Friday, 29 October 2010

Animal Rights Protesters: Go F**K yourselves! (deliberately provocative title)

The following written tirade is an unedited companion piece for a section I recorded for the latest Pod Delusion . It's something I've been wanting to get off my chest for some time now. Please send all hate mail and death threats to the email address at the bottom.


Animal Rights Protesters: I Protest!

As a doctor of neuroscience who is also a comedian, I've had more than my fair share of bizarre experiences. But I have to say, it’s weird, sitting down to write something that you know in advance will probably cause you a great deal of unnecessary hassle from people who probably will see a few key-words in it and make wild conclusions completely in defiance of the actual views contained within it. But it’s come to the point where I have to get this off my chest. I can’t go on living a lie any more, I have to be me. Here goes…

I am trained and experienced in animal testing, and I am not ashamed of this fact. There, I’m out.

Recent events have compelled me to make this admission. Firstly, there is increasing speculation over an animal rights campaign and protest targeted at my former workplace. Good, hard-working people who have done nothing wrong, who are actively trying to further scientific and medical understanding, are now having to undergo extra security checks and procedures as their personal safety is under threat. Also, there was the recent news story about the protesters jailed for their hate campaign targeting Huntington Life Sciences. Oddly, so familiar is this occurrence that a quick google search brought an almost identical story from over a year ago.

I need to make several things clear first and foremost. Firstly, I have no problem with people being opposed to animal testing on moral grounds. I disagree with the majority of arguments put forward to defend this position, but the conclusion that 'innocent creatures suffering is bad' is a very hard one to disagree with, and I won't attempt to do so. Also, to me there is something quite inspiring and, ironically, uniquely human about opposing members of your own species on behalf of another. You don’t get that anywhere else, I’ve yet to see Lions taking on other lions in order to defend the grasshoppers, and I doubt I ever will outside the realm of a CGI summer kids movie. Similarly, any vegetarians get my grudging respect, as I doubt I could ever be one, not least because my father, a borderline carnivore, would likely disown me.

I don't get vegans, though. Bonkers, the lot of them.

My main beef (yes I said beef, deal with it) is with the violent protesters and campaigners who make the lives of scientists a lot harder than they need to be. To these people, on behalf of myself and my fellow researchers, I'd like to make the following statement;

Fuck you! Fuck you and the tofu-based gluten free horse you rode in on!

Now, while they’ve gone off in a frothy rage to find out where my deceased relatives are buried or to construct some sort of letter bomb, here’s why I felt it necessary to say that.

I want to make it clear that Huntington’s life sciences did terrible things to animals all those years ago, nobody is disputing that. If they are, they need to be escorted to the nearest padded room as soon as possible. I was told during my training that the Huntington's incident was dealt with severely by the relevant authorities, the perpetrators were punished and disgraced, and the whole infrastructure of the institution was changed to ensure this never happened there again.

Whether you trust this assertion or not is another matter, I can certainly see how you could argue that the source of the claim wouldn't be impartial, given the context of it being in an animal experiment training session. HLS is also a largely commercial body, so exactly how much control the Home Office would have regarding their infrastructure is questionable. But even bearing that in mind, the argument that the awful crimes which were committed at Huntington's means all animal research is evil and must be stopped is blatantly ridiculous. Using that logic, we should imprison all GP's for life because of Harold Shipman's crimes. It's the only way to be sure, obviously...

As a scientist, I feel I have the insight to set a few things straight. We're constantly discouraged from doing this, purely because of the possible ramifications of protesters finding out and targeting us. For the safety of our colleagues and those we work with, we have to behave as if we are guilty of the things we're accused of, and skulk about in order to avoid detection. Those who don't risk being disciplined by their superiors.

Well I'm presently unemployed, so the only one I have to answer to is my conscience, and that has about as much say over what I do as a Lib Dem MP in the cabinet.

Firstly, I've worked in animal labs, and I've yet to meet anyone who, despite the accusations and implications, actually enjoys animal experimentation. Pretty much everyone who does it manages to develop a necessary sense of detachment, but it's never easy. As I always strive to point out, the vast majority of scientists are actually people, and we don't like psychopaths or sadists any more than the next person.

Even if you don't believe that, if you think that all animal researchers do it for the sick thrill of hurting furry creatures due to some trauma experienced while watching Return of the Jedi, or you believe that all scientists are dead-eyed emotionless robots who care for nothing but their precious data, look at the practicalities. A suffering animal is, scientifically, pretty much useless in most cases. Pain or discomfort have a complex physical, biological basis, so an animal in distress is going to provide unreliable results and throw off the data obtained in any experiment that studies anything other than pain. Granted, the study of pain is medically very important, so is ongoing and uses animal subjects. Whether you believe this is acceptable or not is up to you, but keep it in mind next time you take an analgesic for a slight headache. But by and large, the logic of scientific research means it's essential that animal subjects experience as little discomfort as possible.

People opposed to animal testing often shout about how we should use alternatives. What alternatives? Where there's an option, we use it. Why wouldn't we? Even if you still subscribe to the emotionless robotic data monger view of scientists, animal testing is a pain in the arse. If your research requires animal subjects, you spend the majority of your time maintaining and caring for the animals, making sure they're healthy and well, and the research often seems like an afterthought. Cleaning, feeding, weighing, record keeping, it all must be done to the highest standards as at any moment a Home Office inspector could turn up and, if the animals seem to be cared for imperfectly, will shut the entire place down. And they do this often. Lab animals have cushier lifestyles than most domestic pets, as government inspectors are unlikely to turn up and evict you from your house if you don't clean your hamsters cage regularly enough.

Believe me, if there was an effective substitute that offered the same complexity and sophistication offered by a living organism, we'd be using it. Perhaps some futuristic Quantum computer will eventually fulfil this function? I'm confident that all scientists would jump at the chance to use something like that, we bloody love new gadgets (I bet it'll have a bloody glowing apple logo on the side too, knowing my luck). Of course, something like that would be fantastically expensive at first, so we'd still be stuck using animals unless science research funding gets a massive increase. In that event, the protesters would start protesting those who are responsible for not funding science sufficiently, right? Right...? No, probably not.

Undeniably, Britain loves its animals, more so than most other countries. We have possibly the most strict and tightly regulated animal welfare laws in the world, even the NSPCC was founded long after the RSPCA (the first child cruelty case was actually brought by the RSPCA after a child was successfully classified as 'a small animal'). Let's not forget that very recently a cat placed in a bin received more sympathy than the masses of potentially innocent people killed in the floods in Pakistan. I wonder if I'm alone in thinking this was somewhat worrying? For as much as I love animals myself, I think people should come first. Hundreds of animal subjects being sacrificed to obtain information that could alleviate the suffering of thousands or millions of humans is, I think, a fair trade. A bit Darwinian of me perhaps, and there are certainly many people who I'd rank as less important than your typical cockroach, but overall I stand by it.

Apparently, this attitude makes me a torturer and murderer. I have been called both these things, totally seriously. Often by other comedians, who seemingly have no issues with using victims of rape and paedophilia to get cheap laughs, or with using the end product of the blood-drenched cocaine trade. No, I'm the bastard for doing research to enhance society's understanding of how things work.

It does surprise me how animal testing seems to skip all the logical or rational checks people normally use when judging something and go straight for the moral outrage. Even many skeptics have expressed a moral opposition to animal testing. People who claim to believe in evidence and rationality above all else, who condemn pseudoscience, alternative medicine and religious fundamentalism on the grounds they have no basis in evidence and can lead to innocent people coming to harm, they think the exact opposite when it comes to animal testing. We can't win.

It's amazing how seemingly rational people can be so morally outraged by it. A fellow PhD student, a Neuroscientist like myself (a field which wouldn't exist without animal testing), was fundamentally opposed to it, and took every opportunity to attack me over it. Then she found she had a rat in her flat and immediately called the council to deal with it. When I challenged her over this, about why me killing animals for science is wrong but her doing for her own piece of mind it is fine, she was shocked. She actually said "The council won't kill it will they? I thought they'd re-house it". I'd genuinely like to know if there are any families out there willing to adopt a filthy sewer rat as a pet, really I would.

Whenever I see the protesters, so many questions come to mind that I'd really like to have answered.

Why do all the posters and banners feature dogs, monkeys or the cute mammals? The vast majority, 90% plus, of experiments on mammals are performed on rodents, rats and mice. Admittedly, I think mice are little furry balls of evil, but where's the rats poster campaign? Or don't vermin 'suffer' in the same way as the more popular creatures? And that's just the mammals, why do you ignore all the others? The pigeons, the fish, the newts? What about poor Drosophilia? The fruit fly that's had its entire genome mangled many times in the name of science? It seems that unless it's furry and friendly, they don't give a shit these animal rights protesters. It's Animal rights only for the select few, apparently. How very right wing. Almost Catholic-like in their bias for creatures they deem 'worthy'.

On a similar matter, how come only scientists trying to make valuable discoveries are protested against? Why not protest Rentokil or other companies, which profit from the killing of innocent animals in the name of people's convenience? One argument is that vermin and infestations can carry diseases so exterminators are necessary. But medical research is not? So killing animals is OK if it benefits people's health, but not if it benefits people's health. I see. Except that I don't.

Why are battery farms and slaughterhouses generally let off the hook? Places where animals suffer in far greater numbers and in far less humane conditions that laboratories so that people can have greater choice in their cuisine?

Why not protest tanneries, where animals are killed so that people have nice things to wear or durable wallets? Why not protest the companies that cut down trees, undoubtedly traumatising or killing the many animals that live in them or depend on them in the process, in order to make paper for you to use to construct banners calling me and my sort a pack of bastards?

These things are apparently essential or at the very least acceptable, whereas medical research is not. I don't know who makes these decisions, but I'd like to see the method they use. I'm guessing a blindfold and a dartboard.

Using misinformation and intimidation to attack and persecute innocent people in order to defend a non-sentient organism in a manner which is in-keeping with their sense of moral superiority is usually the domain of pro-life and anti-abortion campaigners. Far be it from me to draw parallels between them and animal rights protesters, but they're there is you want to look.

Someone once asked me 'what gives us the right to decide how and when an animal dies?' I genuinely don't know, nor do I know if we can be said to have the right to anything we do as a species. But we've been doing it for millions of years, and still are on a massive scale, and for far less noble reasons than in the name of scientific discovery and the alleviating of the suffering of others.

No animals were harmed in the making of this report, although admittedly a few straw-men got a serious kicking.


Email: Humourology (at) live.co.uk

Twitter: @garwboy

StumbleUpon.com

42 comments:

noodlemaz said...

Brilliant, very well done. Needs saying but we're often too scared (and with good reason, it seems).

Hope the protest plans for your workplace fizzle out...

Anonymous said...

You mentioned the possibility of using a substitute for animal testing. I would have thought that testing on human beings would be the perfect solution - surely the animal rights protesters would be only too glad to sacrifice their lives in the place of the animals safe in the knowledge that they're contributing to the furtherment of medical science!

LR said...

Excellent article. I wish I knew some people who were animal rights protesters so that I could post this to them.

One argument you missed is that at least some of the breakthroughs made with animal models can then be used to help the animals as well.

Thank you.

LE said...

Couple of points:

Firstly, you contradict yourself in talking about how animals used in research are cared for: 'if the animals seem to be cared for imperfectly, will shut the entire place down. And they do this often. Lab animals have cushier lifestyles than most domestic pets.'

Presumably research is 'often' shut down, as you say, because animals are being inadequately cared for i.e. perhaps living not so cushy lives after all. Also there are only 22 Home Office inspectors at the moment and that number is being cut to 16 as part of the public spending review - so their policing abilities are limited at best - and usually of little concern to researchers - that's not to say caring standards aren't maintained for the health and science reasons you outline.

Also - in your sign off you ask:

'Why are battery farms and slaughterhouses generally let off the hook?' 'Why not protest tanneries?' 'Why not protest the companies that cut down trees, undoubtedly traumatising or killing the many animals that live in them?'

All of these are major animal welfare issues with dozens of charities and non-profit organisations behind them, in turn backed by millions of supporters.In contrast the anti-vivisection movement suffers from a decided lack of interest - especially when it comes to medical research - to which the majority of people are indifferent.

Factory Farming and slaughterhouses? You've got Viva and Compassion in World Farming and several others including Peta on the case.

Destroying natural habitats? Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WSPA to name but a few.

Tanneries? A major issue for animal welfare orgs across the board - and you forgot to add fur to that list. And hunting.

And now can you name the anti-vivisection organisations you're railing against? I doubt most people could even name one - apart from SHAC which has been spread across the news this week and is not a legitimate organisation.

This is obviously an issue that's close to you as a scientist and as a victim of abuse from what is a tiny, tiny minority of animal welfare supporters - but a little perspective goes a long way.

LR said...

LE, I think, with regards to the "'often' shut down" it was poor penmanship from Dean. I think he is referring to how often they are inspected not shut down.

As to your final point I think what Dean means is that while all those things are protested against the protests against animal experimentation seem to be much more extreme than anywhere else. I certainly haven't heard about any slaughterhouses where their staff have to be trained in checking cars for bombs because of animal activists.

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

@LE

Fair points, I'll try to answer as best I can.

1. Obviously I can't speak for every lab everywhere in the UK, but the Home Office requirements are consistent and they really are that strict. My old lab, following a refurbishment, was prevented from resuming work by the Home office inspector until it could be demonstrated that the entire lab stayed within a very narrow range of neutral temperatures for 3 weeks. This took 4 months to achieve, as nearby workmen kept unknowingly opening doors and causing drafts, and the recording had to be reset each time. The Home office inspectors also showed up on the grounds on average twice a month, but sometimes twice a week, or they'd be nearby in another lab and suggest that they might come inspect ours but then not. And usually, the reasons the lab was threatened with closure was someone leaving a chemical preparation area dirty, or not replenishing the gas canisters in the right order, or leaving equipment in incorrect locations. Nothing which would affect the animals, but their view is if we're sloppy elsewhere then we could get carelss with the animals, which is unacceptable. And rightly so. But that's the sort of indiscretion that can warrant a shutdown, so I feel it's fair to say that the animals have a 'cushy' lifestyle, although that's not a technically valid term.

2. As I said in the article, I've no issue with those who want to champion animals rights, as long as it's in a legitimate and official manner. As for the other issues you mentioned, I'm aware that these various other concerns are constantly being addressed by bigger, more organised and influential groups, and I applaud this, although check out Penn and Teller's 'Bullshit' episode concerning PETA if you want to know my views on that particular group. But I agree that I don't see why animals should suffer purely for commercial gain. As you say, the anti-vivisectionist campaigners are smaller and more militant, and my point was that, as you demonstrate, there are more pressing and more effective ways to protect animals from suffering. Yet, they seem to prefer the approach of using violence and intimidation, against people who, by and large, are trying to do good things that potentially benefit everyone and are classically non-violent. This is extremely cowardly.

3. No, I can't name any particular groups. When they're trying to barge into our buildings in their dozens while screaming abuse, we're usually too busy holding the doors closed to ask for names. When we're being spat and shouted at as we try to get into our workplace, this doesn't seem like an ideal opportunity to ask if they have a website. When they're attempting to sneak in behind us in order to get through our security checks and smash up anything in sight should they succeed, they're rarely polite enough to leave a thank you note with a forwarding address.

I'm being a bit flippant, but all these things have happened while I was employed there. We don't know if it's the effort of one concerted group or constant intrusions from various Guerrilla groups (no pun intended). They know they're breaking the law, so they tend to stay anonymous. It's the very unpredictability and extremism of these groups that means we have to act as carefully and privately as we do.

As I made clear (I thought), this tirade is specifically targeted at the active, violent protesters who, however small a minority, tend to make life miserable and difficult for a massively disproportionate number of innocent people. That is my perspective, little as it may be, and that's what I've written from. It's the best I can do.

Also, what LR said.

Excuse the penmanship, it's not my strong suit. Scientists are classically crap at it.

Funky Mango said...

I depend on medications that have been tested on animals. Without them I would be dead by now.

Humans are more important than animals.

Clearly, lab animals (as other animals) should be treated in the most humane way possible. But if it comes down to a choice between testing a med that could potentially cure me, and letting a fluffy bunny run free...I'm with the testers.

Lizzie said...

I agreed with a lot of your article, certainly that protestors often focus on only the cuddly and fluffy creatures. However one sentence stuck out for me...

'Using misinformation and intimidation to attack and persecute innocent people in order to defend a non-sentient organism...'

Do you count all animals as non-sentient?

Anonymous said...

Don't quit your day job..

oh, wait...

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

@Lizzie

I really wouldn't like to say. The term 'animal' is a such a huge generalisation, and if there is a way of accurately differentiating between sentient/non-sentient in non-humans I'm not particularly up to speed with it.

I was making the comparison with abortion protesters to really underscore my argument, but it was, as I admitted, a little bit of a straw man. Animals obviously have high cognitive capabilities in many ways as otherwise they'd not be much use in psych/neuroscience research.

So, not all animals no. But then we get into the realm of what is exactly meant by 'sentient', and that's a debate that's way beyond me.

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

Abuse! YAY!

LE said...

Fear not - I share your thoughts on Peta. My point re not being able to name anti-vivisection orgs was meant to be that they belong to by far the smallest of all animal welfare categories. But I didn't mean to imply that they are all in the SHAC category. Far from it - most are wholly legitimate, peaceful organisations working with governments and within the law. BUAV, Dr Hadwen Trust and the Humane Society being the best known (though not particularly well known being my point - largely because of a taint of those minority SHAC-style extremists). And of course it was the BUAV who first exposed the terrible mistreatment of animals at HLS that you refer to in your article - which nobody can argue was a bad thing. I think it's a great shame that 'animal rights' advocates get lumped together with activists. There is a world of difference in between. SHAC and they're ilk are just a vicious, headline-grabbing minority - who do animals a hell of a lot more harm than good by galvanising opposition to the legitimate anti-vivisection movement (which contrary to popular opinion is very pro science - albeit science that requires heavy initial investment but would be so much better for everyone as you yourself have agreed).

My main point is that generalisations in this sensitive area can be very damaging - as you've pointed out when it comes to lumping scientists together, and as I'm trying to point out by doing my devil's advocate bit for the other side.

Bottom line is a move away from animal testing is the best outcome for all concerned.

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

@LE

Yeah, very much in agreement there. Tired to make it clear in the original paragraph(s) that I'm referring to the lab-raiding corpse exhuming violent sort, not the legit campaigners. Apologies if this is not a point made effectively enough. Perhaps a re-write...

Adam said...

"It seems that unless it's furry and friendly, they don't give a shit these animal rights protesters. "

It's not just a coincidence that the anti-fur folks are all about throwing red paint on women rather than chucking it at Hells Angels wearing motorcycle leathers.

ella said...

Can I be a vegan who doesn't actually know if she's anti-animal testing? I'm so fed up with being tarred with the 'hi, I'm vegan and I knitted my own lunch out of hemp' brush. We're not all raving loonies who get swept away on a tide of emotive language about fluffy bunnies and don't give a shit about people- although I'll admit they are out there and they do shout the loudest.

I simply prefer not to blunder about buggering up other people's and creature's lives unnecesarily. I don't have to eat meat or drink milk to survive and it causes suffering to animals and- and it's the environmental stuff that turned me, not the animal rights- far higher carbon emissions if I do, so I choose not to. Similarly I won't die if I don't have a new Gucci jacket this season, so if I think it's produced in some sweatshop by a small child on poverty wages I won't buy it.

I do, however, think people NEED not to die of cancer, so as far as medical testing on animals goes it'd be great if healthy people were queueing up to have drugs tested on them, but they're not, so rats and mice it has to be. I'm not sure if that means I don't actually count as vegan but yes, I would pick my own species over another if it came down to it.

I think the article is great cause, whether or not you agree with what's said, you can understand what the hell you're on about-a much needed addition to the animal testing debate. Most of the problem is just what you said- there isn't enough real, rational information available in language that's accesible to the general public cause scientists don't talk about stuff like this.

There are those of us who like to base our decisions on facts, and who don't think anyone that considers a letter bomb a reasonable form of communication should be consulted on anything. I'm sure there are loads and loads of rational people who'd have something to say in opposition to your article, then more rational people who'd have something to say back and I'd love to hear from all of them then use that information to decide one way or the other. They're not bloody saying it though, so all us non-scientist usually get to hear about is the half baked rubbish that spews out of PETA and the anti-vivisectionists with their dog's guts posters on the high street on saturday afternoon.

Hooray for information and debate! Boo to poster-toting loonies!

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

Best. Vegan. EVER!

Anonymous said...

As a recovered alcoholic, I recognize the logic you are employing. I too, made lots of sense when I "couldn't stand it any more". Not to say that most of your points aren't salient, it's the fact that you have couched your "freedom" to say so behind the fact that you are also a comedian.
FAIL.
Please lose the attitude. If this is an example of your stand-up routine you've Got to be better in the lab.
Please try to employ a professional attitude. Much of what you are saying is valuable, but you've shot yourself in the foot with your delivery.

Anonymous said...

Dude, what's your problem with Catholics?

Aeolus said...

To be sentient is to have the power of perception by means of the senses. The word is commonly used as shorthand for the capacity to experience pain. Which animals can feel pain? Probably all vertebrates. The evidence is less clear in the case of invertebrates, with the exception of cephalopods (e.g., Paul the Psychic Octopus, may he rest in peace).

Admittedly, animal experimentation is a more difficult moral issue than forms of animal use/abuse, like meat-eating, that in modern society are typically unnecessary for human flourishing. But if animal research is to be justified because doing the same research on humans would be immoral, one must to able to give rational grounds for this distinction or else be guilty of speciesism -- the irrational preference for members of one's own species. If the justification is that it is worse to experiment on individuals who are cognitively sophisticated, then why not experiment on mentally handicapped human beings: those who are no smarter, or who are less smart, than the average pig or rat? David Sztybel has proposed that researchers who are ethically consistent in their beliefs ought to be prepared to sign a living will, making themselves available as research subjects should they ever became mentally disabled.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-5930.2006.00338.x/abstract

@magicdarts said...

Catholics? My guess would be to start at the covering up of institutionalised child abuse, and go on from there. Look up "Wars" "Intolerance" "Mean to the gays" and "AIDS in Africa" on Google for more information.

Also, is it not true that the HLS photos that we see in Cambridge city centre tend to be of the foreign labs that ALL the testing would go to if the regulated labs in the UK got shut down?

Lisa said...

Dean,
I'm Lisa Grossman with Negotiationisover.com. Someone posted this there. I'm one of the few ARAs that would be only mildly disgusted with you. I attribute that to being Christian and trying to be tolerant to all. But you make it hard.

First let me say I'm happy to see you post this:

"....As a scientist, I feel I have the insight to set a few things straight. We're constantly discouraged from doing this, purely because of the possible ramifications of protesters finding out and targeting us. For the safety of our colleagues and those we work with, we have to behave as if we are guilty of the things we're accused of, and skulk about in order to avoid detection. Those who don't risk being disciplined by their superiors."

See the old ways aren't working or you would be perminantely unemployed. There are no laws in favor of animals in labs and many against the beloved angels of the AR movement,the ALF. So many of us just snapping!! We are trying anything and everything within the law to get the public to see every side of what you do. Like Wikileaks and the Iraq diaries- we believe it is so wrong and sadist to hurt animals that we KNOW the goodness in people will come out if they see everything and get to know people like you. So we all intended to show every inch of your lives and your activities that we legally can. It's just that simple.

I'm a new vegan- yes some of them are truly bonkers. But they err on the side of caution especially compared to what you do.

Here is a great site for you to read- it's mostly essay-like instead of facts and figures.
www.animal-rights.com

I think people like you maybe don't understand the horror that you cause in the lives of thousands of earthlings. You have certainly had a pet in your life and you have looked into his eyes. He feels fear and love. You chose to make animals feel fear. It's unimaginable. And it is your choice.

I don't know alot about the technology, but I think if we can make fake hearts and limbs and things that go into brains, we can come up with something artificial to test on. I don't know for sure.

But I do know one thing. You did eventually use the word funding in the context of finding alternatives. So this is really what you may want to think about within yourself. You cannot do this to other beings because it's easier or cheaper. You just can't. All the things that were discovered with animal testing could have been found without it, but no one wants to deal with the funding issues when the animals can't even fight back or refuse.

So you do make a choice to hurt them. It it wrong and it's based on money. We do not have this right to do to other countries, other humans that don't volunteer little kids, etc. No right.

I applaud your moxy but I feel your heart is toxic. Maybe you could pray or just think a bit and you could heal.

Lisa grossman

Alice said...

Lisa, a few questions for you:

"I'm one of the few ARAs that would be only mildly disgusted with you. I attribute that to being Christian and trying to be tolerant to all."
How do you know?

"See the old ways aren't working or you would be perminantely unemployed."
How do you know?

"There are no laws in favor of animals in labs and many against the beloved angels of the AR movement,the ALF."
How do you know?

"I think people like you maybe don't understand the horror that you cause in the lives of thousands of earthlings."
How do you know?

"You have certainly had a pet in your life and you have looked into his eyes."
How do you know?

"He feels fear and love. You chose to make animals feel fear."
How do you know?
(i.e. how do you know the animals in the labs are afraid?)

"I don't know alot about the technology, but I think if we can make fake hearts and limbs and things that go into brains, we can come up with something artificial to test on. I don't know for sure."
At least you admit you don't know that. Well, perhaps help with research on that kind of thing. As Dean said, when such things are possible, they use them.

"All the things that were discovered with animal testing could have been found without it"
How do you know?

"...no one wants to deal with the funding issues when the animals can't even fight back or refuse."
How do you know?

"Maybe you could pray or just think a bit and you could heal."
Heal? From what? Do you know Dean, what's his disease? Oh, and how do you know?

Old Rockin' Dave said...

One of the more ironic events was the "liberation" here in the US of animals in a veterinary lab. Don't animals have the right to proper testing of methods and medications meant to alleviate their health problems, or should every encounter with a veterinarian become a de facto animal experiment?
Oh, wait, wouldn't happen, because treatment requires informed consent and animals are incapable of signing the forms.

Virginia said...

Alice,
Re: "He feels fear and love. You chose to make animals feel fear."
"How do you know?
(i.e. how do you know the animals in the labs are afraid?)"

Alice, there are many reasons to base this fact on. The most horrific of all, in my opinion, are the babes taken away from their mothers. Do you actually believe either of them are NOT in fear? If any of you are a mother and child, put yourself in their place for as long as you can stand to. Frightening, isn't it?

Would you be frightend if you were the 'test subject' to see the same person over and over knowing full well what they are going to do to you?

Yes, Animals feel fear!

And so to you I say ... Animal torturers aka Animal researchers, go fuck yourselves.

And yes, I do put Animals before people.

Again, go fuck yourselves.

Helen said...

"And yes, I do put Animals before people."

Yeah, technically people ARE animals, so surely they should be treated the same following that logic? Or are humans 'sub-animal'?

Alice said...

Virginia, I'm intrigued you think you know precisely what happens every day in an animal laboratory. As Dean said, they spend most of the time caring for them, and they try to make them comfortable and happy. How do you know they take the animals away from their mothers? They might, I suppose. I don't know. I'd just like to see you substantiate your statements, since you're the one making them. I haven't seen much substantiation from you activists yet, you see.

Anonymous said...

Magnificent piece!!! We need more scientists "coming out" like this.

Anonymous said...

@Virginia.
You can't possibly compare taking a baby away from a woman to taking one away from a mouse. Besides, the memory span of a mouse and a human being is not the same, you know.
"The most horrific of all, in my opinion, are the babies taken away from their mothers. Do you actually believe either of them are NOT in fear?"
I'm pretty sure the newborn babies don't really care if they're taken away from their biological mothers when they're being taken care of properly.

Alice said...

I may be wrong but I suspect one of the problems here is ignorance on the part of the vast majority of the population - those who don't do animal testing.

If you'd asked my younger self her opinion, she'd have said she greatly disliked it but would not argue with it if it was to develop, say, vital medicines. My present self says: I don't know enough.

I want to know what it's like for the animals to live there. What animals are they? What do they do? I suspect certain extremists have this vision of hideous cages which are opened several times daily by wild-eyed monsters with torture implements, who perform activities out of horror movies, or those out-of-body experiences in which aliens subject people to painful experiments when said people are actually experiencing sleep paralysis.

I suspect in reality the animals get a lot of attention, lots of cleaning, nice food etc, and are weighed a lot and so on; and the tests are done as unobtrusively as possible and with lots of comforting if the animal is responsive to that kind of thing (i.e. not an insect or what have you). But I don't know.

A climate of terror - which is what animal rights extremists create - is hardly conducive to sharing this kind of information.

Would it be safe to tell people what animal testers actually do? I doubt it. And yet people could make a far better judgment if they knew more. So shucks you extremists. Thanks for that.

There are things that I think are sick. Such as cosmetics, fur, leather. And also, in my ignorant opinion, things I see in New Scientist such as bioluminescent mice and a mouse with something like a huge human ear shape growing out of its back. Those seem sick and wrong to me. But again, I don't know what they were for. All in all, it's so much easier to react emotionally than check the facts. I wish fact-checking was easier!

By the way - might I add my huge praise for Ella the sensible vegan? You rock!

punkscience said...

Dude. I love your work. Seriously. I love it.

I kill animals all the time and do experiments on their dissected corpses. Sometimes I cut their organs out and mash them up before adding toxic chemicals to the residue and putting the resulting mixture into enormous, whirring, bleeping instruments that produces lists of arcane and esoteric numbers. I love my job.

I'm an ecotoxicologist and without my field of science we would be probably be scratching a living from sterile, toxic and radioactive soil by now.

Word.

Virginia said...

Alice,

Everything here is just words. Since my words need proof to be so, dean's do too.

dean shared his story, now let's see his proof.

Also, why do people need to post annonymously? I don't talk to annonymous people.

Dave said...

Dean,

Just wanted to say thank you for a great post.

Like - I would guess - the vast majority of the population, I've always had, in the back of my mind, the image of poor little critters kept in horrible conditions, but chose to ignore it thinking of animal testing as a necessary evil.

However, your one argument, "A suffering animal is, scientifically, pretty much useless in most cases" made me realise how irrational and stupid that image was, and has successfully convinced me that there is nothing remotely evil about it. I hope you don't mind me quoting the same point (and probably bastardising it horribly) in any future encounters with anti-animal-testing-types.

Oh, and Virginia, I suspect that at least some of the people posting anonymously are doing so out of fear for their own and their loved ones' safety; how sad that they feel the need.

Virginia said...

Dean, to quote you ...

"Oh, and Virginia, I suspect that at least some of the people posting anonymously are doing so out of fear for their own and their loved ones' safety; how sad that they feel the need."
- - -

Dean,

1. How do you know? Oh yeah, you just suspect. Sorry, it had to be said.

2. Yes, Dean, it IS sad to feel the need to live in fear. That goes for any living being. I say 'living being' because you can't decide on what sentient means.

Let me help, I'll look it up for you.

Sentient - Capable of feeling: having perception.

And just to be more clear ...

Perception: - Awareness of one's environment through physical sensation.

Perhaps we're not cetain about bugs, although I bet they're sentient beings as well. But think about the Rodents, the Rabbits, the Beagles, the non-human Primates, etc. Yeah, they're sentient beings. IMO. And a billion + others.

Do you see how this goes on and on and on, Dean? Take out the fork fahchisake! I'm done.
That's why negotiating is over.

"Comiediens" like you, and others, aren't taking this seriously and that's not helping. There ARE alternatives and they're being used as this is written.

We're just sick of being patronized.

*No vivisectors or AR Haters were hurt or threatened in this post, or will be. So don't be scared.

Phill said...

I recently came across this, which might be of interest:
http://inapcache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/blogs/bigpicture/fauna_09_22/f07_24843975.jpg

Militant anti fur protesters do exist, having released a load of minks from farms in Greece a couple of months ago, but apparently get less press coverage in this country. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the released minks died within a week of starvation. Humane huh?

Gym Buddy said...

Lovely and well put. And yes, vegetarians and vegans are bonkers, the whole lot of them. Always so damn pious. Sick of their 'holier than thou' bullshit. They can't even put down the flag long enough to hang out in 'mixed company' without crossing their eyes and making inappropriate comments when other people eat meat. Yet they want to go on and on about animal rights. I have the right to eat a cheeseburger whenever the f' I feel, dig? Get a grip!

pattieb123 said...

nimal experiments only benefit human beings if the results are valid and can be applied to human beings. Not all scientists are convinced that these tests are valid and useful. Animals have not been as critical to the advancement of medicine as is typically claimed by proponents of animal experimentation. Moreover, a great deal of animal experimentation has been misleading and resulted in either withholding of drugs, sometimes for years, that were subsequently found to be highly beneficial to humans, or to the release and use of drugs that, though harmless to animals, have actually contributed to human suffering and death. Jane Goodall 'Reason for Hope', 1999
Animal rights extremists often portray those who experiment on animals as being so cruel as to have forfeited any own moral standing. But the argument is about whether the experiments are morally right or wrong. The general moral character of the experimenter is irrelevant. What is relevant is the ethical approach of the experimenter to each experiment. John P Gluck has suggested that this is often lacking: The lack of ethical self-examination is common and generally involves the denial or avoidance of animal suffering, resulting in the dehumanization of researchers and the ethical degradation of their research subjects.
John P. Gluck; Ethics and Behaviour, Vol. 1, 1991
Gluck offers this advice for people who may need to experiment on animals: The use of animals in research should evolve out of a strong sense of ethical self-examination. Ethical self-examination involves a careful self-analysis of one's own personal and scientific motives. Moreover, it requires recognition of animal suffering and a satisfactory working through of that suffering in terms of one's ethical values. The issue of animal experiments is straightforward if we accept that animals have rights: if an experiment violates the rights of an animal, then it is morally wrong, because it is wrong to violate rights. The possible benefits to humanity of performing the experiment are completely irrelevant to the morality of the case, because rights should never be violated (except in obvious cases like self-defence). One philosopher has written, if this means that there are some things that humanity will never be able to learn, so be it. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This bleak result of deciding the morality of experimenting on animals on the basis of rights is probably why people always justify animal experiments on consequentialist grounds; by showing that the benefits to humanity justify the suffering of the animals involved.
Those who justify animal experiments say that the good done to human beings outweighs the harm done to animals. This is a consequentialist argument, because it looks at the consequences of the actions under consideration. It can't be used to defend all forms of experimentation since there are some forms of suffering that are probably impossible to justify even if the benefits are exceptionally valuable to humanity. In some cases, the end most certainly does not justify the means.
In conclusion, perhaps you should look inward and ask why you feel the need to inflict pain and suffering. You say you are doing it for the benefit of human kind. I am worried, however, because you don't come across as highly educated, moral or sensible to suffering. You appear flippant and I am concerned that you are maiming animals in research that is low grade and not likely to be of any benefit to anyone. To suggest that a section of society go fuck themselves because they don't feel you should have free reign to do as you like does not fill me with confidence re your level of understanding, either scientific or moral. Your argument for experimentation was the same one used by the Nazis, ie we would not have renal dialysis today if they hadn't removed Jewish kidneys. You deny the avoidance of suffering because that is the only way you can justify what you do.

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

Ah, despite the long-winded yet well-meant argument, Godwin's Law still comes into effect. Some 'scientists' say animal experimentation is unnecessary. The vast majority say it's essential. If someone could please link to reports and/or evidence from scientists (who are actually involved in the field of biological/medical research in an official and recognised capacity) then I would happily and gladly reconsider my position. And I mean that. Not saying I would change it, but I would reconsider, which seems to be far more than any protesters are willing to do, if my current feedback is anything to go by.

Anonymous said...

Are you evoking Godwin's Law because you wish to end our conversation? A pity, I was just getting started.

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

No, just observing. But I'm afraid I'm going to be adopting a jackofkent approach from now on, in that anonymous comments (either for or against whatever debate subject is going on) will just not be published. If people genuinely want to discuss things, they surely wont have any issue with putting their identity to their views like most people do.
Just a heads up.

pattieb123 said...

I am not used to this form of communication and I didn't realise my last post was anonymous. If you are interested in a serious discussion about animal experimentation, I would be willing to discuss this with you.
(just in case I have posted this anonymously again, this and the previous post re Godwin's Law is from pattieb123)

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

Cool. I thought it was odd that your first post wasn't anonymous but the second one was, obviously just a mishap or something like that.

I'm actually busy with work at present (of a non-vivisection nature, I promise), hence the lack of recent posts, but if anyone else wants to continue the debate, that would be cool.

Enjoy.

Present said...

Greast post

I would have thought that testing on human beings would be the perfect solution - surely the animal rights protesters would be only too glad to sacrifice their lives in the place of the animals safe in the knowledge that they're contributing to the furtherment of medical science.

Social Network sharing gubbins