Pharyngula

I am Pro-Test

There was a rally in LA for a group in favor of animal experimentation, Pro-Test, which also had a counter-rally by animal rights groups. You can guess which side I’m on in this debate: blocking experimentation on animals would kill biological research dead. The tactics of the anti-vivisectionists are also reprehensible and deserving of condemnation.

The Pro-Test group, an offshoot of an Oxford, England-based group founded in 2006, was organized by J. David Jentsch, a UCLA neuroscientist who was the target of a recent attack by anonymous animal-rights activists.  In the attack, Jentsch’s car was set on fire while it was parked in front of his Westside home.  (The FBI recently announced that a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible has been increased to $75,000.)  Jentsch, who researches schizophrenia and drug addiction, conducts tests on monkeys.  While he acknowledges that some monkeys are killed as part of his research, he maintains that they do not suffer.  Jentsch was expected to speak at today’s rally.

Most importantly, we’re biologists. We’re in this business because we have a passion for the organisms we study, not because we’re some kind of sick sadists. We’re also currently swaddled up to our ears in regulations and monitors to prevent abuses of the animals in our care.

Unfortunately, the article discussing this rally has associated with it a poll. This makes me rather cranky—it’s a serious issue worth discussing, so please, don’t slap a stupid internet poll on it. It just means that advocacy groups will push at the numbers as if they mean something. So, please, go forth and destroy this pointless metric:

Can medical research on animals be conducted humanely?

Yes — and I support it if the animals are treated well 27% (1872 votes)

No — it’s inhumane by definition and I don’t support it 73% (5049 votes)

Not sure <1% (4 votes)

Comments

  1. #1 St. Tabby Lavalamp
    April 24, 2009

    Not hating science or modern medicine (I love my health, thank you very much), I gladly voted Yes.

  2. #2 James Sweet
    April 24, 2009

    What about “Yes — but only if a rabbi is present and the animal’s blood is used as a consecration to Yahweh”?

    On a more personal note, seeing as I have a schizophrenic brother-in-law who is currently wandering the streets of LA after catching a cross-country bus because he thought the home he was in was acting like “the gestapo”… I get a little cranky about people trying to impede research into schizophrenia. :|

  3. #3 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Whacked it once from work. Seeing a little movement in the right direction. Only a little over 7,000 votes, which means we can have an effect.

  4. #4 Matt H.
    April 24, 2009

    Research on tissue then, PZ. Don’t research on live animals, these protesters are right; it’s inhumane.

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 24, 2009

    It’s already at 30/70. Man, that’s fast.

    Yes — and I support it if the animals are treated well 30% (2231 votes)

    No — it’s inhumane by definition and I don’t support it 70% (5121 votes)

    Not sure <1% (4 votes)

    Total Votes: 7356

  6. #6 hmd
    April 24, 2009

    Errm… How exactly do you research developmental biology on tissue? If we knew enough about that to use tissue, we wouldn’t have anything left to research.

  7. #7 Dawn
    April 24, 2009

    I voted yes. I am a big fan of medical reseach which has helped preserve the life of many of my family members. I have been in animal labs and saw how well the animals were treated. Yes, some were killed. Usually very humanely, if it was necessary.

  8. #8 Sgt. Obvious
    April 24, 2009

    I would dearly love to see the day when there is a viable, practical alternative to animal testing. For now, though, there are too many variables involved to make it anything but necessary. Still against cosmetics testing and the like, though.

  9. #9 Matt H.
    April 24, 2009

    If you conduct ‘research’ in the same way research is done on bonobos and other apes, in sanctuaries where behaviour is observed and chimps are given occasional tasks to perform (things like matching sounds to words, which I’ve seen them do before), then that isn’t degrading or hurting the animal. But if you keep it locked up in a cage and inject it with all manner of drugs, surely you can recognise how evil that is? It is that kind of research I object to.

  10. #10 flaq
    April 24, 2009

    “It’s inhumane by definition but I still support it” would have gotten my vote.

  11. #11 MRH
    April 24, 2009

    Far more–and much worse–animal suffering is caused by factory farms. The protesters seem curiously silent on that subject. Wonder why.

  12. #12 muffin
    April 24, 2009

    Eh, I’ve got to disagree with you. Of course setting cars on fire is not the proper way to go about protesting, and of course most biologists won’t be sadists (although on the other hand, “we’re just doing our job” isn’t much better than “we were just following orders”), but the question of whether it’s justified to hurt, torture and/or kill animals in order to further research is a very valid one.

    Myself, I don’t think that there is an easy answer; it depends on the research, on what exactly you intend to do, and probably on other factors as well. But I think you’re making it all far too easy for yourself when you say that biological research would be hindered if no experiments on animals were conducted. Not that it’s not true, probably, but it’s missing (or ignoring) the point.

  13. #13 oldtree
    April 24, 2009

    Here is where we find disagreement. One thing that you don’t understand PZ that science puts itself above our humanity. Using animals that did not volunteer for the experiment is a crime to a sentient being, and no amount of talk can allow anyone to evade that.
    If you want to use vivisection, use a human volunteer. If this seems extreme, then one has lost the ability to understand evolution. Evolution is not voluntary.

  14. #14 muffin
    April 24, 2009

    Also, as an addendum, is this meant to be ironic?

    “It just means that advocacy groups will push at the numbers as if they mean something. So, please, go forth and destroy this pointless metric:”

    Honestly, except for the “group” part, you’re an advocacy group here as well, PZ, aren’t you?

  15. #15 Glen Davidson
    April 24, 2009

    Can medical research on animals be conducted humanely?

    Boy, that’s stacking the deck.

    An honest question would be, would it be more inhumane to do medical tests on animals, or to let humans (and animals) suffer through lack of knowledge.

    As written, the only stated concern is for the test animal, not for the humans and animals which might benefit.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  16. #16 muffin
    April 24, 2009

    oldtree has some good point in #13, BTW. To elaborate on my earlier comment, I’m not against animal testing per se, but I’m opposed to the idea that (non-human) animals are worth less than humans and that therefore, making animals suffer and/or killing them is a-OK in order to help humans.

    Check out what Peter Singer has to say on the topic, for example. You may very well not agree with him (although I’d recommend actually reading his books; there’s quite some misinformation floating around concerning his positions), but it’s food for thought, at the very least.

  17. #17 Gruesome Rob
    April 24, 2009

    If this seems extreme, then one has lost the ability to understand evolution. Evolution is not voluntary.

    Let’s put it in evolutionary terms then. We’re predator, they’re prey.

  18. #18 Victor
    April 24, 2009

    Of course it’s humane, because it benefits humans. It may be anti-rat or anti-rabbit, but I’m willing to be anti-rabbit to be pro-human.

  19. #19 Jeff
    April 24, 2009

    It’s rare you’re wrong, but you are in this case. Maybe you have the corporate university “science” outlook which holds that there’s an expensive pill or potion that can “cure” anything, if we just keep looking… You failed to cite examples of animal research that has lead to major disease cures and life-saving breakthroughs. Putting shampoo and beauty products into the eyes of beagles to test how safe these items are — as they’ve done at UCLA, in order to help the cosmetics industry — is not something a lot of people I know approve of.

  20. #20 daveau
    April 24, 2009

    It’s a reasonable compromise. No rational person enjoys seeing animals suffer or die. I wonder what alternatives they would suggest. Consenting human volunteers only? If there was something else that would work as well, I’d be all for it.

  21. #21 firemancarl
    April 24, 2009

    I have pharyngulated the poll.

  22. #22 silver
    April 24, 2009

    While I am an animal lover, I understand that sometimes sacrifices have to be made. If the research is to find a cure for some desease (like cancer, schizo, etc) then I`m for it, so long as the animals aren’t abused.

    I am, however, against animal testing for stupid things, such as make-up, using thier fur as fashion accessories, etc.

    It’s not pretty, but until we find a way to create very realistic fake animals, then there’s nothing we can do.

  23. #23 Dennis
    April 24, 2009

    Wait, what? That’s not logical:

    “Research on tissue then, PZ. Don’t research on live animals, these protesters are right; it’s inhumane.”

  24. #24 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Research on tissue then, PZ.

    Already done where possible. I mean, think about it. Completely apart from all moral values, it’s much more convenient and much cheaper!

    If you want to use vivisection

    WTF? Who ever needs that?

    Honestly, except for the “group” part, you’re an advocacy group here as well, PZ, aren’t you?

    That’s the very point he wants us to drive home.

  25. #25 Michelle R
    April 24, 2009

    Here are the facts. Take the cute puppies and mice and transform them into horrible alien monsters from the planet Vargozz and not one of them stupids will give a damn if you experiment on them.

  26. #26 DaveX
    April 24, 2009

    My appreciation of this issue is that there’s probably a good lot of animal testing/experimentation that could be done away with– and I’d include redundant lab exercises for many students in this category as well. I think that something like a fetal pig dissection could be easily modeled for students on a computer, and that there’s probably a large number of household products still being tested on animals that we could reduce. I’d even include that dopey grad student’s alcohol/zebrafish nonsense that some of you may recall from a while back…

    This would be a BIG step in the right direction, and would definitely satisfy the vast majority of my problems.

    On the other hand, I understand there’s a lot of stuff you’re not going to learn without just taking an animal apart, running an experiment, etc… I’d hope that any such experiments are truly necessary, and have the potential to increase scientific knowledge.

  27. #27 Mack
    April 24, 2009

    I have a number of questions I have always wanted to ask animal rights activists:

    When you are ill, do you use the drugs prescribed by your doctor? Because those drugs were tested for side effects etc. on various animals before being tested in humans.

    How else would you test for side effects and efficacy of medications?

    Do you have any family members who are affected by diseases that are currently being researched using animal models; these include developmental problems, neurological diseases, cancer and many others?

    How would you research developmental problems in tissue as it is a total organism problem?

  28. #28 andrew
    April 24, 2009

    For the first time, this long time lurker totally disagrees with you. It is absolutely unethical and cruel to test human diseases, whether AIDS or cancer or schizophrenia, on helpless animals. I am sort of surprised to learn that you think of humans as “special” in any way. Personally, as sad as it would be, I would rather myself or a loved one die of a disease — which is also part of nature’s ability to cull the herd and keep things in balance — than to learn that their cure was discovered through animal testing.

  29. #29 Jeff S
    April 24, 2009

    I don’t know enough to comment. Humans have no right to lord over other animals. None. What-so-ever. It is because of our own selfish greed that we do so. However I don’t know what kind of testing is done on animals. If the testing is something you wouldn’t do to a human then there is nothing wrong really.

    Bigger brains does not equal superior rights. Just because we can reason giving an animal a disease or something does not mean its right.

    That said, I love to eat meat and I fully support animal testing. I am aware and ok with my selfishness.

  30. #30 Colugo
    April 24, 2009

    oldtree: “Evolution is not voluntary.”

    Evolution doesn’t give a crap what we do. It’s a process, not a god.

    muffin: “Check out what Peter Singer has to say on the topic, for example.”

    Singer was led by his own utilitarianism – more specifically, the goal of reducing of total suffering – to flip-flop on experimentation on nonhuman primates.

  31. #31 DrugMonkey
    April 24, 2009

    Thanks for highlighting this important issue, PZ.

  32. #32 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 24, 2009

    If this seems extreme, then one has lost the ability to understand evolution.

    I don’t understand that.

    which is also part of nature’s ability to cull the herd and keep things in balance

    That I understand. That’s religion.

  33. #33 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    I’m vegan, so this is a pretty tricky issue for me. I feel very strongly that we have absolutely no inherent right to use animals for any purpose. On the other hand, I am also a human being, and understand the concept of sacrifice for the greater good. Also, I like medicine and not being dead.

    “Most importantly, we’re biologists. We’re in this business because we have a passion for the organisms we study, not because we’re some kind of sick sadists.”

    The researcher named was a neuroscientist – while that seems to fall under the biologist umbrella, my impression from the article was that Mr. Jentsch’s research wasn’t as much about the organism as it was about getting results about specific illnesses. Not to say he’s a sadist, as I’m sure he is not, but the organisms in question seemed, for lack of a better term, disposable, and that’s where I’d have a problem.

    All that said: I voted inhumane. I am a reasonable person, but I’d make an educated guess that many tests don’t NEED to be performed on animals. Until there is more transparency, I feel like a hard line needs to be taken.

    (Also, terrorism – i.e. torching a researcher’s car – is never, ever okay.)

    Sorry for being so long winded, but I agree with PZ – animal testing and, by proxy, animal rights is a very important issue, and I think the more rational discourse about it, the better.

  34. #34 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    Far more–and much worse–animal suffering is caused by factory farms. The protesters seem curiously silent on that subject. Wonder why.

    This! And I think your “wonder why” was ironic but I really do wonder why.

    I’m pretty sure most anti-vivisection activists (probably not all the sympathisers, but the activists) are vegetarians and even vegans, so it’s not “We are against animal exploitation when you do it but not when we do”. Even if (for the sake of argument) we grant that harm to animals is never justified by human gain, I just can’t get my head around why they are going after science first. The horrors of the meat industry are on a much bigger scale, and for much, less benefit than anything standards in medical research would allow.

  35. #35 flaq
    April 24, 2009

    I would rather myself or a loved one die of a disease — which is also part of nature’s ability to cull the herd and keep things in balance — than to learn that their cure was discovered through animal testing.

    Sounds noble and all, but something tells me you’ll get that prescription filled before you allow yourself to be “culled”.

  36. #36 Colugo
    April 24, 2009

    Animal rights is the anti-abortion of the left.

    Amanda Marcotte made this point a few years ago, and I had privately expressed this view some years before that.

    Not that there are no right wing animal rightists nor left wing anti-abortionists; there are, but you know what I mean.

  37. #37 ZK
    April 24, 2009

    It was still 64% for the anti-medicine brigade when I voted a few minutes ago.

  38. #38 Glen Davidson
    April 24, 2009

    When you are ill, do you use the drugs prescribed by your doctor? Because those drugs were tested for side effects etc. on various animals before being tested in humans.

    Just like cosmetics, I only use medicines which are clearly stated not to have been tested on animals.

    No, I kid. I say this because I can see why “not tested on animals” is a selling point with cosmetics (which I don’t use), and hasn’t been attempted to be used as a selling point for medicines.

    As for this from a different commenter:

    You failed to cite examples of animal research that has lead to major disease cures and life-saving breakthroughs

    That’s because virtually all major disease cures and life-saving breakthroughs were tested on animals (how come anti-testers generally know so little?), from chemotherapy to many of the surgeries used.

    Why do you think it costs so much for drugs? Sure, profiteering and the like, but it’s the animal testing, and the human testing (which does happen, and ought to make people squirm as much as animal tests do. The “volunteer” bullshit simply ignores economic reality), which cost so much.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  39. #39 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    I have no problem with people protesting against the use of animals in research, as long as they take the views to the proper conclusions. That is, they voluntarily wear some type of ID tag that essential says “use no medical drug/device/technique derived from animal testing”. That way, their wishes can be granted in an emergency situation. Also, they have to be on waiting lists to be called for testing of new drugs/devices/techniques.

  40. #40 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Jentsch, according to Vlasak, “is hurting and killing non-human primates every day. And if it took harming him to make him stop torturing, it is certainly morally justifiable.”

    I think this part of the article is what pissed me off the most. Vlasak is no better than any of the anti-abortion wingnuts out there. Or terrorists for that matter becuase, that is exactly what the animal rights groups,ELF and its’ ilk are.

  41. #41 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    Matt / #34: I agree 100%, factory farming is a much larger target. However, I don’t think that excuses animal testing from attention. Anyone who protests testing but doesn’t protest factory farming, or even worse, eats meat, is a fool.

  42. #42 Matt H.
    April 24, 2009

    Whenever I buy medicine or cosmetics (shampoo, shower gel and the like – I don’t use make-up :P), I always check to make sure it hasn’t been tested on animals. That is the ‘research’ I oppose, I have no problem with research done humanely, for example research into animal behaviour and DNA.

  43. #43 DaveX
    April 24, 2009

    Cakexploder makes a good point:

    “Until there is more transparency, I feel like a hard line needs to be taken.”

    I wanted to say something like this in my previous comment, but couldn’t quite express it– my feeling as a vegetarian is often that I think meat-eaters have a rather callous, cavalier attitude toward animal death/suffering in general. I have a hard time trusting these same folks when they tell me that some sort of animal testing is truly necessary. I can reasonably assume that SOME is, but I’d guess that there is a lot of useless waste and suffering occurring as well. Again, students like the zebrafish/alcohol grad student do quite a bit to confirm this for me. His project sounded about as well thought-out as pulling the wings off flies or burning ants with a magnifying glass.

  44. #44 Bullet Magnet
    April 24, 2009

    Dissension! Dissension in the ranks! God-damn freethinking.

    I voted yes.

  45. #45 JD
    April 24, 2009

    I propose only doing biological research on Fred Phelps.

  46. #46 flaq
    April 24, 2009

    Anyone who protests testing but doesn’t protest factory farming, or even worse, eats meat, is a fool.

    Agreed. And anyone who uses violent acts to express their opinion on this matter is a sociopath.

  47. #47 firemancarl
    April 24, 2009

    Crap! I forgot to sign in! Post #40 is mine.

  48. #48 Nezumi
    April 24, 2009

    There’s a big difference between dissecting a real body and a computer simulation, even if it’s a good one. Maybe it would be ok for high school biology, since most of them really won’t use that information past the exam. There’s a lot of tactile information that can’t be relayed by computers like how tough the mesentary is or the force needed to separate the joints.

    I’d rather see a higher proportion vegetarian and vegan menu options in the cafeteria first. It would not only be good for the animals, but would also improve the health and performance of students.

    PZ’s right, biological and psychological studies really can’t be done without the use of animals. In many cases, however, I think the way animals are confined and isolated actually skews the data. Confined animals are stressed, stressed animals don’t react the same way behaviorally or physiologically as animals allowed a more natural state.

  49. #49 MartinM
    April 24, 2009

    Whenever I buy medicine or cosmetics (shampoo, shower gel and the like – I don’t use make-up :P), I always check to make sure it hasn’t been tested on animals.

    You do realise that even products whose development didn’t use animals almost certainly depend on basic research which did, yes?

  50. #50 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    PZ! Even a handful of animals are precious! I say let the humans suffer and die unnecessarily! That’s the humane way!

  51. #51 Steven Dunlap
    April 24, 2009

    There exists some tricky questions when you start to delve into specific circumstances and cases. Cosmetics research, which does not qualify as life saving, has used rabbits to test the eye irritation of proposed shampoo formulas. No one will die if we use the same shampoos as worked last year, but a formula a cosmetics company can patent will increase their profit and market share (given the right advertising).

    Life-saving research: cancer, mental illness, aids, new generation of antibiotics, etc ; these are all entirely different matters than cosmetics. If you are the one suffering from a nasty case of flesh eating bacteria you will find that Thumper’s life vs. yours becomes a really easy call. I found a really good YouTube video by an atheist science advocate named “Thunderf00t” which sums this up nicely with a cogent, clear explanation of the social evolution of morality. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyd6om8IC4M)

    Sadly these nuances in the questions of animal experimentation and the treatment of animals go by the wayside with many people (on both sides).

  52. #52 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    JD / #45: Not a bad idea. Can we expand it to those crazy armageddon-crazy Christians, too? They’re just begging to get to heaven, right? :D

    flaq / #46: I wholly agree.

  53. #53 Jim
    April 24, 2009

    Victor @ #18:

    Of course it’s humane, because it benefits humans. It may be anti-rat or anti-rabbit, but I’m willing to be anti-rabbit to be pro-human.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  54. #54 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 24, 2009

    As someone who works in a nonhuman primate science lab (albeit a very, very tame one), I know first-hand the ethical difficulty of working with these animals.

    But sorry. I am a speciesist. While I empathize with and harbor very strong feelings for animals, I am a human being that put’s his own life, family, friends, and species before those of other animals.

    And yes, the best way to protest is to never visit a doctor and become a vegan.

  55. #55 Tulse
    April 24, 2009

    While I am an animal lover, I understand that sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

    Would you be willing to sacrifice your own pet to research? I have two dogs, and since I wouldn’t be willing to subject them to medical experimentation, I feel it would be hypocritical of me to support this being done to other such animals with similar capacities.

    And I think it is extremely problematic ethically when we get to experimentation on apes and monkeys. There is very little that separates homo sapiens from its evolutionary cousins in terms of abilities and capacities, and it seems to me that see an ethical gulf there is to presume something “special” about humans that is more akin to the religious perspective than what we know from biology.

    Even if (for the sake of argument) we grant that harm to animals is never justified by human gain, I just can’t get my head around why they are going after science first. The horrors of the meat industry are on a much bigger scale

    And this is precisely why I as an ethical vegetarian think that the anti-research folks are completely misguided in terms of their strategy (apart from the fact that they also tend to be violent).

  56. #56 tyaddow
    April 24, 2009

    C’mon. Animal testing benefits both human animals and others. Biology is about life, not just human beings. Let’s not oversimplify the issue.

  57. #57 MosesZD
    April 24, 2009

    I should point out, no matter the hysterics of these ninnys, the research done on animals at colleges is done as humane and ethically as possible. I think they should be pressing for prison reform where the conditions are much, much less humane.

  58. #58 JBlilie
    April 24, 2009

    It’s currently still 60/40 against. To quote Frank Zappa, “Get yer butt out there and vote!”

  59. #59 Paul Browne
    April 24, 2009

    I fear that my thanks will be buried way down the thread, but thanks anyway:-)

    No more lies, no more fear!

    p.s. there’s also a Pro-Test petition that you can sign up to at:

    http://www.amprogress.org/site/c.jrLUK0PDLoF/b.5110163/k.1228/Show_Your_Support_____________________________________for_Medical_Progress.htm

  60. #60 blueelm
    April 24, 2009

    Personally, as sad as it would be, I would rather myself or a loved one die of a disease — which is also part of nature’s ability to cull the herd and keep things in balance — than to learn that their cure was discovered through animal testing.

    Enjoy dying of blood poisoning or watching your child die of measles. Every anti-biotic you’ve ever ingested, every vaccine you’ve taken or put in your child is thanks to that.

  61. #61 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    Let’s not oversimplify the issue.

    It seems to me that the protests are coming from those who are over thinking the issue. Sure there are dilemmas involved. But the basic dilemma of survival is at the forefront. All of the research being done, in the long run, protects and respects all organic life. To shun the progress made from this research because of our (sometimes misguided) empathetic sensitivities stunts our potential to serve all of life. So yes, in some cases, the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few. That’s just cold hard reality.

  62. #62 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Were is the option that says I support animal testing however the animals are treated because I like science based medicine?

  63. #63 Kismet
    April 24, 2009

    andrew said: “Personally, as sad as it would be, I would rather myself or a loved one die of a disease ” Seriously, who needs enemies if they got friends like you?
    On a less cynical note, saying that diseases are “also part of nature’s ability to cull the herd and keep things in balance” is one heck of a naturalistic fallacy…

    Jeff S, if you don’t know enough, then learn from this magnificient blog by an industry insider: http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/animal_testing/
    (I’d suggest to read all the posts but you could just search for ‘animal rights’ if you’re lazy)

    Without animal research medical progress is dead. I’m in great fear of people who condemn animal research enough to be willing to do away with it and sacrifice all of our progress and well-being.. Sure it’s condemnable, but there are more important things in life, like, well, the survival of your loved ones and yourself.
    To me this threat is as great or greater than religion.

    Matt H. said: “Research on tissue then, PZ. Don’t research on live animals, these protesters are right; it’s inhumane.”
    “…But if you keep it locked up in a cage and inject it with all manner of drugs, surely you can recognise how evil that is? It is that kind of research I object to.”
    You’re clueless, aren’t you? Tell me please, how do you want to test toxicity & safety and efficacy in cell cultures? I’m all ear; so is the pharma industry and the Nobel is yours if you solve that case! Or do you really propose to give full doses (look up microdosing in contrast to that; a pretty neat way to decrease costs and animal testing) of untested drugs to human volunteers i.e. replacing animal testing with manslaughter?
    Read the link I posted ^

    oldtree, you’re wrong. This is not a good point at all. You’re simplistic view is very far from reality: Animal testing is a moral dilemma whatever you do, even if you close your eyes and keep shouting “it’s evil, pelase make it stop”. If you don’t perform these tests millions of people will die from diseases which would be otherwise curable. While if you perform them it’s the other way round, animals will die.

    Fuck. In my opinion anyone who doesn’t realise that the well-being of humans is generally (i.e. as a rule of thumb) more important (or as important but definitely *not* less important) than the well-being of animals is a dangerous fellow. I’m scared.

    silver said: “It’s not pretty, but until we find a way to create very realistic fake animals, then there’s nothing we can do.”
    That’s going in the right direction, but what if any system complex enough to be useful would be sentient per definition? I’m sure that need not be the case always, but sometimes… Oh, the moral implications.

  64. #64 flaq
    April 24, 2009

    I’m vegan, so this is a pretty tricky issue for me.

    and

    this is precisely why I as an ethical vegetarian think that the anti-research folks are completely misguided

    I’m offended by the callous, blatantly kingdomist attitude being expressed here. Plants are living things too!

  65. #65 MosesZD
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: oldtree | April 24, 2009 10:57 AM

    Here is where we find disagreement. One thing that you don’t understand PZ that science puts itself above our humanity. Using animals that did not volunteer for the experiment is a crime to a sentient being, and no amount of talk can allow anyone to evade that.
    If you want to use vivisection, use a human volunteer. If this seems extreme, then one has lost the ability to understand evolution. Evolution is not voluntary.

    Ah, ha ha ha ha haaaa…. Not even a clever or humorous use of the non-sequitur… Never mind the idiotic stereotypical caricatures of science and scientists…

    You remind me of my sister’s idiot ex-boyfriend. The PETA guy that was hoping Ebola would wipe out humanity… Thank god she dumped that unthinking loser.

  66. #66 Zhukora
    April 24, 2009

    I work as administrative staff at a large research university and have had to attend training seminars before that covered the behind-the-scenes aspects of animal testing–the rules, the limitations, the accountability, the paperwork, the deadlines, the justifications, the supervising bodies, on and on. I am fully convinced that these types of studies are as well regulated as is reasonably possible. In spite of all the apocryphal horror stories, it would be extremely difficult to get approval to test for reasons that could not be proven to have no sufficient alternative means of conducting the research.

    If anyone objects to the testing of cosmetics on animals because it’s not a medical necessity (and frankly I agree on that one, though I understand why the companies would not want to put out products that would burn your skin off), the best way you can protest is to stop buying cosmetic products. If the market demand goes away, the cosmetic companies will have no reason to continue making and testing products. In all honesty, I have no idea how much cosmetics testing actually occurs. Cosmetics do not need to be approved by the FDA to be sold, and the only real limitation on the safety of their contents is the companies’ own word that their products are safe. It seems like animal testing would for the most part be a lot more trouble and money than it would be worth for the companies in this case.

  67. #67 Kismet
    April 24, 2009

    BTW, Setting cars on fire is bordering on terrorism. And why was that poll so inane to begin with? 73% said no? Why are people so stupid these days?

  68. #68 jennyxyzzy
    April 24, 2009

    Hmmm, not an easy topic to discuss. Personally I am for animal testing, but it’s not an absolute. I basically work on a scale of perceived sentience – the more apparently sentient the animal, the less easy I am with experimentation. For example, as far as I’m concerned, the great apes should be treated exactly the same way that we treat human children – ie no experimentation at all thank you very much!

    At the other end of the scale, you can do as you wish with plants and single-celled organisms (as an aside, what justification do animal rights protestors give for the wanton killing of plants? Where is the line drawn between animals and plants?)

    In between, it all gets very murky. But then, that’s what we have ethics committees for, no?

  69. #69 JRD
    April 24, 2009

    “We’re in this business because we have a passion for the organisms we study, not because we’re some kind of sick sadists.”

    Sorry PZ, the truth is already out on that one: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30800

  70. #70 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    Why are people so stupid these days?

    Religion.

  71. #71 JBlilie
    April 24, 2009

    Tulse@55:

    Would you be willing to sacrifice your own pet to research? I have two dogs, and since I wouldn’t be willing to subject them to medical experimentation, I feel it would be hypocritical of me to support this being done to other such animals with similar capacities.

    So, then, you would be willing to sacrifice your (living) grandmother, niece or child for medical reseach then? Because that’s what you are working for when you work against animal studies. (Sure, work for humane treatment, no one is contesting that!)

    If not, then you are, IMO, being hypocritical.

    I work at a med-tech company that is required by law to conduct animal studies before conducting human clinicals.

    Would we really have it any other way? Do we as a society value animals more than humans? That is the question under consideration here. If the studies are not done on animals, then the medical studies will be done on human patients (and many therapies will be delayed or made unworkable, resulting in more human suffering and death.)

    Suffering is how we gauge our morals. At my company, the animals used for study are treated as well as anyone’s pets (probably much better than the vast majority of companion animals) and they are given anesthesia in the exact same ways humans under similar conditions are. They are monitored continuously for stress to ensure they are not suffering (suffering, aside from the moral issue, would skew the research data …) They feel less pain then virtually any surgical patient.

  72. #72 Ouchimoo
    April 24, 2009

    Yes — and I support it if the animals are treated well 38% (3178 votes)
    feedback bar
    No — it’s inhumane by definition and I don’t support it 62% (5172 votes)
    feedback bar

    May I also point out that this animal testing is big in the field of. . oh-I-don’t-know . . . Veterinary Medicine! There are people out there who are so anti-animal testing that it’s actually causing Veterinarian schools in the US to pull back and inadequately teach their student’s proper animal care. As I read one account where one school won’t even use the preserved animal for dissection but instead a plastic dummy. You can’t get the knowledge of variations and differences out of a simulated sack of colored jelly. Think what you will, but I would prefer knowledge over emotional reaction. Especially when it comes to my families health, pets included.

  73. #73 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    flaq / #63: I can’t tell if you’re being snarky or not. But, I’m more concerned with sentience than life, so screw the plants. And bacteria, for that matter!

  74. #74 Sphere Coupler
    April 24, 2009

    I am against obsolete redundancy testing where the outcome is known and testing is preformed just to satisfy insurance penny pinchers.

  75. #75 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    IMHO, the argument here is being misframed. It’s not a choice between harming animals and harming humans. It’s a choice between accepting lab animals as symbiotes with humans or not.

    Look at it from the animals point of view. A lab mouse is housed with litter mates, has food, protection from predators, and is significantly less likely to suffer distress or severe pain than a wild mouse. Do you know what rat poison does to an animal? They bleed internally. Not a humane death. And live traps? Most people toss them in the trash when they are full, leaving the animal to die of starvation. Not to mention what a predatory pet will do to a mouse.

    So why is life in a lab worse for a mouse than life in a field or house? I don’t see that it is. Saying that it’s not natural or not free is imposing a human-centric view on the animal: humans care about being free. It’s not at all clear to me that mice care. Or have the neural ability to care.

  76. #76 Tulse
    April 24, 2009

    I’m offended by the callous, blatantly kingdomist attitude being expressed here. Plants are living things too!

    Ha. Ha. Boy, I’ve never heard that one before.

    As soon as you find a broccoli with a nervous system and thus a capacity to feel pain, we can talk.

    The PETA guy that was hoping Ebola would wipe out humanity

    There does seem to be a extremely misanthropist strain in many of the PETA/anti-research folks, a sentiment that I think is absolutely appalling.

  77. #77 skepsci
    April 24, 2009

    Re: flaq @ #63. This is a serious debate, so I’m not quite sure why you’re mocking people who are engaging in it. A key thing to consider is whether animals are suffering as a result of testing. We can reasonably assume that plants (which have no brains and only a very limited ability to sense their environment at all) do not suffer, while we can be much less sure about animals. Most researchers try not to cause the animals they are working with pain, but beyond that they don’t seem to put that much care into how the animal is feeling.

    Let’s face it: until animals can actually tell us how they feel about the way we use them, it is unlikely that most people will be convinced that biological research (or, for that matter, farming animals for meat or other animal-derived products) is wrong.

  78. #78 chad
    April 24, 2009

    “So why is life in a lab worse for a mouse than life in a field or house? I don’t see that it is.”

    a quick google search as to why someone would oppose animal testing on mice led me to PETA. they say “To determine the toxic consequences of a single, short-term exposure to a product or chemical, the substance is administered to animals (usually rodents) in extremely high doses via force-feeding, forced inhalation, and/or absorption through the skin. Animals in the highest dose groups may endure severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, convulsions, seizures, paralysis, and bleeding from the nose, mouth, and genitals before they ultimately die”

    http://www.peta.org/factsheet/files/FactsheetDisplay.asp?ID=91

  79. #79 tyaddow
    April 24, 2009

    News flash for the anti-testing crowd: animal suffering is the standard. Testing is conducted to reduce suffering. There are rules and regulations requiring documentation, accountability, etc. (see #66). Protesting animal research with cosmetics or factory farming is different and, in my opinion much more reasonable- we have more ethical alternatives to some current practices. You can also stop using cosmetics and eating meat. But medical testing is different: it is precisely about reducing death and suffering, which should be taken into account when discussing its ethical implications.

  80. #80 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    As soon as you find a broccoli with a nervous system…

    *Gasp*!!

    Broccoli are people too!! They Are – They Are – They Are!

  81. #81 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    I am against obsolete redundancy testing where the outcome is known

    So are animal use committees. I just filled out an IACUC form requesting permission to do some (minimally painful) research on mice. One of the questions that took the longest to complete was the question of whether this research had been done before and what steps I had taken to ensure that it was not unnecessary duplication of previous work. No one’s spending their time randomly disecting animals to make sure that they haven’t grown a new organ system or something.

  82. #82 MosesZD
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: Cakexploder | April 24, 2009 11:15 AM

    I’m vegan, so this is a pretty tricky issue for me. I feel very strongly that we have absolutely no inherent right to use animals for any purpose. On the other hand, I am also a human being, and understand the concept of sacrifice for the greater good. Also, I like medicine and not being dead.

    Rights are a social construct of the society in which they are conceptualized. Take the implied thread of reasoning behind your “inherent rights” philosophy to some sustenance-level society and watch yourself get laughed at by people who think you’re totally fucking delusional.

    My advice to those who get all whacked over “animal rights” is to get over this “rights” as a product of God/Nature/Whatever construct/delusion you’re subscribing too. The first step is to start thinking about where rights come from. Once you’ve figured out the obvious, Horatio, you get to the next step: what they should be, and then to whom we should apply them.

    Not because you loved My Little Pony, fluffy bunnies or even that you’re some anti-humanistic, nihilistic, technology-hating Luddite, like my sister’s ex-boyfriend. But because you’ve spent the years necessary to think of a comprehensive philosophy based on reality and not some overwrought understanding of freshmen philosophy, “what is icky,” or “bunniez iz zo CUTE!!!”

  83. #83 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Personally, as sad as it would be, I would rather myself or a loved one die of a disease — which is also part of nature’s ability to cull the herd and keep things in balance — than to learn that their cure was discovered through animal testing.

    I have yet to see an animal rights activist refuse to take their insulin (including former PETA brass). It may not be synthesized from animals anymore, but that is where the “cure was discovered”. And they even happily used it when it was an animal product. All the evidence I’ve seen supports the earlier assertion that animal rights is just the anti-abortion of the left. It’s only ethical when it’s my abortion/required animal-tested medical procedure

  84. #84 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    tyaddow / #79: “News flash for the anti-religion crowd: God is the standard.” I’m willing to discuss benefits from medical testing on animals, but PLEASE don’t frame it as “it’s the norm, deal.” That’s so irritating. And for the record, I do avoid companies that do cosmetic-style testing on animals like M&M/Mars and Proctor & Gamble.

  85. #85 Glen Davidson
    April 24, 2009

    One thing that seems overlooked in these debates is that we survive by displacing animals, and by limiting their food supplies, so that many of them must die. Fortunately, they die out of sight of the anti-vivisectionists, so that’s all right by most of them.

    But if we weren’t hogging so much of the land, animals that would die painfully for want of food and habitat, would live. Of course, that’s only until the land we now occupy would be taken over by other animals, none of which have the luxury of caring about how they displace and/or kill other animals. Malthus and all that.

    Is it the same as factory farms, testing on animals, etc.? No, it is not. However, the notion that somehow animals that we leave alone (or do not displace) would have great lives, instead of most of them dying painfully at the hands of predators, natural disasters, and starvation, is absurd. This is really much more about how certain domesticated animals fare, rather than how animals at large live and die.

    So yes, we should not be causing unnecessary pain. But we’re always causing pain to the animals who die because we occupy so much of the habitat, just like all successful animals do. Pretending that we’re somehow able to rise above the necessity to kill (or set in motion causes which kill) others in order to live is utopian claptrap.

    Hence we simply have to balance what we consider to be our duty to treat the domesticated and captive animals against our own felt necessity for living and doing well, which invariably costs other animals their own lives and well-being. Just as success has always exacted high costs from the failures.

    There’s always something odd, too, about the often bizarre demands that “sentient beings” should be treated as humans are, which demand always fall exclusively upon humans. No one intends to keep the lion from starting to eat the wildebeest while it is still alive. By comparison, lab animals are treated far more humanely, at least by most scientists.

    That said, anyone who really thinks their life isn’t worth the pain and suffering of currently living animals has an obligation to off themselves with a shotgun, or equally lethal equipment. Only that way will they cease hogging the resources that other animals need to live, at which point some other animal will hog those resources, causing pain and death to other animals.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  86. #86 Kismet
    April 24, 2009

    jennyxyzzy said “In between, it all gets very murky. But then, that’s what we have ethics committees for, no?”
    Actually, I don’t have a clue what we have ethics committees for. I prefer simple common sense instead. Normally those committees do jackshit to improve the situation (or make it even worse), as demonstrated by Bush, Kass and other Bio-Luddites.
    Furthermore they will tend to reflect biased, majority or lobby positions. No, they’re not doing any good: common sense does all the good.

  87. #87 Michiel Smit
    April 24, 2009

    Glad I got to cast a vote for NO, as there is no doubt that animal testing is inhumane. Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore. As far as testing concerning human diseases is concerned, better results are likely with human subjects anyway; breed clones and test on those.

  88. #88 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    Chad, do you really think that PETA is a reliable source? I can’t imagine even its most determined supporter calling it unbiased.

  89. #89 JBlilie
    April 24, 2009

    my previous comment @71:

    Do we as a society value animals more than humans?

    Should be: “Do we as a society value other animals more than humans?”

    oldtree@13 said:

    If you want to use vivisection, use a human volunteer. If this seems extreme, then one has lost the ability to understand evolution.

    oldtree:

    Yes, this is extreme. (Extreme: outside of the normal range by a long way.) Do you think many people will follow you on this path? Please, go to your nearest hospital and ask the patients there if they would prefer to have treatments tested on animals before they are used on them.

    Would you be willing to have treatments tried for the first time on a member of your family (or just let them die with palliative care)? If not, you are being hypocritical.

  90. #90 mdcurler - math teacher
    April 24, 2009

    At University (in Canada), before I was allowed to work/observe/test living animals, I was required to take a course on the proper and ethical treatment/handling of the animals.

    Also remember, that animals mice/rabbits/rats/pigs, whatever, are bred for that purpose…to be studied. This is not your pet dog or you aunt susie’s overweight cat. These are animals bred to be as identical as possible in every way.

    I’d hate to think how far we would be behind in medicine without these animals.

  91. #91 Kismet
    April 24, 2009

    Michiel Smit.
    ” Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore. ”
    Why don’t you guys stop spreading lies, fear, uncertainty and doubt for once? That shit is getting tiresome (and damn it: stop proposing manslaughter instead of animal testing!), it really does remind me of religion.

    http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/animal_testing/
    http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/in_silico/

  92. #92 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    “To determine the toxic consequences of a single, short-term exposure to a product or chemical, the substance is administered to animals (usually rodents) in extremely high doses via force-feeding, forced inhalation, and/or absorption through the skin. Animals in the highest dose groups may endure severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, convulsions, seizures, paralysis, and bleeding from the nose, mouth, and genitals before they ultimately die”

    That’s just horrible. I mean it disgusts me beyond all measure. I’m mortified. I’m mortified that there are products or chemicals in Nature that have the ability to make organisms suffer so profusely. It makes me want to gain the knowledge to identify them all so we can avoid their perils.

  93. #93 daveau
    April 24, 2009

    #63 et al.-

    I try not to step on the earth because I don’t want to harm any members of the Mineral kingdom.

  94. #94 JBlilie
    April 24, 2009

    Glen D @85:

    As usual: Very well put.

  95. #95 Awesome Robot
    April 24, 2009

    As an aside to vegans, I hope none of you eat Apples or other orchard fruit from commercial (even organic) orchards. Orchard owners often hire HORRIBLE INHUMANE BEE-ENSLAVING BEEKEEPERS to bring their hive-slaves to PROSTITUTE themselves on the apple blossoms! Apples are exactly as unethical to eat as honey and milk!

  96. #96 blueelm
    April 24, 2009

    Would you be willing to sacrifice your own pet to research?

    No. It’s my pet. I paid for it and I own it so I get to choose how it lives it’s life. It’s a domestic house cat, but more importantly it’s my domestic housecat. In return for food, shelter, safety, and access to medicine my cat has a job to do inside my house providing me with company. Sending him off to be researched on would be a violation of my contract with him.

  97. #97 Dennis
    April 24, 2009

    “As far as testing concerning human diseases is concerned, better results are likely with human subjects anyway; breed clones and test on those.”

    You’re for THAT, but testing on animals is inhumane?!

  98. #98 Sphere Coupler
    April 24, 2009

    Dianne | April 24, 2009 11:56 AM

    Good job, are all labs held to this level of scrutiny?

  99. #99 speedwell
    April 24, 2009

    I was a vegetarian, and then I was diagnosed with diabetes. I now control my blood sugar very well through a low-carb diet (with minimal medication), but that diet includes meat. I don’t particularly like meat, and would like to do without it, but I can’t argue with the results. I’ll return to a vegetarian diet as soon as I feasibly can.

    I have a pet cat who, if I had not adopted him, might have been sent to a research lab. Because I have Snark, I am sympathetic to the plight of other cats who have the misfortune to be used in research. If I had a disease that required a vet to perform tests on Snark in order to analyze my disease (perhaps we were both exposed to the same germ or toxic substance in our home), I would agree, even knowing that were the tests fatal I would grieve and miss my kitty, if I was convinced doing the tests was absolutely necessary for me to live.

    I feel a strong twinge of remorse when I think about animals used in research, especially ones that can experience something analogous to what humans might experience in a similar situation. As soon as good alternatives can be found, I would like animal testing to stop, just like I would like to stop eating meat once I find a good way to do it. Unfortunately, both are necessary right now.

    It’s important to realize that it’s not “human against animal” here. Animal research is, of course, also done to research animal medicine. There are many, many good cats like Snark who have benefited from the sacrifice of a few cats in research. Snark’s vet is also a research scientist, and he loves cats, and I know he does all he can to minimize suffering in both his patients and his research subjects.

    So I voted Yes on the poll.

  100. #100 chad
    April 24, 2009

    one thing i want to point out is that being “for animal research” is just as silly as being “against animal testing”. people should look at things on a case by case basis.

    animal research doesnt always bring positive scientific results. polio research was hindered by animal testing. and for years the tobacco industry was able to claim that smoking doesnt cause lung cancer, because they forced dogs to smoke and those dogs did not develop cancer.

    look at things on a case by case basis.

    overall, im really skeptical of any sort of animal testing. i rarely feel that it is necessary.

    oh, someone asked why animal rights folks arnt trying to stop fur farming. they are!

    and finally, i dont really know why humans should be valued more than animals. it isnt the ability to feel pain. it isnt the ability to feel emotions. what is it? intelligence? if that is the reason, then would it be OK to test on mentally disabled humans?

  101. #101 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore.

    Fine. Can you describe a reliable, proven method for testing the response of metastatic disease to a new therapy in computer models or live tissue (where did you get the tissue anyway? do you mean cell culture, because if so I’ve got some bad news for you about how it is grown.)

    As far as testing concerning human diseases is concerned, better results are likely with human subjects anyway; breed clones and test on those.

    Clones? Excuse me, but CLONES? Are you being sarcastic? Quite apart from the little technical detail (we don’t know how to clone humans from adult tissue yet), a clone is just a time delayed identical twin. In what universe is it reasonable to use one of two twins for research without their consent?

  102. #102 Timothy
    April 24, 2009

    Animals taste good.

  103. #103 Tulse
    April 24, 2009

    Saying that it’s not natural or not free is imposing a human-centric view on the animal: humans care about being free. It’s not at all clear to me that mice care. Or have the neural ability to care.

    I agree the notion of “natural” or “free” is naive and sentimental. But I also think it’s clear that mice are sentient and have the capacity to feel pain.

    I’ll be honest — I am extremely conflicted about the issue of medical research. Because I am an atheist, I don’t think that humans have souls or are anything other than another species, one related by evolution and cognitive capacity to other species. And because I have long had pets, and been around other animals (my grandparents ironically ran a beef ranch, so I know cows), I am aware of the capacities and personalities that specific animals have, and the obvious mental life they can possess. And given that I would not want my companion animals subjected to research, I really don’t see how I can be ethically consistent and support research on organisms that also possess those qualities.

    At the same time, I am a strong supporter of science, and realize that medical research has made vast improvements to human lives, including my own. Regardless of what the anti side says, not doing animal research would impact enormously on medical advances.

    All of this is why I don’t generally actively promote anti-research activism, and instead concentrate on the far larger issue of animal welfare in the agricultural industry. Whatever negatives there may be to medical research, the animals involved are a drop in the bucket compared to the food industry, and I while it may admittedly be moral cowardice on my part, I am generally content to defer the issue of medical research until the larger issue of agricultural animals has been dealt with.

  104. #104 MRH
    April 24, 2009

    I just can’t get my head around why they are going after science first. The horrors of the meat industry are on a much bigger scale, and for much, less benefit than anything standards in medical research would allow.

    Matt Heath @#34,

    Personally I think it is because the scientists are a much easier target; the meat industry has legions of lawyers and lobbyists (remember how the beef industry went after Oprah a few years ago for airing a segment on mad cow disease?).

    If more people were aware of what really goes on in the meat processing hells in this country, a lot more people would become vegetarians (as I did when I could no longer pretend that it wasn’t happening because it wasn’t right before my eyes).

  105. #105 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    MosesZD / #82: Nothing you said applies to me, and it’s pretty insulting. I’m neither a nihilistic nor a fluffybunnyist (although bunnies are pretty adorable). I think we all just sort of exist, for no particular reason, and to take advantage of an animal is on par with taking advantage of a human, in that it’s a bad idea in a Golden Rule-esque way.

  106. #106 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Glad I got to cast a vote for NO, as there is no doubt that animal testing is inhumane. Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore. As far as testing concerning human diseases is concerned, better results are likely with human subjects anyway; breed clones and test on those.

    You make no sense at all. I thought the whole rationale for why testing on/eating animals is bad while the same on plants/cells is acceptable because they can’t feel. Is there any reason to think that clones would not fall into the former category (and thus be bad) rather than the latter?

  107. #107 Dennis
    April 24, 2009

    “Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore.”

    Not really, no. Unless you have an ton of supercomputers no one else knows about- no.

  108. #108 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    Apples are exactly as unethical to eat as honey and milk!
    Well than honey anyway. In the case of milk there isn’t just the “stealing/exploiting” argument, but also the slaughter of male dairy cattle to consider in any cost-benefit analysis.

  109. #109 llewelly
    April 24, 2009

    In the real world, laws against medical experimentation on animals would simply transfer said experimentation to the poor.

    So if you’re wealthy, it’s ok to oppose animal testing.

  110. #110 chad
    April 24, 2009

    “Chad, do you really think that PETA is a reliable source? I can’t imagine even its most determined supporter calling it unbiased.”

    dianne,
    i never said peta wasnt biased. of course they are. that doesnt mean their information is incorrect. if you look at the page i linked to, you can see they have references.

  111. #111 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    are all labs held to this level of scrutiny?

    All academic labs in the US are. Beyond that I can’t say for sure, having no experience with it. I admit to some concern about what happens to animals in the labs of private companies. Factory farms certainly aren’t particularly humane. But I doubt that UCLA lets its faculty torture animals. Even assuming that they want to.

  112. #112 chad
    April 24, 2009

    “Chad, do you really think that PETA is a reliable source? I can’t imagine even its most determined supporter calling it unbiased.”

    dianne,
    i never said peta wasnt biased. of course they are. that doesnt mean their information is incorrect. if you look at the page i linked to, you can see they have references.

  113. #113 blueelm
    April 24, 2009

    breed clones and test on those

    Ok as soon as you stop breeding stoopid! Do you not realize that a cloned human being is basically just like a twin? Why bother cloning!? Why not just abduct school children from India! You are a fool, sir or madam!

  114. #114 Kismet
    April 24, 2009

    chad,
    “overall, im really skeptical of any sort of animal testing. i rarely feel that it is necessary.”
    The proposition stands:
    So you’re volunteering and brave enough to test drugs, which have never made it into any living organism before? Ok, fine. We’ll see how that pans out ;)
    Alternatively you could devise a way to test drugs without using model organisms:
    “I’m all ear; so is the pharma industry and the Nobel is yours if you solve that case!”

    “and finally, i dont really know why humans should be valued more than animals. it isnt the ability to feel pain. it isnt the ability to feel emotions. what is it?”
    How about a sense of self-preservation which you are apparently missing? (the stark difference in the level of consciousness is jut a nice addition)
    People (and most organism I guess) are programmed to value their lives and the lives of genetically similar individuals more. That conept is not so difficult to grasp both from an evolutionary perspective and from a pragmatical POV.
    If you don’t value your own life how about joining the “Voluntary human extinction movement”? I will go on living and sacrificing as many animals as humanely necessary for the survival of me and my fellow human beings.

  115. #115 Ouchimoo
    April 24, 2009

    Throw out PETA I throw out this: http://petakillsanimals.com/

    As someone above stated – PETA is to the left as abortion is to the right. They are nothing but a wing nut political movement.
    I think Glen Davidson was pretty nail hitting on comment 85. I pretty much grew out in the woods. I’ve seen first hand how the animals live in the wild. I am still flabbergasted how people think that animals in the wild is the greatest thing that could ever happen to them. It’s not. It’s just life. Most animals don’t even get past the first quarter of their life. And for those of you who say “well you could just use simulated cells or computer simulations.” You are really no different than the people who say “well you could just use adult stem cells or computer simulations.” It’s a real obvious lack of knowledge.

  116. #116 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Not really, no. Unless you have an ton of supercomputers no one else knows about- no.

    It’s not a matter of processing power. We just do not know enough to run a simulation of the reactions that are tested via animal testing.

  117. #117 mdcurler - math teacher
    April 24, 2009

    What is all this talk about PETA not liking animals… I thought it meant People Eating Tasty Animals. Unfortunately, the PETA (Nutcases) got wind of this and force the original domain owners to change. The new website is People Ethically Eating Tasty Animals. http://WWW.PEETA.ORG

  118. #118 Awesome Robot
    April 24, 2009

    “Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore. ”

    As a programmer of simulations, I’d love for more computer models to be used to determine how likely it would be for a given drug to work on a person, and what kind of side-effects we could expect. But in order to program a better computer model, I’m going to need a lot of data.

    Where do you think I’m going to get that data? I’ll get it from the results of animal testing. And there is NO WAY my model will ever be as complete as real animal testing will be. I can keep improving it, but I’m going to continuously need new test results to do that. Even if my model is being used on a new drug, the next step is to try it out on some animals, to make sure my simulation wasn’t missing some important information (Which it almost always will).

    Do you people think computers are magic genies? We can’t just scan a person and then simulate all potential biological functions.

  119. #119 whitebird
    April 24, 2009

    @#43: “callous, cavalier attitude toward animal death/suffering in general.”

    AAAAH!! There is a huge difference between death and suffering, namely, EVERYTHING will die, but suffering is not necessary to life/death. I wish that people would stop equating death with suffering. In fact it eliminates the possibility of it…

    I agree that AR are the Anti-Choice-ers of the left. I’ve seen fora where they will talk about how they “watched another animal abuse video last night – it made me cry”.

    Ugh. If you want to see some crazy talk (biologists are just sadists for a living and science is a big sadism cover-up! Dairy products are poison! Animal research has yielded no results that apply to me! All meat eaters have 5 pounds of undigested meat rotting in their colon! You can get all the nutrients you need from plants! etc. etc.)go to the craigslist vegan forum and ask some questions.

  120. #120 blueelm
    April 24, 2009

    CORRECTION: I should have said a cloned human being would be>/i> because cloning people isn’t something we can even do yet.

  121. #121 JBlilie
    April 24, 2009

    @107:

    Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore.”

    Not really, no. Unless you have an ton of supercomputers no one else knows about- no.

    Not only that (I agree with you): Computer modeling is much, much cheaper than real testing, which is why it’s so popular. I guarantee you that if computer modeling (or any kind of modeling) was working as well as animal studies, there wouldn’t be any animal studies. Fact is that computers can only take you so far (not very far at all) and they are bounded by our knowledge. Therefore, for new knowledge, by definition we must use other methods.

    The data being gathered by animal studies is too precise for modeling. That’s why it’s being done.

  122. #122 james
    April 24, 2009

    “I just can’t get my head around why they are going after science first. The horrors of the meat industry are on a much bigger scale, and for much, less benefit than anything standards in medical research would allow.”

    they’re not! i would say that the medical industry is the least targeted, other than cosmetic research folks, and maybe vivisectors. even with them though, i think the great majority of animal rights activism centers around vegan diets and lifestyles.
    there have been more vandalism against fur farms than medical researchers.

  123. #123 Lynna
    April 24, 2009

    A lot of people treat their pets like part of the family. Humane treatment for their pets may include surgery, cancer treatments, and even drugs to control separation anxiety. Animals may benefit from medical research, and they can’t do that research themselves. At some point practicality has to be inserted into the equation.

    On the other hand, animal rights activists have done everyone a service by bringing attention to animals used for research. They’ve gone too far in some cases. Setting someone’s car on fire, or misunderstanding animal behavior in general — no need to cite the details. Everyone can see the difference between protest and education that works and threatening the life of a researcher.

  124. #124 whitebird
    April 24, 2009

    Glen, #85, thanks for saving me the additional typing time.

  125. #125 beebeeo
    April 24, 2009

    Fascinating, a Pharyngula thread that is infested by animal rights people …
    Let’s not forget some important aspects here.

    “more transparency” – is not gonna happen while researchers cars are still being set on fire. It is unnecessary anyway as regulations are already quite strict. At least in the UK where I have had a course on the law in order to get the personal license for experimentation with animals).

    Those “animal rights” guys want to ban all research on animals. Not just the cruel or unnecessary or research involving great apes. It could be reasonable to discuss the nature of the current regulation, if it goes far enough etc. But I would refuse to engage with people who are not going to be satisfied with a reasonable compromise. It is important to send a message that those guys are fanatics and that they support terrorism. And that is exactly what pro-test is about. It is not about promoting unnecessary and cruel experiments. Therefore the only reasonable reaction here is to support Pro-Test.

  126. #126 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    There’s always something odd, too, about the often bizarre demands that “sentient beings” should be treated as humans are, which demand always fall exclusively upon humans. No one intends to keep the lion from starting to eat the wildebeest while it is still alive.

    Well no, but (at least the non-idiots on) the animal-rights side of the debate take the asymmetries into account. Their argument boils down to something like “Ethics is about the duties of beings that can reason towards being that can suffer” so what I do a chicken is covered but what a fox does isn’t. I, for one, accept as it stands; hurting things that can suffer is a bad thing morally (if you have enough reasoning that morality applies to you). The badness can be counter-balanced by worse things, and so it’s sometimes the least bad thing to do. The hardcore animal-rights types take an absolutist (rather than broadly utilitarian) line on the bad of hurting animals, which strikes me as nuts (but I never understand absolutist positions on anything).

  127. #127 Emmet, OM
    April 24, 2009

    I would rather myself or a loved one die of a disease [...] than to learn that their cure was discovered through animal testing.

    Not ?for their cure to have been?? Blissful ignorance?

  128. #128 chad
    April 24, 2009

    “People (and most organism I guess) are programmed to value their lives and the lives of genetically similar individuals more. That conept is not so difficult to grasp both from an evolutionary perspective and from a pragmatical POV.”

    ok, so i can understand that arguement, but being a white male, wouldnt that also make me want to keep white males above the rest of society?

    maybe i just have silly morals, but i dont want white males to be above the rest of society and i dont really want humans to be considered more important than other animals.

  129. #129 Stu
    April 24, 2009

    to take advantage of an animal is on par with taking advantage of a human

    Words fail. You are a sick, sick puppy.

  130. #130 XD
    April 24, 2009

    It’s all about context. I’m okay with some animal testing, but it depends on the purpose of the tests, the protocols used, and on the species involved.

    I’m the same with meat consumption; I will eat some species and not others, and the way the animal was raised and killed is very important to me.

    On both issues, different people draw their ‘line of acceptance’ in different places.

    Ideally, I’d like to eschew both meat and medicine which was developed using non-human animals. However, I like the taste of meat and I like using the most effective treatments for medical problems. I guess I’m just selfishly putting my pleasure and well-being above the lives of other (sometimes sentient) lifeforms.

    The thought of my dogs and cats being used for meat or medical research is appalling to me, though. Oh, what a hypocrite I am.

  131. #131 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore.
    This line makes you a denialist, plain and simple.
    I’m not one of the “humanity, fuck yeah!” headbangers saying that any suffering to any non-human animal is worth the tiniest chance of helping people, so believe that I am not flaming you flaming’s sake. What you typed and I quoted is very false. Animal testing is done only when those (biologists and medical researchers) who know the most about the subject at hand can convince their peers in the ethics committee it is needed. Claiming without support that you know better makes you sound like the Pope.

  132. #132 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    Stu / #130: Oh, come on. Quote mining? I went on to clarify that right after the comma: “in that it’s a bad idea in a Golden Rule-esque way”. To further clarify, taking advantage of animals because we’re the current dominant species on Earth isn’t “right” because I don’t agree with using dominance to take advantage of lesser creature.

  133. #133 Nusubito
    April 24, 2009

    Research on tissue then, PZ.

    Okay, this will not work for many people. We want to understand where genes are expressed during the development of the whole organism. And this is dependent on using the whole organism. Tissue cultures, useful as they are for many things, will never be able to fully simulate the environment of the organism. The interactions between tissues and genes in a given micro environment is what makes the real thing unique. I mean, if someone were to make a culture that simulated all this, it would *be* an organism, by definition.

    Because of this, we are forced to use things like In Situ hybridization, where embryos are cut into thin slices to better allow visualization of where antisense RNA binds. To do this, we kill mice, and use their bodies. It is, simply put, necessary for a better understanding of life. I am not proud of it, but neither am I ashamed, as you seem to think I should be. Just as I am not ashamed of eating meat that was culled from an animal. I like animals, but whenever our understanding or well-being crosses purposes with their continued existence, I go with humans.

  134. #134 Natalie
    April 24, 2009

    but being a white male, wouldnt that also make me want to keep white males above the rest of society?

    Not really, chad, because “white males” aren’t a species.

    i dont really want humans to be considered more important than other animals.

    It’s not about being “more important” as though there was some sort of cosmic ranking. All animals (and all living things for that matter) are driven by a desire to keep their species alive. Why should humans be any different?

  135. #135 Kismet
    April 24, 2009

    Chad, in some senses we’re equals. In some we aren’t, it’s quite impossible to deny. IIRC there’s really not much if any genetic difference between blacks and whites [other than the minor phenotypical differences]. In fact, there may be more genetic difference between certain black/white tribes/populations.
    More often than not lab animals are treated as well as we can treat them without sacrificing human lives (because we were not able to develop life saving drugs). Going one step further would much mean that we are placing animal lives above human lives rather than equality.

    XD, so you’d like to use drugs developed without animal testing? You mean, like, nothing? Nothing and herbs: surely makes for a great cancer [insert other serious disease] treatment! It’s not selfish to want to survive.

  136. #136 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Nothing you said applies to me, and it’s pretty insulting. I’m neither a nihilistic nor a fluffybunnyist (although bunnies are pretty adorable). I think we all just sort of exist, for no particular reason, and to take advantage of an animal is on par with taking advantage of a human, in that it’s a bad idea in a Golden Rule-esque way.

    Um no. A fluffy bunny is not an “other”, it is an “it”.

    Do you drive a car?

  137. #137 Dr.FabulousShoes
    April 24, 2009

    Smit @87:

    “Glad I got to cast a vote for NO, as there is no doubt that animal testing is inhumane. Nowadays, so much can be done with computer models and live tissue, that it is hardly necessary anymore. As far as testing concerning human diseases is concerned, better results are likely with human subjects anyway; breed clones and test on those.”

    *squints* *poke*
    We really don’t need straw men here, there are plenty of reasonable people who know what they’re talking about.

    Also, voted yes, because of three things:
    1) I’m alive, thanks due to some very interesting medical professionals and one kinda crazy mechanical engineer.
    2) It is my duty to reduce suffering, and while I disagree that the ends justify the means in all cases, that is not what is being discussed here. Animal experimentation & dissection (as well as human volunteers) does the world a wealth of good.
    3) As has been stated before, suffering often skews the data we want anyway. No one here is advocating a study based on “let’s see how much this hurts”. To NOT control suffering as much as possible is not only cruel, but bad science as well.

  138. #138 JBlilie
    April 24, 2009

    “ok, so i can understand that arguement, but being a white male, wouldnt that also make me want to keep white males above the rest of society”

    That’s simple selfishness.

  139. #139 Phyllis
    April 24, 2009

    I am not a vegetarian because I don’t approve of the arbitrary line at which vegetarians decide that plants, bacteria, and fungi are not alive enough to deserve to not be killed. Also, if it is acceptable for other animals to kill prey, then it must be acceptable for me to do it as well. The fact that I am advanced enough to learn enough to starve myself to death is irrelevant.

    Also, I know that the advances we have made using animal subjects have vastly benefitted both humans and animals and, in some cases, the planet as a whole… at least as we know it to be. Would it be better if we could experiment on voluntary subjects? Yes. But, are these oh-so-sensitive-and-caring-souls willing to volunteer to save grandpa from alzheimer’s? No. In such form, suck it.

    There are profound regulations on scientific experimentation. There are far fewer limitations on for-profit, non-educational use of animals–as others have mentioned, factory farms, puppy mills, etc. Why? Because, to the people in charge, knowledge is superfluous if we can’t use our long lives to suck the marrow from every gram of profitable matter within these three dimensions. When these people stop drinking the antiintellectual kool-aid and instead start actually doing something useful about legislating and enforcing real regulations on commercial animal use, I might start listening to them. In the mean time, the 50 some animals per lab have nothing in common with the millions of animals per acre of agricultural space in this country.

    Maybe we should start a new animal rights group… one that doesn’t glorify sexual exploitation in their ads or jump off the must-eat-recycled-toilet-paper-so-I-don’t-kill-anything-ever cliff and seriously works constructively to develop positive regulations and enhance research so that we can get to a place where we cause less harm. In the mean time, I bet Peta calls Terminix, just like everyone else. Oh, but termites aren’t animals, right? They’re not cute.

  140. #140 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    I’m surprised this post has generated so much disagreement.

    I’m a longtime vegetarian and sometime vegan who also passionately supports animal testing. While that may mean that I hold contradictory opinions or am a hypocrite, I don’t really care. In my view the benefits society gains from animal testing outweighs the costs of the animals’ suffering because it leads to much less suffering on the part of humans who would otherwise lack medical care they need. Also it’s a great way to learn about how organisms tick, and knowledge is valuable in itself.

  141. #141 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    it may admittedly be moral cowardice on my part, I am generally content to defer the issue of medical research until the larger issue of agricultural animals has been dealt with.

    I don’t see how this would be moral cowardice on your part. For one thing, you’re taking on the more powerful group–the meat industry has far more effective lobbying, more money, and generally more power, than academia. For another, you’re addressing the area where the majority of the suffering occurs, both numerically and amount of suffering per animal. There are far fewer regulations on how an agricultural animal is treated than how a lab animal is treated. Feed lots would never go over in a lab, for example. So overall it seems a reasonable practical compromise that is in no way morally cowardly.

  142. #142 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Meth is not Measles.

    I’m not sure I’m OK with killing a half dozen monkeys a year to benefit people who choose to get strung out on meth.

    Don’t folks who die from meth addiction qualify for Darwin Awards.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_awards

  143. #143 josh
    April 24, 2009

    “That’s simple selfishness.”

    isnt testing on animals all about human selfishness? isnt evolution?

  144. #144 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp / #137: Rabbits are sentient, feel pleasure and pain, etc, so yeah, they are “others” and not “its”. I do drive a car, but I’m not sure why that’s relevant. I’m sure you have a “Gotcha!” all queued up, though.

  145. #145 XD
    April 24, 2009

    XD, so you’d like to use drugs developed without animal testing? You mean, like, nothing? Nothing and herbs: surely makes for a great cancer [insert other serious disease] treatment! It’s not selfish to want to survive.

    Yes, I would prefer it if I could fix any medical problem I develop with a handful of herbs. Who wouldn’t! I realise that’s not possible, though.

    And I do think that it’s selfish to want to survive at the expense of others. But I still do so, because I’m selfish.

  146. #146 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Rabbits are sentient, feel pleasure and pain, etc, so yeah, they are “others” and not “its”. I do drive a car, but I’m not sure why that’s relevant. I’m sure you have a “Gotcha!” all queued up, though.

    Since when does that make rabbits on par with humans? And at what point did you get to decide that “the Golden rule” applies to animals?

    Cars smash insects and small animals all the time. What about them?

  147. #147 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    XD @131:Oh, what a hypocrite I am.
    Not really. No one truly lives up what they see as ideal moral standards, consistently and uncompromisingly and those that closest are probably dangerous fanatics. Think about wanting to tell the truth, or being against povery, or, well anything; we try but we end up having to compromise, if for no other reason that sometimes any action or inaction we take will entail some immorality.

    That we have to behave completely consistently in line with our stated morals or not have them at all is just a debating trick used by people who want to ignore the moral consequence of things completely.

    Some apparently similar ideas are more valid though, I think, such as saying “If your morals were really as you claimed, you’d be concerned with X” to someone who seems to be ignoring X. (Just to avoid claims of inconsistency in my reasoning)

  148. #148 Natalie
    April 24, 2009

    Some people have mentioned ethics boards in passing, but I suppose I like being explicit: an animal researcher can’t just bop down to Research-Animals-R-Us, pick up some mice, and start “torturing” them. They need the approval of their institution before doing any animal or human research.

    These projects are approved by review boards (Institutional Animal Care & Use Committees for animal research and Institutional Review Boards for human research). The IACUC’s members have to have specific backgrounds to ensure that they have the relevant knowledge to judge whether animal use is appropriate – i.e. one of the members must be a veterinarian specializing in the type of animal that will be used for the specific project.

    IACUCs are required by law in the United States. This was actually a victory for the animal rights movement (specifically PETA), back when they used to advocate for reasonable things.

  149. #149 SteveM
    April 24, 2009

    Life consumes life. There is no way to survive that isn’t at the expense of others in some way.

  150. #150 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    I believe this is the point where I should bring up the fact that Bacon > all.

  151. #151 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    “Since when does that make rabbits on par with humans? And at what point did you get to decide that “the Golden rule” applies to animals?

    Cars smash insects and small animals all the time. What about them?”

    Not to put words in another person’s mouth, but perhaps cakexploder feels that there is value in attempting to minimize the amount of suffering one causes to other living beings. Minimizing does not mean eliminating, as that is impossible. A person can decide to do their best not to cause pain to other living beings such as rabbits, but that person will be unable to keep themselves from eating spiders in their sleep, for instance. There is no reason to make the perfect the enemy of the good here, except as a rhetorical device.

  152. #152 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    All animals (and all living things for that matter) are driven by a desire to keep their species alive. Why should humans be any different?
    Seriously? You’re putting the Social Darwinist style “is = ought” as blatantly as that?

  153. #153 XD
    April 24, 2009

    #141

    I’m a longtime vegetarian and sometime vegan who also passionately supports animal testing.

    I would say that was reasonable: for any human, eating meat is about deriving pleasure, while animal testing is about alleviating pain.

  154. #154 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    “I believe this is the point where I should bring up the fact that Bacon > all.”

    Even as a vegetarian, I must admit that this is a true statement.

  155. #155 Sphere Coupler
    April 24, 2009

    I’m going mushroom hunting in a couple of hours and there is a real possibility that I will come home with a deer tick imbedded, I would rather testing be done to develop a cure or vaccine for Lyme’s disease than suffer the consequences and no you can’t have any mushrooms.

    So all in all, I too am pro-test, Pro-test if test is logical.

  156. #156 Natalie
    April 24, 2009

    Anon @ 134 – What sort of qualifications do you have to write off all addiction as a simpler personal failing, ignoring the biological, psychological, and sociological factors that influence addiction?

  157. #157 XD
    April 24, 2009

    I believe this is the point where I should bring up the fact that Bacon > all.

    Prosciutto > Bacon

  158. #158 SourBlaze
    April 24, 2009

    My stance on animal experimentation is simple: It is a “necessary evil.”

    By “necessary” I mean that while it is undesirable, we allow it because we will have worse problems if we don’t. War is another example of a “necessary evil.” So is abortion. It’s not that we “want” these things and delight in them (dead animals/babies, YAY!), it’s that there is a pressing need for them.

  159. #159 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp / #147: I get to decide it because it’s my own personal point of view. In this situation I’m putting rabbits on par with humans because they have the capacity to suffer like we do. Just because we’re bigger doesn’t give us an excuse to be jerks about it.

    And, like I’ve already stated a few times, these opinions apply to sentient beings. Insects don’t feel pain, so I don’t particularly care if I take out a few. I’d like to preserve them for the sake of the overall ecosystem, though. I make every effort to avoid animals, and if I were to kill one accidentally I would feel bad about it just like I would if I killed accidentally in ANY method.

  160. #160 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    *sniff* – I smell bacon. Did someone say bacon? *sniff* *sniff* *sniff* – there it is. BDC @151. Why oh why man?! Now I’m hungry. But as a heathen atheist, I prefer baby back ribs smothered in baby oil. Mmmmmmmm.

  161. #161 Natalie
    April 24, 2009

    Matt Heath – that symbol at the end of the sentence is a question mark. I would like to know why cakexploder believes humans should be held to different standards than other species.

    Nice attempt to poison the well with “Social Darwinism” though.

  162. #162 freak
    April 24, 2009

    As a non-life scientist, I’d like to comment on a few of the arguments that I’ve seen.

    1) as to the arguments “I’m willing to be anti-bunny in order to be pro-human” – please demonstrate the inherent value of human life over any other. personally, I’ve always thought that the line from Aliens, “you don’t see them fucking each other over for a percentage,” was awfully descriptive of our species. we are the only species capable of what I define as evil, and we seem a bit fond of it at times as well.

    2) as to the argument “would you prefer exchanging animal testing for manslaughter” – human subjects have something that animals cannot give: informed consent. that makes humans who provide informed consent fair game, and animals who cannot provide that consent not fair game. now when we are talking about organisms which show no arguable signs of sentience, I get less squeamish. but where sentience is at least arguable, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

    3) for the argument “would you like to watch your child die of the measles” – would you like to get word that your cousin died of hypothermia? maybe we should use some of Mengele’s data in order to improve cold weather gear and medical treatments. as someone who is at least light-heartedly rooting for a superflu, I do not acknowledge and fail to see proof of any inherent value in any human life. if a human that I have chosen to be attached to suffers and or dies, I will be sad. However, I do not see how harming another innocent (incapable of informed consent is equal to innocent) life is justified in assuaging my feelings.
    4) finally, regarding the comment that biologists are up to their ears in regulations and monitoring: that is as it should be. I am not an absolutist on the subject of animal testing, but I do think that you should have to demonstrate the lack of viable alternatives before you take the chance of harming a sentient being. I think that a real need must be demonstrated as well. it’s a lot easier for me as a scientist in a field where living organisms are not involved, but I didn’t choose biology.

  163. #163 daveau
    April 24, 2009

    Dammit, Rev! What’s with all these food posts? You’re making me hungry.

  164. #164 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    I get to decide it because it’s my own personal point of view. In this situation I’m putting rabbits on par with humans because they have the capacity to suffer like we do. Just because we’re bigger doesn’t give us an excuse to be jerks about it.

    So do you put a human life on par with a non human sentient being’s life?

    And who said anything about being jerks about it? I don’t prefer animal testing out of some need to feel superior or inflict pain. I prefer animal testing because of its efficacy.

  165. #165 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    Natalie. If it’s an actual question, I retract what I wrote. I promise I honestly read as rhetorical question, which made it genuinely seem very Social Darwinism like (“It happens in nature so we can do it to, can’t we?”) and I wasn’t trying to poison the well. My apologies.

  166. #166 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 24, 2009

    Just a word on this whole notion of computer simulations taking the place of experimentation. Having worked with both computational models and animal models, I can honestly tell you that computer simulations cannot replace animal experiments. Just as in physics, biological theory (aka modelling) plays a complimentary role to experiment. Modelling is useless without exerpimental results to compare the output of your model to.

  167. #167 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    Natalie / #162: Because we’re in a different situation than they are. Animals kill because they need to in order to survive. We don’t need to. Granted, it follows that animals don’t have the knowledge and ability to cure diseases, and we do. Like I said in my very first comment, this is a tricky issue, and I think there are probably situations where a few animal lives can save a ton of human ones, and those situations need to be considered. That doesn’t mean all, or most, animal testing is necessary.

  168. #168 Cheshire
    April 24, 2009

    To give you an idea of exactly how out of touch with reality they are…consider this.

    Animal rights groups have recently threatened Drosophila researchers because they have this insane notion that these guys are torturing flies.

    Right now, I have more than 60 insects immersed in alcohol right in front of me. Everybody else in the room is in the same situation.

    I’m surrounded by pinned insects which are stored with napthalene to ward off dermisteds.

    These guys are nuts, and really have no idea what the research they’re protesting is.

  169. #169 Natalie
    April 24, 2009

    I am not an absolutist on the subject of animal testing, but I do think that you should have to demonstrate the lack of viable alternatives before you take the chance of harming a sentient being. I think that a real need must be demonstrated as well.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but my point in bringing up existing regulations is that several people left earlier comments implying or outright stating that researchers do not have to do these things. I think the average non-life scientist isn’t aware of the requirements to do animal research – I know I wasn’t until I read one of Orac’s blog posts about animal testing.

  170. #170 Schmeer
    April 24, 2009

    MattH uses soap! Microorganism murderer! When will your animal-centric bigotry end? Why won’t anyone think of the microorganisms?!!! Don’t we all have a right to life?

  171. #171 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    And, like I’ve already stated a few times, these opinions apply to sentient beings. Insects don’t feel pain, so I don’t particularly care if I take out a few. I’d like to preserve them for the sake of the overall ecosystem, though. I make every effort to avoid animals, and if I were to kill one accidentally I would feel bad about it just like I would if I killed accidentally in ANY method.

    Well you could not drive and avoid any accidental killing of any sentient beings such as squirrels, birds and oh rabbits. And while you are at it stop supporting any companies that use motorized transportation for any of their goods. After all these are just products you could do with out and you know for sure some animals are being harmed and killed in either their production or transportation by accident or not.

    And it’s not like the animals are being used to actually save lives. It’s just some produced goods you could do without. It seems pretty selfish to knowingly support the possible accidental killing of any animals, especially for everyday products.

  172. #172 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    freak – your #3 seems hopelessly confused.
    You seem to be saying that a given human life has no value outside of the attachment you grant it through a social relationship. This is weird enough. But then you go on to say that an innocent animal life is valuable. Is the innocent animal life valuable in itself, unlike human life?

  173. #173 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    To echo Natalie: I’m not sure what the criminal penalties are for conducting animal research without getting IACUC approval. However, I can say for certain that doing so would end a researcher’s career. A The results of a protocol that was not IRB approved would not be published in any respectable journal and any researcher who worked without IACUC approval would be ineligible for funding. Forever.

  174. #174 XD
    April 24, 2009

    @#148

    True. I don’t beat myself up about not living up to my ideals, but where food is concerned, I do try. I try to avoid meat which has come from animals which have not been treated like animals (i.e. that have been treated like meat). For instance, I’ll buy free-range chicken with a relatively clear conscience, but I’ll avoid non-free-range chicken because I know of the conditions they are raised in. It means that I can afford less meat in my diet, but that is, I’m sure, a good thing.

    However, that is only possible because of labeling. I would very much like all medicines to be labeled with the animals they have been tested on, and in what way. I realise that this is not practical, though I guess I could look consult the primary research and find out that way.

    Would I, though? Probably not.
    :-(

  175. #175 Natalie
    April 24, 2009

    Matt Heath, my bad as well – I guess we both jumped to conclusions.

    Cakexploder:

    Animals kill because they need to in order to survive. We don’t need to.

    I’m quite perplexed about this statement, considering that we’re talking about life saving medical research here. How is that not killing other things to survive? Is it just because there are lots of humans or what?

  176. #176 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: It depends on the circumstances. If we’re talking Sophie’s Choice, I’ll go with the human. If we’re talking about experimenting on an animal when that test isn’t terribly necessary, or when there are other methods that may be less efficient but don’t require killing animals, leave the animals alone. Efficacy alone isn’t a good enough reason for me.

  177. #177 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Prosciutto > Bacon

    Oh but I’m afraid you are incorrect. And I’d be happy to tell you why right now.

    I am a lover of all pork products, especially prosciutto. But bacon is a much more versatile product. Prosciutto is an amazing product, along with Jamon Serrano, Jamon Iberico and some small farm produced American hams but it has a limited usage profile where the mighty bacon has a near limitless possibility of usage. I would never give up either but if I had to pick it would be nicely artisinal made (or made myself) side of bacon any day.

  178. #178 Natalie
    April 24, 2009

    Rev, don’t forget the small mammals that die during grain harvesting! Grains are not as vegetarian as most people think.

  179. #179 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: It depends on the circumstances. If we’re talking Sophie’s Choice, I’ll go with the human. If we’re talking about experimenting on an animal when that test isn’t terribly necessary,

    Define isn’t terribly necessary please.

    or when there are other methods that may be less efficient but don’t require killing animals, leave the animals alone. Efficacy alone isn’t a good enough reason for me.

    I wonder what those people with terminal diseases or debilitating diseases think about efficacy.

  180. #180 Lynna
    April 24, 2009

    Steven @51. Link for thunderf00t video gave me this “The URL contained a malformed video ID.”

  181. #181 Gruesome Rob
    April 24, 2009

    please demonstrate the inherent value of human life over any other.

    Please demonstrate the equality.

  182. #182 XD
    April 24, 2009

    #169

    To give you an idea of exactly how out of touch with reality they are…consider this.

    [snip]

    The best story I heard was about some animal rights activists who liberated all the mink from a mink-farm in the New Forest national park (UK). The mink then went on to devastate the local wildlife for many miles around.

    D’oh!

  183. #183 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Cakexploder & Chad, if you want medical research to continue, there must be a point where a drug is first introduced into a living system. That living system is either humans or animals.

    Are you volunteering to have an unknown potential medicine injected into you, without having an idea of its toxicity and potential untoward reactions? If not, I see you as hypocrites. Otherwise, start lobbying for programs where humans are the first test subjects for new drugs, with yourself and others with the same morals as the first testees. Put up or shut up, but in either case stop your whining.

  184. #184 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    Natalie / #176: Did you read the rest of my comment? I was making a whole point there.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: I should also probably not walk anywhere, lest I accidentally trip and fall upon a helpless animal. Heck, I probably shouldn’t even go outside, I could get stuck by lightning or fall down a well!

    Being vegan is not a black-and-white absolute, it’s a constant effort to avoid animal exploitation as much as possible. I drive carefully and eat locally and avoid companies that do animal testing as much as possible. I accept that I sometimes do things that might bring harm to animals, and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion or philosophy. Who’s perfect?

    So, I should probably focus on work now. Cover for me, animal pals!

  185. #185 Interrobang
    April 24, 2009

    When animals can get together in autonomous societies to demand the cessation of animal testing, I’ll support it 100%. Up until that point, I am foursquare in favour of animal testing (I like antibiotics and the surgical techniques that have kept me alive), and I think the people who are trying to draw equivalences between humans and animals — and saying we’re no different than they are — are delusional.

  186. #186 XD
    April 24, 2009

    #172

    Well you could not drive and avoid any accidental killing of any sentient beings such as squirrels, birds and oh rabbits.

    I’d be curious to know what an animal rights activist would do if he/she mortally injured an animal while driving. Would they stop the car, go back and break it’s neck (i.e. the right thing to do), or would they just drive on, leaving the animal to die a slow and painful death?

    Or do they all ride bikes?

    I would never give up either but if I had to pick it would be nicely artisinal made (or made myself) side of bacon any day.

    Excuse me while I go and make a bacon sandwich*.

    *seriously

  187. #187 Walton
    April 24, 2009

    Several friends of mine participated in the original Pro-Test rally here in Oxford (I would have done so too, but I was away on an OTC exercise). I fully support the cause.

  188. #188 Kismet
    April 24, 2009

    freak, nice try
    add 2)
    You do know that informed consent is an illusion? Most people testing drugs don’t understand all (if any) risks involved. Phase I testers probably need the money, but if you start to give really dangerous stuff to humans and pay even more money (let’s ignore the fact that no company could pay the costs for now) to make up for the risks, you will get more testers, less informed consent: poor people who need the money; greedy people; stupid people; naive people. And a lot of collateral damage.
    It’s not about conset either way. No one’s consent needs to be involved for a choice to be right. Do you ask unconscious people and toddlers for their consent first or do you perform everything necessary as to maximise well-being of the majority? Consent is no prerequisite.
    Do you know what would happen to those animals in the wild? They would die a much more miserable way. (read #85 by Glen Davidson)
    We can tell from common sense that people WILL die if we test that stuff on humans, while otherwise animals WILL die. Whether any of that happens with or without “informed consent” is of minor importance.
    add 3)
    Similarly to point 2. Let’s forget ‘assuaging’ and all the hypocritical and unimportant crap for now. If you don’t want to test on innocent animals you simply exchange their lives for the lives of innocent humans, whether you do it in the passive or active tense, with or without “informed consent” won’t change the fact. Whether you do it in the passive (“they were killed [as in animal testing]“) or active (“they ‘willingly’ choose to die or risk their lives ['informed consent' of those testers]“) tense makes no difference.

    You couldn’t even pay that many human volunteers to perform enough toxicity tests. So what could you do instead? Computer testing? Stop developing drugs? Or develop useless and dangerous drugs? (this time around killing completely innocent people, like your children dying from measles, *without* their consent, who could live if drugs were developed)

  189. #189 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: Natalie | April 24, 2009 1:02 PM
    Anon @ 134 – What sort of qualifications do you have to write off all addiction as a simpler personal failing, ignoring the biological, psychological, and sociological factors that influence addiction.

    I don’t know about Anon, but I have personally been addicted to meth and when I realized it was rotting me from the inside out, I quit.
    It wasn’t easy but it’s an easy call when your farts start smelling like severally putrified flesh.
    I didn’t need any monkeys to be killed.

    No Darwin Award for me.

  190. #190 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    I should also probably not walk anywhere, lest I accidentally trip and fall upon a helpless animal. Heck, I probably shouldn’t even go outside, I could get stuck by lightning or fall down a well!

    Doesn’t really address my point but that’s fine, I’ll get to in shortly.

    Being vegan is not a black-and-white absolute, it’s a constant effort to avoid animal exploitation as much as possible. I drive carefully and eat locally and avoid companies that do animal testing as much as possible. I accept that I sometimes do things that might bring harm to animals, and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion or philosophy. Who’s perfect?

    Yes and if it came across like I was trying to suggest you shouldn’t have an opinion then I’m sorry, that is not my intent. My intent is to try and show some places I find some issues with it.

    For example, I understand how vegans work (to some extent). I lived with a couple vegetarians that turned vegan and I remain good friends with them to this day (along with a bunch of other vegans and veggies.. a product of me following the dead for many years I guess), so I don’t have a problem with them. It is when they start saying thing that just don’t follow logic that gets me.

    Above you say “I accept that I sometimes do things that might bring harm to animals, and that’s okay”. Fine, that is a reasonable way to look at it. However, you are okay with your accidental harming of animals but have a problem with testing on animals that could and does save lives every single day. And you have a problem with using efficacy as a reason when there are people that have been waiting for some help to lessen or end their suffering for their entire lives and animal testing can and does lead to that in many many cases.

    TO me that is a bit hypocritical, selfish and incongruousness way of looking at it.

    And that is ok. I am all of the above descriptions in many things that I do. But when they are pointed out to me I try to be as open to the possibility as possible (and find myself not being so at times as well).

  191. #191 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Let me rephrase something.

    I don’t claim to understand how vegans work. That is a stupid way to phrase what I meant.

    I am familiar with many of the arguments of vegans and how some live according to what they believe.

    I in no way want to come across like I am the all knowing meat eater who has a grasp on all vegans.

    That is stupid.

    and sometimes I am stupid. It happens.

  192. #192 Jeffrey Goins
    April 24, 2009

    We’re all monkeys!

  193. #193 Mack
    April 24, 2009

    @#160

    Actually insects can feel pain. Drosophila larva recoil and curl upon being pricked with a needle. Some mutants do not react indicating they have a mutation in a sensory nerve.

    So where really can you draw the line?

  194. #194 dtlocke
    April 24, 2009

    Here’s the challenge: would you support this kind of testing on orphaned human children who were cognitively equivalent to monkeys? Suppose the children have some kind of mental deficiency that makes them cognitively equivalent to monkeys. Suppose also that they are expected to live the for as long as monkeys are expected to live, etc, etc. In other words, suppose that the *only* difference between the monkeys and the children were a difference in species. Would you then support this kind of testing on the children? If not, but you would support this kind of testing on animals, then it seems that you think *species* alone is a morally relevant difference. But is *species* any more morally relevant than, say, *race*? If so, why?

    These are not rhetorical questions. I really want to know what people think about them. (And please, no squirly answers like: there is no mental deficiency that makes human children cognitively equivalent to monkeys. Yeah, ok, maybe. But suppose there were. What then?)

  195. #195 Monado in Toronto
    April 24, 2009

    RBDC @ 192, you’re obviously self-correcting, as well.

    You are the scientific method.

  196. #196 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    OKAY ONE MORE.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp / #191: When it comes to animal testing, my basic philosophy is that more transparency would be helpful, because not all tests and situations are equal. There are undoubtedly situations where animal testing is the only option, and the result has substantial benefit to the human race, and I don’t think I can argue with that. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other tests that could be avoided. I feel testing should be judged on a case-by-case basis – and while I know there are advisory boards and strict guidelines, I’m pretty sure my personal beliefs on the subject are significantly more strict. Hence, the issue at hand.

    Ending this on a positive note, I’m glad we can both agree that we are both hypocrites and are both open to hearing about and discussing points of view that are different from our own. At least we’re not religious, eh? :D

  197. #197 Awesome Robot
    April 24, 2009

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM1-fl_Nu3o

    How can you support this kind of monkey torture!?

  198. #198 JustaTech
    April 24, 2009

    I am so glad that these all of those brave researchers stood up to Pro-test. Why should we have our lives threatened while we work to save their (AR people) lives?

    A few notes from a real-life animal researcher:
    1) To the best of my knowledge no one uses shelter animals for scientific research anymore. We don’t want them. They might have diseases, and more to the point, they’re an outbred population, so we don’t know anything about their genetics. This makes the results much less meaningful. So, Numb3rs, Fringe, thanks for showing that AR terrorists are crazy, but really, no one uses dogs, or cats if they can avoid it. Also, no lab is going to have 1 of a dozen species. That’s just dumb.

    2) I don’t think people understand the power of an IACUC. That committee can end your research in a heartbeat, and you’re out on the street without a job. They want 4 mice to a cage rather than 5? You shift ass to move those mice right this nanosecond. You want to add a new treatment to your protocol? Say, a very slightly different variant of the virus you are currently using? You damn well better do a full literature search and prove that it is necessary, and that no one else has done this. There is no repeating experiments.

    3) Vivisection: I do not think that word means what you think it means. No body is cutting open live, awake animals. That’s just sadistic. There is dissection, on a dead animal, or surgery.

    4) Don’t like animal research? I’ll have all your vaccinations back, thanks. You give one example of a vaccine that wasn’t great in animal testing and I can give you 5 that were only discovered by working in animals.

    5) My work is in HIV vaccines and mice. To all the people who suggest that we only use tissue culture (no as animal free as you think!) I will tell you of an early HIV vaccine. It worked very well on cells, but when tried in non-human primates it gave some subjects HIV. Would you rather they have used non-human primates, or people?

    As for why no one protests factory farms, well, ranchers often carry guns to protect their herds, and facotry farms are far from the public eye, so there’s no one to show off to at the chicken farm. Also, livestock isn’t cute. And of course there’s the fact that researchers will try to argue and convince you that they are not evil (eternal optimists, as we see here), where many farm workers plain don’t care.

    While I abhor violence, and it enrages me when ALF people fire-bomb researchers, let this be warning: if you threaten the lives of me or my mice, I will defend myself with a fire extinguisher. Stay the hell away from my babies.

  199. #199 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    We’re all monkeys!

    You mean primates. You’re only a monkey if you’re a Happy Monkey.

  200. #200 Bobwama
    April 24, 2009

    This is the first time I have been on the other side of a poll on Pharyngula. I absolutely DO NOT support animal testing. It is inhumane for the most part, and even if it is humane, we still have no right to perform tests on creatures. If we performed similar tests on humans with consent, or the inhumane even WITH consent, we would get in serious trouble. Animals have right too. Their intelligences may be “inferior” (a very subjective term), but they are still sentient and are by no means to be killed , pain or no pain. Not only that, drug tests performed even on our “closest biological relatives” are still quite inaccurate.

  201. #201 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    You mean primates. You’re only a monkey if you’re a Happy Monkey. I’ve seen the case made that it makes sense to call apes (such as ourselves) “monkeys”. We are more closely related to old-world monkeys than new-world monkeys are after all.

  202. #202 Cakexploder
    April 24, 2009

    Mack: I’m interested in hearing more about this, whether it’s just an instinctual reaction or if insects are actually aware of the situation at hand. Do you happen to have any links to more info?

  203. #203 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Bobwama, are you on a list to be a testee in place of a rat for the initial dosing of a new drug? That is what gives you the real moral superiority. If not, it makes you immoral.

  204. #204 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 24, 2009
  205. #205 Awesome Robot
    April 24, 2009

    Alex & Heath, PZ just posted a video explaining why yes, we are monkeys. The reason is traditional taxonomy is not as good at meaningfully explaining relationships as cladistics.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6TEDuDD3Zs

  206. #206 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: Jeffrey Goins | April 24, 2009 1:49 PM
    We’re all monkeys!

    I was going to mention this.
    Just last week PZ posted a vid of some fast talking scientist making this exact point.

    Glad not to have Measles and I’m OK with animal testing for vaccines ,but meth.???

    “Speed Kills” has been around since the 60′s. It’s a choice ,and one that can earn you a Darwin Award unless you smarten up.

  207. #207 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    When it comes to animal testing, my basic philosophy is that more transparency would be helpful, because not all tests and situations are equal. There are undoubtedly situations where animal testing is the only option, and the result has substantial benefit to the human race, and I don’t think I can argue with that. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other tests that could be avoided.

    Who gets to make that decision? Animal rights groups or actual scientists who can show the benefit of the testing?

    I feel testing should be judged on a case-by-case basis – and while I know there are advisory boards and strict guidelines, I’m pretty sure my personal beliefs on the subject are significantly more strict. Hence, the issue at hand.

    Right and while your beliefs have merit in that they are your beliefs they hold no more weight scientifically than someone else.

  208. #208 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    How about instead of testing on animals, we test on all the violent criminals we have in prison instead? They’re not paying back their debt to society by sitting in their cells all day, shanking their fellow inmates with plastic knives or hiding drugs up their bum. This would be a good use for them.

  209. #209 Awesome Robot
    April 24, 2009

    JustaTech wins for most informed and well-written post in this thread. One free internet for you.

  210. #210 Mack
    April 24, 2009

    Cakexploder,
    It was presented at a talk I went to. I’ll look for the reference for you, but it might be a bit because I’m busy at work.

  211. #211 Tulse
    April 24, 2009

    When animals can get together in autonomous societies to demand the cessation of animal testing, I’ll support it 100%. Up until that point, I am foursquare in favour of animal testing

    I think the British used similar logic to justify colonialism…

    I’d be curious to know what an animal rights activist would do if he/she mortally injured an animal while driving. Would they stop the car, go back and break it’s neck (i.e. the right thing to do), or would they just drive on, leaving the animal to die a slow and painful death?

    I’d certainly want to be able to do the former (and hope to overcome my inherent squeamishness). Heck, I’d hope that if I were truly “mortally injured”, someone would do the same for me.

    As a pet lover who has been present when several of his gravely ill pets have been euthanized, I think I get a pass on this one.

  212. #212 Matt Heath
    April 24, 2009

    Bobwama: Not only that, drug tests performed even on our “closest biological relatives” are still quite inaccurate.

    No. I’m sorry to repeat myself, having addressed this to someone else, but no. You cannot have this argument. Unless you have good reason to claim you know better about what is needed to tell us about a particular subject than the consensus of scientists working full time on that subject (hint I doubt you do), you can not have this argument. Assuming you know more than the experts is not OK when Jenny McCarthy does it and it’s not OK when you do it. The test won’t be infallible but they only happen when the people that know what they are talking believe they are the most accurate thing available. You have to bite the bullet that life-saving knowledge will go undiscovered because of what you are supporting.

  213. #213 whitebird
    April 24, 2009

    @Cakesploder #160: “Insects don’t feel pain, so I don’t particularly care if I take out a few. ”

    So would you approve of me sedating a cow before killing it instantly, as long as there’s no pain involved? Just asking.

  214. #214 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    Animals have right too. Their intelligences may be “inferior”…

    This line of reasoning would not hold up if it were framed as a classic struggle of life and death. If it came down to you and a lion in the wilderness. Let’s see your definition of living in harmony then.

  215. #215 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    @ #195
    That’s an interesting thought puzzle, and it doesn’t have a simple answer. I think we can make a broad statement that almost everyone would agree that the idea of experimenting on your monkey-humans is abhorrent. I think that this is because we recognize that there is something that makes a human a human over and above cognitive ability, and it’s hard to pinpoint what that something is. Obviously a human is a human based on it’s descent, but that doesn’t seem quite good enough, does it?

  216. #216 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    How about instead of testing on animals, we test on all the violent criminals we have in prison instead?

    Why not you? Anything less is hypocritical.

  217. #217 Richard Smith
    April 24, 2009

    @Bobwama (#201)

    If we performed similar tests on humans with consent, or the inhumane even WITH consent, we would get in serious trouble.

    Ergo, we must all become vegetarians, because if we ate humans – even with consent – the way we eat other animals, we would get in serious trouble. For that is called “cannibalism,” and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.

  218. #218 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    As a pet lover who has been present when several of his gravely ill pets have been euthanized, I think I get a pass on this one.

    Why? I’ve done the same exact thing with my pets. Did so with my 12 year old Black Lab just this past October. But that doesn’t really change what was asked especially considering you have an emotional tie to your pets, but not necessarily to some random squirrel or bird or rabbit.

  219. #219 Mack
    April 24, 2009

    Cakexploder,

    I found the reference quicker than I thought. It actually is gene for an ion channel, but the point still stands. The gene is called painless. I added the reference info in case I mess up the link.

    Tracey et al. Cell. 2003 Apr 18;113(2):261-73.

    Go to http://dx.doi.org/ and insert the following:
    doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(03)00272-1

  220. #220 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    @ 215
    The problem with the animal rights movement IS the idea that animals have rights. Now, I’m a vegetarian. I’m a vegetarian because I think I have a moral obligation to reduce the amount of suffering that I cause in the world, whether that is in regards to other people, to animals, to insects, whatever. But I see this as a moral obligation that I have because I am superior to animals – I am a thinking being with the ability to make moral choices. Because I take this approach, I don’t really see a problem with animal testing at all, and in fact I am strongly in favor of it. But once you start handing out rights to animals, you are prevented by that from making utilitarian choices about things like animal testing.

  221. #221 Genessee Qua
    April 24, 2009

    Psst! All us primates are busting out
    tonight at 11:30. Pass it on.

  222. #222 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    The problem with the animal rights movement IS the idea that animals have rights. Now, I’m a vegetarian. I’m a vegetarian because I think I have a moral obligation to reduce the amount of suffering that I cause in the world, whether that is in regards to other people, to animals, to insects, whatever. But I see this as a moral obligation that I have because I am superior to animals – I am a thinking being with the ability to make moral choices. Because I take this approach, I don’t really see a problem with animal testing at all, and in fact I am strongly in favor of it. But once you start handing out rights to animals, you are prevented by that from making utilitarian choices about things like animal testing.

    win!

  223. #223 whitebird
    April 24, 2009

    @cakexplder # 203 : “Mack: I’m interested in hearing more about this, whether it’s just an instinctual reaction or if insects are actually aware of the situation at hand. Do you happen to have any links to more info?”

    What? I thought pain WAS “just” an instinctual reaction. Pretty sure that everything that insects do is just instinctual.

    I just learned last year that among vegans there is a debate as to whether or not it’s ok to eat honey. Because you’re stealing from the bees. There’s also the “you’re stealing eggs from chickens” thing that I’ve heard . Well, those chickens are stealing shelter, food and protection from predators from my in laws! Damn thieving chickens!

  224. #224 Joao
    April 24, 2009

    PZ, I must say that you are not doing nearly enough to build a concise and reasonable position on this topic.

    Arguments such as “The study of Biology relies on these tests.”, or “We, scientists, have good intentions.” are utterly unconvincing. I support animal experimentation, but I would not accept such arguments in any circumstance. I would prefer the crude honesty of acknowledging that to the scientists involved in animal research, the value of the information extracted from these studies outweighs the value of the lost lives.

    Being a vociferous supporter of rational thought, It is your duty to clarify the underlying foundations of your position on visceral issue to your profession.

  225. #225 dtlocke
    April 24, 2009

    koan0215, thanks for the thoughtful response! I agree, it really doesn’t seem like enough.

  226. #226 beebeeo
    April 24, 2009

    Just to let some people know how things are done in the UK …
    If I inject tumor cells into a mouse and that mouse develops a tumor, then there are very specific rules about how big these tumors are allowed to grow. The handlers of the mice are trained to recognize the species specific signs for pain (changes in behavior, fur, weight etc.). If the mice show any signs of suffering (the animals have to be inspected quite regularly or you loose your license) then the experiment has to me terminated (without any pain).
    Only in very special cases when the benefit for humans is very big and the chances of success are very high and if there is really no other way will you see experiments that demand more suffering than this (I don’t think this really ever happens in cancer research but quite possibly in other fields).
    If you perform surgery on an animal they have to be anesthetized and if they show very strong signs of pain after waking up, then the experiment has to be terminated.
    As a meat-eater myself I cannot see how this approach is any way more immoral or worse than eating meat.
    I am sure there are many lunatics out there who think that they could convince the whole world to go vegetarian, but does any rational person take them seriously ?

  227. #227 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    @221

    Precisely.

    The moral choice of performing these types of tests benefits all organisms in the end. A beast will kill for itself. Performing tests in the effort of curtailing, curing, or eradicating suffering and disease for groups of creatures is a completely different story. Trying to apply the concept of equal rights in that scenario is like trying to apply the concept of kindness to an apple.

  228. #228 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    “Trying to apply the concept of equal rights in that scenario is like trying to apply the concept of kindness to an apple.”

    This is the best summary of Peter Singer I’ve ever read :D

  229. #229 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    It is your duty to clarify the underlying foundations of your position on visceral issue to your profession.

    He has done so. No animal testing, no biological/medical progress. Period. What part of that don’t you understand?

  230. #230 ouchimoo
    April 24, 2009

    I have a question to all you “animal testing is inhumane” people. Is it still inhumane if the testing is in favor to the animals, such as veterinary care or bringing back animals on the verge of extinction or animals struggling with bacterial and viral infections? What I’m getting from most of you is “DON’T DO IT, YOU’RE BEING SELFISH!” Is it still selfish for people who are working specifically towards the good of animals who can be benefited by these results?
    I’d also want to point out something that has been brought up before. You are concerned enough about domesticated animals to stop eating meat, okay we got that. Are you going to stop taking medicine and vaccines that were derived from animals or animal testing? Are you also concerned enough with wild animals that you pledge never to have children that would take up more of of the animals natural resources?

  231. #231 DavidM
    April 24, 2009

    I agree with flag (#10) but I would change it slightly.

    “It’s inhumane by definition but I still support it as long as the research is actually important”

    This is not exactly a black and white issue where all animal research is justifiable and provides us with tangible medical benefits or vice-versa.

  232. #232 Ariel
    April 24, 2009

    To anyone who says they refuse medical treatments tested on animals (virtually all useful medicine), would you refuse on behalf of your child? And how does this make you any better then those religious crazies who refuse western medicine and treat their diabetic child with acupuncuture or faith healing? I think you are the immoral ones. No question.

    I deplore the need for animal testing, I like animals and agree it’s sad. That doesn’t mean the alternative is any better.

  233. #233 blueelm
    April 24, 2009

    would you like to get word that your cousin died of hypothermia? maybe we should use some of Mengele’s data in order to improve cold weather gear and medical treatments.

    GODWIN yay! I’m not the one going around saying I’d never use drugs that were tested on animals. By the way, you sanctimonious windbag, do you think for a second that we don’t use all that research that was gotten from various experiments on people in the past? Let’s forget about the Nazis for a second and think about the research conducted right here in the US on human beings in mental instituitions, poor minority communities, schoolchildren. I don’t condone it, but then I also don’t go around saying I’d rather people die than see the benifit from it.

  234. #234 Tulse
    April 24, 2009
    Animals have right too. Their intelligences may be “inferior”…

    This line of reasoning would not hold up if it were framed as a classic struggle of life and death.

    So smart people should be allowed to kill the stupid?

    Why? I’ve done the same exact thing with my pets. Did so with my 12 year old Black Lab just this past October. But that doesn’t really change what was asked especially considering you have an emotional tie to your pets, but not necessarily to some random squirrel or bird or rabbit.

    Perhaps I misunderstood the purport of the question — I thought it was asking whether I was a naive egocentric “animal lover” who didn’t want to personally be involved in killing animals. I have no problem killing animals under the appropriate circumstances — when they are needlessly and irreparably suffering, when they threaten the life of someone, etc. Of course, I would include “people” in that definition of “animal”…

    once you start handing out rights to animals, you are prevented by that from making utilitarian choices about things like animal testing

    I think the South used a similar argument, but regarding different entities. As has been argued here in a different context, it’s not an argument to say something isn’t true because you don’t like the consequences it produces. Argue the claim, not the consequence.

    For what it’s worth, I think “rights” talk isn’t necessarily all that helpful, but largely because I think the notion of “rights” in general is problematic philosophically. I think it’s simpler instead to reason from what qualities we think people have that are morally relevant, and see if animals also possess those. For example, apes are very similar to humans in terms of the cognitive abilities, and in many ways are more capable than, say, a severely mentally delayed human. So I think we should not do to apes what we wouldn’t do to the mentally retarded.

  235. #235 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM | April 24, 2009 2:40 PM
    It is your duty to clarify the underlying foundations of your position on visceral issue to your profession.
    He has done so. No animal testing, no biological/medical progress. Period. What part of that don’t you understand?

    It’s just not that simple…
    Do you really think we should be killing monkeys to to benefit people dumb enough to do meth when everyone knows that “Speed Kills”

  236. #236 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Do you really think we should be killing monkeys to to benefit people dumb enough to do meth when everyone knows that “Speed Kills”

    And you bring a stupid emotional laden example up to a rational debate? I would rather test it on you as a lower form of sentient life. But then, since you wouldn’t volunteer/give informed consent being the craven coward you are, there must be some other method. So it’s either you or the monkeys. Make up your mind and live with the consequences.

  237. #237 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    So smart people should be allowed to kill the stupid?

    Wha? That is not what I was implying. How did you get there? Just skimming?

  238. #238 Sonic Screwdriver
    April 24, 2009

    God lord this issue makes we want to tear my hair out.
    I’ve been a vegetarian for over a decade and only use cosmetics/cleaners/etc. that have a *Not Tested on Animals* label but I use modern medicines and I can’t begin to imagine the number of human lives saved by medical testing on non-humans. It’s a question of sacrificing the few for the many in the case of animal testing, but I believe the critters in question should be treated with as much respect as possible.
    Apes I can’t quite make up my mind on. The mental prowess and capability for emotions, i.e. suffering and fear, that these animals exhibit make testing on them akin to testing on human children.
    As much as I despise animal testing, as i despise any act of abuse, it is currently a necessary evil.
    Have to say though, I’m pleased that your readers aren’t a bunch of yammer-heads PZ. Loving the dissent.

  239. #239 Ouchimoo
    April 24, 2009

    It’s just not that simple…
    Do you really think we should be killing monkeys to to benefit people dumb enough to do meth when everyone knows that “Speed Kills”

    Now you are sounding as if that’s the only research animal testing you have ever seen done. Wow, you should watch that because that sounds amazingly stupid. People get addicted to lots of different things. Do you drink coffee, Alcohol, Smoke cigarettes, eat sweets? You say it’s not that simple so don’t simplify it.

  240. #240 Nerdbeard
    April 24, 2009

    Boy am I disappointed. There’s a world of difference between being “pro-test” and “pro-vivisection”! I am completely disgusted that you would use “anti-vivisectionist” as some sort of condescending insult.

  241. #241 Guy Incognito
    April 24, 2009

    It’s just not that simple…
    Do you really think we should be killing monkeys to to benefit people dumb enough to do meth when everyone knows that “Speed Kills”

    I hope the irony of that statement was deliberate.

  242. #242 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    So smart people should be allowed to kill the stupid?

    Not any more than stupid people should be allowed to kill the smart. Is the lion stupid or smart for wanting to eat you? Is the human stupid or smart for running away? Is the human stupid or smart for killing the lion that wants to kill him? I submit the human is both smart and moral for seeking cures as ethically and compassionately as possible using whatever means, without betraying our humanity or our station as the curators of the planet.

  243. #243 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Do you really think we should be killing monkeys to to benefit people dumb enough to do meth when everyone knows that “Speed Kills”

    If we find a way to help solve addiction…

    100% yes

    But I echo people above me. Please, if you are going to argue for one side try to not sound like a gigantic dumb ass when doing it. There are plenty of arguments what have reasonable backing on non the testing side, yours is not one of them.

  244. #244 speedwell
    April 24, 2009

    A few notes from a real-life animal researcher:
    1) To the best of my knowledge no one uses shelter animals for scientific research anymore.

    Very, very happy to hear that. I was naive in my comment above, I admit it. Thank you (and others) for clarifying.

  245. #245 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    speaking of sounding like a dumb ass typois galore above

    “There are plenty of arguments that have reasonable backing on the non testing side, yours is not one of them.”

    sheesh

  246. #246 Tulse
    April 24, 2009

    Alex, in response to “Animals have right too. Their intelligences may be “inferior”…”, you wrote:

    This line of reasoning would not hold up if it were framed as a classic struggle of life and death.

    I thought you were essentially making a “might makes right” (or “smart makes right”) argument. Was that not the case? If not, perhaps you can clarify your point.

  247. #247 Spud
    April 24, 2009

    Bobwama: “This is the first time I have been on the other side of a poll on Pharyngula.”

    About the first time for me, too.

  248. #248 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    At 240

    The story was about J. David Jentsch,…who jacks monkeys up on meth and then kills a few.

    And claims no suffering …Meth is a corrosive chemical that rots you from the inside out.

    It’s like killing monkeys to try and figure out why people do fatally stupid things.

    They are being selected via their stupidity to die.

    the very definition of a Darwin Award.

  249. #249 Gregory Kusnick
    April 24, 2009

    #235:

    I think it’s simpler instead to reason from what qualities we think people have that are morally relevant, and see if animals also possess those.

    For me, the morally relevant qualities are the ability both to conceive of and carry out medical research, and to make ethical decisions about the appropriateness of such research. We have those abilities; animals do not. Therefore the burden is on us to make the necessary decisions and carry out the research deemed ethically acceptable. The fact that animals are incapable of giving informed consent does not absolve us of our obligation to advance medical and veterinary science; quite the opposite: we must do it because they can’t.

  250. #250 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    @ 235

    Please don’t use hyperbolic analogies as argumentation. It’s a cheap way to score a point and really doesn’t do anything to move the debate forward. No ones is arguing that the smart should be able to kill the stupid (between humans) or that Jim Crow laws have anything to do with any of this. This type of argument is no different from blaming the holocaust on Darwin.

    I don’t think that I was arguing the consequence, but let’s leave that aside. As to arguing the claim, well that’s a good idea, especially since I’m always open to the possibility that I’m wrong!

    Here’s the thing. I don’t find doctrines of right problematic at all when it comes to humans. In point of fact I’m not sure you do either, given that when you say that we should look for morally relevant qualities, it seems to me that what you are looking for is a basis for rights-extension. I’m doing the same thing when I talk about why I think humans, as a species, are superior to animals rights-wise. You want to extend those rights to apes, it seems, because you see morally relevant qualities in apes that are similar to those of disabled humans. I would say that the average ape does not have the same moral quality as the average human, and looking at outliers of humans isn’t helpful. This is not to say that we should treat disabled humans like apes when it comes to rights, but that we shouldn’t treat apes like they have the right of disabled humans. Why? Partly because species is a useful brightline here, and partly because I don’t really think that comparison holds much water. That said, when it comes to deliberately causing suffering to any living being, one has to approach that problem from a strictly utilitarian point of view, or you end up not being able to say anything of use.

  251. #251 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    That last sentence should have said “when it comes to deliberately causing suffering to any non-human living being…

  252. #252 Marsha
    April 24, 2009

    As PZ as often mentions, these polls are unscientific. Let’s hope noone in LA takes the PZ-er’s poll conquest as “real”.

    Torture is torture… I don’t agree to human torture nor animal torture. It causes extreme pain, IMO it is not necessary.

    If you make such a distinction between animals and humans, you approach religious beliefs… god(s) gave human dominion, god(s) made man smarter, man is the “chosen” and mighty, man is “sentient” and animals are not… this shows how much religion sneaks into even atheists lives.

    By luck and mutations and evolution, whatever, we are here at the top of our food chain but we have no supernatural pre-destination to cause such horrible suffering to animals. And in fact, we have obtained something called “empathy” – instead of ignoring that with “Me-human, me top, me can torture animals” we could actually use that empathy we’ve inherited.

    If superior aliens ever reach Earth and start torturing humans for their benefit, I’ll be out there with my picket sign “No human experimentation!”.

  253. #253 ???
    April 24, 2009

    I’m offended by the callous, blatantly kingdomist attitude being expressed here. Plants are living things too!

    You’re not the only one. Boulder Vegetable Rights Association

  254. #254 Red Skeleton
    April 24, 2009

    This is one issue I really can’t decide on. If we have to do these horrible things in order to save millions of lives I guess we have to do them but it’s still cutting up living animals, it’s still horrific. I accept that maybe I’m being naive about this but it strikes me as being like war, if it’s necessary for the greater good then it’s necessary but it’s such a horrible thing in and of itself I just can’t let myself get behind it.

  255. #255 andrew
    April 24, 2009

    testing on monkeys to cure addiction? Seriously, I can’t believe anyone would support that. Addicts have only themselves to blame, and there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for cruel tests on animals to help people who are too stupid to help themselves. It just stuns me that rational people would be ok with that.

    Someone else suggested prison reform would be a more worthwhile cause than animal rights, which gave me a great idea: we test new drugs on murderers and child molesters, instead of animals! Problem solved!

    I guess I’m not much of a humanist…

  256. #256 Tulse
    April 24, 2009

    For me, the morally relevant qualities are the ability both to conceive of and carry out medical research, and to make ethical decisions about the appropriateness of such research. We have those abilities; animals do not.

    And neither do the profoundly mentally retarded or those with other cognitive disabilities. I don’t think that forward planning is a good criterion on which to determine moral worth.

    Please don’t use hyperbolic analogies as argumentation. It’s a cheap way to score a point and really doesn’t do anything to move the debate forward.

    I wasn’t being hyperbolic, I was genuinely trying to understand the principle behind the argument.

    No ones is arguing that the smart should be able to kill the stupid (between humans) or that Jim Crow laws have anything to do with any of this. This type of argument is no different from blaming the holocaust on Darwin.

    Again, I was trying to get at the ethical principle being advocated.

    I don’t find doctrines of right problematic at all when it comes to humans. In point of fact I’m not sure you do either, given that when you say that we should look for morally relevant qualities, it seems to me that what you are looking for is a basis for rights-extension.

    As I said, I think rights talk introduces all sorts of extraneous issues (including what grounds the notion of “rights”). I think it is simpler to look at how we treat people, and then see if there are principles we can extract that might also apply to non-human organisms.

    the average ape does not have the same moral quality as the average human, and looking at outliers of humans isn’t helpful. This is not to say that we should treat disabled humans like apes when it comes to rights, but that we shouldn’t treat apes like they have the right of disabled humans.

    So far you haven’t provided an argument.

    Why? Partly because species is a useful brightline here, and partly because I don’t really think that comparison holds much water.

    And you still haven’t provided an argument. If Neanderthals were still around, would we be justified in treating them as we do apes, since they were different species? What about Homo floresiensis? What about intelligent aliens, such as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock — should we be able to conduct medical experiments on him just because he is not (fully) human?

    And on the flip side of this argument, anti-abortionists argue that fertilized eggs are humans (the same species as you), so does that mean that abortion should be illegal?

    “Species” is a lousy criterion — it is arbitrary, and it no more tells us what the underlying ethical criteria are than, say, skin colour. Note that one might very well come up with criteria that map onto our notion of species, but “species” itself tells us nothing.

  257. #257 JB
    April 24, 2009

    Thought experiment: As the first through the door at the drug testing centre, you are offered one of two experiments as a first human volunteer. One drug has been tested on a few dozen mice and/or rats, four dogs and two monkeys and found to have no toxic effect at 1000x the dose you will receive, but many rodents (and possibly a few other mammals) died to get to that point. The other has passed a rigorous simulation in the best computer programmes available, but no animals suffered in the development process.

    I choose the first and vote to lock up anyone who suggests the second option.

    Sorry for being f*****g crude, but they’re only fucking rats (or dogs, gerbils, fruit flies). Yes, it’s nasty and unpleasant to think about, but so is septic shock, SARS, HIV, schizophrenia, stroke, cancer, congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, etc, etc

  258. #258 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    I have noticed that those against animal testing are not lining themselves up to take the place of their beloved animals for the first round of live drug testing. Make up your minds folks, it either goes into you or an animal. I have trouble with those who evade the responsiblity on this by saying it goes into another human than me.

  259. #259 Guy Incognito
    April 24, 2009

    Torture is torture… I don’t agree to human torture nor animal torture. It causes extreme pain, IMO it is not necessary.

    However, you obviously have no problem with straw man torture.

  260. #260 Guy Incognito
    April 24, 2009

    Make up your minds folks, it either goes into you or an animal.

    In other words, take this pill or the monkey gets it?

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

  261. #261 ???
    April 24, 2009

    I propose only doing biological research on Fred Phelps.

    Or perhaps Bybee and Yoo:

    “The Long-term Physiological Effects of Repeated Waterboarding on Far-right Nutjobs”

    I’m currently seeking funding.

    All in the name of science, don’tcha know.

  262. #262 Tangent
    April 24, 2009

    There are plenty of humans who have less of a claim to ‘person-hood’ than some of the animals being tested on.

    Use them.

    Is there some intrinsic property that makes a human somehow excused from the decision? I’d assume testing on humans would result in much more useful data.

  263. #263 Nova
    April 24, 2009

    Wherever people draw their lines, there is certainly an issue to consider with testing on other apes about weighing up possible suffering. An adult chimpanzee is far more intelligent than a newborn human baby in every way. A baby has even less ability to anticipate suffering, and one can only assume (and assumption is the only thing you can do in these cases) suffers less as a result of its lesser intelligence. So really if we are prepared to perform tests on chimpanzees, shouldn’t we also be prepared to take newborn babies out of orphanages and perform tests on them? Why do we so much favour biological evolution as a measure of possible suffering over memetic evolution and ordinary brain development? Probably partly because of an innate loyalty to the babies of our own species. But also because those lines are so much easier to draw with the memetic and brain developmental link between us and babies so easy to see while the evolutionary link between us and other animals so buried under millions of years? How many people are ready to consider the rational judgement of morality and throw off the ‘yuck’ innate morality installed for our species growth but not to maximize the total happiness of our species, let alone all sentience? The objection that if we don’t draw the lines somewhere we could be testing all humans is refuted by the fact that if people could anticipate that they could be tested upon, it would easily reduce happiness to such a degree that it would not be worth the research. Anticipation has a lot to do with morality. I am undecided on where the lines should be drawn, but I think this is an interesting case in which many people are having it both ways when that is morally unjust.

  264. #265 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    @ 257
    It could be that I am a terrible writer, but I think it’s more likely that you are being willfully obtuse. I’ve made a fairly consistent argument from post to post here.

    First off, you say you have a problem with rights talk, but you are the one who laid out moral qualities as a standard for how we should behave toward other beings. I see no difference whatsoever between that claim and as you put it “what grounds the notion of rights”. If you want a standard of rights it’s there before your eyes.

    Now, I said earlier that I base my idea of rights here on agency with regards to ethical dilemmas. Humans can reason ethically, animals cannot. This is one standard. I’m perfectly willing to entertain the idea that I am wrong to use it, but that’s what I go by. Now, a person could argue that there could exist a disabled person who can’t reason morally. Ok, sure. Maybe Neandertals didn’t either. But I don’t care, you see, because I’m not at all interested in outliers from the mean of a species. The average ape is bad at moral reasoning. The average human is good at it. I haven’t a clue about Neandertals but they’re dead now so they really don’t matter at all. Species is a coherent and understandable brightline, so it’s useful. And I care alot about useful.

    What I do not care about are time-wasting flights of fancy about fertilized eggs or Jim Crow.

  265. #266 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    I voted “I don’t know.” I don’t think the vast majority of people here don’t really know what’s going on here either. So far it looks like a giant slew of ad-homs with rainbow of red herrings over head. The ethics of this issue are not easy. Stop berating each other as if they are.

    I would first submit that the core issue is as to whether or not these animals are aware of their own existence. I say this because it is the conscious choice to live that makes ethics relevant. If you don’t want to live, there’s no reason to worry about constructs based around keeping your self or others alive. If will were to manifest instantaneously, a will not to live would remove you from the relevancy of ethics instantaneously. So then, with this in mind, here are the issues I have with the arguments presented:

    Fallacy #1: “It’s okay because of the advances that come out of it.”
    Fallacy Type: Appeal to consequences
    Analysis: This asserts that the will of an individual should be overcome without consent, in order to benefit others. By this rational, autistic children lacking theory of mind are up for organ harvest. For some reason, we do not use autistic children for their organs. Why?

    Fallacy #2: “We don’t know that they aren’t aware/able to perceive pain.”
    Fallacy Type: Argumentum ad Ignorantium
    Analysis: Come on people, we know this one. This is just reversing the burden of proof. I’m personally ashamed by any atheist using this creationist-brand argument. Lets all prove that God doesn’t exist now, shall we?

    Fallacy #3: “We do worse things to animals already.”
    Fallacy Type: Tu Quoque, argumentum ad populum, special pleading, it depends on how you want to phrase it.
    Analysis: This argument says that because something already violates an idea, something else of lesser consequence is permissible as well. “When you think about it, stealing a guys car isn’t that bad. You could’ve given him surprise butsex!”

    Fallacy #4: “How would you like it if some one used your dog for these experiments.”
    Fallacy Type: Appeal to emotion
    Analysis: Seriously, do I need to give one? Ok, I’ll try. “I happen to feel warm and fuzzy when I perform non-consentual abortions with a shop vac, so what I’m doing is right.” or perhaps more accurately, “I am angered when cars disrespect the roads I love by driving on them. How would you like it if I ran you over?”

    Fallacy #5: “Animals killing each other is natural, so it’s okay.”
    Fallacy type: Appeal to nature (special pleading), Tu Quoque, argumentum ad populum, etc.
    Analysis: This is much like the, “We’re already doing worse” argument. Nightshade occurs naturally. This does not make it a good source of food. People kill each other out of a combination of their natural instincts and emotions some times. This does not make it an ethical behavior.

    Fallacy #6: “PETA is hypocritical, so nobody has a point”
    Fallacy type: Ad hom, kookishness.
    Analysis: I can’t believe I’m explaining this one. I’ll be upholding Godwin’s law to emphasize my point here. The point one argues is not invalidated by their actions. It does not matter if you are at Aushwitz in the 40′s, waist deep in dead Jews; if you say that killing innocent people is wrong, your argument still stands on its own merits. Now going one further and saying that because some one is German (anti-test) that they must be Nazi’s (PETA members), and that this invalidates their argument is pure stupidity.

    Now, lets try again people. This time, we’ll try to do a little better than recycling fallacies found at church youth groups on a Wednesday night.

    -FST

  266. #267 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    @264

    That’s a good post. You say “maximize happiness”, and I tend to go with “reducing suffering” but it amounts to something very similar. Here’s my dilemma – I see animal testing having real results in reducing human suffering (through medical advances) at the expense of some suffering by animals. I want to rank human suffering as more important than animal suffering and I think you don’t, but consider this: The total suffering that is reduced by the medical advances is likely greater than the increased suffering in some animals that are tested, right?

  267. #268 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    FST, are you on a list to be the first testee of a new potentially wonder drug in place of animals? Why or why not?

  268. #269 Stu
    April 24, 2009

    FST, that’s the biggest bag of lame, flaming strawmen I’ve seen in quite a while. Congratulations.

    It’s simple: finding cures for debilitating diseases > the death of a few animals. Especially if suffering is minimized.

  269. #270 Kai
    April 24, 2009

    One of the very few instances when I disagree with PZ. Inflicting pain is inhumane, regardless of who’s on the receiving side. Getting a punch in the face hurts no matter what species you belong to. And lab animals do get ‘punched in the face’; I know it first hand, being a bio-scientist myself. We always talk about how borders between species are not as clear-cut as we once thought; yet, when it comes to this issue, we too easily adopt the “us vs them” stance.

  270. #271 kevinj
    April 24, 2009

    very much in the wish it wasnt needed but unfortunately given a choice between humanely treated animals and no research and i dont think i have met anyone who is favour of animal testing who isnt.

    the argument of “if you are against animal testing then dont use drugs” is a bit unfair i think since, at least in the UK, they have to be tested on animals.
    on the other hand the claims about computer modelling are strange since it shows a very high faith in whoever sets up that model getting the parameters right and all the paths, sure i could once you give me really good requirements but in advance for something as complex as a human body?

  271. #272 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    A question for anyone on either side of the debate: What does a mouse want out of life?

  272. #273 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Note to Nerd of Redhead…

    I’ve long been a fan of your comments here..
    Maybe you mistook my point.

    I have no problem with Dr. Jentschs’ work with schizophrenia, but hard drugs are very dangerous waters ,and it’s always been “Swim at your own risk”

    No need to kill monkeys for people who choose to do hard drugs IMO.

  273. #274 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    I thought FST’s post was pretty funny, especially the surprise butsex part. And telling everybody here that we are like a church youth group! OW brother that hurts!

  274. #275 Nat Jackson
    April 24, 2009

    @268: “The total suffering that is reduced by the medical advances is likely greater than the increased suffering in some animals that are tested, right?”

    Not necessarily, but then again it’s hard to quantify suffering. I think you’d want some data before you’d make the claim, and I also think it’d be better to play it safe. The ethical guidelines for animal testing are kind of a joke.

    Not saying I’m against animal testing as a whole, but there are plenty of instances in which I am (and not just cosmetic). Just because there’s a benefit to come from something doesn’t mean that it always outweighs the cost.

  275. #276 CJO
    April 24, 2009

    Addicts have only themselves to blame …

    Fuck you. Did you grow up surrounded by the hopeless, alienated nihilism that is all too often a symptom of chronic poverty? Judgemental ass.

    test new drugs on murderers and child molesters, instead of animals! Problem solved!

    Because nobody, ever, gets wrongfully convicted of those crimes. And committing them relegates one to sub-human status, with no chance of rehabilitation or reprieve. Authoritarian scumbag.

    I guess I’m not much of a humanist…

    No shit. If these inane comments reflect your true opinions, you are profoundly anti-humanist. I say we test drugs on you.

  276. #277 Tulse
    April 24, 2009

    It could be that I am a terrible writer, but I think it’s more likely that you are being willfully obtuse.

    I’m trying to engage honestly. Perhaps I’m just being dense.

    First off, you say you have a problem with rights talk, but you are the one who laid out moral qualities as a standard for how we should behave toward other beings. I see no difference whatsoever between that claim and as you put it “what grounds the notion of rights”.

    What I’m trying to avoid are foundational arguments about the origin of ethics. I’m proposing that, instead, we take it as given that, for whatever reason, we believe we have ethical obligations to humans, and then figure out why that it, what the underlying principles are that we use, and see if those are also applicable to non-humans.

    I base my idea of rights here on agency with regards to ethical dilemmas. Humans can reason ethically, animals cannot.

    Not all humans can reason ethically.

    Now, a person could argue that there could exist a disabled person who can’t reason morally. Ok, sure. Maybe Neandertals didn’t either. But I don’t care, you see, because I’m not at all interested in outliers from the mean of a species.

    But it is precisely at those edge cases that one determines the underlying principles involved in ethical reasoning. You seem to be saying “Being able to reason morally is important, except when I say it isn’t.” That’s not much of a principle.

    The average ape is bad at moral reasoning. The average human is good at it. I haven’t a clue about Neandertals but they’re dead now so they really don’t matter at all.

    Again, you’re missing the point of the examples I’ve used. They are indeed hypothetical, but that’s often the way we figure out how to do ethics.

    Species is a coherent and understandable brightline, so it’s useful.

    But without a principle, “species” is no more coherent and understandable than, say, “skin colour”, or “encephalization”, or “chordate”.

  277. #278 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    If superior aliens ever reach Earth and start torturing humans for their benefit, I’ll be out there with my picket sign “No human experimentation!”.

    So if the aliens showed up tomorrow looking for humans to volunteer as test subjects I assume that your answer would be “no.”

    But what if we take the scenario a little further…Too bad about that “no” because the aliens are experimenting on us. We call their laboratory “earth.” One day they get really careless and leave their spaceship where you can get at it.

    You can figure out how to get the thing to take off and go somewhere and can probably get it to land again, but you have no chance whatsoever of being able to get the navigation equipment to work. Therefore, if you leave, you won’t be coming back. There MAY be “wild” humans out there somewhere or maybe humans (and all earth type living organisms) are some sort of transgenics that can’t survive in the “wild”. There may be food out there that you can eat. Or not. There are certainly dangers you don’t understand and you will have no instruction on how to deal with them. Do you go?

    Yet another scenario: Aliens for Ethical Treatment of Humans (AETH) comes to earth to “save” some humans. They pick you and your family up and release you into your native environment. Unfortunately, their understanding of your native environment is a bit weak and they just dump you in a small spaceship in the middle of nowhere (say, outside the galaxy) with no information on where to go next or even how to operate the ship. Do you thank them?

  278. #279 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    No need to kill monkeys for people who choose to do hard drugs IMO.

    There is no need for people to suffer unnecessarily if killing a monkey or two will help tens of thousands of humans. What they did to get there is irrelevant. That is my humble opinion.

  279. #280 J Harris
    April 24, 2009

    Well said, FST. This has been, by far, one of the most silly discussions I have ever seen on this blog. Please realize everyone that just as it can be wildly frustrating to see people speak ignorantly of science, so too can it be wildly frustrating to see people speak ignorantly about ethics. There are difficult issues here, and we might all do well to exercise a bit more modesty before we trample the ideas of others.

  280. #281 babel
    April 24, 2009

    @267
    Excellent post.
    While some research on animals may be necessary, the fact is that a lot of pointless cruelty is inflicted on animals in the name of science.
    So, I decided to anti-pharyngulate this time and vote ‘No’ on this simplistic poll.

  281. #282 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Fallacy #1: “It’s okay because of the advances that come out of it.”
    Fallacy Type: Appeal to consequences
    Analysis: This asserts that the will of an individual should be overcome without consent, in order to benefit others. By this rational, autistic children lacking theory of mind are up for organ harvest. For some reason, we do not use autistic children for their organs. Why?

    Yes because autistic children are exactly the same as animals.

    Did you don Evil Kenievil’s rocket powered cycle to make that leap?

  282. #283 MTGAP
    April 24, 2009

    What does “wrong by definition” even mean?

    Wrong (adj.):
    1. Incorrect.
    2. Something that is not morally permissible.
    3. Testing on animals.

    This poll is so obviously skewed towards “yes”. Oh wait, “yes” has less votes. Some people are not very smart.

  283. #284 ???
    April 24, 2009

    Yes because autistic children are exactly the same as animals.

    Are you saying that an autistic child is not an animal? Must be a plant then.

  284. #285 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @Nerd of Redhead (#269)
    I’ve considered signing up for less invasive/dangerous tests. I would advocate testing on animals or humans that are going to be killed as punishment. I believe in the death penalty for humans and animals under certain circumstances, which is not completely in line with how it is treated under the law.

    @Stu (#270)
    Yes, sure, but lets be fair about it. Use people too! If they’re dumb enough and weak enough, why not? Wouldn’t it help humanity to cull the week ones out? What differentiates the worth of an animal life to the worth of a human life?

    Sieg Heil!

    -FST

  285. #286 Phil
    April 24, 2009

    As unlikely as this comment is to be read, I have several things I want to say.

    1. I live down the street from a man who does animal research at UCLA. I know this because animal rights protesters have been to his home about once a month since I moved here. They have also fire bombed two cars they thought belonged to him. Alas, they got the neighbors cars instead. For some reason she (the neighbor) feels terrorized.

    2. I use medications, as do family members, that were tested on animals, and thank goodness for that. These are drugs that have given my sister and her husband additional years as productive individuals.

    3. I have been (no longer am) a vegetarian, though I still eat products that are made to replace meat products. That is a health choice to lower my cholesterol, and yet I still require meds (animal tested I hope) to get my cholesterol to reasonable levels.

    While I feel for the animals that are used for testing, I also feel for the millions of men, women, and children (as well as animals) that benefit from that testing. And until I can see something better that can do the job, I can live with that. But I tend to loose sympathy with animal rights activists when they blow up my neighbors cars and scare they adults and children in my neighborhood. Rather self defeating don’t ya think?

  286. #287 Mr. Spock
    April 24, 2009

    @268
    It is logical:”The good of the many outweighs the needs of the few”

  287. #288 Rev. bigDumbCHimp
    April 24, 2009

    Sieg Heil!

    Waves at Godwin

  288. #289 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    @278

    Yeah now we are talking at each other and not crossways.

    This is hard, complicated stuff, and I really shouldn’t denigrate your example of an autistic who can’t reason morally. Let’s address it.

    As I said way up thread, I am a vegetarian. I’m a vegetarian because I believe that I have an obligation to reduce the amount of suffering in the world that I am responsible for. I taken as a given that for any thinking feeling being (and that definitely includes animals) suffering is a bad thing.

    However I don’t think humans and animals are equivalent (I don’t think you do either given what you say about apes in comparison to humans and in comparison to other animals. There is a clear hierarchy in the way you are thinking about different beings as well. Correct me if I’m wrong, though.) Like I said, I was thinking that the easiest way to deal with the dilemma of animal testing is this: humans reason morally, animals don’t, therefore humans are superior in their conscious lives and their suffering means more than animals. I use species as a line to separate humans from animals using this rubric strictly out of convenience. You say this isn’t any kind of principle. I’m forced to admit it isn’t! It’s merely convenient.

    Now I do think species is better than say “skin color” because it’s comprehensive (of course skin color wouldn’t matter if moral reasoning were the standard but let’s put that aside. but of course, “chordate” is too comprehensive as it includes beings with no moral reasoning. But what to do with humans without moral reasoning. Why are they accorded special status. That’s a toughy. Somebody else did pose a thought experiment upthread about kids with the cognitive abilities of monkeys and whether or not it would be a good thing to experiment on them. Obviously not! But why not? I’m not sure I have a good answer, which is why I fall back on species…

    What’s your answer?

  289. #290 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Yes because autistic children are exactly the same as animals.

    Are you saying that an autistic child is not an animal? Must be a plant then.

    Humm. Good point.

    Non-human animal.

  290. #291 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @283

    Nobody has differentiated between the worth of humans and animals yet. THIS is what I’m asking for. Without a rational reason to treat them differently, it’s just special pleading.

    -FST

  291. #292 andrew
    April 24, 2009

    CJO – so you really think curing meth addicts — who made the choice to start doing hard drugs or any of the manifold disgusting things humans do to themselves — is worth torturing and killing monkeys, who have no choice in the matter whatsoever? Really? Why are humans so special to you?

  292. #293 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @290

    Does it make it more permissible to use a person with severe brain damage causing a financial burden on society, rather than an alert monkey? I would tend to agree with this line of thought, if so. But still, why would it be right to experiment on anything that desires to live? Doesn’t this breech the foundations of our own ethics?

  293. #294 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    There is no need for people to suffer unnecessarily if killing a monkey or two will help tens of thousands of humans. What they did to get there is irrelevant. That is my humble opinion.

    There are probably a hundred thousand suffering in Cali alone,and a million nation wide, but having lived around addicts (people I’ve loved) I’m thinking a medicine that would make it easy to kick,might also make it more likely for them to start using again.

    The folks I’ve known that have successfully kicked and stayed clean often cite the Hell of kicking as a powerful reason to not start using again.

  294. #295 ???
    April 24, 2009

    I’m all for the ethnical treatment of animals.

    I like my animals in Italian food, Chinese food, Mexican food, French food, Indian food,…

    Very ethnical, if you ask me.

  295. #296 PhilJMoon
    April 24, 2009

    As unlikely as this comment is to be read, I have several things I want to say.

    1. I live down the street from a man who does animal research at UCLA. I know this because animal rights protesters have been to his home about once a month since I moved here. They have also fire bombed two cars they thought belonged to him. Alas, they got the neighbors cars instead. For some reason she (the neighbor) feels terrorized.

    2. I use medications, as do family members, that were tested on animals, and thank goodness for that. These are drugs that have given my sister and her husband additional years as productive individuals.

    3. I have been (no longer am) a vegetarian, though I still eat products that are made to replace meat products. That is a health choice to lower my cholesterol, and yet I still require meds (animal tested I hope) to get my cholesterol to reasonable levels.

    While I feel for the animals that are used for testing, I also feel for the millions of men, women, and children (as well as animals) that benefit from that testing. And until I can see something better that can do the job, I can live with that. But I tend to loose sympathy with animal rights activists when they blow up my neighbors cars and scare they adults and children in my neighborhood. Rather self defeating don’t ya think?

  296. #297 «bønez_brigade»
    April 24, 2009

    Poll Pharyngulated, for sure.

    Yes — 73% (19098 votes)
    No — 27% (7008 votes)
    Not sure <1% (51 votes)
    Total Votes: 26157

  297. #298 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    Nobody has differentiated between the worth of humans and animals yet. THIS is what I’m asking for.

    No non-human animal uses the internet. As far as I know at least. Therefore, humans are inferior.

    More seriously, virtually all humans can pass the mirror test, indicating that they (we) are self-aware. Some chimpanzees, elephants, and dolphins can pass the mirror test, but not all or, as far as I can tell, even most. This is not quite black and white, but it’s a difference in gray areas of 99% absorption of light versus 2%.

    But what, you might ask, about people who can’t pass the mirror test? Medical testing is only allowed on them in very special circumstances since they are considered a vulnerable population (and realistically, drug testing in a severely debilitated person would be pretty unreliable anyway.)

    However, the relative of a person who has lost so much brain function as to be no longer self aware would not be criticized for withdrawing all but comfort care from that person. (Unless of course the person is Terry Schiavo…but that was a special case. Of right wing insanity.) If they have lost all brain function then they can be disconnected from life support without the consent of the family (though it’s considered rude at best to do so unless the family is clearly refusing for secondary gain.)

    So humans without self-awareness, who have permanently lost the neurologic basis of self-awareness, are considered “lesser” (as in less alive) compared to humans that have self-awareness. So considering mice, which never pass the mirror test, to be more important than a person with no cortical function would be speciesist indeed–against our species.

  298. #299 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    I thought you were essentially making a “might makes right” (or “smart makes right”) argument. Was that not the case? If not, perhaps you can clarify your point.

    Well, yes, but that’s rather narrow. Might doesn’t necessarily make right. And why is right/wrong even entering the picture at that basic level? Is it wrong for the lion to go hungry and probably kill something else? Is it right for the human to have deprived the lion of a tasty snack so it can feed its cubs?

    The decision to engage with animal testing not only involves necessity, it involves ethics and morals. Killing an animal to eat in order to stay alive is pure necessity. Necessity, ethics, and morals need to be looked at as components in the decision to use living animals as test-beds for treatments and cures that could alleviate the suffering of millions (humans and non-humans) for now, and future generations.

  299. #300 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    @ FST in 294

    “Does it make it more permissible to use a person with severe brain damage causing a financial burden on society, rather than an alert monkey”

    Absolutely not! I’m just not sure as to why not. I know that experimenting on a fully functioning human is worse than experimenting on a fully functioning monkey, but the disabled are bit of a gap in my reasoning, as pointed out by the other commenter. That’s why I would end up using species difference as a stop-gap, because I don’t want to experiment on disabled humans.

    As to why any experimentation is okay –
    Animal experimentation reduces a lot of human suffering at the cost of some animal suffering. Because humans reason morally, their suffering is more important, “more valuable,” than the suffering of animals who do not reason morally. Thus there is more utility in experimentation than not, if utility here means the reduction of as much suffering as possible.

  300. #301 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @PhilJMoon (#297)

    It depends on whether or not you’re a pacifist, I suppose. If animals are to humans as scientists are to the handycapped, then testing on animals is much the same as testing on humans through the basis intellectual elitism. So then, if you thought some one was using humans for testing without consent, with full government permission, what would you see as ethical?

    -FST

  301. #302 Riman Butterbur
    April 24, 2009

    Dianne # 273

    A question for anyone on either side of the debate: What does a mouse want out of life?

    Let the mouse live it’s life, and it will show you.

  302. #303 CalGeorge
    April 24, 2009

    I am definitely not pro-test if it means killing or injuring or causing pain so that a cosmetic can be developed.

    It all depends on what the science is for.

    If ways to reduce animal testing have not been thoroughly studied, they should be.

  303. #304 JB
    April 24, 2009

    #267

    Fallacy No. 1 is not a fallacy, and bears no relation to your description. In your description, you also assume that the simple calculation of benefits gained minus injury caused is made in a vacuum. It isn’t, there are onlookers with opinions. The revulsion of the onlookers (parents?) makes experimentation on the rat rather than autistic child by far the choice of maximum benefit to the greater good.

  304. #305 Karl Broman
    April 24, 2009

    I don’t have the stamina to read through the 298 comments, but let me nevertheless add a 299th.

    First, I would say, internet polls should be completely ignored. Scientists, especially, should completely ignore them. Don’t Pharyngulate an internet poll; ignore the stupid thing.

    Second, biomedical research on animals includes much careful, useful research, as well as a bunch of crap. It would be wrong to rule out animal research completely, but it is also wrong for animal researchers to design and attempt to analyze their studies without any thought about whether animal numbers might be reasonably reduced (or completely eliminated).

    One should say neither “Animal research is bad” nor “Animal research is good”. There is much of each.

    Finally, in considering research on both animals and humans, it is important to *balance* risk/suffering vs. benefit. Researchers need to be careful and considerate, but don’t eliminate the potential benefit by mucking things up with endless useless paperwork.

    As I hope you understand, I’m ambivalent.

  305. #306 Gregory Kusnick
    April 24, 2009

    #292:

    Without a rational reason to treat them differently, it’s just special pleading.

    How about this: humans have voices, votes, and lawyers; animals don’t. Humans can participate in the debate and influence the decision-making. Therefore it’s wise to postpone human testing until the outcome is likely to be favorable, since unfavorable human outcomes can impair your ability to do further research to a degree that unfavorable animal outcomes generally do not.

    This may or may not be an ethical reason to treat humans differently, but it’s surely a rational, practical reason to do so while the ethics are being sorted out.

  306. #307 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    Let the mouse live it’s life, and it will show you.

    Its. There is no apostrophe in “its” in that context.

    Have you ever watched a mouse going about its business? I have. My impression is that they want food, shelter, company, and freedom from pain and distress. All of which can be, should be, and are provided in any reputable lab.

  307. #308 Lynna
    April 24, 2009

    WTF? Comments that follow PZ’s posts are often exemplars of reason and in-depth knowledge. But in this thread we have a bunch of comments based purely on emotion of the “Oh no, I could never do that” ilk.

    Glen Davidson @85 posts a reasonable review of the issues and this has no discernible effect on the emotional commenters.

    JustaTech @199 posts the view from a person who is doing for all of us what we cannot do for ourselves. We’re reaping the benefits, but no, we’d never do what JustaTech does to mice and rabbits. Please.

    I take my children to be vaccinated. Few things are worse than seeing a toddler look at you accusingly for letting a doctor torture them. Yep, I didn’t just hurt the kids, I paid someone else to hurt them. It was the least bad thing I could do to reap a proven good.

    Comments regarding an injured animal being dispatched brought out the squeamishness factor. Not sure you could do it? If not, you’re cruel. You’re not what you claim to be — not the merciful and loving human extending equal rights to animals, but just a cowardly idiot.

    ELECTED TO KILL
    A Mother/Daughter Poem

    I move in for the kill,
    the mouse blinks.
    Sun glints off the axe,
    a god-spear of light.

    Eighty million years
    since mouse and woman shared
    a common ancestor.
    There’s a resemblance in the face.

    My neighbor set sticky traps for spiders,
    but caught Mus musculus?
    near neighbor to Homo sapiens
    on the phylogenetic tree.

    I’m elected for mercy killing.
    Yes, I’m the kind of woman
    who owns an axe, and sharpens it too.

    My daughter, Manhattanite, and
    we assume, civilized,
    has to kill bare-handed.

    Herded to Connecticut,
    Goldman Sachs assistants assist.
    Small gray birds, not invited
    to confer about money,
    tattoo a drive of crushed stone.

    Car-crippled, twig legs askance,
    wing dragging beyond hope,
    heart ticking away, one bird
    must die or embarrass business.

    She is elected, my girl, to kill.

    A bird in hand is worth
    however long it takes to wring its neck?
    a longer time than you might think
    as all the way round it goes
    to prove that small is strong
    and delicate a disguise.

    We the chosen women,
    sharing quality-of-mercy genes,
    forget again what we look like,
    what planet we ride, where our bodies end
    and the ones to be killed begin.

    —-Lynna Howard

  308. #309 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    it is also wrong for animal researchers to design and attempt to analyze their studies without any thought about whether animal numbers might be reasonably reduced (or completely eliminated).

    Mainstream academia agrees with you. Any reputable IACUC will demand that protocols minimize the number of animals used as well as the amount of suffering an individual animal may be exposed to before approving the protocol. A justification of the use of animals and explanation of why a non-animal alternative is not being used is also required.

  309. #310 CJO
    April 24, 2009

    so you really think curing meth addicts — who made the choice to start doing hard drugs or any of the manifold disgusting things humans do to themselves — is worth torturing and killing monkeys, who have no choice in the matter whatsoever? Really?

    Yes, jackass, I really think that drug addiction is a public health problem that should be addressed with the full complement of available medical resources, like any other public health issue, whether judgemental authoritarian assholes think it’s “disgusting,” or depraved, or any other term of opprobrium used to avoid thinking.

    Why are humans so special to you?

    And they used to tell me there were no stupid questions.

    Why won’t you admit how special humans are to you?

  310. #311 sayhey
    April 24, 2009

    This is one those polls that I wish we had left alone. I value an honest opinion on this touchy subject… Doesn’t anyone see the irony in the fact that it is usually the religious person’s mantra to conclude the earth was made for humans alone,

  311. #312 JB
    April 24, 2009

    #292

    Nobody has differentiated between the worth of humans and animals yet. THIS is what I’m asking for. Without a rational reason to treat them differently, it’s just special pleading.

    -FST

    What’s wrong with special pleading?

    We choose what an animal is worth. We can, we do, taking into account the arguments, opinions and ‘special pleadings’ of those around us. Sometimes this breaks down (Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Yugoslavia) and gets directed at people too, when those ‘special pleadings’ etc appear reduced in value. There are no boundaries between humans and animals other than those we create for whatever reasons we want.

    To me those boundaries are 90% clear and 100% special pleading. I wouldn’t experiment on a Neanderthal or a Chimpanzee (probably), but rats are fair game. I would expect that the rat would have an alternative ‘special pleading’ – if it had enough neurons.

  312. #313 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    “Yes — and I support it if the animals are treated well 74% (20230 votes”
    Where is the “Animal suffering is irrelevant” poll option?

  313. #314 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    #253 Torture is torture… I don’t agree to human torture nor animal torture. It causes extreme pain, IMO it is not necessary.


    #260 However, you obviously have no problem with straw man torture.
    —-

    Good distraction (since we’re throwing around argument classifications). Nowhere did PZ say he was for experimentation limited to non-torture. In fact he commented that anti-vivisectionists used reprehensible tactics, *implying* (but not truly saying, so I could be wrong) that all vivisection is fine with him.

    Medical experimentation includes torture AS MUCH as medical experimentation does *not* include torture. So in your eyes PZ’s argument must be a straw man too. PZ states a position of the kindly, non-sadistic experimentation as if THAT is what the LA groups are arguing against and then proceeds to make his case. Oh those horrible protesters! All against un-sadistic biologists who are up to their ears in abuse regulations. My guess is that the LA group is arguing against experimentation because of the torture involved not because someone bleeds bunnies (or squids) ears once in a while (could be wrong).

    But whatever, this is all just discussion. I am against torture; medical experimentation includes torture; if there were a way to limit it to non-torture I’d be happy to side with experiments. So far I haven’t seen it.

  314. #315 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @BDC – 289

    You’ve got a case of amphiboly there. The statement didn’t apend to the previous paragraph. I end many of my posts that way ;)

    @koano – 301

    Oh I agree that it’s more ethical to use animals than people. This does not make it ethically correct, though. It’s better to only kill one human instead of five. It’s better to kill a kitten than a person. If ther were suddenly no more animals to experiment on, would it be acceptible to use less valuable people for research?

    I appreciate your honesty in saying that you aren’t sure why a semi-concious mentaly inferior human that detracts from society is worth more than a monkey. At the same time, I have to say that this is inductive reasoning. Much as scientists ask what they conclude from the evidence provided, so should we. To take conjecture and then only find data to support it is more like creationism.

    @JB – 305

    #1 is most definitely a fallacy. In and of its self, a thing is ethical because its outcome is desirable. Further examination is needed. It is not ethical to kill just because it feels good. Now you’re bringing up other people’s emotions and reactions. You are appealing to popularity and emotion by doing so.

  315. #316 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    It depends on whether or not you’re a pacifist, I suppose. If animals are to humans as scientists are to the handycapped, then testing on animals is much the same as testing on humans through the basis intellectual elitism.

    wtf

    seriously

    That’s on par with Pete Rooke’s argument by shitty analogy.

  316. #317 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @317

    If you’re just going to fling crap at me, I’m not going to bother addressing you. There’s nothing to talk about when you reply this way. Tell me why I’m wrong. Fling crap at me while you explain why I’m wrong if you like; just don’t waste my time completely.

    -FST

  317. #318 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    I wouldn’t experiment on a Neanderthal or a Chimpanzee…

    I would. I’d even agree to experiment on a newborn baby. If there was such a scourge running rampant at highly accelerated infection rates that jeopardized an entire species of chimp, and the only way to find a cure is to to that, then do it. Chimps, baby humans, whatever. It’s certainly case by case though. And I would only trust the final decision to the most qualified and demonstrably ethical and compassionate persons known.

  318. #319 Kausik Datta
    April 24, 2009

    I am sadly late to the party. As an infectious disease researcher, I find this issue very close to my heart. Dianne at #310 is bang-on.

    What the anti-animal experimentation activists neatly and conveniently choose to ignore is that the researchers do not really catch hold of any animal and perform experiments on them. The protocols – written in great detail – have to pass through the institutional Animal Care and Use committee, and the experiments can be done only when they are approved. It is not a blanket approval either; every single deviation, however small, needs to be addressed in advance. The protocols require detailed detailed justification of the number of animals to be used (both why and why this many), and also exhort the researcher to refine the experiments, using non-animal alternatives wherever possible.

    Somehow, I have this impression – I may be wrong – that the opposition to animal experimentation is often motivated by a misdirected sense of wrong-and-right, oversimplification of the issues involved, and an exaggerated sense of the importance of human agency as the “protector” of “lesser” beings, appropriately fueled by profound ignorance and religious convictions.

  319. #320 windy
    April 24, 2009

    So considering mice, which never pass the mirror test, to be more important than a person with no cortical function would be speciesist indeed

    Err, mice definitely have cortical function, so why are you equating that with passing the mirror test?

  320. #321 JB
    April 24, 2009

    #1 is most definitely a fallacy.

    [because] ?

    In and of its self, a thing is ethical because its outcome is desirable.

    I think this contradicts your claim of a fallacy.

    Further examination is needed. It is not ethical to kill just because it feels good.

    True, a female spider would argue that you need food as well.

    Now you’re bringing up other people’s emotions and reactions. You are appealing to popularity and emotion by doing so.

    Yes – and you are arguing that these have no value in the total sum of benefits.

  321. #322 BdN
    April 24, 2009

    I know it’s already been written in the first comments but seems to have not reached any audience. I just want to point out that a not so insignificant part of animal research also helps animals. Therefore, it is not only a question of “human superiority”. The question becomes : is it ethical to use a few animals to save a bunch of other ones. Obviously, someone will ask “who decides” which ones deserve to die in order to save the other ones. But that would be a misguided one, I think. But the “use humans to save humans” falls short since you could say “use dogs to save dogs”. But the cure could be applied to other species afterward. Would it be alright not to use the knowledge acquired ?

  322. #323 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    I’ll stay with the present method of getting drugs from the test tube through clinical testing until somebody shows a complete alternative plan, that could be accepted by the FDA and its European and Japanese equivalents.

  323. #324 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    If you’re just going to fling crap at me, I’m not going to bother addressing you. There’s nothing to talk about when you reply this way. Tell me why I’m wrong. Fling crap at me while you explain why I’m wrong if you like; just don’t waste my time completely.

    Tell me where you can make this connection, and how you even propose that from #297.

    If animals are to humans as scientists are to the handycapped, then testing on animals is much the same as testing on humans through the basis intellectual elitism.

    Are animals to humans as scientists are to the handicapped?

    Explain to me the validity of that comparison I relation to not only #297 but to the rest of the world.

    If I’ve misunderstood you then I’ll apologize, if not I’m really really curious where the scientists are to handicapped part comes in as a direct correlation to the animals to humans part.

  324. #325 Jenny T
    April 24, 2009

    Just a thought, on threads where there seem to be multiple anonymous posters, maybe you could make the name anonymous1, anonymous2, etc. so that there can be differentiation between the anonymouses and still maintain anonymity. My two cents there.

    Karl Broman @ 306

    I don’t have the stamina to read through the 298 comments, but let me nevertheless add a 299th.
    First, I would say, internet polls should be completely ignored. Scientists, especially, should completely ignore them. Don’t Pharyngulate an internet poll; ignore the stupid thing.

    The problem is when the polls are used by others. PZ pharyngulates the polls to show how pointless they are. When everyone else ignores them too then yeah they should be ignored on Pharyngula. But until then, there are still idiots who believe internet polls, so pharyngulating still has a use.

    As to the topic of the thread. I have to admit that I haven’t studied the information on this subject enough to be completely comfortable making conclusions. But looking at some of the posts by people who actually do animal research, it seems that much of the animal rights movement is involved in some heated battle with a field of strawmen. Of course excess suffering is bad. Of course animals shouldn’t be tortured. The problem being of course, they aren’t really tortured by scientists and medical researchers. There seems to be rather in depth standards regulating animal research. And Glen at 85 makes several good points about suffering in the laboratory versus suffering in the wild.

    So, I’m willing to be swayed, given a good enough argument, but based on what I can see, I’m more than happy to vote yes on this poll. And I’m more than happy with animal testing within the tight restrictions that are imposed on scientists and medical researchers.

  325. #326 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: CJO | April 24, 2009 5:19 PM at #311

    The meth you’ve been doing is rotting your brain.
    Instead of waiting for medical research to provide you an easy way out ,
    why don’t you find the courage to quit now.

    Got it JackAss.

  326. #327 koan0215
    April 24, 2009

    @FST in 316

    You say “At the same time, I have to say that this is inductive reasoning”

    I don’t think that most ethics are done inductively. That would be…hard. As for matching data to a conclusion, well, I’m working off of deduction so there ain’t no data to speak of. I don’t want to conclude from my deductions that it’s ok to experiment on disabled humans. My common sense rebels at the idea. And I definitely will tailor my reasoning around my common sense.

  327. #328 Marcus Ranum
    April 24, 2009

    Use humans.

  328. #329 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: CJO | April 24, 2009 5:19 PM at #311

    The meth you’ve been doing is rotting your brain.
    Instead of waiting for medical research to provide you an easy way out ,
    why don’t you find the courage to quit now.

    Got it JackAss.

    You could just scream “I’m an ignorant fuckhead” and you would have accomplished the same thing.

    Here is a good place to start.

  329. #330 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @322

    I made an editing mistake. It was supposed to read that something is NOT ethical solely because it is desirable. That should get the first bit out of the way.

    A female spider munching on its mate probably doesn’t apply here. I severely doubt that a spider is aware of its own existence. Lets go with predators, perhaps? I find what predators do unethical, but I don’t think humans can stop it without killing even more animals from the interference. We don’t have the knowledge yet. I can also think of better uses of our time.

    I don’t think doing what people find pleasing is a good motive either. I would sooner raise the issue, allow for informed debate, and force people to think about it. I’m sure it’s much more comfortable to believe in Norse gods with an eternity of daily combat and feasting ahead of you. It would probably be easier to get through life in North America feigning some sort of Abrahamic theism. But we don’t do this, because it does not benefit the whole of humanity in the long term.

    -FST

  330. #331 Karey
    April 24, 2009

    As 100% pro-science and animal testing as I am, you won’t see me bagging on animal rights protesters either. Yes we have all kinds of regulations to ensure testing is humane, but those regulations are there because of the activists’ concerns and the hell they raise over the issue. They haven’t stopped animal testing, we’re still doing plenty of it, but we do it more ethically because of them.

  331. #332 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    As 100% pro-science and animal testing as I am, you won’t see me bagging on animal rights protesters either.

    Protests fine. People like Rodney Coronado and the groups that support him, not fine.

  332. #333 Pteryxx
    April 24, 2009

    General response, but looking at this quote from Karl Broman @306:

    “Second, biomedical research on animals includes much careful, useful research, as well as a bunch of crap. It would be wrong to rule out animal research completely, but it is also wrong for animal researchers to design and attempt to analyze their studies without any thought about whether animal numbers might be reasonably reduced (or completely eliminated).”

    Every research project that 1) receives federal funding through NIH and 2) involves the use of live vertebrate animals must include in its grant proposal a specific justification explaining why only animals, not tissue cultures or computer modeling, will do. They must justify the number of animals they are expected to use. Any experiment that causes discomfort or distress to an animal also must justify the need for such distress. Every grant must be reviewed by the institution’s Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) on which some nonscientists serve. There are specific rules for animal care and welfare, and compliance with them is monitored constantly by animal research and veterinary staff. Mistreating or neglecting animals can and does lead to a shutdown of the research project involved. I’ve personally seen projects shut down because of mouse cage overcrowding, careless C02 euthanasia, or failure to check on animals often enough.

    No pet store, puppy mill, feedlot, zoo, school, healthcare company, family farm or pet owner has anything like the level of animal welfare scrutiny that research science deals with every day. I’ve seen far more vicious and neglectful abuse of animals in pet stores and by pet owners than I’ve seen in decades of work as a research tech. It seems we save our moral outrage for the one field that dares to stand up and publish the details of its use of animals. Everything else is out of sight, out of mind.

  333. #334 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @BDC – 325

    I’m not stating it as an absolute conclusion. I’m asking for people to differentiate; I want that comparison analyzed. Why is it ethically permisible to treat animals poorly, simply because of their intelect (presuming that the animal in question is self-aware)? How would it be different than treating a person unethically simply because they are of a lower intellect than some one else? I probably should’ve expanded my comparison a little; it was short enough to look like I was attempting some sort of formal syllogism. I wasn’t.

    @koano – 328
    Most of the world is religious. I have a feeling many of them just take their book of choice, then find data to support the conclusions. This never ceases to scare the crap out of me. I find common sense can be a source of dishonesty with my self; it skips to the conclusion without examining the facts thoroughly. I like to at least get my conclusions right as to how things should work rationally, even if I end up living as a hypocrite at times.

  334. #335 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    When you are ill, do you use the drugs prescribed by your doctor? Because those drugs were tested for side effects etc. on various animals before being tested in humans.

    Some people are saying that to be consistent an animal rights person must not use any drugs or treatments that were tested on animals. The people saying this are not themselves consistent.

    The Nazi doctor Sigmund Rascher contributed significantly to modern medicine’s understanding of hypothermia: http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/NaziMedEx.html

    Prisoners were immersed into tanks of ice water for hours at a time, often shivering to death, to discover how long German pilots downed by enemy fire could survive the frozen waters of the North Sea. It was generally known at the time that human beings did not survive immersion in the North Sea for more than one to two hours.

    Doctor Sigmund Rascher attempted to duplicate these cold conditions at Dachau, and used about 300 prisoners in experiments recording their shock from the exposure to cold. About eighty to ninety of the subjects died as a result.

    Doctor Rascher once requested the transfer of his hypothermia lab from Dachau to Auschwitz, which had larger facilities, and where the frozen subjects might cause fewer disturbances. Apparently, Rascher’s concentration was constantly interrupted when the hypothermia victims shrieked from pain while their extremities froze white. …

    Doctor John Hayward is a Biology Professor at the Victoria University in Vancouver, Canada. Much of his hypothermia research involves the testing of cold water survival suits that are worn while on fishing boats in Canada’s frigid ocean waters. Hayward used Rascher’s recorded cooling curve of the human body to infer how long the suits would protect people at near fatal temperatures. This information can be used by search-and-rescue teams to determine the likelihood that a capsized boater is still alive.

    According to Kristine Moe’s survey in the Hasting Center Report, Hayward justified using the Nazi hypothermia data in the following way:

    “I don’t want to have to use the Nazi data, but there is no other and will be no other in an ethical world. I’ve rationalized it a bit. But not to use it would be equally bad. I’m trying to make something constructive out of it. I use it with my guard up, but it’s useful.”

    I will presume that you, the reader, are not a horrible person and so you do not believe that Rascher should have murdered Holocaust victims to study hypothermia. But his studies have entered the medical literature through Hayward and others. If you are ever treated for hypothermia then you are benefiting from the Rascher’s torture.

    Have you written down, had notarized, and informed your loved ones and regular doctors of your wishes to never be treated for hypothermia? If not, then it is hypocritical of you to tell animal rights people that they should not accept treatments or drugs involved with animal testing that was done in the past and cannot be undone.

    In the last 15 years, the United States government has conducted dangerous phase 1 drug trials on orphaned infants and children who cannot consent to potentially fatal experiments: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/apr/04/usa.highereducation

    Orphans and babies as young as three months old have been used as guinea pigs in potentially dangerous medical experiments sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, an Observer investigation has revealed.

    British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is embroiled in the scandal. The firm sponsored experiments on the children from Incarnation Children’s Centre, a New York care home that specialises in treating HIV sufferers and is run by Catholic charities.

    The children had either been infected with HIV or born to HIV-positive mothers. Their parents were dead, untraceable or deemed unfit to look after them.

    According to documents obtained by The Observer, Glaxo has sponsored at least four medical trials since 1995 using Hispanic and black children at Incarnation. The documents give details of all clinical trials in the US and reveal the experiments sponsored by Glaxo were designed to test the ‘safety and tolerance’ of Aids medications, some of which have potentially dangerous side effects. Glaxo manufactures a number of drugs designed to treat HIV, including AZT [azdiothymidine]. …

    Some of these trials were designed to test the ‘toxicity’ of Aids medications. One involved giving children as young as four a high-dosage cocktail of seven drugs at one time. …

    In 1997 an experiment co-sponsored by Glaxo used children from Incarnation to ‘obtain tolerance, safety and pharmacokinetic’ data for Herpes drugs. In a more recent experiment, the children were used to test AZT. A third experiment sponsored by Glaxo and US drug firm Pfizer investigated the ‘long-term safety’ of anti-bacterial drugs on three-month-old babies.

    The medical establishment has defended the trials arguing they enabled these children to obtain state-of-the-art therapy they would otherwise not have received for potentially fatal illnesses.

    However, health campaigners argue there is a difference between providing the latest drugs and experimentation. They claim many of the experiments were ‘phase 1 trials’ – among the most risky – and that HIV tests for babies were not a reliable indicator of actual infection and therefore toxic drugs could have been given to healthy infants. HIV drugs are similar to those used in chemotherapy and can have serious side-effects.

    Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, said the children had been treated like ‘laboratory animals’.

    ‘These are some of the most vulnerable individuals in the country and there appears to be a policy of giving drug firms access to them,’ she said. ‘Throughout the history of medical research we have seen prisoners abused, the mentally ill abused and now poor kids in a care home.’

    If you ever contract HIV, will you decline any treatment with AZT/azdiothymidine/zidovudine, or any of the other drugs that were forced upon these orphans during the dangerous phase 1 testing phase? Will you choose instead to face the heightened risk of death? If not, then it is hypocritical of you to tell animal rights people that they should not accept treatments or drugs that were tested on animals.

    Pfizer has agreed upon an multi-million dollar out-of-court settlement, generally a tacit admission of guilt, in the case of nonconsentual experimentation of the menengitis drug Trovan on Nigerian children in 1996: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7982236.stm

    Nigeria’s Kano State and US drugs firm Pfizer have agreed to settle a multi-million dollar lawsuit out of court, lawyers for both sides say.

    Pfizer has been accused of killing 11 children and injuring 181 others when an antibiotic was tested on them during a meningitis epidemic in 1996.

    The company denies the claims, saying they were victims of the outbreak.

    http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=theithacajournal&sParam=30081555.story

    The lawsuits were [previously] dismissed on grounds they could not be pursued under the Alien Tort Statute, an 18th century law that allows foreigners to sue in U.S. courts over international law violations.

    The appeals panel ruled 2-to-1 Friday that the statute can be used.

    It cited international law banning the nonconsensual medical experimentation on humans that was established with the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, where 15 doctors were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity for conducting medical experiments without consent. Seven of the doctors were sentenced to death and eight were sent to prison.

    In 1996, Pfizer sent three American physicians to work with four Nigerian doctors to experiment with Trovan on children who were hospital patients in Kano, Nigeria.

    The lawsuits say the two-week experiment on 200 sick children led to 11 deaths and left many others blind, paralyzed or brain-damaged.

    The plaintiffs said Pfizer, working with the Nigerian government, failed to secure the informed consent of either the children or their guardians and failed to disclose or explain the experimental nature of the study or the serious risks involved.

    This antibiotic Trovan/trovafloxacin/alatrofloxacin is prescribed for many other infections besides meningitis. If a doctor ever recommends it as your best possible treatment, will you turn it down in favor of another less effective drug that was not tested nonconsentually on Nigerian children? If not, then it is hypocritical of you to tell animal rights people that they should not accept treatments or drugs that were tested on animals.

    Rarely spoken, but known throughout the medical community, is the fact that many or most basic surgery techniques in use today were developed before the Nuremberg Code, and as such were the result of nonconsensual experiments on prisoners, homeless people, and minority communities, experiments which are now recognized as crimes against humanity.

    It is possible to work and advocate for the future abolition of unethical practices while utilizing drugs and techniques that were developed unethically. However inconsistent this may be for animal rights people, it is no more inconsistent than any of you who have ever had surgery while disapproving of crimes against humanity.

  335. #336 Vestrati
    April 24, 2009

    Even though I am a huge animal lover, I don’t feel there is anything morally reprehensible about testing on animals. Though I do support severe punishments for those that unnecessarily cause pain/harm to them, especially so in a research environment. Unfortunately, there is no better solution than animal testing at this time.

    Slightly off topic, but a lot of the people that whine about this are the same people think ‘meat is murder and dairy is rape’. While modern industrial farming may be a bit depressing, I don’t think hurting the moo cows is a reasonable cause to stop eating meat or drinking milk.

  336. #337 Raiko
    April 24, 2009

    Ah, we stupid scientists – killing animals with joy, pleasure and without consideration just to settle our own curiosity about the world! Shame on us!

  337. #338 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    @336 with that post – are you serious? Put that at a URL, post a synopsis here, and link to that full blown article you just published. There’s a lot of material here by more concise posters that makes reading this blog enjoyable, not a chore. Just sayin’.

  338. #339 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    testing on monkeys to cure addiction? Seriously, I can’t believe anyone would support that. Addicts have only themselves to blame, and there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for cruel tests on animals to help people who are too stupid to help themselves. It just stuns me that rational people would be ok with that.

    Obviously you know nothing about addiction. Addiction often comes down to mental health problems, which can’ t be treated until the addiction is dealt with.

    I don’t understand how someone can take a moral stand on animal welfare and then suggest torturing criminals and leaving addicts to die. Your sick.

  339. #340 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Most importantly, we’re biologists. We’re in this business because we have a passion for the organisms we study, not because we’re some kind of sick sadists.

    PZ, I’m inclined to take you at your word that you don’t derive sadistic pleasure from hurting or killing animals.

    But I’m just taking you at your word. The only evidence I have is to the contrary. I’m afraid my trust is purely sentimental. You have no actual credibility in this matter:

    We know that you eat meat. Not because you have to, but because you like to. So you have admitted to paying other people to kill animals for your pleasure.

    If you will pay other people to kill animals for your pleasure, it is not unthinkable that you yourself would kill research animals for pleasure.

    Or maybe not you. I don’t want to believe that about you. But the same logic holds for any other “pro-test” scientist who eats meat. We have every reason to distrust you. All the evidence of your action speaks against your word.

  340. #341 Stu
    April 24, 2009

    FST-

    Why is it ethically permisible to treat animals poorly?

    It is not. Animal abuse is contemptible. Animal testing is not treating animals poorly. As has been pointed out to you. Several times. You miserable, boring, asinine little whiner. Troll indeed.

  341. #342 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    ARP, where should the first use of an unknown drug be? In animals or you (I’m making it personal to get an honest answer)? You don’t have to like animal testing (I don’t), just see the necessity of it.

  342. #343 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @342

    You’re presupposing that suffering is necessary to treat something poorly. Would you call it decency to kill some one before their nervous system could react to the stimulus? Why are animals different?

    -FST

  343. #344 CJO
    April 24, 2009

    Was that a moron trying to sockpuppet as me? Or was that supposed to be a response to me, or what?

    Anyway, I can quit the meth any time I want. SIWOTI syndrome, on the other hand, it’s gonna take more than torturing a few fluffy bunnies to crack that nut.

  344. #345 Glen Davidson
    April 24, 2009

    It is possible to work and advocate for the future abolition of unethical practices while utilizing drugs and techniques that were developed unethically. However inconsistent this may be for animal rights people, it is no more inconsistent than any of you who have ever had surgery while disapproving of crimes against humanity.

    Yes, because have a heart bypass is just like a crime against humanity.

    My main enemy in this world is, of course, Doctors Without Borders, as they seek to commit surgery and other medical treatment upon hapless victims. The brutes!

    Oh, right, the “rationale” behind this is that some crimes against humanity supplied knowledge for surgery. What a dickhead! No one is developing surgery today by utilizing ongoing crimes against humanity, while stupid fucks like you use the latest medicines developed in the ongoing practice of testing on animals.

    One is hypocrisy, the other is simply using knowledge without prejudice (or are you the kind of moron who thinks that “Darwinism” is wrong because it has been misused by various people throughout the years?). The fact that you don’t know the difference indicates that you are intellectually and/or morally bankrupt.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  345. #346 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    ARP, where should the first use of an unknown drug be? In animals or you (I’m making it personal to get an honest answer)?

    In a person who can meaningfully consent. If I were dying anyway and said experimental drug offered me even a small chance to live, then I would consent. But I would not presume to force other people to receive the treatment without their consent, for the same reason I would not force the treatment on other animals.

    You don’t have to like animal testing (I don’t), just see the necessity of it.

    Or rather, you don’t have to beg the question.

  346. #347 freak
    April 24, 2009

    To koano215@173: I did not simply make the argument that human life has no value outside relationship and attachment. I am questioning the assumed greater value of human life over other sentient life.

    To GruesomeRob@182: The assumption that human life is of greater value is central to the proposition that experimenting on animals is ethically positive. It is the primary assumption. It is not encumbent on me, who merely questions the assumption, to prove otherwise. A proposition was put forward, I have queried the basis for a part of it. “you prove otherwise” is on the same level of “prove to me that there is no god.” I would expect better on this board.

    To Kismet@189: Informed consent is absolutely critical to the argument. If consent is not completely informed in the manner you describe, it is still informed infinitely more than animal lack of consent would be. The information only has to go as far as “we do not know completely, exactly, or for certain what this medication/treatment/experiment might do to you. Do you understand that there might be risks that we cannot or have not foreseen? Do you accept these risks?” At that point, the consent is informed enough to make all the difference in the situation. You cannot get any kind of consent from a bonobo. It does not have the intellectual capacity to comprehend risk, potential reward versus potential harm. Appealing to emotion by bringing up children is a red herring as the assumption is that a parent determining a medical course of action is doing so in the interest of the child.

    Performing an experiment on a laboratory animal is done in the interest of other parties. These are not equal situations and your argument is therefore irrelevant.

    The argument that the animal will die a more horrible death in nature than in the laboratory is also irrelevant. Just because nature is amoral does not give us the right to be immoral, which is what I am arguing animal experimentation may be.

    And just because more people might die if we don’t experiment on animals than if we do is not an argument. Again, no one has addressed for me the assumption that human life inherently is more valuable than other sentient life. If it is so very valuable, why aren’t more people volunteering to be experimented upon to preserve it? This is not an excuse, it is an argument that the ends justify the means.

  347. #348 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    In a person who can meaningfully consent.

    As I expected, a hypocritical dodge.

  348. #349 Stu
    April 24, 2009

    If you will pay other people to kill animals for your pleasure, it is not unthinkable that you yourself would kill research animals for pleasure.

    Sure! It’s not like he’d be fired on the spot for it and would go to jail or anything.

    *facepalm*

  349. #350 timtim
    April 24, 2009

    Just because someone disagrees with the methods of medical research, does not me that they are anti-medicine. I think that that is a gross mis-characterization of the protester’s argument.

  350. #351 Sydney S.
    April 24, 2009

    I didn’t read all of the other comments, so I apologize if I repeat anything already said.

    I think this is one of the first times I haven’t agreed with you 100%. Idealistically I’m against a number (but not all) forms of animal testing, but I don’t think it makes sense to ban most of them. As long as proper ethical reviews are taking place, thats what I’m most concerned about.

    However, even though a lot of people have to go through lots of efforts to prove they are using animals responsibly, there are still waaaay to many places that are breaking these rules, and not getting shut down till after years of citations, or till a radical fridge group breaks in and takes video. I’m against these group’s because of their often terroristesq- tactics, but they keep consistently bringing things to light that the people who are suppose to be monitoring these facilities keep missing.

    Also, I’m completely against chimpanzees and other endangered species for biomedical testing in the US. We (and Gabon) are the only countries in the world that use (non-human) great apes for biomedical testing. How are we doing that you may wonder, when it is illegal everywhere else? Well, chimpanzees are classified as endangoured when they are located in anywhere else in the world. However, the moment they enter or are born in the US, they are only considered threatened, and thus allowable to use for biomedical testing.
    They are the only critter that has this special endangered status contingency, and that’s because the people who vote on it are almost all in biomed.
    That is a SERIOUS breech in ethics.

    So, while I may not always agree with people’s use of primates like macaques and other critters, I still feel it’s within the scientific and legal bounds, and would only contest to those not following the rules. However, I feel there is something intrinsically wrong with using endangered species (and keeping them in conditions that don’t meet their social enrichment needs, only one piece of enrichment minimum required folks, which can include something like a bench) in order to help an over populated species.

    Also, we wasted millions of tax dollars on AIDS research with chimpanzees, who have never actually acquired full blown AIDS in a lab setting, ever. A lot of that 1.7% or so difference between chimpanzees and humans lies in the immune system (and very little in the brain actually, which was surprising to me), so they aren’t always good models for humans. However, they do tend to be more susceptible to our respiratory diseases then we are, so…?

  351. #352 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Yes, because have a heart bypass is just like a crime against humanity.

    A misinterpretation so outrageous that it’s probably deliberate.

    Oh, right, the “rationale” behind this is that some crimes against humanity supplied knowledge for surgery. No one is developing surgery today by utilizing ongoing crimes against humanity,

    Not surgery so much now, nope. Experimental drugs like trovafloxacin, these days. But carry on.

    while fine gentlemen like you use the latest medicines developed in the ongoing practice of testing on animals. One is hypocrisy, the other is simply using knowledge without prejudice

    Both are hypocrisy. And both are using knowledge without prejudice. The world is not so tidy as you would have it.

    I’m not claiming that animal rights people taking drugs tested on animals is not hypocrisy. I’m claiming that it’s the same banal hypocrisy that every human lives with. In the best of times, we only make do the best we can, and no one ever lives up to their best potential.

    I make the compromise that I’m a better advocate for animal rights alive, than dead.

  352. #353 Notagod
    April 24, 2009

    Why not use christians as test animals? They are a closer genetic fit to humans than the majority of the other animals. They won’t get sick or die unless the christian god-idea wants them to. So it would be a win win win all the way around.

  353. #354 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    As I expected, a hypocritical dodge.

    If you’re so bored that you can’t even be bothered to explain your insults, maybe you’d prefer another thread.

  354. #355 RobertDW
    April 24, 2009

    I see a number of people here don’t support cosmetic testing on animals, while supporting medical testing.

    While I agree that cosmetic testing doesn’t have the same moral support as medical testing, there isn’t any way you can research cosmetics without animal testing. Failure to do so will kill people.

    Post WWII Japan had a ban on cosmetics that had been tested on animals. Then a face powder came out that blocked the pores in the skin – permanently. It killed a number of people.

    Prior to the 20th century, a lot of cosmetics were made of nasty stuff – up to and including arsenic. Animal testing was brought in to find safe alternatives for humans.

    When you see a cosmetic that advertises “not tested on animals”, what they mean is that they are the same as another product (possibly no longer on the market, and possibly from the same company) that was tested on animals. No major cosmetic company is going to risk being sued by putting out a product that they don’t know, from extensive animal testing, is safe to use.

    If you don’t want animal testing for cosmetics, the only option is to ban the introduction of new product. Where do you draw the line, though? Do shampoo and toothpaste count as cosmetics? What about a pore cleanser that prevents acne? Or makeup used by burn victims to hide their scars?

  355. #356 Stu
    April 24, 2009

    Why are animals different?

    Because they, ehm, ARE different. Are you saying that gerbils should be allowed to vote? Fruit flies should be allowed to carry arms?

  356. #357 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Timtim, there must be a way to get the information needed. Like for new drugs, toxicity, pharmacology, probable dosage, and hints of efficacy prior are usually in seen in animal studies prior to phase 1 (human dosage) clinicals. This information must come from either human or animal studies, and it weeds out a large number of drug candidates. The question I have been proposing all day is are the people opposing using animals willing to lay their health on the line to see that these studies are carried out. To a (wo)man, they all dodged the question. Until there are ethical human trials that can be conducted at this stage, the animal testing must continue. Dislike for an option does not equal the need to do away with it. That just gives you an opportunity to invent and patent something that will allow the animal testing to go away.

  357. #358 Glen Davidson
    April 24, 2009

    Again, no one has addressed for me the assumption that human life inherently is more valuable than other sentient life.

    You haven’t told me why you don’t kill yourself, since your existence comes at the expense of other animals, resources being limited.

    I mentioned that issue previously, but you’re too stupid, lazy, or dishonest to get to reading and responding. But then why would you, since it would show what a hypocritical fool you are?

    I have never encountered any of you moralistic fascists who would deal honestly with the fact that, like any other animal, your continued existence means pain and death to other animals.

    So the issue isn’t whether or not we have “greater moral worth,” the issue is actually whether or not we have equal moral worth to the animals, so that we have the right to live at the expense of other animals, as we generally allow that they do. I make the judgment that we do, which could be argued to be “wrong,” but at the very least I’m not the raging hypocrite that you are. Nor do I run into the immediate problem of saying that other animals do have the right to live at other animals’ expense, while supposing that humans do not.

    As usual with passive-aggressive thugs whose real purpose is to control other humans, you avoid the issues that expose your desire for intellectually-deficient but self-righteous power over other human beings.

    [Oh, and thanks to those who spoke well of my earlier long post.]

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  358. #359 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Sure! It’s not like he’d be fired on the spot for it and would go to jail or anything.

    How could we ever know for sure if he was doing experiments just for research, or if he also gained pleasure by inflicting pain?

    Some people get involved in law enforcement, prison security, or the armed forces, because it’s a legitimate job that allows them to hurt and/or kill people. It’s so common that every cop and every soldier knows one of these sadists in their own acquaintance. Why would animal research be any different?

  359. #360 Jenny T
    April 24, 2009

    OT: I’ve been wondering what is the reason you post that URL with all your posts Glen Davidson?

    Back on topic, sort of, it is interesting reading this thread without having a set idea in my head about the subject first. I had normally just not had to deal with it. There aren’t a lot of animal rights protesters that I can see at my university here in Texas, and being in Texas I’m not really surrounded by vegans or vegetarians that I can tell, so I’ve learned a lot about both sides of this I think.

    There is a lot to be said for treating animals well; although, getting into handing out rights seems to cause troubles. However, it seems that a lot of the anti-test side is based on ideas that have little grounding in reality. I’ld chalk that up to the fact that many of the people arguing against testing seem to be rather extreme. From the posts about testing from the people who actually do the testing and have real actionable knowledge about it, it seems that at least for scientific and medical purposes, it is an extremely regulated job with lots of checks in order to protect the animal from needless suffering, and as Glen D at 85 highlighted, it might even been less suffering than these animals would experience in the wild.

    I’ld side with the people who say that as soon as there is a real alternative to animal testing, we should switch. But how it is now, it seems to me that much more good comes from testing, and much of what the anti-testers are complaining about seems to already be covered by review boards and laws. Maybe animal studies used to be as horrible as is being presented, but that isn’t the case now, and you can complain about it all you want, but that doesn’t change what is actually happening now.

  360. #361 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    Again, no one has addressed for me the assumption that human life inherently is more valuable than other sentient life.

    Currently, only the human animal has the capability of willfully saving or destroying any or all animals (and things). With this great power comes great responsibility, great peril, and potentially great reward.

    IMO, that’s why.

  361. #362 Paul
    April 24, 2009

    Some people get involved in law enforcement, prison security, or the armed forces, because it’s a legitimate job that allows them to hurt and/or kill people. It’s so common that every cop and every soldier knows one of these sadists in their own acquaintance. Why would animal research be any different?

    So are you arguing that we should do away with enforcing laws because allowing people power over others can attract unsavory types? I don’t hear that one every day. If that’s not your point, you might want to be clearer.

    @JennyT:

    If you clicked the link, you’d see it’s Mr. Davidson’s website. Or at least, his name is on the copyright notice.

    @Glen Davidson:

    Your posts are much appreciated. Every time I’ve been almost driven to the point of needing to post to point out the stupid, you’ve saved me the effort.

  362. #363 Glen Davidson
    April 24, 2009
    Yes, because have a heart bypass is just like a crime against humanity.

    A misinterpretation so outrageous that it’s probably deliberate.

    If you were honest, you would note that I “shifted,” in the next quote you used, to the real representation.

    The “deliberate misrepresentation” was me jeering at your inability to deal properly with the issues. But you don’t mind being dishonest yet again, unless you’re genuinely too stupid to understand what I did there.

    Oh, right, the “rationale” behind this is that some crimes against humanity supplied knowledge for surgery. No one is developing surgery today by utilizing ongoing crimes against humanity,

    Not surgery so much now, nope. Experimental drugs like trovafloxacin, these days. But carry on.

    Oh, so you’re wrong, but you play the self-righteous martyr nonetheless. Typical lack of honesty.

    while fine gentlemen like you use the latest medicines developed in the ongoing practice of testing on animals. One is hypocrisy, the other is simply using knowledge without prejudice

    Both are hypocrisy. And both are using knowledge without prejudice. The world is not so tidy as you would have it.

    Deliberate misquote, then the same mindless tripe from you that I have come to expect.

    You even admitted “not so much” with surgery, but you persist with your disanalogy, blithering stupidly on where you have nothing intelligent to say.

    And, moron, I’m not the one with a tidy world. I know that it’s messy, and that people like you fail utterly to deal with its messiness honestly. This is an evolved, fairly Malthusian world, which you fail to address in any honest fashion whatsoever.

    I’m not claiming that animal rights people taking drugs tested on animals is not hypocrisy. I’m claiming that it’s the same banal hypocrisy that every human lives with. In the best of times, we only make do the best we can, and no one ever lives up to their best potential.

    It’s self-righteous pricks like you who live in perpetual hypocrisy. You project your inability to deal with the world by pretending that apples are oranges, thus claiming that we are also you, with your unlivable morality (really an attempt to gain moral control over the rest of us, in predatory fashion).

    I make the compromise that I’m a better advocate for animal rights alive, than dead.

    More like, you wish to live at the expense of others, and you use your hypocritical moral stance to do so. And you have to lie about us in order to claim that your hypocrisy doesn’t nullify your “arguments.”

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  363. #364 Sydney S.
    April 24, 2009

    Alex: Humans are not the only animals who willfully save or destroy things…? chimpanzees and other critters have been shown to go out and selectively kill other chimpanzees, dolphins will go out and mob sharks to save non-dolphins, etc.

    Even so, that point alone doesn’t make humans any more intrinsically valuable then another living being.

    Animal testing does hurt another being to help other beings. Yes, its not the pinnacle of morality, but it’s the best we can do right now.

  364. #365 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    April 24, 2009

    @ Stu – 357
    Children aren’t allowed to vote either. There’s a difference between sentience and theory of mind. I doubt fruit flies are self aware.

  365. #366 Glen Davidson
    April 24, 2009

    I’m out of this, probably at least until tomorrow. I think most everything worthwhile has been said, and I am wearied by dealing with the same ignorance/dishonesty of the issue that moral one-upmanship has produced.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  366. #367 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Some people have mentioned ethics boards in passing, but I suppose I like being explicit: an animal researcher can’t just bop down to Research-Animals-R-Us, pick up some mice, and start “torturing” them. They need the approval of their institution before doing any animal or human research.

    These projects are approved by review boards (Institutional Animal Care & Use Committees for animal research and Institutional Review Boards for human research). The IACUC’s members have to have specific backgrounds to ensure that they have the relevant knowledge to judge whether animal use is appropriate – i.e. one of the members must be a veterinarian specializing in the type of animal that will be used for the specific project.

    Yes, I understand, it’s all done very carefully.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/doctors+psychologists+helped+torture+detainees+Cross/1474948/story.html

    The medical workers, thought to be doctors and psychologists, monitored prisoners while they were mistreated at CIA prisons and advised interrogators whether to continue, adjust or halt the abuse, the ICRC said in a report based on interviews with 14 prisoners in 2007.

    One prisoner alleged that medical personnel monitored his blood oxygen levels while he was subjected to waterboarding, a simulated drowning designed to induce panic and widely considered to be torture, the ICRC said.

    Other prisoners said that as they stood shackled with their arms chained above their heads, a doctor regularly measured the swelling in their legs and signaled when they should be allowed to sit down.

  367. #368 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    Alex: Humans are not the only animals who willfully save or destroy things…?

    That is not what was written in my post. Re-read. Do you actually think someone would post such nonsense such as humans are the only animals who willfully save or destroy things? Are you daft?

    Hint: all

  368. #369 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    So are you arguing that we should do away with enforcing laws because allowing people power over others can attract unsavory types? I don’t hear that one every day. If that’s not your point, you might want to be clearer.

    I was responding to PZ’s assertion that he does not take sadistic pleasure from hurting animals. I only pointed out that we cannot know this, and his meat-eating is evidence to the contrary.

    Whether or not some researchers are statistically likely to be sadists has no bearing on whether or not animal research is necessary or not, just like whether or not prison guards are likely to be sadists has no bearing on whether or not prisons are necessary. It does have implications for screening people, and it does mean we can’t simply rely on trust like PZ asks us to, but that’s it.

    Animal research is unnecessary, but that’s not what I was saying in the bit you quoted.

  369. #370 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    please demonstrate the inherent value of human life over any other

    What’s this stupid crap about “inherent”? My friends don’t have inherent value over strangers, but I would save the former rather than the latter if I had to choose. And I would generally save either group rather than some animal, although I might save a cute kitten before I would save, say, Dick Cheney.

  370. #371 Dianne
    April 24, 2009

    Animal research is unnecessary,

    Describe non-animal alternatives for the following:
    1. Modelling of the effects of a therapeutic approach on metastatic disease.

    2. Evaluation of the significance of a particular gene on an organism (i.e. how do you do knock out or transgenic experiments without a mouse).

    3. Efficacy of a drug in an organism.

    Just the first three situations in which I’d say that animal testing was necessary. I’m sure others can come up with other examples. (And quite honestly if you do have a real alternative, I’d love to know about it. Animal work is expensive and cumbersome.)

  371. #372 MadScientist
    April 24, 2009

    Part of the problem is that there are morons who believe scientists torture and kill animals for fun. I’ve got an idea: a draft for the “animal rights” people – there’s a mob I’d gladly send to Iraq. Some of these loonies are so bad they want to force everyone else to stop eating animal flesh.

  372. #373 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Animal research is unnecessary

    Neither are houses, clothing, or fire.

  373. #374 Sydney S.
    April 24, 2009

    “Currently, only the human animal has the capability of willfully saving or destroying any or all animals (and things)”

    I’m not daft (at least not that I’m aware of), your use of “or” was interpreted wrongly on my part. I assume you are referring to a species level then? Not everyone in the science feild is a native English speaker, and technically how I interpreted your sentence makes sense within the framework of English.

    When a communication error occurs, calling the person daft or incompetent off the bat generally isn’t the most effective method of repair, nor is it very civil.

    I’m really surprised at how rude a lot of the tones are in the comment sections on this site. Won’t effect my readership, but it sure doesn’t foster participation in intelligent discussion between scientific professionals. (Or informed laymen in some cases.)

  374. #375 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    I only pointed out that we cannot know this

    We can’t know much of anything, but we make rational inferences as to the probability that various claims are true.

    and his meat-eating is evidence to the contrary

    Only if he chooses to eat it while alive.

  375. #376 Nerdbeard
    April 24, 2009

    And this is why physicists are better than biologists. Ha ha. Don’t mistake my joke, I’m very disturbed and disappointed.

    We have extended human lifespan many-fold. What sacrifices will we make to get a couple more months? Some are perhaps ethical. Many are not. I am annoyed to see that all forms of animal testing are being considered equal. We are capable of such cruelty. To see PZ seemingly come out in favour of geeze god VIVISECTION… I sure hope he’s trying to get a rise or prove a point or something.

    You want to have more rats to a cage? We can talk, maybe if we adjust sanitary standards it can be done. You want to work your animals an extra hour every day? Okay but let’s talk about their sleeping conditions. Reasonable people can work things out.

    You want free license to take apart a suffering creature bit by bit just to see how it works? To treat animals like they were nothing more than a soil sample? No! I’m so disgusted I can’t even form arguments. I can’t imagine having to.

    I see the “torture for medical intelligence” argument coming up a lot. If we don’t torture, people will die! (Sound familiar?) Most animals are maimed and killed not in a quest to better humanity, or to extend our lives, or anything noble. They are killed for money. Noble goals do not make money. Figuring out exactly how many humans a year will be killed by a given level of an additive for a new domestic floor cleaner, that makes money. You have to know that to make a cost/benefit analysis. Throw more dogs on!

    I am also getting pretty tired of this poll crashing thing. I get it, PZ. You have a lot of readers. A LOT! And boy, do we ever love you! We love you so much, we’ll click on any stupid-ass thing you tell us to. And boy, you love making us do that. Please, stop it. We’re not your toy. It’s insulting.

  376. #377 ARP
    April 24, 2009
    Not surgery so much now, nope. Experimental drugs like trovafloxacin, these days. But carry on.

    Oh, so you’re wrong, but you play the self-righteous martyr nonetheless. Typical lack of honesty.

    There’s no indication from you of how this follows at all from what I said. You need to calm down.

    It’s a fact that dangerous drugs are being tested in modern times, within the last 15 years, on people without their consent. It’s a fact that this is a violation of the Nuremberg Code and a crime against humanity. It’s all documented in my first comment.

    Deliberate misquote, then the same mindless tripe from you that I have come to expect.

    Aww, are you going to complain that I edited out your cuss words? You can go to your room if you want to cuss until you calm down. I’m not obligated to repeat it.

    You even admitted “not so much” with surgery,

    So are you writing up your medical directives as we speak to preclude any use of trovafloxacin in the event of your unconsciousness? I thought not.

    This is an evolved, fairly Malthusian world, which you fail to address in any honest fashion whatsoever.

    I’m honest enough to acknowledge that the naturalistic fallacy is a fallacy, and might does not make right.

    (really an attempt to gain moral control over the rest of us, in predatory fashion).

    Calm down. You’re going to end up in a libertarian survivalist cult if you don’t get a handle on that aimless anger.

    More like, you wish to live at the expense of others, and you use your hypocritical moral stance to do so. And you have to lie about us in order to claim that your hypocrisy doesn’t nullify your “arguments.”

    More non sequiturs. I’m not lying about anyone. Just pointing out that you’re a hypocrite too. And of course hypocrisy doesn’t nullify anyone’s arguments. Like FST said, “It does not matter if you are at Aushwitz in the 40′s, waist deep in dead Jews; if you say that killing innocent people is wrong, your argument still stands on its own merits.”

    I’m a hypocrite, you’re a hypocrite, so is everyone here. Big huge deal. So where do we go from there? Hopefully we try to minimize our contradictions.

  377. #378 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    I’m not sure I can appreciate the attitude that doesn’t stand in awe with the knowledge that the capacity to save all things, or indeed destroy all things (at least here on Earth) lies only with the Human animal. That is what sets the Human animal apart from all other animals on Earth. That fact, is not a trivial one, and must be met with great respect.

    If the Human species becomes threatened by some random act, no other animal on Earth has the capacity to save us. The reverse is not true.

  378. #379 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    and his meat-eating is evidence to the contrary

    Only if he chooses to eat it while alive.

    False. He has animals killed for his pleasure. That’s what meat eating is.

  379. #380 Alex
    April 24, 2009

    #379 was mine. Don’t know why it says Anonymous.

  380. #381 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    We can’t know much of anything, but we make rational inferences as to the probability that various claims are true.

    Indeed. There are a lot of animal researchers in the world, and there are a lot of sadists in the world. So the groups are going to overlap somewhat.

  381. #382 freak
    April 24, 2009

    To Glen Davidson@359: Let me use small words (hey, if you can be arrogant and condescending without reason, I can do it with reason) – I don’t kill myself, peabrain, because a) I am not arguing that human life has no value, I am questioning the assumption that human life has more intrinsic or inherent value that other sentient life. Before you make snide comments about intellectual deficiency and a lust for power, try taking a reading comprehension course. I am aware that my continued existence may (you have no idea what my actual “animal” footprint may or may not be) cause pain and or death to other sentient creatures. That does not excuse any attempt on my part or yours to increase the suffering. I am not a moralist, I am simply someone who questions things before jumping to a convenient conclusion.

    To Alex@362: You argue that our greater power comes with greater responsibility. I agree. How does this lead to our right to experiment on other species for our benefit?

  382. #383 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/doctors+psychologists+helped+torture+detainees+Cross/1474948/story.html

    Right, of course, instances of intentionally causing people to suffer so as to coerce desired behavior is evidence that test animals are intentionally made to suffer, by the law of petitio principii.

  383. #384 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Describe non-animal alternatives for the following:

    Volunteers. And if that means no knock-out genes, too bad. There is plenty of amazing research that could be performed with homeless people against their will, research that probably can’t be done otherwise. Also, too bad. We make do without it.

  384. #385 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Sorry, it’s actually a fallacy of affirmation of the consequent (although circular reasoning is lurking): Care is taken with torture victims. Care is taken with test animals. Therefore test animals are torture victims.

  385. #386 Greg Laden
    April 24, 2009

    This is my rather long winded and indirect contribution to Pro-Test: Friendship, grief, anarchy, fine dining, and random gunfire.

  386. #387 John Morales
    April 24, 2009

    Nerdbeard,

    I am also getting pretty tired of this poll crashing thing. I get it, PZ. You have a lot of readers. A LOT! And boy, do we ever love you! We love you so much, we’ll click on any stupid-ass thing you tell us to.

    I’m sure PZ will give your concern as much consideration as it deserves.

    You might consider not reading the poll crashing posts, for your ease of mind.

  387. #388 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Right, of course, instances of intentionally causing people to suffer so as to coerce desired behavior is evidence that test animals are intentionally made to suffer, by the law of petitio principii.

    What, you didn’t know that some experiments deliberately cause pain?

    What do you think stress testing is?

    Not even the “pro-test” scientists are dishonestly claiming that animals are never deliberately hurt. They just argue that these types of experiments are relatively rare (they are) and necessary (they aren’t).

  388. #389 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Sorry, it’s actually a fallacy of affirmation of the consequent (although circular reasoning is lurking): Care is taken with torture victims. Care is taken with test animals. Therefore test animals are torture victims.

    You overanalyzed it.

    The point was that just because health specialists are involved in careful monitoring doesn’t mean that torture isn’t going on.

  389. #390 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    There is plenty of amazing research that could be performed with homeless people against their will, research that probably can’t be done otherwise.

    Such examples are not rhetorically effective because your audience doesn’t make the moral equivalence between the homeless and test animals that you do, and neither does society. You have the same problem that the anti-abortion folks do, who also take a position based on a moral equivalence that others don’t share.

  390. #391 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Animal research is unnecessary, but that’s not what I was saying in the bit you quoted.

    So far you have shown nothing, as would be expected from ignorant loudmouths. To show your solidarity, you need to volunteer first for the unknown drug that, like most antineoplasts, is cytotoxic, but its real toxicity isn’t known due to your unwillingness for animal studies. Time for you to put up or shut up. That is called putting your mouth where your money (or body) is.

  391. #392 jo5ef
    April 24, 2009

    “Personally, as sad as it would be, I would rather myself or a loved one die of a disease — which is also part of nature’s ability to cull the herd and keep things in balance — than to learn that their cure was discovered through animal testing.”
    That is THE stupidest comment I have ever seen on this blog, and thats saying something. You’re essentially rejecting modern medicine in its entirety. I assume you also refuse, antibiotics, painkillers(even aspirin), vaccines and so on. I wish you luck and I’m sure your desire to be culled will soon be realized, the herd appreciates your sacrifice.

  392. #393 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Such examples are not rhetorically effective because your audience doesn’t make the moral equivalence between the homeless and test animals that you do, and neither does society.

    Rhetorically ineffective, perhaps. Logically sound, still. Just because something would give us great results doesn’t mean we should do it.

    Those who think homeless people should be protected from harm but animals should not are just relying on gut feeling and tradition: “my daddy ate animals, so I do too.”

    The reasons why homeless people should be protected — they feel and prefer to avoid pain, and prefer to live — apply also to most research and food animals.

  393. #394 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    ARP, however you wish to treat a class of people, we must treat you that way. It’s called the golden rule.

  394. #395 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    So far you have shown nothing, as would be expected from ignorant loudmouths. To show your solidarity, you need to volunteer first for the unknown drug that, like most antineoplasts, is cytotoxic, but its real toxicity isn’t known due to your unwillingness for animal studies. Time for you to put up or shut up. That is called putting your mouth where your money (or body) is.

    Sorry, no. You don’t have the right to force animals to be participants in research. So you don’t have the right to demand it of me. You need to get this obsession with dominance out of your head. Maybe your spouse cowers when you yell, but I won’t.

    Like I said, I’d volunteer if I were otherwise dying and the drug offered a chance of saving my life. Plenty of other people would too. We do have a right to work with people who consent. That’s what consent means.

  395. #396 Nerdbeard
    April 24, 2009

    John #388, I have no illusions that he’ll even read it. If he does, I hope he has a twinge of guilt about using us to stroke himself with.

  396. #397 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    So you don’t have the right to demand it of me.

    Then you have no right to tell us animal research is bad. Your logic bites you in the ass.

  397. #398 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    ARP, however you wish to treat a class of people, we must treat you that way. It’s called the golden rule.

    Whatever that has to do with anything.

    Cthulhu fhtagn?

  398. #399 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Then you have no right to tell us animal research is bad. Your logic bites you in the ass.

    Sorry, wrong again. You’re not very good at logic.

    Telling someone that they’re not allowed to hurt others is completely different from telling someone that they have to give “consent” to experimentation whether they like it or not.

  399. #400 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    What, you didn’t know that some experiments deliberately cause pain?

    That’s not relevant. If those experiments were eliminated, your complaint would remain.

    You overanalyzed it.

    My analysis precisely captures your reasoning.

    The point was that just because health specialists are involved in careful monitoring doesn’t mean that torture isn’t going on.

    You’re lying or stupid, as that’s an obvious strawman. The comment that you responded to had nothing to do with monitoring, but rather was about ethical screening of experiments. If you wanted to be intelligent, rather than so stupid, about it, you would instead point to John Yoo et. al. providing counsel that the actions were legal.

  400. #401 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    ARP, you have no moral priority compared to anyone else, but you are pretending you do. I’m calling your hypocrisy. Time to play the guinea pig or let the pros play with the guinea pig. That is what comes for making up your mind and then living with the consequences.

  401. #402 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    That’s not relevant. If those experiments were eliminated, your complaint would remain.

    It’s of course perfectly relevant to the quote of Natalie’s that I provided.

    If you wanted to be intelligent, rather than so stupid, about it, you would instead point to John Yoo et. al. providing counsel that the actions were legal.

    I appreciate the advice. That’s relevant too. But the test screening and the torture monitoring have similar purposes, to ensure that things do not “go too far.” I think your advice supplements rather the supplants my point.

  402. #403 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    ARP, you have no moral priority compared to anyone else, but you are pretending you do. I’m calling your hypocrisy.

    That’s pretty funny considering my first comment was about how we’re all hypocrites. I’m so offended.

    Time to play the guinea pig or let the pros play with the guinea pig.

    Such threats! You’re saying you’re going to hurt someone, and if I wouldn’t let you hurt an animal, then you would hurt me instead in retaliation.

    You really have to break out of this mindset where you assume that violence is always justified. Neither violence against me nor violence against animals is your automatic prerogative.

    It really is possible to work with volunteers who can meaningfully consent.

  403. #404 MosesZD
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: ARP | April 24, 2009 7:34 PM

    I was responding to PZ’s assertion that he does not take sadistic pleasure from hurting animals. I only pointed out that we cannot know this, and his meat-eating is evidence to the contrary.

    Wow, you are an asshole, and quite pontificatingly proud of it, aren’t you? You’re also an idiot. And an ideologue.

    Sadism, since you obviously don’t have a clue, is the derivation of pleasure as a result of inflicting pain or watching pain inflicted on others. Eating meat, killed hundreds, if not thousands of miles away in some factory slaughterhouse, out of sight and mind does not avail PZ the opportunity to observe the slaughter and, thus, enjoy said sadistic pleasures.

    Further, having slaughtered my own animals raised for the table, I can tell you that it’s not a lot of fun. And there is a crap load of upset and/or guilt if the process goes wrong and the animal does suffer.

    I think the whole thing is just you projecting your deviant, shameful self onto others. Like those anti-gay crusaders that end up getting caught trolling for sex in a gay bar.

  404. #405 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    ARP, your behavior, or lack thereof, is telling us in definite terms why your inane plan wouldn’t work. You are a hypocrite, and expect somebody else to do your dirty work. The same as every other person out there who doesn’t like animal testing. Then animal testing would still be required since the data has to be there.
    By the way, how can one give informed consent if the toxicity of a new drug isn’t known?

  405. #406 Rohit
    April 24, 2009

    PZ, I’m sure a lot of us would like to know your position on animal rights. Are you a vegetarian?

  406. #407 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Rhetorically ineffective, perhaps. Logically sound, still.

    It’s not logically sound unless the equivalence has been established. Sheesh.

    Just because something would give us great results doesn’t mean we should do it.

    Silly strawman. It does mean we should do it if the overall evaluation is net positive. And that depends upon one’s ethical valuations.

    Those who think homeless people should be protected from harm but animals should not are just relying on gut feeling and tradition: “my daddy ate animals, so I do too.”

    Of course “gut feeling” has a whole lot to do with it, and “tradition” is a subset of the memes that transmit moral judgments.

    The reasons why homeless people should be protected — they feel and prefer to avoid pain, and prefer to live — apply also to most research and food animals.

    See, now that sort of argument is rhetorically effective; as I said, you first must establish moral equivalence. However, even for those who don’t challenge those commonalities, they are not generally sufficient. Moral valuation has a lot to do with empathy, and homeless people are a lot more like us, in numerous ways, than test animals.

  407. #408 Troy Britain
    April 24, 2009

    Wow, small world. I made one of the Pro-Test banners at work (a So. Cal. print shop) that appears in the video (1:06 into the vid, white banner that starts “UCLA Pro-Test…”), and here I find out about how it was ultimately used through PZ who is on the other side of the country.

    How funny…

  408. #409 phoenixflash
    April 24, 2009

    I worked as a grad assitant in a university neuroscience lab in Michigan about 15 years ago. We were doing work on Parkinson’s Disease and using the usual lab rats. I constantly got reamed by my advisor because I put the animals under too much anesthesia and got crappy results off the oscilliscope. The rats were in obvious pain, struggling in the mount. We used rats like throw-aways, deviating from procedures on a regular basis when someone had a “good idea”. I guess maybe we got approval for “exploratory” research, some kind of blanket approval??? I don’t know. I was there a year, never knew anything about IACUC, never saw anyone representing them. I quit my PhD for this reason, I could not square with what was happening in the lab, it was everything that wasn’t supposed to be happening. So I KNOW that needless pain has happened and not all university labs are run so tight as some people on this site seem to believe. I am extremely relieved to hear that the IACUC actually exists and actually does something.

  409. #410 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    I have noticed that those against animal testing are not lining themselves up to take the place of their beloved animals for the first round of live drug testing. Make up your minds folks, it either goes into you or an animal. I have trouble with those who evade the responsiblity on this by saying it goes into another human than me.

    I don’t think that makes them hypocrites. The main thrust of their argument is that the animals don’t have a choice over whether they are experimented on, but humans can volunteer for a drug trial.

    For transparency, I am in favour of animal testing (so long as it’s not on cosmetics), as I see it as a necessary evil. I see that it doesn’t violate the “principle of double effect”, which is an obligatory rule for me.

    Currently, only the human animal has the capability of willfully saving or destroying any or all animals (and things). With this great power comes great responsibility, great peril, and potentially great reward.

    Is-ought fallacy.

    I am not a vegetarian because I don’t approve of the arbitrary line at which vegetarians decide that plants, bacteria, and fungi are not alive enough to deserve to not be killed.

    That’s an epically stupid thing to say. So clearly vegetarians are hypocrites for eating anything at all. They should just starve to death is what you seem to be saying.

    Also, if it is acceptable for other animals to kill prey, then it must be acceptable for me to do it as well.

    Who said this was acceptable? Animals also rape, cannibalize, live in their own excrement etc etc. They don’t know any better. You’re also committing the is-ought fallacy too.

  410. #411 amphiox
    April 24, 2009

    To those of you who insist that there is no moral difference between the lives of humans and the lives of animals, I invite you to stop eating. Completely. And don’t give me any of that vegan/vegetarian hypocritical cop-out. Every acre of farmland used to grow those plants you eat is an acre of animal habitat destroyed. And even if you go back to pure gathering from the pristine wilds (no hunting), every calorie you put into your mouth is a calorie that some animal somewhere also needed but won’t get because YOU STOLE IT FROM THEM.

    I also invite you to stop breathing, for the same reason. Every oxygen molecule you combust for your own selfish metabolic needs is an oxygen molecule that some animal somewhere also needed but won’t get now, thanks to you.

    You’ll have to stop drinking, too, because fresh water is becoming ever so scarce these days and humans have used up our fair quota several centuries ago. (And thanks to our relatively unique need to sweat we’ve been unfair fresh water hogs from pretty much our entire existence as a lineage)

    And don’t live in a house. How many owls and squirrels and wood lice and tree frogs lost their homes when their trees were felled to make the wood that was used to build your house? Can’t live in a cave, either, because animals need to use them, and they got there first, didn’t they?

    There are 6 billion humans on this planet, and only 6000 sperm whales. Clearly, by the law of supply and demand, the rare (and sentient) sperm whale must be worth at least 1 million humans.

  411. #412 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Sadism, since you obviously don’t have a clue, is the derivation of pleasure as a result of inflicting pain or watching pain inflicted on others. Eating meat, killed hundreds, if not thousands of miles away in some factory slaughterhouse, out of sight and mind does not avail PZ the opportunity to observe the slaughter and, thus, enjoy said sadistic pleasures.

    Given how often meat-eaters like to joke about the suffering of food animals, it’s not at all obvious that this isn’t sadism.

    So your point is that eating meat isn’t like killing for fun, more like killing in order to play with the dead body for fun. Not strictly sadism, as you say.

    But at the end of the day, the animal has been killed to serve your pleasure. The result is the same.

    I think the whole thing is just you projecting your deviant, shameful self onto others.

    Nah. Be clear. I’m not saying that PZ or any other particular researcher necessarily is a sadist. Just that it’s inevitable that some are, because there are so many. And so we can’t simply trust every researcher’s word, any more than we can trust every cop’s word. We know some cops do what they do because they enjoy causing pain. There’s no reason to assume any other group is immune to this problem.

  412. #413 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    As I said, I am not so much pro animal testing as it may be the only way to get the needed data. There is a great need for methods to replace animal tests, so there is good opportunity for innovation in this area.

    For example, endotoxins can cause a persons temperature to spike, especially from contaminants in injectable drugs. The original way to check for the temperature spike was to inject rabbits under the skin, and check their temperature later. Needless to say the data was noisy and inconsistent, as some rabbits temperature would spike just from handling, and others never reacted. The along came a test using an enzyme, the LAL test. This allowed for endotoxin testing in vitro instead of in vivo. It took a few studies to show the equivalency, and now the FDA prefers the LAL data. I would like to see such options replace as much of the animal testing as possible. But, there is still going to be the first time a drug is used in vivo.

  413. #414 MosesZD
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: Tulse | April 24, 2009 2:57 PM

    once you start handing out rights to animals, you are prevented by that from making utilitarian choices about things like animal testing

    I think the South used a similar argument, but regarding different entities. As has been argued here in a different context, it’s not an argument to say something isn’t true because you don’t like the consequences it produces. Argue the claim, not the consequence.

    False equivalency. Really embarrassed for you. You’re normally much smarter than to fall into such a stupid line of argumentation.

    I’ll spare writing-out the equally idiotic false-equivalency chain that culminates with us giving rights to bacteria as they are “living creatures” too…

  414. #415 Rev. bigDumbCHimp
    April 24, 2009

    False equivalency. Really embarrassed for you. You’re normally much smarter than to fall into such a stupid line of argumentation.

    I’ll spare writing-out the equally idiotic false-equivalency chain that culminates with us giving rights to bacteria as they are “living creatures” too…

    I’m glad I drink.

  415. #416 MosesZD
    April 24, 2009

    Posted by: timtim | April 24, 2009 6:53 PM

    Just because someone disagrees with the methods of medical research, does not me that they are anti-medicine. I think that that is a gross mis-characterization of the protester’s argument.

    It means when they avail themselves to modern medicine they are, in fact, hypocrites. That’s what’s being pointed out.

  416. #417 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    ARP, your behavior, or lack thereof, is telling us in definite terms why your inane plan wouldn’t work. You are a hypocrite, and expect somebody else to do your dirty work.

    Not my dirty work. As I’ve said multiple times now, as you keep dishonestly ignoring, I would volunteer for a test that might save my life. That’s me doing my own dirty work.

    By the way, how can one give informed consent if the toxicity of a new drug isn’t known?

    “You might die from this. We don’t know how likely it is you’ll survive. You’ll also probably die from what’s currently killing you.”

    See, an adult has the right to take unknown risks with their own life. We do it every day. So researchers can take the risk of killing someone with that person’s consent. The difference is that like a child, the animal cannot consent.

  417. #418 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    False equivalency. Really embarrassed for you. You’re normally much smarter than to fall into such a stupid line of argumentation.

    I’m embarrassed for you, Moses. http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-consequences.html is a fallacy regardless of any equivalency.

    I see what you did there: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/red-herring.html

  418. #419 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Nah. Be clear. I’m not saying that PZ or any other particular researcher necessarily is a sadist. Just that it’s inevitable that some are, because there are so many. And so we can’t simply trust every researcher’s word, any more than we can trust every cop’s word

    Or any animal rights activist isn’t a terrorist. There are just so many and we know that some are.

    Are you?

  419. #420 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Again ARP, either live with the responsible adult consequences of your decision, which means you must volunteer to be a testee since you must tell us no animal testing, or give up on telling other people that animal testing is unnecessary. One or the other.

  420. #421 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    It’s of course perfectly relevant to the quote of Natalie’s that I provided.

    Then you should have simply pointed that out in response to her — that ethical screening isn’t so ethical (in your view) if it allows experiments where animals are intentionally made to suffer … rather than irrelevantly going off about monitoring of human torture — which is primarily done for legal cover, both to keep it inside the boundaries defined by those torture memos and to reduce the likelihood of death of the victim, which would expose the perpetrator to the death penalty under U.S. law.

    Here’s some more advice: while tangling with that belligerent buffoon Nerd may feel satisfying in the sense of shooting fish in a barrel (and there are many people who have no qualms about that, not just because their daddies didn’t — something you need to come to grips with), it’s also much like rolling around with pigs in the mud.

  421. #422 John Morales
    April 24, 2009

    Nerd, I think ARP argues animal experimentation is fine provided said animal is a human one and consents, but wrong otherwise.

    A very idealistic view.

  422. #423 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Just because something would give us great results doesn’t mean we should do it.

    Silly strawman. It does mean we should do it if the overall evaluation is net positive. And that depends upon one’s ethical valuations.

    You could start killing people to harvest their organs, and a dozen other lives or more could be saved for each victim killed. That would certainly be a net positive. Nevertheless, I’d say we shouldn’t do it, because the victim’s right to live shouldn’t be violated.

    Of course “gut feeling” has a whole lot to do with it, and “tradition” is a subset of the memes that transmit moral judgments.

    These are precisely the reasonings of white supremacists, homophobes, and misogynists.

    Moral valuation has a lot to do with empathy, and homeless people are a lot more like us, in numerous ways, than test animals.

    Moral valuation also has a lot to do with whether or not you just washed your hands, or whether a grad student recently sprayed fart spray in the trash can next to you.

    Doesn’t mean that it should. Doesn’t mean that “I don’t feel much empathy for a rat” should be admitted as an argument.

  423. #424 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    A very idealistic view.

    So idealistic it won’t work. That is my point. Either those opposed to animal testing need to volunteer as testees, or animals must be tested. One or the other. ARP needs to make up his/her mind and live with consequences. Now he/she is simply avoiding them by saying others can do it.

  424. #425 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Again ARP, either live with the responsible adult consequences of your decision, which means you must volunteer to be a testee since you must tell us no animal testing, or give up on telling other people that animal testing is unnecessary. One or the other.

    Again, Nerd, you’re just assuming that you have the automatic prerogative to commit violence against someone, and that if you can’t do it against an animal, then you get to do it to me.

    Get over your assumption that you automatically have the right to hurt someone.

  425. #426 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-consequences.html is a fallacy regardless of any equivalency.

    Saying that something isn’t true because it has bad consequences is fallacy; saying that it isn’t desirable is not — in fact, that’s a tautology. The original point was about “handing out rights” and the consequences that would ensue. As framed, it is a choice of action, not a matter of truth. And even if it were a matter of truth, your point would not go against MosesZD, who quite properly addressed the false equivalence entailed by Tulse’s explicit substitution of “different entities” in an argument.

  426. #427 Richard Smith
    April 24, 2009

    While ARP has never come right out and denied that he frequently engages in acts of sexual deviance, he has also not denied it. Of course, even if he did deny it, that does not constitute evidence that he actually doesn’t.

    Hey, let’s just keep flinging that mud around!

  427. #428 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    ARP is still missing the point. But what else is new. The tap dancing reminds me of Heddle. And ARP, that isn’t a compliment.
    I’m all for replacing animal testing, but until a good alternative is in place, that isn’t happening. And people like ARP aren’t working on the alternatives, but just pontificating like blowhards and hypocrites.

  428. #429 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    While ARP has never come right out and denied that he frequently engages in acts of sexual deviance, he has also not denied it.

    Indeed, we can’t know that he doesn’t, and the fact that he has a penis is evidence that he does.

  429. #430 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Here’s some more advice: while tangling with that belligerent buffoon Nerd may feel satisfying in the sense of shooting fish in a barrel (and there are many people who have no qualms about that, not just because their daddies didn’t — something you need to come to grips with),

    I’m aware tradition isn’t every single meat-eater’s reason. But it is the default for the vast majority who’ve never really thought it through. And it seems to be the default for several here who like to pretend that they’re thinking about it. (#17 for example)

    it’s also much like rolling around with pigs in the mud.

    Pigs are way more interesting. And fun.

  430. #431 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    You could start killing people to harvest their organs, and a dozen other lives or more could be saved for each victim killed. That would certainly be a net positive. Nevertheless, I’d say we shouldn’t do it, because the victim’s right to live shouldn’t be violated.

    Then it wouldn’t be a net positive because violating the victim’s right to live is too great a negative.

    Sheesh, I’m tired of debating with stupid people. I think I’ll go back and see if Sastra had anything more to say about naturalism.

  431. #432 Richard Smith
    April 24, 2009

    It’s Friday night, and all that mud has messed up my computer. I meant to say “…never come right out and admitted that…”

  432. #433 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    While ARP has never come right out and denied that he frequently engages in acts of sexual deviance, he has also not denied it. Of course, even if he did deny it, that does not constitute evidence that he actually doesn’t.

    This is what was called “sexual deviancy”:

    Like those anti-gay crusaders that end up getting caught trolling for sex in a gay bar.

    Nice homophobia, Pharyngulites!

  433. #434 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    P.S. While we put a high positive value on saving people, and a similar high negative value on passively letting them die, we put a much higher negative value on actively killing people — therefore, no organ harvesting, and no throwing people off the bridge in order to hit the train switch that saves oodles of people. See the work of Marc Hauser, referenced more than once above.

  434. #435 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Nice homophobia, Pharyngulites!

    There’s no homophobia there at all, fool, only hypocrisyphobia.

  435. #436 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Then it wouldn’t be a net positive because violating the victim’s right to live is too great a negative.

    If that’s how we’re going to count it, then the animal’s right not to be killed comes in too.

    Which is sort of what I was trying to say.

  436. #437 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    There’s no homophobia there at all, fool, only hypocrisyphobia.

    Quite obviously false. When one is looking for an example of “sexual deviancy” and anything involving consensual gay sex is brought up, that’s deeply ingrained homophobia.

  437. #438 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    If that’s how we’re going to count it, then the animal’s right not to be killed comes in too.

    Nope, you haven’t show moral equivalency, just alleged it. As we said, hypocrite.

  438. #439 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    Nope, you haven’t show moral equivalency, just alleged it.

    Also wrong. You have very poor reading skills. “The reasons why homeless people should be protected — they feel and prefer to avoid pain, and prefer to live — apply also to most research and food animals.”

    As we said, hypocrite.

    I said it first. Would you prefer if I just renamed myself “hypocrite like you” so we can get it out in the open?

  439. #440 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    I’m aware tradition isn’t every single meat-eater’s reason. But it is the default for the vast majority who’ve never really thought it through.

    This is incredibly stupid. First, the default is to eat meat because people either don’t have qualms about the slaughter of those animals or they mentally compartmentalize so that they can avoid associating the two. Second, I wasn’t talking about eating meat, I was talking about shooting fish in a barrel. Many people have no qualms about that because they simply don’t give fish moral worth — and pointing out that fish “prefer to live” isn’t enough for them to do so. You will continue to say incredibly stupid things as long as you have so little understanding of the nature of moral judgments.

    And it seems to be the default for several here who like to pretend that they’re thinking about it. (#17 for example)

    #17 is not an example of tradition, it’s an employment of a naturalistic fallacy as justification for moral devaluation of the animals we consume. Sheesh.

  440. #441 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    #17 is not an example of tradition, it’s an employment of a naturalistic fallacy

    Sheesh. What else do you think tradition is?

    Second, I wasn’t talking about eating meat, I was talking about shooting fish in a barrel.

    Oh jeez. Now this is stupid. It’s a figure of speech. Let it go, man.

  441. #442 ARP
    April 24, 2009

    All right, you guys are getting boring.

    I need to go smash my dick in a door jamb.

  442. #443 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Also wrong. You have very poor reading skills. “The reasons why homeless people should be protected — they feel and prefer to avoid pain, and prefer to live — apply also to most research and food animals.”

    Sigh. You claim that homeless people and animals are morally equivalent because they both have these attributes, but you have not shown it … and you cannot. All you can do is present such points and hope that people conclude that they entail moral equivalence. But moral judgments are internal and cannot themselves be transferred by logical demonstration.

  443. #444 John Morales
    April 24, 2009

    ARP:

    What else do you think tradition is?

    It’s a specific practice of long standing, and you’re splitting the already-split hairs.

    So, do you personally think animal experimentation a net positive, or not?
    (Noting that it’s already known you think it’s wrong.)

  444. #445 harold lee
    April 24, 2009

    Much have been said about using animals in experiments for the benefit of human kind. It is also said that scientists are inhumane because the animals do not volunteer themselves. Well said, no. Cattles, pigs, chickens etc did not volunteer to be slaughtered or to be food on your table. The fact is that in vitro experiments, i.e. using cells in petri dishes are alternatives to animals. However, a whole animal including human differs from the cells isolated from them. It is like saying [ hope I am not wrong ]‘ the whole is not the sum of the parts. Isolated cells from heart, kidney etc. are used all the time. But, there are no interactions among them in a petri dish like they do in a whole heart. The same is true that isolated organs do not interact with other organs as in a whole animal. Therefore, it is necessary to use whole animal as part of the study. It is like LegoBlock. No one single approach can give us the answers. There is another point. If the animals are not treated humanely, they will not be normal. Therefore, the results are misleading. So, animals have to be treated well in a humane manner to have workable results.

  445. #446 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Sheesh. What else do you think tradition is?

    Not a naturalistic fallacy, fool. “It’s ok to eat fish because it’s natural to do so” is a naturalistic fallacy. “I eat fish because my daddy did” is not.

    Oh jeez. Now this is stupid. It’s a figure of speech. Let it go, man.

    *I* used the figure of speech, and *I* intentionally referred to its literal meaning in my parenthetical, you idiot.

  446. #447 tmaxPA
    April 24, 2009

    I think it is a failure of reasoning when you start imagining that animals have or can have rights. Equating the existence of an animal with the life of a human being denigrates the human being.

    As has been said before, the ELF is the left wing equivalent of the anti-abortionist crowd.

  447. #448 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Quite obviously false. When one is looking for an example of “sexual deviancy” and anything involving consensual gay sex is brought up, that’s deeply ingrained homophobia.

    You’re such an intellectually dishonest idiot. When people point to examples of anti-gay politicians getting caught in a “wide stance”, it’s as often as not gays doing the pointing. MosesZD referred to a well known example of homophobia (“anti-gay”) grounded in a person’s shame (that’s the word he used) about their own sexuality. A criticism of being ashamed about an attribute is not a criticism of the attribute.

  448. #449 Richard Smith
    April 24, 2009

    Whether or not ARP does indeed engage in (generic) acts of sexual deviancy, he certainly does not engage in acts of mindreading. I was unaware that the term “sexual deviancy” was directly homologous with homosexuality. I’d actually initially typed in “pedophelia,” and decided that would be particularly nasty. So, yeah, good “homophobia” catch there.

  449. #450 John Morales
    April 24, 2009

    tmaxPA,

    I think it is a failure of reasoning when you start imagining that animals have or can have rights.

    I fail to see how animal rights are any less a human construct than human rights, and don’t we already have animal cruelty laws implicitly acknowledging the existence of such?

  450. #451 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    I think it is a failure of reasoning when you start imagining that animals have or can have rights.

    There’s no rational basis for that claim — it displays a failure of reasoning.

    Equating the existence of an animal with the life of a human being denigrates the human being.

    Non sequitur. Animals can be granted rights without creating equivalences. We grant animals the right not to suffer needlessly (where need is a matter of human societal goals, not logical necessity).

    As has been said before, the ELF is the left wing equivalent of the anti-abortionist crowd.

    There’s some truth to that, but it is again a non sequitur. One can imagine granting rights to animals without terrorizing scientists.

    I’ve seen you make a lot of intelligent comments, tmaxPA, but these aren’t among them.

  451. #452 Ichthyic
    April 24, 2009

    The fact is that in vitro experiments, i.e. using cells in petri dishes are extremely limited alternatives to animals.

    fixed.

  452. #453 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Whether or not ARP does indeed engage in (generic) acts of sexual deviancy, he certainly does not engage in acts of mindreading. I was unaware that the term “sexual deviancy” was directly homologous with homosexuality.

    Do try to follow along. ARP referred to MosesZD offering anti-gay crusaders trolling gay bars as an example of sexual deviancy in #405; it didn’t have anything to do with your #428.

  453. #454 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    it didn’t have anything to do with your #428.

    Sorry, that’s not quite true, but the point stands; see #434.

  454. #455 Bryn
    April 24, 2009

    Yeah, well. I’m still divided on this. I know all about the importance of animal experimentation. I really, really do. And I know that there’s mondo regulation in place (finally). Sometimes those regulations aren’t followed. The large university near me, for example, that got busted paying $10-$20 apiece for dogs to experiment on. Except they were buying the dogs from guys that were stealing them from peoples’ yards. Nothing like finding out Fluffy was alive and conscious when she was eviserated.

    Or Monash University doing they’re particularly lovely experiements on live, conscious bunnies. In some cases, for students who weren’t going on for a degree where you’d think that sort of thing was necessary. And in spite of having a CD available with a movie of the whole procedure that contained every thing a student would need to know for a test. There was enough outcry from those of us who do rabbit rescue (and from the shadow Minister of Agriculture) that they’re not doing it this year. Finally.

    So, yeah, I’m still on the fence about this.

  455. #456 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    If that’s how we’re going to count it, then the animal’s right not to be killed comes in too.

    But people don’t generally give the right of an animal not to be killed the same high negative value as the right of a human not to be killed; in fact, they give that a much lower value (depending on the animal; as I said, it’s a function of empathy) than saving a human, so when we “count it”, animals lose.

    You seem to be a moral absolutist/solipsist who just can’t imagine that other people assign different moral weights than you do, despite the overwhelming evidence.

  456. #457 atomjack
    April 24, 2009

    vegans and animal rights protesters…pssh.

    A. Humans have canine teeth. Can you guess why?

    B. Next time you need help and you don’t like animal research, be sure to tell the ER people that if the research into your lifesaving help involved “any of gawd’s little critters, I ain’t havin’ it”, and while your life fades, feel good about it.

    “Red of tooth and claw” means more than just being a lion stalking dinner. If you don’t like it, just go ahead and slit your wrists and let the flies and bacteria have at you…they’re coming to get you eventually, anyway.

    We ended up top predator for a reason- we’re predators. Deal with it.

    And, btw, I voted “yes” and we were at 82% for Homo Sapiens, thank you very much.

  457. #458 atomjack
    April 24, 2009

    vegans and animal rights protesters…pssh.

    A. Humans have canine teeth. Can you guess why?

    B. Next time you need help and you don’t like animal research, be sure to tell the ER people that if the research into your lifesaving help involved “any of gawd’s little critters, I ain’t havin’ it”, and while your life fades, feel good about it.

    “Red of tooth and claw” means more than just being a lion stalking dinner. If you don’t like it, just go ahead and slit your wrists and let the flies and bacteria have at you…they’re coming to get you eventually, anyway.

    We ended up top predator for a reason- we’re predators. Deal with it.

    And, btw, I voted “yes” and we were at 82% for Homo Sapiens, thank you very much.

  458. #459 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    I’m still on the fence about this.

    Where “this” entails “kill[ing] biological research dead”, as PZ wrote? Or do you want to argue that it wouldn’t have that effect?

    If you’re objecting to regulations not always being followed … well, it sounds like you already know what to do about that.

  459. #460 Ichthyic
    April 24, 2009

    I just noticed…

    450 plus comments already.

    Little point in adding more commentary, but I would note that there is a lot of animal experimentation that has nothing to do with medical science, but a lot to do with how we understand how animals themselves function, the (potential) threats they face within their environments, how environmental toxins react with them, and even how removing numbers of one species affects others.

    Seriously, there is a metric fuck-ton of research on animals that primarily serves to benefit our knowledge of how animals themselves function and interact. Much of that knowledge is directly used to create and support various conservation programs.

    so, it’s hardly completely, and perhaps not even mostly, that we do invasive research on animals strictly to benefit ourselves.

    Keep that in mind as you garner interest in making it more and more difficult to research animals, because the rules that apply to medical research inevitably become applied to ALL animal research of any kind.

    Doubt that? If so, I would suggest a visit to any biology dept. of any major university (especially in California), and ask them how animal rights activism has changed the rules for how they conduct their research on animals in the field as well as the lab.

    Ending animal research would be bad for everyone, including all the animals.

  460. #461 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    Humans have canine teeth. Can you guess why?

    Naturalistic fallacy.

    “Red of tooth and claw” means more than just being a lion stalking dinner. If you don’t like it, just go ahead and slit your wrists and let the flies and bacteria have at you…they’re coming to get you eventually, anyway.

    Gee, I guess we should banish all of civilization.

  461. #462 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    Ah, True Believers?, they always think they make better points than they do.

  462. #463 Sydney S.
    April 24, 2009

    A. Humans have canine teeth. Can you guess why?

    Because our non-human and human ancestors had them? We actually have fairly reduced canines really.
    Also, there are plenty of other primates that have much bigger canines, such as gorillas, that don’t eat meat at all. Hell, chimpanzees have bigger canines then us, and meat, nuts and insects only comprises of less the 5% of their diet. We eat such a significant portion of meat compared to other primates who have much larger canines, that it’s unlikely that us possessing canines like we do has a phylogenetic origin in meat eating. Mostly it’s used in male-male competition in other primates.

    So, while I think eating meat is fine, your point really doesn’t work.

  463. #464 Richard Smith
    April 24, 2009

    Sorry, that’s not quite true, but the point stands; see #434.

    Considering that he was quoting the other message to define what he wanted my reference to “sexual deviance” to mean, and that he started his message (#434) by quoting the entire first paragraph of my original message, I think I’m entitled to make some clarification about what did or didn’t mean by the term that kicked off the whole “sexual deviance” thread that started up at that point.

  464. #465 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    These are precisely the reasonings of white supremacists, homophobes, and misogynists.

    And this is precisely the air they breathe and the water they drink. So much for such fallacies of affirmation of the consequent.

    Doesn’t mean that [empathy] should [determine moral valuations].

    Now that is a fallacy of appeal to consequences.

    Doesn’t mean that “I don’t feel much empathy for a rat” should be admitted as an argument.

    Sigh. If lack of empathy shouldn’t admitted as an argument, then either should empathy. You claim that, as with homeless people, we shouldn’t kill animals because they prefer to live. But why is that an argument? why should we care? Without empathy, you’ve got absolutely nothing.

  465. #466 nothing's sacred
    April 24, 2009

    I think I’m entitled to make some clarification about what did or didn’t mean by the term that kicked off the whole “sexual deviance” thread that started up at that point.

    I think you’re full of crap and you know it. ARP wrote This is what was called “sexual deviancy” and then quoted an explicit reference to trolling gay bars and called that homophobia. The claim that he was mindreading you is just plain stupid.

  466. #467 Sydney S.
    April 24, 2009

    Actually, what my post should say is a RECENT phylogenetic origin for meat eating. It’s prob reasonable to say that the original selection for canines in mammals is related to efficent processing of meat. However, saying that since we have canines it means we are naturally suppose to eat meat isn’t accurate, since the trait in our recent phylogeny isn’t often associated with that function.

  467. #468 Riman Butterbur
    April 24, 2009

    Dianne # 308

    Let the mouse live it’s life, and it will show you.

    Its. There is no apostrophe in “its” in that context.

    Yes there is. It’s the 22nd character in the line.

    Have you ever watched a mouse going about its business? I have. My impression is that they want food, shelter, company, and freedom from pain and distress. All of which can be, should be, and are provided in any reputable lab.

    Lucky rats. Jentsch’s monkeys should be so lucky.

  468. #469 nothing's sacred
    April 25, 2009

    So what do the animal rights absolutists like ARP think about bedbugs, lice, and tapeworms? Maybe only conscious animals have these rights, but good luck drawing that line. And if so, can we experiment on and eat sleeping animals? Or even people, especially if they are in comas? Is it just “tradition” that keeps us from eating people that are brain dead? After all, they don’t “feel and prefer to avoid pain, and prefer to live” .

  469. #470 Richard Smith
    April 25, 2009

    Really. Go back and read #434. What is the first thing he quotes? Guess what? It mentions “sexual deviance”, which he then goes on to “clarify” using the second quote. He wouldn’t have quoted that one if I hadn’t made the reference to sexual deviance in the message that he first quotes.

    My subsequent message was a not-too-clear way of saying that my reference to sexual deviance in the first quote of #434 had nothing to do with the message he quoted below it.

    As for my “claim” that he was mindreading me, I was stating that he clearly was not reading my mind because, as I stated above, my comment about sexual deviance was meant to be vague and non-descript, not related to the comment about trolling gay bars. Mea culpa, I guess, for being too vague.

  470. #471 Richard Smith
    April 25, 2009

    I also just noticed that I omitted a pronoun in #465. It ought to read “…clarification about what I did or didn’t mean…”. Kind of left it open for possible misinterpretation that I was clarifying what ARP meant. Which I wasn’t.

  471. #472 Badger3k
    April 25, 2009

    FST in #286 “‘ve considered signing up for less invasive/dangerous tests.”

    Bzzzt – not what you were asked. You should sign up for any testing. Volunteer for an untested drug, which could be very dangerous. The invasive/dangerous aspect is meaningless for the ethics.

    Re – using autistics, etc for drug testing – using anything that wasn’t bred in controlled conditions seems incredibly stupid. Autistics and others that are “lesser” (to use the term from another post, not my own views) is using people with unusual biologies (general term for the entire body – neurology, metabolism, etc). How can you be sure that the effects of the drug are not due to their neurology, perhaps, and will be different with people without their structures? (I know, piss-poor way of saying it, but it’s late for me). What kind of control group can you have with people with disabilities? Add in things like the amount of people who are needed for human trials, which would need to be multiplied in the early stages of drug testing…and the generation time….human beings as test subjects (except for the last stages) is highly impractical.

    Which ignores the ethics issues of manslaughter (side question – how come, as far as I’ve seen, you can’t murder an animal or plant? Maybe the anti-humananity people like PETA should be trying to change the laws instead of break them like terrorists).

    I skimmed the last 200-odd posts, but did anyone bring up the issue that “rights” are not inherent to anything, but are things that we have decided are important? Our rights of freedom, pursuit of happiness, etc – all are things that we have decided are worth defending and want everyone to have. There is no Book of Rights where it is an absolute that any creature has any inherent rights, us included. We just picked ones that we thought important, derived from experience, philosophy, etc. I lost the site where this point was argued quite eloquently (the idea that animals do not have inherent rights, but are given to them by humans – we just draw the lines at different places).

  472. #473 Susan
    April 25, 2009

    Well, I think ARP made the most sense with the fewest insults. I may vote “No.” I think we should at least have the same restrictions as the rest of the civilized world. However, anyone who blows anyone else’s car up should go to jail.

  473. #474 David
    April 25, 2009

    Wow, 474 comments. In case it has not already been mentioned, there was an article in either Skeptic or Skeptical Inquirer, wild ass guess about a year ago give or take, about this subject. Interestingly, the authors argued against animal research, and argued that most of is it unnecessary. Anyhow, considering the publication, I thought some here might want to find it and read it.

  474. #475 David
    April 25, 2009

    “The tactics of the anti-vivisectionists are also reprehensible and deserving of condemnation.”

    PZ, as much as I love your blog, you have as much of a tendency to vilify those who you disagree with as do many of the religious folk you often skewer. In fact, it seems to me you routinely do the same to religious people, grouping them all together as intolerant morons with pitchforks.

    There is really no need whatsoever to group all “anti-vivisectionists” together, I’m quite sure many of us are peaceful and don’t go around blowing up peoples cars. Yet I have a feeling you’ll use that one isolated incident many times before the year is over to make vilify all people concerned with animal rights as extremists.

  475. #476 nothing's sacred
    April 25, 2009

    Richard Smith, it seems I overestimated you.

  476. #477 nothing's sacred
    April 25, 2009

    did anyone bring up the issue that “rights” are not inherent to anything, but are things that we have decided are important?

    Yes.

  477. #478 WhenDanSaysJump
    April 25, 2009

    Ah, this will be fun.

    For you see, I have been vegan for many years. I even used to be employed by PETA. No, really. And yes, Ingrid Newkirk is everything you imagine and then some. The phones were tapped, which is nice. I also used to hang with a bunch of folk from SHAC. As a result of this, CCTV footage of me is most likely in a UK government file somewhere. They’re in jail now.

    I, on the other hand, walk the streets a free man. This is probably because I’m sufficiently rational have woken up and figured out that the usual arguments of AR figureheads – including the likes of Jerry Vlasak and Gary Francione – are riddled with logical fallacies. And logical fallacies make my pitiful undernourished vegan frame hurt.

    My approach to my lifestyle is simple. I am vegan because I want to be. I eschew animal products because that is what makes me feel comfortable, but attempting to impose my lifestyle on others is a no-no for me. Curiously, I have actually been the catalyst for quite a few people adopting veganism as a result, simply because they expected me to be the stereotypical vegan, but thought they’d give some of my weird food or clothing or cosmetics a try on account of me being, essentially, a regular guy. I find that “Y’know, seasoned properly, tofu can taste pretty damn good” works better than “There is a moral imperative to eat tofu LOL VLASAK”. Tell me, kids… how many people have you directly turned on to veganism with your more caustic approach?

    Do I like the idea of animal testing? No. I’d much rather it didn’t happen at all. It doesn’t sit right with me. But, the reality is, it is prevalent at the moment. If some wealthy vegan philanthropist wants to pump a whole ton of cash into funding research into alternatives then I’m all for that. However, the fact that this can’t happen RIGHT NOW DAMMIT isn’t going to make me placard myself up and start protesting.

    In short, animal testing, IMO, is a shitty reality. Maybe it’ll go away, maybe it won’t. I’m just grateful that there is so much opportunity for me to live as non-exploitative a lifestyle as I possibly can, be it explotation of humans or other species. Other things that suck include retarded sloganeering, intimidation, liberating animals without properly thinking through where the fuck they’re going to go once they’re out of the lab, and violence against non-human OR human animals.

    Well, this was a deliciously poorly written screed, but I’ve not slept too much. I expect that the thread will continue to unfold in a tediously predictable manner. In closing, I am vegan, and you can go vegan too if you like. I’m not going to be an asshole if you don’t.

  478. #479 Red Skeleton
    April 25, 2009

    ARP, I’m still undecided on the issue but you have my respect for sticking it out for so long trying to make a logical argument against the waves of personal insults and heretic shunning/mutual masturbation here.

    I still don’t think the issue is quite as black and white as you’re making it though. If there is some animal research going on that could save human lives then it could be argued that the research is necessary. Certainly not pleasant or desired but necessary. If we do the testing many sentient creatures will die horrific painful deaths, if we don’t do the testing many sentient creatures will die horrific painful deaths. Our backs are forced against the wall by circumstance.

    It’s as if some masked supervillian dropped two of your best friends from a great height and you only had time to save one of them from splatting onto the cold hard ground below. It sounds supremely Assholeian but in such difficult situations you might have to start asking yourself questions like, ‘Which of these two people would get the most out of life if allowed to live it?’.

    Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t necessarily a line of thinking I support. I see your objections and probably agree with them to an extent. ‘What right do we have to kill one sentient creature to save another?’ ‘What gives us the right to judge which creature has to die and which gets to live’.

    ‘Hey piggy, that guy over there needs your heart to live so we’re just gonna take it’.
    ‘but I need my heart to live’.
    ‘Yeah well, sucks for you’.

    But at the same time you have to realise how ridiculously horrible it would be to have to say.

    ‘Sorry Mr. Jones, we could let you live forty or so more years if we took that pig’s heart but hey, it’s the pig’s heart. We can’t just take it however much we want you to see your kids grow up, it’s not that pig’s fault you got heart disease now is it? ‘.

    Much like a legit massage there’s no happy ending, however much you might want it.

  479. #480 EXDX
    April 25, 2009

    “I`m for it, so long as the animals aren’t abused”

    Unless you know how to get a letter of consent from a non-human animal, experimenting on them in any form is abuse.

    If you experiment on animals, the suffering of the animal is your responsibility. On the other hand, you’re not responsible for the suffering of schizophernics, since you didn’t inflict it on them. What you have is the certain sueffring of an animal(human or otherwise) vs the vauge possibility of a cure for a disease among humans.

  480. #481 Lotharloo
    April 25, 2009

    There shouldn’t be any dancing around the subject. Killing intelligent and self-conscious primates is morally wrong. Whether or not research (i.e., our self interest) justifies that is a totally different issue.

  481. #482 LRA
    April 25, 2009

    For those of you against animal research (like Lotharloo), you have a few choices, either we do humane research (meaning we require more anesthesia on animals than we actually require on human beings… I know because I did brain research in Eric Kandel’s lab at Columbia) or YOUR child or grandparent, or even you, dies unnecessarily and painfully in total agony without medical research… your choice.

  482. #483 Bubba
    April 25, 2009

    Yee haw, I finally found sumthin’ I can agree on wit mr.myers! crazy lib-tards (librals) care more about trees and animals than people! Me, I say keep them monkeys in cages cus who cares if they suffer!

  483. #484 Lotharloo
    April 25, 2009

    @LRA:

    Read my comment again. I never said anything regarding medical research on animals.

    There are two issues here, one is easier to address and the other one not. The easy issue is that killing intelligent and self-conscious animals is immoral.

    The tough issue is whether our self-interest justifies that.

    For instance, I assume both sides agree that if there is a reliable alternative to animal testing it must be taken. In other words, everyone agrees with the value of the research and the problems regarding tests on animals; one side simply believes self-interest does not justify harming animals and the other side believes the benefits of the research out-weights the harm done.

  484. #485 TaiYoukai
    April 25, 2009

    I’m with you on this one, PZ.

    A lot of people have got either the wrong ideas of how limited animal testing is and the scale of it is insignificant compared to industry, etc,.

  485. #486 chad
    April 25, 2009

    the answer to all this is easy. the reason it is ok to test on animals and not on humans is because humans have SOULS and animals were given to us to use in anyway we see fit.
    =]

  486. #487 Paul Browne
    April 25, 2009

    Tempted as I am to read through all 400 comments that have been made since I last looked in on this post I really think I ought to get out into my much neglected garden.

    What I will sugggest is that while you are voting in the LA Times pole why not make a more meaningful contribution by signing the Pro-Test petition at:

    http://www.amprogress.org/site/c.jrLUK0PDLoF/b.5110163/k.1CA0/ProTest_Petition_Show_Your_Support_Research_Advocacy.htm

  487. #488 anon.
    April 25, 2009

    Me, I’m against medical testing on animals. Not so much for the animals’ sake, but you really do get better results testing human medicine on human subjects.

    Of course, the problem is where to get them?

    The prison system seems an obvious choice. Why let them rot in a cell or simply execute them when you can do something useful with ‘em?

    Of course, you’re gonna look pretty bad when it turns out some guy who died in agony from the side-effects of some experimental treatment was wrongfully convicted. Maybe leave that one ’till forensic science really is as advanced as it is on TV, eh?

    Or maybe figure out a way to get willing subjects. Plenty of people are willing to sacrifice their lives for religion. There’s gotta be some way to get people to do it for science. Maybe the research companies could give huge payouts to the families like those Islamic militant organizations do for suicide bombers.

    Still, I guess until somebody can accomplish the herculean task of getting all the necessary legislation through, I guess the monkeys really are our best option.

  488. #489 Walton
    April 25, 2009

    It’s good to see that I’m not the only person who’s fallen afoul of “nothing’s sacred” and his caustic, abrasive, self-righteous, arrogant manner. (He referred to me as “morally depraved and not particularly bright” on another thread.)

    Nothing’s sacred: I thought I had poor social skills. Till I encountered you. Seriously, is it really that hard not to rant, rave and curse at everyone who ever dares to disagree with you on anything? Get a grip.

  489. #490 George D
    April 25, 2009

    486 comments, and no-one’s said it aready… well, maybe once in here.

    I’m against the great majority of animal experimentation.

    Do we need to use mice to test gene expression? No. Do we need to drill into their brains to test their sense of balance? No.

    Do we need to test certain cancers on them? Maybe. If the experiments are carefully designed, we’ll get a maximum of information with a minimum (relatively) of suffering.

    Less experiments means better science, because it forces the researchers to think very carefully about the questions they’re asking by harming animals.

    You can be anti-testing while recognising that a minimum of it justified.

  490. #491 cleve hicks
    April 25, 2009

    I am a chimpanzee researcher working in the DR Congo, where we are unfortunately documenting an emerging slaughter of chimpanzees for the busmeat market(see http://www.wasmoethwildlife.org – ‘Trading chimpanzees for Baubles’ 3 volume ebook). It strikes me as enormously hypocritical that we expect Africans to avoid destroying wildlife and selling chimpanzee babies when we ourselves engage in what can only be described as torture of chimpanzees in the name of science. If you doubt this, please see the following link:
    http://www.hsus.org/animals_in_research/animals_in_research_news/undercover_investigation_reveals_chimpanzee_abuse.html
    Please watch the film, difficult though it is.
    I respectfully disagree with PZ that oversight and restrictions are protecting chimpanzees and monkeys in research laboratories from such horrific abuse.
    We would not treat our most ahrdened criminals in such a manner!
    All the best,
    Cleve Hicks

  491. #492 'Tis Himself
    April 25, 2009

    Walton whines:

    He referred to me as “morally depraved and not particularly bright” on another thread.

    And your point is? If you abandoned your morally repugnant politico-economic ideology, perhaps he’d take a kinder view of you. As long as you adhere to your hateful, selfish views towards society, don’t complain when people comment disdainfully on them and you.

  492. #493 Walton
    April 25, 2009

    As long as you adhere to your hateful, selfish views towards society, don’t complain when people comment disdainfully on them and you.

    Where have I expressed “hateful” views towards anyone? I don’t hate anyone in particular. You’re the one who keeps attacking libertarians personally.

    And as to being “selfish” – selfishness is not necessarily a bad thing. Kids’ playground morality does not work in the real world.

    But I am NOT going to be drawn into discussing libertarianism, since I will then be accused of “hijacking another thread” (and it will conveniently be forgotten that you were the one who brought it up).

  493. #494 gedwarren
    April 25, 2009

    “It’s inhumane by definition but I still support it” would have gotten my vote.

    Same here. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of experimenting on animals. I don’t eat them because I don’t feel a need to. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years and I’d say I’m pretty healthy as a result.

    However, when my kids are sick they get medicine that would not exist if not for animal experimentation. I accept the need for it and I support it, even though I feel a little guilty doing so. All I ask of practitioners is that they go out of their way to avoid any more suffering to animals than is absolutely necessary.

    That’s the difference between people like me and supporters of the ALF. They don’t seem to be able to think through the logical consequences of their position. I suspect most would turn out to be hypocrites if their kids’ lives were threatened by serious illness.

    So please keep up the good work you guys!

  494. #495 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    Nothing’s sacred: I thought I had poor social skills. Till I encountered you.

    How stupid. You have terrible social skills, Walton. ns does not – he knows exactly what he’s doing and could behave differently if he so chose. But far more significantly, your arguments are rubbish, and his aren’t, whether I agree with him on any particular issue or not.

    (By the way, since you acknowledged on a recent thread that you know you come across as more sure of your opinions than you actually are, you should work on expressing them with a modicum of intellectual humility. Recognizing the problem is just the first step. Recognizing the problem and repeatedly apologizing for it over a long period of time while doing nothing to remedy the situation isn’t even a step – it’s a dodge used to avoid confronting the real need to practice genuine intellectual humility.)

  495. #496 tsig
    April 25, 2009

    If reduction in suffering is your goal then you should be in favor of animal testing. The medicines developed have reduced the suffering and death of millions of animals.

  496. #497 strange gods before me
    April 25, 2009

    Walton “Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ on Me” Misogynist asks,

    Where have I expressed “hateful” views towards anyone?

    Right here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/psss_libertarians_go_pester_ga.php

    you do not have the right to steal [a well-to-do merchant's] bread in order to save your own life … steal his bread to save a third party (e.g. for your children) rather than yourself, you still act immorally

    So it’s better that children should die, rather than a well-to-do merchant should lose a loaf of bread.

    That’s your contempt for poor people. I know you don’t feel a red-hot burning rage against them, but you’re confusing this absence of rage for an absence of hatred. Not so. Your hatred of poor people is cold contempt.

  497. #498 'Tis Himself
    April 25, 2009

    But I am NOT going to be drawn into discussing libertarianism, since I will then be accused of “hijacking another thread” (and it will conveniently be forgotten that you were the one who brought it up).

    A video just for Walton.

  498. #499 strange gods before me
    April 25, 2009

    I propose a challenge for Pharyngula commenters. The goal is to coax the most horrible words out of Walton.

    I believe I am currently winning with my submission at #498, but I would be absolutely delighted to see someone else take the lead.

  499. #500 eptesicus
    April 25, 2009

    Eating/killing or even torture of one creature by another is the normal part of natural process called evolution. See all that parasitoid insects, like Ichneumonidae or Tachinidae – You don’t tell me that they are “evil” (in what sense?), don’t You? So You cannot say that biologists studying nature are “evil”. People HAVE RIGHT to use other creatures for their purpose, just like lions, eagles, pikes, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, jaguars and cormorants have such right.

    However, we should not break our empathy too deeply – because we will do damage to ourselves – mainly our minds and our societes. Thus, we should use experiments on animals very carefully and avoid unnecessary suffering or confront importance of expected results against expected suffering and number of sacrificed individuals.

  500. #501 Dianne
    April 25, 2009

    The fact is that in vitro experiments, i.e. using cells in petri dishes are alternatives to animals.

    Comments like this make me wonder if people who oppose testing on animals have any real idea of how biomedical research works.

    Isolated cells in a petri dish can’t tell us a number of things about how a gene or a drug work in a whole organism. Furthermore, cells grown in culture are not the same as cells in a body. For example, cell lines are often transformed with EBV, a virus which changes the cell’s behavior fairly profoundly. Many things that work in cell culture flop in organisms, either animals or humans. (That having been said, there is a lot that can be done with cell culture and IS done with cell culture. It’s cheaper and easier than animal studies and therefore is used whenever possible.)

    But the real irony about cell culture is that it is NOT an animal exploitation free system. Virtually all cell cultures require fetal or newborn calf serum to grow. How is that obtained? The same slaughter of calfs (or fetal calfs when a pregnant cow is slaughtered) that people have decried the dairy industry for.

    Oh, and the argument that mice are too closely related for us to experiment on? Some have claimed that Hela cells are a new species. They’re clearly separate from humans. If so, they are humanity’s closest living relatives. And are killed every day by the millions in labs across the world. Protests, anyone?

  501. #502 MosesZD
    April 25, 2009

    Posted by: Dianne | April 25, 2009 10:08 AM

    Comments like this make me wonder if people who oppose testing on animals have any real idea of how biomedical research works.

    They don’t. What they generally have, at least as far as I’ve observed, is displaced religious zealotry. Instead of latching onto some mega-church and bashing “the gheys” they’re after science.

    Really, same witch hunt, different church.

  502. #503 MosesZD
    April 25, 2009

    Posted by: Alex | April 24, 2009 7:13 PM

    Again, no one has addressed for me the assumption that human life inherently is more valuable than other sentient life.
    Currently, only the human animal has the capability of willfully saving or destroying any or all animals (and things). With this great power comes great responsibility, great peril, and potentially great reward.

    IMO, that’s why.

    Grandiose over-statement showing a total lack of perspective to go with the narcissistic hubris that man is so powerful that he can save or destroy all animals and things. Get off your God complex and religious zealotry and come back down to earth.

  503. #504 Richard Harris
    April 25, 2009

    eptesicus People HAVE RIGHT to use other creatures for their purpose, just like lions,…

    People sometimes speak of rights as if they exist independently. The brutal fact is that rights only come into being when the powerful grant them to the weak. In a democracy, the people, through their elected representatives, are the powerful.

    Democratically granted rights allow certain research, subject to approvals by ethics committees, to be performed on animals. It is important for medical research & for fundamental research in various fields to maintain such rights. Unfortunately, misinformation generated by the animals rights fanatics, prejudice this.

    I agree that we should avoid causing unnecessary suffering, & this can only be assessed, (perhaps not always very accurately), by experts in the field. Emotional appeals by animal rights advocates invoking anthropomorphic sympathies are probably more influential on the general public than cogent arguments by experts. The research community has a tough fight on their hands, & I think that it?s important to support them in this.

  504. #505 Dianne
    April 25, 2009

    Currently, only the human animal has the capability of willfully saving or destroying any or all animals (and things).

    If humans can destroy species at will then why are there still mosquitos? Or rabbits in Australia for that matter? Humans blunder around, changing the environment and taking what they need to survive and sometimes messing things up for other species. In that way, humans are exactly like every other plant, animal, and microbe on the planet.

  505. #506 Francesco Orsenigo
    April 25, 2009

    From Pharingula quotes:

    ‘Yes, but humans are more important than animals,’ said Brutha.
    ‘This is a point of view often expressed by humans,’ said Om.
    (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)

    I vote for respecting the pain of any being according to the development of its nervous system.
    So I’m ok for experimenting with human embrios but I would like farming cattle to be treated better.

  506. #507 Tom
    April 25, 2009

    It’s simply sad that we take the lives of beings we deem lesser for our own benefit, with some misguided and false sense of “well, they don’t suffer.” You wouldn’t think the same if you were bound in a cage with machines and tubes hooked into every limb, knives cutting pieces off of you, and all of this in the name of science? What scientists and doctors alike need to ask themselves is, “What is the goal?” Preservation of human life? But why? On an already-crowded planet with much less resources than we can sustain ourselves on, what is truly the end product?

  507. #508 Admiral Valdemar
    April 25, 2009

    Tom: I don’t think anyone has stated “lesser” animals don’t suffer, indeed, many have acknowledged this is plain to see, and anyone with a brain can tell you that sensations like pain are very real to even the smallest rodent.

    However, you then go and make an appeal to emotion with the whole “You wouldn’t like it if you were tested on, would you?” argument. I think we’ve debunked this kind of kneejerk reaction thoroughly already.

    As to the ends? Well, as someone who works for a CRO which tests everything from agrochemicals and veterinary medicines to monoclonal antibodies targeting HIV, I think I can safely say the improvement of those currently alive is the key aim. I’m well aware of Malthus, climate change and peak oil, and I have a certain disposition against my own species at times, which is ironic given my job. But, I also like knowing that my job means the standard of living for those around now, whatever species they are, is improved via the small amount of suffering incurred by animal testing. I know the sacrifice of the few for the many is an iffy position to take morally, then again, no one really accepts that this testing is without moral hazards. Still, if several dozen rodents, Beagles or primates have to endure such tests in order to help countless others, do you not think it is worth it? The birth rate simply needs to come down in our species within the developing world in order to deal with excess growth and running into our own Liebig’s limits (along with a more austere lifestyle for all), as I think you can agree, increasing the death rate is not preferable.

  508. #509 eptesicus
    April 25, 2009

    And we should separate RESEARCH, i.e. SCIENCE = producing new knowledge, either “basic” (“pure”) or applied, from testing of new perfumes or make-ups. The first may be justified – either performed to know how organism works, or to obtain e.g. new cure for some desease. If the goal of the study is really important then sacrificing of animals can be accepted. The second should not be justified if it produces any harm or suffering.

  509. #510 Tom
    April 25, 2009

    Adm: My point is simply that the end-goal of this research is the extension of individual humans’ lives. But is that what is best? Sure, it’s nice that you might very well cure my grandmother’s cancer, but what will happen when we’re unequivocally overcrowded, no end in sight, and we haven’t the resources to sustain our own lives, nevertheless the lives of everything in nature? What is the outcome of all of this “important” and “necessary” research? Where does it lead humanity?

  510. #511 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 25, 2009

    Where does it lead humanity?

    We don’t know, but without the knowledge gained humanity will be worse off. Open ended questions tend to be philosophically loaded, like yours, and at the end of the day likely to be irrelevant.

  511. #512 Nova
    April 25, 2009

    @268
    I certainly think most human suffering is greater than animal suffering, as far as we can know. I think many adult higher mammals would suffer more than a human newborn, and I think this isn’t considered nearly enough, we just stick suffering/intelligence figures on one species as a whole, ignoring how much that figure grows during the species development, the size of the disparity between the newborn and the adult (a newborn calf can do virtually as much as an adult cow within half an hour of leaving the womb). Humans probably have the largest intelligence disparity of all mammals between newborn and adult – even if you ignore the fact that we educate our young the most. A human baby has lot of postnatal brain development to do that is done prenatally in other animals, this is because it’s a dangerous squeeze to get the babies large head out of the womb as it is.

    Both the extremes of this issue use dogmatic rules rather than actually trying to approximate reduced suffering (yeah maximize happiness is probably the wrong way to phrase it) it’s either: “There just ANIMALS! Who cares?!” or “Causing suffering is NEVER justified no matter what the outcome!”. Both are equally infuriating. My post is a “you can’t have it both ways” either only testing on animals of basic intelligence (newborn babies come surprisingly low in intelligence when compared to adult mammals as far as we know) or orphaned newborns also become subjects of testing to keep things morally fair and not speciesist.

  512. #513 Marcus Ranum
    April 25, 2009

    I vote for respecting the pain of any being according to the development of its nervous system.

    I suspect you mean in terms of organization, not development.

    But if you use those criteria you’re in a hell of strokes, trisomy, etc. I don’t have problems, personally, with some of those consequences – but only because I’d offhandedly kill many humans but would do a lot for my horses and dogs. (shrug)

  513. #514 Marcus Ranum
    April 25, 2009

    I certainly think most human suffering is greater than animal suffering, as far as we can know

    Uh, no. You can explain things to a human.

    A huge component of fear is ignorance and incomprehension. After I managed to explain things to him, I’ve done things to my horse that would have resulted in my head being crushed with a well-placed hoof.

    If you accept that argument, most animal suffering (caused by humans or not!) is morally innocent.

    Or are you saying that comprehending suffering makes it greater? (I.e.: it’s more moral to suffer if you understand it and therefore it’s somehow ‘better’ pain? Ugh. Sounds like something Mother Theresa would come up with.)

  514. #515 Marcus Ranum
    April 25, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead, OM
    We don’t know, but without the knowledge gained humanity will be worse off.

    But, as we’re most likely to say, “My god, what have I done?!”

    Man isn’t worth any more or less than any other creature. We’re just more powerful. Nihilism is an inevitable conclusion of our actions as well as our inactions.

  515. #516 Marcus Ranum
    April 25, 2009

    In a democracy, the consent of the governed is from the social contract; i.e.: they submit to the will of the majority in preference to conflict. This cannot be said in the case of compulsion. Indeed, democracy is not fully moral unless it offers an alternative.

    It is not moral for a democracy to vote to allow torture or capital punishment any more that it is moral for a democracy to allow animal testing. The only way to clear that particular dilemma up is to recogize that “moral” is meaningless.

  516. #517 J Harris
    April 25, 2009

    For those of you realizing that you know little about ethics, and are feeling some slight discomfort about making claims about the nature of morality, rights, and moral considerability I would suggest starting some research here:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/

    This conversation has really made me rethink the value of this site as a whole. I must admit that I took a great deal of pleasure when some silly religious nut would come here and make misinformed pronouncements about science. Watching these hapless fools get taken apart was a joy. That said, I was quite excited when an animal rights conversation got going. Surely this conversation would be conducted with a bit of modesty. Many of us do not fully understand all the variety of ways that animals are used in science, and thus we should exercise a bit of caution before declaring ourselves either ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ testing. Further, I thought some may have realized that this involves ethical issues, an area that I am now quite confident very few of you realize is an area of active intellectual discussion. I say you don’t realize this because surely the silly ethical theories that have been offered here would never have been uttered by a person who realized that better thinking has been done on these topics. I imagine that scientist hate nothing more than getting religious fools in their classes who think they know something about science when they are woefully misinformed. The foolishness we’ve seen here makes teaching ethics class just as terrible for me. I’ll be cautious about making broad moral pronouncements about science because I realize I need more information– about the science. Please avoid making pronouncements about ethics when there is so much more for you to learn. This was an opportunity for an interesting discussion. That opportunity has, as far as I can tell, been lost.

  517. #518 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 25, 2009

    But, as we’re most likely to say, “My god, what have I done?!”

    I don’t think so. Scientists as a whole are not fools. Again, are you going to volunteer for tox testing of an unknown drug? It’s either you or an animal. There has to be a first in vivo use test.

  518. #519 LRA
    April 25, 2009

    J Harris,

    Do you realize that animal research is very very strictly regulated by ethics committees at universities in addition to national standards? Do you realize that trials must pass through “lower” organisms first loooooooooonnnnnnggggg before studies are ever allowed to be done on “higher” organisms (I use lower and higher to mean sentience, not as a dismissive term)? Do you realize that ALL experimentation must be vetted and get permission before it can proceed from multiple people? That experiments involving pain of any kind must be double anaesthetized unless the pain is part of the experiment (like using foot shock for learning) and that these sorts of experiments are carefully considered before permission is given? Do you realize that all animal houses are regulated by law to have veterinarians and that each animal must have a certain amount of space, food, and water by law?

    In other words, animal experimentation is a very carefully regulated, ethical process.

    Betcha PETA won’t tell you that.

  519. #520 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 25, 2009

    Does it smell smug around here?

  520. #521 Riman Butterbur
    April 25, 2009

    It smells irrational and emotional around here.

  521. #522 Paul Browne
    April 25, 2009

    Don’t forget to show your support by signing the Pro-Test petition at http://www.raisingvoices.net

  522. #523 J Harris
    April 25, 2009

    Rev, I described my post to my wife as being sanctimonious, bit I think smug works too.

    LRA, I’m quite please to hear that universities regulate animal experimentation carefully. Do all animal experiments use the procedures set out by universities? Further, I think, some of the concern about animal experimentation also has to do with the needlessness of the experimentation. It’s my impression that this is part of Peter Singer’s objection to animal experimentation. For instance some of the LD50 tests done may result in many lives lost, but relatively little useful information. All the same, I appreciate the information.

    Also, I’m not directing anyone to PETA. The link I provided was to the Stanford Encyclopedia for Philosophy. The only thing I was advocating was a bit more careful thinking.

  523. #524 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 25, 2009

    J Harris, careful thinking is a two way street. Some information, such as LD50 data, is need to calculate OEL levels for worker exposure. How do we get this data in a meaningful way for new chemical entities? I’ll be happy to save your animals if you take personal financial responsibility for any deaths/injuries/cancers that may occur because of lack of testing.

  524. #525 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    Do you realize that animal research is very very strictly regulated by ethics committees at universities in addition to national standards? Do you realize that trials must pass through “lower” organisms first loooooooooonnnnnnggggg before studies are ever allowed to be done on “higher” organisms (I use lower and higher to mean sentience, not as a dismissive term)? Do you realize that ALL experimentation must be vetted and get permission before it can proceed from multiple people? That experiments involving pain of any kind must be double anaesthetized unless the pain is part of the experiment (like using foot shock for learning) and that these sorts of experiments are carefully considered before permission is given? Do you realize that all animal houses are regulated by law to have veterinarians and that each animal must have a certain amount of space, food, and water by law?

    In other words, animal experimentation is a very carefully regulated, ethical process.

    That’s what people keep saying, but then I keep reading – often on Sb (including Orac’s, and he’s one of those who’s remarked on the burdensome regulations) – of cruel and unethical experiments performed on animals*. So I’m not entirely buying this “carefully regulated” line.

    *And I’ll leave aside the issue of drug testing on poor people.

  525. #526 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    That’s what people keep saying, but then I keep reading – often on Sb (including Orac’s, and he’s one of those who’s remarked on the burdensome regulations) – of cruel and unethical experiments performed on animals*. So I’m not entirely buying this “carefully regulated” line.

    always a bad apple in the bunch.

    probability alone suggests there will be some who choose to flaunt proper husbandry guidelines.

    They can be and usually are punished for it.

    I’ve seen it.

  526. #527 Kemist
    April 25, 2009

    Personally, as sad as it would be, I would rather myself or a loved one die of a disease — which is also part of nature’s ability to cull the herd and keep things in balance — than to learn that their cure was discovered through animal testing.

    I’ve got a ward full of sick children with their parents waiting for you to tell them that their quality of life and their very lives are worth less than those of rats.

  527. #528 Sydney S.
    April 25, 2009

    But are the husbandry guidelines sufficient? I know for chimpanzees they are not (can’t speak for other critters). Unfortunately, you know who gets to vote on what’s proficient? For the most part, its people who have an active stake in biomedical labs. When professional primatologists like Jane Goodall and Roger Fouts go and try to get these regulations updated to fit the current research on chimpanzee physiological and psychological needs (like say increasing the minimum cage size, or reduce the use of solitary housing) they are not passed because the people who have the most votes in the process will lose money making these changes. Until we stop letting the people who spend the money make the decisions about the animals minimal needs, we can’t really say that we are being reasonably ethical.

    As it stands, chimpanzees are required to be kept in 5x5x7 foot cages, and have at least one piece of enrichment or a “enrichment plan” (even if it’s not followed through). That means one ball, or one blanket their whole lives. Oh, and things like benches in an enclosure fit the requirement for enrichment too. They are required to have access to water one hour each day, and are in most cases only feed Zuupreem (monkey chow protein biscuits).

    Also, at the facility I work at we have a chimpanzee who is 5’1″-5’2″. He couldn’t even lay out in an enclosure meeting the legal requirements. In addition, during “holding times” and transportation in biomedical facilities, chimpanzees may be kept in cages that are up to two feet smaller in all dimensions, and they can remain in these cages as long as a vet approves. The seven chimpanzees at a sanctuary near where I am (not the one I work in) were allowed to live in those cages for years. This isn’t just a bad egg story, unfortunately, there are piles and piles of instances like this.

    In psychological testing, sometimes they get “outdoor time” or even possibly social housing.
    In biomedical, chimpanzees are almost always kept in solitary caging only, in elevated cages with slotted bars that make them easier to clean, but provide the chimpanzees no flat surface to lie on. Chimpanzees have the same complex social needs that we do. We use solitary confinement as the ultimate form of punishment at prisons. Why on earth can we consider this meeting their needs?

    Not only is this not meeting the needs of the test animal, but is it really producing good results? If we are keeping animals in such an atypical environment, how can we say our results are truly effective? (Obviously this is more apt for the psychological research, but the chimpanzees’ different immune system still comes into play for the physiological research, as demonstrated by the huge amount of wasted funding into chimpanzee AIDS research)

    So, while we may have the IACAUC, that doesn’t mean that what they are enforcing actually fits the animals needs. The problem often lies with what regulations the IACAUC has to work with.

  528. #529 Sydney S.
    April 25, 2009

    *sufficient, not proficient, sorry.

  529. #530 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    As it stands, chimpanzees are required to be kept in 5x5x7 foot cages

    please define which entities created and actually use these guidelines please.

    Is this a national standard set up by the FDA?

    is it a specific standard used by a lab somewhere?

    be very specific.

  530. #531 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    …btw, it’s not something I’ve ever seen, ANYWHERE primates are kept, either in zoos, or in research facilities within academic institutions.

  531. #532 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 25, 2009

    Rev, I described my post to my wife as being sanctimonious, bit I think smug works too.

    Either or, at least you recognize it.

  532. #533 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    I say you don’t realize this because surely the silly ethical theories that have been offered here would never have been uttered by a person who realized that better thinking has been done on these topics.

    this sounds a lot like a Courtier’s Reply, to me.

  533. #534 Anonymous
    April 25, 2009

    Well, zoos and santucaries in particilar tend to have different conditions, and these are just the MINIMUMS to which chimpanzees must be cared for according to the FDA. So, while some facilities certainly go beyond these minimums, not everywhere does. However, if we adovacating that this research is a “necessary evil”(as I do in the case of non-endangered animals), and that we are making the the best effort to reduce suffering, shouldn’t we ensure these minimums are sufficient?

    The cases that tend to be the worst are the non-university affiliated biomedical institutions, but some university affiliated ones still stick to most minimum requirements in an effort to increase control in research, or just lower costs.

    If FDA specific enough, or would you like to me to see if I can find you a link somewhere?

  534. #535 Sydney S.
    April 25, 2009

    Sorry, that last one was for me. Also, that number is for solitary housing, it does increase when you have multiple individuals.

  535. #536 windy
    April 25, 2009

    …btw, it’s not something I’ve ever seen, ANYWHERE primates are kept, either in zoos, or in research facilities within academic institutions.

    So did you watch the linked video in #492?

    (…not saying that HSUS is an unproblematic source, but on this issue it seems that they have a point.)

  536. #537 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    but some university affiliated ones still stick to most minimum requirements in an effort to increase control in research, or just lower costs.

    which.

    ones.

  537. #538 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    If FDA specific enough, or would you like to me to see if I can find you a link somewhere?

    yup.

    all I can find at the FDA is this statement:

    http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-205.html

    …which was an interesting read in and of itself.

  538. #539 Sydney S.
    April 25, 2009

    Which ones? Well, the most recent example I can think of Is the New Iberia research center at the University of Louisiana (Lafayette).

    As for the documentation, I’ll have to ask my boss for a copy or location on Monday. I’m an intern at a chimpanzee sanctuary that is located on but not owned by a university, and we are given the basics on the regulations and what kinds of violations to report to our university’s IACAUC. In Retrospect, we learn FDA and CDC regulations, so maybe it’s a CDC one. All I remember is that it is one of the government regulations.

  539. #540 Dianne
    April 25, 2009

    That’s what people keep saying, but then I keep reading – often on Sb (including Orac’s, and he’s one of those who’s remarked on the burdensome regulations) – of cruel and unethical experiments performed on animals*.

    zB? Specific examples from Orac’s blog would be best since you brought him up.

  540. #541 windy
    April 25, 2009

    Sydney, have you read this book?

  541. #542 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    zB? Specific examples from Orac’s blog would be best since you brought him up.

    Sure. My laptop freaked out when I went to RI for some reason, so I was only able to get one actual link:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/05/some_monkey_business_in_autism_research.php

    The other one that came to mind was another, absolutely horrid, autism study at Columbia. I’m sure if you do a search there for it, it’ll come up. I think I left comments on both of those threads. The thing that most bothers me about it is that the research was so poorly designed as to be useless anyway, so any ill-treatment of the animals is totally gratuitous. I was told there, IIRC, that the review boards don’t take into account the necessity of the research or the quality of the study design in the approval process, which, if true, I see as a problem. I’m also a bit bothered that Orac seems only to point out these cases when they’re related to certain issues (vaccines, HIV-related quackery), but then doesn’t bring them up in the context of discussions about animal research in general. He does the same thing with research on people, arguing recently that some insane HIV vitamin research in Africa violated ethical standards without noting that those standards have been chipped away at, not well enforced in practice, and ultimately scrapped by the FDA last year, as I mentioned here just recently:

    http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/20/9084

  542. #543 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    As for the documentation, I’ll have to ask my boss for a copy or location on Monday.

    Id like to see that, and which orgs contributed to the development of the guidelines, if you run into them.

    then I’d like to see just how common it is that research facilities “work exactly to guideline” (especially the cage size issue), as again, I’ve been involved in a lot of animal research myself, and have yet to see a large animal crammed into such a small space.

    ALL of this aside, that some tend to abuse the privilege of being able to work with animals to solve important questions has little to do with whether or not we should continue working with them.

  543. #544 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    The thing that most bothers me about it is that the research was so poorly designed as to be useless anyway, so any ill-treatment of the animals is totally gratuitous.

    pretty much my point. It becomes a double-smackdown for researchers involved in poor husbandry.

  544. #545 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    I’m also a bit bothered that Orac seems only to point out these cases when they’re related to certain issues (vaccines, HIV-related quackery), but then doesn’t bring them up in the context of discussions about animal research in general.

    why? Didn’t you also just point out, in what i quoted in my previous post, that most of these were so poorly designed as to be useless anyway?

    why would Orac, or anyone, make general conclusions about the efficacy of animal studies based on ones that had been carried out so poorly?

  545. #546 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    pretty much my point. It becomes a double-smackdown for researchers involved in poor husbandry.

    Huh?

  546. #547 windy
    April 25, 2009

    then I’d like to see just how common it is that research facilities “work exactly to guideline” (especially the cage size issue), as again, I’ve been involved in a lot of animal research myself, and have yet to see a large animal crammed into such a small space.

    Is there some reason you can’t watch that video from #492? How big are those isolation cages?

  547. #548 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 25, 2009

    Honestly it is really easy to find out Orac’s thoughts on using animals in research.

  548. #549 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    Huh?

    they get smacked down from their colleagues for both poor husbandry and poor research protocol.

    clearer?

    again, I’ve seen that happen one time, with someone who worked on vision in cats at UCB, and he quickly cleaned up his act.

  549. #550 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    why would Orac, or anyone, make general conclusions about the efficacy of animal studies based on ones that had been carried out so poorly?

    What the hell? I’m not suggesting he make general conclusions about the efficacy of animal research based on them; I’m asking that when he’s speaking about animal-rights activism he take into account cases of unethical research (which apparently was approved by universities) that he himself has called attention to in other contexts. The question isn’t whether animal studies are or can be efficacious, but whether they are being carried out ethically in practice.

  550. #551 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    Is there some reason you can’t watch that video from #492? How big are those isolation cages?

    I’m speaking of personal experience within academia (and that’s considerable – gotta be at least 3 dozen or more institutions in the US, Canada, and the South Pacific), not vids of other places I’ve never been.

    …and that vid doesn’t answer any of my questions as to who sets guidelines, how commonly they are or are not followed, etc.

    did you have some other point?

    otherwise, can we move on now?

  551. #552 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    rev, you might have wanted to highlight Orac’s closing line there:

    As much as I appreciate that it’s probably a good thing that my alma mater has finally decided to close its dog lab for surgical residents, I worry about how it came about. Worse, I fear that the PCRM will not stop there. U. of M. researchers had best be on their guard.

  552. #553 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    they get smacked down from their colleagues for both poor husbandry and poor research protocol.

    First, I haven’t seen evidence of them having been smacked down for poor husbandry (unless you count blog posts). Second, I’m concerned about these studies having been approved in the first place.

    clearer?

    You seem to be in a bit of a snit tonight. Not sure if I want to have a conversation with you about this.

  553. #554 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    ? I’m not suggesting he make general conclusions about the efficacy of animal research based on them

    forgive me, that’s not what I understood when I read this part:

    but then doesn’t bring them up in the context of discussions about animal research in general.

    The question isn’t whether animal studies are or can be efficacious, but whether they are being carried out ethically in practice.

    and who decides what’s “ethical”?

    I rather think that is the reason you don’t see Orac commenting much along those lines, but I also think you might want to read the article that RBDC linked to to see Orac’s actually thought process in “action”, as it were. To see how we tend to rationalize the ethics of working on one animal over another.

    He’s right to be concerned as to what the effects of that will be.

  554. #555 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    Honestly it is really easy to find out Orac’s thoughts on using animals in research.

    Not for me, since for some reason I can’t go there tonight. Could I ask what’s there that’s relevant to this discussion?

    Honestly, I don’t understand how questioning or looking critically at how research is being carried out in practice is being read as opposing all animal research.

  555. #556 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    forgive me, that’s not what I understood when I read this part:

    but then doesn’t bring them up in the context of discussions about animal research in general.

    Yes, you read that wrong.

    and who decides what’s “ethical”?

    Well, that’s an important question. Who in practice is deciding what’s ethical, how, and how well are the standards that have been decided upon being enforced? I don’t think it helps the animal-research cause simply to get defensive about it whenever the subject comes up.

    I rather think that is the reason you don’t see Orac commenting much along those lines,

    What is?

  556. #557 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    First, I haven’t seen evidence of them having been smacked down for poor husbandry (unless you count blog posts).

    that’s because you aren’t in those departments, but instead relying on second hand information through the blogosphere.

    Second, I’m concerned about these studies having been approved in the first place.

    sometimes, the studies that are approved look good as they pass through animal use committees* but they end up different in practice due to a lack of funds, or materials, or what have you. Or, the investigators responsible simply lied in the interviews. Happens. There is a huge amount of resources and effort spent to make sure all research within a university is done responsibly, and much of that has been due to fuckups of the type you have seen. Is it always effective? Hell no. That doesn’t imply that there are no effective oversight measures. For every one fucked up animal research project that makes it to the blogosphere, how many MORE examples are there where there was good husbandry that result in excellent published papers? How would you be able to compare, given that you probably will never hear of “good” research within the general news-sphere?

    * BTW, yes, there actually are animal use protocol committees at most universities that you must submit an animal use report to, and justify your use of animals in a specific research project in a personal interview in front of the committee. Moreover, that was 20 years ago, when I was a grad student; it’s even more involved for most institutions now.

  557. #558 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    What is?

    ethics.

    read his comments about surgical training using dogs to understand why he might be concerned about personal bias influencing the decision as to what constitutes “ethical” animal research.

    When I was a grad student, over the 4 years I was at UCB I saw a strange thing happen wrt to animal use protocols.

    1st year: only mammals were considered to be “animals” (this was the year before I arrived)

    2nd year: birds and reptiles added.

    3rd year: amphibians and fish.

    Was it “ethical” to add, or leave out for that matter, any specific one of the above groups to begin with?

  558. #559 Ichthyic
    April 25, 2009

    early on in the thread, the Rev in response to someone pointing out a specific bad case in point as suggesting all animal research should be stopped, compared that to an animal rights movement terrorist attack, and asked the poster if they then though all animal rights activists were terrorists.

    It was a good point, and I’d like to extend it to SC’s concerns posted above. If the activities listed in the article below appear common (well, they’re in the blogosphere regularly enough), how should that impact the ethics of the animal rights movement itself?

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=61

    this article also has an excellent summary of what is inaccurate in many of the arguments animal rights activists tend to put forward.

  559. #560 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    that’s because you aren’t in those departments, but instead relying on second hand information through the blogosphere.

    So if people are concerned, they should just trust that something is being done in-house? That doesn’t exacty seem wise, or the best way to protect animals from abuse.

    sometimes, the studies that are approved look good as they pass through animal use committees* but they end up different in practice due to a lack of funds, or materials, or what have you. Or, the investigators responsible simply lied in the interviews. Happens.

    Then this is a serious issue and safeguards should be put in place.

    There is a huge amount of resources and effort spent to make sure all research within a university is done responsibly, and much of that has been due to fuckups of the type you have seen. Is it always effective? Hell no. That doesn’t imply that there are no effective oversight measures.

    Who has argued that?

    For every one fucked up animal research project that makes it to the blogosphere,

    I’ll just note here that these didn’t make it to RI in the context of discussing animal research, but of discussing other issues.

    how many MORE examples are there where there was good husbandry that result in excellent published papers? How would you be able to compare, given that you probably will never hear of “good” research within the general news-sphere?

    Of course you do, all the time. But it’s not a question of the amount of unethical research outweighing the amount of ethically-performed research, but of any unethical research occurring. You’ve simply asserted that it’s just a few “bad apples” and that these people are sanctioned. But it’s possible that there are broader problems that need attention.

    * BTW, yes, there actually are animal use protocol committees at most universities that you must submit an animal use report to, and justify your use of animals in a specific research project in a personal interview in front of the committee. Moreover, that was 20 years ago, when I was a grad student; it’s even more involved for most institutions now.

    No kidding. That’s why I referred to them in my comment above, and discussed them on the threads at RI. I’m saying that if Orac is discussing the ethics of animal studies it’s disingenuous not to note the cases in which these safeguards fail that he himself has pointed to in other contexts.

  560. #561 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    ethics.

    read his comments about surgical training using dogs to understand why he might be concerned about personal bias influencing the decision as to what constitutes “ethical” animal research.

    I really don’t know if you’re responding to my comments at this point. Nothing you’re saying seems to have much to do with what I’m saying. And as I’ve said twice now, I can’t read them because my computer is not allowing me to go to the site.

    When I was a grad student, over the 4 years I was at UCB I saw a strange thing happen wrt to animal use protocols.

    1st year: only mammals were considered to be “animals” (this was the year before I arrived)

    2nd year: birds and reptiles added.

    3rd year: amphibians and fish.

    Was it “ethical” to add, or leave out for that matter, any specific one of the above groups to begin with?

    I’m not making, or interested in involving myself in, any arguments about the ethics of individual practices. I’m interested in the institutional structures and processes through which these standards are decided upon, changed, and enforced. Sheesh.

    early on in the thread, the Rev in response to someone pointing out a specific bad case in point as suggesting all animal research should be stopped, compared that to an animal rights movement terrorist attack, and asked the poster if they then though all animal rights activists were terrorists.

    It was a good point, and I’d like to extend it to SC’s concerns posted above.

    OK. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  561. #562 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 25, 2009

    So if people are concerned, they should just trust that something is being done in-house? That doesn’t exacty seem wise, or the best way to protect animals from abus

    SC are you ignoring the IACUC?

  562. #563 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    SC are you ignoring the IACUC?

    No, I’m saying that I believe that in the cases I mentioned at RI, Orac asked in his post “Where was the IACUC?” (you can find probably those exact words in the post there that I linked to above). That seems to me like an important question, and one that needs to be answered. It appears these are far from foolproof mechanisms, and I don’t think people would be as unconcerned about these failures if we were talking about IRBs.

  563. #564 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 25, 2009

    But if the regulations are in place then we should procecute the ones that don’t follow the guidelines. You can’t demonize everyone who follows the rules because there are those that don’t.

    Or did I totally misunderstand what you are getting at. It’s highly possible as I’ve been playing with my new pup and drinking, heavily.

  564. #565 windy
    April 25, 2009

    SC are you ignoring the IACUC

    The IACUCs are in-house committees, so asking how much we should trust in-house oversight is not “ignoring” them.

  565. #566 SC, OM
    April 25, 2009

    Or did I totally misunderstand what you are getting at.

    Yes, totally. :)

    It’s highly possible as I’ve been playing with my new pup and drinking, heavily.

    New pup?! Yay! What kind? What’s his/her name?

    I’m still heartbroken over the loss of my little boo. Nice to hear about puppies.

  566. #567 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 25, 2009

    Humm. Seems I don’t know what I’m talking about with the IACUCs.

    Not rare but I’ll step away slowly…


    *refills Makers on the rocks

  567. #568 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 26, 2009

    New pup?! Yay! What kind? What’s his/her name?

    A 2 year old Choc lab from our local Labrador Rescue.

    He was a stray and I have no idea how anyone could lose/get rid of a dog like this.

    He’s HUGE and solid muscle and a total sweetheart.

    They called him JD at the pound and the foster home. We were going to call him something else but figured he knew JD so we’re sticking with it.

    i’m in love. We put our 12 year old black lab down in oct because he had lymphoma so it was a big decision.

    Not sure my husky likes it right now but he’ll adjust.

  568. #569 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    Clearly you’re insane.

    /Walton

    A 2 year old Choc lab from our local Labrador Rescue.

    They’re great dogs.

    They called him JD at the pound and the foster home. We were going to call him something else but figured he knew JD so we’re sticking with it.

    I think it’s cute.

    i’m in love. We put our 12 year old black lab down in oct because he had lymphoma so it was a big decision.

    I remember. I sent you an email, and it was even harder to write because I was reminded that with my dog’s 14th birthday approaching I probably didn’t have much more time with her.

    ***

    Enjoy the new pup!

  569. #570 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 26, 2009

    Yeah that’s right.

    He’s currently licking my foot. Something he seems to want to do alot.

  570. #571 Patricia, OM
    April 26, 2009

    Good for you Rev. in taking in a breed rescue dog.

    We have two Bulldogs, one horribly disfigured by abuse and one amputee. They fit into a very quiet home, and because we love the breed we are happy to have them. They have some quirks, and your dog may have some too – but good on you and the Mrs. Dumb Chimp for taking the chance!

  571. #572 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 26, 2009

    Our previous lab and our current Husky are both rescues as well.

    Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  572. #573 DeafAtheist
    April 26, 2009

    I support animal testing for research necessary to human survival. That is for medical research, but I don’t support it for cosmetic shit that’s unnecessary for human survival and there’s really no need for the products. If a company can’t make eyeliner that’s non-toxic to humans then well too friggin’ bad, cuz I’d rather see an actual raccoon than see a woman wearing too much eyeliner that LOOKS like a raccoon.

  573. #574 Ichthyic
    April 26, 2009

    So if people are concerned, they should just trust that something is being done in-house?

    I’m saying that your perception of what oversight is already in place appears more colored by looking at the relatively few cases where it failed, than the vast, vast majority where it works fine and dandy. Very much like how one shouldn’t form a comprehensive view of animal activism base on rare terrorist acts amongst animal activists.

    I’m also saying that you should visit a biology dept. and find out for yourself. You don’t have to take my word for it, or anyone else for that matter.

    animal use protocols are typically a matter of public record, and oversight often involves people from outside of the university anyway, so unis typically have no problems with people asking about these things directly.

    I’m interested in the institutional structures and processes through which these standards are decided upon, changed, and enforced.

    All I’m pointing out that the idea of “ethics” as applied to those processes is often based on entirely subjective notions and biased perceptions (again, see Orac’s debate on mice vs. dogs as suitable subjects for surgical training), and has little or nothing to do with any actual scientific data. We need to be careful when deciding on animal use protocols that we avoid too much subjective opinion in forming them, as way too much of it has already influenced them (mostly coming from pressure by animal activists themselves); often not for the better.

    This also was why I listed how what those protocols encompassed changed over time at UCB, as the subjective “feelings” of the external committee members (nothing based on any science whatsoever), re-defined what “animal” itself even meant over time.

  574. #575 Ken Cope
    April 26, 2009

    My parents kept dogs but, for what I’ve come to recognize were mostly religious reasons, didn’t think to treat their children quite as well. So, I’ve become a cat person, especially once an ex left me with a seal-point Himalayan whom I met as a kitten. Years later, but far too soon, I found myself nursing him after kidney failure until more than a week of injecting saline at home, after a week of that at the vet, was more painful than both of us could bear.

    The younger rescue kitten, whom my wife and I had adopted years before, took both the loss of her senior cat, and the addition of a toddler, badly, becoming a recluse, so we decided to bring in a younger cat to pull her out of her seclusion. Agreeing that the new kitten should have a playmate of equivalent age, we adopted a rescued boy and girl, who succeeded in restoring our senior cat’s social graces. An elderly female, a young female, and a young male got along OK at first, but apparently when the young female was neutered, they missed a spot, so every once in a while she noisily confuses the young children and the formerly male cat, to no avail.

    What’s worse, the former male cat never quite got the hang of litter box 101, so, despite three litter boxes (with SWheat ScoopTM, clay dust reputed to be not so good for kidneys), he never thought to do more than randomly scratch, leaving it for the other cats to bury in exasperation. After a couple of years of this, he suddenly decided that litter boxes were no longer for him, and so he picked about three to five spots in the house that he decided were “his” leading to much consternation. We have wooden floors that are easy to clean, but having finished potty-training one child, with another not yet out of diapers, part of the deal with cats is that they’re supposed to come, and stay, potty-trained, so we were ready to give this one back. Unfortunately, surrendering a rescued cat to a shelter, in the hope that another household will be better for him, is essentially a death sentence; even consigning the cat to the outside world would also shorten his life. Eventually we found that we’d been trained to leave three litter pans lined with newspaper, which turn out to be far easier and less messy and less expensive to clean than litter–it’s as if he’s more fastidious than the other cats, who need to splash litter all over their area. Now I’d like to train them to newspaper…

    Meanwhile, the last time I worked for Walt Disney Imagineering, on the project I left just before Randy Pausch signed on and wound up documenting it, another researcher who designed and built our VR project’s head mounted displays ended up being in charge of the project about the same time. This guy had become an authority on the visual cortex, prior to becoming an Imagineer, partly due to research he had conducted on kittens: sewing their eyes shut at birth, and waiting X number of weeks before sectioning their brains to examine the resulting underdevelopment / compensation in their visual cortices. This earned him the nickname, “Dr. Mengele,” which was more fun to say while reminding each other of the fact that his wife, as he claimed, would not let him watch The Simpsons, because it was so distasteful.

    So, the next time you go to ride a “pitch and puke” motion simulator like Star Tours, and notice the difference between 24 frames per second and 60 frames per second, or ponder the difference between a Samsung HD Plasma display with 120HZ vs. 240Hz, and wonder why some of those experiences prompt what Theme Park cleanup crews euphemistically describe as a “protein spill” or a headache, or an epileptic fit, or, don’t have any ill effects at all, please remember the kittens who never saw a thing on your behalf.

  575. #576 windy
    April 26, 2009

    I’m speaking of personal experience within academia (and that’s considerable – gotta be at least 3 dozen or more institutions in the US, Canada, and the South Pacific), not vids of other places I’ve never been.

    Well, I mentioned the video because you were asking Sydney S. of examples – why did you bother to ask if you’re only interested in what you’ve personally seen?

    And two people who actually work with chimpanzees have spoken of major issues with chimp medical research in the US. Why haven’t these problematic studies been “smacked down” yet?

    This also was why I listed how what those protocols encompassed changed over time at UCB, as the subjective “feelings” of the external committee members (nothing based on any science whatsoever), re-defined what “animal” itself even meant over time.

    You have mentioned this incident numerous times in the past, but frankly I don’t know why you find it so objectionable. UCB is hardly alone in extending regulation from mammals to other vertebrates in recent decades, it has happened all over the developed world. Do you have some basic problem with this development? Of course it sounds silly to go about it by redefining “animal”, but that’s bureaucracy for you.

  576. #577 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    I’m saying that your perception of what oversight is already in place appears more colored by looking at the relatively few cases where it failed, than the vast, vast majority where it works fine and dandy. Very much like how one shouldn’t form a comprehensive view of animal activism base on rare terrorist acts amongst animal activists.

    No perception is “already in place” and I haven’t formed any “comprehensive view.” I’m raising questions based on some failures of which I’ve seen evidence, and you’re being defensive. And again this business about “the vast, vast majority where it works fine and dandy” is just an assertion at this point.

    I’m also saying that you should visit a biology dept. and find out for yourself. You don’t have to take my word for it, or anyone else for that matter.

    No, and I don’t, but visiting one department wouldn’t be a good basis for any comprehensive view. Again, I’m interested in these processes of decision-making and enforcement more broadly.

    animal use protocols are typically a matter of public record,

    I would think they should always be a matter of public record.

    and oversight often involves people from outside of the university anyway,

    You say this so casually, but this is part of what I’m asking about – how is this organized, and how is it working out? Is it the best possible system? If there are problems, is anything being done about them?

    so unis typically have no problems with people asking about these things directly.

    That’s big of them, especially public universities. Then my and Orac’s questions about these cases should be easy to answer. I really can’t understand your lackadaisical “Happens” attitude.

    All I’m pointing out that the idea of “ethics” as applied to those processes is often based on entirely subjective notions and biased perceptions (again, see Orac’s debate on mice vs. dogs as suitable subjects for surgical training), and has little or nothing to do with any actual scientific data. We need to be careful when deciding on animal use protocols that we avoid too much subjective opinion in forming them, as way too much of it has already influenced them (mostly coming from pressure by animal activists themselves); often not for the better.

    Who is “we”? And what about the times that this pressure has had an impact for the better? You appear to be saying that the “subjective” views of people outside departments can only interfere with the “objective” positions held by the scientists within them. Democracy and transparency be damned – “trust us, we’re doctors.” I’m saying this guarded posture is not conducive to the best practices for making and enforcing these decisions. I don’t see how in a functioning institutional context scientific data can’t be presented and policies rationally and openly debated.

    This also was why I listed how what those protocols encompassed changed over time at UCB, as the subjective “feelings” of the external committee members (nothing based on any science whatsoever), re-defined what “animal” itself even meant over time.

    So, what, the scientists had no subjective feelings? Isn’t this definition – and the ethics of this more broadly – an important public question that will always involve subjective judgments, or do you as a biologist have an objective, science-based answer?

    Would you approach research with human subjects the same way?

  577. #578 windy
    April 26, 2009

    I missed a spot in #578… two people who work with chimps have spoken up in this thread, in case that wasn’t clear.

  578. He’s HUGE and solid muscle and a total sweetheart.

    There’s a little bit of dissonance in that sentence…

    (Why would anyone voluntarily wish to keep a potentially dangerous animal in their house? I will never understand dog owners. Or snake owners, for that matter.)

  579. #580 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    He referred to me as “morally depraved and not particularly bright” on another thread.

    It’s your own poor social skills that lead you to think that my comment about you is an example of mine. It was not a rant, rave, or curse, but rather a statement of fact that is the general view of this community, and so it increases my standing; notice how people came to my defense here, even to the point that someone defended my social skills (at least compared to yours) who had recently claimed that I lack them (it was on April 1, so we can pretend it wasn’t serious, and perhaps allow that all water to slowly flow under the bridge).

    But I am NOT going to be drawn into discussing libertarianism, since I will then be accused of “hijacking another thread”

    Right, because popping in here out of nowhere with a post entirely about me and my social skills was so on topic.

  580. #581 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    P.S.

    But I am NOT going to be drawn into discussing libertarianism, since I will then be accused of “hijacking another thread” (and it will conveniently be forgotten that you were the one who brought it up).

    Wrong, you dishonest fool, it was you who raised the subject by quoting my “morally depraved” comment, which ‘Tis Himself reiterated and expanded upon … without ever using the word “libertarianism”, so it’s clear that even you understand that they are equivalent.

  581. #582 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    Why would anyone voluntarily wish to keep a potentially dangerous animal in their house? I will never understand dog owners.

    As opposed to gun owners, guns being so loyal and loving.

  582. #583 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    notice how people came to my defense here, even to the point that someone defended my social skills (at least compared to yours) who had recently claimed that I lack them (it was on April 1, so we can pretend it wasn’t serious, and perhaps allow that all water to slowly flow under the bridge).

    I believe I suggested not that you lack social skills but that

    *steps back*

    *pictures flowing water*

  583. #584 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    That’s your contempt for poor people. I know you don’t feel a red-hot burning rage against them, but you’re confusing this absence of rage for an absence of hatred. Not so. Your hatred of poor people is cold contempt.

    I don’t think it’s contempt, I think it’s indifference; Walton doesn’t value people (or dogs). But he does value things, and he sees others valuing people, so he comes up with sort of a cargo cult version, valuing the relationship between people and things — “property rights”. So the poor don’t matter, not even the rich matter, but a loaf bread and ownership of the loaf of bread matter.

  584. #585 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    He’s HUGE and solid muscle and a total sweetheart.

    There’s a little bit of dissonance in that sentence…

    How so?

    Rev.: “A 2 year old Choc lab”

    Walton: “Why would anyone voluntarily wish to keep a potentially dangerous animal in their house?”

    Ha! Hahahahahahahahahaha! Get a clue, Walton.

  585. #586 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    I believe I suggested not that you lack social skills

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/yeah_the_catholic_church_has_a.php#comment-1519653

    *steps back*

    *pictures flowing water*

    Stepping back in time … I apologize for my alter ego’s “shallow ideologue” comment. It was wrong, and you were right to call me a cruel _____.

    And you were so damn quick to identify me upon my return … you still impress me.

  586. #587 Melody
    April 26, 2009

    “Far more–and much worse–animal suffering is caused by factory farms. The protesters seem curiously silent on that subject. Wonder why.”

    I’m vegan and commented on this very thing when Orac blogged about it. Of course there’s peaceful protests on both things, but the terrorists really seem to target the scientists.

  587. #588 Walton
    April 26, 2009

    Right, because popping in here out of nowhere with a post entirely about me and my social skills was so on topic.

    Yes, it was, because for much of this thread you were flinging abuse and invective at those who dared disagree with you. I was merely commenting on the fact that it’s not just me who is the target of your ranting.

    In all honesty, it was “not particularly bright” which really stung. I don’t give a fuck if you think I’m “morally depraved”. You don’t know me, and consequently your judgment as to my moral character is completely worthless, not to mention clouded by your own prejudices.

    An insult to my intelligence, on the other hand, is something which I cannot help but take personally. As you may have picked up by now (though, given your self-evident insensitivity to others’ feelings, you probably haven’t), I have huge mental and emotional problems. If I don’t have intelligence, then I have virtually no redeeming characteristics at all. If you genuinely think I’m stupid, you’re essentially telling me that I might as well go and kill myself now and stop wasting oxygen. Is that what you think? If so, then have the fucking courage to say it.

  588. #589 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/yeah_the_catholic_church_has_a.php#comment-1519653

    Oh. So I did. :0

    Stepping back in time … I apologize for my alter ego’s “shallow ideologue” comment. It was wrong, and you were right to call me a cruel _____.

    Well, now I‘m impressed. Thank you for that – it means a lot.

  589. #590 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    As you may have picked up by now (though, given your self-evident insensitivity to others’ feelings, you probably haven’t), I have huge mental and emotional problems. If I don’t have intelligence, then I have virtually no redeeming characteristics at all. If you genuinely think I’m stupid, you’re essentially telling me that I might as well go and kill myself now and stop wasting oxygen. Is that what you think? If so, then have the fucking courage to say it.

    Walton, you need professional help. I’m very concerned about you. You have to get counseling. Please, please, please go talk to a professional.

  590. #591 Walton
    April 26, 2009

    Walton, you need professional help. I’m very concerned about you. You have to get counseling. Please, please, please go talk to a professional.

    I’ll be fine. I was exaggerating a bit when I said “huge” mental and emotional problems. But I do have self-esteem issues, and “nothing’s sacred”‘s comments hit me harder than they should have done.

    I don’t need professional help, just a bit of sensitivity.

  591. #592 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    PS to ns: And I apologize for my “good man” comment in our subsequent exchange.

    Walton:

    I don’t need professional help, just a bit of sensitivity.

    You’ve mentioned suicide on more than one occasion. That is a clear sign that you’re not OK. You need counseling, which is nothing at all to be ashamed of.

    You’re not going to find much sensitivity here, especially if you keep talking the crap that you have been.

  592. #593 Walton
    April 26, 2009

    As opposed to gun owners, guns being so loyal and loving.

    Guns don’t kill people. People (and dogs) kill people.

  593. #594 Walton
    April 26, 2009

    You’ve mentioned suicide on more than one occasion. That is a clear sign that you’re not OK. You need counseling, which is nothing at all to be ashamed of.

    Counselling will address the symptoms, not the causes. It won’t magically make me good-looking, socially competent, interesting, bright or knowledgeable.

    In the end, nature is random and deeply unfair. Some people are born with worthwhile features and abilities, and others with nothing. The former succeed and propagate. The latter – those of us who are nature’s failures – can do nothing more noble than live out our days consuming food and resources, going round in circles in our pointless little lives and waiting to die. Counselling won’t change that. It’ll just make me feel better. It’s like taking a painkiller when your leg’s been ripped off; taking away the pain doesn’t do anything to give you back your leg.

  594. #595 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    Is the concept of a watchdog at all familiar to you?

  595. #596 'Tis Himself
    April 26, 2009

    I don’t need professional help, just a bit of sensitivity.

    To amplify what SC wrote, there is nothing shameful about getting counseling or other psychological help. It’s not a moral failing on your part. If you broke a bone, you’d feel no stigma about getting it treated. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with getting emotional problems treated.

    This place is not a touchy-feely, flower spot where you’ll get tea and sympathy. Nor is it a hail fellow well met club. This is more a pub full of rugby players from competing teams. You will not get any sort of emotional support here.

  596. #597 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    Counselling will address the symptoms, not the causes. It won’t magically make me good-looking, socially competent, interesting, bright or knowledgeable.

    In the end, nature is random and deeply unfair. Some people are born with worthwhile features and abilities, and others with nothing. The former succeed and propagate. The latter – those of us who are nature’s failures – can do nothing more noble than live out our days consuming food and resources, going round in circles in our pointless little lives and waiting to die. Counselling won’t change that. It’ll just make me feel better. It’s like taking a painkiller when your leg’s been ripped off; taking away the pain doesn’t do anything to give you back your leg.

    Walton, this alone is evidence enough that you need counseling. Why won’t you give it a try? Please. I’m begging you.

  597. #598 phoenixflash
    April 26, 2009

    After reading every post on this subject it appears that one fact is still indisputable: Some animal research is humane and some still is not. So as a community of scientists, why aren’t there any pressures being brought upon those institutions and individuals that are conducting inhumane research? In-house ethics committees are not always working. It obviously has a negative effect on us all. Wouldn’t an organization of rational scientists be more effective in dealing and policing this issue than PETA? Re-work some of the rules on necessecity of research and primate treatment, enforce those rules to the letter in every research lab (public or private), and make it a norm that this subject is to be dealt with head-on and not pushed to the side-lines. What’s the new catch word? Transparency. If a lab has something to hide, well then, they have something to hide…..

  598. #599 maureen Brian
    April 26, 2009

    Walton,

    No-one is born with low self esteem. You picked it up somewhere along the line and if you picked it up you can – with perhaps a little effort – get rid of it again. The idea that The World’s final verdict on you should be both wholly negative and passed on someone at your age is ridiculous.

    Even with this distance and anonymity I can see several things about you which are decidedly positive. You write well, even when you are talking rubbish. You would not be where you are today without the gift of intelligence: a little more wisdom about how you use that intelligence would help but wisdom tends to come with time if you’ll only give yourself a chance to acquire it. I also see a sharp sense of humour trying to get out sometimes.

    Counselling is not a magic pill, nor is it always mumbo jumbo if you take good advice on which counsellor to see. You’ll have to do much of the work yourself but you’ve already proved you have the ability to do that – you can think. Counselling simply provides a framework within which to do that job – brings a little order to the chaos.

    And, yes, you are sensitive. What I don’t understand, I’ll admit this, is why you are so determined to use that sensitivity against yourself when you could make it the foundation of great worldly success as others have done – though perhaps not as a political philosopher.

    I second SC’s recommendation not because we are a couple of nasty old bitches but because, being a little older and a little less afraid of some of the ideas which freak you out, we know what we’re talking about. Believe us, please.

  599. #600 Wowbagger, OM
    April 26, 2009

    Walton, I’ve been where you are; heck, in some ways I’m still where you are and I’m reasonably sure that I’ll be there for the rest of my life.

    I’m not physically attractive either. I don’t do all that well in social situations. While I like to think I’m intelligent, it’s certainly not in any way that appears to be noticed by other people who meet me in person. I’ve got an average job, I live by myself and – as you can probably judge from the frequency of posts – I spend a lot of time on the internet rather than in bars or in beds or in the (physical) company of interesting people.

    Yeah, I can put words together in an amusing and (I’d like to think) thought-provoking (not to mention insulting, when necessary) way – but that’s something that, outside of here, no-one values very much at all.

    Being unattractive and socially awkward isn’t everything. It really isn’t. Yeah, you might have a smaller circle of friends than other people have. Sure, you might have to spend a lot more of your time alone than other people do – but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

    Find what you enjoy doing – that doesn’t involve other people who judge you on your appearance or don’t understand your personality – and do it. Don’t let your happiness be determined by what ‘most people’ (or the marketing/advertising industry) think should make you happy.

    I got into amateur theatre, and have managed to eke out a social life (of sorts) from that. Maybe that’s not for you, but there are other things you can do where the sort of judgemental attitudes you face in other places don’t apply.

    But, if what I say makes absolutely no sense to you whatsoever, and you can’t ever see yourself being happy no matter what, then you should definitely get some help as SC and the others have suggested.

  600. #601 'Tis Himself
    April 26, 2009

    Walton,

    Several people, both in this thread and previously, have recommended that you seek counseling for your self-esteem issues. You’ve alluded to these problems several times and the response has been uniform. We think you need to have counseling.

    Believe it or else, there are people here who actually give a damn about you. Please listen to us.

  601. #602 'Tis Himself
    April 26, 2009

    Rev BDC #572

    He’s currently licking my foot. Something he seems to want to do alot.

    He’s probably interested in the bacon socks you wear.

  602. #603 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 26, 2009

    As you may have picked up by now (though, given your self-evident insensitivity to others’ feelings, you probably haven’t), I have huge mental and emotional problems. If I don’t have intelligence, then I have virtually no redeeming characteristics at all. If you genuinely think I’m stupid, you’re essentially telling me that I might as well go and kill myself now and stop wasting oxygen. Is that what you think? If so, then have the fucking courage to say it.

    Dude, seriously. I doubt anyone here really thinks you are stupid. I sure don’t. I think you are wrong on many things but you are far from being stupid (at least from what I can tell from blog comments).

    And couselling addresses the core issues. It can’t change somethings but it gives you the path to be more accepting of yourself.

    Trust me. I’ve been through it and it does help.

    Of course I look exactly like Brad Pitt and I’m the most charming person on earth so I didn’t have far to go…


    /sarcasm

  603. #604 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 26, 2009

    There’s a little bit of dissonance in that sentence…

    (Why would anyone voluntarily wish to keep a potentially dangerous animal in their house? I will never understand dog owners. Or snake owners, for that matter.)

    Now to address this…

    I’ve been a dog owner my entire life and never once has any dog I have owned bitten anyone. And if you find the data (if it exists) I’m sure you would see that the vast majority of dogs do not harm people. It’s the dogs owned by shitty owners that are the problem, not the dogs.

    I currently have three dogs in my house (we have a red headed step dog we keep for a friend when she travels) and none of them is anything but a big teddy bear. My 85-90 lbs. new Labrador, a 70 Lbs. husky and a smaller 60 lbs. Lab. All are big babies and would be more likely to lick you to death before they’d ever bite you.

    Walton, this is another subject on which you are speaking from ignorance.

    I have been bitten by a dog. I have the lightning bolt shaped scar on my face to this day (no I’m not harry potter). Want to know why the dog bit me?

    Because the person that owned it used to beat it. All the time. It was a sad case of a bad owner transferring his anger to the dog. The dog responded in kind.

    You should seriously reconsider your dog opinions. I honestly think that having one and seeing the love and loyalty you can get from a good dog would be helpful for you.

  604. #605 'Tis Himself
    April 26, 2009

    I’ll leave you folks to settle the problems of the world and Oxford undergraduates. I’m going for a sail.

  605. #606 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 26, 2009

    Looks like fun. Come pick me up in Charleston harbor. I’ll be the one wearing the bacon socks.

  606. #607 Walton
    April 26, 2009

    I apologise (not for the first time, nor, I suspect, for the last) for bringing my personal issues into this forum where they don’t belong. I’ll stop hijacking the thread now.

    Thanks to Tis Himself, SC, Wowbagger, Rev et al for the advice. And, re counselling, you’re probably right.

  607. #608 Nova
    April 26, 2009

    @515
    Well I think apprehension of suffering makes it worse, but I would agree with you that if a human knew it wouldn’t result in their death and that it would be brief, but an animal who went under the same test didn’t, that would increase suffering in the animal. I think the most important variable in calculating suffering is the intelligence of the sufferer as far as we can calculate that. However if we randomly tested adults without consent explanation wouldn’t help much and the terror apprehension of all adults everywhere that they could be tested would cause it to produce far more suffering (through the universal apprehension) than if creatures who couldn’t apprehend it were tested. My main point was that this would include human newborns and so if people are willing to perform tests on Chimpanzees it would be a double standard if they weren’t prepared to perform them on orphaned newborns (which are also vastly less intelligent than adult Chimpanzees). In this regard I think my view overlaps with yours in that it would not always cause more suffering to test humans rather than animals.

  608. #609 The Mad LOLScientist, FCD
    April 26, 2009

    Yes: 63% (87529 votes)
    No: 37% (51557 votes)

    w00t!

    Well-designed, humanely done animal research can also benefit other animals. Veterinary medicine is doing amazing things these days. We used to have only two choices with a seriously ill pet: let nature take its course, or have the animal put to sleep. Nowadays vets have treatment options nearly on a par with the human members of the family.

  609. #610 Denis Alexander
    April 26, 2009

    Those of you that voted in the LA Times poll might also consider adding your signature to the UCLA Pro-Test petition at http://www.raisingvoices.net

  610. #611 XeshaBlu
    April 26, 2009

    This isn’t about rights, it’s about consent. An animal can’t give it, a human can.

    I have yet to hear a single all-mighty scientist stand up and volunteer to be a test subject, even if it meant ‘saving human lives’. Can’t you see how cowardly this is?

    Get over yourselves, you’re just not that special, that others need to go in your place. In this, you sound a lot more like a religiot than some enlightened atheist.

  611. #612 Sydney
    April 26, 2009

    Ichthyic:
    Apparently I mixed up which organizations did what. The regulations regarding housing, water access, enrichment plans, etc are under the Animal Welfare Act, which is under the USDA. These things can be found mostly in C.F.R. § Part 3, subpart D, Section 3.7 & 3.8.

    Sorry for that error. This isn’t information I have to use regularly. I may intern at a captive primate facility, but I study primate behavioral ecology in free living situations, and am more well versed in those studies and materials.

    Also, I made another error in that I said the regulations were that they had to have access to water one hour a day, it is actually one hour, twice a day.

    I am not the only one who thinks these requirements are inadequate. The USDA itself finds them to be lacking, and drafted improvements in 1999. However, there was an outcry of researchers touting the costs and practicality of improving conditions, and the document was never instated, even though they had is as an “urgent change”. A few animal welfare organizations took them to court over it in 2002, and it’s been bouncing around over it for years, not sure what the current status it.

    So, my main point is that while I find certain research to be necessary, and support it going on when done in a humane fashion, I don’t believe it’s fair of us to portray this testing as humane by hiding behind the IACAUC. The IACAUC system only works if the federal laws are up to par on the needs of the animal. So, even though many places may go above and beyond the law, the law is still found to be lacking.

    Well, let me qualify that, I support it in non-endangered species. In case people missed my much earlier post, the US is doing some shady work where chimpanzees, and chimpanzees alone are suddenly not endangered when they are in the US. Which is why the US and Gabon are the only countries that allow them to be used for biomedical research.
    I feel we should not be doing biomedical testing on an endangered species to help an overpopulated one, especially through means of “relabeling”. Use another critter.

  612. #613 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    If I don’t have intelligence, then I have virtually no redeeming characteristics at all.

    I’m genuinely sorry that you feel that way. It’s hard to imagine that it’s true. And I didn’t say that you don’t have intelligence, nor do I think it.

    If you genuinely think I’m stupid, you’re essentially telling me that I might as well go and kill myself now and stop wasting oxygen. Is that what you think? If so, then have the fucking courage to say it.

    I had the courage (although I don’t think it took any) to tell the truth: I don’t think you’re particularly bright (keep in mind that this is forum where a lot of people are particularly bright). That’s not to say you’re stupid; you aren’t. And if you don’t agree with my evaluation, why would you kill yourself because of it? You’re certainly intelligent enough, and courageous enough, to acknowledge that you have emotional and esteem problems (but don’t think you’re alone in that) — please keep that in mind when you start feeling bad about yourself just because someone — especially someone you consider rude and insensitive — says something negative about you.

  613. #614 Kel
    April 26, 2009

    Counselling will address the symptoms, not the causes. It won’t magically make me good-looking, socially competent, interesting, bright or knowledgeable.

    You should never be looking for a magical solution for any of those. You actually need to work on acquiring those skills gradually. Expecting yourself to go from social-retard to the bell of the ball overnight is best save for nerdy girls who are hidden by glasses and a bad hairstyle in Hollywood films. For the rest of us, it takes work, goal-setting and gradually working towards achieving your goals.

    Think of it like an RPG. You aren’t going to go slay dragons as a noob, you need to start out slaying rats. Then work your way to skeletons and zombies. And so on and on, all the way until you are ready to take the dragon. i.e. set small achievable goals that will gradually progress you to where you want to go.

  614. #615 Wowbagger, OM
    April 26, 2009

    For the rest of us, it takes work, goal-setting and gradually working towards achieving your goals.

    Or, alternatively, saying to the people of the world, ‘screw you all; I’ve got books, arthouse cinema and a love of indie rock music – what do I need you for?’

    Worked for me.

  615. #616 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    And I apologize for my “good man” comment in our subsequent exchange.

    I don’t remember that. It was the notion that you had dodged a bullet that really stung … going back and looking at it, I wrote “shallow ideologue” after that — I was being reactionary. Neither of us was very nice to each other that day, but you were still recovering from some previous unpleasantness (I’ve forgotten what). Your comment that “you can’t treat people you claim to like, respect, or care about like trash” stuck with me and is a big part of why I have tried to be a bit different here this time.

  616. #617 Patricia, OM
    April 26, 2009

    Wowbagger – All this time I was imagining you to be one of those exotic handsome beasts, and then you had to say you were unattractive. What’s with that? Drink a can of swagger. ;)

  617. #618 Wowbagger, OM
    April 26, 2009

    Wowbagger – All this time I was imagining you to be one of those exotic handsome beasts, and then you had to say you were unattractive. What’s with that? Drink a can of swagger. ;)

    Well, that was then; now I’m a bit more comfortable with, as they say, ‘who I am’ – so I can (and do) manage a swagger or two from time to time.

    It really is about attitude. Physically, I look like I could be the result of an experiment to create someone who looked like a combination of Gene Wilder, Christopher Walken and the kid that plays Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films. But I have had a few admirers; this took me by surprise at first but became less of a shock once I understood how people who aren’t high school morons thought.

    My thing – I could say problem, but I don’t think of it that way – is that I’m really quite solitary, and I actually opt out of doing a lot of interacting with people because of that. I’m okay in short bursts, but having to spend more than a few hours at a time with anyone actually makes me really uncomfortable.

  618. #619 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    Counselling will address the symptoms, not the causes. It won’t magically make me good-looking, socially competent, interesting, bright or knowledgeable.

    You would be surprised. I was in counseling for 10 years; it didn’t fix me, but man you should have seen how bad off I was before.

    Guns don’t kill people. People (and dogs) kill people.

    That you write that sort of thing is part of why I evaluate your intelligence as I do. Aside from it being a foolish mantra that intentionally misrepresents events as having single causes, the issue is the danger of having dogs vs. guns in one’s house, where people are present and interact with them, so the fact that guns (generally, but not always) aren’t self-directed agents is not relevant. If you had, or were using, a particular amount of intelligence, you would recognize that the fact that *some* dogs *sometimes* kill people is no reason not to keep a dog that almost certainly *won’t* kill anyone in the house, any more than having electricity in one’s house, or bananas, or stairways, or numerous other things that sometimes kill people.

    The question is, since you’re not stupid, why do you say such stupid things? Perhaps it has nothing to do with intelligence, but is, at least in this case, due to some irrational (disproportionate) fear of dogs, people, and other self-directed agents.

  619. #620 Kel
    April 26, 2009

    Or, alternatively, saying to the people of the world, ‘screw you all; I’ve got books, arthouse cinema and a love of indie rock music – what do I need you for?’

    Worked for me.

    Yeah that too, but replace indie rock with prog metal for me.

    I’ve been where walton is before. Hell I’m still sort of there now. But I improved a hell of a lot, I stopped expecting myself to be Mr fucking perfect and realised that I’m going to have to start from the beginning – it will be as embarrassing as all hell but it’s better than wallowing in self-pity. And I’m a far better person for doing so. I’m happy and well-adjusted. I enjoy what I do with my life, and even though I’m still uncomfortable in social situations around strangers, I’m far better than I was before.

    If you are unhappy with your life, surely it’s obvious to try and make a change.

  620. #621 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    [Patricia, see my comment @ #594 and 'Tis Himself's @ #598.]

    ns:

    Neither of us was very nice to each other that day,

    No.

    Your comment that “you can’t treat people you claim to like, respect, or care about like trash” stuck with me and is a big part of why I have tried to be a bit different here this time.

    I’m glad of that, and flattered that you would consider my opinion so seriously.

    I hope some emotional trust can be rebuilt in both directions. (I may have to delete those emails first…)

  621. #622 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    I honestly think that having one and seeing the love and loyalty you can get from a good dog would be helpful for you.

    In particular they are great for people with low self-esteem, because they provide so much love and affection.

    Walton, its’ difficult for me to read #596 and not think it’s satire, but apparently it really isn’t, which makes it tragic., not just for you but for all the others whom you judge to be so worthless. Reading it, I now realize that you are not so much morally depraved as morally disordered; that you have a deep hurt that is manifested in your moral judgments. Counseling can alleviate and possibly even eliminate that hurt — really; I speak from experience (about alleviation, at least).

  622. #623 Kel
    April 26, 2009

    In the end, nature is random and deeply unfair. Some people are born with worthwhile features and abilities, and others with nothing. The former succeed and propagate. The latter – those of us who are nature’s failures – can do nothing more noble than live out our days consuming food and resources, going round in circles in our pointless little lives and waiting to die.

    this is not only stupid but disjointed from reality. If that were the case, then all we’d see is people born with worthwhile features and abilities – because natural selection would weed out the undesirables. But this is crap and you know it Walton, do you honestly think that most people who are successful are born that way? That the musicians you call talented haven’t spent most of their lives training, or the [shudder] lawyers who are the most successful haven’t put in the hard yards? Being born naturally gifted can only get you so far, even Tiger Woods who is a natural at golf spent hour after hour, day after day training to improve his abilities. Nature may give some a slight advantage, being born into the right family may give a socio-economic advantage. Some may be put at a disadvantage by both. But that isn’t the be-all and end-all of your existence. There’s this thing called life, and by living it, you gain experience. That’s how funny people are funny, that’s how successful people are successful. Very few are born into it or get it easy.

  623. #624 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    Ah, the emails; I had forgotten about them. I could have responded very differently to your “checking in”, but I was hurt and defensive and determined to prove myself right, rather than respond to your offering. That exchange could be in a textbook on transactional analysis of human relations.

  624. #625 Patricia, OM
    April 26, 2009

    SC – Yes, re-reading that with your explanation of the slant makes it easier to see.

    Actually, I’ve seen plenty of emotional support here for people dealing with death, sickness, floods, hurricanes, etc. We’re a bunch of foul mouthed rowdies, but not totally heartless.

  625. #626 Ken Cope
    April 26, 2009

    Until Walton’s pout and pity fest became the focus, I thought I had a perfect chance to derail the conversation into a cat thread (particularly with my tales of unusual litterbox behaviors), but it looks like the dogs have the cats outnumbered.

    What Walton may not have noticed in his apparent puzzlement over why people keep dogs, is that the mentality of a dog is sort of frozen at the level of a smart 2 year old child, and there are many people who can never, or should never, or will never, or never will again, be parents; dogs and people thrive sharing that emotionally vulnerable space. If more people kept dogs and left it at that, there’d probably be fewer people, and fewer messed up ones, as a result.

  626. #627 SC, OM
    April 26, 2009

    That exchange could be in a textbook on transactional analysis of human relations.

    :D

    Actually, I’ve seen plenty of emotional support here for people dealing with death, sickness, floods, hurricanes, etc. We’re a bunch of foul mouthed rowdies, but not totally heartless.

    Of course not (this thread itself is evidence of that). That’s not what we were saying either.

  627. #628 nothing's sacred
    April 26, 2009

    What Walton may not have noticed in his apparent puzzlement over why people keep dogs, is that the mentality of a dog is sort of frozen at the level of a smart 2 year old child

    Walton is concerned with the dog being “HUGE and solid muscle” — that and “the terrible twos” would not be a good combination, but dogs are very different from two year old humans. Walton apparently can’t imagine something so muscular being “a total sweetheart”, even though there are numerous examples among humans. Armchair psychology suggests that he was bullied and abused, and associates muscularity with hostility, control, and pain.

  628. #629 JeffreyD
    April 26, 2009

    Walton, I have said it as a joke, said it as snark, and said it for real and now repeat it for real as advice – seek counseling. There are people who can help, not magically and not without pain – see my blog for thoughts on this, no one else needs to bother reading it. I also repeat my offer to take you out for a drink and listen to you from a different perspective (three times your age, from the US, veteran, overweight, ugly as homemade sin, and an overconfident and occasional snarky asshole). I do not bite, certainly not on a first date. (smile)

    And yes, this blog provides lots of support to people willing to meet halfway. I got a lot of support when I needed it, even when I was not aware I needed it – yeah, I am a bit stubborn. It comes from being a perfectionist.

    Ciao y’all

  629. #630 windy
    April 27, 2009

    I look like I could be the result of an experiment to create someone who looked like a combination of Gene Wilder, Christopher Walken and the kid that plays Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films.

    Actually, except for Gene Wilder, that sounds kind of hot…

  630. #631 maureen Brian
    April 27, 2009

    JeffreyD,

    As someone who was seriously fucked up in my late teens I really wanted to read your blog but clicking on the link took me to utter blankness. Anything you can do?

  631. #632 Ichthyic
    April 27, 2009

    The regulations regarding housing, water access, enrichment plans, etc are under the Animal Welfare Act, which is under the USDA. These things can be found mostly in C.F.R. § Part 3, subpart D, Section 3.7 & 3.8.

    thanks, I’ve never been able to locate that particular piece of info before.

  632. #633 Ichthyic
    April 27, 2009

    arrgh. This thread has become too big for my poor little internet connection in this backwater swamp ;)

    other comments I have will have to wait till another day.

  633. #634 Walton
    April 27, 2009

    Nothing’s sacred:

    Armchair psychology suggests that he was bullied and abused, and associates muscularity with hostility, control, and pain.

    No, I wasn’t (at least not in the sense to which you refer). I have, however, always been afraid of dogs since childhood. (I don’t know why, since I’ve never been bitten by one.)

    Kel:

    this is not only stupid but disjointed from reality.

    I know. Once I re-read what I’d written, I realised how absurd it sounded. These things always make more sense in my head than they do out in the open, and, in all honesty, it was more of a stream-of-consciousness rant than an intellectually rigorous analysis (as I’m sure everyone noticed).

  634. #635 Walton
    April 27, 2009

    I also repeat my offer to take you out for a drink and listen to you from a different perspective (three times your age, from the US, veteran, overweight, ugly as homemade sin, and an overconfident and occasional snarky asshole). I do not bite, certainly not on a first date. (smile)

    Maybe. Thanks for the offer, in any case.

    I genuinely appreciate the support I’ve received from some people here. I realise this really isn’t the place to share my personal problems, but from time to time it just spills out.

  635. #636 Kel
    April 27, 2009

    I know. Once I re-read what I’d written, I realised how absurd it sounded. These things always make more sense in my head than they do out in the open, and, in all honesty, it was more of a stream-of-consciousness rant than an intellectually rigorous analysis (as I’m sure everyone noticed).

    I’m sure a lot of us have been there before, I know I have. The problem I’ve found with such rants is that even with the realisation that they are stupid, they tend to stick and exacerbate the next time an “episode” comes on. It’s not a matter of acknowledging that it was stupid, one needs to make an effort to remove that kind of thinking out of your brain. Otherwise, you are doomed to keep rationalising that stupidity time and time again. It’s scary just how irrational thinking can get when one is depressed. I was stupid enough to not listen to those who were telling me that I was being an idiot because in my head it all made sense – it was them who couldn’t understand… :P

  636. #637 Rorschach
    April 27, 2009

    This thread has been,shall we say,interesting to read in many ways.

  637. #638 SC, OM
    April 27, 2009

    maureen Brian,

    JeffreyD’s blog is here:

    http://keltixx.blogspot.com/

  638. #639 Wowbagger, OM
    April 27, 2009

    Windy wrote:

    Actually, except for Gene Wilder, that sounds kind of hot…

    The Gene Wilder part is the hair. But thanks to hardworking hair product scientists there are substances which help me deal with that.

  639. #640 Lilly de Lure
    April 27, 2009

    The Gene Wilder part is the hair. But thanks to hardworking hair product scientists there are substances which help me deal with that.

    Awww – personally I’ve always rather liked the wirey-haired look on guys (although bear in mind this is the opinion of a woman who has been trying and failing for years to see exactly what it is about Brad Pitt that turns so many other apparently sensible women into drooling teenagers).

  640. #641 Rorschach
    April 27, 2009

    Lilly de Lure,

    care to link to a pic of a “wirey-haired” individual so i can see what that means or whether I qualify LOL? :-)
    And Brad Pitt,well,yeah,*yawn*

  641. #642 JeffreyD
    April 27, 2009

    Rorschach and Wowbagger, OM, I am in Charleston, SC, as is the highly esteemed Rev Chimp, so a beer in Melbourne is probably a bit iffy. (grin) That said, if either of you are near Charleston, said beer(s) and much seafood can be arranged. That goes for the rest of the denizens of PZ’s Funhouse as well. I am traveling a bit for pleasure and work, but should be in country July/Aug at least. (Rev, would much like to finally meet you and your far better half sometime this summer.)

    I am returning to the UK in the first week of May for some further research on a couple of history books and should be on ground for a couple of months, less time at end of May and to circa mid-June when I am having the spousal unit visit. While there, already planning a trip to Aberdeen to see one of the regulars. Available to travel in country for dinners and drinks, will even buy the first round – such a deal!

    Well, time to head out for some crab at a local house of delight. Have to build up my seafood reserves before I return to the UK.

    Ciao y’all

  642. #643 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 27, 2009

    I don’t think it’s contempt, I think it’s indifference; Walton doesn’t value people (or dogs). But he does value things, and he sees others valuing people, so he comes up with sort of a cargo cult version, valuing the relationship between people and things — “property rights”. So the poor don’t matter, not even the rich matter, but a loaf bread and ownership of the loaf of bread matter.

    See, that’s the kind of insight you got your Molly for.

    Counselling will address the symptoms, not the causes. It won’t magically make me good-looking, socially competent, interesting, bright or knowledgeable.

    Good-looking? I keep being surprised at how many remarkably ugly people are in a stable relationship. Shows how much tastes differ. I’m not happy either over the asymmetries in my face… Oh, BTW, someone brought up Angelina Jolie; despite her middle name (“pretty” in French), she’s ugly. I mean, she’s got lips all over her face!

    Socially competent? Who cares? Just hang out with scientists more. :-|

    Bright? You clearly are. You just don’t always take enough facts into account.

    Knowledgeable? That comes with time. Just keep reading everything that’s interesting; that’s what I do, and here I sit at age 26 with 3 papers published, 1 submitted with revisions, and 2 more in preparation (went amazingly fast).

    I’ll jump on the “seek counseling” bandwagon (though with the warning that you might have to try several psychologists in a row; where I come from, most are surprisingly ignorant, as I can tell from experience… I had to tell the last one what Asperger’s was!). Also, I’ll be in Bristol in September for this congress; that’s at least on the same island ? if you’re close enough, we could of course meet.

    Oh, and, why do you study law? Do you really find that interesting? If so, keep going; if not, run.

    JeffreyD, if your beard were white, you’d look like Darwin, minus Darwin’s huge brow ridges. :-) I can’t judge male beauty, but, really, “ugly as homemade sin”* is something else!

    * Still laughing at that wording. Saved my day. :-D

  643. #644 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 27, 2009

    I forgot: Walton, someone has recommended you get a dog. Perhaps try a cat instead. Cats are more libertarian than dogs, but they’ll still come to you and stroke themselves against your hand. And perhaps more importantly, they’ll never try to kill you, because they know they’re too small for that. I’ve encountered tiny dogs whose self-image was evidently not even in the right order of magnitude.

  644. #645 JeffreyD
    April 27, 2009

    David Marjanovi?, OM at #656 – The beard has whitened quite a bit more in the nearly two years since that picture was taken. Oh, and I have to pluck my eyebrows some or I cannot look up without feeling like I have a hedgehog on my forehead. Hmmm, maybe I should cultivate the brows and beard and an English accent and go on the road given one man Darwin shows to rural schools. Yeah, that should be a safe job. (grin)

    “Ugly as homemade sin” is an old southern expression, and I am an old southerner. Ugly as a mudfence is another favourite of mine.

    So you will be in Bristol in late September, eh? If I am back in the UK by then, let us get together for a jar of something alcoholic. My email is on here somewhere, or just remind us online. I check PZ’s funhouse most days.

    Ciao

  645. #646 ThatOtherGuy
    April 30, 2009

    @652

    [quote]We have a ready pool of test subjects. If medicine and science advances are to used for human betterment, then use humans. Our jails are full of candidates who are incorrigible and will never see the light of day. Use them. After all, they are sucking tax dollars out of my pocket to feed and house them Let them pay for it by doing some good for humanity, something they obviously didn?t care about before they wound up incarcerated.[/quote]

  646. #647 Lilly de Lure
    April 30, 2009

    And perhaps more importantly, they’ll never try to kill you, because they know they’re too small for that.

    More like – they won’t try to kill you, because the screams you emit as they claw the skin off you forearms are just far too entertaining. ;-)

    I’ve encountered tiny dogs whose self-image was evidently not even in the right order of magnitude.

    Is it me or are Chihuahua’s particularly prone to this? I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve been out with my two dogs and seen one of the wretched things trying it on with a perfectly well-behaved Rottweiler while its owner stands by wittering about how brave it is rather than actually doing anything to stop it before said Rottie’s patience snaps.

  647. #648 Barklikeadog
    April 30, 2009

    I Love Bacon!

  648. #649 nothing's sacred
    April 30, 2009

    Once I re-read what I’d written, I realised how absurd it sounded

    Then go back and look at what your bogus response was a response to. You have a habit of this: you dismiss a valid point with some BS, later admit that it was BS, but never go back and acknowledge the valid point — which often undermines some fundamental position you have taken. The tossing out of such BS is a symptom of cognitive dissonance.

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