Pharyngula

Terrorists of the animal rights movement

Janet Stemwedel was a participant in a panel discussion on the ethics of animal research. She got her reward: she is now featured on the web page of a deranged terrorist for animal rights, complete with her home address and phone number. These thugs are people who threaten children and carry out violence against researchers, and deserve to be treated as terrorists, fitting the definition perfectly: they use fear and intimidation and violence to compel people to meet their irrational demands.

They are also ignorant, and don’t even want to understand the purpose of basic research. This particular ranting loon made a revealing admission in the complaints about the researchers:

On the left below, are the three individuals [Stemwedel, Blakemore, Ringach] who will be speaking in favor of imprisoning, mutilating and then killing animals under the “guise” of science. NONE OF THEM ARE MEDICAL DOCTORS; repeat, NONE of the three vivisectionists have EVER treated a single patient in their lives and their torture of animals has NEVER helped a human patient.

(Punctuating with frequent use of ALL CAPS is one of the characteristics of this person’s mode of communication, I’m afraid.)

There is so much wrong with that comment. There is a false equation of scientific and medical research; the only kind of research regarded as ‘scientific’ is therapeutic, clinical research that directly makes a human being healthier. It’s fallacious and short-sighted thinking. We need to understand how cells and tissues function in normal, healthy organisms, and for that we need to work on animal models — there are obvious ethical problems with proposing to tinker with the nervous systems of healthy human babies, for instance. The scientists who do fundamental work on how nervous systems work tend not to be M.D.s because they are not trying to do clinical work; the scientists who directly study human disease tend to be M.D.s because they must be to be qualified to work on people. They are both necessary, the first to puzzle out basic mechanisms of biology, the second to apply that knowledge to human beings. Excluding the first from the domain of science because they don’t have the specialized, narrow training needed to work on one species is nonsensical.

One of the panelists, Colin Blakemore, is a perfect example of the importance of basic research.

Colin Blakmore’s claim to fame is experimenting on kittens for YEARS in England. Blakemore is outspoken in his support of the use of animal testing in medical research. He came to the attention of the animal rights movement while at Oxford University in the 1980s, when he carried out research into amblyopia and strabismus, conducting experiments that involved sewing kittens’ eyelids shut from birth in order to study the development of their visual cortex.

Oooh, sewing kittens’ eyes shut sounds so evil, doesn’t it? How could that possibly help people?

Well, it doesn’t if you’re an idiot who begins with the premise that the only true science in this field would require that Blakemore be an M.D. who sews babies‘ eyes shut. But let’s assume you are a rational human being.

My daughter was born with mild strabismus. Our doctor was rightly concerned, and took us aside to explain what happens to the brain in these case, citing the research done on cats (which I was already familiar with, since I was trained as a developmental neurobiologist). The brain is a plastic organ, and even for several years after birth, it is being wired and remodeled — the optic nerves are making connections with specialized targets in the brain. The young brain actually tests for disparities in the signals from the two eyes and makes adjustments to minimize noise in the signal — too much variance, and it automatically starts shutting down confusing inputs. We knew from the work on cats that, while my daughter had two perfectly functional eyes, her brain was going to respond by rewiring to ignore one of them.

She spent her first several years with therapy designed from the perspective of our understanding of how the plastic brain works — understanding directly derived from the work of people like Blakemore. She also had a series of surgeries to adjust and strengthen the muscles of her eyes.

Think about this: you have a baby daughter who needs precise surgeries done on the tiny, delicate muscles of her eyes. Do you want her to be the very first practice surgery the doctor has ever done, or would you rather, perhaps, that the doctor had done his practice surgeries on animals first? Early in my career, I worked as an animal care assistant in a department of surgery, and that’s what most of the animals were used for: teaching medical students the basics of their craft, running students through simple procedures that made them learn how to handle tissues, how to cope with bleeding, how to repair damage, all stuff that you cannot do except on living organisms.

The real monsters are the terrorists at the “Negotiation is over!” website. Even from the title you can tell that they are not open to reason.

Comments

  1. #1 Shplane
    February 24, 2010

    As much as I like kittens, these guys are still lunatics. The animals being experimented on benefits humanity enormously, and is thus necessary.

    Of course PZ just said that so I don’t know why I’m repeating it.

  2. #2 https://me.yahoo.com/a/oCTtWpcLos1AluG7TfWegM5e0gCBvNv_LcRvaWc-#66f0b
    February 24, 2010

    Same here. I’m for animal rights, but it’s also astounding how ignorant people can be when it comes to this topic. Anyone with diabetes should be able to appreciate animal research, because without the experimentation done on dogs, a treatment might not have been discovered for a while. And aren’t pigs used to produce insulin now? How about makeup? Many drugs are tested on guinea pigs and rats because they have similar physiologies to humans, but I don’t see the anti-research people saying we should all stop using them.

  3. #3 David Marjanovi?
    February 24, 2010

    And aren’t pigs used to produce insulin now?

    No longer, it’s now Escherichia coli? but that only became possible with advances in molecular genetics.

  4. #4 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    And aren’t pigs used to produce insulin now?

    Pork insulin is still available, as is beef insulin, but most diabetics these days are on synthetically produced insulin.

  5. #5 nigelTheBold
    February 24, 2010

    And aren’t pigs used to produce insulin now?

    Man, that would suck for a Muslim diabetic.

  6. #6 josmike
    February 24, 2010

    The only address information I see for her on that page is her office. Am I missing something?

  7. #7 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Man, that would suck for a Muslim diabetic.

    That is one reason why cows were also used to produce insulin.

    That just left the vegans screwed.

  8. #8 JBlilie
    February 24, 2010

    These people sound like volunteers to have their family members experimented upon.

    That’s what we are talking about here.

  9. #9 theshortearedowl
    February 24, 2010

    I fully believe that many ‘higher’ animals are capable of feeling some degree of pain and suffering, and that as humans we have a moral duty to minimise this in any research carried out on them, and even to question whether the research is necessary (does the launch of the latest moisturiser-snake-oil-this-one-really-will-make-you-younger-promise really justify strapping down 500 rabbits and dropping it in their eyes?)

    Which makes me even more annoyed when I read about these terrorist nutjobs. Even disregarding the blatantly evil criminal acts, all they do is polarise the debate, making it seem to those who have no connections to the research world like it’s an all-or-nothing debate – either we let the scientists do whatever they want with no regulation, or we ban it altogether. Yes, we need animals in research. Yes, there really are situations in which no alternative is available, regardless of cost. Get over it. Go after the factory farms if you really can’t get over your middle-class guilt complex and JUST HAVE TO DO SOMETHING, and do it without hurting anyone or digging up their dead grandmother.

  10. #10 Levi in NY
    February 24, 2010

    I am a vegetarian, and I agree wholeheartedly. A lot of these animal rights people really piss me off. Now I’m all for animal rights, but we have to keep things in perspective, and from an ethical standpoint it would be wrong of us to not do the kind of animal research that ultimately does so much good for our fellow human beings.

  11. #11 Michelle R
    February 24, 2010

    I’m sure they’d care much less if you said “The experiments were carried out on disgusting blorgblargh abyss creatures you never heard of.”

    It’s a case of THEY’RE SO FLUFFY AND CUTE HOW CAN YOU BE SO CRUEL!!!

    These people make me sick. How many on PETA or other animal rights groups use insulin or other animal byproducts? They’d be dead if it wasn’t of animal research.

  12. #12 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    There is so much wrong with that comment. There is a false equation of scientific and medical research; the only kind of research regarded as ‘scientific’ is therapeutic, clinical research that directly makes a human being healthier. It’s fallacious and short-sighted thinking. We need to understand how cells and tissues function in normal, healthy organisms, and for that we need to work on animal models

    Oh they’re way past giving a shit about anything like that. Even if they could honestly assess the research for what it is, they’d still rail against it IN DEFENSE OF THE ANIMAL YOU MURDERING VIVISECTIONIST!!

  13. #13 Paul
    February 24, 2010

    “Well, it doesn’t if you’re an idiot who begins with the premise that the only true science in this field would require that Blakemore be an M.D. who sews babies’ eyes shut. But let’s assume you are a rational human being.”

    It is sometimes necessary to sew the eye patch in place to make sure that a child doesn’t remove it during treatment, admittedly this doesn’t look nice but it is certainly not cruel.

    One small thing you can do to stand up to the thugs who threaten scientists and their families is to sign the Pro-Test petition at http://www.amprogress.org/petition.

    Janet has a lot more ideas about how to combat the extremist threat on her blog at http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2010/02/time_to_get_mad_ways_to_speak.php

  14. #14 josmike
    February 24, 2010

    I fully believe that many ‘higher’ animals are capable of feeling some degree of pain and suffering

    Gee, ya think so? Statements like that are just as idiotic as anything the PETA people say.

  15. #15 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    I tend to think that those who are opposed to medical testing in animals, should be first in line to have unknown drugs, devices, and surgical methods tried out on them. That way, they can assure both the progress of medical science, and the safety of their furry friends. Funny how they don’t think the same thing.

  16. #16 theshortearedowl
    February 24, 2010

    @ josmike #14

    Really? Scientists have been prejudiced against ascribing animals any human-like brain capabilities for centuries; but the fact is, we ain’t nuthin’ but mammals. Other mammals have complex social organisation and cognition too. Why would you assume they don’t feel pain?

  17. #17 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Actually, I’ll have to disagree here. I don’t think torturing animals is justified even if it saves human lives.

    Sure, I’d change my mind if it were me or someone I loved who needed the help, but that’s exactly why ethical decisions should not be made by those emotionally involved.

  18. #18 mfd512
    February 24, 2010

    On this blog, arguing with folks currently posting, within the context of the AGW debate, I reminded everyone that the world is always changing and what we’re worried about was that the world might change beyond what is considered comfortable, or even safe, for humans.

    Therefore, I argued that potential harm from AGW had to be weighed against the known harm caused by keeping economic development down (in an effort to reduce carbon outupt) especially in the developing world. As we know, the richer the country, the healthier its citizens.

    I was roundly accused of being a selfish speciesist. After all, animals would be hurt too, in a post AGW-altered world.

  19. #19 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Actually, I’ll have to disagree here. I don’t think torturing animals is justified even if it saves human lives.

    Good thing then no one thinks torturing animals is a good thing.

    Will you do something for us ? Provide a list (it can be a short one) of people who advocate torturing animals.

  20. #20 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Will you do something for us ? Provide a list (it can be a short one) of people who advocate torturing animals.

    Sure, here’s one: PZ Myers.

    Allow me to quote from the article:
    “Think about this: you have a baby daughter who needs precise surgeries done on the tiny, delicate muscles of her eyes. Do you want her to be the very first practice surgery the doctor has ever done, or would you rather, perhaps, that the doctor had done his practice surgeries on animals first?”

    - You really think all these experiments can be done without inflicting pain on these animals?

  21. #21 nigelTheBold
    February 24, 2010

    I was roundly accused of being a selfish speciesist. After all, animals would be hurt too, in a post AGW-altered world.

    There’s a huge difference between performing tests on thousands of animals, and causing the world to change such that it endangers most of the species on earth.

    Just thought you might like some perspective. You can have some of mine.

  22. #22 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Sure, here’s one: PZ Myers.

    Allow me to quote from the article:
    “Think about this: you have a baby daughter who needs precise surgeries done on the tiny, delicate muscles of her eyes. Do you want her to be the very first practice surgery the doctor has ever done, or would you rather, perhaps, that the doctor had done his practice surgeries on animals first?”

    - You really think all these experiments can be done without inflicting pain on these animals?

    Nope, that is not one.

    Please note that animal experimentation is not the same as torturing animals.

    Now do you wish to be honest in this discussion or not ?

    Please supply us with a list of people who have advocated torturing animals. That means deliberate and wilful infliction of pain as a means of obtaining results.

    I also suggest you apologise to PZ.

  23. #23 Goheels
    February 24, 2010

    I’m an animal lover and a vegetarian and the thought of animal testing makes me queasy but these people are way out of line.

  24. #24 KOPD42
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium:

    - You really think all these experiments can be avoided without inflicting pain on people?

  25. #25 Paul
    February 24, 2010

    It is probably worth noting that David Hubel and Tornsten Wiesel were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1981 for their kitten and monkey research on information processing in the visual system, research that Colin blakemore and many others built on.

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1981/index.html

  26. #26 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    - You really think all these experiments can be avoided without inflicting pain on people?

    - Which is exactly why we don’t think it ethically correct to experiment on people.

    Were you trying to prove my point? Because you just did.

  27. #27 cervantes
    February 24, 2010

    Well, I think that in discussing this issue we need to be very clear about distinguishing between is and ought. While any debate requires that the participants have their facts straight, it is the ethical sensibility of some people that inflicting pain on sentient animals for the benefit of either basic science or medical technology is just wrong. That isn’t really something you can argue with: it’s how they feel. You can point out what you believe would be the consequences of adopting their position for medical research, but that isn’t going to make you right and them wrong. People sometimes just have divergent moral principles. And obviously, these same people are generally vegetarians and are just as opposed to factory farming as they are to research using animals so that’s just irrelevant.

    Just so y’know, I personally am troubled by the very cavalier attitude that many investigators have about the animals on whom they do indeed inflict pain and terror. Just saying well, it’s for the sake of science is not an adequate response. There is a question of balance and proportionality and just dismissing it is not helpful.

  28. #28 https://me.yahoo.com/a/oCTtWpcLos1AluG7TfWegM5e0gCBvNv_LcRvaWc-#66f0b
    February 24, 2010

    @Amunium- pain=/=torture. I don’t think you’d call a root canal a method of torture, yet it sure does hurt.

  29. #29 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium -

    Thanks for inventing your own definition of torture to defend your claims. Classy.

    Next question. Do you support those who are engaging in the terrorism described above?

  30. #30 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium, have you volunteered to replace the rat in the first in vivo test of a new drug? One for which there is absolutely no data on safety? It’s either you or the rat. Make your decision, and live with the consequences.

  31. #31 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Sorry, KOPD42, I missed the “avoided” change. Just assumed you were as dimwitted as Matt Penfold.

    No, I don’t think so. But that’s different because NOT doing something cannot be compared to doing something.

    I’d also rather let ten guilty people go free than convict one innocent.

  32. #32 Stephen Wells
    February 24, 2010

    @16: you misunderstand the comment. _Of course_ most animals are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. That doesn’t equate to obligatory vegetarianism and a ban on animal testing.

    @20: try to grasp the concept of “anaesthetic”, and also the meaning of “torture”. And then try to explain why it’s morally better to allow humans to die than to experiment on a few animals while working out treatments. How many baboons did Barnard go through before the first human heart transplant? Would you rather we couldn’t do transplant surgery? Or maybe we should practice risky new procedures on humans first?

    I did once propose, in a debate, that all medical testing should be carried out on animal rights activists- they’ll volunteer, right?

  33. #33 nigelTheBold
    February 24, 2010

    I don’t think you’d call a root canal a method of torture, yet it sure does hurt.

    Then why was my dentist shouting, “Give me the launch codes!” during my last visit?

  34. #34 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    - Which is exactly why we don’t think it ethically correct to experiment on people.

    Another lie.

    People are experimented on all the time.

    All new drugs have to be tested on humans before they can be granted a licence.

    All new treatments undergo a rigorous process of testing, and that includes on humans. The first organ donations ever done on humans were experiments.

  35. #35 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    “Thanks for inventing your own definition of torture to defend your claims. “

    Funny, my dictionary says torture is inflicting strong pain. That’s what it is. Purpose has nothing to do with it, necessarily. Perhaps you are the one redefining words?

    Next question. Do you support those who are engaging in the terrorism described above?

    No. Why would I?

  36. #36 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    I think it’s unfortunate that people use the existence of these idiots as a defense of the status quo. And it’s even more unfortunate that people hold the false dichotomy between that all animal research is justified without reservations and that animal research must be stopped at all costs (which is why this talk is a good thing).

    Animal suffering is real. We should put money into technologies that reduce the necessity of what does in many cases, quite frankly, amount to animal torture even if it doesn’t directly benefit any human being. In this case, getting more bang for our buck would mean decreasing the amount of pain we cause when doing basic research.

    Yes, these terrorists piss me off. But it pisses me off even more when people brush aside their concerns as idiotic, just because their tactics and their all-or-nothing attitude is idiotic. Sacrificing a dog to save 100 dogs is worth it and to save 100 humans, doubly so.

  37. #37 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Matt Penfold:

    Another lie.
    People are experimented on all the time.

    Another lie from you, yes.

    Where did I say people are not experimented on? I merely said we don’t consider it ethically correct.

  38. #38 Stephen Wells
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium, how many people would you rather allow to die than kill one animal?

  39. #39 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010
    - You really think all these experiments can be avoided without inflicting pain on people?

    - Which is exactly why we don’t think it ethically correct to experiment on people.

    What do you propose for research and experimentation to advance treatments if you reject experimentation on humans and on other animals?

    Were you trying to prove my point? Because you just did.

    Not even close. How do you expect medicine to progress? Magic?

  40. #40 theshortearedowl
    February 24, 2010

    @ Matt Penfold #22

    “Please supply us with a list of people who have advocated torturing animals. That means deliberate and wilful infliction of pain as a means of obtaining results.”

    Well, I don’t know about a list, but if you’re using an animal model to study pain, say neural pathways or testing a new drug, then you are doing precisely that.

    This is kind of my point. Animal testing is occasionally cruel, by most reasonable definitions. I don’t think it helps the debate to deny that. But it’s not like the researchers enjoy inflicting pain and go out of their way to do it; and if they do, there should be systems in place to remove them from positions involving animals (or possibly from society).

  41. #41 nigelTheBold
    February 24, 2010

    Sacrificing a dog to save 100 dogs is worth it and to save 100 humans, doubly so.

    Ladies and gentlemen and others: we have a basic formula for the worth of humans vis-a-vis dogs: one human is worth twice as much as one dog.

    Sounds backwards to me, but I was never good at higher math. I was much better at math while high.

  42. #42 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Stephen Wells:

    Amunium, how many people would you rather allow to die than kill one animal?

    Now that’s an interesting question. And one I can’t really answer.

    I would not advocate torturing (or inflicting pain upon, for those not liking the word) one animal to save one human, but perhaps one animal to save a thousand?

    I’m not sure, honestly. I would never consider it ethically correct, but at some point perhaps a necessary evil.

  43. #43 AJ Milne
    February 24, 2010

    Thanks for inventing your own definition of torture to defend your claims. Classy.

    Point the first: I am an animal.

    Point the second: howlers of the nature Amunium just tried to slip past here make my head ache. Intensely.

    Conclusion: Amunium, too, favours the torture of animals. That bastard.

    (/Shakes fist…)

  44. #44 theshortearedowl
    February 24, 2010

    @ Stephen Wells #32

    No I think you misunderstood MY point – which was exactly that it’s not a black and white issue. Denying that animals suffer during research is not helpful.

    It’s ok though. I won’t hold it against you :)

  45. #45 Goheels
    February 24, 2010

    I’m not sure, honestly. I would never consider it ethically correct, but at some point perhaps a necessary evil.

    This is basically how I feel. As an animal lover, vegetarian, etc. I hate animal testing but the bottom line is many important advances have been made using animal testing and its hard to weigh the benefit versus the costs.

  46. #46 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Sure, I’d change my mind if it were me or someone I loved who needed the help, but that’s exactly why ethical decisions should not be made by those emotionally involved.

    I’m guessing no one you know has ever had heart disease, cancer, needed to use a variety of prescription medicines, etc..

    And it’s even more unfortunate that people hold the false dichotomy between that all animal research is justified without reservations and that animal research must be stopped at all costs (which is why this talk is a good thing).

    And you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone here saying that “all animal research is justified without reservations” but you will not be hard pressed to find the contrary in the Animal rights groups.

  47. #47 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Funny, my dictionary says torture is inflicting strong pain. That’s what it is. Purpose has nothing to do with it, necessarily. Perhaps you are the one redefining words?

    That is a bad definition.

    Try this one: Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.

    Another lie from you, yes.

    Where did I say people are not experimented on? I merely said we don’t consider it ethically correct.

    We do consider it ethically correct though.

    So you lied.

  48. #48 Copyleft
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium is raising a valid point, perhaps too sweepingly stated: any research or experimentation that involves inflicting pain on animals should be held to the TIGHTEST and CLOSEST scrutiny.

    The value of the knowledge gained must be weighed against the ethical cost. It’s not always a clear-cut situation of “either the rats die or humans die.” And frankly, much live-animal research and experimentation IS unnecessary for promoting or sharing knowledge.

    I’m one of the biggest science cheerleaders around, but I don’t leave my ethics at the laboratory door. If a pig must be killed to understand how to treat heart disease, fine (and make sure it’s done as humanely as possible); but after 600 or 700 dead pigs are piled up, the “value” of that scientific knowledge starts to recede.

  49. #49 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    We do consider it ethically correct though.

    Would you then be as kind as to provide me with a list of people, who would have no scruples inflicting immense pain on an innocent human in order to save others?

  50. #50 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium,

    You invented your own definition of torture. Giving a partial definition in response only reminds us that you have redefined the word.

    You’ve made it clear that you object to any medical research on humans or animals. How many people will die if your ethics were accepted and medical research were not done? Have you made any effort to find that out? Why do you think it is ethical not to do medical research?

  51. #51 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    Where did I say people are not experimented on? I merely said we don’t consider it ethically correct.

    If we didn’t consider it ethically correct, it wouldn’t be STANDARD MEDICAL PRACTICE, you dimwit!

    I would not advocate torturing (or inflicting pain upon, for those not liking the word) one animal to save one human, but perhaps one animal to save a thousand?

    Could you PLEASE address the point that you’re redefining torture, and stop acting like you’re not? Torture is pain inflicted as a means to an end. Like someone said, a root canal is incredibly painful, but it sure as hell isn’t torture.

  52. #52 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    You invented your own definition of torture. Giving a partial definition in response only reminds us that you have redefined the word.

    Sorry, but that’s incorrect.

    Merriam-Webster.com defines torture as such:
    1 a : anguish of body or mind : agony b : something that causes agony or pain
    2 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
    3 : distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : straining

    - One of those definitions is: anguish of body or mind

    That means that the word “torture” mean pain. It doesn’t HAVE to mean inflicting it out of pleasure etc. My use of the word was completely in line with that definition.

    Are you saying Merriam-Webster is wrong?

  53. #53 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    Nice complete reframing of the question, ass.

    Where did I say people are not experimented on? I merely said we don’t consider it ethically correct.

    became

    Would you then be as kind as to provide me with a list of people, who would have no scruples inflicting immense pain on an innocent human in order to save others?

    Experimenting on people =/= inflicting immense pain =/= torture. And adding the word ‘innocent’ there is nothing but an attempt to use emotional language to salvage a totally irrational position.

  54. #54 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium is raising a valid point, perhaps too sweepingly stated: any research or experimentation that involves inflicting pain on animals should be held to the TIGHTEST and CLOSEST scrutiny.

    Speaking of scientific / medical research (not cosmetic or others) who says it is not?

    Who gets to be the one writing the rules of scrutiny?

  55. #55 triskelethecat
    February 24, 2010

    I don’t like animal testing when it’s not necessary. However, that being said, I believe that it is necessary sometimes. Since at this time we don’t have reliable non-animal methods of testing new drugs, new treatments for cancer, diabetes, etc, I accept animal testing. I know that very few scientists who do testing on animals enjoy hurting any animal.

  56. #56 th.wright
    February 24, 2010

    Perhaps we should all admit that the use of other animals for human benefit is a subject full of difficult questions. I’m not taking sides, because I haven’t given these issues enough thought and attention, but I believe it is useful to consider how we would like aliens to treat us if they were to visit Earth. Now, of course their biology is likely to be vastly different, so maybe they wouldn’t be interested in medical research on your closest family members, but what if they had other experiments in mind because they value their alien lives/lifestyles more than the lives of your family or friends. By PZ’s logic, we would have to allow them to conduct any experiments or research that was valuable to them.

  57. #57 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium,

    It is clear that “ethical” is another word that you either don’t understand or have a private definition for.

  58. #58 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    Are you saying Merriam-Webster is wrong?

    Are you saying that your argument is essentially “the dictionary proves I’m right”?

  59. #59 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    If we didn’t consider it ethically correct, it wouldn’t be STANDARD MEDICAL PRACTICE, you dimwit!

    Good thing we don’t, then.

    Please stop it with the childish name-calling, would you? You’re only parading your own insecurity.

    And no, I’m not the one redefining the word. Merriam-Webster agrees with me.

  60. #60 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Would you then be as kind as to provide me with a list of people, who would have no scruples inflicting immense pain on an innocent human in order to save others?

    What are you on about ?

    You claimed that experimentation on humans is considered ethically wrong.

    That statement is untrue. It is untrue because humans are experimented upon, and that in order to carry out such experiments the doctors and scientists must meet rigorous criteria in order to be granted approval. Drugs testing is one example, but new surgical procedures also involve experimentation in humans. There is always going to be someone is the the first to undergo a new procedure and that person is the subject of an experiment. During the period when they are being evaluated such procedures are call experimental procedures.

    You lied. Humans are experimented on, and are experimented on ethically.

  61. #61 Orac
    February 24, 2010

    Interestingly enough, one of the moderate animal rights activists who agreed to participate in the panel discussion with Janet et al has caught some flak from his radical brethren:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/02/animal_rights_thugs_researchers_children.php

    Of course, all he received for his “betrayal” was some harsh words, unlike Ringach and other researchers, who are targeted for harassment, intimidation, and vandalism or firebombing that sooner or later is going to kill a researcher.

  62. #62 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium,

    Why did you give us the definition of the noun “torture” when that isn’t what is in question?

  63. #63 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    Could you PLEASE address the point that you’re redefining torture, and stop acting like you’re not? Torture is pain inflicted as a means to an end. Like someone said, a root canal is incredibly painful, but it sure as hell isn’t torture.

    He’s not using the first definition of torture, which is what you’re insisting on, but one of the others, which is a figure of speech. You don’t correct people when they do, in fact, say “that root canal was torture.” If you gave a dog a root canal it didn’t need, you would get prosecuted for animal cruelty.

    Ladies and gentlemen and others: we have a basic formula for the worth of humans vis-a-vis dogs: one human is worth twice as much as one dog.

    Sounds backwards to me, but I was never good at higher math. I was much better at math while high.

    Haha, I had a feeling someone would key in on that part of my post. Backwards? You think a dog is worth twice a human? I don’t know what the ratio ought to be, but people have the speciest attitude that the value of a dog’s happiness hovers around zero and that cannot go unquestioned like it has.

  64. #64 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Are you saying that your argument is essentially “the dictionary proves I’m right”?

    About the meaning of a word, yes.

    What would be better proof? Do you have proof as to the opposite?

  65. #65 josmike
    February 24, 2010

    theshortearedowl #16 –

    Other mammals have complex social organisation and cognition too. Why would you assume they don’t feel pain?

    My point was exactly the opposite. I was mocking the way you put “animals feel pain” in such tentative terms: “I fully believe that many ‘higher’ animals are capable of feeling some degree of pain and suffering”. That’s why I responded “gee, ya think?”

  66. #66 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    Good thing we don’t, then.

    …… YES WE DO. Every medical treatment has to be tested on humans before it is approved. How thick are you?

    About the meaning of a word, yes.

    Ahh, so the word must mean what Merriam-Webster says, for they are the arbiters of language, and none shall defy their decrees!

    What would be better proof? Do you have proof as to the opposite?

    Prove that the animals are feeling anguish :)

  67. #67 Steven Dunlap
    February 24, 2010

    Today’s sorta related historical background:

    Abu Ali Ibn Sino (better known by the Latinization of his name: Avicenna) was the first person to suggest the idea that tests performed on other mammals could yield results that could benefit humans. This was about a thousand years ago. He was a Moslem who lived in the heyday of Islamic civilization and scholarship (pre-crusades).

  68. #68 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Why did you give us the definition of the noun “torture” when that isn’t what is in question?

    You’re right of course, I forgot I used the verb.

    Doesn’t change anything, however. If you look up the verb, it says exactly the same: torture CAN mean to inflict pain. Purpose doesn’t necessarily come into it.

  69. #69 theshortearedowl
    February 24, 2010

    @th.wright #56

    “By PZ’s logic, we would have to allow them to conduct any experiments or research that was valuable to them.”

    Actually, most civilised countries have banned experimenting on the great apes. Guess we’re smarter than we look :)

  70. #70 AJ Milne
    February 24, 2010

    No! Nooooo! Make him stop! I’ll tell you anything! Anything!!

    What do you need? The launch codes? I’ll give you the launch codes. I don’t actually know any, but I’ll find ‘em out. It’s all good… We can do this thing… Just make the stupid stop. Please!

    Anything. Really. You want to sleep with my grandma? Whatever. Fine. Done… Hell, she’s dead, anyway… I’m just gonna convince myself she’s not gonna mind.

    (/I mean, fuck, this just isn’t funny anymore, people. The facepalm alone is giving me whiplash.)

  71. #71 Douglas Watts
    February 24, 2010

    Animal experimentation is wrong, period.

  72. #72 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    …… YES WE DO. Every medical treatment has to be tested on humans before it is approved. How thick are you?

    By inflicting pain on innocent and non-consenting people? Not likely.

    Ahh, so the word must mean what Merriam-Webster says, for they are the arbiters of language, and none shall defy their decrees!

    No, and I’ll be happy to review any proof you have as to the opposite, as I already said.
    As long as you fail to provide any such, I would say having the support of a dictionary makes my position better supported than yours.

  73. #73 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Animal experimentation is wrong, period.

    Way to support your argument Douglas.

  74. #74 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Purpose doesn’t necessarily come into it.

    But you know that you implied that in your first comment. Don’t make excuses for your accusation. Acknowledge your mistake.

    You still haven’t explained how many people should die of disease because you think that using humans and other animals in research is unethical.

  75. #75 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Doesn’t change anything, however. If you look up the verb, it says exactly the same: torture CAN mean to inflict pain. Purpose doesn’t necessarily come into it.

    So you used the word in a somewhat non-standard manner.

    Given that most people associate torture as involving the deliberate infliction of pain as means of coercion or punishment did it not occur to you that such usage was a poor choice if you wanted to be understood.

    And you still lied.

  76. #76 Bernard Bumner
    February 24, 2010

    Funny, my dictionary says torture is inflicting strong pain.

    When does this happen?

    In the UK, animals legally cannot suffer prolonged or unnecessarily painful procedures. It simply isn’t the case that a person can do something simply because it is possible or because they want to.

    Any animal experiment is only licenced where there is no alternative, non-animal experimental route, where the number of procedures and animals are minimal, and where sedation or anaesthesia are given as appropriate. No procedure is allowed which is unnecessarily invasive or painful. Minimum standards of husbandry are also required wherever animals are used.

    Torture simply is not the correct terminology for carefully controlled surgical or scientific procedures.

    Perhaps we should all admit that the use of other animals for human benefit is a subject full of difficult questions.

    It isn’t. There is one very simple premise at the heart of animal experimentation; that animals can be used for important experiments where it would be unacceptably dangerous or experimentally impossible to use humans.

    The question is very simple, because these experiments could not (for those reasons) be performed on humans. The question is; do we value the benefits of these experiments more than the costs to the animals we are using?

    By PZ’s logic, we would have to allow them to conduct any experiments or research that was valuable to them.

    That makes no sense, and isn’t implied by what PZ wrote.

  77. #77 theshortearedowl
    February 24, 2010

    @ josmike #65

    “I was mocking the way you put “animals feel pain” in such tentative terms: “I fully believe that many ‘higher’ animals are capable of feeling some degree of pain and suffering”. That’s why I responded “gee, ya think?”"

    It’s hard to quantify pain or suffering, especially in something/one who can’t tell you what they feel directly. Hence the ‘tentative’ language. I was more objecting to your apparently comparing what I said to PETA. Thanks for the clarification.

  78. #78 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    No, and I’ll be happy to review any proof you have as to the opposite, as I already said.

    LOL! So now I have to prove that dictionaries don’t define the language? REALLY? This is awesome, because I had this exact argument with a creationist about a month ago who said that atheists are really only what the dictionary says and anything else they say is a lie.

    Language is defined by usage, not by dictionaries. Your argument is utterly without merit.

    As long as you fail to provide any such, I would say having the support of a dictionary makes my position better supported than yours.

    As long as you fail to provide any such, I would say having the support of a Bible makes my position better supported than yours.

    (Hmmmmmmmm.)

  79. #79 Paul
    February 24, 2010

    To those equating animal research with torture I’d like to point out that there are very strict rules (implemented through the AWA,IACUSs etc) governing how much pain and/or distress an animal can suffer during a research, with a very strong justification being required for studies that involve substantial, let alone strong, suffering. Anasthetics and analgesics must be used whenever possible and appropriate (i.e. you wouldn’t use anaesthesia when taking a small blood sample).

    The UK home office provides some statistics for this at http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/animal-research/publications-and-reference/statistics/index.html I expect that the numbers for the USA would be similar. Only about 2% of studies are classified as causing substantial suffering, these required a very strong justification and of course every effort would be taken to minimize that suffering through anaesthesia and pain relief so even with these cases the term “torture” is not appropriate.

  80. #80 Douglas Watts
    February 24, 2010

    Animal experimentation would stop if the experimenters were required to give the pet to their kids, let them name it and grow up with it for a few years, and then force their kids to watch what they do to the poor thing.

  81. #81 Copyleft
    February 24, 2010

    49: “Would you then be as kind as to provide me with a list of people, who would have no scruples inflicting immense pain on an innocent human in order to save others?”

    Certainly; they’re called “Republicans.”

    And really, the prospect of saving others isn’t that big a factor for them….

  82. #82 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Douglas Watts -

    How many human and other animal lives were saved because of animal experimentation?

    Let me make sure that I understand correctly that you prefer that all of the people and other animals who benefited from animal experimentation had died instead.

  83. #83 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Bernard Bumner:

    Any animal experiment is only licenced where there is no alternative, non-animal experimental route, where the number of procedures and animals are minimal, and where sedation or anaesthesia are given as appropriate.

    Which is as it should be – under the strictest of control and only used where absolutely necessary.

    How it works in the UK was however not the focus of my comment, but rather PZ’s comment, that sounded like the justification of animal torture if it could save or aid humans.

    I’m a big fan of PZ, and consider him a lot smarter than Dawkins, so I’m not even certain that’s how he meant it. I hope not.

  84. #84 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Animal experimentation would stop if the experimenters were required to give the pet to their kids, let them name it and grow up with it for a few years, and then force their kids to watch what they do to the poor thing.

    Hyperbole much?

    Douglas have you or anyone you love ever benefited from modern medicine?

  85. #85 cairne.morane
    February 24, 2010

    If the ‘Negotiation is Over’ do we get to fire-bomb them?

  86. #86 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    How it works in the UK was however not the focus of my comment, but rather PZ’s comment, that sounded like the justification of animal torture if it could save or aid humans.

    Feel free to quote anything he said that sounds like that. Sure, when you tell someone that a researcher sewed a kittens eyes shut, it sounds horrible, until you hear WHY THEY DID IT. You’re acting as though they’re doing it for FUN.

  87. #87 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    By inflicting pain on innocent and non-consenting people? Not likely.

    No one has talked of innocent and non-consenting human subject.

    You said “Which is exactly why we don’t think it ethically correct to experiment on people” and “Where did I say people are not experimented on? I merely said we don’t consider it ethically correct.”

    You clearly indicated in both those comments you do not think it is possible to experiment on humans in an ethical manner.

    Since humans are experimented on in an ethical manner your comments are untrue. Given how widely it is known that humans are experimented on in a ethical manner the most reasonable assumption is that you are also aware of that fact, and lied about it.

  88. #88 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Animal experimentation would stop if the experimenters were required to give the pet to their kids, let them name it and grow up with it for a few years, and then force their kids to watch what they do to the poor thing.

    Really? Farm kids get to know the animals on their farm and they ate them. Have you considered trying to develop an argument rather than just making random, unsupported assertions?

  89. #89 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Language is defined by usage, not by dictionaries. Your argument is utterly without merit.

    So… what you’re saying is that YOU define language?

    Otherwise you’ve just disproven your own point. I used torture to mean inflicting pain, and I know plenty of others who do the same. If language is defined solely by use, then how is my use any less correct than yours?

    By the way, I’ve never been to an English-speaking country in my life. Even if we accepted that torture could not mean inflicting pain, are you really basing your entire argument against me on my alleged misuse of a word?

  90. #90 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    Animal experimentation would stop if the experimenters were required to give the pet to their kids, let them name it and grow up with it for a few years, and then force their kids to watch what they do to the poor thing.

    Abortion would stop if the pregnant women were required to keep the baby, name it, and watch it grow up for a few years, and then force their kids to watch what they do to the poor thing.

    But that’s not an argument against abortion. That’s an argument against being a monster. Do you have a POINT, Dougiepoo?

  91. #91 Bernard Bumner
    February 24, 2010

    Animal experimentation would stop if the experimenters were required to give the pet to their kids, let them name it and grow up with it for a few years, and then force their kids to watch what they do to the poor thing.

    What are you going to call this fruit fly, Jimmy?


    Gary


    And this one?


    Gary II…

  92. #92 Copyleft
    February 24, 2010

    76: “Perhaps we should all admit that the use of other animals for human benefit is a subject full of difficult questions.
    It isn’t. There is one very simple premise at the heart of animal experimentation; that animals can be used for important experiments where it would be unacceptably dangerous or experimentally impossible to use humans.

    The question is very simple, because these experiments could not (for those reasons) be performed on humans. The question is; do we value the benefits of these experiments more than the costs to the animals we are using?”

    Actually, that PROVES why it’s a complex set of questions–because your very simple scenario includes judgment calls on what the terms “important,” “dangerous,” and “value” mean. And those definitions change from person to person throughout society.

    Is an experiment that ensures the safety of cosmetics valuable? Marginally. Would experimenting on humans be too dangerous? Possibly. So how much animal suffering should be allowed in ensuring that safety? Questionable.

    See? There are value judgments to be made–that’s why you used the qualifying words rather than just saying “ANY experiment that MIGHT benefit our knowledge is justified REGARDLESS of the level of suffering it inflicts”–which would be an obviously ethically bankrupt statement.

  93. #93 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    One thing I should point out and I often do when arguing against anti-research extremists is that experiment animals are way, way fewer in number and vastly more beneficial than animals used for food and clothing. If there weren’t so many humans or humans were willing to pay more for mean or humans were willing to not eat meat or at least eat a lot less (for health reasons alone, Americans certainly eat too much), or humans were willing to forgo fur coats, or any combination of what I just listed, that would reduce animal suffering vastly more than eliminating research. So, in some respects, it’s unsurprising that the anti-research AR activists are some of the dumbest – from the get-go we know they already chose their battle wrong.

    I’m a vegan (I have to pick up the slack for Americans who eat as much meat as freaking Eskimos. Eskimos!!) but I do not unilaterally oppose research. But, like I said, the attitude is way too cavalier and that needs to be fixed. I’m studying biotech and I hope to work on technologies that reduce suffering in the world (particularly human and great-ape, but also all the other animals).

  94. #94 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    If language is defined solely by use, then how is my use any less correct than yours?

    You have repeatedly used a dictionary as evidence that you are right. The usage of the word is what creates the definition in the dictionary. Thus, basing your definition on the usage vice the dictionary is more valid.

    Even if we accepted that torture could not mean inflicting pain, are you really basing your entire argument against me on my alleged misuse of a word?

    Your entire argument hinges around that word meaning what you assert it does, so YES.

  95. #95 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Do you have a POINT, Dougiepoo?

    Yes Doogiepoo is one big argument from appeal to emotion.

  96. #96 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    If the ‘Negotiation is Over’ do we get to fire-bomb them?

    That didn’t work so well when the Philadelphia police tried it. We might need some professionals that are slightly more competent.

  97. #97 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    Sorry, forgot to mention. Not only are research animals vastly fewer in number and more beneficial to mankind, they are also generally treated much better (there are horror stories, some true, but they usually violate laws on the books so those terrorists should think more in terms of whistle-blowing).

  98. #98 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    No one has talked of innocent and non-consenting human subject.

    I was comparing it to the animal equivalent. Animals can (obviously) not give legal consent, so of course I was talking about human experimentation under the same circumstances.

    A apologise if I did not make that clear enough.

  99. #99 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Your entire argument hinges around that word meaning what you assert it does, so YES.

    Except it doesn’t.

    I have even said earlier, that I’m quite willing to use the term “inflict pain upon” if that makes you more comfortable.

    The word “torture” was not an essential part of anything I said, and only stupidity or oversight can excuse believing so.

  100. #100 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    I was comparing it to the animal equivalent. Animals can (obviously) not give legal consent, so of course I was talking about human experimentation under the same circumstances.

    No you weren’t.

    You claimed humans could be experimented on ethically.

    That was a lie.

  101. #101 andrew h
    February 24, 2010

    86:”Sure, when you tell someone that a researcher sewed a kittens eyes shut, it sounds horrible, until you hear WHY THEY DID IT.”

    the reason someone does something to a subject doesn’t have any relationship with the experiences of the subject, does it? it probably is horrible to have a hole cut in your skull, live 22 hours a day in a cage in a closet, only coming out so you can be chained and bolted to a chair and forced to stare at flashing lights while electrodes are inserted into your brain.

    we do horrible things to animals in the name of research. we also try to minimize the horror, not to make it egregious, doing only what is necessary to find out what we want to know. denying this through a statement like “it’s not horrible because we did it for the right reasons” is like thinking the world disappears when you close your eyes.

    we don’t have to pretend that every thing we do is good and noble just because it’s for science, or for medicine. the means can be pretty nasty. i came to accept this years ago, since most all of my work is based on animal models.

    it is necessary to oppose the animal rights people, in order to prevent them gaining too much ground and damaging research. but we have to be honest with ourselves.

  102. #102 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    I wonder what Amunium thinks of the idea of knocking out specific genes in mice to test the effects. Is that torture? Should we stop doing that?

  103. #103 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    So… what you’re saying is that YOU define language?

    Yes. We all do. It’s how language works. Prescriptivists are wrong. The goal of a dictionary is to help people understand how words are used.

    Torture, particularly in the context of your first usage of it, does not merely mean inflicting pain. It has more meaning to it, more nuance, a nuance that you don’t seem to grasp because English is not your first language. Rather than trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs, maybe you should learn from your experience.

  104. #104 Stephen Wells
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium, educate yourself about the ethical restrictions and regulations that govern medical research on animals BEFORE asserting that PZ favours arbitrarily torturing animals, okay?

    @71: Douglas Watts is wrong, period. Well, that’s that disposed of.

  105. #105 aratina cage of the OM
    February 24, 2010

    Animal experimentation would stop if the experimenters were required to give the pet to their kids, let them name it and grow up with it for a few years, and then force their kids to watch what they do to the poor thing. -Douglas Watts

    I don’t think so. This has seldom (if ever) stopped farmers who raise livestock much to their children’s chagrin.

  106. #106 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    andrew, the bit you should’ve quoted from my post is a bit later on, where I mentioned that Amunium’s implication is that it’s done for some sort of frivolous reason. Yes, it is still horrible, but when all you do is talk about how horrible the things that are done must be and not give the reasons why they’re doing it, you’re playing a game with emotions rather than making a rational case for such behavior to go on. Simply saying that it’s torture and that it’s unethical to ever do it is just an appeal to emotion.

  107. #107 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    First, I should have typed: You claimed humans could NOT be experimented on ethically.

    Second, I like how Amunium has now decided he did not really mean torture as normally understand by the term, and that when he said that humans could not be experimented on ethically, he actually mean they could.

  108. #108 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    No you weren’t.
    You claimed humans could be experimented on ethically.
    That was a lie.

    Again you read what you want to read.

    As I just explained to you VERY clearly, I know that is not what I wrote, but it was what I meant, and assumed was to be understood.

    I also apologised if I didn’t make it clear enough.

    Repeating that I didn’t specifically say that is completely irrelevant.

  109. #109 KOPD42
    February 24, 2010

    But it pisses me off even more when people brush aside their concerns as idiotic…

    For the record, I don’t consider all of their concerns idiotic (though certainly the idea that only MD’s can do experiments is stupid). It’s their solution I take issue with. As you said, all or nothing. If they were to take a very passionate stance that animal testing should be reduced, or more tightly controlled, I’d likely agree with them. It does worry me that there may be unnecessary experiments going on. I do think it’s improved, and hopefully we’ll never see the likes of Vladimir Demikhov again. But to say that all animal experimentation must be completely stopped is an unreasonable stance. It is narrow-minded, short-sighted, and several other adjectives.

  110. #110 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Again you read what you want to read.

    As I just explained to you VERY clearly, I know that is not what I wrote, but it was what I meant, and assumed was to be understood.

    I also apologised if I didn’t make it clear enough.

    Repeating that I didn’t specifically say that is completely irrelevant.

    I read what you wrote. And what you wrote was untrue and dishonest.

    I simply do not believe you when you say it was down to stupidity and incompetence on your part. You lied, you got caught and now you want to wriggle out of it.

  111. #111 Becca Stareyes
    February 24, 2010

    @Amunium

    Part of using a word is to use it in a helpful fashion for the debate. If you equate torture = ‘inflicting pain for any reason’, that’s not helpful here, because ethically we distinguish pain caused in an attempt to help (such as surgery) and pain caused by other means. We also attach ethical importance on the mitigation of pain — surgery done with anesthetic is ethically preferable to not (even ignoring the practical considerations). In colloquial English, saying that post-surgical pain is torture works fine, but in an ethical debate, it is flimsy logic. Because, ethically, cutting someone open to remove a tumor is different than cutting someone open for shits and giggles, even if the procedure is the same. If you don’t think so, I don’t think we can have a reasoned discussion.

    You’re also equating ‘experiment’ with ‘inflicting pain’, which is also unhelpful, since there are plenty of experiments done that are painless. If I sign up to test a new anti-depressant and am given a bottle of pills that may be the experimental drug or a placebo (or an existing drug*), that is human experimentation, and ethically we consider that all right. This doesn’t mean torture — if I have extreme side effects, I’ll be taken off the drugs, lest my health be endangered, the same as if I was given a normal anti-depressant. Furthermore, if the study mid-way through shows that there is no way this can be helpful, it will be ended. (Or if the drug performs so well that there is no way the end results will be negative.)

    Now, if you want to argue that non-human animal experimentation is unethical because it is done without consent, or some other thing, that’s at least logically consistent. But your generalizations are making you look like you don’t have a leg to stand on.


    * Usually medical ethics requires that if the condition is serious enough and has a treatment, that any new drugs be tested against ‘the existing standard of care’. This prohibits things like ‘vaccines versus placebo injections’ because we know that the non-vaccination group would be at a higher risk for disease. .

  112. #112 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Second, I like how Amunium has now decided he did not really mean torture as normally understand by the term, and that when he said that humans could not be experimented on ethically, he actually mean they could.

    - And now you start lying about me. The hypocrisy is impressive.

    How about we just agree to ignore each other?
    I get the distinct feeling we are not going to be best buddies any time soon, and you are obviously not interested in actually reading anything I say.

  113. #113 andrew h
    February 24, 2010

    #102:”Is that torture? Should we stop doing that?”

    just because something can be compared to torture doesn’t mean we should stop doing it. your premises seem to be confused. neuroscientists, for example, would say that their subjects shouldn’t be put through unnecessary pain or suffering – but if some pain or suffering are necessary for the experiment to work out, and if the IRB agrees the experiment is worthwhile, then the endeavor rolls on. an animal is put through a miserable existence for the sake of the experiment.

    in comparison, a good torturer would probably want to precisely apply pain and suffering in order to, for example, extract the information he needs from his subject. the difference is that the torturer intends to apply pain and suffering; the good researcher intends to minimize it, but still must know it occurs.

    i should emphasize that i’m all in favor of animal experimentation. it’s ugly, but there’s no other way to get the information i want to read about.

  114. #114 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    I simply do not believe you when you say it was down to stupidity and incompetence on your part.

    Actually, I said it was down to stupidity and incompetence on YOUR part.

    I once again apologise if that was not made clear enough for you.

  115. #115 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    Following Matt’s correction to his comment (adding ‘NOT’), I agree with him. Amunium, I quote:

    Which is exactly why we don’t think it ethically correct to experiment on people.

    Then, when consent was brought into the picture:

    I was comparing it to the animal equivalent. Animals can (obviously) not give legal consent, so of course I was talking about human experimentation under the same circumstances.

    So… yeah. You jumped from “it’s always unethical” to “it’s ethical if consent is involved.”

    You also equated experimentation where pain is closely monitored and controlled to torture, told me that I should argue with a dictionary and that because it was in a book you were right by default, claimed that human beings are never used in medical experiments (saying “Good thing we don’t, then” when I mentioned it was standard medical practice for new treatments), implied that people believed experimentation was always pain-free (“You really think all these experiments can be done without inflicting pain on these animals?”), and implied that inflicting any kind of strong pain is torture regardless of the motive (“Funny, my dictionary says torture is inflicting strong pain. That’s what it is. Purpose has nothing to do with it, necessarily.”).

    You’ve got a lot more to apologize for than you realize, I think. But hey, keep hackin’ away at that strawman.

  116. #116 AJ Milne
    February 24, 2010

    I get the distinct feeling we are not going to be best buddies any time soon, and you are obviously not interested in actually reading anything I say. letting me slime my way out of this one.

    (/^Fixed it for him.)

  117. #117 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    andrew:

    just because something can be compared to torture doesn’t mean we should stop doing it. your premises seem to be confused.

    Actually, I agree with you. I was trying to test Amunium to see just what he considered torture, since he seems to have a weird definition of it.

  118. #118 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    - And now you start lying about me. The hypocrisy is impressive.

    How about we just agree to ignore each other?
    I get the distinct feeling we are not going to be best buddies any time soon, and you are obviously not interested in actually reading anything I say.

    How about you apologise for being dishonest ? And then leave.

    After all, you did accuse PZ of condoning torture. And I have not seen you apologise for doing that.

    Actually, I said it was down to stupidity and incompetence on YOUR part.

    I once again apologise if that was not made clear enough for you.

    Yes, that is what you said. It was an idiotic thing to say since you did say that humans could not be experimented on ethically when in fact they can.

    Look, you came here and said some stupid things. You now seem to have realised you will not be allowed to get away with making such comments here, and have tried claiming you did not mean what you said. I suspect few here will be taken in by that dishonest attempt to claim you did not say what you said.

    Better for you to admit you lied and leave.

  119. #119 tsig0
    February 24, 2010

    “Posted by: Douglas Watts Author Profile Page | February 24, 2010 10:46 AM

    Animal experimentation would stop if the experimenters were required to give the pet to their kids, let them name it and grow up with it for a few years, and then force their kids to watch what they do to the poor thing.”

    Argument by Sloppy Sentimentality.

  120. #120 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium -

    Torture is a word freighted with a lot more meaning than you understood. Your comment in #17 meant a lot more to every English-speaking person here than merely “inflicting pain upon”. Rather than acknowledge your error, you fought us.

    You then claimed that it was unethical to experiment on humans in #26. I guess you have backpedalled from that, but it isn’t entirely clear.

    Please, think about what you have written and what people criticize you for before you jump back into the fray. Being defensive doesn’t help your cause at all.

  121. #121 th.wright
    February 24, 2010

    @76, Difficult questions are simple for the all-knowing amongst us. Using animals for human benefit is not limited to animal experimentation.

    Also, if animals were used ONLY for important experiments where it would be unacceptably dangerous or experimentally impossible to use humans, then, yes, the issue would be simpler. But historically, animals have been used for questionable experiments. Am I mistaken?

    PZ implied that his daughter benefited from animal experimentation. It seems to me the additional implication is that he approves of the experimentation that was conducted to benefit his daughter. It appears PZ is implying that experiments that capable and intelligent alien life forms perform on us, are justified, as long as these experiments benefit their “species.”

  122. #122 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    It seems to me the additional implication is that he approves of the experimentation that was conducted to benefit his daughter.

    Why don’t you ask him? I’m pretty sure that he wasn’t saying it was done for his daughter. I’d bet he was saying that he’s glad it was done because she was able to benefit from it.

  123. #123 illogicalbeats
    February 24, 2010

    I think some animal research is worthwhile, but if you can’t see the other side’s points AT ALL, then I think you’re giving science a bit too much credit.

    Research on animals (mammals particularly) should be subjected to the same cost/benefit analysis as other social/civil endeavors. Just because it would be neat to know, that doesn’t sufficiently excuse inflicting suffering on an innocent animal.

    I value humans over the other animals, but not without limit.

  124. #124 Qwerty
    February 24, 2010

    The below quote is from the “about” section of the linked website. It really is a statement of terrorism.

    “And my answer is that I unequivocally support violence if it will stop the violent.”

  125. #125 Stephen Wells
    February 24, 2010

    PZ said directly (not implied) that his daughter benefited from animal experimentation; he strongly implied that yes, he approves of that animal research; and none of this implies anything about aliens.

  126. #126 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    @123

    Research on animals (mammals particularly) should be subjected to the same cost/benefit analysis as other social/civil endeavors. Just because it would be neat to know, that doesn’t sufficiently excuse inflicting suffering on an innocent animal.

    I value humans over the other animals, but not without limit.

    sigh

    Good grief. It’s as if people think that there is no regulation on animal research.

    @121

    PZ implied that his daughter benefited from animal experimentation. It seems to me the additional implication is that he approves of the experimentation that was conducted to benefit his daughter. It appears PZ is implying that experiments that capable and intelligent alien life forms perform on us, are justified, as long as these experiments benefit their “species.”

    Really? That’s the argument you want to go with?

  127. #127 Qwerty
    February 24, 2010

    The quote is from the “Frequently asked questions – Marino” in the “About” section.

  128. #128 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Blockquote and grammar failure in #126

    the “I value…” should be part of the blockquote and the grammar failure is just typical Rev. BDC failing.

  129. #129 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Research on animals (mammals particularly) should be subjected to the same cost/benefit analysis as other social/civil endeavors.

    I wonder how many critics of research using animals have no idea how much pain is inflicted, why the animal is being experimented upon or what the expected benefits are. Douglas Watts is clearly one such ignorant critic.

    I, too, support the ethical guidelines that have been developed over the years. Are they perfect? That seems unlikely, but they are an improvement. When no guidelines were in place and there were some researchers who weren’t paying attention to the harm inflicted, I would have opposed the way they treated their charges. I would be happy to see any researchers who violate current standards have their grants pulled.

    Meanwhile, I will mock Douglas Watts for his willingness to sacrifice humans and other animals to his vile ethical standards.

  130. #130 Q.E.D
    February 24, 2010

    Wherever one positions oneself on the spectrum of the ethical permissibility of animal testing, there is a real ethical dilemma that is difficult to resolve. Animal testing is undeniably helpful in the advance of our understanding of biology and medicine. It is also beyond cavil that animal testing inflicts pain and anguish in animals. This may be a necessary evil but it is still an evil, even in service to a greater good. We tend not to think it ethically permissible to treat human beings as means to an end, is it such a stretch to think we should try to avoid treating other animals as means?

    Just thinking aloud and looking forward to Pharyngulista feedback, I admit I haven’t given up medicine or meat eating.

  131. #131 AJ Milne
    February 24, 2010
  132. #132 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    @ Matt Penfold asked:

    Will you do something for us ? Provide a list (it can be a short one) of people who advocate torturing animals.

    Karl Rove.

    He admitted he liked decapitating small furry animals.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWRSgjDEQy0

    And I obviously like torturing humans, because I just linked to a video of the esteemed Mr. Rove rapping.

    The argument over ‘torturing’ animals isn’t even an argument anymore. Its just as polarized as any other topic in our society today. How the hell can we get people to start thinking empirically? And HOW can we GET people to REALIZE THAT capitalizing RANDOM sets of words in their SENTENCES doesn’t help get their POINT across?

  133. #133 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    Research on animals (mammals particularly) should be subjected to the same cost/benefit analysis as other social/civil endeavors.

    exactly. And the fact that much research turns out fruitless must be factored in. It would be nice if every mouse given cancer lead to a cure of cancer and every kitten experimented on taught us how a whole subsystem worked. The nature of science is it’s a search process and that must be factored into the equation. I wouldn’t be comfortable, for example, finding out that 1000 rats were experimented on just to find a cure for restless legs syndrome.

  134. #134 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    I still see no proposals by Amunium or Douglas Watts about how they (they are the one complaining, hence they volunteered) should be the first to receive an unknown drug that may cure cancer, but which has no toxicological, dosage, or efficacy data since it can’t be tested in animals. Until I see a solid proposal, they are just idjit emotional trolls. Nothing cogent being said.

  135. #135 Kagehi
    February 24, 2010

    So.. Standard BS from the animal rights terrorists is usually:

    1. Magic. All it takes is magic to solve all these problems without animal research, and everyone knows from watching a lot of movies that, “computers are magic”, so obviously all you need is computers.

    2. No matter how many laws, changes, or ethical discussions *have* taken place in the scientific community, the ***truth*** is that such researchers are all still working like its 1920, and anything at all goes, even if its unnecessary, and doesn’t provide useful information.

    Guess, from our resident sympathizer we can extrapolate that one new argument (they have so few of these) could become:

    3. Because using a drug/ procedure that already had been shown to not kill someone instantly, and appears to have the effect we want, based on prior testing, on a person is called “experimental”, its *exactly* the same thing as all the prior experiments, and therefor you can’t claim some sort of ethical difference between the two.

    Never mind that this is rather like suggesting that the first person to put electrics in a car was doing **completely** new research (assuming for a moment that doing so might be an ethical issue), while also ignoring prior failed attempts, and 60 years of making model cars, subways, and various other things that use such designs. Of course its “experimental”. That isn’t the same bloody thing as “could kill you – experimental”, or, “we have **0** idea what this will do – experimental”. And, even in those later cases, we do usually have some “basic” idea, in this day and age, due to prior research where, unfortunately, this was often true, of what is *likely* to happen, just not with sufficient precision to know *exactly*, or if complications may happen. The first two above are “standard” canard for these groups, and both total bullshit, just as the anti-abortion people push bullshit, by using pictures of viable/near viable fetuses to babble about the horror of taking a pill to stop implantation, for example. Both are dead wrong, even if #2 was “at one time” meaningful for some labs.

    Tack on #3 and it just gets bloody absurd. Everything is a damned experiment, even my deciding whether or not eating a banana this morning, in hopes it will hold me over until break time at work, is a good idea, instead of eating something more substantial. Unless you are willing to talk about how certain they are *before* running the human experiments, that things may work, or at least not kill anyone, sans completely unexpected results, claiming the same ethical issues, or equating the nature of the experimentation being done, is pure idiocy. We are not lighting farts on fire to see if they burn, we are seeing if methane will actually run X machine, and if our prior data is actually correct in “how well”. Hell, even before the animals, we get past the “can you light it on fire” point *first*, then run tests. Its more like, “Can methane be burned in an engine?”, vs., “***in this*** engine?” All we get from extreme animal rights groups is, “All these experiments stink! Just go abracadabra, wave a wand, and make medicines, without all the stuff that smells bad to us!”

  136. #136 th.wright
    February 24, 2010

    @122, okay, I have no problem with that. Your point is…
    Maybe I should have phrased it differently, but that’s the gist of what I was trying to say.

    @125, I’m just posing a hypothetical question. Should advanced aliens be allowed to experiment on humans if it benefits them?

    @126, Yes, right or wrong, it’s an interesting argument worthy of a response.

  137. #137 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 24, 2010

    Merriam-Webster.com defines torture as such:

    3 : distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : straining

    Amunium is using “torture” correctly in at least one of its definitions.

    And Douglas, maybe if the animal rights extremists would voluntarily abstain from any applications of animal research for themselves and their families, I might regard them with something more than contempt. But then again, probably not.

  138. #138 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    And the fact that much research turns out fruitless must be factored in.

    Really? Much of it? How are you quantifying that?

    Define fruitless and then explain how failure to come to a conclusive “fruit” or cure with each experiment has no benefit for future research?

  139. #139 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 24, 2010

    Not only are research animals vastly fewer in number and more beneficial to mankind, they are also generally treated much better

    Word. Animal research is much more highly regulated than say, pet ownership. If we are really concerned with cruelty to animals*, one of the best things that we could do is bar people from owning pets…or impose the kinds of regulations on pet owners that are imposed on researchers.
    1. What will this pet be used for?
    2. Have you or any member of your household been convicted of a federal felony or misdemeanor?
    3. Have you or any member of your family been convicted of a crime of pet neglect, endangerment, or violations of neighborhood ordinances regarding “duty”?
    4. If your proposed pet weighs more than 2 ounces and is terrestrial, or more than 16 ounces and is aquatic, please fill out the McCain Pet-Love Act Duty, Litter, and Sanitation Plan (Form MPL1186-POO).
    4. Please attach documentation of the living quarters that will be provided, as well as a current Certificate of Habituation (obtainable under Texas code 183.17b from the Department of Safety).
    5. Please attach the McCain Pet-Love Act Senescence Care and Termination Plan (form MPL1186-RIP) to this form.

    &cetera

    *I, for one, am not.

  140. #140 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    I still see no proposals by Amunium or Douglas Watts about how they (they are the one complaining, hence they volunteered) should be the first to receive an unknown drug that may cure cancer, but which has no toxicological

    This is starting to sound like apologies for torture. No matter what, new drugs have to have human trials. Given how differently a drug can treat two different animals (even if they are closely related, and I don’t want to see experimenting on chimps), drug trials on animals aren’t of much use. Animal experimentation is done for research; if you don’t realize that, you’re making the same fallacy as the “terrorists”. Animal research doesn’t save lives by making sure medicine is safe before people try it (clinical trials on humans are needed). Rather, ostensibly, it saves lives by providing us with information we can use to discover new drugs or what not.

  141. #141 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    Q.E.D. I just saw your post after searching for the Karl Rove rapping video.

    You call animal testing a ‘necessary evil but it is still an evil’.

    Thats going a bit beyond ethical concerns and diving into philosophy. Questions like ‘what is evil’ need to be asked before you can just declare something evil.

    I side with the Moral Relativists. Morality is determined by society. I tend to think our society declares something ‘good’ or ‘evil’ based on intent. What is the intent of a researcher? Do they take joy in inflicting pain on the animals? I think it’s safe to say that most researchers seek to inflict the least pain on their test subjects, and their intent is to increase the overall knowledge of our species. In that regard, I would call their actions ‘good’.

    The natural world is a place filled with hardships, pain and early death. We have largely insulated ourselves from it, but we are still deeply connected to it. Even something as simple as buying bread will guarantee the early death of many animals. If you think that animal testing is an evil, you should see how animals die under the pest control industry. Those cute little yellow boxes of D-con cause a horrible death by internal bleeding, and that’s not even the worst of it. Our mere existence means horrible deaths for many animals over the course of our lives. It’s an admirable trait in humans that we seek ways of mitigating that pain, but we have to accept that it is neither good nor evil, but just life.

  142. #142 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    And Douglas, maybe if the animal rights extremists would voluntarily abstain from any applications of animal research for themselves and their families, I might regard them with something more than contempt. But then again, probably not.

    Some people do, in fact, abstain at least from things that are directly derived from animal experimentation. Obviously, our knowledge is a complicated web and I’m sure there’s even a drop of horrible military experiments on humans in some of our medicine but taking medicine doesn’t mean I support what our military used to do.

  143. #143 tac
    February 24, 2010

    You have enjoyed the results of animial experimentation for medical reasons if:

    -You wear contact lenses
    -you have used any medication (except aspirin)
    -you have had any orthopedic surgery (fracture repair, hip replacement, etc)
    -you have had any endoscopic procedure
    -you have had any medical imaging (Xray, ultrasound, MRI, etc)
    -you have had treatment for any type of cancer

    I’m sure there is a long list–

    tim

    “I’m sure you will volunteer for my trial of craniotomy to treat stupidity”

  144. #144 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 24, 2010

    I wouldn’t be comfortable, for example, finding out that 1000 rats were experimented on just to find a cure for restless legs syndrome.

    But you’re okay with millions of rats being killed just because people don’t like them running around their houses?
    Anyway, restless legs syndrome is no joke. How does years of chronic sleep deprivation sound? Interestingly, sleep deprivation is a basic method of torture.

  145. #145 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Matt Penfold:

    Look, you came here and said some stupid things. You now seem to have realised you will not be allowed to get away with making such comments here, and have tried claiming you did not mean what you said.

    Actually, I have not said anything stupid. My only error was to use a word which, apparently, held a different meaning for most of you than intended.

    You, however, have said nothing but lies and slander, and still continue the same line of yelling, bitching and calling people names.

    It’s obvious you are a very angry man, which is fine, but I don’t really have the patience to continue this “conversation” with you any longer.

    Now, I’ll just continue talking to the more intelligent individuals here, and sincerely wish you a good day.

  146. #146 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Some people do, in fact, abstain at least from things that are directly derived from animal experimentation

    Such people are likely to die pretty young. That is, if they really follow through with their beliefs.

    Imagine, no access to drugs, or surgical procedures. A simple infection could kill them as it killed so many people before we got antibiotics.

  147. #147 Stephen Wells
    February 24, 2010

    @136: should the aliens be allowed _by whom_? By us? Fuck no. By themselves? That’s gonna depend on their ethical views, no? And they don’t seem to be around to ask.

    Anyway, what would the aliens be experimenting _for_? We use animals for experiments because of the similarities we share with them through our common evolutionary history, which aliens wouldn’t have. If they want to find out stuff about _us_, they can ask us, surely, and if they want to find out stuff about themselves, they wouldn’t learn anything from fiddling with us.

  148. #148 Qwerty
    February 24, 2010

    illogicalbeats – When someone advocates and/or approves of violence (see the quote I posted at #124) as Marino does; then, I don’t see their point.

    These people are similar to the anti-abortionists who approved of George Tiller’s death. They incite violence and stand by and appaud when it happens.

  149. #149 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    But you’re okay with millions of rats being killed just because people don’t like them running around their houses?

    Now why would you go and assume a thing like that? People need to prevent there being mouses in their houses to as much as possible prevent rat traps from being necessary. Incidentally, after a neighbor of mine’s house was damaged, the rats from their basement flooded into our garage. I successfully removed the rats one by one to a far away field using the no-kill traps. It was tedious. But I’d rather inconvenience myself than kill them. Now, if I had small kids susceptible to disease, I might have felt differently (though a dead rat is probably more diseased than a live one). The way people tend to default to the kill traps without even considering the no-kill option is precisely the kind of problem that reasonable non-terrorist animal rights activists are trying to fix.

  150. #150 Api-vat
    February 24, 2010

    82:”Let me make sure that I understand correctly that you prefer that all of the people and other animals who benefited from animal experimentation had died instead.”
    Nobody ever died from strabismus. People don’t even suffer from it, or just barely.

    I’d say animal experimentation can be justified with certain diseases. But not friggin’ strabismus – and I ‘suffer’ from a pretty bad case (congenital into amblyopia). Avatar was a good movie, but is seeing it in 3D worth all this?

  151. #151 Kome
    February 24, 2010

    I’m not going to lie, I hate that this kind of research is necessary. I don’t like the thought of animals, human or non-human, being injured. On the other hand, it works. Animal research had saved billions of lives and improved the quality of life in billions more.

    Also, the entire veterinary practice relies on it, so we can add in billions and billions more lives saved and improved if we include non-human animals to the tally.

  152. #152 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Becca Stareyes:

    Part of using a word is to use it in a helpful fashion for the debate. If you equate torture = ‘inflicting pain for any reason’, that’s not helpful here, because ethically we distinguish pain caused in an attempt to help (such as surgery) and pain caused by other means

    That’s fine.
    The word “torturere”, which, as you probably can guess, is the Danish equivalent of the English verb “torture”, is quite commonly used to mean “inflicting pain upon”, without any severer implications. It was my distinct impression that this was also the case in English.

    As I explained several posts back, if I was wrong about this, I’ll happily use “inflict pain upon” instead. I honestly don’t see how this is still an issue.

  153. #153 th.wright
    February 24, 2010

    @147, Maybe you should read the entire thread first and my earlier comments.

  154. #154 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Now why would you go and assume a thing like that? People need to prevent there being mouses in their houses to as much as possible prevent rat traps from being necessary. Incidentally, after a neighbor of mine’s house was damaged, the rats from their basement flooded into our garage. I successfully removed the rats one by one to a far away field using the no-kill traps. It was tedious. But I’d rather inconvenience myself than kill them. Now, if I had small kids susceptible to disease, I might have felt differently (though a dead rat is probably more diseased than a live one). The way people tend to default to the kill traps without even considering the no-kill option is precisely the kind of problem that reasonable non-terrorist animal rights activists are trying to fix.

    Well that seems more than a bit naive. Ever live in a large city with rat problems like New York or even better, New Orleans? Do you propose they use live traps there?

  155. #155 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Actually, I have not said anything stupid. My only error was to use a word which, apparently, held a different meaning for most of you than intended.

    Which is pretty stupid of you.

    You, however, have said nothing but lies and slander, and still continue the same line of yelling, bitching and calling people names.

    I suspect you mean libel, not slander. Our interactions have been written, not verbal.

    There is though a perfect defence to claims of either slander or libel and it is if what is said is true. You did claim PZ supported torturing animals, and you did claim causing pain to animals was torture. Neither claim on your part was true. You also claim humans could not be experimented on ethically. Again that was untrue.

    In pointing out you have said those untrue things I cannot have slandered or libelled you since those things are untrue.

    It’s obvious you are a very angry man, which is fine, but I don’t really have the patience to continue this “conversation” with you any longer.

    I am not an angry man. You however are a dishonest one, and I do dislike dishonesty. I especially dislike people who are dishonest, get caught and then lie about what it was they said in the first place. You have been guilty of doing that.

    Now, I’ll just continue talking to the more intelligent individuals here, and sincerely wish you a good day.

    I am quite sure many of the regulars here are more intelligent than me. I am pretty sure you are not though.

    I suspect tho ugh they will giveyour dishonest tactics the same short-thrift I gave them.

    I note you still lack the decency to admit your lies.

  156. #156 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 24, 2010

    #149:
    My comment was aimed at your cavalier dismissal of people suffering from restless legs syndrome as somehow counting less than 1000 rats being experimented on.

  157. #157 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    No matter what, new drugs have to have human trials. Given how differently a drug can treat two different animals (even if they are closely related, and I don’t want to see experimenting on chimps), drug trials on animals aren’t of much use.

    When shall I put down you and your family for testing. It is either in you or the animal. Chose wisely cricket.,

  158. #158 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    @149 and no kill traps.

    You placed common house rats in a wild field? Do you realize what happened after you dropped them off?

    If they were an invasive species, they would have caused the death by starvation of the local wildlife. If they were adapted to living in residential areas, they probably couldn’t find food and starved to death.

    Wild ecosystems are in balance, just dumping handfuls of rodents into them will offset that balance and up killing indigenous species.

  159. #159 JJ
    February 24, 2010

    You ALL are INCREDIBLY off.

    . I don’t think you’d call a root canal a method of torture, yet it sure does hurt

    Bunch of liars – I had 3 root canals this year – NOT A BIT OF WHICH HURT. But it was, in fact, torture. Sitting in a dentist chair for 3+ hours with TWO sets of hands constantly going in and out, poking around. And that HORRIBLE vibrating feeling that rings through your jaw and skull when they put the big grinder on your tooth. No pain during OR after – just the extremely uncomfortable feeling that I can’t close my mouth, I can’t SWALLOW and I can’t even clear my throat. Finally they stopped once they forcibly got me to ‘admit’ to drinking Soda, even though I don’t. F’n Nazi dentists and hygienists.

    (My dentist did tell me to signal if I wanted to take a break, but i pushed through the whole damn thing – both times [1 session of 1 and one session of 2 both sessions 3+hrs)

  160. #160 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    Well that seems more than a bit naive. Ever live in a large city with rat problems like New York or even better, New Orleans? Do you propose they use live traps there?

    Did I say that no-kill traps can always be the option? nope. I stand by my non-naive comments.

  161. #161 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Nobody ever died from strabismus. People don’t even suffer from it, or just barely.

    I’d say animal experimentation can be justified with certain diseases. But not friggin’ strabismus – and I ‘suffer’ from a pretty bad case (congenital into amblyopia). Avatar was a good movie, but is seeing it in 3D worth all this?

    Tell me, did it take a lot of work to become this stupid ?

    The research PZ refers to was not done specifically to research strabismus. It was done as part of research into how animals see. As a result the causes of strabismus were understood, and thus it was possible to develop effective treatments.

  162. #162 gillt
    February 24, 2010

    “The goal of a dictionary is to help people understand how words are used.”

    Correct: dictionary “definitions” are intended for connotation not denotation.

    Insisting a word has only one definition when there are clearly many offered means you are abusing the dictionary. I believe it’s a similar offense to quote-mining.

  163. #163 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 24, 2010

    Nobody ever died from strabismus. People don’t even suffer from it, or just barely.

    You are a callous idiot. Depth perception is kind of important, I think.

  164. #164 nastasie
    February 24, 2010

    These people are off their trolleys. Just the other day I was thinking exactly that: they are indeed terrorists. They don’t hesitate to send death threats if you so much as wear fur. An American athlete competing in the Winter Olympics is one recent example. I’m not in favour of wearing fur, and I really wish people would stop, but it’s something that doesn’t even come close to justifying threats of any kind, let alone *death threats*. This should be obvious. So when it comes to scientific research, it’s really abysmally stupid.

    I was born with divergent strabismus, by the way, which the hardest type to fix – or at least it was when I was a kid. I had three surgeries, but it wasn’t enough to keep my brain from adapting to using the information from one eye at a time. As a result, I can’t see in 3D, and the problems this causes me are more serious than not being able to watch Avatar or whatever. So yeah, I’m glad to hear there has been progress on that front, in spite of the way this progress was achieved.

    I’m basically just adding to the chorus of “I wish there was another way, but there isn’t, and human beings come first”.

  165. #165 AJ Milne
    February 24, 2010

    This is starting to sound like apologies for torture…

    ‘Kay. That’s it. I just broke my neck. I hope you’re satisfied.

    Intriguing implications of alleged rhetorical similarities between apologia for torture versus animal testing, do let us consider a few minor differences between experimenting on animals and torturing humans:

    Efficacy: Animal research often does get you information. Torturing humans quite rarely does*.

    Pain: Optional in the former, and you try to minimize it. Mandatory in the latter, and you try to maximize it.

    Psychological torment leading to horrific, long-term, irreversible trauma: See above.

    Need for deliberately desensitized ‘technicians’ happy to apply sadism purely for the purpose of making people cower in fear: see both of the above.

    Paperwork: obligatory and voluminous in the former. Spotty in the latter, depending a bit on the regime involved… Sometimes, the torture game, in fact, is just great for folk who really hate paperwork, and given the fact I’m one of those guys who breaks out in a rash when he so much as sees a form to fill out, I sometimes think I should consider getting into it… Keeping actual track of where prisoners are and how and why you sent them there and whether or not they are dead and how they got that way may, in fact, be entirely optional. As any good vicious autocrat knows, there’s often nothing scarier than what you don’t know, which is great when scaring the fuck out of the disappeared’s friends and family are more ‘n half the point.

    … but see really that first one, and you really get the gist of it. Torture really is bullshit, especially if you’re saying ‘ZOMG! What if we must know where the bomb is!’, because that’s not really what it’s used for, and it’s generally kinda useless for that stuff, anyway… So arguments of the nature ‘It’s regrettable, but we simply gotta, see,’ really are BS, there. Animal testing, not so much.

    (/*Now, you might take from this that torture is useless as a tool of a state, but nay, ye naive plebian, far from it. It’s pretty much useless for its ostensible purpose of information gathering, sure… But for terrorizing and cowing the target population, oddly enough, it can actually work splendidly well.)

  166. #166 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    Been following this thread carefully and have a few comments:

    This post is really about two different things: The ethics of animal testing and the actions of this activist group.

    In that light, I will comment on them separately.

    First, the actions of this animal rights group makes them terrorists. Plain and simple, by any reasonable definition of the word. They are despicable and can only serve to harm their cause, whether it is right or wrong.

    Second, the discussion of ethics in animal testing is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly, and I’ve appreciated much of the discussion in this thread. I agree with many of the things said by many of the fine commentors here.

    Lastly, I can’t tell you how fucking irritated I am by Amunium and his fucking childish word-definition games with “torture”. You want to use Merriam-Webster as a reference to prove you right, well then you can’t take ONE of the definitions and ignore the others, you sanctimonious simpleton. There’s a reason there are multiple definitions of the word listed: the context of its usage supplies the proper selection from the list of definitions… and in any meaningful discussion of “torture” in the sense of animal testing, trying to use definition 1 is intentionally dishonest. Do better.

  167. #167 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 24, 2010

    @136:

    Should advanced aliens be allowed to experiment on humans if it benefits them?

    Ummm…yes. They have already been experimenting on you*, for like 40 years, and hold active permits. If their paper-work is in order, their paperwork is in order.

    Having said that, it is important to consider the following. While the experiments that the aliens are doing aren’t saving alien lives directly, they greatly improved galactic understanding of what crazy rednecks keep in their colons. And that is beneficial for everyone in the galaxy.

    *I meant “us”…because I’m a human too.

  168. #168 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    February 24, 2010

    You placed common house rats in a wild field? Do you realize what happened after you dropped them off?

    It was a native rat species – the kangaroo rat (which are much cuter than the common rat, not that that matters from an ethical standpoint). Again with the assumin’. I think if you’re in a rural area and a native species invades your home, no-kill traps are more likely to be a good option.

    The city is a different story, but also note my comments about prevention. It’s not always your fault if you have rats in your basement, but sometimes it is. Sometimes, you created the population of rats that you’re going to kill. I’m all for preventing preventable tragedies. The whole world is full of tragedies that are unpreventable. I have nothing to say about the countless animals that die every second to the claw, but if you can get the same result without doing harm, even if it’s an inconvenience to you, I think it’s a no-brainer. The problem is the value of non-human animals’ right to exist is often assayed at somewhere around 0.001 and I oppose that mentality.

    Anyway, I have to get back to work. I fear for what this thread will become when I get back!

  169. #169 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Did I say that no-kill traps can always be the option? nope. I stand by my non-naive comments.

    Except releasing them back out to continue breeding and increasing the already hard to control populations. Even if you put them in a field you’re removing them from their habitat they’ve become accustomed to. The food sources aren’t the same, the habitat isn’t the same. You know what they many do if possible? They find a way back to human populated areas.

    Not only that but Norway rats and roof rats are not native populations to this country to many areas and when removed from the human created food and shelter areas can be very detrimental to native species, especially bird populations.

  170. #170 Legion
    February 24, 2010

    What lies at the root of claims by many animal rights activists is this: experimenting on animals is ethically unfair to the animals.

    They are right, of course, but this sentiment reflects a naive world view that presupposes that life in the universe is supposed to be fair. This is simply not true.

    If we can judge by observation, the universe is, at best, wholly indifferent to our sense of fairness. So yes, it may be unfair to sew a kittens eyes shut, but then it’s equally unfair to find oneself ravaged by malevolent microbes, who are, after all, just another species who finds a human host suitable for their purpose.

    We may not like it, but that’s just how the universe rolls.

    What we are left with then is a moral mandate to engage in unfair behavior toward our fellow species, only where a greater good can be achieved and to do so with as much compassion as we can muster.

    This is part of what it means to be a member species on planet Earth.

    Finally, for those arguing against animal experimentation on the grounds that it is morally unfair, try this thought experiment to determine just how serious you are about being moral:

    Do you eat plants and/or animal foods?
    Do you live in a city, town, suburb, or rural area?
    Do you drive a car or take public transportation?
    Have you ever benefited from medical science?
    Do you use pesticides?
    DO you contribute to global climate change?

    If you answered yes to any of the above, then, by your own definition, you have engaged in unfair and immoral practices at the expense of other animals.

  171. #171 confuseddave
    February 24, 2010

    Hey, spooky coincidence, I mentioned this research in the Dev Neuro thread yesterday. He did the cats in stripey boxes work too.

    I remember someone telling me (not Blakemore as it happens, it was an undergrad lecturer) that you’re not allowed to stitch kittens eyes closed any more, you have to use tape. This is ironic, because the tape is more uncomfortable an the animals suffer a good deal more stress and agitation as a result.

  172. #172 nastasie
    February 24, 2010

    Meh. “I wish there *were* another way, etc”. I love the past subjunctive.

    @ 150
    You really think only life-threatening illnesses are worthy of attention from the scientific community?

    As a person who suffers from strabismus, aren’t you more accident prone than people who have depth perception? I know I am… And I’m glad to know that if my children or grandchildren inherit it, there’ll be a cure available to them.

  173. #173 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Not only that but Norway rats and roof rats are not native populations to this country to many areas and when removed from the human created food and shelter areas can be very detrimental to native species, especially bird populations.

    editing fail

  174. #174 Bob L
    February 24, 2010

    th.wrigh @ 121

    Also, if animals were used ONLY for important experiments where it would be unacceptably dangerous or experimentally impossible to use humans, then, yes, the issue would be simpler. But historically, animals have been used for questionable experiments. Am I mistaken?

    Humans have been used for questionable experiments too, at the same time these ethically dubious animal experiments happened.

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

    I found it hilarious someone was bemoaning Demikhov experiments, done at time in the Soviet Union at time were millions of humans were causally put to death. But I guess ugly Russians aren’t so nearly as cuddly as a cute doggy. It really raises the question of the Animal Rights activist as to were is their compassion and empathy for their fellow humans?

  175. #175 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    @168 and no kill traps again.

    Environments use up all the resources available, its just life. There is never excess. Displacing animals just increases competition for the existing resources. When you put more animals in an area, you just increase the starvation rate.

    No kill traps are just a feel good measure. Your’e still killing animals, but just not having to see it. Or letting ‘nature’ do your dirty work.

    I need to get back to work myself, but a fun talk.

  176. #176 Orac
    February 24, 2010

    It really raises the question of the Animal Rights activist as to were is their compassion and empathy for their fellow humans?

    It’s very clear to me that AR extremists value animal life above and beyond human life. Their actions scream that they do.

  177. #177 Bob L
    February 24, 2010

    and another point; when our future tentacled masters rise from the sea to claim their rightful dominion over the earth they are going to just spray ink on any “animal rights” objections. So the reply to “do you agree with aliens experimenting us” is “how are you going to stop a giant land squid in all his tentacle glory from eating you as a late night snack?”

  178. #178 OrchidGrowinMan
    February 24, 2010

    Well, as usual I’m late to the party….

    ‘Lively discussion, but too long for me to read it all, especially as there is too much semanticism and posturing, noise lacking meaning. The chips of insightful comment are embedded in a matrix of crap.

    In the whole first half of the discussion, I had to note that nobody had pointed out that animal experimentation =/= painful animal experimentation. I recall reading several stories on the reproductive success, sexual stamina, etc. of organisms. Would that they would do those experiments with humans; I’d sign right up! What about experiments that have shown that giving lab rats more stimulating habitats makes them “happier” rats? Feeding studies to demonstrate that some additive or another is beneficial?

  179. #179 Kome
    February 24, 2010

    @Bob L #174

    Considering some animal rights activist organizations equate cattle farming and slaughterhouses to the Holocaust, I’d say they have little compassion and empathy for their fellow human beings.

  180. #180 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    In the whole first half of the discussion, I had to note that nobody had pointed out that animal experimentation =/= painful animal experimentation

    Someone, @28. did say “@Amunium- pain=/=torture. I don’t think you’d call a root canal a method of torture, yet it sure does hurt. “.

    I imagine though that most of us thought it was so bloody obvious it did not need pointing out. In light of what Amunium’s comments I am not sure that was a wise assumption.

  181. #181 JJ
    February 24, 2010

    @AJ
    just great for folk who really hate paperwork,
    Paperwork is torture.

  182. #182 KOPD42
    February 24, 2010

    I found it hilarious someone was bemoaning Demikhov experiments, done at time in the Soviet Union at time were millions of humans were causally put to death. But I guess ugly Russians aren’t so nearly as cuddly as a cute doggy. It really raises the question of the Animal Rights activist as to were is their compassion and empathy for their fellow humans?

    What? I can’t complain about horrific things done to animals in the Soviet Union unless I also complain about everything else that was bad there at the same time? By using Demikhov as an extreme example of animal experimentation without complaint about everything wrong with Soviet Union (whether related to my tangential comment about historical treatment of animals, or not), I’m endorsing human rights violations? That’s… um… fucking stupid. Let me try this argument by assuming that everything you didn’t bemoan you actually endorse… You know, you bemoaned the execution of millions at a time in the USSR when millions were poverty-stricken and could scarcely afford food. But I guess starving poverty-stricken Russians aren’t nearly as cuddly as a dead one. Nope. Still a stupid argument.

  183. #183 Dianne
    February 24, 2010

    Man, that would suck for a Muslim diabetic.

    Actually, as already pointed out, insulin is frequently E coli produced these days. On the other hand, heparin and its derivatives are still made from pigs. So it sucks being a Muslim (or Jew) with coagulation defects. At least, it would if they’re fanatics who don’t know their own religion very well: both religions make exceptions for life threatening emergenices.

  184. #184 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    Insisting a word has only one definition when there are clearly many offered means you are abusing the dictionary.

    True, but context almost always tells the reader or listener what meaning is being implied. It is proper, expected, for them to infer the meaning from the context. If they cannot do so you either need to add a modifier or use a more precise word.

  185. #185 Matt Penfold
    February 24, 2010

    Lively discussion, but too long for me to read it all, especially as there is too much semanticism and posturing, noise lacking meaning. The chips of insightful comment are embedded in a matrix of crap.

    Words have meanings, and those meaning are important.

    In a discussion about ethics the use of the word torture to mean cause pain rather than the deliberate infliction of pain to coerce or punish is not mere semantics. It is crucial to understanding. Torture in such a context is not normally understood to mean simply causing pain, and thus someone who uses the word torture is either doing so intentionally or does not understand the more normal meaning of the word.

    In the case Amunium I do not believe his protestations that he did not understand the more common meaning, especially in the given context, of the word torture. I arrive at this conclusion taking into account his other comments, including the one where he tried claiming it was not ethical to experiment on humans. His misuse of the word torture could be put down to English not being his first language. His claim that it is not ethical to experiment on humans cannot.

  186. #186 destlund
    February 24, 2010

    Sorry to chime in on the “torture” thing so far down the thread, but it seems obvious that definition 1 as quoted describes the experience of torture, while definition 2 describes the action of torturing. To torture2 someone is to inflict torture1 upon someone for the purpose of punishment or coercion. The whole argument about whether using the dictionary is an argument from authority seems moot here.

    If you gave a dog a root canal it didn’t need, you would get prosecuted for animal cruelty.

    If you gave a dog a root canal as punishment for peeing on the rug or coersion to get in its kennel, then you should get prosecuted for animal cruelty. If, however you did so in the process of becoming equipped to perform thousands of root canals on people who needed them, it would seem an acceptable trade-off to most. It’s a difficult ethical question, and not one to be blithely answered with all-or-naught judgments.

  187. #187 Paul
    February 24, 2010

    Qwerty “When someone advocates and/or approves of violence (see the quote I posted at #124) as Marino does; then, I don’t see their point.

    These people are similar to the anti-abortionists who approved of George Tiller’s death. They incite violence and stand by and appaud when it happens.”

    Well said!

    Actually on NIO and similar websites AR extremists have in the past referred with admiration to murders committed by militant anti-abortionists, not that they themselves ar anti-abortion (heaven forbid!) but that they like the way anti-abortionists got things done.

    See http://speakingofresearch.com/2009/09/02/violence-vs-non-violence-the-ar-debate/

    For some people democracy just isn’t the answer.

  188. #188 th.wright
    February 24, 2010

    @170 “If you answered yes to any of the above, then, by your own definition, you have engaged in unfair and immoral practices at the expense of other animals.”

    Your statement, while being true, doesn’t prevent a Patrick Henry type from proclaiming “Give me liberty or give me death,” while simultaneously owning slaves. In other words, just because someone answers yes to all of your questions, should that mean they cannot mount a serious argument against animal experimentation? If one grew up in the antebellum southern United States and benefited from slavery, that didn’t mean they couldn’t make an argument against slavery. While personal credibility may be diminished, being a hypocrite doesn’t necessarily destroy the merits of one’s argument.

  189. #189 Dianne
    February 24, 2010

    It really raises the question of the Animal Rights activist as to were is their compassion and empathy for their fellow humans?

    This always puzzles me about radical animal rights activists. Suppose you take as a given that humans have no more rights than other animals. Doesn’t that still make it immoral to terrorize, hurt, and kill humans based on their status as animals? If you wouldn’t go out and kill lions or burn the savannah because of their behavior towards zebras wouldn’t it also follow that you shouldn’t kill researchers or burn their houses because of their behavior towards mice? Where’s their compassion toward and understanding of the species known as H sapiens?

  190. #190 Copyleft
    February 24, 2010

    I’ve encountered the “life isn’t fair, get over it” argument in many other situations, and I’m as unimpressed with it here and now as I ever was.

    No, the universe ISN’T fair. And that has nothing to do with our moral and ethical obligation to MAKE it as fair as possible.

    Likewise, the distraction technique of “How dare you complain about X when Y is going on!” is not particularly valuable to a debate.

    It is entirely possible to argue about the limits of ethical and humane treatment of animals and still be legitimately concerned about genocide in Darfur… failure to bring up Darfur in an animal-rights discussion is not “proof that somebody cares more about animals than people.”

    As I said, it’s a distraction, not a legitimate point of debate.

  191. #191 wockrassa
    February 24, 2010

    Ethics of animal experimentation aside, it’s filthy in the extreme to expose researchers in the way the “Negotiation is Over” cretins have done.

    As I posted on Dr. Stemwedel’s page:

    Domestic terrorism is domestic terrorism.

    These “demonstrators” have gone past the point of peacable assembly, and ought to be tried as criminals.

    The organizations that back and fund them should be disbanded.

    We’d do the same thing with a Taliban cell here in the US. There is no difference in behavior, only in the justification for that behavior.

  192. #192 PenguinFactory
    February 24, 2010

    I understand the value of animal research, but I see it as a necessary evil rather than something to be entirely positive about. For example, sowing kittens eyes shut is wrong, and there’s no way I’d be able to do it myself….. but at the same time, if it’s helping humans it should continue. Causing other species to suffer so we can benefit is an ugly and callous thing, but so is allowing humans to suffer when we have the capability to develop treatments.

    (Cosmetic research on animals is a whole other kettle of fish- I’m completely against that)

  193. #193 Samantha
    February 24, 2010

    It was briefly mentioned by Kome @ 151, but what many animal activists who segue into terrorism in their activism refuse to acknowledge is the sheer number of ANIMALS helped by animal testing. For every human out there getting treated for diabetes thanks to animal testing, there is a dog or cat getting the same. Chemotherapy has saved many many lives, irrespective of species, probably an exponential amount more than developing it killed. Even simple “non-life-threatening” issues like arthritis have cures that are applied equally to animals as to humans, if not more.

    Is it unfortunate that we have to experiment on animals? Yes. Should there be tight restrictions on the living conditions, pain inflicted and other aspects of the animals’ lives? Of course. Are current restrictions as tight as they could ideally be? Perhaps not. None of that, however, negates the fact that if we want cures to things that affect animals of a variety of species, we have to experiment on animals, humans included.

    This is the main issue with many cases in animal rights activism: focusing on the short term while ignoring the detriment that occurs in the long term. It’s also seen in the thrilling adventures of the idiots who force racetracks, puppy mills and even shelters to shut down to “improve the lives of animals” (and up to this point, I don’t normally disagree) and then fail to set up programs to take care of those animals, leading to hundreds or even thousands of unnecessary deaths that could have been prevented by taking an extra few months to plan things out properly. Animal rights is unfortunate in that it is one of the few cases where lives are actually put at stake and they therefore cannot fail to plan for the future, which so many do.

  194. #194 Ironicus
    February 24, 2010

    I don?t know Doc. While it wouldn?t bother me if all animal experimentation ended tomorrow, I don?t consider myself a raving anti-vivisectionist, or even a rational one, if there be such a thing. My concern is that we experiment on these creatures because they provide models of similarity to aspects of humans, but if they are close enough to us to be models in the area of interest to the researcher, could they not be close to us in other areas as well, and when do they become close enough to us that the fundamental ethical question of do we have a right to do this can?t be kicked down the road any further?

    Your implied suggestion that if we don?t sew up kittens? eyes we have to sew up babies? eyes is a bit specious in my view, but I certainly wouldn?t argue that animal research has benefited humans. I wonder though how long we can continue to tell ourselves that what we do to animals is somehow justified because we?re human and they?re not given all we?re discovering about how similar they really are.

    Yes, I am a vegetarian.

  195. #195 BoxNDox
    February 24, 2010

    All this nonsense about pain versus torture ignores the fact that in a lot of experimentation it is essential that the animals be as little stressed as possible. And since pain causes stress… well, do the math!

    I’ve been in quite a few facilities that conduct experiments on animals over the years, ranging from a place doing cancer studies on rats to a toxicology lab where they “milked” specimens from their huge colony of spiders regularly.

    But the one that stands out in my mind was a facility in San Diego conducting research on methods of accelerating healing of bone fractures, where of course they had to inflict fractures in order to study them.

    That sounds pretty horrific, right? Visions of cackling, wild-eyed sadists and cages full of fearful, whimpering animals, etc. etc.

    The reality was far more mundane. The animals in question were rabbits. Now, rabbits are pretty fragile, to the point that they can actually drop dead just from stress. So of course the rabbits are rendered unconscious before anything is done to them, and since the entire point was to see if various additional treatments sped up healing, they were carefully cared for and suffered as little as possible.

    More generally, there are many animal experiments where not only is pain prevention in the animal subjects the ethical thing to do, it is required for the science to be valid. And as for the ones where experiencing pain is unavoidable, well, those are the ones that must be strictly monitored and evaluated by independent agencies.

    And to the extent that such rules aren’t in place or aren’t observed, well, that’s a legitimate cause for activism. But here’s the problem: By being such total lunatics and general asshats, the activists have polarized the debate and lost any chance of addressing cases of actual abuse. Indeed, because of the excessive wagon-circling they have generated in the testing community, they have become the truly abused animals’ worst enemies.

    My wife and I have done dog rescue for many years and we see a similar phenomenon there. Here in LA rescue facilities are always overflowing due to the tremendous amount of backyard breeding that takes place. It’s impossible to save them all, so a form of triage has to be done. Saving the highly adoptable ones is the clear priority, yet we have volunteers all the time who bring in dogs that have been severely abused well past any chance of recovery. Such dogs are much to dangerous to adopt out, and take up precious kennel space. This forces us to pass on many perfectly adoptable dogs. The right answer, of course, is to put the hopeless cases down, which given the life of misery and terror they experience simply by being alive no matter what the circumstances is actually the most humane thing to do for them.

    So once again the result of an absolute “save them all no matter what” mentality is to cause
    more misery than a more nuanced approach would.

  196. #196 CunningLingus
    February 24, 2010

    One of my “memorable” (insert scary), moments with friends, occurred whilst driving back from a holiday. The conversation turned to vegetarians, and for the life of me I had no idea the guy driving the car was such an avid supporter, until he casually mentioned “I would rather swerve off the road and kill all four of us, than run over a hedgehog”. Needless to say, at the next service station, he was absolved from any further driving responsibility.

    It’s all well and good to be concerned about animal rights, but at the expense of human rights ? Yet another example how deluded and dangerous people can be who profess to have a higher calling, i’m finding the calling is usually to the detriment of humanity.

  197. #197 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    Now I refused to participate in Matt Penfold’s flame war, he resorts to bitching and lying about me to others?

    I guess nothing is beneath some people. Time to kick out some trolls again, PZ?

  198. #198 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    I guess nothing is beneath some people. Time to kick out some trolls again, PZ?

    Oh, that oughtta go over well…

  199. #199 Carlie
    February 24, 2010

    Eating any plant grown on a farm that uses combines has been produced by torturing and killing hundreds to thousands of wee bunnies and the like.

    Therefore, there should be no eating of food that hasn’t been grown and harvested by hand (and of course without pesticides, since those also kill animals).

  200. #200 Dianne
    February 24, 2010

    “I would rather swerve off the road and kill all four of us, than run over a hedgehog”.

    So he’d rather kill 4 animals than one? That strikes me as not pro-(nonhuman)animal but rather anti-(human)animal. Particularly since the hedgehog in question would have had a good chance of being run over by the car behind you.

  201. #201 destlund
    February 24, 2010

    Lazy, Amunium. Now you’re just whining.

  202. #202 Hannah
    February 24, 2010

    I know that some atheists are interested in the issue of animal rights, but fewer than I would expect based on the fact that we rationally should not see such an enormous divide between the importance of our species versus other species as religious people do. We don’t believe some god created us to be special, or to have dominion over animals. So, while still valuing humans more than other animals, we should at least be able to have concern for the needs of non-humans.

    I believe that suffering is wrong, and I don’t restrict my empathy and concern to members of my own species. I do NOT believe that all animal research is unacceptable or unnecessary. In fact, what I’m primarily opposed to is the use of animals for food, which IS unnecessary (there are millions of healthy, happy vegetarians and vegans) and causes enormous suffering to animals raised in unthinkably awful conditions. Animal research is a tricky issue, and I believe all possible protections should be taken to ensure that animals are well-cared-for and that unnecessary pain is prevented. PZ focuses on the really out-there, irrational activists (PETA and the like), but there are a lot of sensible organizations working for more recognition that animals are not mindless robots but have feelings and experience pain like humans do.

  203. #203 KOPD42
    February 24, 2010

    Dianne @200
    Pretty much exactly what I was going to say. A completely ludicrous notion.

  204. #204 Legion
    February 24, 2010

    th.Wright @ #188:

    …just because someone answers yes to all of your questions [#170], should that mean they cannot mount a serious argument against animal experimentation?

    Of course, anyone is free to argue against how humans use animals, but that does not mean that their argument is a good one. That was the point of the list.

    While personal credibility may be diminished, being a hypocrite doesn’t necessarily destroy the merits of one’s argument.

    True, but it doesn’t help much either. If you make the following argument:

    Supporting modern housing development and road expansion practices is OK because humans benefit from them, even though these practices destroy animal habitat resulting in the death of animals..

    and then say:

    But animal experimentation is wrong, even though humans benefit from it…

    We are duty bound to point out that your argument is a poor one.

    If one grew up in the antebellum southern United States and benefited from slavery, that didn’t mean they couldn’t make an argument against slavery.

    Of course you can make an argument against slavery and your argument would be a good one, but that’s because the case against slavery is far stronger than any case you can make against animal experimentation.

  205. #205 AJ Milne
    February 24, 2010

    Now I refused to participate in Matt Penfold’s flame war, he resorts to bitching and lying about me to others? Since Matt P. isn’t letting me make the undeservedly clean getaway I’d really rather prefer after dirtying myself with the most impressively over-the-top howler yet managed in this thread, can someone please call the WAAAmbulance?

    (/^Fixed it for him again.)

  206. #206 IanKoro
    February 24, 2010

    I remember an interview on the radio quite a few years ago with an animal rights activist (I can’t remember who… I think he had a connection to PETA or ALF), and he was asked “If a child and a chicken were trapped in a burning building, and you could only save one, which would you choose?”

    His answer? “I’m not sure, I can’t really say without being in that situation.”

    Sometimes I have to wonder if these people are just a few steps away from tearing out their lymph nodes, to prevent any poor, innocent viruses and bacteria from being slaughtered.

  207. #207 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    I certainly agree that threatening violence against animal researchers is not acceptable behavior. However that does not mean that the issue is black and white, and that human rights always trump the rights of non-human animals.To behave that way is to act as if evolutionary continuity does not exist and has no relevance to ethics. In other words, it is to behave as if one is a creationist. See Richard Dawkin’s excellent interview with Peter Singer about this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYYNY2oKVWU

    While I would not be for banning research on, say, planaria, one would have to be ethically blind to be for experimenting on great apes considering what we have learned about these species over the last 50 years. The physical continuity that makes apes (and monkeys) so popular amongst biomed researchers extends to mental and emotional continuity as well. If a chimpanzee has at least as complex a mental world as a 2-year old human baby (and I think even this is woefelly belittling chimpanzees) then surely it is just as wrong to experiment on / imprison them as it would be on a 2-year old baby. And for those who naively believe that chimpanzees and other primates are ‘well cared for’ in research labs, I link again to http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/chimpanzees/

    This kind of thing is just not excusable, unless you follow a ‘might makes right’ kind of morality. Or you are a creationist who thinks that chimpanzees and other primates are nothing like us emotionally, mentally, etc.

  208. #208 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    So, hard to understand point of view for the day: torture is not dependent on the action against the subject but rather the intentions of the actor and the outcome. Weird.

    To wit – if you are studying pain receptors the things you do to your monkey are not torture they are…what exactly? It still looks like torture. If you remove the context it still smells/feels/acts like torture. Justified torture? Maybe we need a new word. (Not a dictionary word though. Words gain meaning from usage and dictionaries get definitions from somewhere else apparently.) So what word should we use for the purposeful infliction of pain but for a good reason? Happipain…Goodforyounotforme…
    Forthegreatergoodhurting…probably need German to find something suitable.

    And it is not torture if you just hurt enough to get your desired results?

    Why not admit, yes that is torturing the kittens, the mice, the monkeys and any other creature that ends up in the lab. But hopefully, on balance, we hope that most of the time the benefits are worth it.

    Maybe scientific types can’t ever doubt that what they are doing is justified. That is why anyone who raises their hand and says ‘are you sure’ is immediately shouted down, ridiculed and dismissed. Which in turn makes the non-scientist feel they have to resort to desperate measures and poorly designed webpages?

    Or maybe the vehemence with which the pro-animal model people are arguing is less strident than it seems? Although ‘then why don’t you just go and die’ is hard to misunderstand.

    Nature is harsh – so humans should not be expected to rise above it. The Federation of Planets will be so disappointed.

  209. #209 gillt
    February 24, 2010

    “sowing kittens eyes shut is wrong, and there’s no way I’d be able to do it myself….. but at the same time, if it’s helping humans it should continue.”

    This is a confused and cowardly statement.

  210. #210 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327
    February 24, 2010

    “Under the ‘guise’ of science.”
    No, no, no. These people don’t even understand how to be properly snarky.
    “Guise” is already an insult. There is no reason to put it in quotes. Quotes imply the word is misleading or dishonest.
    They should have put “science” in quotes if they wanted to give the impression of sneering.
    I’m a free-lance editor, and I’ll work for just about anybody. But I don’t think those morons could pay me enough to whore for them. In fact, I hope they don’t read this post. I don’t like giving them free advice.

  211. #211 MikeTheInfidel
    February 24, 2010

    Amunium lied:

    Actually, I have not said anything stupid.

    Hello! Earth to Amunium! Please respond to my last post to you. I will repeat it verbatim:

    You jumped from “it’s always unethical” to “it’s ethical if consent is involved.”

    You also equated experimentation where pain is closely monitored and controlled to torture, told me that I should argue with a dictionary and that because it was in a book you were right by default, claimed that human beings are never used in medical experiments (saying “Good thing we don’t, then” when I mentioned it was standard medical practice for new treatments), implied that people believed experimentation was always pain-free (“You really think all these experiments can be done without inflicting pain on these animals?”), and implied that inflicting any kind of strong pain is torture regardless of the motive (“Funny, my dictionary says torture is inflicting strong pain. That’s what it is. Purpose has nothing to do with it, necessarily.”).

    You’ve got a lot more to apologize for than you realize, I think. But hey, keep hackin’ away at that strawman.

    You have said SEVERAL stupid things, attempted to backpedal to make them sound less stupid, then denied you ever said them. I’m just waiting for you to show us all that you’re a grownup who can admit you were wrong.

  212. #212 Carlie
    February 24, 2010

    PZ focuses on the really out-there, irrational activists (PETA and the like), but there are a lot of sensible organizations working for more recognition that animals are not mindless robots but have feelings and experience pain like humans do.

    Same issue moderate denominations have, and same response. PZ is focusing on the “out-there” activists because they are the ones making death threats. They are the ones getting all the media attention. They are the ones setting political agendas and getting political results. If your organization doesn’t want to be lumped in with them, you have to be vocal in opposing their tactics and message. More vocal than they are in promoting theirs. You can’t blame people who focus on the extremists when the extremists are the ones pushing themselves in everyone’s face all the time, with nary a peep from the moderates.

  213. #213 Hannah
    February 24, 2010

    cleve hicks – I completely agree. One has to believe like a creationist to think that ethical principles should apply only to humans and not to other animals.

  214. #214 destlund
    February 24, 2010

    Why not admit, yes that is torturing the kittens, the mice, the monkeys and any other creature that ends up in the lab.

    You might have had a point going in a discussion specifically on pain research, but then you just opened it up to inductive fallacy (I think that’s the one) by stating that all animal research is therefore torture. We’ve already discussed how stress is a negative factor in most research, how it can even at times kill the subject.

  215. #215 KOPD42
    February 24, 2010

    You can’t blame people who focus on the extremists when the extremists are the ones pushing themselves in everyone’s face all the time…

    And in the case of this group, essentially pointing a gun in your face. That’s hard to ignore.

  216. #216 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    I would be amazed if anyone could watch the following without weeping:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-az-drahllY

    If you just shrug your shoulders and say, ‘Oh well, the moon bears are just animals’, then you are not my kind of person.

    It would be easy to condemn the Chinese government for allowing this kind of atrocity.

    But then, watching the following(I’ll post it again to make sure you get the point), who are we to preach? : http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/chimpanzees/

    Shouldn’t we be setting a better example?

  217. #217 andrewblairesch
    February 24, 2010

    I think that this debate can be solved by creating a massive bureaucracy to bore all the animals and people involved to death. Can we do that? Yes we can.

  218. #218 Legion
    February 24, 2010

    CopyLeft @ #190

    No, the universe ISN’T fair. And that has nothing to do with our moral and ethical obligation to MAKE it as fair as possible.

    Saying that the universe is not fair does not mean that humans should not strive for fairness, but some within the AR movement use an unfairness claim to justify opposition to animal experimentation.

    We generally agree with your comments at #48, BTW.

    The pertinent question then is, what does “as fair as possible” mean?

    Some would argue that the only way to be truly fair to the other species with which we share this planet is to return to our pre-agricultural roots. This is an untenable position, and so here we all are, hashing it out in the hopes of finding consensus in a more reasonable position.

  219. #219 JJ
    February 24, 2010

    All this nonsense about pain versus torture ignores the fact that in a lot of experimentation it is essential that the animals be as little stressed as possible.

    Pain≠torture≠Pain. I’d argue that torture is more mental than anything else. Yes, pain is a tool of torture but is not necessarily for it. That goes along with your stress idea.

  220. #220 destlund
    February 24, 2010

    andrewblairesch: I see what you did there.

  221. #221 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Thank you Hannah. I don’t know why more people can’t see this! It’s like animals just don’t count.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We certainly value the lives of our own country-folk than those ‘other’ humans whom we’re busy bombing.

    This ‘ingroup-outgroup’ mentality may be a depressing reality about human nature, but it is hardly a scaffold upon which to build a consistent ethical system.

  222. #222 JJ
    February 24, 2010

    Ugh – blockquote fail #219 Paragraph one was a quote…

  223. #223 AJ Milne
    February 24, 2010

    So, hard to understand point of view for the day: torture is not dependent on the action against the subject but rather the intentions of the actor and the outcome. Weird.

    Hrm…

    Two men saw off a leg sans anaesthesia. One because he’s a field medic, and it’s all he can do to save the rest of the poor bastard being operated on. The other because he’s a paid sadist, and he’s trying to terrorize the poor fuck and everyone who might ever talk to him again… Assuming he survives, which, honestly, isn’t so much a priority, in this latter case, actually.

    Me, I see a bit of a difference, there. But then, I guess I’m just weird.

  224. #224 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    cleve hicks, I could appeal to your emotions by showing you a clip of Chimpanzees brutally killing a female chimp and her baby from a nearby tribe. They really do this. Should we have Chimp Police out there protecting the rights of chimps everywhere? Or is that just nature, and we shouldn’t interfere?

    I wrote above that we are insulated from nature, but we are deeply connected to it. Nature is brutal, animals die horrible deaths all the time.

    Kantalope said
    ‘Nature is harsh – so humans should not be expected to rise above it’
    but thats exactly wrong. We do rise above it. We expect researchers to mitigate suffering when ever they can. And they do. As long as we are still part of nature, we can expect our existence to make the lives of other animals, and other people, miserable.

  225. #225 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Yes, but Bart. Mitchell, chimpanzees do not lock up other animals for their entire lives in tiny cages with no hope of escape (see my moon bears link). That’s a kind of suffering I would argue was impossible before we came along and invented cages and chains.

    You could also say that some Vietnamese people kill other Vietnamese people … so would this be an excuse for us to go in there and napalm their whole country?

  226. #226 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    cleve hicks, I could appeal to your emotions by showing you a clip of Chimpanzees brutally killing a female chimp and her baby from a nearby tribe. They really do this. Should we have Chimp Police out there protecting the rights of chimps everywhere? Or is that just nature, and we shouldn’t interfere?

    Or, similarly, Orcas toying with and killing seals… the visual appeal to emotion is a bad argument.

    I’m not saying I agree with or disagree with your position, in general, just pointing out that it’s a bad argument.

  227. #227 OrchidGrowinMan
    February 24, 2010

    Words have meanings, and those meaning are important.

    Let?s not get into Lexicography; I?ll eat you. (?Library Science? is real Science, isn?t it?)

    I may be a harmless drudge (in Johnson?s words), but let me suggest that what?s missing here is understanding of the greater concept of context. A list of words can serve either a descriptive or prescriptive purpose. The lexicon used by your spellchecker serves only the latter, while looking-up an unfamiliar term?s definition is an example of the former use. A really useful reference serves both. Modern dictionaries (post 1950) tend to be too ?relativistic,? light on the prescription. The ordering of the definitions can be helpful, but I mourn the attrition of the “inf” ?subst? ?obs? and ?dial? tags. A thesaurus is useful for gathering connotations and determining what common, contextual and dialectical meanings should be considered when trying to communicate and understand what was intended. A lot of electrons have been tortured here over arguments based on misunderstanding and pride. It?s embarrassing to watch.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

  228. #228 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    Destlund – I don’t think I was trying to make the point that all animal use is torture. Although I don’t recall that many studies on the effects of raising mice in a loving caring environment but I don’t keep up on all the literature.

    I merely wanted folks to call torture torture.

    And I still can’t get my head around it not being torture if you only cause the least amount of pain to get what you want. One iota more or less is the dividing line? And ‘what’ you want also changes it? Nope, can’t get a handle on it.

  229. #229 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Now I refused to participate in Matt Penfold’s flame war, he resorts to bitching and lying about me to others?

    I guess nothing is beneath some people. Time to kick out some trolls again, PZ?

    My vote for most unintentionally hilarious statement of the day.

  230. #230 Amunium
    February 24, 2010

    MikeTheInfidel:

    You jumped from “it’s always unethical” to “it’s ethical if consent is involved.”

    Wrong again. As I’ve explained three times already, that was implied. I assumed that because I was comparing it to animals, it was understood that I meant under the same circumstances.

    I also apologised if that was not made clear enough, so it’s not like I’m being stubborn and refusing to admit error.

    Now can we move on? This is getting pathetic.

  231. #231 valine25
    February 24, 2010

    Ah, redefinition…

    Just yesterday I accidentally tortured my sisters foot by stepping on it.

    The door was slammed shut, torturing my finger.

    The waitress tortured me by giving me scalding coffee.

    etc.

    How hard is it to simply admit that you were wrong?

    Anyway, as others have pointed out, most animal experimentation anesthetizes its subjects because they don’t actually need to study the pain of the animal. Those that need to observe pain or its neural correlates still try to minimize the pain.

    If the issue with animal experimentation is ultimately that it places less value on animal lives than on human lives, well, you’re banging on the wrong door. The idea of equal value of animal and human life was already destroyed by the meat industry, not experimental science.

    Which is funny, since ultimately eating meat is a pleasant luxury, while science is actually trying to cure ills that plague people. But then, animal rights activists have never really picked their targets based on real moral principles, but cynical assessments of which industries are easier to demonize.

    Most people have an intuitive understanding of what would happen if the no more animals were killed for meat(no more juicy, tasty steaks, etc.). Hence it is virtually impossible to raise a large public outcry against the practice of eating animals. Most people don’t, or don’t want to understand what will happen if there is no basic research done on animal models. This ignorance has been exploited ruthlessly by the animal rights groups.

  232. #232 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    To Celtic_Evolution,

    I think you are just afraid to look at what we are doing to our fellow animals.

    The seals killed by orcas die within hours … what we do to orcas, dolphins, chimps, parrots is almost unimaginably worse.

    ‘A visual appeal to emotion’ by the way was successfully used by the civil rights movement to bring home to indifferent whites what was really going on down in the south.

  233. #233 ixpata
    February 24, 2010

    I don’t condone the illegal and questionable tactics of the extremist animal rights movement, but it’s worth noting that animal experiments, especially when it comes to drugs, often turn out to not hold true in humans. The unreliability of animal testing is one factor driving the U.S. government’s adoption of a 5-year plan to reduce animal testing and replace them with alternative methods: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2008/niehs-05.htm.

    The National Academy of Science has also called for efforts to replace animal testing with techniques that involve human tissues and cells because they would be better and more reliable. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11970

    And the investment in this area has increased significantly. The Humane Society of the U.S. estimates that, worldwide, funding into non-animal alternatives for safety testing is now greater than $50 million a year (compared to around $100,000 a year 25 years ago).

  234. #234 destlund
    February 24, 2010

    kantalope,

    I ask that you review my prior post regarding the definition of torture, and perhaps OrchidGrowinMan’s post as well. It’s not the amount of pain, but rather the intent to cause pain as a means to an outcome. Most research is done with the intent of causing as little pain/stress as possible; you pointed out a subset that may be an exception, half-argued that point, and used that exception to paint the rest of animal research with the torture brush that you had not adequately argued for in the first place.

  235. #235 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    “You could also say that some Vietnamese people kill other Vietnamese people … so would this be an excuse for us to go in there and napalm their whole country?”

    Sigh.

    Again, we should always seek to mitigate suffering.

    We do seek to mitigate suffering.

    I don’t see any problem with the current society we have.

    Your moon bears video is obviously made to tug at emotional heartstrings. I try to keep emotion out of my policy making decisions. Emotions are great at dealing with your family, or in dealing with moral outrages, but suck at making policy.

    When making policy, you need to accept reality. (or at least, you should). All policy decisions have trade offs. By eliminating suffering in one place, you can increase it in others. The goal should be to meet the goals of society with the least over all suffering.

  236. #236 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Some people on this blog are saying that researchers avoid causing pain to monkeys, as it would harm the experiment.

    But do these folks really think that locking a monkey up in a tiny cage for its whole life is not inflicting pain on it?

    And this does happen, frequently.

  237. #237 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    I still don’t see those complaining about bad treatment of animals lining up to take their place in the research arena. What’s the matter folks? No cojones? At some point a drug has to be tested in vivo. That is either you, or an animal. Make up your minds, and live with the consequences.

  238. #238 andrewblairesch
    February 24, 2010

    @destlund: Nice link.

    Sticking with my bureaucracy shtick (because we all know that issues are solved by bureaucracies), the UN will probably eventually jump on board with some “special commission on how to be ineffective in regard to animal rights.”

    They are working on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_on_Animal_Welfare

    To actually address the topic, Cleve has been propagandalinking to the Humane Society videos of research clips I have to say… The chimp videos are disturbing. While I realize that the fact that they are our closest genetic cousins may make them the most valuable research subjects in some situations, from a mildly species-ist point of view, this also makes them more worthy of moral and ethical consideration.

    The Moon bear situation is more appalling because it’s in service of quackery.

  239. #239 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Umm, I’m sorry Bart.Mitchell, but I am afraid suffering is quite relevant to designing policy. Ie. were we causing enormous suffering on Vietnamese by dropping bombs on them? Are we causing suffering on chimps (or moon bears) by imprisoning them their whole lives? I think a lot of people allow atrocities to go on because they are afraid of being seen as ‘sentimental’ … Are you really claiming that the Humane Society video I linked to of cruelty to primates in a US research lab is irrelevant to this discussion about ethics, and that it just posted for ‘sentimental’ purposes?

  240. #240 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    I don’t condone the illegal and questionable tactics of the extremist animal rights movement, but it’s worth noting that animal experiments, especially when it comes to drugs, often turn out to not hold true in humans. The unreliability of animal testing is one factor driving the U.S. government’s adoption of a 5-year plan to reduce animal testing and replace them with alternative methods: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2008/niehs-05.htm.

    The National Academy of Science has also called for efforts to replace animal testing with techniques that involve human tissues and cells because they would be better and more reliable. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11970

    And the investment in this area has increased significantly. The Humane Society of the U.S. estimates that, worldwide, funding into non-animal alternatives for safety testing is now greater than $50 million a year (compared to around $100,000 a year 25 years ago).

    sigh

    It really is like people just don’t want to read or listen to what people have said here.

    If there are scientifically more successful methods for doing the research than using animals then I don’t think you’re going to find anyone that objects. We are not there yet but the things you point to above are a step in that direction. That doesn’t mean that animal research is hereby proven unnecessary, just that there are some methods that are coming around due to advances in technology, methods etc… that may help reduce the numbers of animals used and decrease any pain involved. And that’s great if it turns out that can actually happen with the same efficacy of research.

  241. #241 Inky
    February 24, 2010

    A long time ago, when I had just popped out of my childhood mental womb and landed in college, I, too, struggled mightily with animal rights. I subscribed to the PETA magazine for a year, and a vegan for a month, until I couldn’t stand *not* having ice cream and cheese.

    As an animal science major interested in veterinary medicine, I got to see and learn ALL SORTS OF STUFF most people don’t even think about: how livestock are raised, how veterinary research is conducted, what slaughterhouses looked like, how semen is collected from a boar.

    As a graduate student and now a lab technician in the biological sciences, not only do I see what kind of experiments are done on animals, but I’m in the trenches, handling mice daily.

    A lot of this stuff was hard to deal with. My favorite beagle was in the control group in a study testing the antidote for the rat poison, warfarin, and died in a pool of his blood. You want nightmares? Try looking at a cow at the start of skinning the area around the eyes, right after slaughter, so that they cartoonishly protrude out of the skull and stare directly at you.

    Life isn’t black and white. There are pros and cons to everything. I can’t think of a single ethical issue that doesn’t have shades of grey, depending on context.

    I do thank the animal rights movement for improving the lives of animals. There is still much to do.

    But to tar all scientific research with the same bloody brush demonstrates a deplorable lack of thinking.

    Most basic research is done in universities where there are stringent approval processes for animal use in experiments, and supervisory positions in animal facilities are generally held by veterinarians. Researchers need to justify their need to use any animal, as well as how many animals they expect to use. Animal caretakers and veterinary technicians monitor the animals and alert lab staff when animals are suffering in any way.

    No system is perfect, but overall, science is also populated by people that often love animals. I know an extremely capable neuroscientist that got into science because

    he wondered what it was like to be a fish.

    *blink*

    I have taken time to warm mice in my hands when cages accidentally flood. I give them things to play with. My coworker likes to give them sterilized bacon bits in the bedding of mice that just weaned. My boss kept pet mice at home. Just because we use mice for experiments doesn’t mean we don’t care about their well-being.

    Finally: Animal experiments are expensive. This year, the cost of housing a single cage of mice without special requirements is 66 cents per day. A cat costs $4.23/day. And a pig is $27.30/day. NO study takes ONE day, or ONE cage of mice, or ONE pig. There are fees for nearly everything. If a researcher can get an answer without using animals, then that’s what the researcher will do. And funding is *very* tight.

    So. For all you black and white animal rights people out there: your heart may be in the right place, but you should take some time to think about the balance of benefits versus ethics. Your lives would be vastly different if it were not for the contributions of animals to science, history, transportation, food, and clothing.

  242. #242 Kome
    February 24, 2010

    @valine25 #231

    “Which is funny, since ultimately eating meat is a pleasant luxury”

    Only in countries of excess. For a great many people starving around the world, not so much.

  243. #243 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    To andrew – I would hardly accept the characterization that I was ‘propoganda-linking’ the Humane Society video — it is relevant evidence from a primary source about actual conditions in a US primate research lab, surely relevant to this discussion. It is a reponse to blanket claims that researchers ALWAYS try to minimize the pain and suffering of their animal subjects — some do try but some seem to do the opposite.

  244. #244 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    Ok, lets take them both as examples.

    The goal of war should be to end conflict. Vietnam was a bad war, so it was an improper use, and was needless suffering. World War Two was a just war, and was a response to end the aggressions and genocide of the Nazis. (That aspect of Godwins law confuses me. If I don’t refer to my opponent as a Nazi, but just use them to illustrate a point, have I still fulfilled Godwins law?) So the suffering of WW2 can be seen to be net loss in over all suffering.

    As for chimps being caged for their whole lives, I want to know the purpose for their being caged. If 12 caged chimps can bring a cure for breast cancer, then the suffering is justified. If they are caged for the pleasure of someone who likes poking them with sticks, then it is wrong.

    It all comes down to intent.

  245. #245 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    However, Andrewblairesch, I am glad that you took the time to watch the video and didn’t just dismiss it as ‘sentimental.’

  246. #246 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Yes, but Bart Mitchell, there you go writing like an ethical creationist. ‘Intent’ wouldn’t matter if you were talking about 2 year old human children. It wouldn’t matter if you were curing cancer, you would not be ethically justified in sticking human kids in cages. Or would you argue otherwise? For some reason, to you, intent does matter for chimps, who by all measures have AT LEAST as much going on as a 2-year old child (and I stress at least). You really can’t see the inconsistency there?

  247. #247 Vashti
    February 24, 2010

    Sacrificing a dog to save 100 dogs is worth it

    Not if it is my dog

  248. #248 Legion
    February 24, 2010

    cleve hicks:

    The seals killed by orcas die within hours … what we do to orcas, dolphins, chimps, parrots is almost unimaginably worse.

    Where do you draw the line with regard to how humans interact with animals, because merely by existing, you exert a negative impact on other creatures.

    The domicile and city you live in replaces animal habitat. The car you drive and the roads you drive on have negatively impacted other animals. The food you eat comes at the expense of a number of species from insects to animals at the top of the food chain. Your very lifestyle and the lifestyles of your friends and family are very likely in conflict with other species, so where do you draw the line?

    And before you answer, consider this. Even if you gave it all up and returned to the trees, it still comes down to a fight between you and the chimp in the next tree, over who gets the last banana.

    The point is that humans, by our very existence, are in conflict with other animals. We can’t avoid it, so it’s a bit hypocritical to decry humane animal testing, while destroying animal habitat so that we can watch PETA videos in the comfort of our consumerist lifestyle.

    The best that can be done, it seems, is to pursue our needs, just as all species do, but to do so in a manner that exercises greater care and concern for our fellow creatures.

  249. #249 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    World War II may have been a just war, but that doesn’t mean the intentional bombing of civilians, by all sides, was just. In other words, just because you are conducting a ‘just war’ (if such a thing is possible), that does not give you the moral right to carry out injust actions (ie. intentionally bombing civilians).
    But this is getting off the subject.

  250. #250 andrewblairesch
    February 24, 2010

    @ cleve hicks

    We have different definitions of propaganda, although I will admit I said it to be provocative, this being the internet and all. I work for a non-profit myself, like the Humane society. I’m in fundraising, so I write propaganda all day.

    I agree that the video was absolutely relevant, especially the fact that the U.S.’s peer nations have already abandoned this type of testing. We’ll call it the “argument from international norms.” Since we’re talking sociopolitical issues, it can stand.

    And I’m with you on the moon bears. Because that’s not even research. It’s a bit like ritual sacrifice in Santeria…

    http://www.dallasobserver.com/2009-10-22/news/a-court-case-forced-a-santeria-priest-to-reveal-some-of-his-religion-s-secrets-it-s-ritual-of-animal-sacrifice-he-revealed-on-his-own/1

    Anyway, we’re a long ways away from medieval Europe where burning bags of cats was considered a good time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat-burning

  251. #251 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    cleve –

    let’s try to narrow the focus of the discussion, here, as I don’t want to get bogged down in a war of semantics and I’m not sure we’re all that far apart…

    Where is it that you feel you diverge significantly from what (most of) the rest of us are saying regarding ethics and animal testing?

    What is your position, and how do you feel it differs significantly from what many of the rest of us are stating?

  252. #252 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    To Legion:

    We aren’t gonna all die out tomorrow if we stop sticking chimps into cages for their entire lives.

    In fact, I imagine that we are creative enough to find a cure for AIDS without torturing sentient beings.

    Maybe if we stop selfishly cutting down the rainforests we can head off the next AIDS (AIDs apparently came from the bushmeat slaughter of chimps in West Africa tied to multinational logging). It’s called thinking ahead. We humans are sometimes good at that.

    Of course we need to pursue our needs … and I acknowledge that there are times when it really is ‘my family or everyone else’, in which case I would fight for my family above others (including other people). But rubbing chemicals into rabbits’ eyes just to make sure no human baby’s eyes ever burn? Can’t we as a species do better than that?

  253. #253 bybelknap
    February 24, 2010

    The rhetoric of the “animal rights” people (like the scare quotes?) is akin to that of the anti-seclusion & anti-restraint types in the human services world. They have a binary view of the use of restraint and seclusion, and a simplistic notion that every use of either broad category of restraint or seclusion is dehumanizing and bad.

    I worked in direct care for many years and as a technician for many more, and got my fair share of kicks, head butts, bites, scratches and punches to understand the value of emergency restraint, applied humanely with everyone’s safety in mind. I also saw my share of poorly implemented restraints, with punitive intent by ignorant or angry staff people. They were investigated and the staff were dismissed in the case of the punitive or provided additional training and supervision in the case of the ignorant.

    In general, when people hear about restraint or seclusion, they hear the horror stories and the emotional appeals. They do not hear about the hours, weeks or months of painstaking data collection, the peer review, the human rights committee review and the hours of training that are required in order to be able to use emergency restraints. They only hear about it when someone gets hurt, and the general impression they get seems to be that human services practitioners are heartless scum hell bent on shackling and isolating poor innocent little retarded kids without any restraint (pun intended) upon them.

    The “arguments” against animal testing appear to spring from a similar well of ignorance. The general impression of Joe the Plumber types is that the soul-less men in white lab coats are poking monkeys in the arse with habanero encrusted pine cones for the fun of it, without oversight, and without justification. The antis exploit ignorance with inflammatory nonsense. Fortunately, in my human services career, I and my cohorts never had to deal with maniacs threatening us or our families.

    Sign the Pro-Test petition, write your knuckledraggers in Congress, send letters to the editor of your local dog trainer. The best way to fight virulent ignorance is with information.

  254. #254 negentropyeater
    February 24, 2010

    kantalope #208,

    To wit – if you are studying pain receptors the things you do to your monkey are not torture they are…what exactly? It still looks like torture. If you remove the context it still smells/feels/acts like torture. Justified torture? Maybe we need a new word. (Not a dictionary word though. Words gain meaning from usage and dictionaries get definitions from somewhere else apparently.) So what word should we use for the purposeful infliction of pain but for a good reason?

    Who says it’s purposeful infliction of pain ? Infliction of pain, yes, but..
    To wit – have you ever considered the amount of pain you and many other humans (including myself) have inflicted on other animals from driving in a car, or living in a house, or buying clothes, or food in a shop, or owning a computer, or… ?
    Have you ever considered the amount of pain inflicted on an antilope when it is being eaten alive by a lion ?
    etc…

    Maybe scientific types can’t ever doubt that what they are doing is justified.

    Maybe you can’t ever doubt that what you are doing is justified.

    That is why anyone who raises their hand and says ‘are you sure’ is immediately shouted down, ridiculed and dismissed.

    With that much sloppy thinking, no wonder you’ll be ridiculed.

  255. #255 AJ Milne
    February 24, 2010

    The general impression of Joe the Plumber types is that the soul-less men in white lab coats are poking monkeys in the arse with habanero encrusted pine cones for the fun of it, without oversight, and without justification.

    Erm… So… We’re not supposed to be doing that?

    (/Hides habanero sauce behind back…)

  256. #256 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    In fact, I imagine that we are creative enough to find a cure for AIDS without torturing sentient beings.

    Tell that to the people who might die of AIDS complications or any other fatal disease that may be making progress with animal research.

  257. #257 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    To Celtic_Evolution,

    The funny thing is, I agree with PZ on just about all of the other issues. I really like his Darwinian way of looking at things. I suppose what bothers me is that I feel that he, and others writing to this blog, are not ‘living up to the Darwinian philosophy’ when it comes to our continuity with other species, and talking as if we humans are somehow better than all othe life forms.
    I realize that to other people Darwinism means ‘survival of the fittest’ and that to them justifies the powerful doing whatever the hell they want to. OK, fine, I’m just not on that boat.
    But to those Darwinians who don’t feel that way, I just want to know why it is that they think humans have this unquestionable right to do anything they want to non-humans just because it provides them a benefit.
    Really Peter Singer expressed this all so well in his interview with Richard Dawkins (linked above), and although Dawkins confessed he still ate meat, he had to admit that Peter Singer was actually being a really consistent Darwinian by tearing down humans as unquestionably superior and more worthy than all of our other fellow travelers.

  258. #258 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Rev Big Dumb Chimp,

    Just because torturing primates benefits us (assuming that it actually does) does not make it morally right.

    Human slavery may have helped the slave-owners, and their families, and their cute little babies, but was it morally justified? That’s the real question.

  259. #259 negentropyeater
    February 24, 2010

    What really puzzles me with some of the stop-inflicting-pain-to-animals-with-scientific-research in this thread is that I don’t hear any of them volonteering to stop causing pain to animals by giving up their own usage of most of the benefits of modern civilization. Do they wear clothes ? Do they ever buy food in the supermarket ? Do they use a computer ? Have they ever used a car ?
    Just a bunch of incoherent hypocrites.

  260. #260 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    That last comment (negentropyeater) was a foolish Fox News sort of thing to say. It was exactly like the time Sean Hannity tried to write off Michael Moore as a hypocrite for being rich AND for trying to make the world a better place. No, Michael Moore should keep his money and use it to take on the selfish powerful, as he is doing … not donate it all to charity and go sleep in a gutter. Likewise someone wearing clothes and driving a car can fight passionately to save the whales, stop wars, or whatever.

    Please try and come up with a better argument than that!

  261. #261 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    Cleve, your expanding your examples radically by bringing up caging children. It was bad enough bringing up Vietnam, so I had to explain my moral difference between just and unjust war.

    Morals are not objective. We in the west place the highest moral value on individual liberties. This isn’t the only way to run a society, its just ours.

    In our society, caging and experimenting on adolescent humans is immoral. Caging and experimenting on chimps is moral, as long as their suffering is offset by a larger alleviation of suffering in humans in the long run. That’s just where our society is right now. It can easily change, one day less animal suffering might be more valuable than knowledge.

    Again, I want as little animal suffering as possible. But if experimenting on animals increases our knowledge, then it is worth it. Just like my hunger is worth the sacrifice of all the deer, field mice, wild boar, and rats killed in order to farm grain to make my bread.

  262. #262 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327
    February 24, 2010

    Why is everybody here so worried about animals? I like to torture animals. I speed up in my neighborhood to run over squirrels. What’s the big deal?
    -Dick Cheney

  263. #263 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    Destlund – I read what you are writing but as I mentioned I can’t get my head around it. The person inflicting the pain can be not/torturing while the person/animal receiving the pain can be getting tortured?

    I have to get all historical on you here. In the middle ages in Europe, torture (not/torture) was used, not for coercion but for the cleansing of the soul. I’ll get the reference if you like but looks like that book is in storage. Did that make it not torture? You might not believe in the soul but those doing the not/torturing did.

    It is too Yooish for me.

    Even if you are trying to minimize the pain and even if you are doing it for a good reason — that does not make it something other than painful for the subject. If you know where to draw the line on how often, how painful, how prolonged the infliction so that it isn’t torture that is some pretty good salami slicing. I will not deny that it is troublesome to find where the minor pain turns into something worse – maybe it can’t be and we’ll just know it when we see it. In which case that silly dictionary, again won’t be much help.

    Like I said, can’t grok it.

    It would seem more honest to me to say…its torture, but for now it is worth it. If torture just has too many harsh connotations then we need a new word for the intentional (not intensional) infliction of pain.

  264. #264 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Just because torturing primates benefits us (assuming that it actually does) does not make it morally right.

    sigh at you continuing to insert “torture”.

    That’s an assertion you’ll have to back up with more than “Because I feel that way”

    I have no problem with regulated animal research that brings about the possible alleviation of suffering or fatality due to medical issues of humans (and animals for that matter). Especially if it is more efficient than not using them. I do not consider non-human animals on the same moral level as humans. I just don’t. Do I want to minimize their suffering while still providing us with the research we need to help alleviate the suffering of humans (and other animals)? Of course. If we could be 100% rid of animal research while knowing for sure that the efficacy of the research was as good or better than with it I would be completely supportive of that. As of yet that isn’t the case. If you’d like to provide me with evidence that all animal research is currently unnecessary, scientifically, please I’m willing to be proven wrong.

    Human slavery may have helped the slave-owners, and their families, and their cute little babies, but was it morally justified? That’s the real question.’

    False analogy and appeal to emotion. Are you going to bring up Hitler next?

  265. #265 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    But Bart Mitchell, what is the crucial distinction between a 2 year old child (whom we both agree should not be locked up in a cage) and an adult chimpanzee? Are you a creationist? Or have you just not read enough about chimpanzees?

  266. #266 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    The crucial difference is that the 2 year old child has legal protection under the laws of my country. The chimp doesn’t.

  267. #267 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    I suppose what bothers me is that I feel that he, and others writing to this blog, are not ‘living up to the Darwinian philosophy’ when it comes to our continuity with other species, and talking as if we humans are somehow better than all othe life forms.
    I realize that to other people Darwinism means ‘survival of the fittest’ and that to them justifies the powerful doing whatever the hell they want to. OK, fine, I’m just not on that boat.
    But to those Darwinians who don’t feel that way, I just want to know why it is that they think humans have this unquestionable right to do anything they want to non-humans just because it provides them a benefit.

    What exactly is the Darwinian philosophy?

  268. #268 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    Are you a creationist?

    Stop it with this… i know you think you’re making some kind of salient point that will “hit home” with this crowd but you’re really not getting anywhere with it… it’s an annoyingly wrong analogy… just argue the points, ok?

  269. #269 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Rev. Big Dumb Chimp,

    It’s only a false anology if animals don’t ‘count’ to you. At least you’re up front about that. I guess I don’t have anything more to say to someone who doesn’t really ‘get it’ about dolphins and chimps.

  270. #270 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    I am arguring the point, Celtic Evolutionist. You asked me where I differ from the other commenters and I just told you. A lot of people here are just not living up to the ethical consequences of Darwinism (like some of my heroes, Peter Singer, Richard Dawkins and Roger Fouts do).

  271. #271 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    To Bart Mitchell,

    I am not arguing ‘legal ‘here, I am arguring ‘ethical’. Legally, I am against vandalizing researchers’ houses, etc. to protest against primate research. But morally, I am quite against the use of primates in research experiments.

  272. #272 Kome
    February 24, 2010

    @cleve hicks

    “Just because torturing primates benefits us (assuming that it actually does) does not make it morally right.”

    It’s not simply an assumption, there are enough results to prove that animal research benefits humans. It also benefits those same species we conduct research on. Every medication that was developed using animal models can also be made to treat animals with those same conditions.

    Don’t we have an obligation to help chimps with cancer, cats with parasites, pigs with congenital heart defects, and mice with genetic defects? How could we possibly do any of that without research done on animals subjects?

  273. #273 sexycelticlady
    February 24, 2010

    The vast majority of animal research does not involve inflicting pain. As has already been mentioned, pain leads to stress and an invalidation of results, beside any application of the ethics it is poor scientific practice.

    Where procedures may result in pain anesthesia and analgesics are used except in a very few cases and these have to be scientifically justified and undergo rigourous evaluation before they are permitted.

    Research institutions are forced to maintain standards, rightly so, by the funding bodies and the journals in which research is published in. The animals have to have adequate housing and this must maintain certain standards of acceptable space, food, water and habitat enhancement (with mice this provides material for the mice to tear up and nest with etc).

    Primates actually account for a small percentage of animals testing. Most animal testing is conducted on invertebrates, amphibians, fish, mice and rats. While emotive arguments focusing on primate research might apply to a fraction of what goes on, it is not correct to use that line of argument for all animal research.

    There are ethics involved and scientists conducting the research as well as associated organisations do undergo a lot of ethical standards training, frequent check-ups (vets look at the animals at least once a day), and extensive reviews of procedures and standards. It is not a perfect system but it is attempting to address all of these concerns and to limit not only animal use but also animal suffering.

  274. #274 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    If your’e morally against it, then by all means you should not participate in it.

    If your ethically against it, then by all means, join the agency that writes the ethical rules for research groups. (They exist, and write new rules all the time!)

    If your’e legally against it, then lobby the legislature.

    Morals are personal things that shouldn’t be enforced on others.

  275. #275 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    negentropyeater accuses me of sloppy thinking – have you not been reading this thread?

    Lots of posts come down to if you don’t like inflicting pain on animals you should volunteer to have the pain inflicted on you/dont’ like it you can leave…not even worth counting how many posts. Oh, wait negentropyeater does it too @259.

    I never suggested that research stop – I just suggested that we stop pretending that the animals are not harmed and that just cause you didn’t mean to torture the animals that you didn’t.

    So, negentropyeater: it isn’t torture and it isn’t the purposeful infliction of pain — o’clear thinking clairvoyant…what is it exactly?

  276. #276 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    To Celtic Evolution,

    A stock Creationist might argue for using chimps in research because there is a vast, unbridgeable gulf between a tiny human foetus and a fully adult chimp that will never be bridged. Assuming you are an evolutionist, you know better. So why do you think experimenting on a chimpanzee is ethically justified while experimenting on a 2 year old baby is not?

    I want some of these writers to see the contradiction there. I don’t know why they can’t.

    (PS. Some Creationists, I must acknowledge,a re actually kind to animals!)

  277. #277 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    I am arguring the point, Celtic Evolutionist.

    Asking RBDC if he’s a creationist is doing no such thing, cleve… and you know it. It’s an intentional “button push” and a tactic similar to referencing shock-value videos.

    You know damn well what you are doing, and I’m asking you to cut the shit and stick to the subject without the word games.

  278. #278 andrewblairesch
    February 24, 2010

    @ Rev. BigDumbChimp & Cleve Hicks

    Re: “Darwinian Philosophy.”

    Rather than Singer’s take on Darwinian philosophy, which seems odd indeed, I’d like to propose another. Evolution’s red queen: all the running you can do to stay in the same place. It’s all about competition and the differential individual death that follows from it, preserving valued traits. If we as a species (since we have mostly the same genes) can jump ahead of the scythe even a tiny bit, by “torturing” chimps to wring out some better medicine, according to “Darwinian Philosophy,” we win.

    *NOTE: I did not say that this was ethically correct, just that the discussion of darwinian philosophy as supporting animal rights was a canard.

  279. #279 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    What I am doing is trying to get you to acknowledge the continuity. It frustrates the hell out of me that so many people whio should are not. In fact that is the very crux of the matter. Get your head out of the sand and look at your fellow beings.

  280. #280 Legion
    February 24, 2010

    cleve hicks:

    Likewise someone wearing clothes and driving a car can fight passionately to save the whales, stop wars, or whatever.

    You seem to be saying that wearing clothes and driving cars are somehow, more of a necessity than animal research. We know two groups of people who might disagree with you about the former: Nudists and the Amish.

    Can’t you see that for someone working on a cure for AIDS or some form of cancer, that animal research might be just as necessary as wearing clothes and driving cars?

    Try to put yourself in the shoes of a scientist who has dedicated her life to finding a cure for some horrific disease. Such a person could donate money to save the whales, take in stray cats, and lobby for better treatment of laboratory animals, but that wouldn’t prevent her from using animals in her research if doing so was the best way to advance her work.

    It’s a trade off, yes. You said earlier upthread, “I acknowledge that there are times when it really is ‘my family or everyone else’, in which case I would fight for my family above others (including other people).” So tell us this. Would you deny your child treatment derived from animal research? It’s easy to abstract this argument, but when it comes down to it, it’s personal.

  281. #281 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Re Rev. Big Dumb Chimp:

    It depends on how you look at it. Darwin teaches us that we weren’t separately created, we are kin with these beings we eat, research on, exploit for cheap laughs on TV, etc. Read James Rachels on this.

  282. #282 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    A stock Creationist might argue for using chimps in research because there is a vast, unbridgeable gulf between a tiny human foetus and a fully adult chimp that will never be bridged.

    And RBDC has argued similarly? You’re making an unnecessary and ad-hominem jump in even inferring that he thinks like a creationist.

    So why do you think experimenting on a chimpanzee is ethically justified while experimenting on a 2 year old baby is not?

    My daughter, as a two year old (well, two and three), was the subject of at least two experiments relating to neuro-science and brain development… the experiments have offered a vast amount of important data relating to childhood brain development. No ethical problems with it whatsoever.

  283. #283 Kome
    February 24, 2010

    @cleve hicks

    “A stock Creationist might argue for using chimps in research because there is a vast, unbridgeable gulf between a tiny human foetus and a fully adult chimp that will never be bridged.”

    But, to follow that point to a logical conclusion, if there is said vast, unbridgeable gulf between human and chimp, how could humans benefit from any testing on chimps?

    I can see no legitimate reason to bring up creationism in this discussion. It’s a straw-man.

  284. #284 Joffan
    February 24, 2010

    cleve@270

    A lot of people here are just not living up to the ethical consequences of Darwinism

    There is no such thing as “the ethical consequences of Darwinism”. Evolution is a scientific fact and not contingent upon ethics; neither does it direct a particular set of ethics. I’d like to think that ethics based on reality are more effective than those based on fantasy, but we are probably not yet in a position to make that judgement.

    Also, frankly, your use of the term “Darwinism” on this blog reduces the force of any argument you care to make, so you might like to find an alternative terminology.

  285. #285 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    Cleve, you keep coming back to your 2 year old baby.

    We actually do experiment on them. There is a graduation of experimental techniques that is used to mitigate suffering and pain in higher order mammals.

    Very risky and brand new treatments are tried on mice. If they prove successful, they might move up to pigs. If those show promise, they move up higher until they reach non-human primates. Once they show promise in those test subjects, they move on to clinical trials.

    Today, there are clinical trials going on in young children who had previously incurable diseases. Those trials started in small petri dishes, and worked their way through the system up to the human trials. And we even keep those human test subjects in cages (cribs)

  286. #286 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    It’s only a false anology if animals don’t ‘count’ to you. At least you’re up front about that. I guess I don’t have anything more to say to someone who doesn’t really ‘get it’ about dolphins and chimps.

    It is a false analogy how ever you want to twist it up with your brand of appeal to emotion.

    Non-Human animals are not Humans. It’s very simple. I’m going to value my family, cousins and species above other species. If you can show me one reason that they should bear equal weight in my mind, I’m open to your suggestion?

    Does that make me oblivious to suffering? No. But it does make me assess the suffering of humans at a higher weight than animals. Yes.

    Yes I understand about Chimps and Dolphins and how intelligent and “like us” people like to think of them. I’d rather not use chimps at all for that very point, but I would take the highly regulated research done on a chimp to come up with a cure / treatment for a human disase over the continued and accelerated deaths and suffering of however many humans that disease is affecting.

    You seem to not understand about Humans.

    And please spare me your holier than though proclamations like the one above.

  287. #287 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    There it was between Watchmen and Indian Myths of the Northwest: Lisa Silverman: Tortured Subjects

  288. #288 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    I still am not seeing an alternative, like all you hypocrites for animals lining up to take the first tests of the potential drug instead of the animal. That is absolutely required for you not to be hypocrites. Until you have something in place, like your outstetched arm for the injection, you just can’t say “stop”. That doesn’t work.

  289. #289 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution: I was actually assuming that RBDC was an evolutionist. But I was trying to point out that he is still arguing ethically like a creationist would. Take the time to watch the Dawkins-Singer interview and they both make the point as well.

    Re your second point, I assume your daughter wasn’t wrenched from her mom, and caged for her whole life in a lab. Not really comparable. And also missing the entire point of my argument. Now who’s bringing in ‘emotional’ lines of argument?

  290. #290 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    To be fair Cleve, I was the one who argued against emotional arguments, Not Celtic.

  291. #291 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    Re your second point, I assume your daughter wasn’t wrenched from her mom, and caged for her whole life in a lab.

    I didn’t say she was, but then, that wasn’t part of your question, now was it? You asked if experimenting on a chimp was any different from experimenting on a 2 year old baby, ethically. Your lack of qualifiers and additional context is not my problem.

    Experimenting on either can be and is perfectly ethical, in and of itself. Treatment, care, and overall quality of life for the subjects of such experiments is an entirely different question, and not what you asked.

  292. #292 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Valuing my own family above someone else’s family does not make me unethical … however, locking them up in a cage for their whole lives to benefit my family would.

  293. #293 TVS
    February 24, 2010

    PZ, I think you’re forgetting that these people do not share your basic moral axioms. In your view, that human life is more valuable than an animal life is a fundamental moral axiom – in theirs, that is not the case. The only argument that you need to make to them is that a human life is more valuable than an animal life, and if they somehow accept that, then everything else falls into place.

  294. #294 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    It depends on how you look at it. Darwin teaches us that we weren’t separately created, we are kin with these beings we eat, research on, exploit for cheap laughs on TV, etc. Read James Rachels on this.

    How far back in the evolutionary tree do you extend the benefits of “kinship”?

    And I’m sorry I missed this

    Are you a creationist?

    Though I think that was targeted at Bart and not me.

    Please Clive, stop it with your appeal to emotions. Seriously.

    It makes you out to be grasping at straws. In no way can you even insinuate that my reasoning even comes close to that of a creationist. It’s a ridiculous attempt at steering the argument to one of name calling.

    If that’s where you want to go, then have at it.

  295. #295 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    Valuing my own family above someone else’s family does not make me unethical … however, locking them up in a cage for their whole lives to benefit my family would.

    read my #291 again.

  296. #296 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution,
    You would never turn over your daughter to live the life of research chimpanzee or monkey.

    Forget about your personal example, think about general principles: what is it about humans in general (of whatever age) that makes it legally and morally impossible to lock them up in cages and inject them against their will with viruses, while it is permissable (at least legally) to do that to chimpanzees. What is that difference? We know the what a creationist might say. I’m waiting for your answer.

  297. #297 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    Though I think that was targeted at Bart and not me.

    Crap… you’re right… my apologies for assigning that to the wrong commentor… although I’d make the same points, replacing bart’s name for RBDC…

  298. #298 negentropyeater
    February 24, 2010

    kantalope,

    So, negentropyeater: it isn’t torture and it isn’t the purposeful infliction of pain — o’clear thinking clairvoyant…what is it exactly?

    Research done on animals.

    Simple.

  299. #299 Legion
    February 24, 2010

    cleve:

    “I acknowledge that there are times when it really is ‘my family or everyone else’, in which case I would fight for my family above others (including other people).”

    If you can envision a situation where you might put your own family ahead of other people, why is it so difficult for you to see how others might put the interests of people ahead of animals?

    Further, if animals and people are equal in your view, wouldn’t that mean that you were ethically bound to put animals, ahead of your own family, in some cases at least?

  300. #300 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    To Bart Mitchell, Celtic Evolution was alos accusing me of using emotional arguments:

    I quote: ‘Asking RBDC if he’s a creationist is doing no such thing, cleve… and you know it. It’s an intentional “button push” and a tactic similar to referencing shock-value videos.’

    Why not use an emotional argument if you are passionate about something? Wouldn’t you want to push buttons if you were arguring against a war? Ie. stop, you’re killing people?

    It really upsets me that people who should know better are turning their backs on their close kin, who are very much like them when it comes to suffering /feeling pain.

  301. #301 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution: I was actually assuming that RBDC was an evolutionist. But I was trying to point out that he is still arguing ethically like a creationist would.

    Except I’m not, but please keep saying it if it makes you feel superior.

    Valuing my own family above someone else’s family does not make me unethical … however, locking them up in a cage for their whole lives to benefit my family would.

    This is true if I was locking up your family.

    But you are human.

    And we’re not just talking about benefits, we’re talking about saving lives.

    Now I’m off to take care of some Real Estate Photography so I’ll be gone.

    While I’m gone if you feel the need to compare me to other hot button groups for this crowd like the Anti-Vaxers, David Icke followers, Moon Landing is fake conspiracy believers, or whomever else go right ahead. It will be amusing when i return.

  302. #302 cleve hicks
    February 24, 2010

    It’s been fascinating folks. I’ve got a thesis to write though so I have to bow out. Any brave soul want to pick up the baton for the non-humans?
    Cleve out.

  303. #303 pnrjulius
    February 24, 2010

    Animal research is at worst ambiguous. Some of the things done in the name of science seem needlessly cruel… but others were clearly necessary to save lives.

    Factory farming, on the other hand, is unequivocally and undeniably evil. It achieves no good at the cost of great harm.

    This means that these people are targeting a group of mostly well-intentioned people who do things that are somewhat ambiguous, while ignoring a group of people who are entirely motivated by profit and are willing to do things that are unequivocally evil. It would be rather like complaining about unfair recruitment practices in the US military as the Holocaust rages on.

    Moreover, threatening people with violence is almost never a good thing. Even if they were threatening agribusiness executives I would find their actions ethically troubling. But threatening scientists? That we cannot abide.

    The proper approach to saving animals is to lobby the government to ban factory farming. There should be a million-human march on Washington to ban inhumane meat farms—or better yet meat farms in general.

    But violence against scientists is not the answer.

  304. #304 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    Wouldn’t you want to push buttons if you were arguring against a war? Ie. stop, you’re killing people?

    Perhaps… but only to a point of still being accurate and not hyperbolic… for example, would I feel justified in also saying “what are you, a Nazi”? Probably not, unless, of course, the subject of my rant was in fact a Nazi…

    This is where you go off the rails…

  305. #305 sexycelticlady
    February 24, 2010

    @Cleve Hicks “Valuing my own family above someone else’s family does not make me unethical … however, locking them up in a cage for their whole lives to benefit my family would.”

    You are going to have to demonstrate just how much research TODAY is done in this manner. Where is your evidence for the housing conditions of these animals? how does that compare to what is considered ethical in the way of housing these animals? I suspect you are basing your argument on outdated research practises.

    You are also implying prolonged experiements that cause intense pain. Again, I would like to see evidence for those claims and that no pain alleviation is being used in the study. Even when primates are being used the experimental period is heavily restricted. For example this case…

    “In 2006, a primate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) shut down the experiments in his lab after threats from animal rights activists. The researcher had received a grant to use 30 macaque monkeys for vision experiments; each monkey was anesthetized for a single physiological experiment lasting up to 120 hours, and then euthanized.”

    (quote from wiki)

    The experiments were shut down due to extensive harrassment from animal rights activists and people like yourself who do not bother to actually find out the facts before making ridiculous emotive arguments. have there been experiments like this on children? Without the subsequent euthanasia I would say yes, 120 hours is not long in comparison to the duration of some medical treatments.

    Can you provide similar examples that do not refer to events happening more than a few years years ago (as ethical standards have changed since then)?

  306. #306 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    Im not saying that emotional arguments don’t work. Unfortunately, they work far to well.

    Im saying if you want to convince me, then you shouldn’t try to appeal to my emotions. I feel terrible watching animals suffer. I think chimps are an amazing, sensitive and intelligent species.

    If you want to convince me that experimenting on higher primates is wrong, then you need to do a cost/benefit argument.

    I want to know how many animals are being used total. I want to know what the average habitat looks like. I want to know what the majority of the experiments are like. I want to know what the worst experiments are, and the best. Then I want all those numbers compared to the total benefit over the same period. How many new treatments were found for diseases? How many journals had productive work submitted because of the testing?

    When I can look at the overall picture, I can make a clear headed choice on the issue. Just looking at a video of a suffering animal will not change my view on the subject.

  307. #307 pnrjulius
    February 24, 2010

    As usual, the debate has come down to a false dichotomy: Do we value humans equally to animals, or do we not value animals at all?

    Those are not the only choices. A much more reasonable philosophy would be to value humans more than other animals, but nonetheless still value animals quite highly in proportion to their sentience, their intelligence, and their rationality.

    Humans should not be harmed in order to benefit other animals. But nonetheless it is wrong for humans to harm other animals without justification.

    Primates and cetaceans should only be used in research when that research is 1) impossible to conduct on any other species and 2) necessary for direct medical benefit to human beings.

    Other mammals, on the other hand, may be used for pure research so long as it is conducted as humanely as possible.

    Vertebrates deserve more consideration than insects or molluscs (except cephalopods, who are widely recognized as intelligent enough to be “honorary vertebrates”).

    Animals deserve more consideration than plants. But even plants deserve SOME consideration—we may not burn a forest on a whim.

    Unicellular organisms probably don’t deserve any consideration whatsoever. It’s difficult for me to see how E. coli could have dignity.

  308. #308 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    Factory farming, on the other hand, is unequivocally and undeniably evil. It achieves no good at the cost of great harm.

    Absolutely agreed! This is becoming an issue of particular interest in my neck of the woods… I live near this farm, and I’ve seen what goes on there and the treatment of the animals sickens me.

  309. #309 negentropyeater
    February 24, 2010

    cleve hicks #260,

    It was exactly like the time Sean Hannity tried to write off Michael Moore as a hypocrite for being rich AND for trying to make the world a better place.

    No, it’s like accusing you of being an incoherent hypocrite for participating in the mass extinction and suffering of countless animals by consuming the products of our civilization AND for not trying to make the world a better place by being all up in arms against scientific research done on comparatively very few animals and under strict guidelines.

    Likewise someone wearing clothes and driving a car can fight passionately to save the whales, stop wars, or whatever.

    No, not likewise. Because the killing of wales they are fighting against is really not a necessity. Unlike medical research. So if someone who takes advantage of all the goodies of our civilization wants to try to compensate the misfeats this has caused by trying to save the few that are left, that’s not hypocrisy.

    You comparisons are pathetic.

  310. #310 SteveM
    February 24, 2010

    re kantalope @263:

    Even if you are trying to minimize the pain and even if you are doing it for a good reason — that does not make it something other than painful for the subject. If you know where to draw the line on how often, how painful, how prolonged the infliction so that it isn’t torture that is some pretty good salami slicing. I will not deny that it is troublesome to find where the minor pain turns into something worse – maybe it can’t be and we’ll just know it when we see it. In which case that silly dictionary, again won’t be much help.

    Like I said, can’t grok it.

    I don’t see how it is so difficult to understand that intention is the distinction between “inflicting pain” and torture. When I was 5 I had surgery on my foot to rearrange all my ligaments to correct a clubfoot. Part of that involved putting a wire through my foot to hold one of them in place until it attached. I can still remember to this day 45 years later the pain when the surgeon removed that wire. Even though he inflicted an intense pain on a 5 year old, there is no way I could say that he was “torturing children”.

    It would seem more honest to me to say…it’s torture, but for now it is worth it. If torture just has too many harsh connotations then we need a new word for the intentional (not intensional) infliction of pain.

    That makes absolutely no sense because the “harsh connotation” of “torture” is “the intentional infliction of pain”. I think what you want is a new word for the unintentional or unavoidable infliction of pain for a good reason.

  311. #311 destlund
    February 24, 2010

    If you know where to draw the line on how often, how painful, how prolonged the infliction so that it isn’t torture that is some pretty good salami slicing.

    That’s why you can’t understand any of us. You are trying to conceptualize torture vs. not-torture as a matter of degrees when it is not. To me, waterboarding, stress positions, loud music, slapping or even threatening to slap are all torture, under certain conditions. It is a matter of purpose.

  312. #312 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    I steer clear of meat that comes from factory farms. And as a certified ‘Darwinist’ (referral to a joke 20ish comments above this one) I think that mono culture crops are just asking for trouble, something will adapt to that abundant supply.

    Celtic, did you read The Omnivores Dilemma? I don’t know if all his numbers are right, but he does make an interesting point. We might not have enough land to feed everyone if we turned all our farmland to organic farming.

    The dream of going back to traditional farming is just a pipe dream. I would like to see some good experiments in changing the way we grow crops.

  313. #313 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Well the Photo assignment canceled due to weather.

    And I see Cleve bailed.

  314. #314 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    Oh sure Rev BDC, youre willing to torture Bonobos in order to get better mascara, but you wont force your clients to stand in the rain to get their picture taken!

    What a double standard.

  315. #315 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    Celtic, did you read The Omnivores Dilemma?

    I haven’t, but I’m due for a stop at our wonderful public library later and will look for it there.

  316. #316 dingdong
    February 24, 2010

    Hi,

    Long time reader, third time poster.

    Regarding Amumium’s early post – I just think he’s being a bit sneaky. By the use of his definitions I get the impression that he’s trying to get an admission of guilt on definition one, and then convict on definition 2. Being guilty of one definition of torture does not make you guilty of all of them.

    Taking it to a logical extreme, my wife is going to give birth to our child in 6 months, undoubtedly causing her a great deal of pain. I caused this particularly willingly. Does this mean I am torturing my wife?

  317. #317 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    Thanks for you input negentropyeater doesn’t matter what you do its “just research”. Shock your monkey much?

    Just proved the point I was testing: I wanted to know how the subject and object of “harsh treatment” got disconnected. Never asked for research to stop never asked anyone to go vegan just wanted to know where torture stopped being torture.

    Judging actions by outcomes is always troubling: if your paper got rejected would it suddenly turn into torture? No one benefited, and it keeps getting repeated that the harm to animals is justified by the benefits to Homo-sapiens. If that was true, no benefit, no justification.

    If the only thing that matters is intent – most anything is justifiable.

    I don’t get why the hostility. Animals are treated badly. Mitigation of that treatment and the reason why does not change it. Why pretend its not true. Why the apparent need to dismiss and ridicule anyone who points it out.

    But now I know: if its research, according to negentropyeater, no fouls possible: its research.

  318. #318 Celtic_Evolution
    February 24, 2010

    If the only thing that matters is intent – most anything is justifiable.

    What the fuck is with people today? Intent is not the only thing that matters. Nor has anybody said so.

    But intent does matter in this instance where one is trying to define torture.

    When I say “context matters” when referencing a quote, does it mean that context is the only thing that matters? No… the quote itself, and the speaker, and the subject matter are all relevent, but to understand the quote fully, context matters. Get a grip.

  319. #319 Dianne
    February 24, 2010

    Unicellular organisms probably don’t deserve any consideration whatsoever. It’s difficult for me to see how E. coli could have dignity.

    How about E coli with human genes added? The “pro-life” contingent keeps saying that the presence of human genes is what makes one celled organisms into little human babies, after all. (Comment added only to make trouble.)

  320. #320 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    SteveM and Detslund – thanks for the reasoned answers.

    I’ll still be troubled by The waterboarding would NOT be torture sometimes.

    So the real problem is calling it torture. Inflicting pain as a side effect, for good purposes should not bother anyone.

    But it is still going to bother me if that is ok with you. I would still regret that pain has to be inflicted. I still feel for Inky’s Beagle @241. I feel for Inky for having to go through that too for that matter. That is my way. Others don’t have those regrets…that is ok too.

  321. #321 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    And for Celtic

    I would agree: the speaker, and the subject matter are all relevent

    The context was, I was attacked for fuzzy thinking. Some parts of the response were given in shorthand getting away from the original subject.

    And the point was that intent can’t be the be all of anything because it ends up justifying anything, no?

    Maybe that is the Fuck the matter with people…parts of any original discussion have lots of context that gets lost. Maybe that is the Fuck the matter with the internets too.

  322. #322 llewelly
    February 24, 2010

    About a year ago, Drugmonkey wrote a series of articles explaining the regulation of experiments conducted on animals, and how that regulation requires that the experiments they propose to conduct have been designed to result in the least possible amount of animal suffering in order to answer a particular question.

    It seems to me that many in this thread think animal researchers are allowed to conduct whatever experiments they can dream up, however ghastly. Drugmonkey’s articles explain that this is not true. I urge everyone in this thread to take some time off and read Drugmonkey’s series of articles, so that there can be some understanding of the animal welfare regulation under which animal researchers presently operate.

  323. #323 ddpej
    February 24, 2010

    bart.mitchell @ 312:

    I don’t know if all his numbers are right, but he does make an interesting point. We might not have enough land to feed everyone if we turned all our farmland to organic farming.

    The dream of going back to traditional farming is just a pipe dream. I would like to see some good experiments in changing the way we grow crops.

    “Might not” is an understatement. Even if you’re looking at things from a vegetarian view, and assuming that meat animals aren’t in the picture, current technology and crops aren’t sufficient to feed the world (or the country, if you want to approach it smaller portions) using what most people think of when they say “organic farming”. If you do include meat animals, under the reasonable assumption that a large proportion of the population in developed countries are not vegetarians and would not be willing to give up meat, then organic farming — and free-range farming, which isn’t necessarily the same thing but is often also held as ideal — most certainly can’t adequately provide for the population.

    As for traditional farming, that’s an interesting comment. I’m inclined to respond, but I have to ask for clarification first lest I take the risk of seriously misunderstanding your opinion. What do you mean by “traditional”?

  324. #324 Kausik Datta
    February 24, 2010

    Llewelly @ 322:

    It seems to me that many in this thread think animal researchers are allowed to conduct whatever experiments they can dream up, however ghastly.

    Agreed, though I would qualify the ‘many’ explicitly as ‘the anti-animal experimentation crowd’. Clearly, these people have never done any animal experiments themselves, and therefore, have never had to go through the entire harrowing process of justifying the need and count of animals needed for a particular experiment to institutional Animal Care and Use Committees. They, presumably, also do not have any idea of the strict guidelines of animal use formulated by NIH within which each experiment has to be designed, justified and performed.

    So, largely, it is all an argument from ignorance, bolstered appropriately by arguments from appeals to emotion (‘Save the cutes and cuddlies’). As Nerd of Redhead repeatedly pointed out upthread, there is no viable alternative to animal experimentation that has been forthcoming from this foaming-at-the-mouth anti-animal experimentation bunch.

    And for those that have casually suggested that tissue-culture cells can replace whole animals, you are clueless. Think infectious disease research, think cancer research. It is not possible to gauge the effect of the disease on the entire host, as well as study the immune mechanisms, without the whole host (i.e. animals).

    Those who oppose animal experimentation just for the sake of opposing do all animals (human and non-human) a tremendous disservice, because such experimentation benefits all.

  325. #325 KOPD42
    February 24, 2010

    Nerd:

    Don’t you know? The alternative is to just not invent new drugs or procedures that need tested. I mean, have you ever heard of homeopathic treatments being tested on animals? ;-)

  326. #326 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    Just to be a pest…can you imagine that some people might be suspicious that people with financial, emotional and academic stakes in the experimentation on animals making decisions about experiments on animals?

    Pro-Experimenters here are assigning only the most extreme motivations to the anti-experimenters: are the anti-experimenters unjustified in doing the same?

    But I guess anyone who is not on the experiment board who expresses any reservations is just a luddite? Trust the experts.?!

    Surely, you can see the other side might have reservations?

    On a downer side, intent and animal welfare
    is hitting home right now. One of my neighbors is engaged in a war against the local squirrels. She has decided to use rat baits. I’m pretty sure one of those rat baits is what I pried out of my dog’s mouth down at the park. I’m pretty sure that I got most of it out of her mouth…
    But: since the neighbor was not intending to poison my dog, will that lessen her suffering if I did not get enough of it? If I go confront my neighbor and she has a really good reason for killing the squirrels will that help? What about the fact that she is using only the most modern and humane of poisons?

    I just don’t know.

  327. #327 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    Don’t you know? The alternative is to just not invent new drugs or procedures that need tested. I mean, have you ever heard of homeopathic treatments being tested on animals? ;-)

    I actually think that is the goal of some of these people. Stop medical research/improvement right in its tracks.

  328. #328 coathangrrr
    February 24, 2010

    So it’s ok to torture kittens so that people aren’t cross eyed? Ditto with acne, and so that old men can get erections? I understand that life saving research will inevitably rely on animals, and as much as I don’t like that it is going to happen, but for things that are cosmetic or nuisances it seems like there should be a line. I don’t see anyone negotiating that line, at all. If it involves a medical research it involves testing on animals, often in a painful way. I don’t see any outcry from the pro-testing movement on this, none at all. If they want real credibility then they won’t simply position themselves opposite the animal rights groups, they will act in a way that is nuanced.

  329. #329 mechanoid
    February 24, 2010

    @Ammunium

    If it hasn’t been said yet, I’ll go with the UN Convention:

    …any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.
    ?UN Convention Against Torture[1]

  330. #330 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    f it involves a medical research it involves testing on animals, often in a painful way. I don’t see any outcry from the pro-testing movement on this, none at all.

    Asshat, present a viable alternative. Until you do, there is no alternative to using animals. Should they do testing using you? On unproven and untested drugs? The pro-testing people need to do nothing. They try to reduce it to the bare minimum, as it is expensive. Provide the viable alternative that is accepted by the regulatory agencies, and you can make a fortune.

  331. #331 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    kantalope, don’t mess around with your dog. That poison takes a couple of days to start showing symptoms. They include:

    Blue or green stools (from the dye)
    pale gums
    bleeding gums or nail beds
    lethargy
    hacking cough, sometimes accompanied with pink blood

    The poison works by defeating the blood coagulating chain. Get to a vet immediately if any symptoms show. If you can’t get to a vet, start giving large doses of vitamin K.

  332. #332 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 24, 2010

    Taking it to a logical extreme, my wife is going to give birth to our child in 6 months, undoubtedly causing her a great deal of pain. I caused this particularly willingly. Does this mean I am torturing my wife?

    Tip: Don’t ask her this question while she’s in the 2nd stage of labour.

  333. #333 coathangrrr
    February 24, 2010

    Asshat, present a viable alternative. Until you do, there is no alternative to using animals. Should they do testing using you? On unproven and untested drugs? The pro-testing people need to do nothing. They try to reduce it to the bare minimum, as it is expensive. Provide the viable alternative that is accepted by the regulatory agencies, and you can make a fortune.

    The alternative is to not worry about developing drugs and procedures that are cosmetic. Or do you support all animal testing, even if it is for minor cosmetic gain?

  334. #334 SteveM
    February 24, 2010

    Re kantalope@320:

    But it is still going to bother me if that is ok with you. I would still regret that pain has to be inflicted. I still feel for Inky’s Beagle @241. I feel for Inky for having to go through that too for that matter. That is my way. Others don’t have those regrets…that is ok too.

    I don’t think anyone is saying that just because we wouldn’t call it torture that inflicting pain is “okay”. I think everyone would prefer these procedures to be pain-free, and that the pain that can’t be avoided is certainly regretted. And it is exactly that regret which makes it not torture. Torture is where the pain itself is the goal, or pain itself is being used as a “tool” (as in trying to extract information from a terrorist). When pain is a regrettable and unavoidable side-effect; where every effort is taken to minimize it; that is not an act of torture.

  335. #335 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    ddpej,
    by ‘traditional’ I mean all the crystal sniffing naval gazers who think they can go back to farming the land without any modern tech or biotech. The idea that the ‘good ol days’ were so much better than what we have now. I think that nostalgia is defeatist.

    As for using ‘might not’, I always use disclaimers like that when I only have one source for an idea that I hold. The only book I’ve read on the subject was Omnivores Dilemma. It was a book made for popular consumption, not a peer reviewed paper, so I take it with a grain of salt.

  336. #336 Caine
    February 24, 2010

    coathangrrr @ 328:

    If it involves a medical research it involves testing on animals, often in a painful way. I don’t see any outcry from the pro-testing movement on this, none at all. If they want real credibility then they won’t simply position themselves opposite the animal rights groups, they will act in a way that is nuanced.

    Are you aware they do act in a nuanced manner? There is oversight when it comes to animal testing. I don’t think anyone likes the idea. I don’t, but I support ethical animal testing. Unfortunately, we just don’t have other options at this point in time. If researchers could, say, snap their fingers and announce human clones for testing, the outcry would be extreme. It doesn’t really matter what animal is being tested (human or otherwise), there will be an outcry.

    The best we can do is see that it is ethical, and measures are taken to see that pain is minimal. Researchers take no joy in causing pain.

    I have a pet rat. He’s my fourth pet rat. I like rats and think they make brilliant pets. I also have friends with snakes who buy rats and mice as food. While I like snakes, I do not have the heart to toss a rodent into a snake cage and watch the absolute terror as they attempt to deal with the situation and learn they have nowhere to flee. Now, while on a personal level I don’t like that, and can’t do it, I fully understand the use of rats/mice as a food source. My friends take no joy in sending them to certain death any more than researchers take joy in doing something which will cause pain.

    It’s an uncomfortable situation, however, a balanced view is necessary. As for cosmetics and such, a majority of companies no longer animal test. It’s quite easy to find out if a company does and put your money towards a company that does not do animal testing.

  337. #337 coathangrrr
    February 24, 2010

    Torture is where the pain itself is the goal, or pain itself is being used as a “tool” (as in trying to extract information from a terrorist). When pain is a regrettable and unavoidable side-effect; where every effort is taken to minimize it; that is not an act of torture.

    But they are trying to extract information. Not something that the animal knows, but information nonetheless. And in the case of sewing kittens eyes shut, assuming that the kittens were anesthetized and the actual sewing didn’t cause pain, then it still seems like torture without the pain. Torture does not always involve physical pain, it often involves psychological torture: sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, or other things that don’t cause physical pain.

    The ultimate point in all of this is that our society, or at least a vast majority of it, thinks that we need to torture animals so that women can remove wrinkles with botox injection, or men can get erections. That’s how highly we value animals, only insofar as they can help us. If they can help us without suffering pain we sometimes don’t inflict pain, though the farming industry seems to inflict a whole hell of a lot of unnecessary pain, but if we need to inflict pain we hardly hesitate.

  338. #338 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 24, 2010

    So it’s ok to torture kittens so that people aren’t cross eyed? Ditto with acne, and so that old men can get erections?

    Assumptions, much?
    Amblyopia is more than being cross-eyed, it’s a form of blindness in which depth perception is lost. Your trivializing this condition is offensive. Acne is more than just “zits” – it can produce severe, permanent damage to the skin that can’t be remedied after the fact. Modern treatment has largely eliminated this disfigurement.
    The fact also remains that most research on animals does not inflict pain.

    I don’t see anyone negotiating that line, at all. If it involves a medical research it involves testing on animals, often in a painful way. I don’t see any outcry from the pro-testing movement on this, none at all. If they want real credibility then they won’t simply position themselves opposite the animal rights groups, they will act in a way that is nuanced.

    You seem to have this idea that researchers can do whatever they want with animal subjects. Not true, they have to have proposals vetted by university committees, who certainly take into account the ethical costs vs. the potential benefits of the research. They are acting in a nuanced way. ARA groups deliberately ignore this.

  339. #339 strange gods before me ?
    February 24, 2010

    These thugs are people who threaten children

    No, PZ. You are wrong. The link you give does not support your word choice.

    Handing out leaflets at Ringach’s children’s school is stupid, uncouth, and not just a little bit creepy, but it doesn’t amount to “threatening” anyone.

    Threats are illegal. The proposed activism is still protected speech under the First Amendment.

  340. #340 strange gods before me ?
    February 24, 2010

    and deserve to be treated as terrorists

    Given how the United States has treated actual terrorists, PZ, I can’t believe you would say this about anyone. Not even Hitler. Not even the mythological Vegetarian Hitler.

  341. #341 badgersdaughter
    February 24, 2010

    The ultimate point in all of this is that our society, or at least a vast majority of it, thinks that we need to torture animals so that women can remove wrinkles with botox injection, or men can get erections.

    Telling examples you pick out, here.

    Are you under the impression that the commenters here think sexual health is less desirable than other sorts of health?

  342. #342 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 24, 2010

    @strange gods:

    We’re talking about people in masks banging on the windows of his house in the night, scaring his kids.

    If this happened at my house, I would consider it threatening my children. BTW, this is a quote from PZ’s link.

  343. #343 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    The alternative is to not worry about developing drugs and procedures that are cosmetic. Or do you support all animal testing, even if it is for minor cosmetic gain?

    How much of the irritation and caustic studies are you willing to have carried out on you? There are some fake skins that pick up very corrosive chemicals. They don’t pick up minor irritation. How do you expect it to be tested for, so no human is injured? Or allergic reactions? Either cite an alternative, such as a fake skin, or your arm or eyes, that can conclusively do away with the animal study. That you haven’t shown.

  344. #344 coathangrrr
    February 24, 2010

    Are you aware they do act in a nuanced manner? There is oversight when it comes to animal testing. I don’t think anyone likes the idea. I don’t, but I support ethical animal testing.

    I know there is ethical oversight, but clearly not for all animal testing, or at least there is poor ethical oversight for a lot of animal testing. Look, people don’t really care about hurting animals, or at least most of them don’t. If they’re in the immediate vicinity they will probably feel uncomfortable but will not protest more than a tiny bit. People don’t really care about animals except some people and even then only in the most abstract terms. Humans will always be more important in the mind of most people, so much more important that cosmetic drugs and procedures will be an acceptable ethical reason to torture animals. I have a serious problem with that.

  345. #345 strange gods before me ?
    February 24, 2010

    If this happened at my house, I would consider it threatening my children. BTW, this is a quote from PZ’s link.

    That was not the current topic of the link, which focused on leafleting the school. And for the record, I think leafleting the school is a very bad idea, rude, invasive, stupid.

    As for banging on the windows of Ringach’s house back in 2006, there’s no evidence that this was done with the intent of frightening his children, or even that the trespassers knew he had children.

    Assuming they did know and did not care, it does not amount to making threats. It was undoubtedly scary, but that’s not the same thing. A threat is a specific promise of violence, and an ambiguous incident, no matter how frightening, is not a threat. So you may consider it a threat, but you would be objectively incorrect.

  346. #346 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    Oh yes, in the USA, the type of testing required for cosmetics is dictated by the FDA. They are a reasonable agency. If you can show them what you want to change to gives the same or better results as the present tests…

  347. #347 scooterKPFT
    February 24, 2010

    PETA friendly coat made from real pets:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ELiTfyqOqg

  348. #348 kantalope
    February 24, 2010

    Went to the vet…vitamin K for the next two weeks. Sheesh. Probably should have picked up antacids for me too. She didn’t get much, but I don’t know how much a labmix would need to get. But gotta keep eye on her.

    Still don’t like the hypothesis that it can’t be torture if that is not the point of doing it. The Spanish Inquisition (bet you were not expecting that) was never torturing anyone…they always had other goals in mind. The harsh treatment was typically incidental.

    ciao

  349. #349 ddpej
    February 24, 2010

    bart.mitchell:

    In that case, I fully agree. The idea that a return to traditional farming would be desirable is absurd. Considering the advances that have been made in sanitation technology alone, to forgo that would be to insert a large and unhealthy dose of risk back into the equation. Returning to old-style farming would also reduce output and efficiency, not to mention refuse the advantages of newer research on crop harvests and animal health and welfare.

    Fair enough about the disclaimer. Sometimes I forget that I’ve had a bit more exposure to these things than many*. It’s easy to go on about what has become almost common sense to me, but I’d honestly have to go looking to find specific data to present.

    *In the interests of full disclosure, I am a shameless omnivore with no particular vested interest in agriculture save for a desire to eat and an almost-completed Animal Science degree (with particular emphasis on animal behavior). I do consider the term “factory farming” a misnomer, and I’m of the opinion that large-scale, high capacity farming operations are entirely viable without detracting from the health, safety, comfort, and all-around welfare of the animals involved. Assuming they’re done right and managed by someone rational and committed to the industry. I freely admit that not all of them are.

  350. #350 strange gods before me ?
    February 24, 2010

    But intent does matter in this instance where one is trying to define torture.

    Josef Mengele performed torture for the advancement of the Nazi state, not for the purpose of punishment or coercion. I don’t mind calling this torture. There’s no doubt he was doing what he believed to be right, and he was performing experiments for the purpose of helping (Aryan) people.

    But if intent can make torture into not-torture, then Mengele never tortured anyone, because there is no evidence that he ever performed experiments for the sole purpose of punishment or coercion.

    I think this is problematic, and torture is torture regardless of intent. I’m very troubled that this pro-experimentation redefinition of torture would let Mengele off the hook as a torturer.

  351. #351 Kausik Datta
    February 24, 2010

    @344:

    I know there is ethical oversight, but clearly not for all animal testing, or at least there is poor ethical oversight for a lot of animal testing.

    Do you have evidence for this assertion? Or are you just pulling random assumptions out of… nowhere?

    Look, people don’t really care about hurting animals, or at least most of them don’t.

    Way to go for sweeping generalization! Let me ignore that for a second. There are people like you, who obviously care for animals, aren’t there? Now, if you (in plural) were to eschew the mindless anti-animal-experimentation posturing, and think about the process rationally, you could be the voice of compassion tempering reason, no?

    Just so that you know, there is at least one non-scientist lay community member from outside the university system in every Animal Care and Use Committee. The committee does not provide blanket approvals for any animal experiment. Once a protocol has been approved, making even minor changes requires fresh oversight and re-approval. The guidelines for the care and use of experimental animals are really quite strict, and based on the principle of three ‘R’s – Reduction (in number of animals to be used to reasonable limits), Refinement (of experimental procedures, so that the reliance on animal experiments is lessened) and Replacement (of animals by non-animal alternatives wherever possible). This is mandated by law.

    On a different note, once, just once, I would like to see the so-called animal lovers going after the despicable (and often irrational) practices undertaken by PETA in the name of animal welfare.

  352. #352 strange gods before me ?
    February 24, 2010

    On a different note, once, just once, I would like to see the so-called animal lovers going after the despicable (and often irrational) practices undertaken by PETA in the name of animal welfare.

    Well, I can give you links to threads in which animal lovers have discussed the failings of PETA, including threads where I have recommended that no one ever donate to or volunteer for PETA, instead giving to Friends of Animals.

    So if your “once, just once” was meant to imply that we never do, then you can stop saying it now.

    But!

    Let’s talk about your link to petakillsanimals.com.

    Did you know that site was run by the Center for Consumer Freedom? Did you know that CCF is an industry astroturfing organization funded by Monsanto, run by tobacco lobbyist Rick Berman? Did you know that the CCF are professional liars who have told you that cigarettes don’t cause cancer?

    I respect you, Kausik Datta, but today you are a sucker, and you have been lied to.

  353. #353 coathangrrr
    February 24, 2010

    Do you have evidence for this assertion? Or are you just pulling random assumptions out of… nowhere?

    Are you seriously going to argue that no animals were harmed in the search for any of the prescription drugs available to treat acne? Acne is not life threatening. These treatments are cosmetic, and yet none of the ethical committees saw a problem with harming animals so that someone could look better. That seems like a major ethical oversight to me, an animal’s pain is less important than how good someone looks.

    Way to go for sweeping generalization! Let me ignore that for a second. There are people like you, who obviously care for animals, aren’t there? Now, if you (in plural) were to eschew the mindless anti-animal-experimentation posturing, and think about the process rationally, you could be the voice of compassion tempering reason, no?

    I do my best to do what you suggest, but then people, you for example, accuse me of being mindlessly anti-animal testing, which I have made clear that I am not. Like I said before, I don’t like the fact that animals must be tortured to gain valuable medical information about drugs or body processes, but it is necessary. But the pro-test groups, and this blog, seem to have absolutely no problem with the status quo. No problem at all. I have not seen a single criticism of any current study based on the fact that it isn’t ethical in terms of its treatment of animals. Not a single one. That tells me that tells me something. There has to have been at least one poorly decided ethical decision in the years this blog have been around, but this blog has been silent.

    On a different note, once, just once, I would like to see the so-called animal lovers going after the despicable (and often irrational) practices undertaken by PETA in the name of animal welfare.

    I absolutely abhor PETA. I have never and will ever support or defend them. Beyond the fact that they kill animals, they are racist and sexist. They are a horrible organization and I think animals and people would be better off without them.

  354. #354 Carrie Poppy
    February 24, 2010

    I would also prefer that a procedure be tested on your daughter before mine.

    But does that make it right?

  355. #355 strange gods before me ?
    February 24, 2010

    But the pro-test groups, and this blog, seem to have absolutely no problem with the status quo. No problem at all. I have not seen a single criticism of any current study based on the fact that it isn’t ethical in terms of its treatment of animals. Not a single one. That tells me that tells me something. There has to have been at least one poorly decided ethical decision in the years this blog have been around, but this blog has been silent.

    Truth, and invariably the same problem I’ve noticed all over scienceblogs.com. There’s a reflexive circling of the wagons, but never a serious interest in even reducing the number of animals used for the most trivial of cosmetic testing. This gives animal rights people no hook, no offer of outreach. It is understandable why people would give up and decide that “Negotiation is over!” when it’s perfectly obvious that the pro-experimentation people are not at all interested in building a cooperative alliance to eliminate unnecessary cosmetic tests.

  356. #356 bart.mitchell
    February 24, 2010

    Kantalope, In this situation, I hate being right. Glad you got your pup checked, I hope she gets healthy soon.

  357. #357 KOPD42
    February 24, 2010

    Are you seriously going to argue that no animals were harmed in the search for any of the prescription drugs available to treat acne? Acne is not life threatening. These treatments are cosmetic, and yet none of the ethical committees saw a problem with harming animals so that someone could look better. That seems like a major ethical oversight to me, an animal’s pain is less important than how good someone looks.

    In other words, yes it was an assumption.

    Your assertion was that “there is poor ethical oversight for a lot of animal testing.” When asked if that was an assumption you pull an argument from incredulity over testing into one area? In order to think this is an adequate response, you must feel that acne research makes up the majority of animal testing.

  358. #358 SteveM
    February 24, 2010

    re kantalope:

    Still don’t like the hypothesis that it can’t be torture if that is not the point of doing it. The Spanish Inquisition (bet you were not expecting that) [actually, I was] was never torturing anyone…they always had other goals in mind. The harsh treatment was typically incidental.

    I was about to use The Spanish Inquisition as an example in my previous note. While they had other “goals” than just being cruel, the pain they inflicted was not “incidental” but their main tool, and as such, intended to inflict as much pain as necessary to achieve their ends: the confessions of the “heretics”. This is in opposition to the goals of medical experiments who try very hard to inflict as little pain as necessary.

  359. #359 DLC
    February 24, 2010

    These people do not care about the nuances of Institutional Review Boards, testing protocols or even Michael Vick’s recent release from prison.
    What they care about is having someone to hate, and a means to act on their hate. They’re bullies, nothing more. Their point of view is “no negotiating” — they are not interested in talking, only in terrorizing.
    They belong in prison.

  360. #360 talesoffan
    February 25, 2010

    This is a topic that tends to bother me greatly. While I fully understand the tremendous benefit of animal testing, I do hope we will someday find alternatives, or find ways to make all of the testing completely painless and non-lethal, but I feel that most people also feel this way. It is not that scientists wish for the animals to feel pain, in fact they hold no grudges, they are simply doing what is best for not just the continuance of our own species, but also others as well. I think these terrorists may be well meaning, but horribly blinded.

  361. #361 Ichthyic
    February 25, 2010

    Acne is not life threatening.

    actually, resistant forms of Staphylococcus being involved, it can be rarely.

    aside from that, severe acne is an impediment to reproductive success, and that can be cause for depression and suicide.

    just to make you pause and think a bit.

  362. #362 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 25, 2010

    There’s a reflexive circling of the wagons, but never a serious interest in even reducing the number of animals used for the most trivial of cosmetic testing.

    Cosmetic testing is required by the FDA to prove safety. They won’t budge on safety testing, since they are required by law to regulate cosmetics and ensure their safety. The FDA will gladly give up animal testing using cosmetics if someone comes up with equivalent and reliable data without animal testing. That is the problem. There is no alternative test methods at the moment.

  363. #363 bubbabubba666
    February 25, 2010

    @Amunium,

    I read your first post, and knew that the moment it came off your typewriter all the resident angry folk would start twisting it and engaging in endless misstatements like “Provide a list (it can be a short one) of people who advocate torturing animals.” As if anyone with a brain actually thought you were remotely saying that people did. But you’ve got to watch your semantics around here or there are a ton of vipers just waiting to pounce.

    I’ll post a question to the folks here that is the opposite of some of the those that have been posed to Amunimum. I think we all agree that animals should not be caused pain unless there is a purpose, and that such pain should be minimized as much as possible.

    So if we start with that assumption, is there any amount of suffering that is wrong to cause to an animal if it will somehow benefit humans? Is the ONLY standard for whether something should be allowable that it benefits humans, no matter how much suffering it causes?

  364. #364 bubbabubba666
    February 25, 2010

    I apologize for my vipers statement.

  365. #365 bubbabubba666
    February 25, 2010

    ..and some other tidbits in the first paragraph.

  366. #366 https://me.yahoo.com/a/w29ugv8UzvTZa70A0N8BmkArb3U5xA--#928c1
    February 25, 2010

    The problem is that another species is being used, against its will, for the benefit of our species. You could argue that God has provided animals for our use, therefore we have that right, but as an atheist, I need to define my own morality. Animals quite simply are not a resource, and it is only through our ability to overpower and exploit other living things, that we use them in the manner we do. We then just put value on our own lives above theirs, and our own species above theirs and our position in the evolutionary chain to finish the justification.

    That is a point worth repeating. The only reason that we use animals the way we do, is because of our ability to overpower them and to physically and mentally manipulate them the way we do.

    Why is this a moral problem? Two reasons.

    Firstly, it is an endorsement that a more powerful creature can exploit those it can overpower and manipulate. This happens in nature all the time. A hyena doesn’t think of the moral implications before it rips a gazelle apart. Because it is incapable of doing so.

    Secondly, the fact that animals (which don’t know any better as they are not mentally equipped like we are) utilise other animals doesn’t serve as justification for humans to behave that way. We ARE aware of our actions, yet continue. This means that we as intelligent, sentient humans, who desire to be seen and treated by others are higher than animals, still choose to behaive just like them. Time and time again, I see people who wish to have a right to life on this planet above all other living things, using a justification for their behaiviour which is an admission that they choose not to use their extended intellect to morally seperate themselves from all other animals.

    Harm minimisation is good, but it avoids this issue. It really is more than just whether some cats have their eyes sown shut. The issue exposes our view of ourselves on this planet, our role and our morality.

    I think most people here don’t understand it or why PETA and other radical animal right people act the way they do. There IS a much bigger issue. Yes, PETA perhaps are crass and probably do set back the animal rights movement by ostracising people, but I believe its naive or myopic to think the issue simply is a matter of the specific procedures inflicted upon animals.

    @strange gods before me, I completely agree. Torture is torture, regardless of whether its due to callousness or curiosity or just mindless destruction. The end result is the same.

  367. #367 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 25, 2010

    Yes, PETA perhaps are crass and probably do set back the animal rights movement by ostracising people

    And supporting terrorists.

  368. #368 Snoof
    February 25, 2010

    I do not have the heart to toss a rodent into a snake cage and watch the absolute terror as they attempt to deal with the situation and learn they have nowhere to flee.

    Can I just point out that this is absolutely _not_ the correct method to feed snakes and similar? Most zoos and research organisations typically gas the rats beforehand[1]. It’s more humane than letting them get constricted or envenomed, and it reduces the risk that the rat will injure the snake. This is because a rat, denied an opportunity to flee by the walls of the cage or terrarium, may decide to go down fighting (ever heard the expression “like a cornered rat”?)

    [1] You can also buy pre-killed frozen rats from various specialist pet stores. A short while in the microwave thaws them to edibility, and indeed some snakes in captivity have shown a preference for warm prey rather than room-temperature.

    …apologies for the offtopicness, but this particular issue really bugs me.

  369. #369 Dianne
    February 25, 2010

    A question for the people who are arguing that animal testing is necessary but is poorly regulated: have you considered volunteering to serve on an institutional animal care and use committee? Every institution which engages in animal research is required to have these committees and each committee is required to have at least one member who is a “lay person” i.e. not a vet, researcher, or employee of the institution. You could potentially do a lot of good if you do find that the institution is being overly careless about animal research and if you find in the end that they are meeting ethical standards you’ll be reassured about at least that institution. Plus you’ll be helping further medical knowledge for people and other animals.

  370. #370 Copyleft
    February 25, 2010

    The difficulty I have in this debate is that the pro-experiment arguments come across, or can be interepreted, as too sweeping.

    Stating it as a black-or-white principle–”whose life is more valuable?–logically results in a black-or-white rule: “Since human lives are more valuable than animal lives, ANY and ALL experimentation is automatically justified.”

    Now, I know no one here is saying that… but stating it as an ironclad principle of “X is always greater than Y” can lead to a similarly blind and oversimplified application. What I’d like to see is some appreciation for the complexity and gray areas, that absolutist statements (either for OR against) cannot handle.

  371. #371 GravityIsJustATheory
    February 25, 2010

    Re #366

    Secondly, the fact that animals (which don’t know any better as they are not mentally equipped like we are) utilise other animals doesn’t serve as justification for humans to behave that way. We ARE aware of our actions, yet continue. This means that we as intelligent, sentient humans, who desire to be seen and treated by others are higher than animals, still choose to behaive just like them.

    But doesn’t that just confirm that in certain important areas humans are substantially different from other animals?

    Non-human animals: not mentally equipped to make moral judgements.

    Human animals: are mentally equipped to make moral judgements, and so can declare that what applies to them doesn’t apply to other animals.

  372. #372 bubbabubba666
    February 25, 2010

    If this has already been asked and answered please tell me and I will reread. For those that believe that animal testing is appropriate, is there any theoretical point at which it would not be?

    For instance, what if an animal could speak and express itself at the level of a 7-year old?

    I’m also curious (mock me all you want) if aliens that were much more intelligent than us showed up on earth if it would be OK for them to experiment on us?

    I’m just trying to figure out what the ethical rules are here, because if aliens do show up, I want to be able to explain to them why it’s OK for them to experiment on animals, but not on us.

  373. #373 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 25, 2010

    For those that believe that animal testing is appropriate, is there any theoretical point at which it would not be?

    When it would have no useful, no matter how minor, purpose. Again, you don’t like animal testing, come up with viable alternatives. Like you being the guinea pig. Quit trying to make other people do work for you. Do that yourself.

  374. #374 bubbabubba666
    February 25, 2010

    @#73. So to clarify and make sure I am not putting words in your mouth, if an animal could speak and express itself at the level of a 7-year old, you’d still be OK with using that animal for medical experiments?

    “Again, you don’t like animal testing, come up with viable alternatives.”

    I don’t need to come up with viable alternatives because I believe that it, or at least most if it, is unethical. I’d only need to come up with a viable alternative if I bought the argument that testing animals and causing them suffering is alright because it benefits humans. I don’t.

    However, I will point out that some of the diseases we routinely experiment on animals for could be wiped out almost entirely with lifestyle changes. So I’m not sure I buy the argument that “there’s no other way” for a lot of this testing that is based on causes that are self-inflicted in the first place. Smoking for instance – are you aware that cigarette companies use animals for testing?!

  375. #375 Dianne
    February 25, 2010

    For those that believe that animal testing is appropriate, is there any theoretical point at which it would not be?

    Of course. There are lots of potential tests which would be totally unjustified. The animal model of whether or not high dose cyanide is poisonous, for example. If the test doesn’t add anything to human knowledge then it is unjustified. If the test could be done as well without the use of animals then it is unjustified. If it doesn’t give answer the question under study because of poor planning or inadequate numbers it is unjustified. If it uses too many animals then it is unjustified. And so on.

    For instance, what if an animal could speak and express itself at the level of a 7-year old?

    Actually, there is animal testing being done on animals that can express themselves on the level of 7 year old (humans): clinical trials of new treatments for pediatric disease in H sapiens. They are extremely carefully regulated and require the assent of the subject (though a 7 year old is not considered able to give informed consent). Other requirements include consent of parent or guardian and that the study benefit the child. If there were non-human animals with similar mentation levels, I see no particular reason why they shouldn’t be involved in research with the same or similar restrictions.

  376. #376 https://me.yahoo.com/a/lsz7dwgdr9fi0jMqEzcZyVI7iAZCuCum1ciRUJizT8bmbvw-#2ed91
    February 25, 2010

    As long as humans are cool with the scene when space aliens land on Earth and start conducting non consensual medical experiments on humans because their alien babies are ill and they need to conduct research, then I’m good with us doing it to other mammals. Golden Rule, right?

  377. #377 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 25, 2010

    As long as humans are cool with the scene when space aliens land on Earth and start conducting non consensual medical experiments on humans because their alien babies are ill and they need to conduct research, then I’m good with us doing it to other mammals. Golden Rule, right?

    YAWN

  378. #378 bubbabubba666
    February 25, 2010

    Dianne,

    Thank you so much for your comments. However on the first question perhaps I did not explain myself well enough. When I asked “for those that believe that animal testing is appropriate, is there any theoretical point at which it would not be?”, I meant is there some level of intelligence that were an animal to achieve, would make it unethical to use them for medical experiments? I think most of us agree that experiments should not be done for experiments sake (i.e. your cyanide example).

    What I am going after here is I am trying to understand what it is specifically that makes it OK to experiment on animals and when if ever that would change. For instance, if it is that they do not possess the same emotional capacity and/or mental capacity, fine, but my question is what was the standard that was set?

    As an example, it seems that most people who believe that animal experimentation should take place include dogs and chimpanzees in that equation. I don’t know how much testing we do on dolphins so I can’t comment on that one. So clearly animal testers believe it is OK to experiment even on the most intelligent animals. So my point is that would seem to leave two possibilities:
    1. Testers believe there is no point at which testing is inappropriate as long as its not a human.
    2. There is a point and all animals fall below it. And if that is the case, my question is what is that point? Self awareness? IQ of xxx? What is it by which we decide that it is OK to subject other creatures to tests against their will? It seems to me it’s just #1.

    Regarding your second answer I don’t see how that applies since in that instance a guardian is giving approval, I am sure it is to save the life of the 7-year old and not just experiment on them. Hardly the same as my question, which is if the animal had the intelligence of the 7-year old, would it be OK to subject them to tests against their will.

  379. #379 Dianne
    February 25, 2010

    bubba666: Forgive me, but I’m going to approach your question obliquely.

    First, there are no non-human animals currently living that have intelligence levels equivalent to 7 year old humans unless we’re vastly misestimating intelligence somehow. Second, chimpanzees are self-aware, dogs are, as far as we can tell, not. Therefore, dogs and chimpanzees are, IMHO, in different categories ethically. Third, I can’t imagine why anyone would use dolphins, whales, or elephants for research designed to benefit humans so, as far as I can tell, we’re really talking about great apes when we’re talking about self-aware non-human animals and medical research. There may be people out there studying elephant health, but I’m pretty sure it’s to benefit elephants, not humans. Fourth, clearly, research performed on great apes without reasonable safeguards or if there are alternatives is unethical. I’m intrigued by the idea of attempting to determine whether the animal consents or not, but I’m not sure how to make the issue practical.

    So that really leaves only great ape research in situations where there is no alternative and a great need exists. Is it ethical? The bottom line is, I don’t know. I don’t use great apes in research (apart from humans who have read and signed the consent form), don’t intend to ever use them in research, but don’t feel strongly enough about it to attempt to make the process illegal. Certainly not strongly enough to threaten another person.

    Sorry about the rather, er, Democratic answer, but that’s where I personally am on this question. I’ll just stop by saying I (heart) transgenic mice. So much a better model in so many cases.

  380. #380 bubbabubba666
    February 25, 2010

    Thanks Dianne

  381. #381 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 25, 2010

    bubba666, you either come up with alternatives, or you have nothing cogent to say on the subject. We don’t have to agree with your concept of morality, and I for one, don’t. My morality says if you are going to bitch about something, you are the one to come up with the solution. Like you being the guinea pig. That puts the onus where it belongs.

    Besides, you are ignoring the factor that government agencies like FDA do require animal testing, and that isn’t going to change without those appropriate alterntives. So, put your money and time where your mouth is, and find the solution.

  382. #382 coathangrrr
    February 25, 2010

    When it would have no useful, no matter how minor, purpose. Again, you don’t like animal testing, come up with viable alternatives. Like you being the guinea pig. Quit trying to make other people do work for you. Do that yourself.

    In other words it doesn’t matter how much pain is inflicted upon the animal as long as the result may make someone healthier or prettier. By that standard you would support gathering every single kitten in the world and torturing them forever is that was the only way to rid the world of, say, erectile disfunction. That is wrong, straight up.

  383. #383 SteveM
    February 25, 2010

    Re Dianne@379:

    Third, I can’t imagine why anyone would use dolphins, whales, or elephants for research designed to benefit humans so, …

    Just this week there were news stories about the dolphin’s unique ability to control their diabetes (type II) and that this may give us clues how to do the same in humans.

  384. #384 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 25, 2010

    Coathangrrr, quit being full of shit and putting words in peoples mouths that aren’t true. Here’s the thing pinhead, FDA requires cosmetics to be tested for untoward reactions. Safety of cosmetics is part of FDA’s charter. That is presently done using animals for irritation studies. Why don’t you use your efforts to try to reduce the need of animal testing by developing in vitro tests that would give the same or better infomation? You would make the agency and the cosmetic companies very happy, and you could make a bundle of money. Or are you a loudmouth who expects other to do their bidding?

  385. #385 tehmeeplet
    February 25, 2010

    Dianne/#379
    I’ll admit I haven’t gone back and read what your comment is in response too let (I tend to read my way up a comment list this large), but I think there is one more factor that needs to be put into your account. The great apes, sans us, are all endangered. When it comes to biomedical research we are mainly talking chimpanzees (other great apes are used in behavioral research in the US). The US is the only country (other then Gabon, I think?) that you can legally engage in biomedical research on chimpanzees.

    Technically, we shouldn’t by our laws either. However, America has this magical policy that any chimpanzee in the united states is no longer classified as endangered, which is all sorts of bullshit. The chimpanzee is the only animal in the world we have this location contingent status for, and it’s a purely political designation for biomedical purposes. if that isn’t unethical I don’t know what is.

    This is further compounded by the fact that the USDA keeps giving in to special interest groups and ultimately scrap plans they have developed themselves that change the regulations to better fit the needs of captive primates (chimpanzee or not).

    I’m certainly not overjoyed at the idea of animal testing, but I’m not naive enough to suggest that we could get rid of it today and that people wouldn’t die because of it. It’s one of those “necessary evil” things for the moment, and so long as we are working to reduce the use and harm it does to the individuals in the tests I’m not going to actively lobby against it’s end in most cases.

    However, I can’t support the idea of using an endangered animal to help an overpopulated one, especially when we won’t even go through and make the necessary changes to make it more humane. That, and the type of underhanded politics we use to make it possible.

  386. #386 SteveM
    February 25, 2010

    re Copyleft@370:

    Now, I know no one here is saying that…[emphasis added] but stating it as an ironclad principle of “X is always greater than Y” can lead to a similarly blind and oversimplified application. What I’d like to see is some appreciation for the complexity and gray areas, that absolutist statements (either for OR against) cannot handle.

    So you admit you are arguing a strawman since no one is saying what you are arguing against.

    It is not the pro-experimenters that are saying “any and all experimentation is justified”. It is the anti-experimenters that characterize them as saying that. What you are ignoring is all the comments here describing what actually goes into animal research in terms of oversight, justification, care for the animals and mitigation of their suffering. Anti-experimentation advocates routinely demonize scientists as gleefully ripping apart animals for the sheer joy of cruelty. What is overlooked as that most lab animals are probably treated far better than a lot of “pets”.

    “What I’d like to see is some appreciation for the complexity and gray areas,…”

    If you haven’t seen any then you haven’t been reading many of these comments.

  387. #387 coathangrrr
    February 25, 2010

    Coathangrrr, quit being full of shit and putting words in peoples mouths that aren’t true.

    What was said that animal testing is always justified if it is useful. Not sometimes, not mostly, not even almost always, but always. If that’s what someone actually believes then they have to accept the scenario I laid out. I didn’t say it was a reasonable scenario, but if it were the case then you’d have to say, yeah I support torturing those kittens.

  388. #388 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 25, 2010

    As for banging on the windows of Ringach’s house back in 2006, there’s no evidence that this was done with the intent of frightening his children, or even that the trespassers knew he had children.

    Assuming they did know and did not care, it does not amount to making threats. It was undoubtedly scary, but that’s not the same thing. A threat is a specific promise of violence, and an ambiguous incident, no matter how frightening, is not a threat. So you may consider it a threat, but you would be objectively incorrect.

    Oh well, then…

    I think this is problematic, and torture is torture regardless ofintent

    I see. Threatening behaviour is not a threat when it’s not intended to be a threat. Torture is torture regardless of intent.

    Gotcha.

  389. #389 Copyleft
    February 25, 2010

    Re: SteveM @386:

    So you admit you are arguing a strawman since no one is saying what you are arguing against.

    No, I’m pointing out that the PRINCIPLE has been stated as a simple black-or-white rule here, even though it logically leads to an equally simplistic application. That’s inadequate for addressing the reality of the situation.

    Saying “Human life is more important than animal life,” as several have done here, is an inadequate argument because it doesn’t address the complexities of applying such an oversimplified rule to real-world situations.

  390. #390 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 25, 2010

    Coathangrrr, who believes anything a full of shithead like you says? Since you put lies into peoples mouths. Get your act together, and actually change the need for animal testing by working to develop in vitro alternatives. Or, are you just a idjit loudmouthed troll without a cogent idea in your head?

  391. #391 coathangrrr
    February 25, 2010

    Right, let me just run out and make ground breaking discoveries in biology, a field in which I have no training. Of course, you could actually make an argument for or against animal testing, or limiting it, beyond just saying “you’re dumb, go make scientific discoveries if you’re serious.” Apparently you don’t actually care about discussing the problems I brought up. You prefer to call me names, for no apparent reason, when you lack an argument. If you don’t agree that we should should torture every kitten out there to cure erectile disfunction, and I’m assuming you wouldn’t be okay with that, then explain how you can reconcile that with this quote:

    When it would have no useful, no matter how minor, purpose.

    Right there you say that you oppose animal testing, even if it is painful for the animals, only if it has no purpose.

  392. #392 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    My morality says if you are going to bitch about something, you are the one to come up with the solution.

    This is going to come back to bite you in the ass, Nerd.

    Consider torturing prisoners. If the case could ever be made that actionable intelligence regarding an imminent threat to civilians could be extracted from a particular prisoner through torture after other sometimes-successful interrogation techniques had been exhausted, then you have just excused the would-be torturers.

  393. #393 Caine
    February 26, 2010

    SteveM @ 388:

    What is overlooked as that most lab animals are probably treated far better than a lot of “pets”.

    Truth. All my animals are rescues, in several cases, we were literally the last resort.

  394. #394 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    As long as humans are cool with the scene when space aliens land on Earth and start conducting non consensual medical experiments on humans because their alien babies are ill and they need to conduct research, then I’m good with us doing it to other mammals. Golden Rule, right?

    someone saw District 9 and thought it was a documentary, apparently.

  395. #395 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    Right, let me just run out and make ground breaking discoveries in biology, a field in which I have no training.

    If it required you to disect fetal pigs to train to become a biologist, or perform LD50 experiments on fish to discover what levels of environmental toxins should be of concern, or require you to sacrifice gravid females of a given endangered species in order to better study their demographics, and thus perhaps save them from extinction…

    would you?

    yeah.

    this is why those of us that actually have to make these decisions in real life rarely value the opinions of those who merely think about them from their armchairs at home.

  396. #396 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    When it would have no useful, no matter how minor, purpose.

    what would that even be called at that point?

    vivisection for fun?

    it certainly would no longer fall under any sort of “animal testing” purview that actually exists, right?

    so…

    Right there you say that you oppose animal testing, even if it is painful for the animals, only if it has no purpose.

    no.

    there has been no argument made.

  397. #397 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    doesn’t address the complexities of applying such an oversimplified rule to real-world situations.

    what on earth could these “real world” situations BE, praytell?

  398. #398 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    Get your act together, and actually change the need for animal testing by working to develop in vitro alternatives.

    this will by default, always constitute a very tiny fraction of needed animal research.

    anything we can do in vitro, or via modelling, always necessitates in Vivo experimentation to be able to program or control conditions to begin with.

  399. #399 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    In other words it doesn’t matter how much pain is inflicted upon the animal as long as the result may make someone healthier or prettier. By that standard you would support gathering every single kitten in the world and torturing them forever is that was the only way to rid the world of, say, erectile disfunction. That is wrong, straight up.

    people who conflate the word “pain” and “torture” are disingenuous pricks, and should be ignored.

  400. #400 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    …I personally have never had a desire to hear the secret confessions of kittens by torturing them myself.

    has anyone actually tried it to see what they have to say?

  401. #401 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Oh well, then…

    I see. Threatening behaviour is not a threat when it’s not intended to be a threat. Torture is torture regardless of intent.

    Gotcha.

    This “I see … gotcha” stuff usually indicates that the speaker believes they have said something clever, although it could just be an unusual habit of your speech to throw those words around at nonsensical times. I hope for your sake it’s the latter, because if you thought that was clever, then I’m awfully sad for you.

    You see, Bruce, some concepts actually include the requirement of intent, while other concepts do not. By noting this supposed incongruity in my thought, you have noted only that I understand the English language.

    Murder, for example, is generally understood to require an intent to kill. Insult, on the other hand, is generally understood to be possible without intent. There is debate about a great many such words, but that debate serves to demonstrate the underlying rule that sometimes intent matters and sometimes it does not.

    That you would “consider” something “threatening behavior” does not axiomatically make it so. Consider that many racists feel threatened by the presence and mannerisms of black people, but this does not actually mean that black people are threatening them. So intent clearly matters here; threats are not identified simply by your feelings.

    Delineating torture to require an intent to punish or coerce would mean that when delinquents capture and systematically abuse animals just for fun, even when they skin strays alive or cook live kittens in ovens, it isn’t torture. Yet this defies the actual use of the word; prolonged or painful thrill-killing is generally called torture, and very few English speakers would argue that baking a kitten is not torture.

    If you want to insist upon a definition of torture that makes Josef Mengele not a torturer, go ahead, but it does not reflect well upon you.

    See, Bruce, if you wanted to show a flaw in my thinking here, you would have had to actually present a case for why one or both of my word usages are wrong. Apparently you thought you were too clever to need an argument.

  402. #402 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    Delineating torture to require an intent to punish or coerce would mean that when delinquents capture and systematically abuse animals just for fun, even when they skin strays alive or cook live kittens in ovens, it isn’t torture.

    that’s a good point, as far as defining torture goes.

    how does it apply to the issue of animal testing?

  403. #403 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    My specific choice of “punish or coerce” is simply a reiteration of definitions I see above. So my point here is that torture quite obviously includes other intents. It remains an open question whether it includes all intents and no intent, but I have seen no coherent reason why it should be limited to exclude an intent of finding useful information, and I am particularly skeptical of such approaches since torturing prisoners may occasionally be useful.

    What I think I’m seeing here is a very specific restriction of the word to meet certain political needs, much like when terrorism is defined to exclude the legally authorized use of violence by sovereign states.

  404. #404 coathangrrr
    February 26, 2010

    If it required you to disect fetal pigs to train to become a biologist, or perform LD50 experiments on fish to discover what levels of environmental toxins should be of concern, or require you to sacrifice gravid females of a given endangered species in order to better study their demographics, and thus perhaps save them from extinction…

    would you?

    I have done dissections, I’m not completely untrained, I’m just not a biologist by training. I’d like to note that I’m not arguing against animal testing completely, I’m just saying that there needs to be limits beyond “does it help humans in some way.” which is the current default.

  405. #405 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Also, this new definition of torture would mean that when Christopher Hitchens subjected himself to waterboarding to find out for himself whether or not it was torture, he was mistaken in believing that he learned anything more that he could use to judge it, because by this definition he was not tortured.

    Hitchens was waterboarded not for punishment, not for coercion, and not for fun. He was waterboarded as an experiment. Not a controlled scientific experiment, but certainly an attempt at empiricism, and entirely for the purpose of gaining knowledge to benefit humanity. But if he was not tortured, then he learned nothing more about torture from the experiment.

    By this definition, it is not possible for anyone ever to voluntarily undergo torture for the purpose of better understanding torture, since the intent of experimentation axiomatically renders it not-torture. This sort of nonsensical contradiction is typical when we’re seeing a politically expedient interference with the language.

  406. #406 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    Also, this new definition of torture would mean that when Christopher Hitchens subjected himself to waterboarding to find out for himself whether or not it was torture, he was mistaken in believing that he learned anything more that he could use to judge it, because by this definition he was not tortured.

    As far as I’m concerned, Hitchens was not tortured. Undergoing a voluntary experiment in experiencing pain, where you have the right to opt out at any time, is not comparable to being forced to undergo waterboarding, as the prisoners were at Guantánamo. Pain that someone chooses to experience, for whatever reason, is not torture.

    This doesn’t mean his experience was useless. He has learnt what the experience of waterboarding is like on a physical level. But he has not undergone the full psychological effect of being imprisoned, denied trial, and forced to undergo waterboarding at the whim of his captors. It is the whole context of the experience that makes it torture.

    The same is true of any pain-inflicting act. There is a subculture of people who voluntarily inflict quite serious wounds on each other for sexual pleasure. This, clearly, is not torture – but inflicting the exact same wounds on an unwilling prisoner would be. It is the context, and the lack of consent, that makes it torture.

  407. #407 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    Animal testing, as an issue, is much like abortion.

    It’s easy to get caught up in one’s natural empathy for the lab rat or the foetus. But it’s important not to lose sight of the complex ethical issues actually involved. In the context of abortion, the interests of the foetus do not outweigh the value of the woman’s life and health. Similarly, in the context of vivisection, the interests of lab animals do not outweigh the benefits of such testing for saving human life and health.

    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to make these tough ethical choices. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and we do have to make these choices – and we have to prioritise the lives of living individual people, with families, personalities and rights, over creatures that are alive but are not people (whether they be foetuses or guinea-pigs). Absolute, unequivocal moral standards don’t work well in the real world.

  408. #408 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Undergoing a voluntary experiment in experiencing pain, where you have the right to opt out at any time, is not comparable to being forced to undergo waterboarding, as the prisoners were at Guantánamo.

    Not very comparable, no, but it does not follow from this that it wasn’t torture. If there are varying degrees of torture — and some forms of torture are surely worse than others — then the act is not necessarily rendered not-torture just because it’s relatively less devastating.

    This doesn’t mean his experience was useless. He has learnt what the experience of waterboarding is like on a physical level. But he has not undergone the full psychological effect of being imprisoned, denied trial, and forced to undergo waterboarding at the whim of his captors. It is the whole context of the experience that makes it torture.

    So if these people had been waterboarded just once, right there in Afghanistan, and immediately released, would that not have been torture?

    The same is true of any pain-inflicting act. There is a subculture of people who voluntarily inflict quite serious wounds on each other for sexual pleasure. This, clearly, is not torture – but inflicting the exact same wounds on an unwilling prisoner would be. It is the context, and the lack of consent, that makes it torture.

    And just what is your basis for saying this? No dictionary supports your injection of consent into the question of torture, and I see no reason why it’s necessary. Consent is not obviously definitional here as it is in the case of rape. You may more easily argue that if the experience is enjoyed, then it isn’t torture. But consent? You’ll have to make a stronger case.

  409. #409 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    But we don’t live in a perfect world, and we do have to make these choices – and we have to prioritise the lives of living individual people, with families, personalities and rights, over creatures that are alive but are not people (whether they be foetuses or guinea-pigs).

    Species is not an automatic indicator of personhood. An adult housecat exhibits a great deal more features of personhood than a newborn human.

    Absolute, unequivocal moral standards don’t work well in the real world.

    Funny statement, that, since you and I agree that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy absolutely and unequivocally overrides any interest in life that even a late-term fetus might have.

    I can think of times when absolutism does not help — the rigidity of Leninists comes to mind — but it’s been working just fine for me regarding abortion.

  410. #410 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    No dictionary supports your injection of consent into the question of torture, and I see no reason why it’s necessary.

    Reliance on dictionary definitions in an argument is invariably a bad idea.

    I do not see any circumstance in which someone can be “voluntarily tortured”. I’m not arguing that it’s a semantic contradiction in the same way that “married bachelor” is a semantic contradiction, so your reference to dictionary definitions is irrelevant.

    But torture is a legal term, in international law. Here is the definition of torture, from the 1984 Convention against Torture:

    Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

    An interesting characteristic of this is that torture can only be committed by a state official acting in his official capacity. A private individual, acting without state authority, cannot ever be liable for the international crime of torture.

    There is a good reason for this. The state has the coercive power to imprison people, and to force them to undergo torture. A private individual can perform the exact same acts, of course – Josef Fritzl, for instance – but such a private individual is breaking national laws against false imprisonment, assault, inflicting grievous bodily harm, and so on, and is liable to punishment by the state in which he resides. International law is not therefore concerned with him; whereas if the act is committed by agents of a state, using the coercive power of that state, the international law against torture is engaged.

    Hitchens was not forced by state officials to undergo waterboarding. He chose, voluntarily, as a private citizen, to be waterboarded by other private citizens. (I realise that the people who waterboarded him were ex-military, but they were not acting in their official capacity or exercising state authority, within the relevant international law definitions.) He was therefore not tortured, within the legal definition of that term.

  411. #411 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    I have been arguing for some time that a 30-week fetus probably is a person — most likely having sensory experience and an interest in avoiding pain — but one person still has the right to violently expel another person who is inhabiting her body against her will.

  412. #412 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    Funny statement, that, since you and I agree that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy absolutely and unequivocally overrides any interest in life that even a late-term fetus might have.

    I didn’t quite agree that, actually. You observed, correctly, that the vast majority of late-term abortions are performed for urgent medical reasons to protect the woman’s life, and that imposing strict restrictions on late-term abortions makes it more difficult for a woman who urgently needs one to get one. I absolutely believe that the woman’s life outweighs the life of the foetus, and so in all such circumstances I support the right to late-term abortion.

    We agree on the practical policy, therefore, that late-term abortions should be legal. But we would probably differ as to their morality. I don’t think that the woman’s interest in bodily autonomy always morally outweighs the life of a late-term foetus. And so, if a woman obtained a very-late-term abortion for any reason other than urgent medical necessity, I would consider that to be morally wrong.

  413. #413 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    I have been arguing for some time that a 30-week fetus probably is a person — most likely having sensory experience and an interest in avoiding pain — but one person still has the right to violently expel another person who is inhabiting her body against her will.

    See, that I don’t necessarily agree with. I realise this makes me a poor excuse for a libertarian, but I can’t in good conscience agree that bodily autonomy always trumps life.

    Let’s imagine I were a surgeon, and I had two people in front of me – of whom one was about to die of kidney failure, and the other had two healthy kidneys. Time was very limited, and I could only save the first person’s life by transplanting a healthy kidney from the second person. But the second person didn’t want to surrender his kidney. Would I perform the operation and take the second person’s kidney without his consent, thereby breaking the law and violating his bodily autonomy? Or would I stand back and watch the first person die needlessly because of the selfishness of the second person?

    I can’t say for sure what I would do in that circumstance. But it isn’t a situation where absolute morals are helpful.

  414. #414 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    As an addendum to #415: If the person dying of kidney failure was my mother, or a close friend, or someone else I sincerely cared about, and the person with two healthy kidneys was a stranger, I would take the healthy kidney against the stranger’s will, and risk going to prison. That might not be an objectively right thing to do – I’m honestly not sure – but I would do it. And I suspect you would do the same thing in those circumstances, unless you are completely lacking in normal human emotion.

  415. #415 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Reliance on dictionary definitions in an argument is invariably a bad idea.

    Ass. That’s why I said “and I see no reason why it’s necessary. Consent is not obviously definitional here as it is in the case of rape. … You’ll have to make a stronger case.”

    I do not see any circumstance in which someone can be “voluntarily tortured”.

    For example, a freedom fighter could voluntarily choose to hand himself over to an enemy which practices torture, in exchange for the release of other prisoners.

    But torture is a legal term, in international law. Here is the definition of torture, from the 1984 Convention against Torture:

    Oh look, a dictionary definition, and one that’s invariably politicized as it is the work of state powers.

    International law is not therefore concerned with him; whereas if the act is committed by agents of a state, using the coercive power of that state, the international law against torture is engaged.

    You merely described the reason why a conference of state powers would limit themselves to in finding a definition of torture suitable to their needs at the time. Surprise, states are interested in the interests of states. Generally the rest of us are not so constrained by Machiavellian concerns, and you give no reason why that idiosyncratic definition of torture should be considered more applicable to this conversation than the vernacular understanding by which baking a live kitten is torture.

    The word predates the modern Leviathan anyway, and it’s rather Orwellian for free-thinking individuals to rely upon governments to tell us what words should mean. (We have the dogs ready for you in Room 101.)

  416. #416 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    But we would probably differ as to their morality.

    Sigh. I wonder if, ten years from now, you’ll remember anything I ever said to you.

    I don’t bring that up except in times like this when the situation demands, because out of this context it functions only to pass judgment and guilt concerning complicated situations that are more appropriately handled by the relevant woman’s own morality.

    Let’s imagine I were a surgeon … I can’t say for sure what I would do in that circumstance. But it isn’t a situation where absolute morals are helpful.

    I think I can say for sure that taking the kidney would always be morally wrong in every circumstance. But the reasoning which gets me there is the result of a nuanced attempt to take a broad and long view of the question. Check the link; now would you regard that as absolutist and thus unhelpful? Be careful that you are not simply looking at the final result and judging as absolutist that which coincides with the results of rigid dogma.

    (I worry that absolutism here is being used synonymously with dogmatism, when it ain’t necessarily so, as there may be consequentialist roads which arrive at results which happen to be eerily consistent.)

    That might not be an objectively right thing to do – I’m honestly not sure – but I would do it. And I suspect you would do the same thing in those circumstances, unless you are completely lacking in normal human emotion.

    But this is because we do not expect ourselves to attain moksha, not because the personal attachment implies anything about the underlying morality.

  417. #417 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    Let’s imagine I were a surgeon, and I had two people in front of me – of whom one was about to die of kidney failure, and the other had two healthy kidneys. Time was very limited, and I could only save the first person’s life by transplanting a healthy kidney from the second person. But the second person didn’t want to surrender his kidney. Would I perform the operation and take the second person’s kidney without his consent, thereby breaking the law and violating his bodily autonomy? Or would I stand back and watch the first person die needlessly because of the selfishness of the second person?

    What?!

  418. #418 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    As an addendum to #415: If the person dying of kidney failure was my mother, or a close friend, or someone else I sincerely cared about, and the person with two healthy kidneys was a stranger, I would take the healthy kidney against the stranger’s will, and risk going to prison. That might not be an objectively right thing to do – I’m honestly not sure – but I would do it. And I suspect you would do the same thing in those circumstances, unless you are completely lacking in normal human emotion.

    What?!

  419. #419 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Anyway:

    I didn’t quite agree that, actually. You observed, correctly, that the vast majority of late-term abortions are performed for urgent medical reasons to protect the woman’s life, and that imposing strict restrictions on late-term abortions makes it more difficult for a woman who urgently needs one to get one. I absolutely believe that the woman’s life outweighs the life of the foetus, and so in all such circumstances I support the right to late-term abortion.

    Your actual view is fairly close to what I thought it was, so you can see why I confused the two. I will try to remember this clarification.

  420. #420 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    I do wish we could avoid this sort of statement between us:

    unless you are completely lacking in normal human emotion.

    since A) you already know that I’m not, and B) it unfairly stigmatizes others who may come to very different and surprising conclusions, and it does so before even giving them the chance to speak up and explain themselves.

  421. #421 negentropyeater
    February 26, 2010

    Walton #416,

    And I suspect you would do the same thing in those circumstances, unless you are completely lacking in normal human emotion.

    No, I wouldn’t. It’s not about lacking human emotions, it’s just not fucking acceptable to take someone’s kidney against his will to save someone else. Even if that someone else is the person you most cherish.

    You are writing childish things again.

  422. #422 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Hm. I agree it’s not at all acceptable, and I would hate myself for it, and if I were caught then I should go to prison, but I still might do it.

  423. #423 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to make these tough ethical choices. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and we do have to make these choices – and we have to prioritise the lives of living individual people, with families, personalities and rights, over creatures that are alive but are not people (whether they be foetuses or guinea-pigs). Absolute, unequivocal moral standards don’t work well in the real world.

    Nice move, Jedi. You managed to articulate an absolutist view — in your “we have to prioritise” there is no hint of exceptions — while simultaneously decrying absolutist views, and I didn’t notice until now.

  424. #424 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    Or would I stand back and watch the first person die needlessly because of the selfishness of the second person?

    The second, selfish person is you, dear. But you can change that any time:

    http://www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors/index.cfm
    ;)

  425. #425 Dianne
    February 26, 2010

    If the person dying of kidney failure was my mother, or a close friend, or someone else I sincerely cared about, and the person with two healthy kidneys was a stranger, I would take the healthy kidney against the stranger’s will, and risk going to prison

    Don’t do it Walton! Quite apart from the morality of it, the “healthy person” inevitably turns out to be a (for the moment) asymptomatic carrier of HIV, hepatitis C, nvCJD, and 3 different forms of untreatable cancer. Karma’s a bitch.

    Slightly more seriously, one reason that we don’t take kidneys from unwilling donors or unknown sources or condemned prisoners is that the testing needed to ensure that the kidney is safe to give to the recipient requires the cooperation of the donor. Yes, it’s wrong to steal a kidney, but knowing that it’s also ridiculously dangerous might help people avoid temptation.

  426. #426 Dianne
    February 26, 2010

    Before we get too into the issue of what torture is exactly, it might be worth pointing out that any legitimate animal experimentation facility is going to conduct its experiments in such a way as to avoid pain as much as possible. It is extremely difficult to get an experimental protocol in which the animals are exposed to worse pain than the average human experiences while getting an annual checkup approved.

    I would argue that for the most common lab animals, rats and mice, life in a lab could well be better than life in the wild. What does a mouse want? Food, companionship, freedom from pain, safe shelter. All those can be and are provided in a lab setting. Mice don’t care about “freedom”, they don’t understand the concept. They care about eating and not being eaten, curling up with other mice, maybe having the occasional bit of sex…And getting stuck with a 25 gauge needle a couple of times in a lifetime seems a less tortuous experience than being poisoned with warfarin, eaten alive by a cat, or disemboweled by farm equipment.

  427. #427 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Before we get too into the issue of what torture is exactly, it might be worth pointing out that any legitimate animal experimentation facility is going to conduct its experiments in such a way as to avoid pain as much as possible. It is extremely difficult to get an experimental protocol in which the animals are exposed to worse pain than the average human experiences while getting an annual checkup approved.

    In the study of pain and pain management, the deliberate infliction of pain is part of the protocol. Let’s not obfuscate this.

    Mice don’t care about “freedom”

    This is simply false, and such statements result from holding nonhuman animals to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.

    When a ten month old human has grown accustomed to crawling, and cries to be let out of the crib or playpen, we recognize this as a request for greater freedom. While we may refuse on the grounds that we do not have time to supervise a crawling baby right now, we do not resort to denying the obvious and claiming that because babies cannot understand the concept of freedom, they therefore do not want to be let out of the crib.

    When mice exhibit behavior like searching the perimeter of the cage, or making escape attempts, they are demonstrating their interest in freedom. And a mouse which learn a tricky escape route will use it over and over again, demonstrating not only a desire but a commitment to personal freedom.

    Indeed, you admit this when it suits your argument. Mice don’t understand the concept of “companionship” either, but that didn’t stop you from recognizing that they desire it.

  428. #428 Dianne
    February 26, 2010

    When mice exhibit behavior like searching the perimeter of the cage, or making escape attempts, they are demonstrating their interest in freedom.

    Searching the perimeter of the cage looks to me more like making sure the borders are safe than attempting to escape. I check the door to my apartment before I go to sleep each night. Does that mean I’m attempting to escape or that I’m attempting to make sure that no one can get in? And I’ve never seen a mouse try to escape a non-overcrowded cage. Despite having pet mice at one point.

    That aside, would you prefer that mice be put out in the middle of a nice, “free” field to die like PETA does?

  429. #429 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    And I’ve never seen a mouse try to escape a non-overcrowded cage. Despite having pet mice at one point.

    Then you just had a sturdy cage. Leave the door open and see if they don’t escape.

    That aside, would you prefer that mice be put out in the middle of a nice, “free” field to die like PETA does?

    I would prefer that domestic mice not be bred in the first place. Those already adapted to the wild are able to pursue a balance of life and freedom as they choose, and if they can manage to sneak into Jadehawk’s house to eat her crumbs, they’re living far better than any caged mouse.

  430. #430 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    Don’t do it Walton! Quite apart from the morality of it, the “healthy person” inevitably turns out to be a (for the moment) asymptomatic carrier of HIV, hepatitis C, nvCJD, and 3 different forms of untreatable cancer. Karma’s a bitch.

    Slightly more seriously, one reason that we don’t take kidneys from unwilling donors or unknown sources or condemned prisoners is that the testing needed to ensure that the kidney is safe to give to the recipient requires the cooperation of the donor. Yes, it’s wrong to steal a kidney, but knowing that it’s also ridiculously dangerous might help people avoid temptation.

    Yes, but in the scenario I outlined, the person dying of kidney failure is definitely going to die unless he or she receives a kidney transplant immediately. In such circumstances, the possibility of dying from various infections, which might or might not be present, would surely be outweighed by the certainty of dying without a transplant?

    In any case, I wasn’t outlining this as a medically plausible scenario; it was a thought experiment to illustrate a moral dilemma. (For one thing, I am not a surgeon and would have no idea how to perform a successful kidney transplant without killing both patients.) I was merely using the examle to illustrate the point that no moral consideration is absolute, and that protecting the life of a person one cares about tends, in practice, to trump other moral imperatives. This is applicable mutatis mutandis to other moral dilemmas. If some lab rats have to die painful deaths in order to develop a treatment for cancer, and that treatment saves the lives of human beings, then this is IMO the right moral choice – hard as it is.

  431. #431 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    No, I wouldn’t. It’s not about lacking human emotions, it’s just not fucking acceptable to take someone’s kidney against his will to save someone else. Even if that someone else is the person you most cherish.

    You are writing childish things again.

    No, I am not writing “childish things”, and I will not be insulted and demeaned simply because my moral priorities are not identical to yours.

    If your parent, or your partner, or your child was lying on a hospital bed dying of kidney failure, and you had the surgical skill to save him or her but could only do so by stealing someone else’s kidney, would you really not do so? Maybe you wouldn’t. It’s not for me to tell you that you’re “wrong” about something so intensely personal as this. But I find it hard to believe that you would find it such an easy decision as you seem to suggest.

    Most people here are, rightly, repulsed by the kind of Randite philosophy that perceives property rights as absolute and inviolable even at the expense of human life. If you have to steal bread from a wealthy person in order to feed your children, most of us here would agree that you should do so; for most people, the value of a child’s life trumps property rights. Of course, I would be the first to acknowledge that a person’s rights over his or her own body are more important than rights over material property.

    But both kinds of property rights are social constructs. “Natural rights” are a myth. Bodily autonomy, as important as it is, is not a “natural right”. And its proper extent is therefore open to debate. Just as, if I had no other choice, I would steal a rich man’s bread to feed a starving child, I would take, in extremis, a healthy man’s kidney to save a dying child. You can disagree, and I’m not claiming to be “right” in some super-objective sense; but you need to establish why, in your view, a person’s right to bodily autonomy always and automatically trumps the imperative to save another person’s life.

  432. #432 Dianne
    February 26, 2010

    Yes, but in the scenario I outlined, the person dying of kidney failure is definitely going to die unless he or she receives a kidney transplant immediately.

    Dialysis.

    If some lab rats have to die painful deaths in order to develop a treatment for cancer

    If your lab rats are dying painful deaths then you’re doing it wrong. Early deaths because of the cancer, yes, but no researcher who wants to continue in his/her field will allow the rats to suffer. For one thing, if the cancer has gotten to that point then the treatment’s a failure, try again.

  433. #433 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    I was merely using the examle to illustrate the point that no moral consideration is absolute, and that protecting the life of a person one cares about tends, in practice, to trump other moral imperatives.

    Ah, but you didn’t successfully do that. Again, the willingness to harm strangers for the sake of loved ones does not demonstrate that such willingness is morally acceptable, only that it is fairly common.

    Mistaking the latter for the former is the naturalistic fallacy, so you won’t be able to leap from there to lab rats.

    But I find it hard to believe that you would find it such an easy decision as you seem to suggest.

    The apparent ease and certainty might only result from having already exhausted the possibilities during an earlier intense and difficult struggle with these sort of dilemmas. Some here have been thinking about this stuff since before we were born.

    If you have to steal bread from a wealthy person in order to feed your children, most of us here would agree that you should do so; for most people, the value of a child’s life trumps property rights.

    *shutter click* Awww! ;)

    But anyway, this is because we owe a moral duty to dependents. When it’s just you who’s starving, there’s no moral imperative that you should or should not steal the bread, only that you may.

    You can disagree, and I’m not claiming to be “right” in some super-objective sense; but you need to establish why, in your view, a person’s right to bodily autonomy always and automatically trumps the imperative to save another person’s life.

    Did you check the link?

    No, I am not writing “childish things”, and I will not be insulted and demeaned simply because my moral priorities are not identical to yours.

    And a little fairness, please. I said I might do the same as Walton, but nobody criticized me for it.

  434. #434 Dianne
    February 26, 2010

    Those already adapted to the wild are able to pursue a balance of life and freedom as they choose, and if they can manage to sneak into Jadehawk’s house to eat her crumbs, they’re living far better than any caged mouse.

    Ok, if you say so, but…How do people kill mice they find in their house?
    1. Live traps. A few people release the mice into fields later, but most just toss them into the garbage-indeed, the instructions on the trap are to throw it into the garbage when full. Then they starve.
    2. Glue traps. The best option for a glue trapped mouse is that someone bangs it over the head. Not a fun ending, but better than starvation.
    3. Poisoning with warfarin. Leads to massive internal bleeding. I’ve seen people die of a similar problem (lack of ability to clot, though not due to poisoning). It’s not a nice way to go.
    4. Arsenic poisoning. Death due to GI distress. Not fun.
    5. Traps that break the neck. Eh, quick if it works right. Slow and painful if not.

    And what happens to a mouse that avoids humans? It dies of starvation, often, since mice breeding is limited by food supply, or is eaten alive. Why is this better than life in a lab?

  435. #435 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 26, 2010

    SGBM:

    Good lord, I’m not arguing against your definition of torture, I’m arguing against your concept of threats!

    A bunch of masked creeps banging on your windows at night is threatening and it is meant to be threatening – even on Hallowe’en.
    What the hell do you think their “intent” was? Pranks? Misguided street theatre?
    It’s a little different than going about your business “while Black”.
    So it’s not A THREAT ™. You win. BFD.

    BTW, when I wrote “Gotcha”, I meant (sarcastically) “Yep, I understand.”
    I didn’t think that I had “gotcha” in the sense of a win. You are obviously King of splitting hairs to the molecular scale.

  436. #436 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    Dianne: Fair enough, I acknowledged that my scenario was not medically accurate. It’s meant to be a thought-experiment to illustrate a moral dilemma. In real life, there would probably be other options available besides stealing someone’s kidney; but I’m asking everyone to consider what they would do if there were no other choices.

  437. #437 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    strange gods,

    Did you check the link?

    Yes. I was replying to negentropyeater, not to you.

    I will, however, consider your comments on the earlier thread, as they pertain directly to this discussion.

    As for the 45 minute question response, I’m shocked. You wouldn’t force someone to stay in a bed for 45 minutes so that another person could live?

    I thought about it again, and still I would not. I believe that slavery makes life substantially less worth living. We are not just taking time and work, we are taking part of the self.

    45 minutes isn’t much. But how will it stop there? If we can do it today, why can’t we force that person into slavery tomorrow, and the next day, for the rest of their lives? There are a lot of people who could use 45 minutes of your time, often more productively than you would like to spend it.

    I understand your argument, but I don’t agree. I think you’re using a very expansive definition of “slavery” here; it’s one I would not be surprised at from a Rothbardian anarchocapitalist, but it’s very strange coming from a socialist.

    Let’s work with the hypothetical scenario in your argument: forcing someone to stay in a bed for 45 minutes so that another person could live. If this is “45 minutes of slavery”, then every other circumstance in which we are coerced for the benefit of others is also “slavery”. This would make taxation “slavery” too, since, if you earn an income, you spend part of your working life earning money to meet your tax liabilities for the benefit of the state. Compulsory military service would also be “slavery” on this definition, as would jury service, imprisonment or community service for crime, and a whole range of other circumstances in which a person is forced to give up his or her time for the benefit of others. What about compelling an employer to comply with health and safety regulations for the protection of workers? Is this “slavery” too?

    If you choose to call this “slavery”, then that’s up to you. But if we work with this definition of “slavery”, then “slavery” is not always wrong. Certainly, taxation is not always wrong; it is better to tax a person with a high income to fund welfare services, than to let poor children starve in the street. I know very well that you agree with me on this point, since you are a strong supporter of progressive income tax. So if we can legitimately take part of a rich man’s income (and, indirectly, many hours of his working life) to feed the hungry, why can we not take 45 minutes of his time to save a person’s life?

    In short, there are a number of circumstances in which we as a society, probably rightly, force people to surrender part of their time for the benefit of others. There are people (anarchocapitalists of the Murray Rothbard school) who believe that this is wrong, and that all positive duties imposed on a person for the benefit of others amount to “slavery”. That’s an internally coherent argument. But I don’t agree with those people, and neither do you. So I don’t see how your argument is consistent with your overall philosophy.

  438. #438 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Ok, if you say so, but…How do people kill mice they find in their house?

    Jadehawk doesn’t, which was sort of the point. It is possible for wild mice to live much better lives than caged mice, and it’s lazy to insist that this is never so.

    And what happens to a mouse that avoids humans? It dies of starvation, often, since mice breeding is limited by food supply, or is eaten alive. Why is this better than life in a lab?

    It may or may not be better. If the mouse lives well through the summer, then it has had the fulfillment of choosing among its own interests and living without the constant stressor of forced confinement. If the mouse dies in infancy, then it’s worse than being caged.

    But this exclusive focus on welfare is mere paternalism. I can afford to meet another human’s food and shelter needs bountifully while still imprisoning that person. It doesn’t mean that I have the right to do so.

    You are beginning from the premise that you have the right to remove an animal’s freedom “for its own good,” but this premise has not been established.

    And if you are claiming that you have a duty to mice to keep them caged, then we have a duty to take all animals out of the wild and put them all in cages.

  439. #439 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Good lord, I’m not arguing against your definition of torture, I’m arguing against your concept of threats!

    Okay, Bruce, but this was not obvious, since you weren’t presenting an argument about either, merely sneering at what you thought was an inconsistency.

    A bunch of masked creeps banging on your windows at night is threatening and it is meant to be threatening – even on Hallowe’en.
    What the hell do you think their “intent” was? Pranks? Misguided street theatre?

    I’m quite sure their intent was to frighten Dario Ringach. But even deliberately acting in a manner that causes a person to “feel threatened” is not the same as threatening that person. If they had said they were going to kill him that would be threatening him.

    Call it splitting hairs, but the fallacy of equivocation to conflate “feeling threatened” with “being threatened” has been used here to unfairly stigmatize these people as “threatening children” when there’s no evidence that they did anything of the sort. It’s a political tactic, a dishonest demonization of one’s opponent, and I spoke up about it.

    They’re assholes, but they’re not that particular kind of asshole, and the fact that they are assholes doesn’t mean it’s open season to lie and declare them every other sort of asshole.

    BTW, when I wrote “Gotcha”, I meant (sarcastically) “Yep, I understand.”
    I didn’t think that I had “gotcha” in the sense of a win. You are obviously King of splitting hairs to the molecular scale.

    I know what you meant, and that sarcasm still means you thought you said something clever. Because I’m a mean fuck, I’ll meet sarcasm with sarcasm. Can you dish it out but not take it?

    (Back in a minute, Walton. I have a squeaky libertarian mouse to bat around in the other thread.)

  440. #440 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    If your parent, or your partner, or your child was lying on a hospital bed dying of kidney failure, and you had the surgical skill to save him or her but could only do so by stealing someone else’s kidney, would you really not do so? Maybe you wouldn’t. It’s not for me to tell you that you’re “wrong” about something so intensely personal as this. But I find it hard to believe that you would find it such an easy decision as you seem to suggest.

    I find it hard to believe that you would see it as a moral dilemma or a difficult decision not to attack someone with a knife and cut out his organs. Nor would I ever want my life to be saved in that way.

    And a little fairness, please. I said I might do the same as Walton, but nobody criticized me for it.

    In the interest of fairness, I was equally shocked by that.

    I would take, in extremis, a healthy man’s kidney to save a dying child.

    I gave you a link @ #426. What are you waiting for? You’ve said you’re healthy.

  441. #441 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    SC: Maybe I will donate a kidney. But the kidney situation was, as I have explained several times, a thought-experiment to demonstrate a moral point.

    I’m not saying my course of action would necessarily be an absolutely “right” one. I think you may well be right that it would be wrong, from a rational ethical perspective, to take someone’s kidney without their consent even to save a dying child. But I am still fairly sure that if the child were my own, I would do it.

    And I do think it’s something that needs to be discussed, rather than just asserted. As I said to strange gods above, you and I (and most people who are not Randian extremists) agree that a person’s property rights over the fruits of his or her labour are not absolute; we have no moral difficulty in taxing the rich to provide welfare for the poor, and we would not condemn someone who steals bread from a rich man to feed a starving child. Property rights are a social construct, and if we, as a society, decide that saving human life is more important than protecting property rights, we are entitled to abrogate property rights to the extent necessary to save a life.

    It’s worth thinking, therefore, about whether property rights over one’s own body can also be legitimately abrogated by society, in certain cases of absolute necessity to protect the lives of others. I’m not saying they necessarily should be; but I’m saying it should be discussed, as I was trying to achieve in my reply to strange gods above at #439.

    To clarify, I’m not making reference to any hot-button issue here. This has drifted a long way from animal testing, and I’m no longer really talking about abortion either; a foetus, at least an early-term foetus, is not a “person” and its interests do not defeat those of the woman. Rather, I’m talking about the much broader issue of whether bodily autonomy is absolutely inviolable in all cases; that’s what my thought-experiment was designed to explore. I’m perhaps critiquing strange gods’ reasoning in relation to abortion, though not his practical conclusions (with which I broadly agree).

  442. #442 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    In the interest of fairness, I was equally shocked by that.

    That’s better.

    I don’t know, SC. I am full of personal bias for my friends and family, and I have lived a lot of violence which has undoubtedly desensitized me somewhat. Twelve years ago I am sure I would have said “absolutely not,” but I don’t have such confidence today. That I would be wrong to do it I am sure, and I do try to live in such a way that I can respect myself, so there’s the counterweight that indicates to me I might not do it.

  443. #443 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    Ah well, it seems my mouse ran away.

    I understand your argument, but I don’t agree. I think you’re using a very expansive definition of “slavery” here; it’s one I would not be surprised at from a Rothbardian anarchocapitalist, but it’s very strange coming from a socialist.

    It might not sound so strange if you’d study the work of actual socialists more often. Consider that with a broad view of the terms, I could coherently call myself a libertarian socialist, except that those people already calling themselves libertarian socialists are much more libertarian than me, and I don’t want to dilute the meaning that they’ve worked so hard to imbue into the phrase.

    I’ll elaborate on my reasoning, which I regret I did not come back to do for Marc Abian.

    There’s a distinction between working as you choose while having some product of that work forcibly taken away from you, and being forced to work in a manner that you do not choose. Being taxed, and being told which job you must do, are different not only in degree but in kind. Rothbard types would conflate these both as slavery, and if you think you smelled a whiff of my old wingnut you aren’t entirely wrong, but I think I can show that the distinction is important.

    A difference of degree, I have already articulated. “The value of future life is greater than the value of past life. This is evidenced by people invariably spending their money to extend their own lives, exchanging the product of time spent working in the past for more time in the future. And when confronted with estimable terminal conditions, they spend asymmetrically, giving up the savings of many years for the just a few more months of life. So a day of my life tomorrow is worth more than a day of the merchant’s life last week, and should he suddenly find himself destitute, the next day of the merchant’s life is worth more than a day of my life last week.” So even assuming that taxation is a forcible removal of some amount of life — though as I went on to explain, I do not concede this — it’s the relatively less valued past life, compared with being told what you must do for the rest of your more valued future life.

    The difference of kind, I don’t think I’ve articulated here. I had it planned out in my head to reply to Marc, but I didn’t get around to writing it. You’ve observed how often laws are mistaken for morality, how many people interpret anything that’s illegal as morally wrong, and legally required as morally right. It’s my sense that this is an innate cognitive bias of the human mind, one that serves us while we are children dependent upon parents’ authority. If it is innate, it’s going to require 22nd century genetic engineering to eliminate, but even if I’m wrong about that, it’s obviously very widespread for some reason and still difficult to eliminate.

    When the state starts telling people how they have to spend their time, it begins imparting its morality to the people. Unfortunately this happens by accident when people today mistake legality for morality, but at least they are choosing to make their own mistake; if the process was magnified by force, it would be far more widespread and thorough. I find this absolutely deadly, for at least two reasons. First, the state’s morality is extremely Machiavellian. I have seen the morality of those who’ve been taught patriotism but not philosophy, and it is grave. All modern states that I’m aware of hold to a quasi-fascist notion of sovereignty by which the state has the right to exist for the state’s own reasons. Spread that efficiently enough, and the people’s minds will be enslaved, and there will never again be the dimmest hope that humans might peacefully implement a stateless structure. Spread that, and the fire of the human spirit will finally be extinguished; the people will finally and truly love Big Brother. (You have read the book, yes? These references are not just oblique Wikipedia summaries to you?)

    Second, even if I’m wrong about the first, telling people what they must do with their lives simply robs them of their ability to decide for themselves what their lives should be, what they should mean. The results could be relatively benign compared with my feared fascism, but it would still be a violent imposition of existentialist bad faith. We already have no free will, only the ability to act in more or less accordance with our values: “a man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills.” Our freedom is only the freedom to accept responsibility for our choices, but with this limited freedom comes the only meaning that exists in this world, the meaning we make. We can take responsibility and thus decide that our lives shall have meaning, decide that our lives are important enough to take seriously. But if we are forcibly deprived of even this opportunity to act in accordance with our own values by choice of occupation and volunteer work — the primary means by which we decide the utility of our lives to ourselves and others — then we are deprived of this meaning. And if all the tragedy in the world remains, but the opportunity to find meaning is lost, then all is for naught. The world would be only a living hell, suicide the last opportunity for freedom.

    Taxation in a social democracy amounts to repaying one’s debts. What the community did for you, the community may legitimately demand that you pay back, or pay forward. This much does not register as slavery to a reasonable person, considering that there is also the opportunity to vote one’s values and decide what these legitimate expectations should be. There is the requirement to pay, but no requirement that you’ll work this or that job in order to pay. The choice to find a meaningful course in life is left up to you. But to be told that not only must you pay, you’ll do this particular work for us in order to pay? That’s indentured servitude.

    There’s more I could say, but I’m afraid I’ll start to ramble. I think I have delineated taxation from slavery as different in both degree and kind, and I think I’ve explained why such slavery is not just brutal but absolutely spirit-crushing. Now here’s an admission you may appreciate, since I’ve never admitted anything like it in your presence. Marc Abian’s question was far and away the most difficult I’ve ever encountered at Pharyngula, and — for my own reasons, though, not yours — I’m not convinced that I am being consistent. Out here in the sunlight it appears so, but I feel like there’s something lurking in the long dark night.

  444. #444 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    strange gods,

    There’s a distinction between working as you choose while having some product of that work forcibly taken away from you, and being forced to work in a manner that you do not choose. Being taxed, and being told which job you must do, are different not only in degree but in kind… telling people what they must do with their lives simply robs them of their ability to decide for themselves what their lives should be, what they should mean. The results could be relatively benign compared with my feared fascism, but it would still be a violent imposition of existentialist bad faith.

    Taxation in a social democracy amounts to repaying one’s debts. What the community did for you, the community may legitimately demand that you pay back, or pay forward. This much does not register as slavery to a reasonable person, considering that there is also the opportunity to vote one’s values and decide what these legitimate expectations should be. There is the requirement to pay, but no requirement that you’ll work this or that job in order to pay. The choice to find a meaningful course in life is left up to you. But to be told that not only must you pay, you’ll do this particular work for us in order to pay? That’s indentured servitude.

    Of course I agree that taxation and involuntary servitude, while both are coercive interferences with individual autonomy, are different both in degree and in kind. The latter is both a greater, and a qualitatively distinct, restriction on liberty; and I don’t disagree with your reasoning supporting this conclusion.

    But I don’t think the line between the two types of liberty-deprivation is as rigid as you suggest. I don’t think a very short, and relatively non-arduous, term of compulsory service necessarily has the violent liberty-destroying effect to which you refer. I am not a fan of compulsory jury service, for instance, but I would not go so far as to call it “slavery”. It is aimed at ensuring justice and fair trials; and while I’m very much unconvinced that jury trials are actually useful in this regard, I am happy to acknowledge that, in the abstract, my community is entitled to require me to perform this kind of service to protect a key interest of the community. The cost to me, in terms of time and autonomy, is relatively slight.

    Similarly, there are other obligations which I would ordinarily denounce as illegitimate restrictions on my liberty, but which I would accept in an extreme situation where the obligations in question were absolutely necessary to protect vital interests of the community. For example, I oppose conscription or forced military service in almost all situations, and believe that the imposition of such an obligation in peacetime should be viewed as a violation of human rights. But I would likely accept conscription, in extreme circumstances, if it were the only way to ensure national survival and the protection of basic civilised values (as was arguably the case, for instance, in the Second World War).

    So, returning to your thought-experiment: I don’t see that being forced to submit to the control of another for 45 minutes, in order to save another person’s life, is intrinsically liberty-destroying in a way that taxation is not. I agree that taxation is qualitatively different from compulsory service. But the distinction is not absolute; and I would argue that if we accept the state’s right to impose onerous financial burdens on us for the good of the community, we can also accept an obligation to undergo a brief and transient deprivation of liberty in order to save another person’s life.

    This doesn’t necessarily support my position regarding the kidney situation, of course; obviously, having one of your organs ripped out of your body by force is a much more profoundly liberty-destroying act than is being forced to lie in a bed for 45 minutes. And I’m far from certain that I’m actually right on the kidney question; it’s one of the most challenging moral dilemmas I’ve ever sought to address, and I entirely reserve the right to change my mind. But I am seeking to establish a much more modest claim – namely, that bodily autonomy is not necessarily absolute and inviolable, and that forcing someone to undergo a physical inconvenience is not necessarily morally wrong in all cases, where the desired end is to save another person’s life.

  445. #445 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    That’s better.

    That’s condescending. :) A fence hit my car, I was on my way out, and I assumed you would clarify. Which you now have. And I’m still shocked.

    But I am still fairly sure that if the child were my own, I would do it.

    And I’m postive that that is horrifying. And very glad you’re not in medical school. (By the way, the possibility of acts like this are why safeguards are in place in the donation system such that people don’t know who the matches are.)

    we have no moral difficulty in taxing the rich to provide welfare for the poor, and we would not condemn someone who steals bread from a rich man to feed a starving child.

    Actually, that’s pretty new for you. In any case, I would condemn people who forcibly starved someone else to death (or at risk of death) to feed a child. I’m amazed that you would equate taxing people with operating on them forcibly and taking their organs.

    It’s worth thinking, therefore, about whether property rights over one’s own body can also be legitimately abrogated by society, in certain cases of absolute necessity to protect the lives of others. I’m not saying they necessarily should be; but I’m saying it should be discussed, as I was trying to achieve in my reply to strange gods above at #439.

    Our bodies aren’t our property. They are us. You have no right to me.

    Rather, I’m talking about the much broader issue of whether bodily autonomy is absolutely inviolable in all cases;

    And I’m saying that’s not a case that I recognize as a moral dilemma. And that it’s a matter of personal autonomy. [Damn - I've posted long Wendy Brown quotes here before, but the files are on my old computer...]

    By the way, Walton, I was mentioning the movie Dirty Pretty Things recently. Have you seen it?

    [One of the most difficult choices I've ever heard about, and now can't find online, so my memory may be amiss - perhaps 'Tis or JeffreyD would know...): When the people at Bletchley Park had broken the German code, there was an early incident in which they had to let the Nazis sink a ship because warning the ship would have alerted the Germans to the fact that they had broken the code. I can't imagine having to do that. I also remember asking you once about the woman in the finale of MASH, at a time when you were condemning infanticide in rather absolute terms.]

  446. #446 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    Actually, that’s pretty new for you. In any case, I would condemn people who forcibly starved someone else to death (or at risk of death) to feed a child. I’m amazed that you would equate taxing people with operating on them forcibly and taking their organs.

    Just to clarify, a premise of my hypothetical dilemma was that the removal of the kidney would not kill the person from whom it was removed. I have no idea if this is medically accurate or not (it doesn’t particularly matter, since, as I said, it’s purely a thought-experiment).

    And, as I said to strange gods (in the post just above yours, probably just as you were posting), I’m far from certain that I’m actually right about the “kidney dilemma”. It’s one of the most difficult moral dilemmas with which I could imagine a person having to grapple, and I entirely reserve the right to change my mind about it. I was proposing it as a thought-experiment in order to have a discussion, and challenge myself to think more deeply about this issue.

  447. #447 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    By the way, Walton, I was mentioning the movie Dirty Pretty Things recently. Have you seen it?

    No, I’ve never even heard of it. Sorry.

  448. #448 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    Of course I agree that taxation and involuntary servitude, while both are coercive interferences with individual autonomy,

    Oh, please. Capitalism is a system that deprives the vast portion of humanity of real individual autonomy.

    I’m sorry. I can’t help but be reminded of this (don’t know if Walton or others there can watch it):

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/17/daily-show-destroys-laura_n_395427.html

  449. #449 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    That’s condescending. :)

    Playfully so. I originally wrote “That’s better. :)” but it looked even more condescending to me at the moment, so I dropped the smiley.

    A fence hit my car, I was on my way out, and I assumed you would clarify. Which you now have. And I’m still shocked.

    But, but, you knew I was a sinister Leninesque demagogue!

    Seriously, that’s all I can say. I recognize the action would be wrong, so I have no desire to try and justify it.

  450. #450 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    Oh, please. Capitalism is a system that deprives the vast portion of humanity of real individual autonomy.

    Even if true, I don’t see how that’s material to the specific moral question we were discussing. I can’t carry on multiple discussions at once on the same thread. (I did, in any case, reply to some of your remarks about capitalism on the endless thread, though you might have missed my post there.)

  451. #451 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    Just to clarify, a premise of my hypothetical dilemma was that the removal of the kidney would not kill the person from whom it was removed. I have no idea if this is medically accurate or not (it doesn’t particularly matter, since, as I said, it’s purely a thought-experiment).

    Well, of course it’s not medically accurate in the sense that a nephrectomy* (which involves removal of something a person could potentially need in the future) without risk of death is not possible. Any more than a non-risky pregnancy or childbirth. I don’t see how a thought experiment with impossible premises is useful.

    No, I’ve never even heard of it. Sorry.

    No need to apologize. You should rent it.

    *Which I think is extremely safe, as surgeries go.

  452. #452 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 26, 2010

    I promise if you had bacon and my wife needed it , I would kill you for it.

  453. #453 Carlie
    February 26, 2010

    I think part of the difficulty with Walton’s scenario is that a lot of people involved would have SC’s response (me included): if I were the one who was about to die, I wouldn’t want my loved one to take the kidney for me. That makes it nearly impossible to envision a scenario where we would be driven to take it for someone else.

  454. #454 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    Even if true, I don’t see how that’s material to the specific moral question we were discussing.

    It’s completely material. You’re talking about taxation within capitalism as “coercive [interference] with individual autonomy” in a way that doesn’t understand individual autonomy in any way that’s meaningful to me. It’s not simply about momentary bodily autonomy. Autonomy (productive, reproductive, political) means far more than that.

    I can’t carry on multiple discussions at once on the same thread. (I did, in any case, reply to some of your remarks about capitalism on the endless thread, though you might have missed my post there.)

    OK, yes, I did jump in. I’ll leave you to your discussion with strange gods.

    (I did, in any case, reply to some of your remarks about capitalism on the endless thread, though you might have missed my post there.)

    I must have, as I thought mine was last except for something very short from you.

  455. #455 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    But, but, you knew I was a sinister Leninesque demagogue!

    I thought that was truth machine. :)

  456. #456 Walton
    February 26, 2010

    SC: Ah, sorry, I didn’t see your reply to me at #519 on the William Shatner thread. Mea culpa. I will reply soon on the current endless thread.

  457. #457 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    I promise if you had bacon and my wife needed it , I would kill you for it.

    Whew. I’m safe!

  458. #458 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 26, 2010

    Good, because I’d hate to have to kill you.

  459. #459 strange gods before me ?
    February 26, 2010

    I thought that was truth machine. :)

    Both of us, but once the idiot realized we were separate people, he decided that I was the worse of the two.

    Comrade,

    Of course I agree that taxation and involuntary servitude, while both are coercive interferences with individual autonomy, are different both in degree and in kind. The latter is both a greater, and a qualitatively distinct, restriction on liberty; and I don’t disagree with your reasoning supporting this conclusion.

    So I’ve escaped the suggestion that I’m a closet Rothbardian?

    I don’t think a very short, and relatively non-arduous, term of compulsory service necessarily has the violent liberty-destroying effect to which you refer.

    Then I’ll repeat the question I asked Marc, stripped of the term slavery that he and I had agreed upon.

    “45 minutes isn’t much. But how will it stop there? If we can do it today, why can’t we force that person into compulsory service tomorrow, and the next day, for the rest of their lives? There are a lot of people who could use 45 minutes of your time, often more productively than you would like to spend it.”

    It’s worth noting that jury duty, as practiced, does not have this problem that Marc’s 45 minutes of dialysis had. Jury duty happens rarely more than once in an individual’s lifetime, usually not even once. Neither is it in practice compulsory. You just have to say “of course the defendant is guilty; the police wouldn’t have arrested an innocent man,” and the defense attorney will immediately have you tossed out of the selection pool.

    This came from an earlier discussion comparing late-term abortion to infanticide, where I noted that birth functions as a bright line, such that we can outlaw infanticide without endangering abortion rights.

    As for compulsory military service, I still hold that it’s slavery, full stop. If there’s ever a time when it can be justified anyway, it would have to prevent even greater slavery.

    But the distinction is not absolute; and I would argue that if we accept the state’s right to impose onerous financial burdens on us for the good of the community, we can also accept an obligation to undergo a brief and transient deprivation of liberty in order to save another person’s life.

    The distinction is that in the case of forced dialysis the state must take ownership of the person and direct their physical choice in the most valued present moment, while in the case of taxation the state takes ownership only of products of past labor which was chosen freely. (Here I’m excluding my usual objection that labor is not chosen freely under capitalism, because this argument for taxation is intended to be extended to non-capitalist systems.)

  460. #460 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlARhxz_EZad2_PPNvQmVelK-U8LVLTYeA
    February 26, 2010

    Been lurking in this thread, thought I’d say a few things:

    *If being “forced to submit to the control of another for 45 minutes” is not slavery, then how long does that have to happen for, for it to become slavery?

    *I don’t think anyone can truly say that they know what they would do in Walton’s very artificial situation whereby a loved one is dying, and interfering with a stranger’s bodily autonomy would save them, or in similar situations. The human mind can be a scary thing. I probably wouldn’t do it, but I’d be at least a little tempted. However, this is precisely the reason we shouldn’t base morality on decisions we are emotionally invested upon. It would be utterly immoral for someone in that situation to do it.

    strange gods, if you’re still here, two questions:

    1. What is the symbol beside your name?

    2. I don’t know your exact opinion on animal testing, since it has not been set out precisely in this thread, but from what I can glean, you certainly seem to be against a fair chunk of it. Before I actually get to the question, I just want to state that reading this thread and bits and pieces elsewhere this week, my opinion on animal testing has become blurred. So I am asking you this question, to try and understand myself better in some sense, if you see what I mean.

    Now to the question. There are a myriad of ways for mankind to interact and interfere with non-human animals. One justification usually given for (at least some kinds of) animal testing, is that it generally benefits mankind, by allowing us to live longer lives (leading fuller lives, and by that I don’t mean cosmetics, is a more difficult issue, but it’s easier to get a grip on the morality of that aspect, if you can get a grip on the leading longer lives part). Another way to interfere with animals are if you are starving to death, and you come across an animal, and kill it as self-preservation. This does seem remarkably similar to Walton’s gedankenexperiment (couldn’t resist using that word), only now you are the one dying, and the one whose fate hangs in the balance is a non-human animal. An interesting legal case version of this which I’ve just remembered is R v Dudley and Stephens.

    There are other ways to interfere with animals such as pesticide use. And again that can come down to self-preservation. And it seems, animal testing could be argued for as self-preservation in some sense. But then how long do we go on for? We already live many years longer than most of our ancestors did. Maybe we will find treatments for different diseases, and in a hundred years the average life expectancy will be 200. How long is long enough? And if someone said, that 200 was long enough to live for, so no more animal testing, then why not the same about all interference with animals? Why not say to 200 year olds: “No, you shouldn’t eat that food grown with pesticides” (I appreciate that by then, we may well have perfected food grown in the lab, but ignore that scenario). This is beginning to sound like a specific Futurama episode, although I forget which one. I am not endorsing that just to be clear.

    Okay, all of the above was a very confused stream of consciousness. But my point is that it’s virtually impossible not to interfere with animals in some sense. Just a part of living in civilization. Minimizing that interference (say by not eating meat) is something I can’t argue with, the question is what counts as a necessary interference with non-human animals? How should we go about minimizing any interference? Where is the line drawn between things that are justifiable self-preservation, and things that benefit mankind but aren’t justified (in relation to animals of course)? Is there a line between eating an animal to stop yourself starving to death, and using animals in experiments to, say find treatments for cancer?

    That probably all came across as naive. I’d appreciate it if you (or in fact anyone else) could let me know your thoughts on the above, although I understand if you don’t have time.

    Or don’t have a clue what the hell I’m on about, ’cause I barely do!

  461. #461 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    Ah well, it seems my mouse ran away.

    did you leave the cage door open?

    as to mice “desiring” “freedom”…

    too many abstract concepts to deal with without tremendous amounts of anthropomorphism, but I DO have an amusing anecdote…

    When I was 18, a buddy of mine and I were hiking in Joshua Tree Monument (Mojave Desert, CA), and discovered these very cute little grasshopper mice would invade our camp at night looking for scraps.

    They are quite small, maybe a 4 cm body length and a 5 cm long tail, with a little tuft of fluff at the end.

    they also hop like tiny kangaroos.

    Well, seemed like they might make a good pet, since they appeared tame and all (they would hop right over your feet and eat out of your had if you were still enough).

    So, we decided to capture one and bring it back to the house.

    I made a nice enclosure for it with sand and rocks and sticks and whatnot brought back from the desert, and used a 4cm thick 2x3x2′ Styrofoam cooler as the container.

    It seemed to settle in fine, and was eating well enough, so I decided to leave for a week on a trip to Catalina for some fish research I was working on at the time. I left my buddy in charge of care and feeding.

    Well, he had work of course, so usually would come by at night to check on the critter.

    2 days after i left, he came back to find the following scene:

    The little mouse had chewed a hole clean through the styrofoam container (that’s nearly 2″ of solid styrofoam), and chewed through EVERY electrical cord of any kind in the room. Had somehow climbed up to the top of my desk, jumped up on the venetian blinds, and proceeded to chew alternate support cords on each side, so the whole thing now looked like a diagonal switch-back trail.

    Then, it proceeded to burrow it’s way INSIDE my mattress and make a nice nest for itself there, so my buddy had mistakenly thought it escaped from my room.

    I came back to the devastation, noted the dust under the bed, and quickly figured out the critter was there in the mattress. I had to cut the mattress apart with a knife to get it out.

    Total cost of one 1 ounce mouse on destructive rampage over 24hr period: 900.00

    Did it want “freedom”? I doubt it, but I tell ya what, I figure it won it nonetheless.

    We drove it back to the desert!

  462. #462 https://me.yahoo.com/a/w29ugv8UzvTZa70A0N8BmkArb3U5xA--#928c1
    February 27, 2010

    [QUOTE]
    But doesn’t that just confirm that in certain important areas humans are substantially different from other animals?

    Non-human animals: not mentally equipped to make moral judgements.

    Human animals: are mentally equipped to make moral judgements, and so can declare that what applies to them doesn’t apply to other animals.
    [/QUOTE]
    Yes, but its a matter of exercise. Humans have a capacity to self reflect that most other animals cant match. (I’m giving some primates the benefit of the doubt here). However the issue isn’t whether the capacity is there, but whether its used.

    We are capable of feeling empathy for the creature we are going to consume, and go out of our way to ensure that its death is painless and quick. But if we choose not to exercise that ability, then it may as well not be there. If we choose not to take extra measures to alleviate suffering on this planet (even though we are mentally capable of carrying out these actions), then that capability may as well not be there. We cannot argue to be treated differently based on our additional capabilities, if we largely let those capabilities lie dormant.

    This doesn’t just reflect our treatment of animals, but of ourselves as well. Each human is capable of understanding the moral and social implications of their actions, but often people just choose to ignore it. For instance, we excuse and tolerate many manifestations of greed and destruction, and rationalise them away by arguing that the person was driven by the profit motive. We acknoweledge that certain behaiviours are problematic, but we treat the perpertrators as if they can’t, or have no obligation to, relfect on their decisions.

    In short, if I’m at the mercy of hyenas, I do not expect hyenas to make my death painless, because they do not (as far as we know) have the mental capacity to ponder the ramifications of their actions to me.

    If I’m at the mercy of another human being, I know that that human being (unless they are a socio/psychopath) has the capacity to ponder the ramifications of their action, and to act on that.

    @Nerd of Redhead,

    If you demand that there be an alternative, then shouldn’t an alternative to slavery have been proposed before it was abolished then? The whole idea that the moral legitimacy of a particular act is predicated on there being a viable alternative is rather silly.

  463. #463 strange gods before me ?
    February 27, 2010

    Google user at #462,

    I was very busy today, but I’ll have a substantive reply for you tomorrow. (Are you still here?)

    BTW, do I know you by any name that you used here before PZ turned on commenting?

  464. #464 strange gods before me ?
    February 27, 2010

    er, registration for commenting, that is

  465. #465 strange gods before me ?
    February 27, 2010

    and of course that was supposed to be addressed to “Google user at #460,”

    See, my brain is all worn out today.

  466. #466 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlARhxz_EZad2_PPNvQmVelK-U8LVLTYeA
    February 27, 2010

    I was very busy today, but I’ll have a substantive reply for you tomorrow. (Are you still here?)

    BTW, do I know you by any name that you used here before PZ turned on commenting?

    Yes to both questions. We’ve definitely conversed in Pharyngula thread(s) at some point in the past, but, at least for now, I prefer to keep my anonymity. If it helps, you may give me a name for ease of reference (so long as it’s not offensive)!

  467. #467 strange gods before me ?
    March 2, 2010

    Hello U8LVLTYeA. I’m sorry about the delay.

    Your second question is vast in scope and I can’t pretend to have all the answers. So I’ll thank you for the first, easy one. The symbol by my name is a sacred syllable in the Dharmic religions, signifying the unity of the godhead and the human. I am using it here as a silly representation of my OM.

    People naturally default to the ancient creed that might makes right whenever we don’t know how else to justify ourselves. Here it is articulated as “human animals are mentally equipped to make moral judgments, and so can declare that what applies to them doesn’t apply to other animals.” This stance, that we get to decide who deserves moral consideration simply because we define morality, is of course the stance of the Roman Catholic Church, and rightfully criticized by atheists in other contexts.

    Even so, it’s understandable why people are so eager to make this mistake. Walton’s dilemma is illustrative here, as I can similarly recognize that while animal experimentation is wrong — as it relies on no justification but violent force to declare another’s interests unimportant — other people are being motivated by the same chauvinist attachment to one’s own that I am prone to. Carrie Poppy says it well at #354, but it is hard to sit in judgment.

    Regarding interference with animals, you’re right that experimentation has to be considered in the broader context of all interference. And what is the point of opposing animal experimentation? Surely it must be for the sake of reducing violence and suffering. But toward this broader goal, there are more productive ways to spend one’s time and energy.

    Of all the violence humans inflict upon nonhuman animals, controlled scientific experimentation impacts limited numbers, in limited scope. The constant insinuation that all scientists take the utmost care for their subjects is of course a fantasy; there are sadists throughout the world, in every profession, so there are undoubtedly scientists who enjoy hurting animals for excitement. But even assuming that sadists are present in the same proportion as the general population, there are relatively few scientists in the world, performing relatively few experiments on relatively few animals. Relative to the food industry, it’s a difference of thousands to billions. If you, U8LVLTYeA, are interested in reducing the harm you cause, by far the most productive choice you can make is to cease purchasing (and cease accepting as gifts) meat, fish, eggs, dairy, leather, wool and fur — and then to speak casually to your friends and acquaintances about why you’re making this change. Thanks to modern supply-chain software that micromanages the purchase and production of consumer goods, this choice can prevent the breeding and thus the deaths of thousands of animals throughout your lifetime. You can do it in incremental steps if necessary: “go vegan for one meal a day for a week or two. And then go to two meals in weeks three and four, and three meals in weeks five and six.” The American Dietetic Association recognizes a well-planned vegan diet to be as healthful as a well-planned omnivorous diet.

    Now, I realize I did not address many of your points. This is because I tend to concern myself with what is near and immediate. That’s not to say that they aren’t good or important questions, but when I haven’t been able to envision a resolution in the foreseeable future, I haven’t spent much time more thinking about an issue. Especially with “and if someone said, that 200 was long enough to live for, so no more animal testing, then why not the same about all interference with animals,” I think you’ve found a very powerful question. Please let me know if there’s anything I’m overlooking which you need addressed.

  468. #468 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 2, 2010

    If you demand that there be an alternative, then shouldn’t an alternative to slavery have been proposed before it was abolished then? The whole idea that the moral legitimacy of a particular act is predicated on there being a viable alternative is rather silly.

    People making the animal research = slavery analogy like the one above and in other places should think more deeply about it.

  469. #469 strange gods before me ?
    March 2, 2010

    In the case of recent chattel slavery in the Americas, it was precisely the declaration of some humans as animals which permitted their slavery. This equation requires as a predicate the assertion that we have the right to do whatever we want with animals.

    Whether it’s a productive analogy for animal rights activism is a separate question. I hold that it’s not, that it’s more of a distraction, which is why I’ve spoken of slavery here only in regard to humans acting upon humans.

    But there’s absolutely zero evidence that the glaring whiteness of the animal rights movement has anything to do with that analogy. People of color are also not well-represented in the gay rights movement, the free software movement, the feminist movement, and the atheist movement.

    For that matter, people of color are not well-represented in your pro-test movement.

    These other movements can not be explained by any analogy to slavery. DrugMonkey’s suggestion fails to explain any of these other data points. An explanation which accounts for all of them is that people of color tend to be poor and so have little free time for issues which do not immediately impact their lives.

  470. #470 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 2, 2010

    For that matter, people of color are not well-represented in your pro-test movement.

    Well it’s not “my” pro-test movement but they (the pro-test movement) aren’t making the analogy. The animal rights activist folks (well some of them) are.

    Including the Jewish holocaust comparison / analogy.

    Frankly I agree with your assessment of the “whiteness” of a movement being a poor talking point. But I don’t disagree with the on target criticism of the comparison to the very real human rights issues of slavery, gay rights (since you brought it up), and the holocaust.

  471. #471 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 2, 2010

    gay rights since you brought it up)

    Just to be clear. I didn’t mean to sound flippant on that issue but a re-read makes it seem like I was.

  472. #472 Walton
    March 2, 2010

    strange gods,

    Sorry for forgetting to reply earlier; I did read your post at #459, but have been massively busy and sleep-deprived, and have not had the mental energy to compose a proper response.

    I think we perhaps need to agree to disagree on this one. I think it’s intrinsically a very difficult issue, where one has to make stark choices between , on the one hand, respecting the liberty and autonomy of the individual, and, on the other hand, protecting human life. And I do think you’re drawing the distinction between different types of state-imposed obligations too sharply; taxation is certainly far less intrusive than forced labour, but the distinction is not so absolute, in my view, as you are perhaps portraying it.

    In the end, my position (which is actually not a very libertarian one) is essentially this: as we accept the necessity of the state existing, we therefore accept a certain amount of coercive intrusion into our liberty, in order to secure other valuable goods. We can, and do, debate how this balance should be struck; indeed, this is what the bulk of political debate is about, in some form or another. But as long as we accept in principle that the state can impose obligations on one individual in order to save another’s life – which it does, for example, by spending tax money on healthcare – then I don’t see that we necessarily need rule out, a priori, the possibility that restrictions on a person’s bodily autonomy can be justified in extreme circumstances to save lives. I’m not saying such restrictions can necessarily be justified – and to some extent I was playing devil’s advocate, and exploring the possibilities, in the earlier discussion – but I think it should be discussed. We shouldn’t simply treat it as self-evident that respect for bodily autonomy always trumps all other moral imperatives; we should be willing to engage with, even if we ultimately reject, the possibility that one person’s bodily autonomy can, in some extreme circumstance, legitimately be violated to save another’s life.

  473. #473 Walton
    March 2, 2010

    Addendum to #472, as an aside:

    I had my last criminology tutorial yesterday, and after I’d finished explaining one of the points in my essay (which was something along the lines of how crime is not solely a responsibility of the individual offender, but is also a product of structural social and economic conditions and of the oppression and marginalisation of certain groups, hence why society as a whole owes a moral obligation to compensate victims of crime), my tutor looked at me quizzically, and said “That’s a very statist view, for a libertarian.”

    I wish I were not so fickle politically. I’m losing track of all the different ideologies to which I’ve subscribed, at various times, over the last few years. :-) Perhaps I’m just impressionable and easily led.

  474. #474 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlARhxz_EZad2_PPNvQmVelK-U8LVLTYeA
    March 3, 2010

    Strange gods:

    Thanks for the reply. Hopefully I’ll have time to read it and respond in the next 24 hours.

  475. #475 Stephen Wells
    March 4, 2010

    @Walton: soon you’ll find that you don’t actually have to subscribe to an ideology at all. Consider people’s ideas, keep what works, reject what doesn’t. You do not have to be an -ist or an -ian.

  476. #476 llewelly
    March 4, 2010

    Stephen Wells | March 4, 2010 6:49 AM:

    soon you’ll find that you don’t actually have to subscribe to an ideology at all. Consider people’s ideas, keep what works, reject what doesn’t. You do not have to be an -ist or an -ian.

    Dangerous nonsense. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. That kind of do-whatever-feels-good moral relativism will inevitably lead to long hair, drug abuse, perversion, homosexuality, more perversion, Dungeons and Dragons, Satanism, and finally, ATHEISM!

  477. #477 badgersdaughter
    March 4, 2010

    Hey, I have long hair, played D&D, indulged in minor sorts of perversion, and am an atheist… I somehow managed to miss out on the drug abuse, homosexuality, “more perversion,” and Satanism (unless you count the time I worked for an art studio that was run by Scientological principles).

    Do you guys hold remedial courses?

  478. #478 badgersdaughter
    March 4, 2010

    Oh, FUCK that. Ideological purity is for Leninists.

  479. #479 badgersdaughter
    March 4, 2010

    sigh.

    my tutor looked at me quizzically, and said “That’s a very statist view, for a libertarian.”

    Oh, FUCK that. Ideological purity is for Leninists.

    Keep right on recognizing reality, smart little brother.

  480. #480 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlARhxz_EZad2_PPNvQmVelK-U8LVLTYeA
    March 5, 2010

    strange gods, if you’re still reading this, I apologize for not replying sooner, but I haven’t yet found the time to sit down properly and compose a reply. But I do intend to nonetheless.

  481. #481 BB
    March 10, 2010

    Dear PZ Myers,

    You argue that animal research is justified because it benefits some humans. This is a very weak ethical argument.

    The same logic was used by Dr. J. Marion Sims, “the father of gynecology”, to justify his experiments, which helped him to develop innovative techniques and instruments that have revolutionized women’s reproductive health. Dr. Sims? research involved operating on enslaved women. For example, between 1845 and 1849, Sims performed over 34 experimental operations on a single woman for a prolapsed uterus. After suffering unimaginable pain, many of his subjects died of infection.

    If it is immoral to use non-consenting humans for medical research, for the same reason, it is immoral to use other animals. Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection proved that human beings evolve according to the same evolutionary dynamics as non-human animals. Darwin showed that the difference between non-human and human animals is one of degree, not of kind. Through evolutionary theory, genetics, and neurophysiology, many scientists are providing strong evidence that non-human animals feel and think in ways similar to ours, and that they are capable of experiencing not only simple emotions such as fear, but far more subtle and complex emotions such as love, grief, joy, pride, shame and loneliness.

    “Atrocities are not less atrocities when they occur in laboratories and are called medical research”, wrote George Bernard Shaw. Our morality is hypocritical if it excludes other sentient beings because, as Jeremy Bentham argued, “The question is not, Can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But, can they suffer?” We have no right to use any sentient individual as a means to an end.

    Suppose Homo erectus, or Homo habilis were living today. Would you say it would be justified to sacrifice members of these species to help your daughter? Where do you draw a line? If you are so willing to sacrifice kittens and other non-human animals to help your daughter, I am not so convinced that you would not be willing to sacrifice poor children in the developing countries, if that would help your daughter.

    Your entire argument is based on selfishness and prejudice.

    Sincerely,
    Barbara I. Biel

  482. #482 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    If you are so willing to sacrifice kittens and other non-human animals to help your daughter, I am not so convinced that you would not be willing to sacrifice poor children in the developing countries, if that would help your daughter.

    And here is why its hard to take you seriously (among other things).

  483. #483 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 10, 2010

    BB, I don’t see you and your family volunteering to be the first use test for various new drugs, devices, and methods. Personally, that makes you a hypocrite, and someone who has nothing cogent to say on the subject. Until you can offer a rational alternatives to animal testing, your screed isn’t worth the electrons it was written on. Offer rational and workable alternatives, and scientist and physicians will be all over them. But you offer nothing.

  484. #484 BB
    March 10, 2010

    Legion wrote:
    ?What lies at the root of claims by many animal rights activists is this: experimenting on animals is ethically unfair to the animals.?

    That is correct.

    Legion wrote:
    ?They are right, of course, but this sentiment reflects a naive world view that presupposes that life in the universe is supposed to be fair. This is simply not true.?

    What does life in the universe have to do with our morality?

    Legion wrote:
    ?If we can judge by observation, the universe is, at best, wholly indifferent to our sense of fairness. So yes, it may be unfair to sew a kittens eyes shut, but then it’s equally unfair to find oneself ravaged by malevolent microbes, who are, after all, just another species who finds a human host suitable for their purpose.?

    So should we just do away with our morality?

    Legion wrote:
    ?We may not like it, but that’s just how the universe rolls.?

    Again, what does the amoral universe have to do with human morality?

    Legion wrote:
    ?What we are left with then is a moral mandate to engage in unfair behavior toward our fellow species, only where a greater good can be achieved and to do so with as much compassion as we can muster. This is part of what it means to be a member species on planet Earth.?

    Why only toward our fellow species? Why not just towards our fellow family members, or our fellow ethnic group members, or our fellow countrymen/women?

    Legion wrote:
    ?Finally, for those arguing against animal experimentation on the grounds that it is morally unfair, try this thought experiment to determine just how serious you are about being moral:
    Do you eat plants and/or animal foods? – JUST PLANT FOOD.
    Do you live in a city, town, suburb, or rural area? – SUBURB
    Do you drive a car or take public transportation? – YES
    Have you ever benefited from medical science? – YES
    Do you use pesticides? -YES
    DO you contribute to global climate change? – YES

    Legion wrote:
    ?If you answered yes to any of the above, then, by your own definition, you have engaged in unfair and immoral practices at the expense of other animals.?

    That is not my definition. My definition is: respect basic individual rights of all sentient individuals, or, do not use anyone as a means to your ends.

    T. Bruce McNeely wrote: ?I’m basically just adding to the chorus of “I wish there was another way, but there isn’t, and human beings come first”.?

    And a Nazi would say, ?I’m basically just adding to the chorus of “I wish there was another way, but there isn’t, and Arians come first”.?

  485. #485 BB
    March 10, 2010

    I wrote: ?If you are so willing to sacrifice kittens and other non-human animals to help your daughter, I am not so convinced that you would not be willing to sacrifice poor children in the developing countries, if that would help your daughter.?

    Rev. BigDumbChimp replied: ?And here is why its hard to take you seriously (among other things).?

    This is not an answer. I want to know where exactly would he draw a line.

    Nerd of Redhead, wrote: ?BB, I don’t see you and your family volunteering to be the first use test for various new drugs, devices, and methods.?

    I have no right to volunteer my family. I have no right to volunteer anyone but myself. And if I had a terminal disease, I would gladly volunteer for an experimental drug that might give me a chance to live. Also, if I were to become brain dead, I would volunteer my body.

    Nerd of Redhead, wrote: ?Personally, that makes you a hypocrite,?

    How does that make me a hypocrite?

    Nerd of Redhead, wrote: ? and someone who has nothing cogent to say on the subject.?

    That is just your opinion, supported by nothing. You did not even address any of my arguments.

    Nerd of Redhead, wrote: ?Until you can offer a rational alternatives to animal testing, your screed isn’t worth the electrons it was written on. Offer rational and workable alternatives, and scientist and physicians will be all over them. But you offer nothing.?

    It is not my job to provide alternatives to animal testing. I am not a scientist. As nothing else but a moral agent, I am arguing that animal testing is immoral, just as testing on retarded people would be immoral. The means do not justify the end. And until we find other means, we should forget about achieving the end. Not that there are no other means. If all the animals died tomorrow, medical science would not stop.

  486. #486 BB
    March 10, 2010

    Rev. BigDumbChimp wrote: ?Not only that but Norway rats and roof rats are not native populations to this country to many areas and when removed from the human created food and shelter areas can be very detrimental to native species, especially bird populations.?

    You are not native to any country either, unless you live in Africa. And there is no more detrimental species than Homo sapiens. In fact, the non-native rats got there because of humans.

    Bob L wrote, ?It really raises the question of the Animal Rights activist as to were is their compassion and empathy for their fellow humans??

    So if a Nazi raised an objection to experiments on non-Arians, he/she too would be accused of lack of empathy for Arians?

    Orac wrote: ?It’s very clear to me that AR extremists value animal life above and beyond human life. Their actions scream that they do.?

    Do AR activists advocate that humans be used in experiments to save the lives of non-human animals? What are you talking about? AR advocates value all sentient life equally. It?s the pro-vivisection extremists who value human life above all other life, even the life of a one month year old human fetus over a life of an adult chimpanzee! I don?t see any pro-vivisectionists here advocating experiments on aborted fetuses. Why not? The results would be even better because it would be the same species. And there would be no pain because fetuses in early stages do nor have a developed nervous system or a functioning brain. So why not? The fetuses will go to waste anyway?

    OrchidGrowinMan wrote: ?In the whole first half of the discussion, I had to note that nobody had pointed out that animal experimentation =/= painful animal experimentation.?

    That is not the point.

    OrchidGrowinMan wrote: ?I recall reading several stories on the reproductive success, sexual stamina, etc. of organisms. Would that they would do those experiments with humans; I’d sign right up! What about experiments that have shown that giving lab rats more stimulating habitats makes them “happier” rats? Feeding studies to demonstrate that some additive or another is beneficial??

    Rats don?t want habitats in cages. They want freedom. An additive might be beneficial or it may be lethal. Most animals are killed at the end of the experiment for necropsy.

    If you sign up that is different than experimenting on someone without consent.

  487. #487 BB
    March 11, 2010

    Kome wrote: ?Considering some animal rights activist organizations equate cattle farming and slaughterhouses to the Holocaust, I’d say they have little compassion and empathy for their fellow human beings.?

    Why does comparing concentration camps to factory farms and slaughterhouses show lack of compassion for humans? Please explain.
    Also, have you read ?Eternal Treblinka?? http://www.eternaltreblinka.com/

    Matt Penfold wrote: ?In the whole first half of the discussion, I had to note that nobody had pointed out that animal experimentation =/= painful animal experimentation?

    Animal experimentation = exploitation, imprisonment and usually death, and in worse cases also torture.

    Paul wrote: ?Actually on NIO and similar websites AR extremists have in the past referred with admiration to murders committed by militant anti-abortionists, not that they themselves ar anti-abortion (heaven forbid!) but that they like the way anti-abortionists got things done.?

    And there was a survey done of AR activists and it came out that most AR activists support direct action? Where is that survey? I would like to read it.

    And why would you assume that AR activists would support the rights of non-human animals but oppose the rights of women? Actually most, but not all, AR activists are pro-choice. It is a consistent position because women, like non-human animals, are sentient and autonomous. The same cannot be said about fetuses.

    PenguinFactory wrote, ?I understand the value of animal research, but I see it as a necessary evil rather than something to be entirely positive about. For example, sowing kittens eyes shut is wrong, and there’s no way I’d be able to do it myself….. but at the same time, if it’s helping humans it should continue. Causing other species to suffer so we can benefit is an ugly and callous thing, but so is allowing humans to suffer when we have the capability to develop treatments.?

    So basically, your morality is: if something is immoral, but it brings benefits, do it. Guess what, most immoral actions have some benefit otherwise people would not be doing them. So basically, what you are saying is that we should do away with morality.

    Samantha wrote, ?It was briefly mentioned by Kome @ 151, but what many animal activists who segue into terrorism in their activism refuse to acknowledge is the sheer number of ANIMALS helped by animal testing. For every human out there getting treated for diabetes thanks to animal testing, there is a dog or cat getting the same. Chemotherapy has saved many many lives, irrespective of species, probably an exponential amount more than developing it killed. Even simple “non-life-threatening” issues like arthritis have cures that are applied equally to animals as to humans, if not more.?

    So what you are saying is that it is OK to sacrifice few individuals for the good of many. Would you like to apply this ethical principle to human society?

    Samantha wrote, ?Is it unfortunate that we have to experiment on animals.?

    Who says we have to?

    Samantha wrote, ?Animal rights is unfortunate in that it is one of the few cases where lives are actually put at stake and they therefore cannot fail to plan for the future, which so many do.?

    As it is right now, animals are killed by the thousands every second. So no matter what AR activists do, they cannot make things worse than they are right now.

  488. #488 BB
    March 11, 2010

    BoxNDox wrote: ?All this nonsense about pain versus torture ignores the fact that in a lot of experimentation it is essential that the animals be as little stressed as possible. And since pain causes stress… well, do the math!?

    If the experiments are so pleasant, why don?t you volunteer?

    This is what some of these experiments look like:
    http://liberationbc.org/files/dog-res-01.jpg

    http://carmen4thepets.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/monkey-vivisection.jpg

    http://www.animaldefense.com/A_images/Thumbs/images/vivisection_jpg.jpg

    http://es.advisto.com/user_images/60908_9550_vivisection-lapin3.jpg

    CunningLingus wrote: ?One of my “memorable” (insert scary), moments with friends, occurred whilst driving back from a holiday. The conversation turned to vegetarians, and for the life of me I had no idea the guy driving the car was such an avid supporter, until he casually mentioned “I would rather swerve off the road and kill all four of us, than run over a hedgehog”. Needless to say, at the next service station, he was absolved from any further driving responsibility.?

    And that one vegetarian represents the view of all vegetarians, right? Plus, you probably made up that story.

    CunningLingus wrote: ?It’s all well and good to be concerned about animal rights, but at the expense of human rights ??

    Please explain that! How does respecting the rights of non-human animals violate the rights of humans? And what rights of humans are you talking about specifically? I have not sene, in the Declaration of Human Rights, a right to eat animals.

    Carlie wrote, ?Eating any plant grown on a farm that uses combines has been produced by torturing and killing hundreds to thousands of wee bunnies and the like.
    Therefore, there should be no eating of food that hasn’t been grown and harvested by hand (and of course without pesticides, since those also kill animals).?

    Before criticizing someone, you should fist familiarize yourself with that person?s ideology. The AR ideology states that non-human animals have a right not to be used as a means to an end. It says nothing about accidental killing. Thousands of people die in traffic accidents every year. The people who caused the accidents, and who did not violate any traffic laws, are not tried for murder.

    That said, we should work on technology that would be less harmful both to animals and to the environment. But that is not a priority right now when billions of animals are intentionally being killed.

    Hannah wrote: ?I know that some atheists are interested in the issue of animal rights, but fewer than I would expect based on the fact that we rationally should not see such an enormous divide between the importance of our species versus other species as religious people do. We don’t believe some god created us to be special, or to have dominion over animals. So, while still valuing humans more than other animals, we should at least be able to have concern for the needs of non-humans.?

    Very true, but some atheists are downright selfish.

    Hannah wrote: ?I’m primarily opposed to is the use of animals for food, which IS unnecessary (there are millions of healthy, happy vegetarians and vegans) and causes enormous suffering to animals raised in unthinkably awful conditions.?

    Yes, and how many people here who, argued for animal researched and pretended to be concerned about animal suffering, are vegans? No, most of them are not vegans. They don?t care about animal suffering in the least. Yet they try to present these noble arguments about ?necessary evil? while they themselves personally support unnecessary evil.

    Hannah wrote: ?PZ focuses on the really out-there, irrational activists??

    Is PZ vegan?

    Hannah wrote: ?? animals are not mindless robots but have feelings and experience pain like humans do.?

    PZ, being a biologist, should know that and should not require any AR organization to convince him of that.

    Legion wrote, ?Supporting modern housing development and road expansion practices is OK because humans benefit from them, even though these practices destroy animal habitat resulting in the death of animals..
    and then say:
    But animal experimentation is wrong, even though humans benefit from it…?

    You don?t see the difference between the two cases? The first case is a case of competition. We all share one planet and we compete for resources. The second case is using animals as a means to our ends.

    Legion wrote, ?Of course you can make an argument against slavery and your argument would be a good one, but that’s because the case against slavery is far stronger than any case you can make against animal experimentation.?

    And animals used in laboratories are not slaves? You mean they can just leave the lab whenever they want to? Also, as I pointed out in my letter to PZ, enslaved people were used in medical experiments.

  489. #489 BB
    March 11, 2010

    IanKoro wrote: ?I remember an interview on the radio quite a few years ago with an animal rights activist (I can’t remember who… I think he had a connection to PETA or ALF), and he was asked “If a child and a chicken were trapped in a burning building, and you could only save one, which would you choose?”
    His answer? “I’m not sure, I can’t really say without being in that situation.” ?

    This question has nothing to do with animal rights, or human rights, or using someone as a means to an end. A similar question could be asked: If you were trapped with two children, one black and one white; or if you were trapped with your dog and a total human stranger; or if you were trapped with your father and your mother; or if you were trapped with Lassie and Hitler. Maybe in the above example saving a chicken would have been easier because you can throw her out the window if it?s not too high, and maybe the human was a heavy invalid, whom you would have to carry down the stairs, and you might risk loosing your own life in the process. Again, none of this has anything do to with rights. And also, if AR people get their way, there will be no chickens or other animals in people houses.

    IanKoro wrote: ?Sometimes I have to wonder if these people are just a few steps away from tearing out their lymph nodes, to prevent any poor, innocent viruses and bacteria from being slaughtered.?

    Here again we have complete ignorance of the AR philosophy. The AR philosophy argues that only sentient and autonomous beings should have basic rights. Even if a being is sentient but is not autonomous, that being has no rights. For example, if you had tape worms in your intestines, it would not be immoral for you to kill them.

    Re: #207Posted by: cleve hicks | February 24, 2010 1:29 PM

    Bravo!

    Carlie wrote: ?Same issue moderate denominations have, and same response. PZ is focusing on the “out-there” activists because they are the ones making death threats. They are the ones getting all the media attention. They are the ones setting political agendas and getting political results. If your organization doesn’t want to be lumped in with them, you have to be vocal in opposing their tactics and message. More vocal than they are in promoting theirs. You can’t blame people who focus on the extremists when the extremists are the ones pushing themselves in everyone’s face all the time, with nary a peep from the moderates.?

    No, what he does is he talks about a very small percentage of AR activists, who engage in these types of actions, condemns the actions, but at the same time, condemns the entire AR philosophy without even providing a refutation to one of its arguments.

    The AR org are not going to waste their resources and focus their energy on opposing the tactics of these few AR activists (which would not stop these activists anyway) while billions of animals are being tortured and killed. The energy is better spent on animal exploiters.

    bart.mitchell wrote, ?cleve hicks, I could appeal to your emotions by showing you a clip of Chimpanzees brutally killing a female chimp and her baby from a nearby tribe. They really do this. Should we have Chimp Police out there protecting the rights of chimps everywhere? Or is that just nature, and we shouldn’t interfere??

    Again, total ignorance of the AR philosophy. Non-human animals are not considered moral agents. Their actions are amoral.

    bart.mitchell wrote, ?I wrote above that we are insulated from nature, but we are deeply connected to it. Nature is brutal, animals die horrible deaths all the time.?

    So are you saying that we should imitate nature? If so, that justifies the Holocaust and all the wars, murders and everything else.

    valine25 wrote: ?Which is funny, since ultimately eating meat is a pleasant luxury, while science is actually trying to cure ills that plague people. But then, animal rights activists have never really picked their targets based on real moral principles, but cynical assessments of which industries are easier to demonize.?

    What planet do you live on if you have never heard of any pro-veganism campaign? See this for starters: http://www.goveg.com

    bart.mitchell wrote, ? All policy decisions have trade offs. By eliminating suffering in one place, you can increase it in others. The goal should be to meet the goals of society with the least over all suffering.?

    Well then, we should experiment on humans because we could develop cures faster experimenting on actual people with the actual diseases instead of models. This way a few people would die but the overall suffering would be reduced. Is that what you are proposing?

    Inky wrote, ?A long time ago, when I had just popped out of my childhood mental womb and landed in college, I, too, struggled mightily with animal rights. I subscribed to the PETA magazine for a year, and a vegan for a month, until I couldn’t stand *not* having ice cream and cheese.?

    There is soy cheese and tofu ice cream. They are very good. But just because you have weak will power and are also too lazy to find alternatives, does not make AR arguments invalid.

    Inky wrote, ?As an animal science major interested in veterinary medicine, I got to see and learn ALL SORTS OF STUFF most people don’t even think about: how livestock are raised, how veterinary research is conducted, what slaughterhouses looked like, how semen is collected from a boar.?

    You really have something to brag about.

    Inky wrote, ?As a graduate student and now a lab technician in the biological sciences, not only do I see what kind of experiments are done on animals, but I’m in the trenches, handling mice daily.?

    Yeah, you are ?handling mice?. Why don?t you tell us what you are really doing to them?

    Inky wrote, ?A lot of this stuff was hard to deal with.?

    The why don?t you quit and become a prostitute. Even that profession is less morally questionable.

    Inky wrote, ?My favorite beagle was in the control group in a study testing the antidote for the rat poison, warfarin, and died in a pool of his blood. You want nightmares? Try looking at a cow at the start of skinning the area around the eyes, right after slaughter, so that they cartoonishly protrude out of the skull and stare directly at you.?

    And who is forcing you to do this type of work?

    Inky wrote, ?Life isn’t black and white. There are pros and cons to everything. I can’t think of a single ethical issue that doesn’t have shades of grey, depending on context.?

    I can: using someone as a means to an end.

    Inky wrote, ?I do thank the animal rights movement for improving the lives of animals.?

    No thanks to you.

    Inky wrote, ?There is still much to do.?

    Yeah, put you out of work!

    Inky wrote, ?But to tar all scientific research with the same bloody brush demonstrates a deplorable lack of thinking.?

    Read Tom Regan?s ?The Case for Animal Rights? and then tell us where do you see lack of thinking and why.

    Inky wrote, ?Most basic research is done in universities where there are stringent approval processes for animal use in experiments, and supervisory positions in animal facilities are generally held by veterinarians. Researchers need to justify their need to use any animal, as well as how many animals they expect to use. Animal caretakers and veterinary technicians monitor the animals and alert lab staff when animals are suffering in any way.?

    Even if all that were true, that still leaves animals suffering and dying.

    Inky wrote, ?No system is perfect, but overall, science is also populated by people that often love animals.?

    Please, spare us.

    Inky wrote, ?I know an extremely capable neuroscientist that got into science because he wondered what it was like to be a fish.?

    So he experimented on fish.

    Inky wrote, ?I have taken time to warm mice in my hands when cages accidentally flood.?

    Oh great, in additional to all that, THE CAGES ACCIDENTLY FLOOD.

    Inky wrote, ?I give them things to play with.?

    Oh, you are such a great person! So they get to play a little before you decapitate them!

    Inky wrote, ?My coworker likes to give them sterilized bacon bits in the bedding of mice that just weaned. My boss kept pet mice at home. Just because we use mice for experiments doesn’t mean we don’t care about their well-being.?

    Just because pedophiles rape children does not mean that pedophiles don?t care about children?s well-being.

    Inky wrote, ?Finally: Animal experiments are expensive.?

    That is what the tax payer is for.

    Inky wrote, ?This year, the cost of housing a single cage of mice without special requirements is 66 cents per day. A cat costs $4.23/day. And a pig is $27.30/day. NO study takes ONE day, or ONE cage of mice, or ONE pig. There are fees for nearly everything. If a researcher can get an answer without using animals, then that’s what the researcher will do. And funding is *very* tight.?

    Nice to know how my tax money is being spent!

    Inky wrote, ?So. For all you black and white animal rights people out there: your heart may be in the right place, but you should take some time to think about the balance of benefits versus ethics.?

    At least I have a heart!

    Inky wrote, ?Your lives would be vastly different if it were not for the contributions of animals to science, history, transportation, food, and clothing.?

    It sure would be. It would be a lot better!

  490. #490 BB
    March 11, 2010

    cleve hicks wrote, ?The funny thing is, I agree with PZ on just about all of the other issues. I really like his Darwinian way of looking at things. I suppose what bothers me is that I feel that he, and others writing to this blog, are not ‘living up to the Darwinian philosophy’ when it comes to our continuity with other species, and talking as if we humans are somehow better than all othe life forms.?

    Maybe he is intelligent but morally retarded.

    cleve hicks wrote, ?I realize that to other people Darwinism means ‘survival of the fittest’ and that to them justifies the powerful doing whatever the hell they want to. OK, fine, I’m just not on that boat.?

    In that case, we should wage wars against other nations left and right for no reason at all but just to get resources and show them who is the fittest!

    cleve hicks wrote, ?But to those Darwinians who don’t feel that way, I just want to know why it is that they think humans have this unquestionable right to do anything they want to non-humans just because it provides them a benefit.?

    I have never heard a good answer to that question except from religious types (and their answer was totally irrational).

    cleve hicks wrote, ?Really Peter Singer expressed this all so well in his interview with Richard Dawkins (linked above), and although Dawkins confessed he still ate meat, he had to admit that Peter Singer was actually being a really consistent Darwinian by tearing down humans as unquestionably superior and more worthy than all of our other fellow travelers.?

    Yes, Richard Dawkins could not refute Singer?s arguments, and PZ Myers could not either if he tried, yet they support the exploitation of non-human animals. I guess they must not care about moral consistency much, which gives a bad image to atheists.

    bart.mitchell wrote, ?Morals are not objective. We in the west place the highest moral value on individual liberties. This isn’t the only way to run a society, its just ours.?

    Morals are objective. Morality can be proven by rational arguments once you start with some agreed upon premise.

    bart.mitchell wrote, ?In our society, caging and experimenting on adolescent humans is immoral. Caging and experimenting on chimps is moral, as long as their suffering is offset by a larger alleviation of suffering in humans in the long run. That’s just where our society is right now. It can easily change, one day less animal suffering might be more valuable than knowledge.?

    Just because our society is there right now does not prove that it is moral. Once societies thought slavery and child labor was moral.

    bart.mitchell wrote, ?Again, I want as little animal suffering as possible. But if experimenting on animals increases our knowledge, then it is worth it.?

    Worth it to whom? The animal?

    bart.mitchell wrote, ?Just like my hunger is worth the sacrifice of all the deer, field mice, wild boar, and rats killed in order to farm grain to make my bread.?

    This is competition for resources not exploitation. I explained that above.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp wrote, ?I have no problem with regulated animal research that brings about the possible alleviation of suffering or fatality due to medical issues of humans (and animals for that matter). Especially if it is more efficient than not using them.?

    Why don?t you have a problem with that?

    Rev. BigDumbChimp wrote, ?
    ?I do not consider non-human animals on the same moral level as humans. I just don’t.?

    ?I just don?t??GREAT ARGUMENT! Well, I just DO!

    Rev. BigDumbChimp wrote, ?Do I want to minimize their suffering while still providing us with the research we need to help alleviate the suffering of humans (and other animals)??

    Yeah, really! So what are you doing about it?

    Rev. BigDumbChimp wrote, ?Of course. If we could be 100% rid of animal research while knowing for sure that the efficacy of the research was as good or better than with it I would be completely supportive of that.?

    And how can we possibly know that?

    Rev. BigDumbChimp wrote, ?As of yet that isn’t the case.?

    Let me guess, you just KNOW.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp wrote, ?If you’d like to provide me with evidence that all animal research is currently unnecessary, scientifically, please I’m willing to be proven wrong.?

    Define ?necessary?. The Nazis thought it was necessary to experiment on non-Arians.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp wrote, ?False analogy (to slavery) and appeal to emotion. Are you going to bring up Hitler next??

    Why is this false analogy and appeal to emotion? Please explain. And I just did bring up Hitler.

    bart.mitchell wrote, ? The crucial difference is that the 2 year old child has legal protection under the laws of my country. The chimp doesn’t.?

    The chimp has since recently legal protection under the laws in Spain, and if AR activists get their way, he/she will have it in all countries of the world, and other non-human animals will have it as well. The laws do not define morality. The laws change with moral progress.

  491. #491 strange gods before me ?
    March 11, 2010

    And animals used in laboratories are not slaves? You mean they can just leave the lab whenever they want to? Also, as I pointed out in my letter to PZ, enslaved people were used in medical experiments.

    Barbara, I am a vegan and an animal rights activist, as you can confirm from my earlier comments in this thread and others on Pharyngula. My advice is offered in solidarity.

    When you compare animals’ suffering to anything else, you make the listener lose focus on your point. This is almost always a losing tactic, even if the comparison is not a controversial one. Compare animals’ suffering to slavery, and your listener’s mind goes racing off to think about American chattel slavery instead of animals. Suddenly all these questions pop up — is that analogy accurate? is it offensive? are the property rights comparable? to what degree can animals contemplate the injustice of their confinement? — and you’ve just derailed the topic away from what it should be: animals have their own interests in avoiding death or pain and seeking pleasure, and should be free to pursue those interests for their own reasons.

    The only comparison I have ever found that is tactically useful is the comparison of animals’ cognitive abilities to those of young children, and only for the purpose of demonstrating that people hold double standards, demanding more evidence of high-functioning cognition from animals than we demand from young children to justify their rights.

    Any other analogies, and you are wasting your time. (I’d also suggest a book called Don’t Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff.)

  492. #492 strange gods before me ?
    March 11, 2010

    Also, try quoting

    <blockquote>like this</blockquote>

    to get easy-to-read quotes

    like this

  493. #493 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 11, 2010

    *Pops in, sees BB talking inanely to herself, pops out*

  494. #494 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 11, 2010

    BB’s screeds: TL;DR