Once we’ve defeated the creationists (hah!), we’re going to have to manage the next problem: well-meaning but ill-informed animal rights activists. Nick describes a recent article that tries to claim we can reduce animal use in labs — and it even has a couple of respectable scientists signing on to that nonsense.
And it really is nonsense. We don’t understand everything that is going on inside animals, and to figure it out, we actually need to look inside them. There’s no other way. If you want to examine patterns of gene expression inside the developing mouse brain, you have to extract their brains (needless to say, a lethal process) and examine them with a host of tools. Isolated cells in a petri dish aren’t the same thing. To simulate something with a computer, you need to know the parameters of what you’re simulating.
Using our imaginations and inventing what we think might be going on rather easily leads to absurd results … and the way I recognized that they were absurd is that I’ve actually looked at the processes involved.