My piece for The Huffington Post has just gone up concerning the latest incidents involving neuroscientist Dario Ringach and the targeting of his children by animal rights extremists. For more on this see Dr. Free-Ride, PZ, PalMD, Scicurious, MarkCC, Nick Anthis, Drugmonkey and Orac.
I address you not because your organization is directly behind these latest abuses, but because your organization is emblematic of the radical approach that some animal rights activists have been inspired to take. I want you to know that I support your goals at the same time that I oppose your tactics. Vivisection, or what in polite society is merely called animal experimentation, is a barbaric practice that has led to some necessary medical breakthroughs but has mostly served to profit multinational pharmaceutical and cosmetic corporations. I agree with the researchers who published in the British Medical Journal in 2004 that:
Clinicians and the public often consider it axiomatic that animal research has contributed to the treatment of human disease, yet little evidence is available to support this view.
I am also sympathetic to your frustration that, despite mounting evidence that little is gained from this research, its use continues and even grows. This is especially troubling where it comes to primate vivisection. When Jane Goodall wrote the forward to the 2006 report “Next of Kin” (pdf here), put out by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and the European Council to End Animal Experiments, she had no more illusions about its use than I do:
Not only are many experiments on nonhuman primates unethical, many are unnecessary, and their results may be misleading. . . The evidence in the BUAV’s report reveals the true level of suffering of many primates used in animal experimentation, and the scientific pitfalls of using primates to study human diseases and drugs.
UPDATE: For a continuation and an expansion on this letter please see my post Animal Rights and Human Rights.