularly persistent, someone named Douglas Watts, who’s been a particularly persistent pest, spewing bad arguments and logical fallacies hither and yon. AS a result, he managed to draw my attention to a particularly logic challenged defense of animal research that demands that I apply one last heapin’ helpin’ of Respectful (and not-so-Respectful) Insolence regarding this topic. You can tell where Doug’s coming from when he starts his post thusly:

Carl Sagan said extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Given the extraordinarily large number of animals used and killed for lethal scientific research, it is useful to apply Sagan’s dicta to this ongoing practice. Is there extraordinary evidence to justify the extraordinarily large number of animals which die every year in the name of scientific research? Has the case been made? How do we decide?

Lethal animal research fits Sagan’s question, since it is elective (nobody is forcing researchers to do it), nobody has specifically asked them to do it (all requests are self-generated, by the research scientists and facilities themselves), nobody has ever done a serious investigation as to how much of this research can be eliminated as needless or so bereft of important societal benefits in comparison to its effects that it should be phased out. And most importantly, much of this research is undeniably and profoundly cruel.


Carl Sagan is probably doing backflips in his grave at the abuse of one of his most famous catch phrases. Whether Sagan supported animal rights or not (and there is certainly evidence that he was sympathetic to some of the arguments of animal rights activists although he might have realized that he owed how long he managed to survive myelodysplastic syndrome to animal testing) doesn’t make one difference to this abuse of his words, because it’s the way Sagan’s quote is being used that is the problem. It’s a classic example of simply labeling a claim as “extraordinary” when it is not really extraordinary and then use that label as an excuse to invoke Sagan. Unfortunately for Doug, simply declaring something “extraordinary” does not necessarily make it so.

Also, note the framing. “Lethal scientific research.” The way Doug asks whether the case has been made and how we decide makes it very clear that he thinks the case hasn’t been made and that he has no intention of objectively examining the scientific evidence for and against animal research. Moreover, I would postulate that he’s shifting the burden of proof because he knows he doesn’t have a case. Why do I say this? Because the evidence that animal research, humanely carried out, benefits humankind is overwhelming and irrefutable. Yes, I know that animal rights extremists frequently try to refute the contention, but, as I described before, their refutations almost always rest on a load of rotting dingo’s kidneys, scientifically speaking. Doug’s post is no exception, except that he also seems to be enamored of playing “name that logical fallacy,” as well. His reasoning is particularly bad when he concludes that, by Sagan’s dictum, the burden of proof is on scientists. It’s a classic case of a non sequitur, not the least of which is because Doug hasn’t established that the claim that the benefits of animal research are so minuscule or that no one has ever done a serious investigation as to how much research is needless–or that much of this research is “undeniably and profoundly cruel.”

As has been described many times before, the regulations governing animal research are tight and getting tighter. Animal research is one of the most heavily regulated areas of biomedical research. Federal regulations cover all aspects of animal research facilities, and animal laboratories are regularly inspected for compliance with these regulations. Veterinarians staff them, and all applications to the NIH proposing any kind of animal research require a detailed description of the use of animals, a statistical justification for the number of animals used, and a detailed description of the measures that will be taken to alleviate any pain and suffering that might be inflicted. Unlike the rest of the grant application, there are no page limits on the section justifying animal use.

Of course, none of this matters to Doug, as is demonstrated by this:

Some, but not all, researchers are under the delusion that by denying there’s a problem, by supporting legislative limitations on investigation and protest, by criminalizing protest, by using an ‘ends justifies the means’ approach, by using scare tactics like ‘your parent and kids will die without this,’ and by calling people who are against animal cruelty ‘crazy,’ that somehow peoples’ profound distaste for the elective use of animals for lethal research will magically go away. It won’t.

Logical fallacy: Straw man.

Note how Doug implies that researchers believe all animal rights supporters are “crazy.” Not at all. It’s just the ones who threaten violence, who intimidate researchers, who vandalize property, who reserve for themselves the right to flout the law and to harass researchers’ children at their schools, who earn our ire and harsh criticism. Moreover, it is not “criminalizing protest” or suppressing free speech to support laws and the enforcement of laws to prevent these sorts of tactics. Animal rights extremists are free, as they have ever been, to protest peacefully. They are not free to intimidate, bully, harass, destroy, or use violence. This is true for every citizen, and it is true for them too. They simply reject these limitations. they even say as much; in fact, they make no bones about it.

Doug then makes a number of charges and excuses. First an excuse:

1. People against cruelty to animals are “extremists.”

This is logically fallacious since any cause contains a few people who are so zealous they go outside the bounds of the law. To tar and feather people solely based on the actions of others — whom they don’t even know — is non-rational.

Pot. Meet kettle. Project much, Doug? After all, animal rights extremists tar and feather pretty much all animal researchers based solely on the actions of a few, and, in fact, they distort, exaggerate, and even lie to do it, often in incredibly lurid terms. More importantly, Doug seems to generalize the criticism of the animal rights extremists who threaten violence to all supporters of animal rights. In doing so he unwittingly lets us all know exactly where his sympathies lie. He relates to the extremists, and when he sees criticism of their actions he takes it personally. He seems to think that these criticisms apply to him as well. Whether they do or not I don’t know. I can’t know whether Doug supports violence against “vivisectionists” or not in his heart, his protestations otherwise notwithstanding. However, his language certainly suggests at least strong sympathy with the aims ALF and other animal rights terrorists and their choice to break the law.

Doug also lays down a few howlers in rapid succession, for example:

3. The ends justify the means.

Any activity can, eventually, perhaps, increase knowledge by some degree and lead to ‘benefits’ for some group. The White House was built in part by black American slaves.

Is it just me, or does the above passage sound as though Doug’s equating African American slaves with animals? Bad choice of analogies, I’d say, and one that was already dealt with on DrugMonkey’s blog.

Doug’s next bit:

4. Much 20th century medical knowledge is based on animal research.

Because so much lethal animal research has been conducted in the 20th century, it is inevitable that a lot of medical knowledge is partly or wholly drawn from this research. A statement of fact is not an argument.

No, a statement of fact cannot be insolent.

Well, actually, not really. We all know that a statement of fact can be very insolent indeed. (Even my ‘nym-sake Orac almost certainly realized that, as he was constantly stating facts in a most insolent manner.) A statement of fact can also be an argument, which apparently Doug is too obtuse to realize. At least I should give him credit for one thing. At least he seems to acknowledge that huge swaths of our knowledge of biology and medicine derive from animal research, in addition to human research and in vitro studies using cells. Animal research, done humanely, ethically, and correctly, yields great dividends. I could reiterate the example of the Blaylock-Taussig shunt, which was developed using an animal model for blue baby syndrome, using that animal model to develop a surgical procedure to correct the syndrome, and practicing the procedure on animals until all the technical kinks were worked out. Only then did Dr. Alfred Blaylock attempt the procedure on a baby, and he was successful. That’s just one example. Virtually every major surgical advance required animal research to develop: Transplantation, cardiopulmonary bypass, medical devices. I’ll admit that surgery is one specialty particularly dependent on animal research for rather obvious reasons, but no area of medicine hasn’t been touched by advances made through animal research, in particular the discovery of insulin.

I also note how specifically Doug specifies 20th century medical knowledge. I’m sure this is intentional, but, quite frankly, this new century is still too young to be able to determine how much of our medical knowledge will end up being based on animal research. Whatever the fraction of that knowledge ends up being, any knowledge we gain from such now in the 21st century will for quite a while still be based on research dating back decades, if not longer–back into the 20th century, even deep into the 20th century. Science is a continuum.

Not that any of that matters to Doug. First, he puts the onus on scientists:

In the end researchers need to convince the public. And to do that, researchers must accept they have an obligation to do so. If they do not wish to fulfill this obligation they can stop doing the lethal research. Nobody is forcing them to do it.

On the surface, this is not entirely unreasonable, as far as it goes, even though it is in essence blaming scientists for the extremists, much as, for example, much as Ward Churchill blames America for 9/11. Unfortunately for validity of this criticism, scientists are constrained by science, evidence, and the truth. Animal rights extremists are not. Hyperbole, misinformation, pseudoscience, and lies are their stock in trade. It’s just like any other bunch of cranks, only that these cranks are potentially dangerous. In that context, Doug is disingenuous at best when he puts the onus on scientists to make their case. Will he put a similar onus on animal rights extremists to stop lying? Somehow I doubt it, if this next passage is any indication:

There is no inherent right to conduct lethal experiments on animals. U.S. and state law have carved out very narrow exemptions for licensed animal researchers, ie. a privilege, as compared to run-of-the-mill animal abusers. And like a driver’s license, this privilege must be earned. Inherent within it is an obligation. There is no right to conduct lethal experiments on animals, any more than I have the right to starve my dog to death or feed it poison. This is settled law. The law already comes down on the right of animals in this context. That ship has sailed.

Doug concludes:

What’s needed is for the research community to acknowledge that lethal animal research, especially in its most egregious forms, is profoundly distasteful to society at large for the same reason that dog fighting is distasteful. Researchers need to engage the community in a discussion and offer solutions, not bunker-mentality defenses. A starting point would be to offer a plan to phase out and eventually end lethal experimentation, starting first with the animals most closely related to humans and with the most harmful and most egregious types of research. Such a plan, itself a gesture, would be the first step in a path forward.

Doug has clearly drunk the Kool Aid. Note the comparisons between animal research and starving dogs to death, feeding them poison, or even dog fighting. Every example he chooses makes it very clear that he believes that animal research is always torture, always cruel. Even worse, the examples appear carefully chosen to reinforce the image of scientists as sadists, which is exactly the same image that Camille Marino tries to paint. In fact, I will remind you once again what Camille Marino wrote about researcher Dario Ringach:

At least intellectually, I think I understand how you are able to commit such despicable atrocities. Like all torture-murderers, you devalue and objectify the victim in order to enjoy the fetishized obscenity. I think the closest comparison I can draw is to David Parker Ray. He imprisoned, restrained, terrorized, and, with masterful precision, sadistically tortured and mutilated his victims — exactly like you. Ray referred to his victims as “packages.” You refer to your victims as “research.” The two of you may have been twins separated at birth. But Ray is dead.

What is Doug’s rhetoric but a toned down version of Camille’s hysterical rhetoric? The comparison of scientists to sadists is the same, as is the implication that scientists get some sort of twisted, sadistic glee out of “torturing” animals, much as people who go to dog fights get some sort of sick, twisted, sadistic glee out of watching dogs rip each other to shreds. The only difference is that Camille “kicks it up a notch” (well, several notches) to paint scientists as rabid serial killers. The essential message is the same, regardless of whether it comes from Doug Watts or Camille Marino.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Whether or not animal research is justifiable is a moral and ethical argument more than anything else. The reason is that the science is clear when it comes to the benefits such research produces. Animal rights activists such as Doug or Camille may believe that animal research is so evil that any conceivable benefits are not worth the evil. In fact, that is exactly what they appear to believe. Camille, although about as nuts as they come, is at least honest in stating this belief plainly even if she is not honest when she lies about various medical advances that derived from animal research. Animal rights activists also appear to realize that it doesn’t take much to persuade people of the benefits of animal research; one need only point out to them that without animal research medications and new treatments would have to be tested on humans at a much earlier stage in their development, with a vastly increased risk as a consequence. Also, given that most people have no moral qualms about eating meat or wearing animal skins, most of them have little difficulty accepting the humane use of animals for research.

That’s why, I suspect, animal rights apologists like Doug Watts and animal rights loons like Camille Marino share at least one thing in common. They have to try to convince people that there are no benefits to animal research, or at least that the benefits are hugely oversold. People don’t buy the moral argument as long as they perceive considerable benefit from animal research. Doug and Camille also share one other thing: They’re not too concerned with niceties such as scientific accuracy when they propose “alternatives” to animal research with no good evidence to support them as more accurate than animal testing and paint scientists who do animal research as depraved vivisectionist-torturers. There is a moral argument to be made against animal research, but apparently most animal rights extremists are not sufficiently confident in their moral arguments. After all, if their moral arguments were so compelling, why would they have to distort science and exaggerate so much to make animal research seem hopelessly cruel and its contribution to science close to nonexistent? Can’t they persuade people on the power of their moral arguments alone? At the very least, can’t they stop distorting the scientific arguments to the point of unrecognizability when they attack animal research?

Comments

  1. #1 Scientizzle
    March 2, 2010

    RE: animal rights as comparable to slavery

    A recent post over at DrugMonkey discussed this. For those that haven’t seen it, it’s worth checking out.

  2. #2 Raging Bee
    March 2, 2010

    Researchers need to engage the community in a discussion and offer solutions, not bunker-mentality defenses.

    This sentence alone sums up the knowing hypocricy of the AR fanatics: they make up the most lurid lies to demonize scientists and ostracize them from the community (the same sort of lies used against Muslims and Jews, I might add), then harass them and their families until they’re forced to retreat into some sort of bunker, literal or figurative; and then they mock the same scientists for their “bunker mentality.” And this is how they behave after they get huge chunks of what they want.

    What an amazing bunch of anti-rational hateful sacks of shit.

  3. #3 Adam_Y
    March 2, 2010

    What is Doug’s rhetoric but a toned down version of Camille’s hysterical rhetoric? The comparison of scientists to sadists is the same, as is the implication that scientists get some sort of twisted, sadistic glee out of “torturing” animals, much as people who go to dog fights get some sort of sick, twisted, sadistic glee out of watching dogs rip each other to shreds.

    You know whats sad. Doug actually thinks he is a moderate.

  4. #4 vera
    March 2, 2010

    “Whether or not animal research is justifiable is a moral and ethical argument more than anything else.”

    Would be nice to see someone actually make a moral argument for it here on scienceblogs. Has anyone tried?

  5. #5 Cassidy
    March 2, 2010

    You know, I walk past the Blaylock lab (there’s a large plaque on the wall memorializing the space) in the old Vanderbilt hospital every day. It’s an excellent reminder for those of us that have done animal research (the lab I worked in as an undergrad used pigs as a model, transgenic and all) why we do, and that the benefits really can be immense.

  6. #6 Paul Browne
    March 2, 2010

    Actually according to the Pew/AAAS report the a majority of the public (52%) support animal research while a minority (43%) oppose it, though I’ll bet that majority would increase once you start talking about specific diseases and outline the regulation that governs animal research.

    http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/528.pdf

    So Dougs claim that “In the end researchers need to convince the public.” the answer would appear to be that they have been convinced.

    Some of the other figures in the Pew report, on evolution and climate change for example, raise the issue of whether science by opinion poll has any real value. Perhaops this is why representative democracy which enables knowledgable experts to influence policy is superior to direct democracy.

    I also found Douglas statement that “Lethal animal research fits Sagan’s question, since it is elective (nobody is forcing researchers to do it), nobody has specifically asked them to do it (all requests are self-generated, by the research scientists and facilities themselves),” very odd, since it appears oblivious to the fact that there are many patient groups and research charities out which play a hugely important role in setting the research agenda. Members of such patient groups and charity supporters are usually very well aware of what the research involves.

    An example of this is Kevin O’Donnell who wrote a piece for us on the development of treatments for Pompe disease a few weeks back.

    http://speakingofresearch.com/2010/01/25/pompe-disease-%E2%80%93-a-starring-role-for-animal-research/

    Of course it is the experts, scientists, clinicians, IACUCs, who decide what specific techniques will be used in research…but would anyone sensible want it any other way?

    Well done for posting this piece Orac, even I’m beginning to run out of steam at this stage;-)

  7. #7 Orac
    March 2, 2010

    Well done for posting this piece Orac, even I’m beginning to run out of steam at this stage;-)

    As am I–now.

    Time to move on to other topics tomorrow.

  8. #8 Jason Dick
    March 2, 2010

    Heh, their whole argument is just a catch-22. If animal research is unnecessary, and we can just as easily start doing these experiments on humans, then clearly these techniques and medicines must all work, and we therefore aren’t really hurting the animals much (if at all). On the other hand, if we are hurting them, then we’re doing it through failed treatments and procedures, which means that we sure as hell had better not be trying these things out on humans.

  9. #9 Todd W.
    March 2, 2010

    @Orac

    You said:

    They’re not too concerned with niceties such as scientific accuracy when they propose “alternatives” to animal research with no good evidence to support them as more accurate than animal testing and paint scientists who do animal research as depraved vivisectionist-torturers.

    Douglas admitted himself that he has no alternative to animal research. When I asked what he would propose in place of animal research, he stated:

    As someone who is not a clinical researcher using animals as test subjects, that is outside my expertise. Animal researchers are best qualified to answer that question and I would like to hear what they have to say…Since I do not do animal experimentation, I don’t have the solutions you seek. These solutions must come from the experimenters and their funders and supporters. I don’t support this research. I believe it should end.

    He also appeared unclear about the ethics of using special populations, such as death row inmates.

  10. #10 Skeptico
    March 2, 2010

    Carl Sagan said extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Given the extraordinarily large number of animals used and killed for lethal scientific research, it is useful to apply Sagan’s dicta to this ongoing practice. Is there extraordinary evidence to justify the extraordinarily large number of animals which die every year in the name of scientific research?

    As you wrote, Orac, he’s abusing Sagan’s words.

    When we say “extraordinary claims”, what we actually mean are claims that do not already have evidence supporting them, or sometimes claims that have extraordinary evidence against them. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence because they usually contradict claims that are backed by extraordinary evidence.  Doug just describes “large number of animals used,” as if sheer numbers of animals make the claim extraordinary.  But he doesn’t detail any supposed extraordinary evidence against animal experimentation, nor does he show what well evidenced claims would be contradicted by it.  He fails.

  11. #11 DayOwl
    March 2, 2010

    –“…the extraordinarily large number of animals used and killed for lethal scientific research…”

    I’ll bet the real number of animals in research would not meet most definitions of “extraordinarily large.” First rule of misdirection: overstate the problem by several orders of magnitude.

    What disturbs me most about the animal rights extremists is that they seem to believe that humans are of no value, even though they are human themselves. Just another form of objectification and dehumanization. Around & around we go.

  12. #12 Bald Ape
    March 2, 2010

    Would be nice to see someone actually make a moral argument for it here on scienceblogs. Has anyone tried?

    Simple.

    P1) If a person needs to kill an animal to obtain meat needed for survival, it is morally justified.

    P2) If a person needs to kill an animal to obtain knowledge needed for survival, it is morally justified.

    If you accept P1, then you accept P2 – the differences between the two are inconsequential.

    Granted, if you reject P1, then you’re probably going reject P2… but as Orac alludes to, you’ll also effectively place your personal moral compass well outside of the moral character of society at large, and won’t get far trying to garner public support for you cause.

  13. #13 DeLan
    March 2, 2010

    “I hadn’t really planned on writing anymore about animal rights extremists.”
    Should have stuck to your original plan.

  14. #14 vera
    March 2, 2010

    Bald Ape, I am delighted someone finally took me up on it.

    Let me ask you this:
    Is it, in your world, also morally justified to inflict torment on animals prior to their death, simply because humans “need” this… whether in lab cages or in CAFOs?

  15. #15 rnb
    March 2, 2010

    Vera,

    Is it necessary to inflict death on animals so that we can harvest our crops? Or can we go back to harvesting by hand, which will cause far fewer deaths of rodents, ground nesting birds, and the like?

  16. #16 Dacks
    March 2, 2010

    “P1) If a person needs to kill an animal to obtain meat needed for survival, it is morally justified.

    P2) If a person needs to kill an animal to obtain knowledge needed for survival, it is morally justified.

    If you accept P1, then you accept P2 – the differences between the two are inconsequential.”

    I am not against animal research, but this is not a compelling statement of facts. P1 and P2 are not equivalent. P1 implies a one-step operation: kill to eat; survival determined. P2 is, by necessity a multi-step operation: kill, study, develop treatment (in medical context), implement; survival not determined.

    Further, in the first case, there is only one point at which to introduce an alternative to killing animals – become a vegetarian – but in the second case there are numerous points where alternatives to killing animals can be and are introduced. For example, it is not always necessary to kill animals involved in research; for another, important steps in drug development (let’s say) MUST be done using humans, not animals as study subjects.

  17. #17 James Sweet
    March 2, 2010

    Clearly, if it is true for one particular value of X and Y (X=claims, Y=evidence) that extraordinary X requires extraordinary Y, it must also be true for any value of X and Y. Right?

    Extraordinary trolls require extraordinary insolence.

  18. #18 rnb
    March 2, 2010

    Only someone not involved in farming nowadays could think killing animals in not involved in obtaining food, whether you are an omnivore or a herbivore.

  19. #19 Adam_Y
    March 2, 2010

    for another, important steps in drug development (let’s say) MUST be done using humans, not animals as study subjects.

    What important steps?

  20. #20 ebohlman
    March 2, 2010

    Moreover, it is not “criminalizing protest” or suppressing free speech to support laws and the enforcement of laws to prevent these sorts of tactics. Animal rights extremists are free, as they have ever been, to protest peacefully. They are not free to intimidate, bully, harass, destroy, or use violence. This is true for every citizen, and it is true for them too.

    In fact, the animal-rights extremists are pulling the exact same gambit that the Religious Right is pulling with respect to hate-crimes laws (or, more precisely, the inclusion of sexual orientation in hate-crimes laws; nobody seems to think that the inclusion of race and religion in hate-crimes laws has free-speech implications). Brandenburg is still the law of the land; the AREs (funny how that sounds like a war god) have nothing to worry about legally as long as they don’t personally use violence or directly egg it on (as in standing outside a researcher’s house and urging others to burn it down now).

  21. #21 vera
    March 2, 2010

    Rnb: I expect that I share with Bald Ape the assumption that it is not possible for humans to live and thrive on this earth without killing other creatures. Bald Ape calls it morally justified, I call it a necessary evil.

    That is why I am moving the argument towards the *way* we treat animals while they are still alive. In my view, this is the crux of the problem. Does Ape’s argument still hold up? Do we *need* to torment animals to live and thrive? Or is it possible for humans to live and thrive on this earth without tormenting other creatures?

  22. #22 Todd W.
    March 2, 2010

    @Adam_Y

    Safety testing to dial in the safe dosage in humans. Efficacy testing to dial in the effective dose (and determine whether it is effective and, if so, if the efficacy is clinically significant and relevant).

  23. #23 rnb
    March 2, 2010

    Vera,

    I’m a type II diabetic, from a family of diabetics. I watched several of my older family members die in a not very good way from this disease. I’m terrified of going the same way. How do you propose to save those like me from suffering without animal research?

  24. #24 Calli Arcale
    March 2, 2010

    vera:

    That is why I am moving the argument towards the *way* we treat animals while they are still alive. In my view, this is the crux of the problem. Does Ape’s argument still hold up? Do we *need* to torment animals to live and thrive? Or is it possible for humans to live and thrive on this earth without tormenting other creatures?

    I believe the answer to that question is “no”. It is not possible for us to live and thrive without tormenting some animals, directly (plow injuries, unnatural environment of farm, etc) or indirectly (habitat loss, introduction of predators, etc). That does not mean we shouldn’t try, though. We also cannot guarantee happiness for all of our own species, but it’s still worth striving for that goal. It may be unattainable, but reaching towards it leads us to better places.

    Animal welfare is what I care about. Animal rights? That’s just legalese. I’m far more interested in making sure that when we interfere in their lives, that we minimize their suffering as much as practical, and strive always to improve that process. That applies universally, though it’s easier in some areas than others. I’m not sure how we can make plowing more humane, for instance. It’ll still churn up an awful lot of field mice.

  25. #25 Diana
    March 2, 2010

    Given the obvious enthusiasm for animal research – I wonder if there is any human affliction that its supporters would recognize as being simply too trivial to justify locking animals in labs and/or killing them to address?

    Baldness? Erectile dysfunction? Any suggestions?

    Or does any benefit to humans justify any harm to animals?

  26. #26 mikerattlesnake
    March 2, 2010

    But the concern is both safety AND effectiveness. As in “will this baldness medication cause patients to drop dead from a heart attack?” In other words, the purpose of the testing is not to specifically cure baldness, but to ensure that people don’t die while trying to cure baldness.

  27. #27 History Punk
    March 2, 2010

    “Or is it possible for humans to live and thrive on this earth without tormenting other creatures?”

    No, it’s not possible for any creature to thrive on this earth without tormenting other creatures either by eating them, injuring them by eating them, hunting them down and forcing them to be the constant alert for predators, denying them access to resources like water, or, within species, mates.

  28. #28 Yojimbo
    March 2, 2010

    @25 Diana said “Given the obvious enthusiasm for animal research…”

    I’m wondering where you see this “obvious enthusiasm”? From what we hear from those who actually do the research, there doesn’t seem to be great glee shown at the prospect of animal research. I certainly don’t sense any “Hey guys, we get to use animals again. Cool!” Animals are used when they have to be because it is the only way to get the information needed. There may be rare exceptions, but for the most part researchers don’t do it out of enthusiasm.

  29. #29 Dave
    March 2, 2010

    I am sitting here on a couch next to a sunny window with one of my cats. He is sprawled out next to me with his belly in the air. Animal research also benefits him. After all, how would veterenarians know how to take care of animals if it wasn’t for animal research?

    I wonder, do the animal rights cranks and terrorists swear off all western / science based medicine? After all, at some point everything we do is descended from animal research. There is a lot of traditional medicine they would need to swear off of too what with all the dried animal bits that are used in various concoctions.

  30. #30 peter
    March 2, 2010

    ” for another, important steps in drug development (let’s say) MUST be done using humans, not animals as study subjects.

    What important steps?”

    Before you do any tests on humans, the first step on drug testing is to determine the LD50. That is usually done on mice.
    Then you test for the actual effect of the drug on a generic bacterium, usually e.coli, the workhorse, in varying dosages and repeatedly to get valid statistical data.
    When success is shown, other bacterial strains will be tested against.
    From there you test the metabolization of the drug, and only then you do clinical trials on a human population.

    That is in rough the protocol for testing anti bacterials.

    As drugs that come to the test lab are usually derivatives of previous well known drugs, the hope is to find something more effective, and also a replacement for drugs bacteria have developed resistance against.

    What people discussing drug research forget: In order to achieve consistent results especially in the first two stages, you need an animal model that shows the least genetic variability, that is why animals are sourced from breeding facilities that produce rat and mouse strains that are fairly uniform genetically.

    The moral argument comes simply down to a value judgment – is human live more important than the lives of our non human relatives?

    To me it is, that is why I eat meat and hunt and fish and had never any inhibitions working with lab animals or on farms and ranches as long as the animals suffered no abuse that was unnecessary – I say that, because to test against diseases the animal will have to be infected and will suffer stress. So do I having a flue.

    The claims as to the “torturer researchers” is just plain stupid and is either a lie perpetrated knowingly or out of ignorance.

  31. #31 diana
    March 2, 2010

    @28 yojimbo

    Instead of “enthusiasm” perhaps I should have said “spirited defense”…but regardless it seems as though you have seized upon the least substantive part of my post and have ignored the general question:

    Is any human affliction that defenders of animal research would recognize as being simply too trivial to justify locking animals in labs and/or killing them to address?

  32. #32 mjschmidt
    March 2, 2010

    I find it interesting that a lot of arguments against negatively affecting non-human naturally-occurring things (organisms and the environment) seem to , overtly or not, hinge upon the idea that humans are affecting them in a way that was not “meant to be”.

    Humans are also naturally occurring, so anything we do to anything else on the planet is as naturally occurring as anything that if done by an animal or the elements.

    When a carnivorous predator hunts down its prey and tears out its throat, we don’t condemn it.

    There is not god, there is no innate purpose to human life. We are just highly advanced organisms whose brains react in a more advanced way to stimuli than do so-called “less advanced” organisms.

    One day the whole planet will be gone. None of it will ever matter.

  33. #33 JohnV
    March 2, 2010

    “I wonder, do the animal rights cranks and terrorists swear off all western / science based medicine?”

    They don’t. And when questioned about the hypocrisy, they ignore it or just spout off nonsense (as that is typical action, it is hard to say if it’s a reaction to the question or just them being them).

  34. #34 Paul Browne
    March 2, 2010

    @25 Daina asked “I wonder if there is any human affliction that its supporters would recognize as being simply too trivial to justify locking animals in labs and/or killing them to address?”

    The problem with that treatments that can help seemingly trivial disorders often also help with more serious illnesses, and your mention of baldness reminded me of something I wrote for the Pro-Test blog a while back

    http://www.pro-test.org.uk/b2evo/index.php?blog=7&title=more_than_cure_for_baldness&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    I don’t like the use of animals for testing cosmetics, even though I recognize the need to protect the public. Happily over on my side of the pond in vivo animal testing of cosmetics has been replaced with a mixture of in vitro cell culture and ex vivo animal tissue tests*, and the same is likely to happen in the US soon. That said I am aware that there are concerns about some of the uses of nanotechnology in cosmetics that may require some, more limited, evaluation in animals. Botox is another example, while I would certainly defend its continued use in medicine I would happily see its use as a cosmetic banned** until appropriate non-animal methods of batch testing can be developed (a process that appears to be more difficult than first anticipated).

    * it was conveniently one of the easier replacement tasks, not requiring testing systems as complex as those required for chemicals that are for internal use.
    ** to be perfectly honest the idea of injecting one of the most toxic proteins known to science into your face just to look good/weird seems a little bonkers to me.

  35. #35 Gerald
    March 2, 2010

    @32 mjschmidt

    “Humans are also naturally occurring, so anything we do to anything else on the planet is as naturally occurring as anything that if done by an animal or the elements”

    Perhaps activists should such include a similar sentiment in their communiques after cars are set on fire, animals are freed from cages, or buildings are burned to the ground.

    Ringach complains about feeling the need to check under his car before he drives anywhere. Oh how foolish, if only he realized that “one day the whole planet will be gone” and “none of it will ever matter”.

  36. #36 Dacks
    March 2, 2010

    @30 peter:
    “From there you test the metabolization of the drug, and only then you do clinical trials on a human population.”

    This was the important step I was thinking of. I am not involved in any kind of research, so my understanding of it is only in the broadest terms.

    I mentioned the need to test drugs for humans ON humans in the context of trying to differentiate between the use of animals for food and the use of animals in research. I support the use of animals when necessary for research; however I do not think the two cases are analogous.

    In an ethical sense, it may come down to a hierarchy of morals. I have a hunch that there will be more situations in which the necessity to eat an animal is justified than there will be situations in which the need to kill (or make suffer) an animal for research will be justified.

    This is, of course, what the review boards do: they make the researchers justify the use of animals to preclude, as much as possible, suffering and death of animals.

  37. #37 Raging Bee
    March 2, 2010

    I am not against animal research, but this is not a compelling statement of facts. P1 and P2 are not equivalent. P1 implies a one-step operation: kill to eat; survival determined. P2 is, by necessity a multi-step operation: kill, study, develop treatment (in medical context), implement; survival not determined.

    Sorry, but that’s bullshit: when animal research yields useful information, the survival of some humans due to the proper use of said information IS determined. The mere fact that the cause-and-effect chain has more than two links, does not make it less real or reliable.

    Further, in the first case, there is only one point at which to introduce an alternative to killing animals – become a vegetarian – but in the second case there are numerous points where alternatives to killing animals can be and are introduced.

    Again, that’s bullshit: no reliable alternative to animal testing has been offered.

    For example, it is not always necessary to kill animals involved in research…

    Which is why not all animal testing involves actual killing of animals.

    …for another, important steps in drug development (let’s say) MUST be done using humans, not animals as study subjects.

    Yes, the Pharma guys are well aware of that; which is why testing IS done on humans at some point in the development process.

    Do we *need* to torment animals to live and thrive?

    Well, vera, according to people who have demonstrated much greater understanding of the issues than you, yes, we sometimes do. (Oh, and do you really think ALL animal research is “torment?”)

    I wonder if there is any human affliction that its supporters would recognize as being simply too trivial to justify locking animals in labs and/or killing them to address?

    First, who gets to decide which human afflictions are “too trivial?” A bunch of AR fanatics who have already proven they don’t give a shit about ANY human suffering? Are you proposing that someone, or some group, be given veto-power over research proposals?

    Second, no matter how “trivial” the problem, we still have to determine whether a given solution does or does not have non-trivial effects.

  38. #38 Scientizzle
    March 2, 2010

    Is any human affliction that defenders of animal research would recognize as being simply too trivial to justify locking animals in labs and/or killing them to address?

    Instead of fishing, why don’t you tell us the answer you’re looking for? Since you used the term “affliction,” the obvious implication is that you hypothetical research topic is a substantively negative condition in humans…this may skew what you’re actually trying to acheive.

    A broader point: not all animal research is necessarily targetted towards a clinical outcome in humans. The scientific literature abounds with oddities discovered in one system that has resulted in profound basic and clinical rewards in widely disparate fields and diagnoses. I’ve seen plenty of examples of AR proponents dismissing basic science research as some sort of trivial tinkering without grasping the reality that there is a lot yet to be learned from basic investigations.

    To relate this to your question, some might find animal research into, say, the causes and prevention male pattern baldness to be (particularly) unjustifiable. But it’s entirely possible that these research avenues may shed light on the mechanisms of aging, oxidative stress, stem cells, hormonse signaling, and a multitude of other more “important” or “justifiable” outcomes.

  39. #39 mikerattlesnake
    March 2, 2010

    @35 Gerald

    That would be a valid argument if our side was equating “natural” with “good”; we are not. The post you quoted was refuting that false dichotomy.

  40. #40 Yojimbo
    March 2, 2010

    @31 Diana “Instead of “enthusiasm” perhaps I should have said “spirited defense”…but regardless it seems as though you have seized upon the least substantive part of my post and have ignored the general question:

    Is any human affliction that defenders of animal research would recognize as being simply too trivial to justify locking animals in labs and/or killing them to address?”

    Apologies Diana – I latched onto that because I thought it indicitive of an attitude that I felt biased the question. And I did not address the actual question because I thought it had been addressed by others.

    My response is, in a certain sense, no, there probably are no afflictions too trivial, simply because as soon as you affect physiology you open the door to unforeseen side-effects, and you need to know about them before using a remedy wholesale on humans. As mikerattlesnake said above, you want to be sure your baldness remedy doesn’t cause heart attacks. If you know there would be no dangerous effects without testing, then no, you’re not justified in using animals, but how can you know?

    On the other hand, it seems pretty clear that researchers don’t use animal subjects for fun, do what they can to minimize suffering, and if and when equivalent alternatives become available, use them in preference.

    My question to you would be, how trivial should a human affliction be to justify immediately testing the remedy on humans? And, would you volunteer?

  41. #41 Archangl508
    March 2, 2010

    @30 peter:

    “Before you do any tests on humans, the first step on drug testing is to determine the LD50. That is usually done on mice. Then you test for the actual effect of the drug on a generic bacterium, usually e.coli, the workhorse, in varying dosages and repeatedly to get valid statistical data. When success is shown, other bacterial strains will be tested against. From there you test the metabolization of the drug, and only then you do clinical trials on a human population.”

    Actually you have that a bit backwards. One would do the bacteria tests first to determine that you have an efficacious compound. Then you would probably test the compound in a bacterial infection model in mice in order to make sure the compound has sufficient pharmacokinetics to provide good absorption and distribution of the drug.

    Then you would go and start testing for toxicological effects. Those testings are also more complicated than simply LD50s. One actually looks at a variety of tissues and readouts in order to determine any adverse effects that are present and the dose at which they are present. Also, I believe the FDA requires toxicology testing in multiple species prior to approval for human trials. The human dose is determined by taking the lowest dose that shows any effect in animals and remaining a certain multiple below that dose. Animal use is critical in understanding this, otherwise human research would have no evidence to guide dose selection or understanding of toxicological events.

  42. #42 Prometheus
    March 2, 2010

    Doug Watts states:

    “Given the extraordinarily large number of animals used and killed for lethal scientific research…”

    [1] “Extraordinarily large”? Compared to what? What is the ordinary number of animals used and killed? For that matter, does Doug Watts have even a ballpark number of animals used and/or killed in scientific research? And how does this number compare to – for example – the number of animals used and killed for food? Or the number of animals that starve to death every winter, even in pristine, undisturbed habitats? [Hint: approximately one third of ground squirrels in undisturbed habitats die during their winter hibernation in an average winter.]

    [2] “Lethal scientific research”? Not all animal research is “lethal” – at least, not in the sense that the animal is killed.

    If Mr. Watts objects to the death of experimental animals, I would assume that he would feel “tainted” by using any of the medical or scientific advances that were made using “lethal scientific research”. After all, it would be hypocritical (and somehow inconsistent) to argue against the slaughter of cattle for meat while eating a steak.

    The argument that “The animal has already died and I don’t want its sacrifice to be wasted.” seems oddly self-serving. Animal research has been involved in every medical advance and the development of every (real) medication; if you object to that, then show the strenght of your convictions by refusing to participate, even as a consumer.

    To protest the legitimate, regulated use of experimental animals while using modern (real) medicine is as bizarre as protesting chicken processing factories while munching a barrel of Kentucky Fried.

    I won’t say that there aren’t animal research projects that cause unecessary or unavoidable pain (hint: research into treatment for pain involves inflicting pain – it’s unavoidable) and suffering or that there aren’t animal research studies that are pointless or stupid (I’ve described some of them on my ‘blog), but those are aberrations, just as the people who abuse their pets or their children are aberrations (although there is far more scrutiny and oversight on animal research than there is for children or pets).

    Before deciding to oppose all animal research on “ethical” grounds, I would ask the “animal rights” groups to voluntarily abstain from all products and processes that use or have used animals in their research and development. Then I might be able to see them as more than misguided, easily led fools or people with an anger management “issue”.

    Prometheus

  43. #43 Todd W.
    March 2, 2010

    @Archangl508

    You are correct. The FDA requires pre-clinical animal testing in at least two species, one of which must be a non-rodent, before a phase 1 clinical trial (first-in-human trial) can be approved.

  44. #44 Todd W.
    March 2, 2010

    One quick clarification, the animal testing requirements are for novel chemical entities. If the drug has already been tested in humans, then animal tests are generally not required.

  45. #45 vera
    March 2, 2010

    Bee, I don’t engage in ethics discussions with people who are unwilling or unable to be civil towards their opponents.

    Rnb: Whom do they torment these days on behalf of diabetics? Guinea pigs? Just wondering if they use apes? I am not completely opposed to animal research. I am opposed to science that runs on a strong sense of entitlement. I believe that a moral argument for the deliberate infliction of suffering on animals does not exist.

    I take it from what one person here was saying that in the U.S. cosmetics are still tested on animals. Here I foolishly assumed this was a thing of the past. How many of those who have argued here for animal research have worked to end cosmetics’ industry use of animals? Why has it not ended yet?

    Calli, I don’t think we are far apart. Except, uh, have you checked recently about how much damage the plow has done to the soil for the last 8,000 years or so? It should go the way of animal research… only done when nothing else will do, and with great restraint and care.

    I think Diana brought up good points… what it really boils down to is limits. Is it moral for humans to keep increasing and displacing all other critter mass? Is it moral to throw all these huge resources at science, and without significant citizen input? Is it moral to argue that if it’s good for humans, it’s “morally justified”? Is it moral to “save human lives” at any cost to the natural world? Are animal research scientists prejudiced to argue this from the get-go because their careers and livelihoods depend on keeping animal research going? And is it moral to refuse to draw a line btw trivial and non-trivial?

    History Punk: what you argue, I subsume under killing, which I had addressed previously. I was referring to the deliberate infliction of suffering. Whether by commission (research design) or omission (we’d like to treat these hogs better, but the farm would go under). My argument is that since a moral argument for the deliberate infliction of suffering cannot be made, it is an evil and it ought to be approached accordingly by moral people. This evil is often unnecessary, way too often convenient, and sometimes compelling. What would science look like if we all tried to sift among these with great care, starting with the assumption that we are not entitled to inflict whatever we wish on the natural world, and that the burden of proof is on us humans?

  46. #46 Todd W.
    March 2, 2010

    @vera

    Have you ever visited an animal lab or spoken to the researchers in an animal lab? From some of the comments here on RI, as well as comments from acquaintances who work with animals, it really is not something taken lightly and is often something they don’t look forward to doing. I’m pretty sure that if better, reliable non-animal models were developed that they would be all for avoiding using animals, if not for the welfare of the animal, at least for the savings in expense, time and sheer work involved.

    I don’t think there’s any sense of entitlement at all. Research using animals is an unfortunate necessity.

  47. #47 Corvus
    March 2, 2010

    I only came here because I keep getting google notifications as if this is “news” in my email tag. This is not news.

    What’s funniest is that this blog is always doing the same thing the writers claim the “animals rights extremists” are doing- talking shit and more shit that has little basis in reality.

    I read this and see a lot of moaning with little actual rational thought to back it up. It’s defensive, and perhaps that’s a good thing, showing the effectiveness of “animals rights extremists”.

    but most of all, I agree with Vera and others in that it would be wonderful to see an actual ethical argument in favor of nonhuman animal research on here that can hold its ground. I have yet to see one. That’s because there is not one. Even Bald ape’s argument has no merit because people do not need to eat meat or experiment on animals to survive in most situations. The former, perhaps in the apocalypse or in areas of extreme poverty and even then, eating other animals is often inefficient- but that is another argument entirely.

    You also glaze over the fact that a vast amount of animal research (like ANY research) is a waste of our tax dollars. Anyone in science can admit that they’ve seen some bullshit in their day, myself included. But you always put animal research up (outside of the scientific fraud in comparison to humans that it is) as this flawless field in terms of how many beings die for it- including humans.

    Stop acting like ethics and science are mutually exclusive issues in the reality of animal testing and human response.

    I don’t know why i even bothered to post this. I suppose my annoyance with the fact that front pages like this and the Center for Consumer Freedom end up in my news feed. I know from experience that Orac is a lot of hot air. On a place called “science blogs” there should be some representation for those of us in the field who know that the massive torture of other species is unnecessary and harmful to scientific advancement. That’d be the day…

  48. #48 Raging Bee
    March 2, 2010

    Bee, I don’t engage in ethics discussions with people who are unwilling or unable to be civil towards their opponents.

    Of course not — you can’t address my arguments, so you’re looking for an excuse to ignore them.

    I believe that a moral argument for the deliberate infliction of suffering on animals does not exist.

    This statement is just plain false: such moral arguments have indeed been made, here and elsewhere. Just because you don’t agree with such arguments, does not mean they don’t exist.

    Is it moral for humans to keep increasing and displacing all other critter mass?

    This is a completely separate issue from animal research.

    Is it moral to throw all these huge resources at science, and without significant citizen input?

    Say what? Where do you get this idea that science acts “without significant citizen input?” This is nothing but paranoid raving about a class of alien “other.”

    Is it moral to argue that if it’s good for humans, it’s “morally justified”?

    Yes, it is. Most human morality, in fact, is based on observation of what’s good or bad for humans.

    Is it moral to “save human lives” at any cost to the natural world?

    Are you against saving human lives? If not, then it’s on YOU to describe to us exactly where, in your opinion, we should draw the line between “justifiable” and “unjustifiable” saving of lives.

    Are animal research scientists prejudiced to argue this from the get-go because their careers and livelihoods depend on keeping animal research going?

    No, YOU are prejudiced when you ignore the substance of what scientists are saying, and make unfounded accusations of self-interest.

    And is it moral to refuse to draw a line btw trivial and non-trivial?

    We’ve already described how impossible it is to draw such a line; and you’re ignoring the whole discussion. Is it moral to ignore reality?

  49. #49 Raging Bee
    March 2, 2010

    You also glaze over the fact that a vast amount of animal research (like ANY research) is a waste of our tax dollars.

    Please describe specific instances of waste, and show what percentage of all research is wasteful.

    I don’t know why i even bothered to post this.

    Neither do I. All you’re doing is insulting people who have — so far at least — contributed far more of substance to this discussion than you.

  50. #50 Orac
    March 2, 2010

    I think this tells you all you need to know about Corvus:

    http://arphilosophia.blogspot.com/2010/02/another-case-of-animal-revolt.html

  51. #51 JohnV
    March 2, 2010

    “On a place called “science blogs” there should be some representation for those of us in the field who know that the massive torture of other species is unnecessary and harmful to scientific advancement. That’d be the day…”

    On a place called “science blogs” it would be great if people could provide citations for their statements that we’re supposed to take as facts. That’d be the day…

  52. #52 Adam_Y
    March 2, 2010

    Please describe specific instances of waste, and show what percentage of all research is wasteful.

    How about animal testing of homeopathy…
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1325402

  53. #53 Adam_Y
    March 2, 2010

    Note: I am not anti-animal testing. I just want to point out that there are instances where animal testing is just really idiotic.

  54. #54 Raging Bee
    March 2, 2010

    My cats tested homeopathy every time they drank water from their dish. They both died of complications resulting from old age, so I’m nbot sure what to make of those experiments…

  55. #55 Rorschach
    March 2, 2010

    Corvus, is your stupidity natural, or willfull?

    Animal research produces benefits for humankind–not just benefits in the sense that ‘eating a juicy steak’ is a benefit, but in the sense that ‘not dying of disease’ is a benefit. From there, it’s just a question of first principles. If your base assumption is that human life is no more valuable than animal life, then you will necessarily conclude that animal research for human benefit is never justified. On the other hand, I suspect most people do not consider rats and humans (or apes and humans) morally equivalent; consequently they are willing to sacrifice animals for the benefit of mankind.

    Tell you what: your stupidity is causing the suffering of a helpless animal (me), so why don’t you kill yourself and spare me the suffering? Douchenozzle.

  56. #56 vera
    March 2, 2010

    Todd, I used to visit occasionally, one of my family members was a cancer researcher, working with rodents mostly, but some mammals as well. In my experience, there was a tremendous sense of entitlement, and outright avoidance in thinking more about the matter. But mostly I am going on what I have seen in these discussions, and the arguments from the pro-side have been pretty depressing, generally boiling down to entitlement based on “ends justify means”. Other than that, I agree with you… except I would add to your “unfortunate necessity” something like… so how do we minimize it?

    Corvus: thank you. Your post reminded me… I think part of the sense of entitlement comes from the old (but not extinct) idea is that science is exempted from values considerations. Perhaps some of the rage expressed here on the pro-side can be attributed to the fact that scientists are no longer immune from values considerations, and from the personal input of the larger public. Myself, I salute this development as a Good Thing. :-)

  57. #57 JohnV
    March 2, 2010

    Vera since you’re here and all about the ethics can you answer this question?

    Is it ethical to benefit from decades of animal research while attempting to prevent others from deriving the same benefits?

  58. #58 JohnV
    March 2, 2010

    And as a followup, what steps do you take in your daily life to minimize the benefits you might otherwise obtain from animal research?

  59. #59 Adam_Y
    March 2, 2010

    My cats tested homeopathy every time they drank water from their dish. They both died of complications resulting from old age, so I’m nbot sure what to make of those experiments…

    The main difference between your cats and that experiment is that they didn’t have a hole gouged through their ears and they didn’t have idiots who thought that water would be a good idea to treat the wounds.

  60. #60 Yojimbo
    March 2, 2010

    @52 “How about animal testing of homeopathy”

    I dunno – giving water to animals sounds like what we ought to do. But point taken – any testing of homeopathy now seems pretty idiotic.

  61. #61 v.rosenzweig
    March 2, 2010

    I don’t think scientists, or people thinking about science, are any more likely to believe themselves outside ethical considerations than people in any other field. Where are the professional athletes renouncing their sport, and the nice paychecks, because it leads to hooliganism and even murder? When a bridge collapses, we may condemn the individual or company who cut corners or designed it badly, but we don’t start saying that it must be wrong to cross the Mississippi because people died on I-35. (Nor do we when brakes fail, or a drunk or sleeping driver hits another car.)

    It’s hard to think of an activity that can’t have ethical implications, but I don’t hear much about “driving ethics” or “editing ethics” (I have ethics, but there isn’t a field here as there is with science) or “cooking ethics” or “firefighting ethics” or “marketing ethics” or even “parenting ethics” as a special subject.

  62. #62 Adam_Y
    March 2, 2010

    I dunno – giving water to animals sounds like what we ought to do. But point taken – any testing of homeopathy now seems pretty idiotic.

    I regret assuming that anyone would read the abstract if I just linked to it. The study I linked cut holes in their ears.

  63. #63 Raging bee
    March 2, 2010

    Perhaps some of the rage expressed here on the pro-side can be attributed to the fact that scientists are no longer immune from values considerations, and from the personal input of the larger public.

    No, vera, it comes from the fact that: a) you’re making wild, ignorant, and demonizing accusations, without a shred of evidence, and without reference to what scientists ACTUALLY do (and ignoring numerous comments on that subject right here in these threads); and b) you’re doing so while pretending to “represent” the “larger public.” Who, exactly, elected you to represent them?

    And I, for one, am not apologizing for that “rage.” When ignorant careless lies are directed at us, by people who then completely ignore all evidence that contradicts their prejudice, anger is the appropriate response.

    Oh, and speaking of “personal input of the larger public,” do the personal stories of people whose lives were saved or improved as a result of animal research count?

  64. #64 Scientizzle
    March 2, 2010

    My argument is that since a moral argument for the deliberate infliction of suffering cannot be made, it is an evil and it ought to be approached accordingly by moral people.

    The moral argument for much of animal research is clear: research utilizing animals has generated invaluable and irreplacible data that has contributed directly and indirectly to great gains in human and animal medicine, not to mention the impacts in other fields such as evolutionary biology & ecology.

    It is a reasonable assumption that current and future animal research will also produce divedends of the the same sort.

    It is also readily apparent that the vast majority of humans currently value the needs of human individuals and societies over those of animals, broadly, but with several important cultural and legal mechanisms in place to protect animals.

    Finally, it is also reasonable to assume that–no matter the research protocol–some individuals will characterize the use of animals in any way as “deliberate infliction of suffering,” a phrase that is subjective on multiple levels and can encompass anything from highly invasive and lethal techniques to the argument that lab mice with ad libitim access to food & water and no predators are “suffering” by being in a cage.

    Therefore, vera, your breakdown of the situation is completely inaccurate. A moral argument for animal research has been offered. As with all moral arguments, one is free to accept or reject the argument, in part or in full, based on one’s subjective valuation of the variables involved.

  65. #65 Mike
    March 2, 2010

    The problem with asking someone to make a moral or ethical argument is that there is no such thing as absolutes in either, in that not everyone accepts any particular moral system. It is, to be blunt, ALL made up. We either accept the system (or principle) and its results, or we don’t. We can look at the real world and decide for ourselves if a principle gives a result we like, but we’re not going to get an answer from “on high”.
    The point is that of course no one can come up with an ethical or moral argument for it, because in YOUR system it doesn’t exist. And that is meaningless, because others don’t have that system, or those principles. If you’ve made up your mind that there is no possible argument, there never will be one.

  66. #66 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    In my experience, there was a tremendous sense of entitlement, and outright avoidance in thinking more about the matter.

    Vera, your experience =/= what’s actually happening.

    But mostly I am going on what I have seen in these discussions, and the arguments from the pro-side have been pretty depressing, generally boiling down to entitlement based on “ends justify means”.

    No, what’s going on here are scientists pointing out how human welfare has advanced through animal testing. As a side benefit, animals, especially companion animals (or, more correctly, wild animals humans genetically engineered to be more amenable to life with humans) have had their welfare improved as well.

    Your post reminded me… I think part of the sense of entitlement comes from the old (but not extinct) idea is that science is exempted from values considerations.

    Are you daft? Have you ever seen the hoops that scientists have to go through to engage in their research, be it with humans or animals. Heck, I’m not a scientist, but I have an advanced degree in Counseling Psychology. In getting that degree, even for a simple, novel research project utilizing humans answering a questionnaire, we had to fill out paperwork and submit our designs to an ethics committee. It was the some of the same paperwork the experimental psychology students had to fill out for animal (mice) testing. There are ethics involved across the board.

    Perhaps some of the rage expressed here on the pro-side can be attributed to the fact that scientists are no longer immune from values considerations, and from the personal input of the larger public.

    I think the majority of scientists are tired of having to explain themselves to the Jenny McCarthys and Jim Carreys of the world, folks with a blog and a yearly timeshare on a neuron who think that qualfies them to speaking knowingly on subjects beyond their keen.

    Don’t be a DicK, vera.

  67. #67 Yojimbo
    March 2, 2010

    @62 Actually, Adam_Y, I assumed there was probably something disturbing about the study you linked to. You’re right, it was idiotic – just someone trying to make nonsense appear legitimate by doing animal testing. But that is not the fault of animal testing. Blame the idiots.

  68. #68 vera
    March 2, 2010

    Jody, I don’t engage in ethics discussions with people who are unwilling or unable to be civil towards their opponents. Which part of it don’t you understand?

    Scientizzle: “The moral argument for much of animal research is clear: research utilizing animals has generated invaluable and irreplacible data that has contributed directly and indirectly to great gains in human and animal medicine, not to mention the impacts in other fields such as evolutionary biology & ecology.”

    This is another variation on “ends justify means.” C’mon folks. If the results justified the means, then why not experiment on humans from the get-go? I hear the Nazi experiments with hypothermia were quite useful and beneficial to later humans… Are you saying that in your world, you are content live as though ends justify means?

    JohnV: “Is it ethical to benefit from decades of animal research while attempting to prevent others from deriving the same benefits? And as a followup, what steps do you take in your daily life to minimize the benefits you might otherwise obtain from animal research?”

    John, I am not against all animal research. I see it as a compelling evil in some cases. I would like to see much less of it. That is why I am wasting my time on this forum. :-)

    Let me think through the rest of you question and get back to you. I think it’s a fair question.

  69. #69 Jim
    March 2, 2010

    I guess I have to state this before anything else to avoid confusion about where I stand:

    I am pro-animal testing. I understand it had great medical benefits… Nobel winners… insulin…

    My question is: Why do we need to use animal testing for cosmetics? Cosmetics are not necessary to human survival nor to the advancement of medicine, they are simply commodities. We can live without them perfectly well. I don’t see why it is necessary to submit animals to invasive medical procedures for cosmetics.

  70. #70 Fencedude
    March 2, 2010

    Jody, I don’t engage in ethics discussions with people who are unwilling or unable to be civil towards their opponents. Which part of it don’t you understand?

    Move those goalposts! Faster! FASTER!

  71. #71 Jim
    March 2, 2010

    I believe that vera’s reference to Nazis is additional evidence that Godwin’s Law holds.

    @vera: I believe it was made very clear previously why we do not experiment on humans. Please do not compare the researchers here to Nazis. There are huge differences.

  72. #72 Fuzzzone
    March 2, 2010

    vera: “Are you saying that in your world, you are content live as though ends justify means?”

    vera: “John, I am not against all animal research. I see it as a compelling evil in some cases.”

    So are you saying then that you are content to live as though the ends justify the means?

  73. #73 Dale
    March 2, 2010

    I kill hundreds of mice every year in the course of developmental biological research. It is done as humanely as possible (i.e. pregnant females are anesthetized and then subjected to cervical dislocation.) I don’t feel particularly guilty about it either. It is far less painful than what animals do to each other.

  74. #74 Adam_Y
    March 2, 2010

    My question is: Why do we need to use animal testing for cosmetics? Cosmetics are not necessary to human survival nor to the advancement of medicine, they are simply commodities. We can live without them perfectly well. I don’t see why it is necessary to submit animals to invasive medical procedures for cosmetics.

    There will never be any cosmetic that hasn’t had some background with animal testing for the simple fact that all chemicals have an MSDS sheet. The MSDS sheet contains the LD50 information. The LD50 involves animal testing.

  75. #75 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    Jody, I don’t engage in ethics discussions with people who are unwilling or unable to be civil towards their opponents. Which part of it don’t you understand?

    Oh, vera. Believe me, I was being civil. You haven’t seen me be uncivil. It isn’t pretty.

    In any event, my critique of your position still stands. You’ve ascribed your personal experience, including your thoughts, as being synonymous with reality. As Orac and a bevy of other posters have demonstrated, that simply isn’t the case.

  76. #76 vera
    March 2, 2010

    Heh. I knew I was gonna get jumped on. All I was trying to say, Jim, is that if all you have is referencing the benefits (and frankly, trying to sway the public with using these bennies as emotional bribes), then what kind of a moral leg do you have to stand on? So, tell me, do you believe that ends justify means?

    Fuzzzone: nice try, no cigar. No, I emphatically do not accept that ends justify means. How about you? When I say I see it as a compelling evil, I mean that I actually acknowledge it as evil and share responsibility for it. What else could it possibly mean?

  77. #77 D. C. Sessions
    March 2, 2010

    Is it moral for humans to keep increasing and displacing all other critter mass?

    Vera, you may not have noticed but the commentariat here is heavily loaded with people who understand and accept that evolution is the fundamental principle governing life. By and large we’re not big on accepting appeals to higher authority.

    Which is a roundabout way of suggesting that if you object to the proliferation of homo sapiens, you’re welcome to not participate but you’re also not going to get a whole lot of support for enforcing your particular behavioral mutation on other, fitter, members of the species.

  78. #78 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    @Jim: Thanks to the AR movement, there are now a lot of options for non-animal-tested cosmetics, and some large companies have moved well away from testing on animals. Partially this is because all the testing has already been done in the past on components, partially because we have better/other models to test against, and partially because what was the default position – test on animals – has become the fallback position – test on anything else, then test on animals if we need more info/have to meet government mandates.

    When people in the AR movement talk about the “enthusiasm” toward animal testing, incidentally, that’s what they’re referring to – the amount of time spent trying to find alternatives before going to the animal-based approaches. Some researchers are better at this than others, and the various oversight bodies help to make sure that non-animal testing has at least been considered first. Things are vastly better there than they used to be. There are still hold-outs where the governing bodies are referred to with disdain etc, but I believe (hope) they’re dying out.

    It _seems_ to be generally accepted by the population that testing for cosmetics is not desirable. I don’t have any figures for that, but from experience that’s the easiest case to make, the one that most people agree with.

  79. #79 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    Incidentally, to add a data point, I have to agree with vera on one thing: My girlfriend was doing a PhD for molecular biology, did cell physiology work, and was generally involved in labs that did animal experiments. Her experience was that the only reason they gave serious though to alternatives was because she pushed for that to happen – had she not been there, that would not have been a serious consideration. This was 15 years ago, and one case, so it’s a very weak data point – but it’s there, fwiw.

    I think that’s the view that AR gets – that researchers only worry about minimising animal use because they _have_ to, not because they want to – and certainly, when a discussion like this starts, there’s a very loud contingent that argues against there being any moral imperative to reduce suffering, and talks about how inconvenient it is to have to “jump through hoops” already. Doesn’t engender confidence.

  80. #80 Jim
    March 2, 2010

    @KevinL: But again, cosmetics are entirely useless for the survival of the species or for medical advancement. Is it not possible to pass a law preventing use of animals there entirely? I mean the immorality of using animals for testing cosmetics is clear.

  81. #81 Michael
    March 2, 2010

    “When we say “extraordinary claims”, what we actually mean are claims that do not already have evidence supporting them, or sometimes claims that have extraordinary evidence against them. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence because they usually contradict claims that are backed by extraordinary evidence.”
    Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. If I told you my name is Michael, you’d probably accept my word as evidence of that, since there are a lot of people in the world named Michael. If I told you that I’m Barack Obama’s illegitimate son, you’d probably demand more evidence than my word, since there aren’t a lot of people in the world who are illegitimate children of Barack Obama.

  82. #82 Scientizzle
    March 2, 2010

    “The moral argument for much of animal research is clear: research utilizing animals has generated invaluable and irreplacible data that has contributed directly and indirectly to great gains in human and animal medicine, not to mention the impacts in other fields such as evolutionary biology & ecology.”

    This is another variation on “ends justify means.” C’mon folks. If the results justified the means, then why not experiment on humans from the get-go? I hear the Nazi experiments with hypothermia were quite useful and beneficial to later humans… Are you saying that in your world, you are content live as though ends justify means?

    As my post stated very clearly, the moral argument for animal research has been proffered. You stated it hadn’t, which is demonstrably false. What you are doing is rejecting the provided moral argument, which is a purely subjective process.

    Onto your rejection: are you prepared to argue that the ends of an action never justify their means? No? Good, you’re not an idiot.

    The moral question of ends and means is a value judgment of two components: the positive moral value one assigns to “the ends” weighed against the negative moral value one assigns to “the means.” It is trivial to think of examples in which the value of one variable would outweigh the other in just about every person devoid of neuropathology (e.g., double parking your ambulance in order to rush a transplant organ to a dying child; setting fire to an orphanage to win a $5 bet). Thus, the argument structure of ends & means is not invalid, but individuals can disagree on the values assigned to each component.

    To evaluate the pro-research side’s claims, broadly & generally:
    The acquisition of data that is irreplaceable and crucial to the basic and clinical advances in the fields of medicine, ecology, evolutionary biology (etc.), directly and indirectly responsible for advances in the health and safety of humans and other animals…[The Ends]…is justified by experimentation on animals with ethical controls in place to require sufficiently compelling rationales for all protocols and considerations regarding the humane treatment of said animals to the greatest possible and practical extent…[The Means].

    For the animal rights side, many will begrudgingly acknowledge that The Ends provided by researchers is basically compelling, though there’s plenty of misinformation propagated to downplay the general success in this realm; some may discount these results based on their apparent de-valuation of human lives.

    The Means is where AR proponents differ most strongly. This is typically because they argue that animals should be treated as more-or-less equals to humans, therefore the moral cost of caging and experimenting on a mouse, for example, is comparable to caging and experimenting on a human.

    (Also note that some AR proponents explicitly (and others implicitly) argue that The Ends of eliminating animal research justify The Means of harassment, vandalism, assault, filming of faked videos in which animals are tortured, etc.)

    Now let’s turn back to your response above:

    If the results justified the means, then why not experiment on humans from the get-go?

    [Ignoring obvious practical considerations that would inform this, such as subject numbers, genetic variability, cost, recruitment times...] Because if one values human life and safety differently than that of a research animal, one can make the moral justification for procedures on an animal that one would not generally make regarding a human.

    I hear the Nazi experiments with hypothermia were quite useful and beneficial to later humans…

    In this example, I expect very few would argue that the ends justified the means. I wouldn’t. But I don’t equate the lives of lab mice with those of the Holocaust.

    The discussion above is full of generalities, so don’t get bogged down my distracting minutiae in response. The valuation of animal lives is an entirely subjective thing, and there’s wide variability even within the animal rights movement in the level of rights to assign various animals. I consider myself a strong proponent of animal welfare, but I remain unconvinced by animal rights arguments.

  83. #83 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    @Jim agreed – and their non-essential nature is what makes them easy to justify no animal testing for. Unfortunately, if a cosmetics company wants to use a new chemical they think will be a wonder-item, they’re often required to test on animals to prove safety. Also, no cosmetics company wants to risk putting something on the market that causes damage to it’s customers. So they’re going to be as careful as possible.

    All this points toward the need to develop the best possible models – not only for testing of things like cosmetics, but also to further our understanding of our own systems. As they come online (and yes, they require animal research to produce), the amount of animal-based testing needed should decrease even further.

    Some places have made testing on cosmetics illegal – Wikipedia has a good run-down of the current state: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testing_cosmetics_on_animals Neither Australia, where I am, or America, are on that list, unfortunately.

  84. #84 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    I think that’s the view that AR gets – that researchers only worry about minimising animal use because they _have_ to…

    Kevin, I don’t think that’s a justification for ARists position, but rather a commentary on human nature. I doubt that most AR follow the speed limit laws all the time or, to use a stereotype, obey every right of way / traffic rule for bike riding. Occasionally they get stopped, get a ticket or otherwise modify their behavior after remembering sometime or someone who’d been chastised for breaking those rules.

    We enacted the rules about welfare for animal subjects despite what the percentage of researchers is that show due deference or supplication to the ideals behind those rules.

  85. #85 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    @Jody, Sure – the fact that the rules are there is great, and shows that people recognise the issue and _do_ actually care. And sure, it becomes a tedium for researchers because it _is_ tedious to have to justify things, so that’s only human nature.

    There’s a concern floating around that people get used to their environment – police, for instance, get to assume over time that certain types of people are trouble makers simply because that’s what they always see. People working in abattoirs almost certainly don’t see any intelligence in the animals they’re slaughtering day by day, because to do so would (I suspect) drive you slowly mad. I _believe_ it’s easy to get into a place where the animals used for research don’t identify the same as the animals you deal with as pets (I recall seeing a study that pointed out exactly this, that researchers working with dogs identified their pets as pets and their lab dogs as almost another species, but haven’t been able to dig up a reference).

    That means that the attitudes between researchers and animal rights are always going to be very different, no matter how well the animals are treated – because researchers are used to seeing animals as test subjects, where AR people are not. AR, further, get horrified by the fact that their values – seemingly obvious and fundamental – aren’t shared.

    Note, in the above I’m not painting anyone as bad – I think in a lot of ways it’s simply what you’d expect to happen, no more no less. The upshot, though, is that there’ll always be a struggle between researchers who can see lots of benefits and very little downside to using animals, and AR people who, even if they acknowledge the benefits (as I do), want there to be more care displayed by researchers for what they’re doing – more value on the lives spent.

  86. #86 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    Note, because I can’t edit to add, the views above are my own only – there are certainly enough people out there that want to see animal testing stopped completely and don’t recognise any benefit. I’m not one of those, but I still believe we’re too “free and easy” in our use of animals, even with the governing bodies in place. The ideal would be to get rid of all animal testing, but that’s going to require a lot more knowledge about how things work ;)

  87. #87 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    …but I still believe we’re too”free and easy” in our use of animals, even with the governing bodies in place.

    Not to be unduly contrarian — or to risk being uncivil, as I’ve already been accused of — but I’m not sure what that means. See, to argue that science is using too many animals assumes that there is some “happy medium” between current use and not. How would we know? In a global sense, I’m not sure you can operationalize that.

    The reason why animals aren’t being used as often in cosmetic testing is, partially, because of outrage, but also because there are other, better, alternatives, ones that we can use now based on our the body of knowledge we’ve already acquired from testing such products on animals.

    I’d argue that if we want to use less animals over the long term, then the constant harassment and consternation of research and researchers in the short term is just prolonging the problem.

    Wondering out loud, I can’t help but think we’re using less animals now to solve basic science questions. Instead, their use comes at later stages of research, to test efficacy and, most importantly, safety. I could be wrong on that point, though.

  88. #88 jenbphillips
    March 2, 2010

    Wondering out loud, I can’t help but think we’re using less animals now to solve basic science questions. Instead, their use comes at later stages of research, to test efficacy and, most importantly, safety. I could be wrong on that point, though.

    Jody, in general, we have by no means exhausted our supply of ‘basic science questions’, and animal models continue to be a valuable means of addressing those questions. If your comment is specific to cosmetics, then yes–most of the ‘basic science questions’ about common ingredients (soaps, oils, whatever) have already been asked and answered, so further safety testing is not necessary. New ingredients, however, must continue to be safety tested before being approved for human use. Cosmetic companies which claim to be ‘cruelty free’ can achieve this by either using products that have previously been tested on animals and subsequently approved for use, or by outsourcing the testing to another company. Given our culture’s apparently insatiable appetite for new, improved ‘magic bullet’ cosmetics, I really don’t see this diminishing anytime soon.

  89. #89 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    @Jody, I refer again to http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jan/23/ben-goldacre-bad-science – that seems to suggest that there is a sloppiness in animal-based experiments that shouldn’t exist if people really valued the lives involved as highly as I, at least, think they should be. I suspect it’s no worse than non-animal-based research. But that’s what I mean by “free and easy” – the level of care taken, the value placed on the lives (as witnessed by the effort put into “getting it right”) seems lower than it should be. If researchers did everything in their power to make sure this stuff was being done properly and that animals were the last resort for testing, I for one would feel better – but the impression is always that that’s not what’s happening.

    The development of alternatives certainly helps with cosmetics, but it at least used to be cheaper to use animals than alternatives, so the animals were used. For that to happen seems ludicruous – certainly, it’ll get people’s backs up.

    There’s a long history of the AR “raids” – in research and in industrial/factory use of animals – turning up evidence of wrongdoing – probably moreso in agriculture than research, I suspect. From the AR viewpoint, it looks as though the governance isn’t as strict as it should be. Again, as you pointed out so nicely, the same could be said for almost any area of human endeavour. I think that’s why the harassment happens. I _will_ note that the website that triggered Orac’s first post on this subject is having a swipe at the rest of the AR movement almost as much as they are researchers – they’re deliberately marking themselves out as extreme and apart from the rest of AR, because they believe that direct action is needed. That’s not representative of the vast majority of AR supporters, any more than the evil scientist is of most researchers.

    I don’t know what percentage of animal experimentation is on basic research vs. end testing. It would be an interesting meta-study to do (or, if anyone has access to journals that might already have that info in it, it’d be fascinating to know). Certainly cell lines are used more heavily than they used to be. Progress continues, as it always does. I’m not sure how much difference that distinction makes though – or even if a distinction can clearly be made.

    I guess I believe that the “happy medium”, if it exists, is a bare minimum use of animals, and that we’re not there yet. Advances in our understanding of the systems we’re dealing with will help, but there’s financial and attitude-based (not to mention legal) failings there also. I also hate the idea that stupid studies – like the homeopathy one mentioned earlier – get clearance through the ethics boards, but then I hate that homeopathy even exists.

  90. #90 Calli Arcale
    March 2, 2010

    vera @ 45:

    Calli, I don’t think we are far apart. Except, uh, have you checked recently about how much damage the plow has done to the soil for the last 8,000 years or so? It should go the way of animal research… only done when nothing else will do, and with great restraint and care.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see much alternative. If we are to feed the billions of humans on earth, we need to till the soil, and on a vast scale. It’s not something done just because farmers don’t know better; the difference in yield between plowed and unplowed farms is so vast it’s hardly worth studying. Plows, even manpowered ones, have turned starving villages into thriving exporters.

    That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Agricultural runoff is a huge problem, probably on a par with industrial emissions, even ignoring fertilizers and pesticides within that runoff — the silt alone is a problem. It even affects climate, and it’s responsible for dead zones at the mouths of many major rivers (including, most notably, the Mississippi). Fortunately, there are people working on the problem, but I don’t think it’s got adequate political will behind it. At least not yet. To too many people, farms and the whole system of food production is “out of sight, out of mind”.

    But I digress. ;-) I agree — I think you and I are on much the same page with respect to animal welfare. You did mention at some point (I’ve got a cold so I’m a but fuzzy in the head at the moment) that the ends do not always justify the means. This is true. However, the ends may justify the means if the price is right. That is, looking at only the ends or only the means is wrong. You have to look at both simultaneously — cost versus benefit. If the benefit outweighs the cost, then the ends do justify that particular means. Unfortunately, it’s usually a bit of a judgment call, and both the value of the ends and the price of the means can be a matter of debate.

  91. #91 Jim
    March 2, 2010

    @KevinL:

    I don’t think you get the idea. I don’t care whether or not a cosmetics company wants to send out a new product. It should be illegal to test it on animals and if this means that the company cannot send out this new product, then so be it. When it comes to something as useless as cosmetics, the animal’s life, no matter how little value one might attribute to it, is infinitely more valuable than the product.

  92. #92 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    @Jen, thanks for that. Yes, I was directly talking about cosmetics, but I was wondering out loud about the larger question. Honestly, I don’t know all the ins & outs of animal testing, so I was hoping someone like you would show up and offer a more knowledgeable opinion.

    I do think it’s interesting that “basic science” in terms of cosmetics have been done and that less animal research is required. It’s why I wondered / thought that, over a period of time, the use of animals will naturally decrease as more questions have been solved.

    @Kevin, I’m not a huge fan of the Guardian. Their reporting on AGW of late has been terrible, so I’ve got a running bias against the paper that isn’t soon to dissipate. That doesn’t mean that the reporting isn’t accurate, just I’m more skeptical than usual of their methods.

    I’m also less inclined to believe AR activists statements of wrong doing on the part of researchers, unless those statements are backed up by corroborating evidence and investigative findings by the associated universities, institutions or legal authorities.

    For discussion sake, assuming any report is valid, you’d have to be able to demonstrate that, together, they add up to a clear and consistent pattern of over-use of animals in unnecessary experiments instead of it indicating your belief of such a thing.

  93. #93 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    When it comes to something as useless as cosmetics, the animal’s life, no matter how little value one might attribute to it, is infinitely more valuable than the product.

    Jim, I feel exactly the opposite. A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal. What needs to be done to ensure human safety is a far more pressing moral concern.

  94. #94 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    @Jim I’m agreeing with you entirely.

    @Jody, ignore that it’s on the Guardian, it’s a Ben Goldacre piece – he’s an excellent addition to your blogroll if you don’t already read him, http://www.badscience.net/ – excellent coverage of woo-related issues.

    I hold that article (or rather, the study it references) as a first (and honestly, best, given it’s a meta-study across a wide range of research) example. I also point to experiments such as the Homeopathy one referenced earlier in the thread, or the 12(?) Monkeys Wakefield experiment, as examples of bad science being done that costs animal lives. How many examples would you consider sufficient to indicate a pattern, and why does that study not suffice?

  95. #95 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal.

    Jody, why?

  96. KevinL, what’s more valuable — your mother’s life, or a lab mouse’s?

  97. #97 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    The response doesn’t make sense – you’re not measuring difference between types of animals, you’re measuring difference between social circles. http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html for (only slightly tongue in cheek) reference ;)

    My mother’s life is more valuable than _yours_ afai’m concerned, that doesn’t mean I’m advocating experimenting on you…

  98. #98 Raging Bee
    March 2, 2010

    Jody, I don’t engage in ethics discussions with people who are unwilling or unable to be civil towards their opponents.

    vera, once again you’re flat-out lying: the only “uncivil” thing Jody did was address, and debunk, your arguments. Your “uncivil” dodge is as transparently cowardly as it is transparently dishonest.

    Civility is a two-way street, and once you’ve made the kind of ignorant, groundless insinuations you’ve made about scientists, you don’t get to demand that others be civil to you.

    All I was trying to say, Jim, is that if all you have is referencing the benefits (and frankly, trying to sway the public with using these bennies as emotional bribes), then what kind of a moral leg do you have to stand on?

    ALL morality is about “referencing the benefits.” The very purpose of morality is to bring benefits to our lives in the real world. Actions are judged “moral” or “immoral” based on that single factor: whether they bring net benefit or net harm to people and society in the real world.

    So yes, the moral justification for appropriate animal experimentation is based on REAL and SIGNIFICANT benefits to people. What’s YOUR morality based on? What benefit does YOUR moral code (which, BTW, you still haven’t specified) offer us?

  99. #99 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    Incidentally (I never seem to be able to think of everything on the first post), rather than being _too_ flip I’ll expand on the Monkeysphere comment above. The argument that “your mum means more to you than this mouse, therefore we should be able to experiment on animals” is (imnsho) largely bankrupt – it’s an argument from emotion. I can find you people who value their pets more than they value their parents, or (conversely) people who’ve treated their animals (or their other possessions) better than they have their kids – that doesn’t _mean_ anything. Emotion is not a strong case for separating between animals and humans.

    The argument for experimenting on animals is strong – there is substantial benefit from doing so, in certain situations. I never argued against that, and never will. However, a) I believe we have to be very careful about how much and under what conditions we do; and b) pretty much every argument you can make for experimenting on animals gets _stronger_ when applied to experimenting on humans. The only one that doesn’t is “they’re not us”, as far as I can see, and that has some negatives anyway in terms of model effectiveness.

    There’s an inherent squeamishness when the idea of doing primary experimentation on humans is bought up. For very good reasons, I think – and again, I think all _those_ reasons apply to animals as well as to humans – it’s about reduced suffering, predominantly. What we end up doing is saying “well, they’re not us, so they’re not as valuable, and we think we’ll get a heap of benefit out of this stuff, so let’s do it on them”. What AR says is “it’s not enough to just say ‘they’re not us’, that doesn’t count as an argument”.

    I’m willing to concede I’m strawman’ing here if there’s a replacement for “they’re not us” that I haven’t thought of.

  100. #100 MosesZD
    March 2, 2010

    Is any human affliction that defenders of animal research would recognize as being simply too trivial to justify locking animals in labs and/or killing them to address?

    Posted by: diana | March 2, 2010 1:06 PM

    The sheep, no doubt, would wish to preach the benefit of eating grass to the wolf. Sadly, for the sheep, the wolf understands the benefit of mutton.

    As far as your loaded question… There is no answer you will take but complete capitulation to your imagined fangs and rapier wit. So, rather than waste my time…

  101. #101 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    I hold that article (or rather, the study it references) as a first (and honestly, best, given it’s a meta-study across a wide range of research) example

    Kevin, thanks for the link. I did go read the article. Unless I missed something, there was nothing in reference to the study saying the science was “unnecessary.” It said that there were a body of studies that were poorly executed — science wise. There’s nothing there that says the animals were treated inhumanely, nor that the question being studied didn’t warrant the use of animals — unless you are arguing that inhumanity was that an animal died for a bad study.

    But that’s a 20/20 hindsight argument. All other things being equal, there was no way to know ahead of time that study x was going to have those problems.

    What I gathered from your prior statements and from that article is that you are assuming that the scientists didn’t care or didn’t care enough about the animals being used in those shoddy studies. My counter is that I doubt any of those scientists set out to do shoddy work and that, in any case, we simply don’t have any information about what their emotional or psychological intent towards an animal was.

  102. #102 Jim
    March 2, 2010

    @Jody: I don’t think you understood my argument. Here’s a rephrase: Cosmetics are useless. If they need animal experimentation, then I am advocating for the end of cosmetics. Nowhere in here is there a problem of safety for the human being. Nowhere in here is there a chance to help humans by advancing medicine. As a matter of fact, cosmetics have been shown to pose health risks to some users even after being tested on a gazillion animals. So, the faster we get rid of them, the better. Also, I disagree with your statement that: “A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal.” More precisely, I disagree with “far more”, although I cannot propose a different quantification.

  103. #103 MosesZD
    March 2, 2010

    BTW, the actual quote is:

    It does the sheep no good to preach the goodness of a diet of grass, if the wolves are of a different mind.

    The bottom line is, your hyperbole is a loaded crap-fest. Having a spouse in research, as a population these scientists don’t like to kill anything. And, the closer to “warm and fuzzy” it gets, the more they hate the possiblity.

  104. #104 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal.

    Jody, why?
    Posted by: KevinL | March 2, 2010 10:08 PM

    If for no other reason than a human whose life is saved by animal testing is far more likely to invent a method to save all animals from the need for being tested on than the animal whose life is saved will invent a method to save all human life.

    You can substitute “an animal” for “all animals” and “a human” for “all humans” in the above and the point still stands.

    In other words, utilizing the coldest of moral calculus, a saved human life benefits the human and the animal, whereas the saved animal life only benefits the animal.

  105. #105 Jody
    March 2, 2010

    Cosmetics are useless.

    There are a lot of people who disagree with you on that point.

    If they need animal experimentation, then I am advocating for the end of cosmetics.

    Okay.

    Nowhere in here is there a problem of safety for the human being.

    Sure there is. Humans want to use cosmetics. Whether you believe they should or not is quite beside the point. Until people no longer wish to use cosmetics, we need to make sure the cosmetics that are used are safe.

    Nowhere in here is there a chance to help humans by advancing medicine.

    Debateable, but not really worth it.

    As a matter of fact, cosmetics have been shown to pose health risks to some users even after being tested on a gazillion animals.

    As do medicines, but the point isn’t 100% perfection. It’s utilitarian: the greatest good for the greatest number.

    So, the faster we get rid of them, the better.

    That may very well be true, but we haven’t gotten rid of cosmetics yet. You are more than free to advocate for the end of cosmetics and for the end of cosmetics testing on animals. But that day isn’t here yet.

    Also, I disagree with your statement that: “A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal.” More precisely, I disagree with “far more”, although I cannot propose a different quantification.

    See my response to Kevin.

  106. #106 MosesZD
    March 2, 2010

    Calli, I don’t think we are far apart. Except, uh, have you checked recently about how much damage the plow has done to the soil for the last 8,000 years or so? It should go the way of animal research… only done when nothing else will do, and with great restraint and care.

    Posted by: vera | March 2, 2010 3:17 PM

    My sister, the vet, dated this PETA freak back in the 90’s… He actively cheered Ebola and rooted for AIDS. His wet-dream was a huge, human-extinting plague. Our family rejoiced when she finally saw the light and dumped his defective, leaching ass for an actual human.

    I bring him up because your plow comment is the exact stupid ass thing he’d bring up at the dinner table during holiday breaks when she’d bring him home during quarter-breaks from the University.

    The problem, as I see you Vera, is that you (somewhere inside) hate humanity and think it’s pretty much worthless, therefore, no animal research could ever be justified. Your arguments and secondary positions, like so many of your stripe, seems to be a lot less about being ethical to animals as it is papering over your disregard-to-actively-hating humanity.

    The bottom line is, without the plow, we don’t eat. We die. It takes, depending on soil fertility, 60 to 100 times more land to support a hunter-gatherer than a farmer.

    So, while lots of ignorant people romanticize the hunter-gatherer lifestyle… It was nasty, brutish and short punctuated by dietary deficiencies, starvation and predation.

    And if we suddenly reverted… Not only would we have the huge human die-off. But in our going, we’d denude/de-speciate the planet.

    Anyway, interesting to see into that inadvertent window. You preach an abandonment of farming for no good reason. And one that could lead to catastrophe, not only for the human race, but for much of the biosphere and hordes of starving people just don’t lay down and die like you’d like them too…

  107. #107 KevinL
    March 2, 2010

    @Jody Ok, but a human whose life is saved by _human_ testing is just as likely to come up with new stuff – and human testing is far more accurate and useful. We certainly could make up lists of people who are never likely to advance humanity very far (I’m probably on that list) and are therefore, by your calculus, expendable…

    This is the problem. There’s no good measuring stick – nothing that doesn’t lead to one side or the other throwing their hands up in exasperation. Fundamentally, we’re all animals, it’s just that we (as humans) value humans more highly than we do other animals. Even if the human in question is ill or not fully functioning, we’ll treat them as a “higher form” than animals. There’s no cold hard logic to back that up.

    The AR movement says “ok, so if we can’t quantify the difference in clear terms, perhaps there _is_ no difference. Where does that get us?”. Again, read Peter Singer for the direction that sort of utilitarian ethics goes. I wouldn’t argue that we substitute humans for animals in testing, though – instead, I’d rather argue that we minimise testing.

    You _believe_ that the vast majority of testing is done well, by people who care, for useful purpose. I’m not so convinced. Neither of us have any hard evidence to back up either side – at least, not that either side is entirely happy with. It leaves the discussion somewhat at logger heads. If anyone can reference any studies into the usefulness of animal-based research, overall effectiveness, number of research projects where alternatives could have been used but weren’t, levels of suffering by lab animals or anything else that actually studies this question, then I’d love to see it. Some of this must be being studied, if only to measure the effectiveness of the oversight bodies.

    However, one thing is _usually_ clear – minimising suffering to animals _and_ humans is a worthy goal, regardless of anything else. If for no other reason than that it means researchers don’t have to witness suffering, relieving them of pain. That’s worth keeping in mind before trying to pick holes in the ethos of the other side – there’s shared ground there, however tenuous.

    All too often, people come out “pro-testing” – without lots of caveats, that position looks amoral and horrific. I _believe_ from reading this blog that most “pro-testing” people are actually just “anti-anti-testing” – they’re not arguing for less oversight or more testing, they’re arguing that we’ve reached the right level already and don’t need to improve, or that there’s too much focus on reduced testing when we could get more benefit elsewhere. That’s not how the position looks through the filters, and certainly hard to maintain faith in after someone’s tried to pick away at the foundations for believing that suffering is bad.

    I’ll be wrong, of course – there’ll be someone pops up after this post saying no, they think we should test more on animals. But again, there’s no basis for testing on animals that doesn’t apply equally well to testing on humans, except “they’re not us”.

  108. #108 Jim
    March 2, 2010

    @Jody:

    “There are a lot of people who disagree with you on that point.”
    >> And I honestly don’t care. I only advocate for animal testing if the testing has the possibility of bringing significant medical benefit to humans. Cosmetics clearly cannot achieve this. They are also part of a consumerist lifestyle that, in my belief, has to die as quickly as possible.

    “Sure there is. Humans want to use cosmetics. Whether you believe they should or not is quite beside the point. Until people no longer wish to use cosmetics, we need to make sure the cosmetics that are used are safe.”
    >> Again, I refuse to agree to animal testing in this case. Cosmetics cannot contribute to the advancement of medicine. They are commodities. An animals’ life is, in my opinion, far more valuable than a commodity, regardless of whether or not I am depriving consumers. You are also making a bizarre statement. How about this: Teenagers want to drive without licenses. Whether you believe they should or not is quite besides the point. Until teenagers no longer wish to drive without licenses, we need to make sure that they can drive without licenses safely.

    “Debateable, but not really worth it.”
    >> Please…

    “As do medicines, but the point isn’t 100% perfection. It’s utilitarian: the greatest good for the greatest number.”
    >> Except there is no “greatest good” with cosmetics, as a matter of fact there is no good whatsoever. They bring no health improvements to those who use them.

    “That may very well be true, but we haven’t gotten rid of cosmetics yet. You are more than free to advocate for the end of cosmetics and for the end of cosmetics testing on animals. But that day isn’t here yet.”
    >> A useless statement. Surely, you did not believe that I thought that cosmetics have ended because I posted a comment on a blog?

    “If for no other reason than a human whose life is saved by animal testing is far more likely to invent a method to save all animals from the need for being tested on than the animal whose life is saved will invent a method to save all human life.”
    >> You have got to be kidding: “than the animal whose life is saved will invent a method to save all human life.” Save all human life from what? Coercive experimentation on humans by animals? LOL.

    “You can substitute “an animal” for “all animals” and “a human” for “all humans” in the above and the point still stands.”
    >> No it does not. From what are all animals supposed to save all humans?

    “In other words, utilizing the coldest of moral calculus, a saved human life benefits the human and the animal, whereas the saved animal life only benefits the animal. ”
    >> Incorrect. A saved human life benefits the human life and has a minuscule probability of helping the animal (if the human ends up being a famous scientist who discovers a method to stop animal testing in some domain). Moreover, if this is the case, the human will no doubt have to do a lot of animal testing himself, thus harming significantly more animal lives.

  109. #109 dguller
    March 3, 2010

    KevinL:

    What is more valuable, your favorite dog, or a stranger’s baby?

  110. #110 dguller
    March 3, 2010

    KevinL:

    Even better, can you give me a scenario in which you have the choice between saving a human and saving an animal, and you would choose to save the animal?

    It doesn’t count if the human is an evil dictator, by the way. ;)

  111. #111 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @dguller: The argument is flawed. KevinL has already dealt with a similarly flawed argument above in comment 99.

  112. #112 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @dguller: First of all, of course it does count if the human is an evil dictator. Second of all, this argument is also flawed. Refer to comment 99. Third of all, suppose I actually accept the argument as valid. Consider the following example:

    Human: Dick Cheney.

    Animal: Whatever you want. No, really. Whatever you want.

  113. #113 Jody
    March 3, 2010

    @Jody Ok, but a human whose life is saved by _human_ testing is just as likely to come up with new stuff – and human testing is far more accurate and useful. We certainly could make up lists of people who are never likely to advance humanity very far (I’m probably on that list) and are therefore, by your calculus, expendable…

    Sure, we could create such a list, but we have no need to extend our list past two: humans and animals. No matter what animal you pick, no matter how intelligent the animal, the odds of it doing anything on its own to improve the world for itself and for us is far lower than that of any person doing the same.

    This is the problem. There’s no good measuring stick – nothing that doesn’t lead to one side or the other throwing their hands up in exasperation. Fundamentally, we’re all animals, it’s just that we (as humans) value humans more highly than we do other animals. Even if the human in question is ill or not fully functioning, we’ll treat them as a “higher form” than animals. There’s no cold hard logic to back that up.

    Sure we’re animals, but we’re animals of a different sort. We’re the only species on the planet to develop the ability to make things better (or worse) for every other species on the planet, even the planet itself. Again, being cold, we should value any and every human more than we do any and every animal, because a human has the ability to do so much more than any animal, especially when we focus purely on welfare.

    The AR movement says “ok, so if we can’t quantify the difference in clear terms, perhaps there _is_ no difference. Where does that get us?”. Again, read Peter Singer for the direction that sort of utilitarian ethics goes. I wouldn’t argue that we substitute humans for animals in testing, though – instead, I’d rather argue that we minimise testing.

    Sure, AR can argue that, but I find that argument ridiculous and really just another form of magical thinking. There is nothing special about an animal, outside of whatever specialness we grant to it. No animal on this planet can outcompete us. No animal on this planet other than us can make this planet a better place for humans and animals. Therefore, I can’t argue that we minimize testing. I can argue that we minimize the pain we cause to any animals that we test on — and do.

    You _believe_ that the vast majority of testing is done well, by people who care, for useful purpose.

    No, I don’t. I believe that the vast majority of experiments that utilize animals are necessary. Why? Because it goes through a review process, a very stringent review process made more so over the last 50 years do to our increasing desire to minimize any unnecessary pain inflicted on them. Whether the scientists who actually do the testing care or not is immaterial. The guidelines in use today are far better than at any time in the past.

    Neither of us have any hard evidence to back up either side – at least, not that either side is entirely happy with.

    Kevin, with respect, it isn’t my place to provide evidence that animal testing is necessary, beneficial or humane. It plainly is. Orac has done a lions’ share of providing that evidence, the balance being the simple fact that you and I are alive, the product of decades of medical research utilizing animal analogues. Whatever the remainder is, that so many of our pets can have so many life saving techniques performed on them demonstrates that animal testing has been good for them, too.

    However, one thing is _usually_ clear – minimising suffering to animals _and_ humans is a worthy goal, regardless of anything else. If for no other reason than that it means researchers don’t have to witness suffering, relieving them of pain.

    Sure, but at this stage of our civilization, both goals aren’t simultaneously attainable. Animal suffering is only minimized as a direct result of human life saved. Indeed, if we are ever to achieve a world where no animal is ever used for anything ever again, it’s going to require the continued increase in knowledge that comes from causing animals pain.

    Kevin, I just can’t see the equivalence between animals and humans. No matter how intelligent, no matter how like us any other creature on this planet is, none of them have the ability to make the world a better place for most or all of them and us. We’re the only species that consistently and intent has made any kind of impact for the better on them, let alone us.

  114. #114 Douglas Watts
    March 3, 2010

    Orac,

    I know you are a surgeon and a medical doctor, but your statements above show you are totally ignorant of the legislative history and current status of domestic animal and wildlife law. There is an enormous amount of settled law on this topic which I could cite ad nauseum but I won’t because you already should have familiarized yourself with this information. It’s all available to you for free on the Great Google.

    Taking in all of this law, the issues of first principle you attempt to raise have long been settled by existing statutes. As the courts are wont to say, “we need not reach this question.” Or as lawyers often say, “That ship has sailed.”

    You say, “Whether or not animal research is justifiable is a moral and ethical argument more than anything else.”

    That would be incorrect. This is purely a legal issue. For example, you cannot do elective, lethal research on a Right Whale or a California Condor or a Whooping Crane, even if this research might lead result in a cure for cancer. The U.S. Endangered Species Act fundamentally prevents it. If primates were native to the United States you could not do any research on them at all, since all of them would now be protected under the ESA. The only reason primates can be used for research in the United States is that the ESA does not apply to animal species which are non-native to the United States. It is a loophole. This entire cross-border issue is being litigated now in the U.S. Court of Appeals on the specific topic of circus elephants thanks to the very nice folks at Meyer & Glitzenstein in D.C., who are one of the premier law firms in the world dedicated to saving endangered species from extinction, like the Atlantic salmon.

    As I said earlier, I want to keep this focussed on elective lethal primate research, since it makes for you the hardest argument to make. Make your case. Show your data. Show your plan. Be a scientist.

  115. #115 dguller
    March 3, 2010

    Jim:

    Thanks for the head’s up about KevinL’s response, but I’m not persuaded by it.

    I think that it is perfectly reasonable to say that they are not-us as grounds for not granting them the full rights of human beings. It does not follow that they have no rights at all. It is not an all or nothing situation. I think that they do have the right to be treated in such a fashion as to minimize their suffering, but that their lives do not hold equal or greater worth than the lives of human beings.

    I really do not understand why this is so controversial. I suppose that one could argue that this could lead to a slippery slope in which not-us could be expanded to include humans that are not part of my group, and that would imply that they have fewer rights than those in my group do. However, this does not have to be the case if one sets the boundary as the group of human beings.

    Also, if KevinL objects to the use of emotion in reasoning altogether as fallacious, then why get so upset about animal experimentation? It isn’t just an abstract philosophical issue, but a visceral one that is rooted in the emotion of disgust.

    Anyway, I really do not think that there is a clean answer to this debate. Our moral intuitions are fundamentally contradictory, and thus we have to make due with minimizing the tension between them as best as we can. You see that in any hot button moral issue whether euthanasia or abortion. They are all based upon moral intuitions that happen to contradict one another. Neither moral intuition is more correct than the other, but for the sake of psychological and societal cohesion, we try to minimize the tension between them in a manner that is inherently imperfect and open to revision depending upon future circumstances.

    Maybe it’s pointless to try to prove which moral principle is superior to the other and just acknowledge that this is an inherently irreconcilable issue that we have to come to some manner of pragmatic consensus?

  116. #116 Jody
    March 3, 2010

    >> You have got to be kidding….
    >> No it does not. From what are all animals supposed to save all humans?

    Jim, to reiterate, humans that are alive through knowledge gained from animal testing have and will continue to make medical and related advancements in health and livelihood that benefit both humans and animals. I know of no animal that has contributed in the same way to the well being of either Humanity or other animals. As has been discussed here, there are plenty of humans who have.

    However, in the interests of being civil, if you know of any non-human scientist, doctor, surgeon, clinician, planner, thinker or inventor who has made life better for either animals or humans or both, please share.

  117. #117 KevinL
    March 3, 2010

    @Jody completely leaving aside the example of intellectually handicapped humans, which by your definitions are in dangerous territory, the jury’s still out on whether we’re more valuable or not from an evolutionary sense. I read an argument the other day that suggested that we’re more likely to meet non-tool-wielding intelligent life than tool-wielding, because tool-wielding types are more likely to wipe themselves out. Not sure I 100% agree, but the point it raises – that from an evolutionary point of view we may still be a very short dead end – is valid.

    Measuring value by the ability to modify the environment is a new one by me – while it might work at a species level if you accept the premise, it’s not going to work on an individual level. It’s also somewhat of a rationalisation, I think – I still contend that we don’t measure an animal’s ability to modify the world around it and then decide to experiment on it, that justification comes afterwards. But that’s the way of these things.

    Your stringent review process, by the way, allowed the homeopathy experiment above, and Wakefield’s monkey tests. Neither of which I believe are valid uses of animals. I contend they’re not the only two cases that made it through. I further contend that the uselessness of the _results_ of a significant number of studies (and yes, as distinct from the uselessness of the subject of the study, which you rightly pulled me up on earlier) undermines the argument for the use of animals further – if we can’t get it right…

    Your point on not providing the evidence side-steps a little – I’ve never argued animal testing isn’t beneficial, it plainly is. Orac’s not offered up any proof that the majority of animal testing is humane (or indeed that the majority of experiments are useful, as that would take a study I don’t think anyone’s done or likely to do, and a lot of value judgements). But before that discussion takes place, humane needs to be defined, because I guarantee we have different definitions of that. If by humane you mean “follows the rules”, then I’m willing to agree that somewhere upwards of 80% probably does – although again, I have some suspicions due to my observations of human nature. We’ll almost certainly disagree on whether those rules are sufficient, though.

    I will also point out, briefly, that the argument about making the world a better place for animals is on shaky ground. Sure, you can point to cases of so-and-so’s pet that’s been well looked after, but countered against the treatment of our food – well, the scales are not even. We do a lot of research into how to make animals better per-unit producers of food, and that’s not at all in their benefit. I’d say non-human animals generally had a better run at it before industrialisation, on the whole. But, before someone twists that, I’d never argue for a return to that. There’s also all the species dead or dying due to our impact.

    I need to think about the “because we can modify our environment” argument – that is indeed a novel measure for me, and an interesting one. Taking the long view, I’m not sure whether I agree that it’s a good measure or not. I certainly don’t off-hand think it gives us the right to cause suffering in others – that feels a lot like a “I’m able, so I will” argument, which is fine for the wild, but questionable if we’re to be more, um, civilized.

  118. #118 Johnny
    March 3, 2010
    A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal.

    Jody, why?

    You *can’t* be freakin’ serious….

    I love animals, not just the cute ones, and not just because they are filled with meat. I have been known to kill animals – sometimes for lunch, sometimes because the were suffering, and sometimes because they were pest. However, I don’t work in the biological field, so no claiming I “torture” animals for my job.

    I’ve never killed animals lightly, and (other than that one time a with glue trap) I’ve tried to make it as quick as possible. ( I wasn’t *trying* to kill the mouse slow, but but I didn’t know glue traps were that evil, and I’ll never use them again.)

    However, as Penn and Teller said (more or less) in their well done send up of PETA, ‘I will choke the life out of every chimp on the planet, with my bare hands, to save the life of one street junkie with AIDS’.

    Anybody who thinks any animal, or any bunch of animals, or any species, is worth more than a human is less than human themselves.

    Humans are humans, people are people, and non-humans animals aren’t. It’s just that simple, and all the talk of ‘social contracts’, and retarded kids, and four baby humans being equal to eight puppies is just mental masturbation.

    If you are so disconnected from the human family, if you think human life is that cheap… well, this concealed hand gun carrying, mostly Republican (I have split a ticket or two in my life), NRA belonging, hunter and fisherman, meat eating, V-8 driving, defense contractor cares more about the *people* on this planet than you do. If that doesn’t make your little liberal ass explode, maybe this will… I also give platelets more than 20 times a year, I make loans on kiva.org, I give to charity even when there are too many earthquakes, I listen to the Dead (days worth on my iPod), I’ve answered to ‘hey, hippie’, I stop to help stranded motorist (even Chevy drivers), and I think you’re a dick. (In fact, everyone I know named Kevin has been a dick, but most Dicks have been nice guys. Go figure.)

    The reason I think you’re a dick is simple. Humans, even your narrow little ass, is all we have to count on. There is no God, or gods, no magic, and there is nothing but our brains and human knowledge to save us from… well, everything, really.

    Anything that adds to human knowledge, anything that saves *one* of us, might save all of us. It’s damn well worth it to kill a mouse or a chimp or anything else to help save a human, and maybe the human race.

    Cosmetics have been mentioned, as well as boner pills. Boner pills started life as heart medicine, and erections were noted as a side effect. I say ‘bonus’ at my age.

    Cosmetics can lead to infection, and infection can lead to death, so I think it’s reasonable to make sure cosmetics are as safe as possible – even if it means a rabbit has to suffer. I like my women in a mostly natural state (or natural looking, anyway). Most people don’t, according to the pictures I’ve seen, but I’d rather have a live woman than dead one, or even a more healthy one than one who was less so.

    YMMV

  119. #119 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @dguller: We can argue about what KevinL said but I want to point out something. You have just won the lottery. This paragraph is the only (I repeat only) correct answer to this debate:

    “Anyway, I really do not think that there is a clean answer to this debate. Our moral intuitions are fundamentally contradictory, and thus we have to make due with minimizing the tension between them as best as we can. You see that in any hot button moral issue whether euthanasia or abortion. They are all based upon moral intuitions that happen to contradict one another. Neither moral intuition is more correct than the other, but for the sake of psychological and societal cohesion, we try to minimize the tension between them in a manner that is inherently imperfect and open to revision depending upon future circumstances.”

    There cannot be a clean answer. Our values are not fixed in place. They are contingent. They conflict with one another. They also conflict with the values of others. Life is a sum of situations of conflicting values. The only thing we can do is attempt to reach a compromise.

    My compromise: I accept animal testing when it is used in scientific research if there is at least a good chance that this testing will help medicine move forward. However, I refuse to accept animal testing when used for trivialities, such as development of cosmetics (more on this from above).

  120. #120 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Jody: I misrepresented your point and for that, I apologize. However, you only answered one of my counter-points. I made many. What about the others?

  121. #121 dguller
    March 3, 2010

    Jim:

    First, I can’t believe I FINALLY won the lottery! ;)

    Second, I think we’re in agreement about the cosmetics issue. I do not think that animals should be used when the issue is cosmetics, no more than I support hunting animals for sport to decorate one’s wall with the head’s of one’s victims. A life should not be sacrificed for vanity.

  122. #122 Douglas Watts
    March 3, 2010

    I think that it is perfectly reasonable to say that they are not-us as grounds for not granting them the full rights of human beings. It does not follow that they have no rights at all. It is not an all or nothing situation.

    Correct. If you kick your daughter’s kitten to death you cannot claim “it is not like us” as a defense.

    Cognitive research on apes, chimps and bonobos shows they at least have the cognitive ability/awareness of 3-4 year old human children, and probably more, since we are still too stupid to figure out how to communicate with them.

  123. #123 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @dguller: Glad we agree on those. A life should definitely not be sacrificed for vanity.

  124. #124 Jody
    March 3, 2010

    Jim, in the interests of time and clarity, I answered the most important. The cosmetics issue is an argument between the way the world is and the way you wish the world to be.

    It’s also one I don’t really care too much about — I’m gay. I like guys. Outside of some body washes and soaps, guys don’t generally use cosmetics. Frankly, to me, they’re just as hot be they sweaty or showered. Women look just as beautiful to me with our without makeup… but then again they aren’t wearing makeup to get me into bed.

  125. #125 KevinL
    March 3, 2010

    @dguller – agree 100% with the last 3 paragraphs of your post above. It _is_ an emotive topic, and most of this is rationalisation over top of the inherent decision. The truth of it is, most people will choose people over animals whenever given the choice, without thinking. Don’t try to pretend it’s logical, it’s not – it’s how we’re wired. We’re also wired to care more for our own families than for strangers, despite there being no quantifiable difference between two people other than “they’re with me”.

    Incidentally, for full disclosure, your “favourite dog or stranger’s baby” – my immediate reaction was for my pup. That’s my underlying values showing through – it’s not animal versus human in any way, it’s mine versus everyone else. Again, no logic in it, I’m just wired to be very protective toward me and mine. If it had been any other configuration it would still have been mine first – ask any mother if they’d save their baby or a nobel-winning scientist…

    In my view the debate, such as it is, needs to keep that in mind. What’s self-evident to some is not to others, and decisions not based on logic are subject to change. I strongly believe that as the dominant species capable of making this choice, we have a responsibility to take seriously the suffering of the animals we’re using. Any suggestion that that’s not happening will get people upset and lead to less-than-fruitful discussions (and I think that’s where the extremists come in, they get so wound up in the bad cases they forget they’re dealing with human beings).

    My “why” question was intended to point out that the decision is not made on logical grounds, so appealing to some “obvious truth” is not going to be beneficial.

    Pity to be called less than human – that kinda lowers the discussion a bit :(

  126. #126 dguller
    March 3, 2010

    Douglas Watts:

    First, this is a messy issue without clear resolution. Either side can ALWAYS come up with a hypothetical scenario in which their prefered values trumpt the values of the other side. That is what happens when our fundamental values essentially contradict one another. In most situations, the contradiction is not felt, but there are always moral dilemmas in which they are brought out in full force. No rational debate will resolve this issue. The best that we can do is to arrive at as reasonable and just a compromise as possible.

    Second, we really have very little idea what the cognitive capacity of apes is, except that they may have some rudimentary capabilities that human children also have. Does that mean that they are the SAME as human children and are entitled to the same rights as our children? I don’t think so.

    I also don’t think that you can really compare the cognitive capacity of adult apes to human children. They each have their respective strengths and weaknesses, but only human children will effortlessly surpass the cognitive capacity of apes in a few years.

  127. #127 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Douglas Watts: Glad to find out there’s someone else who’s a fan of EMJ’s research into bonobos.

  128. #128 dguller
    March 3, 2010

    KevinL:

    Agreed.

    And good night. :)

  129. #129 marty
    March 3, 2010

    You say, “Whether or not animal research is justifiable is a moral and ethical argument more than anything else.”

    That would be incorrect. This is purely a legal issue.

    So, according to you, since experiments can’t be done on Endangered species because of the legal requirements of the US ESA legislation, therefore… primate research is okay. Because the “legal requirements” say that it only applied to native animals. Which, since there aren’t any ethical or moral issues involved would mean that there are no problems.

  130. #130 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Jody: I see. No problem. I just want to ask one last thing: suppose you were really into guys that use cosmetics. In other words, if they’re not using cosmetics, they’re not as attractive. Would you really mind if cosmetics did not exist? I understand that sex is a lot better with a person you feel very attracted to, I mean hey you’re not the only one trying to get laid, but is this small increase in attraction worth the death of an animal to you? I am a straight guy (well, straight is itself an incorrect word based on social conditioning, but you know what I mean). I am more attracted to women wearing make-up, I admit. But I only go out with the “natural” ones and I do point out this problem I have with make-up to the ones who use it. Btw, I have a gay friend looking for some action. He’s the bodybuilder type. Interested? I guess I could arrange something…

    @KevinL: Again, I fully agree with you. I had the same feelings about the pup thing — because it’s mine. Oh and don’t worry about Johnny’s comments. Someone quoting Penn & Teller in a discussion about meta-ethics should obviously not be taken seriously.

    Like dguller, I’m gonna have to call it a night here. This discussion was interesting. Thanks for participating.

  131. #131 Douglas Watts
    March 3, 2010

    “So, according to you, since experiments can’t be done on Endangered species because of the legal requirements of the US ESA legislation, therefore… primate research is okay. Because the “legal requirements” say that it only applied to native animals. Which, since there aren’t any ethical or moral issues involved would mean that there are no problems.”

    I’m saying exactly the opposite. The use of primates in research should have been banned long ago. I was only trying to make the point to Orac et al. that the only reason primate research is allowed in the United States is solely because of a geographic anomaly: primates other than humans are not native to the United States and therefore are not, technically, protected under the ESA, although this issue is now in litigation regarding elephants.

    If primates were native to the U.S. this entire issue would be moot since these animals would now be protected under the ESA and any use of them for research would illegal under the ESA. Animal researchers are now operating through an extremely narrow legal loophole solely because primates are not native to the U.S. They know it, but prefer not to discuss it with you.

  132. #132 Gilles V.
    March 3, 2010

    @Douglas Watts
    I’m a scientist doing (amongst other things) animal research in the case of infectious disease. I take quite personally your attempt at making us scientist look like blood thirsty murderers…

    As a matter of fact I’d like to go into primate research to study brain structures and possible brain/machine interface. I’m not too fond of working with primates, but there are no other options (well if you’re prepared to act as a test subject…)

    But just to be clear, the days since we took animals from nature to do experiments on is well passed. The primates which are used in this research are lab animals, like the mice, rats and everything… Our lab had to wait for a couple of years to get some baboon blood because of regulations, our response was to wait, not arm ourselves, hire mercenaries and go hunting in Africa to get samples…

    Hiding insanity and lies with nice words doesn’t make it more true.

  133. #133 mario
    March 3, 2010

    What about the human rights of the families? Is it ok for me throw dog urine on camille marino’s kids? Or better yet, acts of violence are illegal; should my kids go to jail? ….the point is that extremism is not a good solution and no matter which side of the debate you fall on, the only humane thing to do is to strike down this kind of behavior….that is were extremists and, specially, their apologists fail.

  134. #134 Jody
    March 3, 2010

    Jim, my argument would remain the same: if animal testing is necessary to prevent the death of humans who wear cosmetics, then I would be in favor of their use. I’m a speciesist, I admit it. But I have pretty valid reasons for being such.

    As for your friend, depends. Does he like scifi? If so, have him call me…

    :-)

  135. #135 Paul Browne
    March 3, 2010

    @131 Douglas, you are missing an important fact. The non-human primate species used in medical research in the USA are either bred in captivity or are from non-endangered species (e.g macaques, squirrel monkeys, baboons).

    In order to qualify for protection under the ESA a species must be endangered, that is why the Gray wolf was removed from the list while thr Red Wolf stays on it.

    For somebody who rests their case so strongly on the law you really ought to try reading it from time to time.

  136. #136 Orac
    March 3, 2010

    I know you are a surgeon and a medical doctor, but your statements above show you are totally ignorant of the legislative history andcurrent status of domestic animal and wildlife law. There is anenormous amount of settled law on this topic which I could cite adnauseum but I won’t because you already should have familiarized yourself with this information.

    Ah, the lamest of the lame “argument”: Go Google it. It’s a ploy that in essence tries to trick one’s opponent into wasting time by shifting the burden of proof. Sorry, Doug. You made the assertion; it’s up to you to back it up. From your followup comments it doesn’t look as though you’ve been doing a very good job either.

  137. #137 Landru
    March 3, 2010

    I don’t engage in ethics discussions with people who are unwilling or unable to be civil towards their opponents.

    I hear the Nazi experiments with hypothermia were quite useful and beneficial to later humans…

    Epic fail.

    Which part of it don’t you understand?

    The part where you actually tried to get away with those two troll gambits in the same post. And the part where you think you’re somehow entitled to claim that you’re civil.

    Does that answer your question?

  138. #138 DLC
    March 3, 2010

    Douglas Watts: “I could cite law ad nauseam”

    Me:
    I’ve asked you to do so twice, and you seem to manage to not notice my (as yet) politely worded requests.
    A fundamental rule of argument, Doug, is that the person trying to prove a point must actually bring said proof to the table. To date you have not done so, you have merely asserted that such law exists. “Go Google it” is not permitted here as a replacement for facts. You claim the facts are on your side — So put up or shut up, Doug.
    The burden of proof is on the plaintiff, Doug.

  139. #139 triskelethecat
    March 3, 2010

    My 2cents. I don’t do animal research at all. I also don’t wear makeup (yes, I AM a woman). I also eat meat, wear leather and own pets. I have family members who have benefited from animal research (heart surgeries, diabetes, etc).

    In answer to a part of the makeup question. While I almost never wear/have worn makeup, I know people who wear it always. I have seen it used on babies because they have such severe facial birthmarks that people stare at them. The parents, hoping to prevent low self-esteem, use it until treatment is complete. Should all makeup be banned? Maybe you wouldn’t stare at that baby, but others do. What’s more important..that human child growing up with a healthy self-esteem or the rabbit who had that makeup tested on their skin?

    Do I think all animal research is justified? No, probably not…as Orac’s review of Wakefield’s monkey study shows, that research was poorly done and should never has passes an IRB. However, sometimes research goes through that shouldn’t. Sometimes things that should be approved aren’t. We are human, we make mistakes.

    It seems to me that most of the fuss is about mammals. Haven’t heard much fuss about fish, snakes, bacteria, or fungi, plants. Why is that? Because they aren’t cute and fluffy? Because they aren’t mammals? They are all living.

    So yes, I support animal testing when it has to be done. If there are other methods that can be used to obtain the same information that don’t involve animals, then I would prefer those methods be used. If I have to choose between a cosmetic that has been out for 25 years that was tested on animals 25 years ago and a “new, reformulated” cosmetic tested on animals now, I would choose the older cosmetic if I can (depends on what is in that cosmetic and my own skin allergies).

  140. #140 Calli Arcale
    March 3, 2010

    triskelethecat — I’m also a woman who doesn’t wear makeup. Yay for us! ;-) (I’m a nerd. I usually don’t see any reason to wear it.) For a cosmetic which is definitely tested on animals, I like Udderly Smooth moisturizer. For a morning chuckle, here are the instructions:

    “CAUTION: Wash udder and teat parts thoroughly with clean water and soap before each milking to avoid contamination of milk. Use clean individual towels for this purpose. Apply to the udder after each milking, massaging into the skin. For teat cracks apply in sufficient quantity to fill crack and cover surrounding area. Apply uniformly to chafed area and bruises to maintain skin suppleness. For aid in softening swollen udders following calving, apply liberally twice daily with gentle massage. May be used for chapped or chafed skin. Do not use in or near eyes.”

    That one gets tested on animals daily at dairy farms. ;-) Best moisturizer I’ve ever used, and it leaves no greasy residue. (Second best was this specialized stuff they have in our engineering labs here. It’s to help the skin make a good contact with the wrist straps we wear to reduce the risk of electrostatic discharge while working on sensitive equipment. I have no idea if that was tested on animals.)

    Regarding the endangered species argument that others are discussing, as I understand it, the reason chimps can be used is twofold: a) they are so very close to us that the research is vastly more valuable than it would be if it were on, say, a mouse (so that raises the “benefit” side of the cost-benefit equation behind all scientific research) and b) they are captive-bred. Captive-bred populations are not always treated the same as wild populations; the goal of endangered species protection is to preserve the *wild* populations, not the captive ones, and captive ones are only beneficial to that when they can be used for repopulation purposes. (And it’s questionable whether that could ever be relevant for chimps; their wild culture is quite sophisticated, so the captive-bred ones may not be able to integrate into the wild communities.)

    Take tigers, for instance. All species of tiger are endangered in the wild, some critically. Yet there are tens of thousands of tigers on Earth! How can they be endangered? Because most of those tens of thousands are living in captivity, and nearly all of those have been in captivity for generations. There is already significant genetic drift between the wild and captive populations (aggravated among the captives by inbreeding). Controlled breeding programs mitigate this, and tigers, being solitary by nature, may be able to return to the wild even if born in a zoo. But that doesn’t change the precarious situation of the wild tigers. If poaching and habitat loss don’t stop, it will be a nonissue — tigers will be declared extinct in the wild, and will be entirely domestic animals. This is what happened to cattle, long ago, when the wild aurochs was extirpated, leaving only the captives who were bred for docility, producing modern cattle. And it happened to the passenger pigeon, which died in the wild before it died in captivity. (They would not breed in captivity, so the captive population was essentially doomed.)

    I’m not sure wild chimpanzees are officially endangered yet, but they are certainly threatened. That can enlighten how we treat the captive population (it makes them more precious, increasing the “cost” side of the equation in ways that mere dollars cannot count) but really, what happens to the captive population is nowhere near as important to the future of the species as what happens to the wild population.

  141. #141 Paul Browne
    March 3, 2010

    triskelethecat “I have seen it used on babies because they have such severe facial birthmarks that people stare at them. The parents, hoping to prevent low self-esteem, use it until treatment is complete. Should all makeup be banned? Maybe you wouldn’t stare at that baby, but others do. What’s more important..that human child growing up with a healthy self-esteem or the rabbit who had that makeup tested on their skin?”

    Thanks for raising an issue that I forgot to address in my earlier comment @34 on cosmetics. It’s not just babies with birthmarks, there’s also the many cases of people who have been disfigurred by burns, injuries, disease etc. I would certainly approve of cosmetics that people in these situatuions need, even if those cosmetics required live animal testing to ensure safety, though it would obviously be best if in vitro or ex vivo tests could ensure the cosmetics are safe. The same applies for some moisturisers that have both clinical and cosmetic uses.

    As usual the more one looks into the situation the less clear-cut it becomes.

  142. #142 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    Responding in haste to various and sundry bogus AR “arguments”…

    The argument that “your mum means more to you than this mouse, therefore we should be able to experiment on animals” is (imnsho) largely bankrupt – it’s an argument from emotion.

    And what emotion is the counter-argument based on? Shameless contempt for other people, by the look of it. Are you really trying to pretend that AR arguments are NOT based on emotion?

    Here’s a rephrase: Cosmetics are useless. If they need animal experimentation, then I am advocating for the end of cosmetics.

    First, making cosmetics safe is NOT useless. Second, who are you to say what’s “useless?” At the very least, someone who wanted to use cosmetics to cover up an ugly burn-scar or skin deformity would beg to differ. And third, even scientists can’t always predict what useful information an experiment will yield, or what might be accomplished with said information. We’ve found life-saving medical uses for curare, so it’s quite possible we might find a life-saving second use for some new cosmetic product via proper animal experimentation.

    Also, if you oppose animal-testing for a product because it doesn’t save lives, then that reasoning could be extended WAAAY beyond cosmetics. Cold remedies, allergy pills, soaps, shampoos, antidepressants, herbal teas, painkillers, soft drinks, fruit juices…which of these would you ban because they require animal testing but don’t have immediate visible life-saving effects?

    Also, I disagree with your statement that: “A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal.”

    Really? If you EVER do ANYTHING to protect your own life, at the expense of any other animal (i.e., not letting other animals eat all or part of you), then no, you DON’T disagree with that statement.

    You _believe_ that the vast majority of testing is done well, by people who care, for useful purpose. I’m not so convinced. Neither of us have any hard evidence to back up either side – at least, not that either side is entirely happy with.

    Escuse me, shit-for-brains, but have you actually READ any of what’s been written here by people with actual experience in animal testing? This isn’t something we “believe,” it’s something we OBSERVE. Just because YOU aren’t happy with the evidence, doesn’t make it invalid.

    If anyone can reference any studies into the usefulness of animal-based research, overall effectiveness, number of research projects where alternatives could have been used but weren’t, levels of suffering by lab animals or anything else that actually studies this question, then I’d love to see it.

    It’s out there. Are you looking for it? Or are you just sitting on your closed-minded ass, demanding we do your research for you, and pretending the information isn’t there?

    If you kick your daughter’s kitten to death you cannot claim “it is not like us” as a defense.

    Is Watts seriously trying to equate animal experimentation with gratuitous violence? If so, he’s just flushed whatever credibility he had left down the toilet.

  143. #143 Kemist
    March 3, 2010

    Perhaps activists should such include a similar sentiment in their communiques after cars are set on fire, animals are freed from cages, or buildings are burned to the ground.

    Do they know what happens to “freed” research animals ?

    Like, end up in a predator’s stomach with a death far more painful than what they would have suffered at the hand of the lab’s animal handler ? Or, in the case of nude mice and other mutated/knock-out animals – which are used in a great proportion of animal research, if they escape predators, a lingering death from disease.

    Way to defend animal well-being, people. It seems that once humans don’t cause their suffering, it doesn’t matter anymore, ’cause it’s “natural”.

    “Animal rights” is more about the icky feelings of the animal right activists than about animal suffering.

  144. #144 Calli Arcale
    March 3, 2010

    You left out starvation. These animals don’t know how to forage or hunt in the wild. Some might figure it out before it’s too late. Most will not. Their lack of fear of humans will also pose a serious problem — they’ll run into traffic, they’ll go up to humans looking for food or attention…. That is not likely to end up well.

  145. #145 triskelethecat
    March 3, 2010

    @Calli: My parents loved Bag Balm or Woolfat (forget the full name of that stuff; it’s been years since I had it smeared on me. And my Google-fu is weak since I can’t find the exact item). It stank, but worked well on our winter-chapped hands. Especially after multiple snowball fights where one HAD to take off mittens to pack the snowball JUST right..

    My mother also used for years some stuff called “turtle oil” that my uncle brought her and my grandmother from Mexico. Guess they liked it as a moisturizer.

  146. #146 vera
    March 3, 2010

    JohnV: You had asked “is it ethical to benefit from decades of animal research while attempting to prevent others from deriving the same benefit?” My answer is… no, it’s not. And aren’t we morally obligated to stop a past wrong if it still occurs? Was it ethical to profit by overdrawing the Ogallala aquifer? No, even though some good came of it. Do we need to stop this practice? Yes. Even though it clearly means that the next generation will not get to freely plunder the water as those had before them. Imperfect analogy… but perhaps some of what I am trying to get at comes through.

    Scinetizzle, I appreciate your attempt at dissecting the ends/means thing. The point I was trying to make is not that the good that comes of it shouldn’t be taken into consideration. I am saying that the good that comes of it does not erase the bad that comes of it, and the bad must be dealt with rather than shoved under the rug or whitewashed.

    KevinL: You hit the nail on the head when you talked about “minimising animal use because they _have_ to.” All the ethics committees and all the laws cannot get it done when people resist. A culture-change is needed. It’s not about human nature, it’s a culture war. More on that below.

    The whole cosmetics argument here shows the lengths some folks are willing to go to dig in and dig themselves deeper. If folks here cared about winning the argument in the mind of the public, surely they’d run like mad from the “testing them on animals is fine by me” especially since other countries have already stopped. But noooo…. Triskelethecat’s argument does not hold: One type of safe cosmetic would satisfy it. But that is not the way economic competition works. Do animals need to suffer so that we can have hundreds (thousands?) of different lipstick formulations?

    Jim: I am with you. I am against even one other rabbit going blind so that yet another brand of mascara can leave the corporate assembly line. Disgusting and reprehensible.

    Calli: check out low-till, no-till ag. Even the USDA is promoting it, and for a host of good reasons. Unless, like Moses, you think of them as a hotbed of insidious forager supporters! :-) You gotta keep the sight on both sides of it… the plow can turn land to thriving, but it can also turn it into a used up hunk that feeds very few. The plow is a two-edged sword… As I was arguing, great caution is needed. Totally agree about the political will. Ain’t there, so we are washing Iowa into the Gulf of Mexico… Plain dumb.

    With the ends means thing… it is a really subtle puzzle. Ends can be compelling, but if we are not hugely careful with the means, the means have this “strange” way of morphing into the ends down the road. And people tend to forget that. I am reminded of all the crap the commies pulled in collectivization of ag. They had all these wonderful noble ends in mind about a better way to live and work in the country, but tried to accomplish it by bullying and abusing the farmers. And ended up with miserable abused farmers – duh! — while their noble ends forever receded out of reach. The means we use today turn into end results tomorrow.

    Kevin: “There’s an inherent squeamishness when the idea of doing primary experimentation on humans is bought up. For very good reasons, I think – and again, I think all _those_ reasons apply to animals as well as to humans – it’s about reduced suffering, predominantly. What we end up doing is saying “well, they’re not us, so they’re not as valuable, and we think we’ll get a heap of benefit out of this stuff, so let’s do it on them”. What AR says is “it’s not enough to just say ‘they’re not us’, that doesn’t count as an argument”.”

    That sums it up very well. That is exactly it. It’s not enough. Lot of folks accept in their own argument stuff they’d never accept from the opposition.

    Dguller: “Maybe it’s pointless to try to prove which moral principle is superior to the other and just acknowledge that this is an inherently irreconcilable issue that we have to come to some manner of pragmatic consensus?”

    I agree. And the pragmatic consensus will move to less animal experimentation. The current situation cannot hold, IMO.

    Someone said: “However, as Penn and Teller said (more or less) in their well done send up of PETA, ‘I will choke the life out of every chimp on the planet, with my bare hands, to save the life of one street junkie with AIDS’.” Wow. This is supposed to be funny? We humans have choked the life out of many species in order to crank out yet more human mass. I won’t even argue about the morality of it. I would say it is exactly this kind of stupidity that has brought us into this brinksmanship we are playing with the planet. You’d think some humility would be in order! WTF? Here is another such comment: “No animal on this planet other than us can make this planet a better place for humans and animals.” Talking about hubris! Is this the same human who is wiping out species like there is no tomorrow? We seem to be working really hard these days at making the planet a worse place for everybody except the rats and cockroaches.

    There is a culture war in all this. There are those who are so inured to human hubris and domination that paving over everything and wiping out yet another critter causes them no pain. And these people still hold most of the power. And there are those of us who want a balance between human and non-human interests, who want kindness, and profound consideration for the non-human world that surrounds us. This will not be resolved by laws and ethics committees. A time will come when most scientists will find it reprehensible to deliberately inflict suffering on the non-human world in the name of some hoped-for human end. Exceptions will be granted, but they will be few. And the scientific attitudes will simply be part and parcel of the culture at large, where the sort of beliefs and behaviors that have led us to do so much damage will no longer be tolerated. And that is when the planet will begin to recover. I look forward to the world when the human species’ relationship with the natural world will be so deep and profound in us that we will always ask what is good for the bees on their own terms, in the same breath as asking how the bees can be good for humans.

    Thank you for the discussion.

  147. #147 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Paul Browne and triskelethecat: You miss the forest for the trees. Correct and I will concede, in some very rare cases cosmetics may be necessary to humans. However, do the majority of humans using cosmetics need them? Are the majority of cosmetics users babies with birthmarks or disfigured people? Of course not. The majority are very clearly people without these problems. Don’t believe me? Check every cosmetics ad you can find. Never will you see disfigured people on a cosmetics ad. It is not the proper target audience for the product. Now you and Raging Bee also bring up another argument: some people use cosmetics because they have self-esteem issues. I believe I can say in honesty that this is mostly women (I do not mean this as an insult to women). In solving self-esteem problems, projects like the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty will achieve far more than any cosmetic ever will and guess what? The Dove Project is based on bringing psychological help to those with low self-esteem, it requires no animal testing. Sure, Dove tries to market their products on the side but ultimately, the Project tells women that they do not need to shove shit on their face to be beautiful.

    @Raging Bee: I discussed one of your arguments in the paragraph above. Here’s for your other arguments:

    1) “so it’s quite possible we might find a life-saving second use for some new cosmetic product via proper animal experimentation”
    >> Quite possible to find a life-saving use for cosmetics? Can you back this up with any studies whatsoever?

    2) “Also, if you oppose animal-testing for a product because it doesn’t save lives, then that reasoning could be extended WAAAY beyond cosmetics. Cold remedies, allergy pills, soaps, shampoos, antidepressants, herbal teas, painkillers, soft drinks, fruit juices…which of these would you ban because they require animal testing but don’t have immediate visible life-saving effects?”
    >> I concede further that I will not use as criteria simply “it must be life-saving”. However, I still expect some significant medical benefit to at least have a chance to come out of this testing. Now about the examples you gave, I disagree with some of them. For example, I don’t think we should use animal experimentation for soft drinks. We don’t need soft drinks anyways and they are bad for health, as any doctor here will tell you.

    3) “Really? If you EVER do ANYTHING to protect your own life, at the expense of any other animal (i.e., not letting other animals eat all or part of you), then no, you DON’T disagree with that statement.”
    >> Please reread my statement. The keyword is “far”. You missed the point entirely.

    4) “Second, who are you to say what’s “useless?” ”
    >> It seems you do not understand the idea of government in general. This type of argument would work well for anarchists but not so well otherwise. In the end, the government will decide, whether or not cosmetics should be banned. I can easily return this: “Who are you to say what’s not useless?”

    @Jody: We are all speciesists to some degree. I simply propose to reduce this degree. Again, I do not see how cosmetics can have life-saving properties and would like to see some studies on this. As for my friend, he’s into Star Wars somewhat but scifi is not his main thing. Bodybuilding is. =)

    @Kemist: “Do they know what happens to “freed” research animals ?” Straw Man. This problem can be dealt with easily in most cases. For example, animals who are judged to be unable to live in the wild anymore because they have lived too long in captivity can be sent to a facility that will take care of them for the rest of their life.

    I would also like to say that my stance for advocating no animal testing for cosmetics is not a radical one. Testing of cosmetics on animals has already been outlawed in the UK for over 10 years now and the rest of Europe will soon follow (2013 or a bit later). Since Europeans have shown such great distaste for animal testing for cosmetics, the experiments had to be moved to the US to prevent boycotts of cosmetics (the idea that if it’s not happening here, it’s not happening at all).

    I will rephrase my main point about cosmetics, including the changes I made to it from this discussion:

    “I am against animal testing for cosmetics because it is, for the most part, useless to the advancement of medicine. Further, cosmetics tend to promote unhealthy consumerist attitudes in those using them and generally reinforce, instead of solving, self-esteem problems.”

  148. #148 Cleveland
    March 3, 2010

    I have to underline Paule Browne. Good Lord Watts do you know *anything* at all?

    The vast majority of the nonhuman primates used in research are not endangered in the slightest and are furthermore purpose bred by suppliers.

    Trying to imply that all “primate” research uses chimpanzees is a lie of unbelievable scope. Why don’t you take it over to Eric Michael Johnson’s equally lying threads on these topics, perhaps you will find a home where nobody points out the obvious idiocy backing your opinions.

  149. #149 D. C. Sessions
    March 3, 2010

    When it comes to something as useless as cosmetics, the animal’s life, no matter how little value one might attribute to it, is infinitely more valuable than the product.

    My, aren’t you special?

    Where do you get the idea that all “cosmetics” are totally worthless?

    I’m not a giant fan of many of them, but I’m also not going to pretend that sunscreens, skin lotions, lip coatings, etc. are of zero value. Certainly not when I work outside in Arizona and have lost family members to melanoma, certainly not when I’ve personally gotten to the point of dry lips cracking and bleeding, and certainly not after getting to the age where absent skin lotions the itching of dry skin would keep me from sleeping.

    But then those are my cosmetics, so they must be OK. It’s all of your cosmetics that are worthless, right?

  150. #150 Azkyroth
    March 3, 2010

    What is Doug’s rhetoric but a toned down version of Camille’s hysterical rhetoric?

    What’s your secret to using this word without having one of three of your SciBlings show up to hijack the discussion ranting about it?

  151. #151 Calli Arcale
    March 3, 2010

    vera:

    Calli: check out low-till, no-till ag. Even the USDA is promoting it, and for a host of good reasons. Unless, like Moses, you think of them as a hotbed of insidious forager supporters! :-)

    *laughs* Nah, they’re okay. Yeah, I’ve been following those efforts, and I think they could pay off big time in the future. It’s not there yet. I don’t want to go too far offtopic, but my current pet peeve is the corn subsidies; we grow far more corn (and soybeans, which are often part of a crop rotation with corn) than we really need to, and many of the problems revolve around that. There are powerful lobbying forces opposing that. I don’t see a huge agribusiness conspiracy; I think it’s more just fear of change. “If we let them take these subsidies away, what’ll they take away next??”

    There’s a lot of low-till farming around where I live. The main advantage for the farmer is reduced evaporation, which is an issue around here. We’ve had some droughts in recent years. Most commonly, they till at the ends of the season — after harvest, and/or before planting. This lets them work fertilizers (such as manure) down into the soil and also puts some of the nutrients of the cornstalks back in.

    With the ends means thing… it is a really subtle puzzle. Ends can be compelling, but if we are not hugely careful with the means, the means have this “strange” way of morphing into the ends down the road. And people tend to forget that. I am reminded of all the

    I was talking about the subject of animal research at that point, not agriculture. You really have to look at animal research on a case-by-case basis, because it’s all gray zones, really. Do the particular ends justify the particular means? You can never assume the ends justify *all* means, but a particular end may justify a particular means. Determining the lethal dose of a particular pharmaceutical may justify carefully dosing some rats with it, provided that the animals are kept as comfortable as possible during the process and humanely euthanized when it becomes apparent that their suffering is too great.

  152. #152 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    Quite possible to find a life-saving use for cosmetics? Can you back this up with any studies whatsoever?

    If you actually understood how science, and invention, really work, you wouldn’t have to ask this question. Sometimes people invent something for one purpose, then discover a second and maybe a third use for it that they hadn’t thought about before. If you can’t uderstand this basic fact, gleaned from centuries of invention, then you’re really not in any position to lecture the rest of us on what’s useful and what’s not. The fact is, we often DON’T KNOW how useful something is until AFTER we’ve developed and tested it. This goes for makeup, medicines, and weapon-systems alike.

    For example, I don’t think we should use animal experimentation for soft drinks. We don’t need soft drinks anyways and they are bad for health, as any doctor here will tell you.

    And how did these doctors find this out? With animal testing, among other means. I agree that most soft drinks are crap and should be avoided (although I will note that sometimes, carbonated drinks are good for the digestive process in some not-exactly-rare cases). HOWEVER, as long as some people are inventing such drinks, and others are choosing to drink them, then we, as a society, have an obligation to test their effects on our health. (How else will we be able to judge their usefulness?) And that means adequate testing, at least until people just stop buying them.

    And which soft drinks would you ban animal testing on? Some are more healthy than others; and all of them are popular because they make water more pleasant to drink. And water IS necessary.

    Are you actually proposing a government ban on “soft drinks?” Or just a ban on testing certain products for safety? Either option, applied to SOFT DRINKS (which are just repackaged water anyway), is nothing but petty, stupid tyranny.

    In the end, the government will decide, whether or not cosmetics should be banned.

    Bullshit — PEOPLE will decide whether or not to buy cosmetics. And, in fact, more cosmetics are advertized with a logo promising “no animal testing.” I’m not a laissez-fairy, but this is one area where government intervention is NOT the answer; market forces and public persuasion are. Do you really think ANY government can, or should, ban lipstick and have TSA inspectors opening up everyone’s luggage to find it?

    I can easily return this: “Who are you to say what’s not useless?”

    Someone who is capable of seeing when something is used to get an objective good result. Any other stupid quesions?

    Read DC Sessions’ comment #149 and address it honestly if you want to be taken seriously.

    And on to what I hope will be the last of vera’s insulting stupid bullshit…

    There is a culture war in all this. There are those who are so inured to human hubris and domination that paving over everything and wiping out yet another critter causes them no pain.

    This could be the most honest thing we’ve heard from vera. She’s just admitted, in effect, that, for her at least, the whole animal-rights platform is just one part of a messy stew of mindless emotion and resentment toward other people who don’t think like her. It’s not about animal rights; it’s about her “culture” fighting a “war” against an opposing “culture.”

    And there are those of us who want a balance between human and non-human interests, who want kindness, and profound consideration for the non-human world that surrounds us.

    Yeah, and a large proportion of scientists are in that latter camp. The same scientists whom vera trashed with groundless accusations of sadism, cruelty, and working in shadowy cabals — accusations which vera has neither proven nor retracted. Seriously, vera, you sound like you could have been a co-author of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I guess you’re not on the side of “balance,” are you?

    This will not be resolved by laws and ethics committees.

    It IS being resolved by peaceful, legal political action; not by bogus accusations flung about by hyper-emotional overgrown children. If you want to resolve the issue, then STFU and let more knowledgeable people do the talking.

  153. #153 vera
    March 3, 2010

    Calli: subsidies for the rich will be the last thing to go. Sad but true. Let us genuflect and worship before the oceans of corn syrup! Heh. Whatamess.

    “Do the particular ends justify the particular means?”
    I am having a hard time coming across. I think we gotta stop thinking about justifying this or that evil, and face it. Even looking at each individual case of animal research, what you (hopefully) have is some benefits, and you have all the suffering caused. Ya just can’t do the CPA and add up the columns and say, well, here is a lot of good, so the evil does not matter, it is superceded, it is inconsequential, it is excused. No… it is still there. So the next question is, what do we do about it? And I think the AR people are yelling really hard to say, *something* needs to change. And I think in that, theyz right. :-)

  154. #154 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 3, 2010

    I was only trying to make the point to Orac et al. that the only reason primate research is allowed in the United States is solely because of a geographic anomaly: primates other than humans are not native to the United States and therefore are not, technically, protected under the ESA, although this issue is now in litigation regarding elephants.

    This is fundamentally false. Primate research is allowed in the US for one of two reasons:

    1) the primate species in question is not endangered

    2) the primate species is endangered but the ESA has created a specific exception permitting limited research using captive-bred individuals only

    In case 2) above, wild-born individuals are banned from being research subjects under the ESA. The ESA most assuredly does apply to species not native to the US. In fact, the current litigation is not whether elephants are eligible for protection, but whether the treatment of the elephants violated the protections the ESA grants them.

  155. #155 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    Ya just can’t do the CPA and add up the columns and say, well, here is a lot of good, so the evil does not matter, it is superceded, it is inconsequential, it is excused. No… it is still there.

    So in other words, vera, no matter how beneficial a certain animal experiment may be, no how many lives may be saved by it, it still can’t be justified because “the evil is still there?” Do you apply that line of reasoning to stepping on a cockroach or swatting a mosquito?

    I can apply the same mindless emotional argument in the opposite direction: you can prove that, when a certain animal experiment is banned, the benefit to the animals outweighs the harm done to humans; but guess what — “the evil is still there.” So the next question is, what do you do about it? (And the answer, of course, is, ignore it, just like any other child ignores reality when he’s throwing a tantrum, and just like you’ve ignored every comment refuting your accusations.)

    Your arguments are nothing but the ravings of an upset child who hasn’t learned to control his emotions and think sensibly. They don’t even rise to a level of consciousness that would allow us to call them hypocritical.

  156. #156 JustaTech
    March 3, 2010

    I’m too upset to have anything substantial to add to this argument (not to mention that HIv vaccine ain’t finding itself) but to Vera @ 56:”Todd, I used to visit occasionally, one of my family members was a cancer researcher, working with rodents mostly, but some mammals as well.” Please, please tell me this was some type of error in typing, and that you do understand that rodents are mammals. Please?

    Also, yay to Johnny @118!

  157. #157 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Raging Bee:

    “If you actually understood how science, and invention, really work, you wouldn’t have to ask this question. Sometimes people invent something for one purpose, then discover a second and maybe a third use for it that they hadn’t thought about before. If you can’t uderstand this basic fact, gleaned from centuries of invention, then you’re really not in any position to lecture the rest of us on what’s useful and what’s not. The fact is, we often DON’T KNOW how useful something is until AFTER we’ve developed and tested it. This goes for makeup, medicines, and weapon-systems alike.”
    >> Yes, but the potential benefits of developing a medicine (although cosmetics rarely are used as medicines), must be balanced with the costs and to me the animal’s life enters in the costs. Yes, and a lot of the time, it is not the case that a second or third use can be found for an invention with one use. Oh and btw, feel free to keep making ridiculous arguments about how we don’t know whether “weapon-systems” are useful until AFTER WE’VE TESTED THEM.

    “And how did these doctors find this out? With animal testing, among other means. I agree that most soft drinks are crap and should be avoided (although I will note that sometimes, carbonated drinks are good for the digestive process in some not-exactly-rare cases). HOWEVER, as long as some people are inventing such drinks, and others are choosing to drink them, then we, as a society, have an obligation to test their effects on our health. (How else will we be able to judge their usefulness?) And that means adequate testing, at least until people just stop buying them.”
    >> There is a ton of medical literature out there giving evidence about why soft drinks are crap. Yes, the research came from animal testing. Do we need to re-test everything again to come up with the same conclusions? From HOWEVER, to the end of this paragraph, your argument is BS. Consider the following similar argument: HOWEVER, as long as some people are inventing such cigarettes, and others are choosing to smoke them, then we, as a society, have an obligation to test their effects on our health. (How else will we be able to judge their usefulness?) And that means adequate testing, at least until people just stop buying them. Cigarettes are very similar in “usefulness” and “potential benefits” to soft drinks, so I believe my argument holds.

    “And which soft drinks would you ban animal testing on? Some are more healthy than others; and all of them are popular because they make water more pleasant to drink. And water IS necessary.”
    >> A retarded argument. And which cigarettes would you ban animal testing on? Some are more healthy than others; and all of them are popular because they make air more pleasant to breathe (I heard this shit before as an argument for cigarettes). And air IS necessary. As if soft drinks were the only source of H2O available.

    “Are you actually proposing a government ban on “soft drinks?” Or just a ban on testing certain products for safety? Either option, applied to SOFT DRINKS (which are just repackaged water anyway), is nothing but petty, stupid tyranny.”
    >> I am proposing a ban on soft drinks if they require animal testing, since, as explained previously, they are not only medically unhelpful but also harmful for the consumer. Soft drinks are not just repackaged water. If they were, they would not be so harmful. If you seriously believe that banning soft drinks because of concerns for animals and because of concerns for the health of the consumer equates to tyranny, maybe you should take a trip to North Korea. You’ll understand quickly what “tyranny” means.

    “Bullshit — PEOPLE will decide whether or not to buy cosmetics. And, in fact, more cosmetics are advertized with a logo promising “no animal testing.” I’m not a laissez-fairy, but this is one area where government intervention is NOT the answer; market forces and public persuasion are. Do you really think ANY government can, or should, ban lipstick and have TSA inspectors opening up everyone’s luggage to find it?”
    >> Hilarious. As I said before, you have no clue how government works. Tell me, Mr. Decider, do you decide what the speed limit should be? Of course not. The Department of Transportation does. And you can protest as much as you like, they will not raise it for obvious reasons. Same for cosmetics. The only reason you are allowed to buy them legitimately is because there is no government ban on them. The reason why cosmetics are advertised with that logo is because of increasing pressure from people like me on the cosmetics industry to find alternatives to animal testing. Remember, government already does for weed, which has been shown to have certain medical benefits, what you talk about for lipstick. I am against market forces deciding most of the time and this is one of those times.

    “Someone who is capable of seeing when something is used to get an objective good result. Any other stupid quesions?”
    >> Again, most cosmetics bought do not offer medical benefits and the same applies for soft drinks. Moreover, you cannot be capable of seeing what you claim to be seeing since you cannot, at this time, produce the studies I have demanded previously. Any more dishonest arguments?

    “Read DC Sessions’ comment #149 and address it honestly if you want to be taken seriously.”
    >> Yes, I will do this below.

    You have also refused to answer to my other counter-points.

    @D. C. Sessions: I agree with your criticisms, thanks for pointing this out again. However, I have already stated that I corrected my position. I understand that some cosmetics such as skin lotions and sunscreen provide clear medical benefits. If they provide medical benefits, I agree with animal testing, if they do not and if it remains highly dubious whether they can, I am against it. Thanks also for pointing out, as was done before, that I am selective about cosmetics. However, do you agree that most cosmetics being marketed and sold do not provide, at this time, medical benefits and that it is highly dubious whether they ever will?

  158. #158 daedalus2u
    March 3, 2010

    KevinL’s argument is that because there is no objective non-subjective universally agreed to difference between animals and humans which justifies which is more “valuable” and hence cannot be used in research of certain types, then he will use his capricious feelings to decide and will then force his decision on everyone else.

    That is it. He is making all sorts of disingenuous argument as to there being too many animals being used for research while he is using animals to feed his pet. What ever he says his “morality” is, he is acting as if killing animals to feed his pet is more important than using animals in research to save lives.

    He says that he values his favorite pet above a strange baby. What that actually means is that he would kill the baby and feed it to his dog before he would kill his dog and feed it to a baby. That mindset is scary to me.

    The comment that these ARAs are not just pro-animal but that they are anti-human is spot on.

  159. #159 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    Jim: I used a certain line of reasoning on soft drinks. Applying it to something TOTALLY different, like cigarettes, does not prove it invalid. It is, in fact, no more honest than conflating consensual gay sex with child-molesting. The only way you can pretend you’ve refuted my arguments, is by deliberately misusing them.

    The only reason you are allowed to buy them legitimately is because there is no government ban on them.

    And do you think people would stop buying them merely because they’re illegal? Trust me, a “war on makeup” would be just as smashingly successful as our current “war on drugs.”

    I understand that some cosmetics such as skin lotions and sunscreen provide clear medical benefits.

    You understand this AFTER, and BECAUSE, appropriate testing proved it.

    If they provide medical benefits, I agree with animal testing, if they do not and if it remains highly dubious whether they can, I am against it.

    The testing is necessary to determine whether the product provides medical benefits. You cannot sensibly judge whether testing is warranted until AFTER the testing is done and you see the results.

    I am against market forces deciding most of the time and this is one of those times.

    You oppose market forces, AFTER admitting that market forces (responding to public awareness) were effective in getting what you demand? Like those other AR fanatics, you can’t even figure out who your friends are.

  160. #160 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @daedalus2u: Although I agree with some of your criticisms of KevinL, consider this:

    “He says that he values his favorite pet above a strange baby. What that actually means is that he would kill the baby and feed it to his dog before he would kill his dog and feed it to a baby. That mindset is scary to me. ”
    >> Sound the trumpet. The king of unjustified extrapolations has arrived. As KevinL and someone else correctly pointed out in past comments, values are not fixed and non-contradictory. They often contradict themselves and this is true for everyone, including you. I doubt that if you pointed out this problem to him, he would refuse to understand that there is a contradiction here. In such an extreme situation, it is not clear to me either what should be done since both choices are very despicable. If it is clear for you that the animal should be killed outright, then I refuse to discuss anything further with you.

  161. #161 Prometheus
    March 3, 2010

    “A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal.”

    I would rephrase that to:

    “A person’s life is far more valuable than that of most any animal. “

    Why? Because that’s how human morality has defined it, in pretty much every civilisation in recorded history. There may have been civilisations that worshipped one or more animals and placed the value of the animal above that of human life, but that way of thinking (with the possible exception of PETA and other like-minded organisations) is pretty much extinct.

    Is it arbitrary to value a human life above other animals (or, for that matter, plants, fungi and bacteria)? Yes, absolutely! As I see it, all morality is arbitrary – the ultimate reason rests on an arbitrary choice that this is more valuable than that.

    If you feel that animal life is more valuable than (or equally valuable) some (or all) human life, then that is also an arbitrary decision. However, most of the commenters live in societies with laws (applied morality) which value human life above that of all other forms of life. If that is something you disagree with, you are free to try and change it. But if you decide that you’re going to threaten (or take) human lives in order to bring about that change, don’t be surprised when you end up in prison – or worse.

    The issue of whether human life is intrinsically more valuable than other life is moot. It isn’t. Clearly, “nature” has shown that it is not the slightest bit reluctant to end human lives. However, if you want to argue that we should see animal lives as equally valuable to our own, where will you draw the arbitrary line between animals that are equal and those that are less equal? Or do you plan on charging people with murder for swatting a mosquito?

    For that matter, why stop with animals? Plants are alive – they may not have “intelligence” as we see it, but if we’re going to draw the line based on intelligence, that is as arbitrary as saying humans are “more equal” than other animals.

    And why stop there? Fungi, bacteria and viruses all have life (of a sort – although I often say that viruses are “undead”) – why should we arbitrarily place ourselves and our lives above theirs?

    Or, we could simply accept that placing human life in a “special” category, while it may be arbitrary and capricious, is practical for where we are right now, as a species, technologically and morally.

    Prometheus

  162. #162 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    In such an extreme situation, it is not clear to me either what should be done since both choices are very despicable.

    You can’t decide whether a human life is worth sparing over a dog’s, but you think you’re competent to judge the morality of animal experiments? Go fuck yourself. Your cluelessness is beyond ridicolous.

    If it is clear for you that the animal should be killed outright, then I refuse to discuss anything further with you.

    …Because Jim just can’t relate to someone who values human life.

  163. #163 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    In such an extreme situation, it is not clear to me either what should be done since both choices are very despicable.

    You can’t decide whether a human life is worth sparing over a dog’s, but you think you’re competent to judge the morality of animal experiments? Your self-righteous cluelessness is beyond ridicolous.

    If it is clear for you that the animal should be killed outright, then I refuse to discuss anything further with you.

    …Because Jim just can’t relate to someone who values human life.

  164. #164 Kemist
    March 3, 2010

    This problem can be dealt with easily in most cases. For example, animals who are judged to be unable to live in the wild anymore because they have lived too long in captivity can be sent to a facility that will take care of them for the rest of their life.

    Good luck with that, dear.

    Do you even know what is necessary to take good care of Nu/Nu mice ?

    A completely sterile environement – these are mice with essentialy non-functional immune systems – genetically so. They need a filtered air system and sterilized food, else they will die of any infection that reaches them. Even animal techs used to work with them sometimes contaminate them by mistake (a costly mistake that they will work hard to avoid). Just taking them out of their cages without adequate precaution is a certain death sentence.

    And knock-out animals ? Nobody would even understand what their needs are if they were not involved in the research that produced them.

    But it’s ok, they’re somebody else’s problem now, no human is “torturing” them, so these queasy feelings are gone. It doesn’t matter if they die anyway, it’s natural.

  165. #165 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Raging Bee: “I used a certain line of reasoning on soft drinks. Applying it to something TOTALLY different, like cigarettes, does not prove it invalid. It is, in fact, no more honest than conflating consensual gay sex with child-molesting. The only way you can pretend you’ve refuted my arguments, is by deliberately misusing them.”
    >> No it isn’t. As I have pointed out, cigarettes and soft drinks are very similar. Soft drinks and cigarettes share much more in terms of negative health impacts than consensual gay sex and child-molesting, so your argument fails.

    “And do you think people would stop buying them merely because they’re illegal? Trust me, a “war on makeup” would be just as smashingly successful as our current “war on drugs.””
    >> A beautiful Straw Man. We were not discussing “effectiveness” of a ban, but “morality” of a ban.

    “I understand that some cosmetics such as skin lotions and sunscreen provide clear medical benefits.”
    >> Yes, as I pointed out earlier. However, it is also clear, from the same testing, that other cosmetics do not provide these benefits. Now, I ask you this: if we know from previous animal testing that no good can come out of mascara, why should we allow further testing for mascara simply because a company wants to send out a new model?

    “The testing is necessary to determine whether the product provides medical benefits. You cannot sensibly judge whether testing is warranted until AFTER the testing is done and you see the results.”
    >> A lot of this testing has already been done, again. We know very well that things such as mascara do not provide medical benefits. So, again, why do we need to continue this testing for it? Also, a lot can be learned by deduction, not just by experimentation. I have never heard for example, of an experiment seeking to determine the impact that stabbing will have on a monkey’s life expectancy. We do not need to test this. The outcome is obvious.

    “You oppose market forces, AFTER admitting that market forces (responding to public awareness) were effective in getting what you demand? Like those other AR fanatics, you can’t even figure out who your friends are.”
    >> Never have I said that market forces are useful. I said I oppose them the vast majority of the time. Please explain how market forces helped me get what I want. Oh and btw, it is clear you have no knowledge of economics. Market forces and responding to public awareness are two very different things. Usually, the market actually opposes the wants of the public in it’s zealous quest for profit.

    You still refuse to answer to most of my criticisms and selectively picked a few. What about your retarded argument that weapons-systems need to be tested for us to know their usefulness? Care to respond to that?

  166. #166 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    There may have been civilisations that worshipped one or more animals and placed the value of the animal above that of human life, but that way of thinking (with the possible exception of PETA and other like-minded organisations) is pretty much extinct.

    Minor quibble: IANAH, but I don’t think that was ever the case. Ancient peoples may have respected or revered animals, or thanked their Gods for those they used or killed, or treated them as gifts from (or manifestations of) the Gods, and had rules about when to kill them or how to treat them; but I’m pretty sure they never valued animals ABOVE human life. Or if any did, they got out-bred by less scrupulous neighboring tribes.

  167. #167 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Kemist: You did not read my argument correctly. The keywords were “in most cases”. Of course, you can pick as example some rare omega-something most people never even heard of and which we held in captivity and that requires certain environmental conditions which we cannot meet in a facility for care of animals. Congratulations, still a worthless example. We can do what I proposed in most cases for the animals we are holding captive.

    “But it’s ok, they’re somebody else’s problem now, no human is “torturing” them, so these queasy feelings are gone. It doesn’t matter if they die anyway, it’s natural.”
    >> Extrapolation. Never have I implied this.

  168. #168 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    We were not discussing “effectiveness” of a ban, but “morality” of a ban.

    Exactly: you’re demanding we obey a simpleminded moral code, and you don’t give a shit about the real-world consequences. (Also, if a policy isn’t effective, how can you call it “moral?”)

    What about your retarded argument that weapons-systems need to be tested for us to know their usefulness?

    That was not what I was saying about weapon-systems. Read the paragraph again SLOWLY and make sure you understand what I’m saying before you call anyone else “retarded.”

  169. #169 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    You still refuse to answer to most of my criticisms and selectively picked a few.

    That’s all I needed to prove your ignorance, dishonesty, and inability to participate in a rational argument.

  170. #170 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    “Exactly: you’re demanding we obey a simpleminded moral code, and you don’t give a shit about the real-world consequences. (Also, if a policy isn’t effective, how can you call it “moral?”)”
    >> No, I mean you changed the subject in a dishonest manner, which you did. You want to know exactly how effective such a policy would be? Let’s do your favorite activity. Let’s impose it and experiment! For it is the only way, according to you, which we can know.

    “That was not what I was saying about weapon-systems. Read the paragraph again SLOWLY and make sure you understand what I’m saying before you call anyone else “retarded.””
    >> Let’s go back to it. But before we do this, I accept to no longer call your arguments “retarded” (I did not call YOU retarded, btw) if you accept to no longer say that I “don’t give a shit about real-world consequences”. Here’s your argument:

    “The fact is, we often DON’T KNOW how useful something is until AFTER we’ve developed and tested it. This goes for makeup, medicines, and weapon-systems alike.”

    Now explain to me why:

    “that weapons-systems need to be tested for us to know their usefulness”

    is a misrepresentation of your argument.

    Also, you keep refusing to answer most of my criticisms to your points. You selectively pick certain things to answer and leave out others. This can easily be seen by how your comments have decreased in length over time and mine have followed suit in order to match the decreasing number of arguments you address.

  171. #171 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Raging Bee: No it isn’t. A correct response in a debate is one which addresses all of the opponent’s arguments. You have done exactly what you accuse me of and more.

  172. #172 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    Jim: that paragraph you quoted was not the whole of my comment. Go back and read THE WHOLE THING AGAIN.

    Oh all right, I’ll tutor you a bit: I was talking about people inventing things for one purpose, then finding other (possibly completely unrelated) uses for it later. I then said that this can happen with regard to makeup, medicines, and weapon-systems. That was the sole purpose of my mentioning weapons: to emphasize that ANY invention has the potential to find other uses not envisioned by its inventor — uses which would then have to be tested by appropriate means.

    Seriously, boy, I wrote all that in plain English with a minimum of typos; and you still need me to walk you through it and tell you what it means? Then again, what could I expect from someone who can’t even talk to someone who values human life?

  173. #173 Fuzzzone
    March 3, 2010

    Jim: “Usually, the market actually opposes the wants of the public”

    Come now, Jim. Just one sentence after accusing someone else of having no knowledge of economics you bust out a line like this? The public *is* the market. You seem to be confusing or conflating certain market participants (i.e. producers) with the market as a whole. “Market forces” are a balancing act of demand and supply; in the absence of demand there is no market for a product. So clearly any market participant who wants to profit must cater to the wants of the public. The problem, of course, is that since “the public” is not a monolithic entity it often has varied and contradictory wants.

  174. #174 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    Jim: you can’t even understand my arguments (or at least you can’t ADMIT you understand them); and now you’re lecturing ME about “correct response in a debate?” Go to bed.

  175. #175 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Raging Bee:

    “Oh all right, I’ll tutor you a bit: I was talking about people inventing things for one purpose, then finding other (possibly completely unrelated) uses for it later. I then said that this can happen with regard to makeup, medicines, and weapon-systems. That was the sole purpose of my mentioning weapons: to emphasize that ANY invention has the potential to find other uses not envisioned by its inventor — uses which would then have to be tested by appropriate means.”
    >> The part about weapons systems is what interests me most. So, let me see if I understand and correct me if I’m wrong:
    1) Weapons-systems have been invented with a purpose in mind, a clear one, killing.
    2) After their invention, a completely unrelated purpose has been found, such as [incomplete].
    Theoretically speaking what you advance is correct. A new invention can be adapted to fit other purposes than the one it was originally built for. Practically, this is not so clear. Weapons-systems have thus served in designing other, more efficient, more brutal, weapons-systems, but which have the same purpose.

    “Seriously, boy, I wrote all that in plain English with a minimum of typos; and you still need me to walk you through it and tell you what it means? Then again, what could I expect from someone who can’t even talk to someone who values human life?”
    >> Extrapolation. For some unknown reason, and while I said many times in previous comments that I am for animal testing when it can provide significant medical benefits to human life, you have said that I do not value human life.

    Suppose I actually give you the part about weapons systems. You still refuse to answer other criticisms such as the fact that many things do not need to be tested for and that we can know their impact a priori, your poor knowledge of economics and market forces, your extensive use of Straw Men, extrapolations about my beliefs, etc.

  176. #176 T. Bruce McNeely
    March 3, 2010

    Jim:
    You have spoken against consmetics because they are part of a “consumerist lifestyle” (despite evidence that cosmetics have been used for thousands of years).
    You have spoken against soft drinks because we “don’t need” them, and they are “bad” for our health. Well, there are lots of things we “don’t need”. Beer and wine. Comments on blogs. Shall I continue? Anyway, soft drinks aren’t particularly bad in moderation, just like my other examples.
    You also claim to tell us what the “correct response” is in a debate.
    I detect a little authoritarianism on your part, and I say the hell with it.

  177. #177 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @T. Bruce McNeely:

    “You have spoken against consmetics because they are part of a “consumerist lifestyle” (despite evidence that cosmetics have been used for thousands of years).”
    >> Correct. They have been used for thousands of years. Now, and correct me if I am wrong, are they not part of a consumerist lifestyle today?

    “You have spoken against soft drinks because we “don’t need” them, and they are “bad” for our health. Well, there are lots of things we “don’t need”. Beer and wine.”
    >> Straw Man. You have attempted to deviate from addressing the real argument “soft drinks are bad and we don’t need them” into addressing a different argument, “Well, there are lots of things we “don’t need”…”

    “Anyway, soft drinks aren’t particularly bad in moderation, just like my other examples.”
    >> Again, straw man. We are not talking about whether they are bad in moderation (whatever moderation means is relative to the person) or not but whether or not “soft drinks are bad and we don’t need them”.

    “You also claim to tell us what the “correct response” is in a debate.
    I detect a little authoritarianism on your part, and I say the hell with it.”
    >> Correct. I have made the mistake of attempting to define what a “correct response” is in any debate and apologize for this. Can you give me what your definition is and I can try to adapt to that instead?

  178. #178 Raging Bee
    March 3, 2010

    The part about weapons systems is what interests me most…

    Right — you can’t handle the main point of my argument, so you’re gonna confine yourself to bitching and quibbling about a barely relevant offhand aside, even after I point out it’s just an offhand example in support of a larger point. I think this argument is over; and to echo McNeely, the hell with it.

  179. #179 DT35
    March 3, 2010

    @Jim;
    I find your repeated use of the word “retarded” to characterize arguments with which you disagree to be digustingly ableist. Apparently you feel it’s okay to objectify and express casual prejudice against certain groups of humans, as long as you hold the correct moral stance with regard to non-humans.

  180. #180 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Raging Bee: I have handled every single paragraph of every single comment you have written. And I have done so without straw men, extrapolations or other fallacies. I cannot say these things about you or about McNeely. And yes, I am also going to stop discussing this. There’s no point in arguing here. When I make a mistake, I admit it and correct it. You try to cover it up or refuse to address it.

  181. #181 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @DT35: Apologies for the word retarded. I was just unhappy about something that RB had written. I have however, agreed to stop using the word “retarded” if he would stop saying that I have no feelings for human beings. I am also sorry if I gave the impression that I:
    1) Express casual prejudice against certain groups of human beings (i.e. stereotypes).
    2) Hold the only correct moral stance when it comes to how we treat non-humans.

  182. #182 D. C. Sessions
    March 3, 2010

    And, in fact, more cosmetics are advertized with a logo promising “no animal testing.”

    That’s one of my favorite proofs that this is all about feelgood points.

    The reason is that the “no animal testing” products are only legal because (wait for it) … their ingredients were already approved based in animal testing in another product (often by a competitor, but also for another product by the same manufacturer.)

    Sodium lauryl sulfate, cetyl alcohol, etc for freaking ever: all animal tested, but they can be stirred together and packaged together with a new label proudly proclaiming “no animal testing” and people will pay more for them than for an identical mixture without that label.

  183. #183 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @D. C. Sessions: I could respond but I don’t have time for this anymore. We can continue the argument later if you want. Thanks to everyone who participated to the discussion (even those of you who abused of straw men I guess). I have actually learned some things.

  184. #184 D. C. Sessions
    March 3, 2010

    I think we gotta stop thinking about justifying this or that evil, and face it. Even looking at each individual case of animal research, what you (hopefully) have is some benefits, and you have all the suffering caused. Ya just can’t do the CPA and add up the columns and say, well, here is a lot of good, so the evil does not matter, it is superceded, it is inconsequential, it is excused. No… it is still there. So the next question is, what do we do about it?

    I notice how it’s always us who have to do this and us who have to do that.

    Since you’re into the “no compromise with evil” zero-tolerance thing, how about setting an example?

    Stop traveling by car, train, bus, plane: cars kill millions of animals a year in the USA alone; airplanes kill huge numbers of birds, etc.

    Stop using electricity: windmills kill birds, coal mining destroys habitat and pollutes the neighborhood, oil burning puts toxins into the environment which threaten entire ecosystems and spills do all of those horrible things to aquatic life that we’ve seen.

    Stop buying corporate-farmed food: threshers catch millions of bunnies and dismember them, the transport and storage system is constantly waging chemical warfare against rodents and other animal losses, and the transport has the same problems as you driving.

    Stop wearing cotton: I live in cotton-farming territory and the body count of bunnies, squirrels, coyotes, etc is enormous.

    Stop wearing synthetics: see oil above.

    Steel is refined using coal: see above.

    Aluminum is refined with electricity: see above.

    There’s a lot more involved, all of it something you can do yourself rather than insisting that my nephew suffer and die for your self-righteousness. When you’ve worked through the list above I have some more for you.

  185. #185 vera
    March 3, 2010

    JustaTech: no mercy for a simple error, eh? oh well… this whole blog seems to be summed up in “no mercy.”

    Jim: rule #1: don’t feed the trolls.
    Best to ya. :-)

  186. #186 vera
    March 3, 2010

    D.C…. are you joking? More of the “consumer choices will resolve our moral dilemmas” nonsense? One can’t solve a systemic problem that way, haven’t you heard? Can I save the Ogallala aquifer by taking shorter showers?! Yeah… that’s the ticket. I’ll just stop washing altogether and that will take care of it… sheesh.

  187. #187 D. C. Sessions
    March 3, 2010

    D.C…. are you joking? More of the “consumer choices will resolve our moral dilemmas” nonsense?

    I see. You’re all in favor of taking a zero-tolerance position on someone else’s “evil” that saves lives (e.g. my nephew’s) but the “evil” you contribute to is OK because “everyone else does it.” Besides, your comfort and convenience are important!

  188. #188 vera
    March 3, 2010

    Did you read anything I said? Have you heard of straw men? I take zero tolerance on the position that evil can be whitewashed by reference to some other good that has been accomplished. And that applies to the evil I do as well.

    Ta-da. Stick a fork in me, I am done.

  189. #189 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Everyone: I just got a little more time here so I wanted to add something that I forgot to add before (or maybe I added but don’t remember), but this is my last comment. I am not inherently opposed to animal testing but I would like to either see some substantial medical advancement coming out of it or see that we had a high enough chance of reaching such an advancement with it. In other words, if scientists have reason to believe from previous experiments (which may or may not have been on animals), that if experiment X on animal Y can lead to breakthrough Z, then I am for testing. However, if scientists perform experiment X on animal Y without being able to show that said experiment has high chances of leading to a breakthrough Z, then I am against it.

  190. #190 Kathryn
    March 3, 2010

    Re 166

    @Kemist: You did not read my argument correctly. The keywords were “in most cases”. Of course, you can pick as example some rare omega-something most people never even heard of and which we held in captivity and that requires certain environmental conditions which we cannot meet in a facility for care of animals. Congratulations, still a worthless example. We can do what I proposed in most cases for the animals we are holding captive.

    I believe that was a response to the detailed description of caring for lab mice.

    One thing people outside of biomedical research probably don’t know is that most research isn’t done on primates (or dogs, cats, or rabbits); it’s done on mice (and rats, and fruitflies). Primate labs are pretty rare, partly because of the regulatory requirements but mostly because mice are cheaper, breed prodigiously, can be genetically engineered, etc. So when AR groups “liberate” the lab animals, most of the time this means they are putting small captive-bred rodents with specialized requirements into environments where they can’t survive.

    I think most non-scientists also equate animal research with toxicity testing. In my genetics classes, we learn about other types of biomedical research. The closer you are to basic research–such as the work on stem cells from mice–the less feasible it would be to use human subjects. Besides all the moral questions about “is the mouse more important than your granny/baby/whoever” it’s usually more practical to use a smaller organism with a shorter lifespan. (Yet another reason why most animals in labs are mice, not chimps/dogs/cats.) If you need to observe several generations of subjects with a given mutation, imagine the logistics of using humans with a generation time of 20-25 years. (Even if you tried, you’d probably have dropouts from the study.)

    So the response about the travails of caring for mice with immune deficiencies and genetic knockouts was spot-on. Yeah, the AR literature might focus on larger, more charismatic species, but that doesn’t mean they’re the most common in real life.

  191. #191 D. C. Sessions
    March 3, 2010

    I take zero tolerance on the position that evil can be whitewashed by reference to some other good that has been accomplished. And that applies to the evil I do as well.

    And yet you’re still using electricity. I think there’s a word for that.

  192. #192 Jim
    March 3, 2010

    @Kathryn: Those are very interesting observations and obviously, as someone who is not from that field of study, I was not aware of them. But what about the larger, more charismatic species, as you call them? Is it not possible to place them in a facility for care of animals?

  193. #193 Jon H
    March 3, 2010

    Jim wrote: “In other words, if scientists have reason to believe from previous experiments (which may or may not have been on animals), that if experiment X on animal Y can lead to breakthrough Z, then I am for testing. However, if scientists perform experiment X on animal Y without being able to show that said experiment has high chances of leading to a breakthrough Z, then I am against it.”

    So, basically you think that veterinary science should stop where it is?

    Because how do you think vets come up with new procedures?

  194. #194 Jon H
    March 3, 2010

    “Primate labs are pretty rare, partly because of the regulatory requirements but mostly because mice are cheaper, breed prodigiously, can be genetically engineered, etc.”

    Also because macaques and baboons, let alone chimps, can seriously mess you up. Rhesus monkeys might be the size of a large cat, but they’ve got some pretty serious fangs.

    Plus they can carry Herpes B, which gives them a cold sore but can be fatal in humans in a matter of weeks.

  195. #195 Calli Arcale
    March 3, 2010

    vera @ 153:

    “Do the particular ends justify the particular means?”
    I am having a hard time coming across. I think we gotta stop thinking about justifying this or that evil, and face it. Even looking at each individual case of animal research, what you (hopefully) have is some benefits, and you have all the suffering caused. Ya just can’t do the CPA and add up the columns and say, well, here is a lot of good, so the evil does not matter, it is superceded, it is inconsequential, it is excused. No… it is still there. So the next question is, what do we do about it? And I think the AR people are yelling really hard to say, *something* needs to change. And I think in that, theyz right. :-)

    I understand you, but I’m not sure you understand me.

    Cost versus benefit does not mean “because we like this good, we will totally ignore this harm that pays for it”. It certainly does not mean the harm doesn’t matter. If it didn’t matter, why would there be independent ethics boards that have to sign off on each and every experiment (and who often refuse to sign off until changes have been made)? The suffering matters, of course it matters. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if it didn’t matter.

    There will *always* be harm. The questions are “to whom” and “how much”. You seem to be dealing in absolutes, but the real world has precious few of those.

    Let us say we* want to know whether or not a new drug is safe and effective. Before we will be permitted to experiment on animals, we will need to prove that there is any point in doing so. That is, we can’t just cook up random compounds and give them to animals to see what happens. Let’s say it is a new antibiotic. We will first test it against bacteria in petri dishes — in vitro testing. We may also test it against cultures of human cells to see if it screws with them in any obvious way. If it causes problems for the human cells, or is only modestly effective against the bacteria, this is probably where we stop. There would be no point in subjecting animals to the next step given how little we’d be likely to gain. The price they would pay is too steep.

    But if it *is* effective, then the next thing we need to do is determine safety. We cannot test it in humans if we do not know what levels of it are safe. (Few chemicals are totally harmless; most have some dose at which they become poisons.) This is where animal testing will come in. It is not so much to prove efficacy as to preliminarily prove safety. It will be given to pregnant females, to see if it causes harm to their fetuses. If it does not, larger doses will be given to see at what dose harm begins to appear. It will be given at a range of doses to find out at what dose it kills 50% of the test subjects — the LD50. Of those who do not die, we will need to determine what other effects appear. Carcinogenicity and effects on fertility may also be studied. Then, if all has gone well and the dose at which a reasonable blood concentration can be achieved is not dangerous, then it will move on to human trials.

    At all times, the animals must be cared for. When the experiment is over, if the drug regime has not rendered the animals unfit for further study, they may move on to other studies. More likely, they will need to be disposed of, and this must be done as humanely as possible. They must feel as little pain as possible.

    No sane researcher takes pleasure in this, except insofar as it may save human lives later. (I certainly acknowledge that insane scientists probably exist, and I believe it is the job of both their peers and animal welfare proponents to find them and put a stop to them.

    *This is a hypothetical “we”. I do not personally perform animal research; I’m a software engineer. Animal welfare is just a matter near and dear to my heart, as is medical research.

  196. #196 nsib
    March 4, 2010

    Calli, that’s a very nice attempt, but I think vera is unreachable. In another thread, I introduced the trolley problem to her and asked what moral system she followed, and this was her reply:

    Your trolley problem has no moral solution. Both options suck. Now can you tell me how it is ethical to torture and kill fellow primates? And why is it that we don’t ask more often about what is good for them, rather than for us?

    Btw, since you ask: I don’t follow a system. I think for myself. I highly recommend it.

    Later on, she was kind enough to give a summary of her worldview:

    I hear what you are saying about “is this the society you want.” That question seems to have gone by the wayside, a luxury of former times. What I see is a predatory, plunderous civilization out of control. I am amongst those who say no to it, regardless of my personal price to pay. Although I must say that the elites are doing *far* more to bury it nowadays than any activists! Just watch the feeding frenzy of the unfolding economic collapse… As far as I can tell, we do not have a civil society. We have a system run by psychopaths and their helpers. It bodes ill for us all.

    So, yeah…

  197. #197 Dale Husband
    March 9, 2010

    I knew from the start that Douglas Watts was a fraud, and Orac proved me right. Any sympathy I might have had for the animal rights movement evaporated once I became aware of the absurdity and potential for harm at the core of the movement. It needs to be discredited and done away with. It’s not so much pro-animal as it is anti-human and therefore the AR people are mostly traitors to the human species itself.

  198. #198 SisterMaryLoquacious
    March 21, 2010

    it took me forever, but i finally got around to finishing reading this.

    a few things,

    calli, although i do not always agree with your point of view, i am impressed that whenever i see your name in a comment, i can be sure that it will be a well thought-out consideration of the issue without unnecessary personal attacks. in an argument which can often be hyperbolic and emotional, i really appreciate your input. and high-five for women who don’t wear make-up (me too)! (sorry, i know this is personal and completely off topic, and i hope it doesn’t embarrass you that i singled you out; i just wanted to give credit where i feel credit is abundantly due. we are, after all a society of individuals interacting with each other, not just a collection of opinions and facts.)

    KevinL, Jim and Vera, kudos for climbing in the hot seat. i think, for the most part you handled yourselves very well and produced thought-provoking, cogent defense of your points of view.

    as to the babies with birthmarks, burn victims, etc., needing make-up: get over yourselves, people! vanity in this society has run amok! as someone who has lived for many years in societies which don’t place such an excess of human value on appearance, and in which i have seen numerous disfigured individuals integrate well without a huge amount of hardship, i find this argument laughable. regardless of any absolutist stance on animal testing, i think it would be easy to make the case that it would be a lot more ethical to change society’s views of disfigurement than to confine, experiment on, or kill numerous animals in the effort to cover it up.

    as to what to do with lab animals if we were to ban animal testing: the way i see it, with most lab animals (mice, rats, etc.) we are looking at 3-5 years of caretaking while they live out the rest of their lives awaiting a natural death. drosophila would be far less, of course, and primates would be more. i am not suggesting that this is what i believe should be done, only that i don’t see such a huge problem with that solution.

    raging bee: regardless of the interesting points that you sometimes make, it is very difficult to take you seriously when you seem to come into every argument with an excess of vitriol and personal attacks. it would be prudent for you to take it down a notch or two. not for me, mind you (because, quite frankly, i don’t care if you want to be an asshole, but i do recognize a bit of myself at 19 or 20 in your actions), but for the sake of your arguments. you don’t seem to think it’s an appropriate behavior to direct AT you; why do you think it’s appropriate to direct at others? you are obviously passionate and intelligent. why not let your arguments speak for themselves???

  199. #199 SisterMaryLoquacious
    March 21, 2010

    to clarify: when i said, in the previous comment, “get over yourselves, people!” i was not directing the comment at those who are disfigured, but rather to the apologetics who feel that it is an ethical defense to proclaim that disfigured individuals need make-up.

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