Quantcast

«

»

Jul 26 2012

A re-poll

You know how much I despise internet polls — they’re meaningless and biased, they draw on an already biased sample, and they tend to be so badly worded that their results are uninterpretable — there is a science of polls and surveys, and these things ignore it all.

Now how about this for an example of anti-scientific thinking: remember that last poll on a standard (but uncomfortably kittenish) scientific procedure? The Mirror didn’t get the result they wanted, so now they’re re-running the poll. Yeah, that’s valid. I want to shoot craps against these guys: every time I get a bad roll, I’ll just say I want a do-over.

This is exactly the same article and the same poll, they just reposted it with a new title: “Kitten controversy: 46% of people say stitching up kittens’ eyes for science is OK.”

Is the scientific experiment on kittens acceptable?

Yes 35.85%

No 64.15%

If we add more yes votes, will they just do it over again a third time? What fraction of “yes” votes do they consider acceptable?

189 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    bunkie

    I think they’re on to us!

  2. 2
    Glen Davidson

    Well, “the scientific experiment on kittens” is unacceptable, but “experimenting on cats” is acceptable.

    What about the “the scientific experiment on ducklings?” What about research on ducks?

    Or hey, how about “research to prevent baby Jesus from suffering?” That’s not any more biased (nor as poor English) than their wording.

    Glen Davidson

  3. 3
    Glen Davidson

    Or hey, how about “research to prevent baby Jesus from suffering?” That’s not any more biased (nor as poor English) than their wording.

    Maybe it is as poor English. “Research to prevent baby Jesus’ suffering.”

    Glen Davidson

  4. 4
    32bituser

    Hmm.. it seems that if you voted in the last poll, you have to clear your cache before it will let you vote in this one.

  5. 5
    carlie

    Holy crap, I can’t believe they are being so obvious about it. WE WILL RERUN THIS POLL UNTIL YOU AGREE WITH US.

    And I had to laugh at “Comedian Ricky Gervais leading the fury”. Because we should always listen to the opinions of comedians on the validity of scientific research.

  6. 6
    funkydebunker

    Second time I was made aware of this poll here: second time I voted NO. That is because the idea of cute little kittens being hurt makes me go all squidgy inside. Does that make me a bad person?

  7. 7
    antoinette

    I can’t support this research either.

  8. 8
    skeptifem

    I would also assume I was fucked with if the poll came out in favor of the experiments despite writing an incredibly biased article attached to the poll. Fuck the wording of the question- look at what information is provided, mostly outraged quotes from people who aren’t involved in the research. A biased piece should result in a biased poll, right? Or they could, you know, give (at least) equal space to discussing what the research could accomplish and how it is done.

    Journalism is bullshit these days.

  9. 9
    quidam

    Hmm when I tried to vote it said that I had already voted. I wonder if they’re excluding people who voted in the first poll?

  10. 10
    quidam

    Ah thanks 32bituser. I missed your post.

  11. 11
    skeptifem

    lol the comments are fucking silly

    Heartless monsters who would do this to tiny helpless kittens! They are not humans and the study is worthless!! Seriously, the people who did it don’t realize that cats are different??

    inorite? Its not like animals have a common ancestry or anything! stupid heartless scientists!

  12. 12
    Iain Walker

    The Mirror has also started comments from scratch, it seems, although they’re pretty much the same mix as before – a few lone voices of reason (primarily pro-experiment), plenty of kneejerk “OMG Kittehs!!!!”, and a stiff seasoning of RWA psychopaths who think it’s OK to vivisect convicted criminals (or the scientists themselves).

    A couple that stand out in terms of amusement value:

    “The Mirror need to do a re-count now the general public have finally be able to have their say (after having their comments slammed down and sabotaged by the bullying tactics of PZ Myers and his psycho band of animal torturers who keep digging their immoral hole).”

    and

    “You only have to look at the comments to see that 90% are against such a disgusting idea. This is a poll fix and not representative.”

    The “general public” have “had their say” multiple times over the past few years, and the actual polls (as conducted by MORI, YouGov etc) consistently show a majority support for animal testing (c90% accept it conditionally, c60% unconditionally). Pharyngulating the Mirror’s silly excuse for a poll is actually making it more representative of British public opinion.

  13. 13
    skeptifem

    funky

    Second time I was made aware of this poll here: second time I voted NO. That is because the idea of cute little kittens being hurt makes me go all squidgy inside. Does that make me a bad person?

    Do you feel “squidgy” inside when cats have their eyelids sewn shut as part of medical treatment? Because that happens all the time. I am sure that in the case of an eye injury you could justify that treatment. I don’t know why you can’t when the goal is to help blind people.

  14. 14
    Manu of Deche

    To all that are unable to vote:

    Try this link instead of the article. Worked for me (btw, you don’t need to clear your browser cache. Deleting the cookies is enough)
    *booming voice from above*
    “Thou shalt not delete cookies! Om nom nom nom nom”

  15. 15
    quidam

    skeptifem
    Journalism is bullshit these days.

    The Daily Mail has never been anything else. It was a founder member of the school of tabloid journalism

  16. 16
    Penny

    #6 – you need to vote YES this time…

    I voted, returned to poll, voted – so this time it appears to allow an individual to vote multiple times

  17. 17
    ljbriar

    Call me stupid, but how do I clear my cache? On Firefox.

  18. 18
    Penny

    Correction to #16 – revoting happens if you take the poll on the Mirror site, but not on the PollDaddy site.

  19. 19
    procyon

    skeptifem,

    Perhaps when kitten’s eyes are sewn shut to help them heal from a scratched cornea, some people tend to view that differently than sewing their eyes shut when it only serves the greater good of humans, and causes them to suffer.

    For me personally, who has two cats as roommates, I tend to view experimenting on cats as a lot more “squidgy” than experimenting on rabbits or rats or mice.

    Probably because rats and rabbits don’t wait in the driveway watching for you to come home, or hide behind the chair and pounce on you as you walk by, or follow you around the house to make sure whatever you are doing isn’t something they need to be concerned about, or curl up on you or near you and purr at every opportunity just because they enjoy your presence. But that’s just me.

  20. 20
    quidam

    ljbriar

    You need to clear cookies

    Here’s how for several browsers

  21. 21
    Amphiox

    Let’s not forget that in addition to learning about human visual pathways in these experiments, we learn even more, and more specific information about the visual pathways of cats.

    And this could have benefits in the future for the veterinary care of cats. And if you love cats, you should at least be willing to consider that there are at least some instances where this kind of experiment would be justified.

  22. 22
    ibbica

    Can someone who voted “no” there explain why, without resorting to an emotional appeal?

    Because from where I sit, I see work that both offers the potential for real, direct benefits to human health and is far from “inhumane” to the animals involved.

    Do any of the people voting “no” really not consider an animal’s induced blindness to be worth the ability to treat a child’s blindness?

    How many kittens is a child’s sight worth? How many rats are a cancer patient’s life worth? How many fruit flies are worth sacrificing for the sake of the ability to identify a genetic disease in humans?

    Does your answer change if you think it more or less likely that the research will produce a tangible benefit?

    Finally: why is euthanasia at the end of an experiment considered such a horrible thing? Is the prospect of a humane death really so horrible to overwhelm all other considerations?

    Would it be better to limit research to those (numbers of) animals that can be adopted out afterwards? Would *you* be willing to adopt a blind cat, a crippled rat or mouse, or a fruit fly with a genetic defect? Fund husbandry facilities for the care of “used” animals?

    Exactly what outcome would make using animals in research acceptable to you? If the answer is “none”… alright, how do you suggest we research developmental vision defects? spinal cord injury treatment? neurodegenerative diseases?

    Sorry, but we can’t solve everything with correlations…

  23. 23
    jemand

    If any of these people who voted “no” took seriously the pain of animals raised in factory farms, with no anesthesia, without any scientific merit, just a quest for the cheapest kind of meat possible, I might take them seriously.

    I *like* cats a lot, but thirty kittens, treated gently and given as much pain mitigating medication possible and subjected *only* to the minimum amount of pain in order to answer a scientific question, opposed to the billions of chickens, pigs, cows, etc raised for slaughter in appalling conditions for nothing more than capitalism?

    Come on. Going after science here is a complete reversal of priorities and lack of recognition of where just a little effort could lead to so much more of a reduction in animal suffering.

  24. 24
    Iain Walker

    quidam (#15):

    The Daily Mail has never been anything else.

    It’s the Daily Mirror, not the Mail. In fairness, the UK’s tabloids are a little hard to tell apart, but if it helps, the Daily Mail is a sensationalist, scandal-mongering gossip-rag that traditonally supports the Tories, whereas the Daily Mirror is a sensationalist, scandal-mongering gossip-rag that traditonally supports the Labour Party.

  25. 25
    anteprepro

    Come on. Going after science here is a complete reversal of priorities and lack of recognition of where just a little effort could lead to so much more of a reduction in animal suffering.

    B-b-b-but, kittens !

  26. 26
    Olav

    Procyon:

    Probably because rats and rabbits don’t wait in the driveway watching for you to come home,

    (etc.)

    You don’t have much experience with rabbits, do you?

    If you give rabbits the run of your house and don’t keep them locked in cages to grow obese, they do a lot of the things you mentioned. Including jumping in your lap for treats and petting when you are sitting on your sofa. They can be very sociable and affectionate with people they trust and they have lots of personality.

    That being said, when a rabbit (or a cat) is the most suitable animal for a worthwhile experiment, you finding it “squidgy” is not good enough reason to prevent the experiment. Just get over it.

  27. 27
    Eris Caffee

    Thank you for giving me a chance to vote against this kind of monstrous “research” a second time!

    Really, this is an excellent example of why I will never call myself a humanist. Atheist? Yes. Freethinker? Absolutely! Humanist? Out of the question. Humanity does not have any overarching importance in the world, it is not the central focus of the Universe, and it has no right to place itself on a moral pedestal above all other forms of life. Our “needs” – in the case of this research, though, it’s just our “wants” actually – do not trump the needs of other species.

    So we could learn something to cure lazy eye from this research? Too bad. That potential benefit does not justify mutilating and later killing innocent beings whose only fault is that they had the audacity to be born without the ability to speak up in their own defense.

    It does not matter if anesthesia was used.

    It does not matter if the research was reviewed by a committee.

    It does not matter if you think it was done “humanely”.

    I mean really! If sewing shut the eyes of a baby and killing it a few weeks later is so humane and useful to society, then please feel free to volunteer your own baby for the procedure. Just be sure and let everyone know first, so we can call the police and have you arrested.

    Humanity needs to develop a new moral and ethical code that includes respect for all life, not just human life. It saddens me to see that otherwise good people such as PZ can condone this barbaric treatment of other living beings simply because they are not the same species and it would be useful to see what the results are.

    The attitude of atheists who condone animal research reminds me of Genesis 1:26

    …let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    You may have rejected the stone age religion, PZ, but you still cling to at least one of the stone age ideas it promotes. It’s time to let go of that one and embrace our cousins. All life on Earth is one familiy – as an evolutionary biologist you ought to know that.

  28. 28
    ointment

    I used to read the Mirror fairly often: simply written, but actually not bad reporting. Certainly several steps above the Sun, and better politically than the Mail.

    But this is just awful. Either the paper has gone a long way downhill, or its website is much worse than the printed edition (do we know if this story appeared in the print edition?).

  29. 29
    philtorres

    The approach of The Mirror reminds me of Gregor Mendel who, as far as I know, simply redid the Pisum experiments that failed to match his predictions. He then picked the “best” experimental results and published them. In fact, isn’t this what a lot of scientists do? I worked in a bacteriology lab when I was a master’s student and I remember the professor simply throwing out the results that didn’t turn out as hoped — “Ah, there must have been some mistake made; these dishes must have gotten contaminated.”

    Anyway, none of my points vitiate the problems with internet surveys that Myers initially mentions! Between Myers and myself, 100% of us agree that internet surveys are unreliable.

    http://www.acrisisoffaiththebook.com

  30. 30
    Olav

    Eris, #27, I trust you are a strict veganist, do not own pets, do not visit zoos, do not kill ants or mosquitoes (let alone mice) when they invade your house, and will refuse medical treatment for yourself and your loved ones if the treatment has ever been tested on animals.

    If not, you are a massive hypocrite.

  31. 31
    paddy

    So we could learn something to cure lazy eye from this research? Too bad.

    Yup.

    I can picture the brave, thrusting researchers now, choking back tears of empathy as they cut pieces out of the kittens’ skulls. “Oh, woe, you poor little thing! Keep still, I missed a bit with the chisel. How noble of you to give your life!” Gimme a break.

    I had a lazy eye as a kid, as it goes.

  32. 32
    kieran

    Is it just the use of kittens or all our relatives? If it’s all our relative at least you’ve a clear moral objection however if you view all life is equal but don’t rally at Jerry coyne for his mass slaughter of drosophila or planning a mission to free all the C. elegans kept at the Sanger institute then you are being a hypocrite using cute kittens as the excuse not to recognise the facts of how such reasearch is carried out.

  33. 33
    jarredcaldwell

    Paddy,

    You must not know very many researchers. But I guess it is easier to make up an argument against animal research if all the researcher you know are in your imagination.

  34. 34
    Sili

    So they won, but they’re still not happy?

    Ah, The Mirror, “read by people who think they run the country”.

  35. 35
    Iain Walker

    eris (#27):

    It saddens me to see that otherwise good people such as PZ can condone this barbaric treatment of other living beings simply because they are not the same species

    Why do you think that species enters into it? I suspect that many people willing to defend the research would defend it on the basis of a sliding scale of sentience/sapience, which is independent of considerations of species.

    All life on Earth is one familiy [sic] – as an evolutionary biologist you ought to know that.

    All life on Earth may be genealogically related, but why do you think this is morally significant for our treatment of other organisms? Why do you think that any moral conclusions follow from this fact?

  36. 36
    leighshryock

    1) I consider humans more important than non-human animals. Call me biased, I don’t care.
    2) I do consider animal welfare to be important.
    3) As such, even if the threat isn’t imminent, if a few (non-human) animals can help alleviate the suffering (or save) of even just one person (though it would likely be applied to many people), by doing research on them and applying that research to the medical field, do it. Just be as humane as possible while doing so.

  37. 37
    thegoodman

    @eris 27

    You give a lot of reasons why you think humans are equal to all other animate species. You exclude inanimate species such as carrots. Which carrot told you it was OK for you to eat it? How dare you destroy the life of a perfectly harmless and beautiful plant for the lowly reason of extending your, by your own admission, unimportant life (so as compared to cats and such).

    You think you are better than carrots?

    I am of course being facetious. Your “line in the sand” seems very arbitrary to me. By your logic, we should all nurse until we are weened, and then drink water until we die. Thankfully YOUR logic is not logical to anyone or we would not longer exist as a species.

    Speaking of us using our minds to advance our own existence, I would argue that medical research benefits house cats (Felis catus) and house dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) MORE than any other species on the planet (aside from humans of course). By extending the improving the lives of humans, we have created the need of pseudo-companions such as domestic animals. No other animals are more popular than cats and dogs for domestic companionship.

    If you really care about domestic cats so much, it behooves them for humans to live longer and healthier lives. If they could collectively meet and discuss this topic, don’t you think the cats of the world would agree that sacrificing a few young (whome they occassional eat) for medical research to improve the lives of their owners is a sacrifice that will pay off in spades?

    Your stance on the value of human life verses the lives of other mammals is childish and arbitrary.

  38. 38
    joeschoeler

    I feel a bit squidgy about this myself, but this is important research that I don’t see how could be acomplished any other way. It doesn’t seem these kittens are being treated worse than is necessary for the experiment. Besides, I couldn’t condemn this when I think of the number of cows, pigs, and chickens that we kill in much more terrible ways.

    I keep thinking that everyone is outraged only because these are cute fuzzy animals, as I don’t see anyone being this upset if these were frogs. To anyone who votes no, I would love to hear a reasoned argument against this, and if you would feel different about a less cute animal. The only thing I have seen so far is emotional outbursts.

  39. 39
    oolon

    Not so much fun this time – the cognitive dissonance of the posts last time was plain to see and quite hilarious. ‘OMG!! How can so many people want to sew Kittens eyes shut!!!!! Sick!!! Do this to the scientists!!!!!!!!’ etc etc.

  40. 40
    chrismorrow

    It’s difficult for me, but in the end I do support animal research. I have a feeling that my own and others’ revulsion is partially related to the abstractness of the gains. Put someone in a hypothetical situation where they could press a button and it would cause one human baby to be cured of an awful disease and one kitten to have its eyelids sewn, and that someone will likely press the button. But “scientific knowledge” is much more abstract than direct causation, so people have different reaction and subsequently develop arguments in support of that reaction.

    However, I’m frustrated by the fact that just about everyone who accepts utilitarian arguments in favor of such research would still object if human babies were involved. Or is that just a public-image thing, “politics is the art of the possible”? Let me be clear: I’m not saying “research on human babies is immoral, therefore, so is research on kittens.” My views are the other way around. Just do the math and find the ultimate utility. Now, I suppose that makes me a monster, in some way that owning an iPad does not?

    Meanwhile, it’s perfectly reasonable to draw a bright line of moral significance between vertebrates and other life forms (a line has to be drawn somewhere, there isn’t even a non-fuzzy boundary between “life” and “not life”), so it’s silly to accuse vegans who oppose this of being hypocrites if they once stepped on an ant or don’t oppose fruit fly research.

    Besides, slippery slopes go both ways. You think it’s okay to kill a dust mite for fun? Well, go ahead and explain why it’s wrong to kill a human for fun. We’re related, and there wasn’t a single parent in the family tree who had a child of a different species.

  41. 41
    solipschism

    And once again, I’ll vote ‘no.’ I know that as a long-time lurker here, my comments don’t have any weight, but I just have to voice this… It’s so disappointing to see so much of the commentariat that I deeply respect– people who I’ve literally cheered for as they scathingly but eloquently demolished the deeply flawed arguments of the misogynists, the racists, the libertarians, the woo-peddlers, and of course religion, etc.–now utterly fail to apply their own reasoning abilities to the issue of non-human animal welfare.

    And for the record, my vote would be the same were it kittens, rabbits, monkeys, pigs, or aardvarks. So long as it has the kind of brain and nervous system with a capacity to suffer, it deserves not to be tortured. I’m 100% with SaltyCurrent on this one.

  42. 42
    leighshryock

    Thought experiment time!

    For those who vote no, tell me your reaction in each of these situations:

    1) A building is burning. Inside, you know there is a child and litter of (6) kittens. You have time to save only one of them, the other will die. Which do you save?

    2) A building is burning. Inside, you know there is a child and a litter of (6) kittens. You have time to save both, but, the one that you save last will suffer permanent damage from smoke inhalation. Which do you save first?

    3) A pet store is burning. Inside, you find a child who asks you to save the animals before saving xir. Which do you try to save first?

    If you answered ‘the child’ to any of these, then how can you be against animal research? The threat may not be imminent, but, if you can pick the human over the animal when it comes to threats, surely you can see that animal research has been critical to medical research and as such has significantly improved not only quantity and quality of life, but has also been responsible for saving the lives of many many people.

  43. 43
    Eris Caffee

    Jenand:

    If any of these people who voted “no” took seriously the pain of animals raised in factory farms, with no anesthesia, without any scientific merit, just a quest for the cheapest kind of meat possible, I might take them seriously.

    Well then, since I’m a vegetarian and would love to see factory farming banned, I guess you can take me seriously.

    I *like* cats a lot, but thirty kittens, treated gently and given as much pain mitigating medication possible and subjected *only* to the minimum amount of pain in order to answer a scientific question

    Gosh! It’s only 30 babies who are tortued with just a little pain for a few weeks and then killed, so it must be OK then, right? Sorry jemand. Your argument really falls flat.

    Come on. Going after science here is a complete reversal of priorities and lack of recognition of where just a little effort could lead to so much more of a reduction in animal suffering.

    I’m not going after science. I’m just saying that some things are simply not worth learning if the price of learning them is inflicting suffering on innocent beings. Could the reaserch produce useful information? Sure! Could this ultimately lead to a reduced overall level of suffering among both humans and cats? Of course! Does that justify the research? Not at all. Your argument is equivalent to saying “if I steal a million dollars from from my rich neighbor and use it to fund a homeless shelter, then the theft is justified because suffering has been reduced”. Of course, if you did steal that money, you’d still be a thief, no matter how much better off some people were afterwards.

  44. 44
    paddy

    I’ve got another one, leighshyrock: what if you had to choose between your own (hypothetical) child and someone else’s? What if you had to choose between losing a leg or losing an arm in the process? What if the kitten was the last of its species and had also been taught to speak French?

  45. 45
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    My user name refers to books, specifically old tatty books so I am obviously typing this with a cat in my lap. The idea of little sewn-up blind kittens makes me want to cry (and then adopt all of them when the experiment is completed.)

    I voted in support of science both times. If this poll had a practical result, if it could actually affect whether or not this experiment were performed, I would still vote in favor of it. My empathy is based on what I personally know – kittens are cute. I don’t have the scientific background to fully understand the need for this experiment and have to go on what I do know – the UK guidelines are strict, there is no other way to perform this experiment and the reasons to perform it have been adequately presented.

    My concern now is that all of this extra frothing and fear mongering will put the scientists in danger. The reactionary fringe of “animal liberation” has proven to be violent in the past. (as well as stupid, especially when it comes to releasing non-native species into the UK wilds.)

  46. 46
    pentatomid

    What about research on ducks?

    Ah, well, you see, ducks are all assholes, so anything goes, really.

  47. 47
    leighshryock

    Does that justify the research? Not at all.

    How do you propose we deal with medical research, then? Just put a huge stopper on the whole thing and just say ‘fuck everyone who has a disease that medical research might be able to cure, because damnit, I don’t want to see a mouse or kitten be the source of experiments’?

  48. 48
    Eris Caffee

    ibbica:

    Can someone who voted “no” there explain why, without resorting to an emotional appeal?

    Sure. It’s because humanity is not more important than other species. We have no ethical or moral superiority that gives us permission to treat other species as our property. We are not privileged beings in the Universe with the right to control the lives and destinies of others. Anthropocentrism is a false notion that quite frankly I’ve always associated with religion, but now I see that it also affects the non-religious too. That is very sad, but not, I suppose, to be unexpected.

    Do any of the people voting “no” really not consider an animal’s induced blindness to be worth the ability to treat a child’s blindness?

    It is not worth it. Humanity is not more important than other species.

    How many kittens is a child’s sight worth? How many rats are a cancer patient’s life worth? How many fruit flies are worth sacrificing for the sake of the ability to identify a genetic disease in humans?

    Kittens per child? Rats per cancer patient? One life equals one life. Period.

    Fruit flies, though, I’ll give you. Even I have a hard time feeling much consternation about research on those. (And to be fair, most fly research is, I think, more about breeding and genetics, so there isn’t as much in the way of intentional infliction of pain and suffering so far as I’m aware.) In general, if it can obviously feel pain then it should not be subjected to pain.

    Does your answer change if you think it more or less likely that the research will produce a tangible benefit?

    Not really. The potential benefit would need to be astronomically huge to justify the research to me. And if the benefit was really that great, then it would probably justify experimentation on humans, not just non-humans.

    Finally: why is euthanasia at the end of an experiment considered such a horrible thing? Is the prospect of a humane death really so horrible to overwhelm all other considerations?

    Because killing someone only weeks into it’s life after you have intentionally inflicted suffering on it – regardless of whether or not you oh so generously provided pain killers – is, by definition, not humane. It’s just torture and murder.

    Would it be better to limit research to those (numbers of) animals that can be adopted out afterwards?

    It would be best to limit research to observations of existing conditions and natural behaviour.

    Would *you* be willing to adopt a blind cat, a crippled rat or mouse, or a fruit fly with a genetic defect? Fund husbandry facilities for the care of “used” animals?

    Of course I would. As it is most of the animals that live with me (8 cats and 4 dogs) are rescues of some sort, though none from reasearch. One dog was a a breeders dog who was dumped when she got too old to have puppies. Another was a feral kitten whose colon was distended (poking 2 inches out of her anus) and we spent more than $1000 to get her healed. I’d be more than happy to help out former research animals, especially if it meant and end to the kind of research that was done on them.

    Exactly what outcome would make using animals in research acceptable to you? If the answer is “none”… alright, how do you suggest we research developmental vision defects? spinal cord injury treatment? neurodegenerative diseases?

    Sorry, but we can’t solve everything with correlations…

    No outcome I’ve ever heard of justifies this kind of research. And if that means we never find cures for these diseases, or that it takes much, much longer to find cures because of the slower pace of non-animal research, then so be it. Humanity has survived for tens of thousands of years. We can wait a bit longer.

  49. 49
    thegoodman

    @solipschism 41

    I am seriously asking, are you a vegan? Do you use any cosmetic or medical products that have been tested on animals? Have you ever had a medical procedure done?

    I once worked for a medical device company. Part of the development of the product included research on dogs. Dogs, because of the size and location of the prostate (and availability from shelters) are great candidates for prostate cancer research. The dogs were very sweet and loving. It was sad to know they would be euthanized soon. They paid a very big price to be a part of research that will hopefully help men survive prostate cancer.

    These dogs were going to be put to sleep. They were born out of irresponsible humans who elected to own dogs. They died for a good cause.

    If you have conviction, you will not participate in any of the things I mentioned. It is also very likely that you will die a very painful death because of this. I hope you do not make this choice, but instead silently thank those animals that have died so that you can live.

  50. 50
    leighshryock

    I’ve got another one, leighshyrock: what if you had to choose between your own (hypothetical) child and someone else’s? What if you had to choose between losing a leg or losing an arm in the process? What if the kitten was the last of its species and had also been taught to speak French?

    And only one of those have to do with animal/human dynamics, and it is an impossibility that would admittedly put a huge damper on my answer. Since said kitten would probably have to be sentient. Which puts it outside of the scope of anything to do with this conversation.

  51. 51
    Paul

    And for the record, my vote would be the same were it kittens, rabbits, monkeys, pigs, or aardvarks. So long as it has the kind of brain and nervous system with a capacity to suffer, it deserves not to be tortured.

    Where’s the torture? Honest question.

  52. 52
    Paul

    Kittens per child? Rats per cancer patient? One life equals one life.

    You accuse atheists of magical thinking with regard to humanity being special, but you’re doing the same thing by portraying “life” as something magical and special (not to mention “all life being equal”, which would make plant consumption just as bad as animal consumption).

  53. 53
    paddy

    leighshryock @47:

    How do you propose we deal with medical research, then? Just put a huge stopper on the whole thing and just say ‘fuck everyone who has a disease that medical research might be able to cure, because damnit, I don’t want to see a mouse or kitten be the source of experiments’?

    Come on, that’s not realistic. That kind of reminds me of all the times people have said to me: “Well, if everyone went vegan overnight, all the animals would go to waste/die in their sheds/foment revolution. Therefore bacon.”

  54. 54
    leighshryock

    No outcome I’ve ever heard of justifies this kind of research. And if that means we never find cures for these diseases, or that it takes much, much longer to find cures because of the slower pace of non-animal research, then so be it. Humanity has survived for tens of thousands of years. We can wait a bit longer.

    You would damn countless people for the sake of non-human animals that would be treated as humanely as possible, and sometimes even have a better quality of life than otherwise?

  55. 55
    skeptifem

    One life equals one life. Period.

    Fruit flies, though, I’ll give you. Even I have a hard time feeling much consternation about research on those. (And to be fair, most fly research is, I think, more about breeding and genetics, so there isn’t as much in the way of intentional infliction of pain and suffering so far as I’m aware.) In general, if it can obviously feel pain then it should not be subjected to pain.

    This doesn’t make any sense to me. If one life is equal to one life then wouldn’t sacrificing one life to save countless other lives make sense?

  56. 56
    Eris Caffee

    Olav:

    Eris, #27, I trust you are a strict veganist, do not own pets, do not visit zoos, do not kill ants or mosquitoes (let alone mice) when they invade your house, and will refuse medical treatment for yourself and your loved ones if the treatment has ever been tested on animals.

    If not, you are a massive hypocrite.

    Not at all Olav. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s actually normal for animals to eat other animals and to kill in self delfense. (Though I am, in fact, vegetarian, I am not vegan. Cheese and eggs are nice, and while factory farms do cause suffering of animals, that is why I do my best to avoid their products and buy from local farmers. I live in a smei-rural area, so that’s an available option for me.)

    I have not been to a zoo if decades, though, I do recognize that they have a use if preserving rare species (that have been made rare, of course, through the actions of humanity).

    And I’ll certainly not refuse to make use of any knowledge, not matter how it was gained.

    But really, now, you immediately insulted me rather than giving any serious consideration to my remarks. I think, therefore, that I can safely jump to a conclusion about the value of continuing to speak to you.

  57. 57
    leighshryock

    Come on, that’s not realistic. That kind of reminds me of all the times people have said to me: “Well, if everyone went vegan overnight, all the animals would go to waste/die in their sheds/foment revolution. Therefore bacon.”

    If non-human animals were off the table for research, then it would put a significant damper on medical research. Imagine trying to get approval for drug testing on medicine that hasn’t even been tested in animals? It would be a nightmare. Not to mention that you would, by extensions, be condemning many people to bad results from medical research if you ban non-human animals from research – we tend to do the more dangerous parts on animals first to see if it’s safe to do on humans.

  58. 58
    ljbriar

    quidam – Thank you!

    Manu of Deche – Thanks for the alternative link. I ended up using that anyway.

    And since they have come up in this thread, I will say that I am a longtime rat owner, and rats are every bit as affectionate as dogs and cats. They know their names, come out to see you when you come home, give kisses, all that adorable pet stuff. Looking at my family members who have all had health problems that they are only surviving thanks to animal research, I’m still okay with rat experimentation provided the animals are treated as humanely as possible and suffering is minimized.

  59. 59
    procyon

    I understand that squid have certain attributes that make them good candidates for research on sight. Perhaps researchers could devise away to sew patches over their eyes and dissect them later.
    How would PZ respond to that?

    They are less fuzzy and not nearly as warm as kittens. And I don’t think they purr.

    And Olaf @26
    I didn’t mean to besmirch the good name of rabbits. I do have some experience with them. As a child my grandparents raised them, along with chickens, and they made for many a Sunday dinner.

    And I am “over it”. I don’t have to like it. It is just my opinion. If kittens are the only possible way to get the research results necessary, rather than rabbits, or rats, or squid, have at it.
    It is an emotional issue, not a rational one. At least for me.

  60. 60
    paddy

    leighshryock:

    And only one of those have to do with animal/human dynamics, and it is an impossibility that would admittedly put a huge damper on my answer. Since said kitten would probably have to be sentient. Which puts it outside of the scope of anything to do with this conversation.

    Fair enough. My point was really about the basis for assigning moral consideration. What if the child was severely mentally disabled, then?

    If non-human animals were off the table for research, then it would put a significant damper on medical research. Imagine trying to get approval for drug testing on medicine that hasn’t even been tested in animals? It would be a nightmare. Not to mention that you would, by extensions, be condemning many people to bad results from medical research if you ban non-human animals from research – we tend to do the more dangerous parts on animals first to see if it’s safe to do on humans.

    I’m willing to accept that treatments *might* take longer to develop. I’m sure the price of cotton went up after slavery was abolished, too.

  61. 61
    skeptifem

    Not to mention that you would, by extensions, be condemning many people to bad results from medical research if you ban non-human animals from research – we tend to do the more dangerous parts on animals first to see if it’s safe to do on humans.

    you can guess which humans the burden would fall on, too.

  62. 62
    Eris Caffee

    Iain Walker

    Why do you think that species enters into it? I suspect that many people willing to defend the research would defend it on the basis of a sliding scale of sentience/sapience, which is independent of considerations of species.

    Indeed you are correct, and really if I had to make actual decisions about approving research, I’d probably use such a scale myself. But the level of sentience I’d pick as the cutoff point would be much lower than most people. For example, I’d say that every mammal, bird, reptile, and fish shows enough sentience to merit being excluded from this kind of research.

    All life on Earth may be genealogically related, but why do you think this is morally significant for our treatment of other organisms? Why do you think that any moral conclusions follow from this fact?

    As an atheist, I have no book to serve as a guide to morality. No gods or priests to tell me what to do. So I must formulate my morality as best as I can.

    But honestly, I can’t define it very well. I’m a computer programmer, not a philospher, so I never spent a lot of time trying to come up with explanations for why I consider one thing “good” and another thing “bad”. But one general rule of all human societies is to simply try and be nice to people. Don’t hurt them. When we all avoid harming each other we all tend to be happier in our lives. Since I do not hold an anthrocentric view of the world, I really can’t see why this simple rule should not also apply to non-humans. Be nice to cats. And goats, and armadillos, and clownfish, and flycatchers, and flies, and all living things.

    Yes, there will always be some conflict. Creatures eat each other, for example. That’s natural. But the kind of animal research we’ve been talking about constitutes going out of ones way to cause harm when there is no need to do so. That’s not exactly nice.

    In the end, of course, it comes down to whether or not one feels that the ends justify the means. I do not think they do in the case of this kitten research. Obviously many people here do.

  63. 63
    skeptifem

    @59

    I understand that squid have certain attributes that make them good candidates for research on sight. Perhaps researchers could devise away to sew patches over their eyes and dissect them later.
    How would PZ respond to that?

    he said external blinding devices (goggles, patches, etc) drive cats insane with discomfort. sewing does not and it is done under anesthesia.

  64. 64
    tyrannical

    Why bother experimenting on animals when we have plenty of humans?
    Animals, depending on the experiment are a poor replacement, and world-wide there are plenty of “murders” that could be used as a replacement. Experimentation could even be used as a form of discouragement to a commit crime. Probably even kinder than some execution practices, such as a tire around the neck filled with gasoline lit aflame.

  65. 65
    w00dview

    In case SC is reading this thread, just want to say thanks for your thoughtful answer on invasive species in the Carmille Marino thread. Even though I think sometimes eradication has to be the solution to certain problems (such as the feral goats in the Galapagos), you are right that certain people seem to use conservation as an excuse to satisfy their bloodlust. A great example of such behaviour is a group called Songbird Survival Trust wanting to shoot corvids because of their alleged harm to songbird populations. This organisation is well known to have ties with the shooting community. See here for more:

    http://www.againstcorvidtraps.co.uk/songbird-survival/bloodsports

    By the time I read your answer, the thread was dying down so just want to let you know that you did not waste your time articulating your points!

    Sorry for the derail, now back to the kitties.

  66. 66
    Eris Caffee

    thegoodman

    You think you are better than carrots?

    You’re reaching there. Too far. Look around the world: living things eat other living things. It’s normal. I can, of course, choose what I eat, and so I eat things that have no known capacity to experience pain. If there is something wrong with that, please do let me know.

    I am of course being facetious. Your “line in the sand” seems very arbitrary to me. By your logic, we should all nurse until we are weened, and then drink water until we die. Thankfully YOUR logic is not logical to anyone or we would not longer exist as a species.

    Thankfully, it’s also not my logic, but rather your own misinterpretation. I have no line in the sand. I have a wide muddy are with indistinct edges. It just so happens that cats are not in that area. They’re on the rocks, over there, glaring at us and waiting for us to stop doing silly human things and open up another can of food already.

    If you really care about domestic cats so much, it behooves them for humans to live longer and healthier lives. If they could collectively meet and discuss this topic, don’t you think the cats of the world would agree that sacrificing a few young (whome they occassional eat) for medical research to improve the lives of their owners is a sacrifice that will pay off in spades?

    Do you really beleive they would sacrifice their young to reap the benfits of research? Why? We humans are unwilling to sacrifice our own young, so why should we think that cats woud sacrifice theirs?

    Your stance on the value of human life verses the lives of other mammals is childish and arbitrary.

    Actually, a childish attitude would be one that fails to ackowledge the needs and emotions of others. Perhaps you’ve never been around children much, but they tend to focus on their own desires even if it means hurting those around them. Taking a toy away from a playmate, or throwing a tantrum when they are not given the candy they want, are examples that come to mind. Or putting firecrackers in a cats anus. (I actually saw that and put a stop to it one time a few years ago. It sickened me.)

    Or sewing the eyelids of a cat shut to see how it affects the brain.

    An adult considers the impact of his actions on those who are affected and treats them as equals.

  67. 67
    Amphiox

    IIRC, kittens are born with their eyes closed, and in these experiments, the eyelids are sewn shut before they would have normally opened, per natural development. It is in fact only because that in cats the infants are born without functional sight and develop sight later in development that it is even possible to do these experiments to investigate the formation of visual pathways in relation to responses to visual stimulus.

    And these experiments can only be done in similar mammal species that have this same pattern of development – to be born without sight, with closed eyes, and for the eyes to open later.

    Thus it is actually IMPOSSIBLE to do these experiments with human babies even if it were ethically acceptable, because human beings are born already with the ability to see.

    What the experiments really boil down to is an artificially induced delay of one aspect of normal kitten development, putting the timing out of step with other aspects. In those experiments where the kitten is not euthanized (the behavioral ones), the eyelids are opened at a later time, and we observe aberrations in the cat’s visual systems because critical windows for neural pathway development that depend on external output are missed. The cats display visual deficits in specific tests. However, for the most part, in everyday life, these cats are not significantly impaired, as they develop compensatory mechanisms. And since the cats never actually have the experience of “normal” vision in their lives, they are never aware of what they “miss”. (And most of these experiments, AFAIK, are done with just one eye sewn, and the other eye left open, so that we actually have a good normal control with the contralateral side). Therefore, in these behavior studies, at least theoretically, the cats after the experiment is done can live out nearly normal lives with loving families as pets. The cats therefore suffer no more than any human who was born blind in one eye who has never had any memory of having sight in two eyes. Less, probably, because cats have less of the cognitive capacity to contemplate that someone did this to them deliberately and angst over it that humans might have.

  68. 68
    Rip Steakface

    @64 tyrannical
    Two things:

    1. You’re an asshole for thinking criminals are somehow less human than kittens. Fuck off.

    2. Because this is regarding brain plasticity and must be performed on young organisms. The vast majority of criminals are already finished with the biggest part of brain development.

  69. 69
    Eris Caffee

    Paul

    You accuse atheists of magical thinking with regard to humanity being special,

    Not at all, Paul. I am an atheist!

    but you’re doing the same thing by portraying “life” as something magical and special (not to mention “all life being equal”, which would make plant consumption just as bad as animal consumption).

    Life is not magical, but it certainly is special. At least I think so, and I’d bet money that most people would agree with me on that.

    As for plant consumption, please look around the world: living things eat other living things. Certainly animals do. It’s almost part of the definition of being an animal. (In wikipedia at least, it actually is is part of the definition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal )

    I’m sorry to tell, but eating really is part of life.

  70. 70
    leighshryock

    @Eris:

    An adult considers the impact of his actions on those who are affected and treats them as equals.

    Humans and non-human animals are not equals. Sentience being the major factor here.

    I would ask that you answer my questions upthread, as I’m honestly curious as to your answers:

    For those who vote no, tell me your reaction in each of these situations:

    1) A building is burning. Inside, you know there is a child and litter of (6) kittens. You have time to save only one of them, the other will die. Which do you save?

    2) A building is burning. Inside, you know there is a child and a litter of (6) kittens. You have time to save both, but, the one that you save last will suffer permanent damage from smoke inhalation. Which do you save first?

    3) A pet store is burning. Inside, you find a child who asks you to save the animals before saving xir. Which do you try to save first?

  71. 71
    Amphiox

    I understand that squid have certain attributes that make them good candidates for research on sight. Perhaps researchers could devise away to sew patches over their eyes and dissect them later.
    How would PZ respond to that?

    Squid do not have mammalian visual cortex. This kind of experiment, if done with squid, might provide information about the wiring of the cephalopod visual centers, but not about mammalian (ie human) visual centers.

    We would also need to know how cephalopod visual centers are normally wired first before even contemplating attempting such an experiment.

    Furthermore, this experiment has to be done on infant squid, and newborn/hatched squid are close to microscope in size.

    Furthermore, squid don’t have eyelids.

    Furthermore, the regenerative and plasticity capacity of cephalopod nervous systems relative to vertebrate ones is, I think, not yet known. It is quite possible that such a manipulation in squid would produce no discerning changes of any kind whatsoever.

  72. 72
    johnwolforth

    Of course it is about them being kittens. People don’t like rats and don’t care if you sew their eyes shut. That it is kittens forces us to think about it. It’s the same as buying a steak in a grocery store vs killing, skinning and cooking a rabbit yourself. Peter Singer got us to think about this a long time ago by taking it all the way to retarded children. A severely retarded child (yes I know that’s the wrong word), is very comparable to a kitten. Why do you have different standards for them? It’s just a thought experiment, so think about it.

  73. 73
    Amphiox

    Why bother experimenting on animals when we have plenty of humans?

    Because, you know, we already tried that. Experimentation on criminals used to be done all the time.

    And we have empirical results as to the effectiveness of such research and the ethical consequences.

    We already know that this is a failed idea.

  74. 74
    Eris Caffee

    leighshryock

    You would damn countless people for the sake of non-human animals that would be treated as humanely as possible, and sometimes even have a better quality of life than otherwise? be locked in cages, intentionally inflicted with diseases, have their limbs crippled, and then be killed and dissected after a much shorter life than they would have in the wild.

    There, I fixed that for you.

    Seriously, though, I know that some research animals do in fact live long lives. Many do not. The kittens in the research that started this topic certainly did not. They lived only a few weeks with their eyesight crippled. No one would be “damned” by not performing this research.

    Human suffering is not increased by a failure to cause non-human suffering.

  75. 75
    sailor1031

    “If one life is equal to one life then wouldn’t sacrificing one life to save countless other lives make sense?”

    Ah the old “trolley problem” again. But what if it’s your life that we sacrifice in prder to save countless kittens?

  76. 76
    Amphiox

    Because this is regarding brain plasticity and must be performed on young organisms. The vast majority of criminals are already finished with the biggest part of brain development.

    The equivalent experiment in humans would actually have to be done in utero, or at best immediately after birth, before there is any visual input at all through the eyes.

  77. 77
    leighshryock

    Seriously, though, I know that some research animals do in fact live long lives. Many do not. The kittens in the research that started this topic certainly did not. They lived only a few weeks with their eyesight crippled. No one would be “damned” by not performing this research.

    Human suffering is not increased by a failure to cause non-human suffering.

    I merely mentioned that it is possible for them to live better lives than otherwise. Note that I’m not talking about length of life, but of quality of life.

    Especially those that are obtained from animal rescue centers.

    As for the latter part, it is. Or at least, it is prolonged and not lessened.

  78. 78
    PZ Myers

    Tyrannical: you’re clearly a troll. You are now confined to TZT. Post elsewhere, you’ll be banned.

  79. 79
    leighshryock

    As for the latter part, it is. Or at least, it is prolonged and not lessened.

    Actually, I can think of examples where it would infact be increased: in the cases of dangerous, untested medical research, the suffering of humans could increase due to dangerous research being done on humans instead of on animals first.

  80. 80
    Eris Caffee

    skeptifem

    This doesn’t make any sense to me. If one life is equal to one life then wouldn’t sacrificing one life to save countless other lives make sense?

    Perhaps so. But we are not talking about sacrificing one life to saving coutless others. We are talking about taking many lives in order to possibly gain a bit of knowledge that might someday – perhaps decades from now – help someone find a way to save a few lives. Maybe.

    When there’s that much uncertainty, I cannot condone the initial taking of life. Can you? Can you honestly say that you would kill a man because there’s a chance that if you do some other people who might not even be born yet might be saved from an early death?

  81. 81
    Rip Steakface

    @76 Amphiox

    Thanks for the correction. I’m anything but a biologist (still a high school student, really), but even this all makes perfect sense to me. It’s the classic “sacrifice a few to save the many” problem, and even then, it’s “sacrifice beings that aren’t even going to be euthanized some of the time and aren’t human.”

  82. 82
    paddy

    leighshryock

    Humans and non-human animals are not equals.

    Neither are any pair of humans, though, are they?

    Sentience being the major factor here.

    Depends on how you define sentience. Why choose sentience anyway? It’s a proxy for “being human”, nothing more. It’s a tautology. Anyway, I refer you to Salty Current‘s thought experiment about aliens on the other thread (#72). Replace “sentience” or whatever you like with a similar proxy for “being a member of that alien race” and you have the same argument for them experimenting on us.

  83. 83
    sfgiants

    IMO, this is the type of poll we should leave well enough alone, and to gauge the true feeling of people.

  84. 84
    Rip Steakface

    @83 sfgiants

    PZ explained in the first paragraph why Internet polls don’t matter.

    You know how much I despise internet polls — they’re meaningless and biased, they draw on an already biased sample, and they tend to be so badly worded that their results are uninterpretable — there is a science of polls and surveys, and these things ignore it all.

    This poll, even if we left it alone, would still be inaccurate. As mentioned above, ~90% of Britons support conditional animal experimentation, and ~60% support unconditional animal experimentation.

  85. 85
    leighshryock

    But we are not talking about sacrificing one life to saving coutless others.

    Let’s take something simple. We’ll focus on a single issue where this has in fact been shown to be the case (well, not just one animal vs many, but a few vs a very large number):

    Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

    Due to the discovery (in mice) that a combined protein caused leukemia in mice, we developed the first anti-cancer drug: Gleevec. This drug treats a condition that affects 5000 to 8000 people per year, and it also has been used to treat a form of stomach cancer that was previously incurable. (gastrointestinal stromal tumor)

  86. 86
    leighshryock

    first anti-cancer drug

    oops, first molecular targeted cancer treatment drug

  87. 87
    leighshryock

    @paddy:

    Depends on how you define sentience. Why choose sentience anyway? It’s a proxy for “being human”, nothing more. It’s a tautology. Anyway, I refer you to Salty Current‘s thought experiment about aliens on the other thread (#72). Replace “sentience” or whatever you like with a similar proxy for “being a member of that alien race” and you have the same argument for them experimenting on us.

    No. I don’t use it as a proxy for ‘being human’. An alien with a significant intelligence would be as off-limits as humans (unless informed consent is obtained).

    In fact, I’d argue that we shouldn’t even experiment on any of the great apes without informed consent (which all but adult homo sapiens aren’t capable of giving, and even then not all adult homo sapiens can), or extreme need. Humans, as the top of what we know to be sentient, would be excluded from the ‘extreme need’ situation.

  88. 88
    Eris Caffee

    leighshryock:

    I would ask that you answer my questions upthread, as I’m honestly curious as to your answers:

    1) A building is burning. Inside, you know there is a child and litter of (6) kittens. You have time to save only one of them, the other will die. Which do you save?

    The child. In this case I have a choice between two situations where someone will die no matter what. I choose the human child because I am human and do have some loyalty to my kind, after all. I would not feel guilty for this because, according to the conditions of your question, someone must die.

    Change those 6 kittens to 6 whooping cranes, or some other endangerd species, though, and my answer would change, because then I’d have to consider the impact on species survival: one human out of about 7 billion, or 6 cranes out of about 400? Go cranes! (BTW – they nest in the winter just about an hour away from me, but I’ve never had a chance to see them. I need to fix that!)

    2) A building is burning. Inside, you know there is a child and a litter of (6) kittens. You have time to save both, but, the one that you save last will suffer permanent damage from smoke inhalation. Which do you save first?

    3) A pet store is burning. Inside, you find a child who asks you to save the animals before saving xir. Which do you try to save first?

    In both of these situations I’d probably get the child first. Species loyalty again. And in both cases, if it were an endangered species, my choice would likely be reversed.

    Of course, I suspect you are really interested in the one life versus several lives part of the questions. Since I earlier got too dramitic and made the blanket statement the one life equals one life, without going into any actual nuances, I expect some people will try to say I’m a hypocrite now. Oh well.

    Clearly some lives are worth more than others. Siberian tigers and whooping cranes are individually worth more than humans, in my opinion, simple because the loss of a single individual has a greater impact on those species than on humanity. As much as I love cats, they are not an endagered species in any way.

    Make it one human child and 60 kittens, and I’d probably tell the child to run and then start getting the kittens.

    6 kittens, though? Child first.

    Like I said in an earlier post. I have no line in the sand. I just have a mud flat that can be awkward to wade through at times.

  89. 89
    lostintime

    I still support this research, because I am interested in reducing suffering, and on reflection it’s a procedure that I would very relucatantly support even if it was performed on a human being with profound mental disability.

    As for other research involving animals, does anyone know if the psychological experiments pioneered by Harry Harlow still being conducted? Are these now banned, or have these been reformed over the years into something more benign?

  90. 90
    paddy

    leighshryock

    No. I don’t use it as a proxy for ‘being human’.

    Ha, I disagree. In this context, “being sentient” always boils down to “being human”.

    An alien with a significant intelligence would be as off-limits as humans (unless informed consent is obtained).

    No, no. Assume the aliens are as superior neurologically to us as we are to other animals, so that *the aliens* would be justified in experimenting on *us*. Our friends from Alpha Centauri suffer from strabismus too, you know, sometimes in three eyes simultaneously, and very disagreeable it is too.

  91. 91
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    @19:

    For me personally, who has two cats as roommates, I tend to view experimenting on cats as a lot more “squidgy” than experimenting on rabbits or rats or mice.

    I feel the same way.
    I have 2 cats and I love them dearly.
    I feel uncomfortable at the prospect of a cats’ eyes being sewn shut.
    At the same time I understand this is being done as humanely as possible and the information learned will be of benefit to humanity.
    Argh!
    I don’t know how I feel about this.

  92. 92
    leighshryock

    Clearly some lives are worth more than others. Siberian tigers and whooping cranes are individually worth more than humans, in my opinion, simple because the loss of a single individual has a greater impact on those species than on humanity. As much as I love cats, they are not an endagered species in any way.

    I would save the human every time, even if the other is the last extant member of its species. However… I would exclude them from medical research except in extreme need.

  93. 93
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Amphiox:

    and more specific information about the visual pathways of cats.

    Knowing this, I can now support this research.

  94. 94
    Olav

    Eris, #56:

    I am, in fact, vegetarian, I am not vegan. Cheese and eggs are nice,

    Then I wasn’t wrong when I called you a massive hypocrite.

    So you are not a veganist. Which is alright because veganism is bloody dumb anyway, but at least it would be consistent with your remark in #48 that “humanity is not more important than other species. We have no ethical or moral superiority that gives us permission to treat other species as our property.”

    So where did you think your cheese and eggs came from? Animals kept as property, perhaps?

    And why would our own species not be more important to us than other species? I am amazed by such a ridiculous statement.

    And I’ll certainly not refuse to make use of any knowledge, not matter how it was gained.

    So you want the advantages of the research and at the same time you distance yourself from its disadvantages. In #27 you said “Too bad” to people who would benefit from the research that is under debate here, but you will not deny yourself of anything. More hypocrisy on your part, with a whiff of antisocial to go with it.

    But really, now, you immediately insulted me rather than giving any serious consideration to my remarks. I think, therefore, that I can safely jump to a conclusion about the value of continuing to speak to you.

    I gave consideration to the kind of sentimental remarks you made here, over 20 years ago. And frankly I am getting beyond tired of it. Do note that I did not insult you by calling you profane names as is so often the custom here. I just called you what you are, a massive hypocrite. Factual statement.

    HTH, HAND.

  95. 95
    leighshryock

    No, no. Assume the aliens are as superior neurologically to us as we are to other animals, so that *the aliens* would be justified in experimenting on *us*. Our friends from Alpha Centauri suffer from strabismus too, you know, sometimes in three eyes simultaneously, and very disagreeable it is too.

    Did you miss the bit about me including great apes?

    Also, aliens wouldn’t be able to obtain meaningful research that would enrich their species medically.

  96. 96
    Eris Caffee

    Wow! I wrote 10 posts so far. I’m very surprised. In the years I’ve been reading Pharyngula I’ve only ever even tried to post once before, and it was at Scienceblogs when there was so much trouble with registrations and posting. Normally I don’t even read the comments, much less add my own. The rate of commenting here is a bit overwhelming for me, so I normally don’t try to follow the threads because I’d be doing nothing else all day.

    The kitten research, though, hit a nerve with me, obviously.

    I’ve enjoyed talking with you all about this (most of you, at least), but I really need to do some … thingy … wossname … boss pays me for it … work! That’s it! I’ll watch the comments and if anyone has anything they’d like to ask me about specifically, please put my name in the comment, otherwise I need to get back to lurking and get back to work!

    (Olav, though, I’ll be ignoring. He just seems like a troll.)

  97. 97
    Olav

    Eris would save a few birds from a fire before a child. I am not a lawyer, let alone one under Common Law, but wouldn’t that be criminal neglect or something?

  98. 98
    Olav

    Eris, #96:

    (Olav, though, I’ll be ignoring. He just seems like a troll.)

    Sure, if someone points out your hypocrisy, call them a troll. That will work.

  99. 99
    Paul

    I’m sorry to tell, but eating really is part of life.

    And I’m sorry to tell, that you are putting lie to your “a life is a life” every time you eat almost anything. You don’t really believe that all lives are equal. Hell, you admitted it in the first post I quoted. Your life has required the extinguishing of countless lives, likely more on the average day than this entire study did over its whole course.

    How can you live with yourself? Do you really think your contributions to “life” exceed this study, over and over again every day of your life?

  100. 100
    Gregory Greenwood

    So, the Mirror is just going to repeat the poll until they get the result they want? So much for journalistic intregrity.

    —————————————————————

    @ 260 on the last thread on this topic, A Poll on Kitty Experimentation, I wrote a post that included the following paragraph discussing the problematic nature of finding a credible and ethical alternative to animal testing;

    I don’t think anyone here is happy about animal testing, but until a credible alternative is found we have no other acceptable choice. Do we really want to live in a world where people are allowed to suffer and die to avoid such testing, or we have a system where the poor and disenfranchised are desperate enough to play guinea pig for new drugs and treatments? Or even (I am going a bit Orwellian and extreme here to illustrate the point, but bear with me) where criminals or other ‘social undesireables’ are forced to undergo such testing for the benefit of the more ‘productive’ members of society? Are any of the above scenarios a better option? What alternative do you propose that wouldn’t be vastly more morally objectionable than the current system of carefully regulated animal testing?

    (Emphasis added)

    I used the heinous Orwellian concept of forced medical experimentation on prisoners as an extreme scenario for what might replace animal testing – it was intended as an example so horrifying that no one would ever countenance it. I had hoped that nobody here would ever argue such a thing in earnest… and yet here I read @ 64;

    Why bother experimenting on animals when we have plenty of humans?
    Animals, depending on the experiment are a poor replacement, and world-wide there are plenty of “murders” that could be used as a replacement. Experimentation could even be used as a form of discouragement to a commit crime. Probably even kinder than some execution practices, such as a tire around the neck filled with gasoline lit aflame.

    (Emphasis added)

    Best case scenario – Tyrannical is simply a very, very foolish troll. The alternative is far more worrying – people such as that which Tyrannical appears to be, chill me to the bone – the sheer, horrifying inhumanity of someone who genuinely views their fellow human beings as nothing more than eminently disposeable commodities (so long as they do something to ‘deserve it’ – like break the law, or, in certain historical instances, be born into a notionally ‘inferior’ social grouping. I am sure everyone here knows what I am referring to).

    That attitude lies at the root of many pogroms and genocides throughout history. It appears that, no matter how extreme the example you choose to use as something that nobody in this day and age would wish to do, you will always find someone who would either happily go that far, or for some reason thinks it funny to pretend that they would.

  101. 101
    spud

    “If non-human animals were off the table for research, then it would put a significant damper on medical research.”

    Too bad. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned anybody who supports this kind of research (and that includes, instead of kittens, frogs, ferrets, squid, rats or any other substitutes mentioned on this thread: I have a particular passion for rats, personally), your moral compass is not just awry, it’s been pissed on, smashed to smithereens with a mallet, the pieces doused with lighter fluid, set alight and left as a smoking ruin in the corner.

    I consider myself as a dedicated supporter of science, but perhaps I should consider myself as a former supporter of science. If the scientific enterprise, or part of it, is demeaned and degraded to this iniquitous level, fuck science.

  102. 102
    Jeebus

    So, the Mirror is just going to repeat the poll until they get the result they want? So much for journalistic intregrity.

    It’s a tabloid. It never had all that much journalistic integrity.

  103. 103
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    eris,

    Human suffering is not increased by a failure to cause non-human suffering

    This is false. Argue honestly. We are discussing a trade-off between animal suffering and human suffering.

  104. 104
    tyrannical

    PZ Myers

    Tyrannical: you’re clearly a troll. You are now confined to TZT. Post elsewhere, you’ll be banned.

    What is TZT?
    I only found this place by Googling PZ Meyers and found something called Pharyngula as a top hit.

    I’m certainly not a troll, I just politely disagree with some atheists because my views more closely follow the pioneer fund’s views than egalitarianism.

    Was it the Rationalia debacle that drew me here? Yes, I never heard of this place before then. They don’t particularly care much for me either but they are tolerant.

    Yes, Richard Dawkins banned me from his site years ago because open racists like myself put his charitable status in jeopardy.

    Eventually the spin-off site rationalskepticism also banned me for racism.

    But what is free thought without free thought? I’m intelligent, rational, and can defend my viewpoints. You may not agree with what I say, but I don’t insist that you do.

  105. 105
    spud

    solipchism, #41: “… for the record, my vote would be the same were it kittens, rabbits, monkeys, pigs, or aardvarks. So long as it has the kind of brain and nervous system with a capacity to suffer, it deserves not to be tortured. I’m 100% with SaltyCurrent on this one.”

    And I’m 100% with you both.

  106. 106
    leighshryock

    @spud:

    Too bad. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned anybody who supports this kind of research (and that includes, instead of kittens, frogs, ferrets, squid, rats or any other substitutes mentioned on this thread: I have a particular passion for rats, personally), your moral compass is not just awry, it’s been pissed on, smashed to smithereens with a mallet, the pieces doused with lighter fluid, set alight and left as a smoking ruin in the corner.

    I support research that helps to save humans from suffering or death. Your empathy towards animals is laudable – but not if it means that humans must suffer for it.

  107. 107
    PZ Myers

    I’ll let it pass once.

    This is TZT. It’s linked on the sidebar on the right. Trolls are confined there.

    You’re a troll. Stay there, or go away.

  108. 108
    spud

    “I support research that helps to save humans from suffering or death.”
    Indeed – as do I. But not on non-human animals. We don’t have that right. Nobody extended humans that right: it’s done because we can and we we can because we’re strong enough and callous enough to do it. I don’t normally quote the execrable C.S. Lewis, whose views otherwise I find variously ridiculous and abhorrent, but he got this much absolutely bang on the money: “If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.”

    “Your empathy towards animals is laudable – but not if it means that humans must suffer for it.”

    That doesn’t actually figure with me greatly. If at all, actually.

  109. 109
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I only found this place by Googling PZ Meyers and found something called Pharyngula as a top hit.

    Lucky you found it, considering that you are too incompetent to spell PZ’s name correctly.

    Yes, Richard Dawkins banned me from his site years ago because open racists like myself put his charitable status in jeopardy.

    Eventually the spin-off site rationalskepticism also banned me for racism.

    You mention this, but decline to assert that the charges were untrue? So, a proud racist? Fuck you.

    But what is free thought without free thought?

    Oh, you are another fuckwit who doesn’t understand what “free thought” means.

    I’m intelligent, rational, and can defend my viewpoints.

    Where is Nerd when you need hir? Alright, *channelling Nerd*, fuckwit OPINIONS asserted without evidence are merely a fuckwit’s OPINIONS and will be treated as such. POOF.

  110. 110
    Olav

    Spud, #101:

    Frankly, as far as I’m concerned anybody who supports this kind of research (and that includes, instead of kittens, frogs, ferrets, squid, rats or any other substitutes mentioned on this thread: I have a particular passion for rats, personally), your moral compass is not just awry, it’s been pissed on, smashed to smithereens with a mallet, the pieces doused with lighter fluid, set alight and left as a smoking ruin in the corner.

    Do you think you made a convincing argument there?

    Of course it couldn’t be that it is your own moral compass that is awry, et cetera. I bet you would save the birds before the babe just like that other paragon of morality, Eris.

  111. 111
    leighshryock

    Indeed – as do I. But not on non-human animals. We don’t have that right.

    Does the fox have the right to eat a rabbit it caught?

  112. 112
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    spud,
    Go to the mirror page if you want to fantasize about experimenting on criminals. It is fucking disgusting.

  113. 113
    Into the Sky

    @ 62 eris

    I really find it questionable how you’re able to justify the parasitization of other living creatures through hunting and consumption because it’s ‘natural’, but not the parasitization of other living creatures for the purpose of medical research.

  114. 114
    spud

    “Does the fox have the right to eat a rabbit it caught?”

    So far as I’m aware, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, a fox isn’t a moral agent. It’s not within the domain of moral agency. In fact, given the treatment that foxes suffer at human hands, they’re the exact opposite – moral patients. I don’t know if the philosopher Tom Regan coined the terms, but he certainly uses them: “… not all subjects of a life have the ability to apply impartial moral principles. Those that do are moral agents; those that do not are moral patients. Moral agents have unacquired duties (as opposed to contract or acquired duties) towards all subjects of a life, not just towards other moral agents. The just treatment of moral patients by moral agents does not require that the moral patients be able to reciprocate or even recognize moral actions. This concept is relevant to adult human actions towards young children and the mentally enfeebled, and to animals as well. The inclusion of animals is necessary. To exclude one moral patient while including another is purely arbitrary, and such partial treatment cannot be deemed just. So treating animals respectfully is not simply a matter of kindness or sentimental interest, but of justice.”

  115. 115
    dianne

    it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.”

    Nonsense. The only reason to cut up capitalists is because they sold you the knife and are now urging you to cut someone up to enhance the market.

    Sarcasm aside, do you really see no difference between non-human animals and humans? At least in degree? How many posters out there are non-human animals? That’s what I thought.

  116. 116
    leighshryock

    As an addendum, that statement is simply patently absurd. We are the dominant species on the planet. We do have a responsibility to its upkeeping (which we’ve been failing at, miserably), and I feel like we have a moral responsibility to the species on the planet as well, at least in so far as making sure that our own influences do not kill off species.

    We also have a responsibility to the animals in our direct care to make sure that they are kept and treated humanely.

    However, those are simply responsibilities that we inherit from existing (or as in the last bit, choosing to take care of an animal).

    We do not inherit any ‘rights’ from simply existing. We simply exist, and we value sentient life over non-sentient life and act accordingly.

  117. 117
    spud

    #112: “Go to the mirror page if you want to fantasize about experimenting on criminals. It is fucking disgusting.”

    I think you’re confusing me with someone else. I haven’t even mentioned experimenting on criminals, let alone “fantasised” about it.

  118. 118
    dianne

    Does the fox have the right to eat a rabbit it caught?

    Does the rabbit have the right to deprive the fox of its dinner?

  119. 119
    leighshryock

    @dianne:

    Does the rabbit have the right to deprive the fox of its dinner?

    It was an admittedly poorly chosen phrase to point out what I felt was an absurdity in his argument style.

  120. 120
    Olav

    Spud, #108:

    But not on non-human animals. We don’t have that right.

    Why not? We have every right that a majority of us can agree on. “Rights” are not handed down from heaven, nor are they a natural phenomenon. They are but the result of debate and negotiation among people.

    That is why I will not shut up in this debate, because I don’t want stupid anti-human ideas such as your own to remain unopposed.

  121. 121
    dianne

    Assume the aliens are as superior neurologically to us as we are to other animals

    Why? I can think of any number of ways that a “neurologically inferior” species might end up discovering humanity.

  122. 122
    paddy

    leighshryock:

    Did you miss the bit about me including great apes?

    No, I’m just asking, honest! You also said: “Humans, as the top of what we know to be sentient, would be excluded from the ‘extreme need’ situation”, and “I would save the human every time, even if the other is the last extant member of its species.”

    Why? I call proxy again!

    Also, aliens wouldn’t be able to obtain meaningful research that would enrich their species medically.

    Ah, come on, you know the point I’m trying to make. Just replace the aliens (even though Alpha Centaurans are known to be very resourceful) with a more intelligent species with whom we share a common lineage.

    I realise we’re subjecting the analogy to unnecessary suffering, but let’s persevere. It might eventually, one day, lead to a cure for all ham-fisted analogies.

  123. 123
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Spud,
    Did you not post,

    I don’t normally quote the execrable C.S. Lewis, whose views otherwise I find variously ridiculous and abhorrent, but he got this much absolutely bang on the money: “If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.”

    ?

  124. 124
    tyrannical

    PZ Myers

    I’ll let it pass once.

    This is TZT. It’s linked on the sidebar on the right. Trolls are confined there.

    You’re a troll. Stay there, or go away.

    May I ask what exactly is considered trolling?

    Generally it is regarded as falsely pretending to hold certain view points in order to upset other posters. I can provide evidence that I honestly believe my views, and am willing to politely and intelligently discuss them.
    Even Wikipedia defines free thought as “a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of logic and reason and not authority”

    If I was mistaken and this is not a bastion of free thought, I’d be glad to leave and never darken your blog again. Once banned from Dawkins and Ratskep I never went back because I don’t believe in sock puppets.

  125. 125
    leighshryock

    @paddy:

    No, I’m just asking, honest! You also said: “Humans, as the top of what we know to be sentient, would be excluded from the ‘extreme need’ situation”, and “I would save the human every time, even if the other is the last extant member of its species.”

    Aliens that follow my logic would exclude humans from its research, even if they are more ‘sentient’ than us (even though, due to anthropic bias, I cannot imagine how that could be), unless they find the need to be ‘extreme’.

    Ah, come on, you know the point I’m trying to make. Just replace the aliens (even though Alpha Centaurans are known to be very resourceful) with a more intelligent species with whom we share a common lineage.

    See above.

  126. 126
    dianne

    @119: Sorry, I don’t think I made my point very well. The point I was trying to make was that there are basic conflicts in living systems and sometimes there is no way to resolve them that is “right”. The rabbit gets eaten or the fox goes hungry. Which outcome is morally superior? I don’t see either as being better than the other.

    I’m mostly a vegetarian, though I occasionally eat birds. I avoid most animal based food and especially mammal meat because I don’t have to eat it in order to survive and even thrive. Therefore, I don’t think it morally right for me to eat it. OTOH, there are some medical questions that can not be resolved without the use of animal test subjects. That’s a necessity for life and therefore more morally justifiable, at least on the level of the fox needing to find something to eat.

  127. 127
    spud

    #126: ” … there are some medical questions that can not be resolved without the use of animal test subjects. That’s a necessity for life …”

    If we’re being exact about it, it’s a ‘necessity’ (I’ll quibble about the use of that word later) for *some* members of *one* species.

  128. 128
    leighshryock

    @paddy:

    I suppose I should give an example of extreme need. The HIV pandemic is an extreme need. I approve of research on great apes (aside from humans, unless with consent) due to the extremely large amount of suffering caused by the HIV pandemic. (That is, of course, assuming that we cannot obtain similarly meaningful research data from lesser sentient species.)

    Hell, if it required the extinction of one of the other species of great apes in order to end the HIV pandemic entirely, I would be absolutely devastated, and very upset. But, in the end, I would support it.

  129. 129
    Paul

    Generally it is regarded as falsely pretending to hold certain view points in order to upset other posters.

    That has never been an accepted general definition, unless one is specifying a “concern troll”.

    If you like Wikipedia definitions so much, you can check how they define troll over different periods of time. It’s fairly close to how the word is used here.

  130. 130
    cswella

    IMO, this is the type of poll we should leave well enough alone, and to gauge the true feeling of people.

    Would be a fair point, if only the people running the poll weren’t leading the reader. Nor re-polling to get the outcome they want.

  131. 131
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    May I ask what exactly is considered trolling?

    No. Not here at least. You could have asked that over at TZT. A link was kindly provided for you.

    Goodbye, tyrannical.

  132. 132
    PZ Myers

    Tyrannical: bye. You’re such an idiot.

  133. 133
    Olav

    Dianne, #118:

    Does the fox have the right to eat a rabbit it caught?

    Does the rabbit have the right to deprive the fox of its dinner?

    Animals do not behave according to “rights”. They just do what they must do.

    If you want to make this confusingly legalistic you could say that of course, both of them act within their right. The fox has a right to catch and eat the rabbit, the rabbit certainly has the right to escape. These two competing rights nullify each other, to the extent that they both become meaningless. With or without rights, it always comes down to who is the fastest.

  134. 134
    dianne

    Hell, if it required the extinction of one of the other species of great apes in order to end the HIV pandemic entirely, I would be absolutely devastated, and very upset. But, in the end, I would support it.

    It’s not. All that’s required to get HIV under good control is political will and money. We’ve got very good antivirals that keep HIV under control and reduce the risk of passing it to a sexual partner or to one’s children significantly. Not to mention condoms which reduce the risk sexually as well. Now, if we could simply get them to the people that need them…Time for the world’s most common great ape to gets its act together and help those who need it.

  135. 135
    paddy

    leighshryock

    Aliens that follow my logic would exclude humans from its research, even if they are more ‘sentient’ than us (even though, due to anthropic bias, I cannot imagine how that could be), unless they find the need to be ‘extreme’.

    The analogy is due to be euthanased (in a macerator) very soon, but before it is, I’ll just say I think you’re being obtuse. Let’s say the aliens species (or Earth-based species, or whatever floats your boat) has a trait analogous to sentience, which I contend you are using as a proxy for being human, that humans do not possess this trait, and that the other species relies on that fact to justify its experiments on us.

    Phew. Honestly!

  136. 136
    leighshryock

    @dianne

    It’s not. All that’s required to get HIV under good control is political will and money. We’ve got very good antivirals that keep HIV under control and reduce the risk of passing it to a sexual partner or to one’s children significantly. Not to mention condoms which reduce the risk sexually as well. Now, if we could simply get them to the people that need them…Time for the world’s most common great ape to gets its act together and help those who need it.

    I’m well aware that the situation isn’t that that exists in reality. I was simply giving an example of what I feel is an extreme need, and the lengths to which I feel would be justified actions in alleviating that extreme need.

    The analogy is due to be euthanased (in a macerator) very soon, but before it is, I’ll just say I think you’re being obtuse. Let’s say the aliens species (or Earth-based species, or whatever floats your boat) has a trait analogous to sentience, which I contend you are using as a proxy for being human, that humans do not possess this trait, and that the other species relies on that fact to justify its experiments on us.

    But I base my decision based upon sentience, not any other trait. Any analogous trait would be considered to simply be sentience by me, as it would strongly resemble sentience (which is already slightly fuzzy as it is).

    I don’t see what would look like a duck, act like a duck, sound like a duck but suddenly be an alligator here.

  137. 137
    dianne

    If we’re being exact about it, it’s a ‘necessity’ (I’ll quibble about the use of that word later) for *some* members of *one* species.

    Shrug. If you’re over 18, feel free to reject all medical treatments that are derived from research on animals at some point. That would, of course, be essentially all of them, but that’s your look out. But don’t go for the “I’ve got mine” attitude which says that past research (which treats the illness you have) is ok, but future research (which might treat someone else’s illness) is bad.

  138. 138
    leighshryock

    Sorry, obviously, the second half of my comment was directed towards paddy.

  139. 139
    xenos

    I’m a long-time lurker on Pharyngula, but this thread (and the previous one) has finally forced me to register and respond.

    Nobody is going far enough with the consequences of human existence to animal life, and nobody is challenging some pretty insane assertions.

    Due to agricultural practices, millions of animals die each year… whole species go extinct. Am I talking about factory farming, or about animals killed for meat production? Nope. The biggest source of deforestation in the world today is clearing of rainforests for palm plantation, to provide palm kernel oil (a naturally-occurring saturated fat, necessary for shortening in baked goods). Over half of Madagascar’s rainforests are gone, exclusively for palm plantations. Nearly half of all unique species in Madagascar since the 1950s are now extinct. Due to the need to find non-animal (vegan friendly!) cheap shortening without resorting to trans-fats. Millions of animals dead, so we can have dairy-free cookies.

    Hundreds of thousands of animals die every year from our use of transportation… as roadkill, or habitat destruction from road building. To say nothing of what our building of cities and farmlands do to habitats. EVEN if you’re the strictest Vegan alive, YOUR EXISTENCE CONTRIBUTES TO COUNTLESS ANIMAL DEATHS. And I’m not talking about bugs and worms here… I mean higher-order mammals and birds and so forth. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of feral pet animals that are euthanized every DAY world wide (this doesn’t include the ones that die of starvation or injury before they can be rounded up by animal control).

    Further, the claim that these kittens suffer more and die younger “than they would in the wild” is completely LUDICROUS. The average lifespan for a feral cat is incredibly short, most often ending in early death from malnutrition or being eaten by other animals! The reason most animals produce sizeable litters is because evolution expects most of them to DIE YOUNG. Gotta produce lots, so that some MIGHT survive until the next generation. The same reason is behind the fact that most mammals reach sexual maturity very quickly, and go into heat frequently. Nature is a horrible place, where suffering is NORMAL. In the wild, all animals suffer constantly. They are hungry, uncomfortable, in pain, frightened, etc every moment of their lives, with few exceptions (mostly those at the top of the evolutionary ladder).

    Animals raised for research, even if they are blinded and euthanized young, have MUCH better lives than any wild animal ever will. They are cared for, played with, well-fed, never hungry and rarely frightened. It’s ridiculous to claim otherwise, unless you are so completely insulated from reality that you think Disney cartoons are an accurate representation of nature.

  140. 140
    petrander

    I am still voting NO, though.

  141. 141
    cswella

    I as a human being value other human beings over non-human beings.

    On the other hand, I value time with my dog over time with people I don’t like, and I would not sacrifice her life to save a stranger.

    There is no black and white to this issue. I support the science despite the image of kittens in my mind.

  142. 142
    paddy

    leighshryock

    But I base my decision based upon sentience, not any other trait. Any analogous trait would be considered to simply be sentience by me, as it would strongly resemble sentience (which is already slightly fuzzy as it is).

    I don’t see what would look like a duck, act like a duck, sound like a duck but suddenly be an alligator here.

    Maaaan, all I’m asking is whether the other (non-existent) species would be justified in experimenting on us. Are you from Alpha Centauri or what? They’re known for their wriggliness.

  143. 143
    xenos

    AND, I didn’t even mention, all the people who are saying “research would be set back if we couldn’t use animals” or “we should NEVER experiment on animals, we don’t have the right”:

    No, most research would be IMPOSSIBLE without animal models. Completely IMPOSSIBLE. By not using animal models in science, we aren’t suggesting that medical research must be slowed down, we’re suggesting that it must STOP.

    NO new drugs. No government would allow clinical trials of a drug that hasn’t been given even basic toxicity testing. So all drug development must halt. NO new surgical techniques. NO new knowledge about development and teratogens. NO new anti-cancer treatments.

    If your position is that humans cannot morally use animal models in research, your position is that humans should just suffer and die. That’s an easy position to have when you’re not personally experiencing their suffering, and it screams of the exact same “I’ve got mine” selfishness that infects the health care debate.

  144. 144
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Animals raised for research, even if they are blinded and euthanized young, have MUCH better lives than any wild animal ever will. They are cared for, played with, well-fed, never hungry and rarely frightened. It’s ridiculous to claim otherwise, unless you are so completely insulated from reality that you think Disney cartoons are an accurate representation of nature.

    (Itallics added)
    Slightly hyperbolic, but overall, very well said.

    On a seperate note, I feel this whole argument would be better had over the topic of veganism generally. Maybe I am wrong to think this, but I would think that more people would be persuaded that the suffering and killing of animals for food is more unjustified than for the purpose of medical research and the alleviation of human suffering. Reducing human suffering seems a less controversial use than killing animals for food. The argument seems more fruitful when you compare the number of animals killed for food with the number killed for scientific advancement. And, as xenos explained well, the quality of life for a research animal is better than that of its feral counterpart, and surely better than that of its factory farm cousin.

    *just refreshed*
    Xenos, your #143 is also spot on, IMO.

  145. 145
    procyon

    Amphiox,
    While I appreciate your reply to my previous comment @71, I was making an attempt at humor.

  146. 146
    leighshryock

    Maaaan, all I’m asking is whether the other (non-existent) species would be justified in experimenting on us. Are you from Alpha Centauri or what? They’re known for their wriggliness.

    If they have the mental capacity to be able to make a moral judgment of any sort that can follow such logic, then, no. As they would be, by my definition of sentient, sentient.

    If they aren’t capable of making a moral judgment, then they’re not really sentient. And as such, cannot really be held liable for their actions.

  147. 147
    xenos

    #144 Woo_Monster: Thanks, yeah, I should have said “better lives than the vast majority of wild animals ever will”. Still, the point stands.

  148. 148
    michaeld

    I love me some kittehs and bunnehs but I`m still ok with the research. It’s sad but understandable.

  149. 149
    Olav

    Thank you, Xenos, #139, for your perspective.

    Though I am not sure that “In the wild, all animals suffer constantly.” This is a bit too much “red in tooth and claw” for me.

    Life in the wild can certainly be brutal and miserable, but it does not need to be like that all of the time. When the predators are shaken off and a good food supply is found, I believe even wild animals can experience happy and relatively carefree times. Even if only temporarily.

  150. 150
    spud

    #144: “On a seperate note, I feel this whole argument would be better had over the topic of veganism generally. Maybe I am wrong to think this, but I would think that more people would be persuaded that the suffering and killing of animals for food is more unjustified than for the purpose of medical research and the alleviation of human suffering.”

    I see exactly where you’re coming from and you would imagine that most people would get this, but regretfully do see you as wrong. When it comes right down to it, and I speak from very long and bitter experience, when a lifestyle change is floated (such as giving up flesh or going the whole hog – no pun intended – and becoming vegan), ‘belly first’ seems to be very much the order of the day. In other words, for the great majority, when that possibility is mooted, there seems very little if any practical difference between medical research for the purpose of alleviating human suffering and the comparable demand to eat dead animals.

  151. 151
    IngisKahn

    @paddy

    Maaaan, all I’m asking is whether the other (non-existent) species would be justified in experimenting on us.

    leighshryock already said yes. Anyway, where do you think all the anal probes come from?

  152. 152
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I have a question for those against medical research using non-human animals. When this topic comes up, I often see people ask if you decline medical treatments that have been tested on animals, or if you refrain from using all animal-tested products. I rarely see responses. I wonder how you feel about this question. Do you think it is unfair that people who ask you this are implying (sometimes very explicitly) that you are a hypocrite if you do willingly benefit from these products/treatments that you object to? My gut reaction is that it is just a stupid question. No one is going to forego an appendectomy simply because the procedure was developed on animals, or because the doctor trained on animals. But, though my reaction is that it is a silly question, I have a hard time coming up with cogent responses in my mind. Anyone who dislikes this question, or thinks it misses the mark, care to explain why?

  153. 153
    lostintime

    xenos

    Due to the need to find non-animal (vegan friendly!) cheap shortening without resorting to trans-fats. Millions of animals dead, so we can have dairy-free cookies

    That’s a surprising claim, do you have any evidence to support this? I always thought animal-based fats tend to be replaced in processed food because plant based alternatives are cheaper and more healthy? But WHAT really persuaded me in YOUR post was the EXCESSIVE use of CAPS LOCK.

  154. 154
    Amphiox

    The humor or lack of it with respect to your post @71 is not actually relevant in any way to my response to it, procyon.

  155. 155
    leighshryock

    @paddy:

    I guess I’ll give a bit more reflection on the subject of experimentation on humans by other sentient species:

    I’d say that, even if on about the same level of sentience, they would technically be justified – if there were an extreme need. However, I’d much prefer that they ask and obtain consent from the individuals being tested on. (And in such cases, wouldn’t be necessitated by an extreme need, because they obtained consent.)

  156. 156
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    leighshryock,
    re the super-sentient alien. IF the moral calculous is based on sentience, and even IF some alien species possessed a much higher/more complex form of sentience, you still don’t necessarily need to approve of those aliens using humans for research. You could, for example, think that there is a cutoff somewhere on the continuum of sentience. Any species above it is complex enough that most* experimentation for research would be wrong. You can value sentience, and still not open yourself up to allowing any more-sentient species to use any less-senteint species.

    *I say most because you can always construct a thought-experiment where almost anything is moral

  157. 157
    procyon

    Amphiox

    Your response was fine. My point is only that I didn’t seriously mean to suggest that squid would make a good model replacement for kittens in mammalian sight and vision research.

  158. 158
    xenos

    #153 lostintime: Yes, animal fats were originally phased out (but not completely) as a cost-saving measure, because artificially-saturated fats (ie hydrogenated vegetable oil) are much cheaper… you just take cheap canola or soybean oil and heat it to mega-high temperatures to break carbon double-bonds. However, this generates lots of trans-fats. As governments have cracked down on trans-fats in food, producers have sought alternatives, and while some have returned to animal fats, most prefer to keep their products “universal”, ie completely animal-free. Palm kernel oil is not much cheaper than lard these days (butter is still much more expensive), but the industry keeps using it because it’s lower in trans fat than hydrogenated oils, and allows them to still sell their product to the lactose-intolerant, vegans, muslims, jews etc etc. Which, from a business perspective, makes perfect sense… you don’t want your product to be seen as inedible by any significant segment of the population.

    McDonald’s gave up using lard in their fryers for much the same reason… it wasn’t any cheaper to switch to pure vegetable oil, but it allowed them to avoid criticism from people who don’t eat swine.

  159. 159
    leighshryock

    @Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts:

    I can’t help but feel that would be a little bit internally inconsistent, seeing as I feel that other members of the Great Ape family are pretty damn near the sentience level cutoff, yet I feel that research on them is justified, but only in extreme need.

    Now, the bar for what is ‘extreme’ enough would probably go up higher for more sentient species (like humans or these hypothetical aliens).

  160. 160
    dianne

    You could, for example, think that there is a cutoff somewhere on the continuum of sentience. Any species above it is complex enough that most* experimentation for research would be wrong.

    Millions of clinical researchers would like to claim that humans are below that cut off if it exists.

    Yeah, I’m just messing with you. I know you mean medical research not intended to benefit the research subject and without the subject’s consent.

  161. 161
    lostintime

    Xenos,
    So, are you blaming the loss of “over half of Madagascar’s rainforests” on vegans or what? I just want to be clear on this.

  162. 162
    isilzhaveni

    Anyone who votes “no” is demonstrating that they don’t even have a basic understanding of science, how experiments are conducted, how animals are used and why this type of research is done and needed.

    I love cats, I adore them, and I snorgle mine at every opportunity; however, I also recognize that animal experimentation is crucial to scientific advances.

    Maybe one day we’ll be beyond the need for it (though I seriously doubt it), but until then it’s absolutely necessary (with all proper oversight, of course).

  163. 163
    michaeld

    You know i’d feel better about alien experimentation if they at least borrowed some of our medical textbooks first.

  164. 164
    dianne

    My gut reaction is that it is just a stupid question. No one is going to forego an appendectomy simply because the procedure was developed on animals, or because the doctor trained on animals.

    Not to disrespect your gut, but why not, if it was really unethical to do the research? It’s my understanding (possibly wrong) that some of the data obtained by the Nazis on hypothermia was destroyed because it was felt that any improvements in the treatment of hypothermia made based on the data would not be worth the immorality of using data obtained by human suffering and that using it might provide the justification for future abuse of human test subjects. (Also, they were horrible experimentalists and it was probably crappy data, but never mind that.)

    So, similarly, if it is unjust to use animals in experiments, why is it ok to use information learned from past animal experiments? Isn’t it just encouraging future immorality and profiting by past crimes? Also a bit unfair to the person whose condition might have been cured tomorrow if you’d allowed animal experimentation today? Why should people with “easy” (aka already understood) medical problems get the right to profit by animal suffering but not those with harder problems?

  165. 165
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Not to disrespect your gut, but why not, if it was really unethical to do the research?

    Feel free to disrespect my gut. It doesn’t have any feelings. I also have doubts about my gut’s capabilities to reason through that line of questioning. I tried to imply in #152 that when I think about it, I can’t see how my gut reaction is justified.

    When I try to discompassionately use my brain, rather than gut, I see it how you do, dianna. Namely,

    So, similarly, if it is unjust to use animals in experiments, why is it ok to use information learned from past animal experiments? Isn’t it just encouraging future immorality and profiting by past crimes? Also a bit unfair to the person whose condition might have been cured tomorrow if you’d allowed animal experimentation today? Why should people with “easy” (aka already understood) medical problems get the right to profit by animal suffering but not those with harder problems?

    Those are the same questions that come to mind for me.

  166. 166
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    @Woo_Monster

    I see technology developed through ethically questionable research the same way I see any product produced unethically. Wherever possible I attempt to limit my consumption but I apply a healthy amount of pragmatic self interest. When I go grocery shopping I read labels and avoid anything with animal products but I don’t write to manufacturers to find out if they use bone char processed sugar, and when I’m out to eat I don’t interrogate waitstaff about every single ingredient in the free bread. And if my sandwich shows up with mayo or cheese by mistake I’d rather eat it than let it go to waste.

    I realize that when I purchase a medicine that was tested on animals I am still supporting that research, but you could also argue that buying a used car with leather interior contributes to the demand for animal skin. I can afford to choose not to wear leather but if I were shopping for a used car I couldn’t afford to pass up an otherwise good deal on that basis.

    I’m not well versed enough in biological research to form a concrete opinion here, but I’ll note that plenty of experiments in psychology (Skinner, Zimbardo) would never pass an ethics board today yet they’re still taught and used as the basis for further research.

  167. 167
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    And yeah, but I’m big ol’ hypocrite. But I recognize my hypocrisy and attempt to bring my actions as much in line with my beliefs as possible.

  168. 168
    Grimalkin

    It seems to me that there’s a lot of slippery-sloping going on here.

    Does supporting animal research mean that you’re a sadistic animal abuser that tortures animals for no reason? No.

    Does not supporting animal research mean that you’re either entirely vegan or a hypocrite? Also no.

    Killing a fly and killing a kitten, for one, are not the same thing, nor are they the same as killing a human. Killing a kitten, for that matter, is not the same as testing on one, nor is that similar to torturing one.

    There are differences in scale, and differences in necessity. Grudgingly supporting the cruelty inherent in the production of all food (animal based or otherwise) because that is the only option presented to me and I need to eat to live is one thing. Being against an animal testing procedure that is needlessly cruel or that will not garner valuable data is another.

    I’m 100% against an animal dying for a child’s pleasure, and 100% for an animal dying for a child’s life. I’m, say, 90% against animal testing for the purpose of testing cosmetics and perhaps some other percentage for animal testing for the purpose of improving a life. It’s not black-and-white, no-animal-ever-dies-ever or tortures-kittens-for-fun. It depends on a lot of different factors.

    In this case? As much as this is impossible to discern from the article, because the scientific merits of the experiment were left out entirely, it seems to me that the experiment will produce valid and important data and so I’m in favor of it. If the experiment wasn’t as humane as it could be, or if it wasn’t going to result in valuable data, or what have you, I wouldn’t be in favor of it. And that’s not even 100% this-is-awful-unforgivable-torture-so-I-hate-it. It’s more “fix the issues in your experiment and then I’ll be in favor of it”.

    Also, along the topic of whether someone who isn’t in favor of certain animal research should (or should want to) opt out of treatments that resulted from animal research- nobody here’s in favor of the nazi medical experimentation, right? Hell, nobody in the world save for the most unrepentantly terrible people are.

    And yet some of the data from those experiments has been useful (albeit incredibly controversially).

    Not to say that there is even a tiny, itty-bitty, even negligible similarity between the torturous nazi experiments and animal tests that must be as humane as they possibly can be. But they do show that it is possible to recognize the validity and value of data even if you find the experiment that it came from to be sickeningly inhumane.

  169. 169
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    But they do show that it is possible to recognize the validity and value of data even if you find the experiment that it came from to be sickeningly inhumane.

    This is what I was trying to get at with my example of eating a non vegan sandwich served to me by mistake. If I could go back in time and make double sure the waiter understood my order I would, but now that it’s here I may as well enjoy the cheese.

  170. 170
    lamanga


    This needs some extra help – stuck on 42% Yes.

  171. 171
    lamanga

    oh, and if you use Tor Browser, you can delete cookies each time you vote and just keep on voting…

    Which is basically why any internet poll is a piece of shit.

  172. 172
    xenos

    #161 lostintime:

    No, sorry, I’m not making myself clear. I’m blaming the deforestation of Madagascar on industrial agriculture in the form of palm plantations, period. There are multiple reasons why industry has turned to palm kernel oil: one of these is to ensure that vegans, Muslims and others with restrictive diets can still purchase their products. That does not mean that vegans are to “blame” for it… any more than health-conscious people who choose to avoid trans-fats are to blame for it (since reducing trans-fats is one of the contributing factors to the industrial popularity of palm kernel oil).

    My point is that it’s complicated. Should we BAN palm kernel oil? Its use by industry has reduced trans-fats in our diet, which is good for human health, so that’s a good thing. But the demand for it, and lack of regulations in third-world countries, means it comes at an environmental cost. Using dairy or lard instead of palm kernel oil has different costs. What I’m saying is that being a Vegan doesn’t make you magically no longer involved. A part of modern human existence is that we have an enormous impact on the environment, one that often results in the deaths of animals, because humans are part of the natural world, and can’t avoid having an impact on it one way or another.

  173. 173
    meeque

    Hm, I usually keep my hands off all the polls presented here. Mainly because I know how easy it is to manipulate open Internet polls.

    But on this issue: I read the article, I read some of the comments on the first poll — and I was just shocked! I couldn’t believe the strong and simplistic opinions people there tended to express. I mean, it’s one thing to feel uncomfortable about the concept of animal testing. And I can sympathize with people voting ‘no’ in the poll. (Even though I consider that stance rather unreasonable.)

    But all these rants in the comments? All the accusations? And all these trolls propagating their in-humane ideas about how the penal system should work? That really depressed my mood.

    Well, I voted in both polls. I know it is purely symbolic. Still. And I’m happy to see that the comments on this second poll are slightly less outrageous. At least for the sample I checked.

  174. 174
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    What I’m saying is that being a Vegan doesn’t make you magically no longer involved.

    Of course it doesn’t, and your points about palm oil are well worth considering. A similar issue that often nags at me when I’m shopping is the fact that many products labeled “vegan” are also labeled “organic” which means that the plant ingredients were likely grown with animal nutrients. Or “non-GMO” which may mean less sustainable farming practices. In the end I still tend to buy them because I prefer the potential indirect harm to the obvious and direct and I want to support companies that at least make an effort.

    Being vegan isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) about dogmatic purity it’s about minimizing the harm you cause. Meat, eggs, and dairy are no-brainers to me – there is direct and deliberate harm inflicted on sentient beings to produce those products and they provide no benefit to me other than tasting good. Other items are far more complex and I judge them case by case depending on my need and the availability of alternatives.

  175. 175
    chrismorrow

    Like nearly all my fellow Americans, I feel that governments in general have an innate right to take by force any land they wish from any people they wish. After all, I live on land stolen from Native Americans, and I’m not some kind of hypocrite! Likewise, of course, for just about anyone who lives anywhere. You think the history of your land’s residency has solely been one of transference by mutual consent, well, you’ve got a surprise coming.

    In seriousness, while I do in fact support animal research where it seems necessary, this particular argument — that people who use treatment garnered from such research but oppose future testing have an “I’ve got mine, screw you” attitude — is a bad one. We are under no obligation to destroy every single advantage that we happen to have been given by less-than-morally-perfect actions in the past. Not even if those actions are unforgivably evil (unlike animal research). To give an extreme example, a man who was conceived in an act of rape in fact owes his very existence to rape, but he is not somehow obligated to either kill himself or adopt a stance that rape is sometimes okay.

    Grimalkin:

    I’m 100% against an animal dying for a child’s pleasure, and 100% for an animal dying for a child’s life. I’m, say, 90% against animal testing for the purpose of testing cosmetics and perhaps some other percentage for animal testing for the purpose of improving a life.

    I’m 100% with Grimalkin. And I think the UK model on animal testing is worth adopting worldwide.

  176. 176
    chrismorrow

    I should add that I’m completely serious when I said (well, obscurely implied) that I would be okay with human babies being taken from hospitals and used in medical experiments with no limits apart from whatever can be justified for the sake of research. Unless I’m mistaken (which I may well be, being no expert on infant biology), the math is pretty straightforward: the lives of many more humans, of all ages, would be improved if we did something like that. To not do it is in effect to condemn thousands, even millions of kids to the same fate anyway.

    However, calling such a action “politically impossible” is beyooooond understatement, so I’m not going to push for it any time soon. Maybe in three trillion years, a trillion years after society comes to accept incest between genetically altered moon-people.

  177. 177
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    @Grimalkin & chrismorrow

    Why only 90% against cosmetic research? Surely it’s never acceptable for efficacy testing and animal models are far less than perfect predictors of toxicity in humans. Besides, don’t we have enough lipsticks and shampoos? I can understand the argument for medical research but do we really need to harm non human animals to further our vanity?

    For he record most of my hygiene products are made with ingredients that have been around long enough to have never (as far as anyone knows) needed to be tested on animals and I’m quite happy with them. Frankly if a new body wash or somesuch contained chemicals so suspect they had to be vetted on bunnies I’d rather not chance it myself, animal rights aside.

  178. 178
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Nevermind @chrismorrow, I’ll pose the question only to Grimalkin. You #176 is monstrous and I give no fucks what you have to say about anything else else here.

  179. 179
    neoleo

    I had posted earlier in the other thread regarding this topic, and after considerable reflection arrived at the conclusion that in the distinction between the ends and the means, the ends of these experiments are morally positive (promoting the welfare of humanity), but the means are morally negative (inflicting invasive procedures on unconsenting sentient creatures with the potential to suffer). I believe most will agree that it is entirely owing to the irreconcilability between our idealism and harsh reality that prompts us to employ such imperfect solutions.

    There are yet those who, however, despite acknowledging these moral objections, yet assert human life is naturally more valuable than animal life, thereby justifying these radical procedures. I would like, however, to call into question that bold assertion.

    Is it an axiomatic absolute that human life is inviolably precious, moreso than other forms of life? The question offhand may draw blinkered incredulity, for of course human life is of tantamount regard, and the well-being of sentient creatures like ourselves is of the utmost imperative when making moral judgments. Indeed, it is from our very relations that morality emerged as a behavior-governing construct.

    The thought experiment regularly invoked as a justifying analogy involves making a choice between saving a child or some animal in a burning building. Despite our heavy hearts tugged in twine, our natural inclination is to save the child.

    Let’s, however, rephrase the thought experiment thus: one must choose, amongst those trapped within a burning building, between saving a psychopathic serial killer arsonist who murdered your entire family before your eyes yet is temporarily unconscious, or saving the family dog who braved the oppressive flames to drag out your little sister, but got trapped beneath a beam while returning for your parents.

    It’s certainly an extreme dichotomy, but the intent is to demonstrate that clearly, in this instance, sentience and being human isn’t a definitive measure for the value of life. Anyone would choose to save the dog before the murderer, despite the dog being a non-human animal. If there are exceptions to the rule that sentient human life is inherently and inviolably precious, than it isn’t a rigid and absolute rule.

    Indeed, our own history of war and political upheaval, our policies governing gun-ownership and self-defense, our systems of retributive punishment and disputational law, the escalating environmental pressures we impose on the planet that immediately threaten life as we know it, and much more, collectively demonstrate that at times human life is itself a significant danger to human life. And so, despite our mawkish overtures of human life’s innate value, we are yet willing to (and often do) override that value, ironically, in service of the very same.

    So then, if sentience and personhood does not universally and intrinsically confer special consideration in our treatment of beings external to ourselves, what motivates us to choose to support the life of some creatures over others?

    I would argue that, fundamentally, it has little to do with some naturally inherent virtue in the continued hegemony that is our intellectual patrimony, but rather an entirely values-based judgment, centered upon our in-built biological prejudices and the complex mental tools serviced in the interests of our species overall survival, if not perhaps all life. Like all similar animals, we are compelled by our innate biological imperatives to protect life similar to our own, based on built-in genetic bias that may be augmented by experience (our likes, dislikes, affections, etc.) which ultimately feedback into our survival considerations.

    One may say, it is the very value-systems interplaying as abstractions within our minds, that are currently in an evolutionary struggle for succession. Will liberal-capitalism, social-capitalism, or state-capitalism prevail? Will reason or religion reign? Suppose in some science-fiction-like plot, humanity became intellectually/morally/genetically stagnant, and a separate promising species could be entrusted with advancing a certain thread of valued work beyond our limitations… could we sacrifice our species loyalty to promote the dominion of another, in service of a higher-order ideal of progress?

    It is thus we find in the spirit of cooperative inter-species dynamics and dependencies a willingness to recognize where, when and how, in the long-term end-game of advancing life, we move the goal-posts on whose life, or what’s life, must be saved or sacrificed. The lines between selfishness and selflessness are somewhat blurred, our judgments more dynamic and less concrete. It isn’t that human life is simply more precious than other life, as by some natural universal law, but that our station, predispositions, immediate biological preferences, experiences and overarching goals make it so, all governed rather arbitrarily by our present circumstances.

  180. 180
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Just popping in, probably to make one comment and then take off…

    I mentioned this on the previous thread, I know, and I haven’t read this one fully, but… I don’t understand why people keep linking together, when talking to those who oppose this research, animal research and Nazi research on humans as though Nazi research somehow exhausts the category of unethical research with humans.

    It doesn’t remotely. Incredibly unethical research that violates the Declaration of Helsinki and causes great harm has long been performed and is being performed today around the world. Read Medical Apartheid and Deadly Monopolies by Harriet Washington and The Body Hunters by Sonia Shah, review some of the legal cases and settlements in the news over the past few years, and then try to assume that those principles are a reality in practice. There are ridiculously few drugs and medical procedures – and that includes the many unnecessary me-too and me-again drugs and the useless and actively harmful ones – that have been developed entirely ethically and harmlessly. (And that’s not including, of course, all of the non-medical entities we use that are also the products of extensive human suffering – past, present, and in many cases future.)

    Anyone suggesting that vegans or those who oppose animal testing must reject any medical products or procedures that were developed in ways that they oppose, if they wish to be consistent, should follow their own standards of purity with regard to products or procedures tested unethically and/or harmfully on humans, or they should admit that they don’t really support the Helsinki principles and are fine with some people being exploited/sacrificed for science or others’ (generally, rich, white people’s) possible health or comfort.

    Alternatively, they could recognize that these are complex choices when it comes to any suffering and drop this rhetorical nonsense.

    ***

    Oh, and, showing the influence of Darwin, “The Discontinuous Mind.”

  181. 181
    escuerd

    And to be fair, most fly research is, I think, more about breeding and genetics, so there isn’t as much in the way of intentional infliction of pain and suffering so far as I’m aware.

    This is mistaken. There’s actually plenty of other research (including neuroscience) done on fruit flies, and some of it does involve doing some pretty nasty stuff to them (though when possible researchers do anesthetize them).

  182. 182
    escuerd

    I should mention, though, in the fruit fly’s case, the anesthesia’s probably more about getting them to hold still.

  183. 183
    Sean

    I wonder if anyone would care if the experiments were being performed on cane toads. Or is the cuteness of the subject the only concern?

    All that aside, I was truly appalled by the article. I was deeply disgusted, offended and hurt by the following sub-heading:

    “Animal lovers across Britain were left out outraged by our story yesterday, however, in our poll, just 54% of people said it was wrong”

    A journalist, someone for whom language is their raison d`etre, working for a newspaper in the country which gave birth the very language they are using wrote that poorly punctuated non-sentence.

  184. 184
    ibbica

    After reading through the rest of the comments here, I have to say I’m more than a little disturbed by one thought that keeps popping into my head. More on that after the trigger warning below.

    But first, I would like to ask the ‘no live animal experiments!’ folks to please, please, please start working on new models that can be used instead! (Assuming you think we should be trying to treat and cure human and animal diseases/disorders/conditions/injuries, of course… but that may be an issue for another thread.)

    This is a genuine plea that I wish more people would heed. Most biomedical/physiological/neuroscience/etc. research scientists would LOVE to have a viable alternative to using live animals, and DO use them wherever they’re available.

    I’m saddened and dismayed that a substantial proportion of the “not actively involved in scientific research” community seem to think we’re a bunch of sadistic monsters. If you can find a way to study and/or investigate treatments into your “favourite” disease/disorder/condition/injury without using live animals, or even if you think you can: please, please, please present it to the rest of us! Science isn’t barred to anyone, there’s nothing stopping you from actively participating, even in a small way, in actually advancing our methods beyond the need for in vivo work. Continually telling us we’re “doing it wrong” and that we should “just stop” isn’t particularly constructive :( Offer us practical alternatives… please!

    You are even free to debate the merits of our work; explain why our goals are not worthy of pursuit. Convince us that our work is in vain. Explain which problems, directions, mechanisms we should focus our efforts on instead. Describe how we should go about that work in an effective manner that would also appease your conscience. We are not monsters, we do not take pleasure in inflicting pain or suffering, even when we consider it ‘necessary’ to achieve what we see as a greater good.

    OK, now that that’s out there, here’s my very disturbing thought:
    .
    .
    TRIGGER WARNING (suicide and murder)
    .
    .
    If one considers a single human life to be worth no more or less than a single animal life (even if only for their personal definition of ‘animal’),

    and if one considers humans as ‘moral agents’ that are morally obligated to make decisions that consider the lives of others as at least equal to their own,

    and assuming that one is aware that for any human to continue living they necessarily cause harm to other animals (by eating them, by eating things they would otherwise be able to eat, by living in space in which they would otherwise be able to live, etc.; note that humans and non-human animals alike share at least some of the costs associated with any individual existing),

    why would a human who insists that the first premise is true not take their own life?
    .
    PLEASE NOTE THAT NO, I AM EMPHATICALLY NOT SUGGESTING SUICIDE FOR ANYONE.
    .
    I am genuinely disturbed by this ‘conclusion’ that I keep reaching as I try to follow some of the arguments presented here, and would like to know how (if?) any ‘a life is a life is a life’ folks avoid it.

    Does ‘a life is a life is a life’ only count if it’s directed at ‘well, other than me’ lives? And if so, how do you decide how many ‘others’ your own life is worth?

    And how do you refrain from killing other humans who eat meat, wear leather, exterminate rodents from their home, or use live animals in research? Humans who prevent parasites from living on or in their pets or their livestock or themselves or their crops, or those who instead allow their pets or livestock or themselves to suffer or their crops to die off, contributing to food shortages? Humans who by their mere existence contribute to the suffering and death of countless other animals?
    .
    AGAIN, PLEASE NOTE THAT NO, I AM EMPHATICALLY NOT SUGGESTING MURDERING ANYONE.
    .
    I find this sort of ‘reasoning’ genuinely disturbing, and wish to know if/how most* of the ‘anti-live-animal-research’ folks avoid becoming suicidal, or serial killers, or terrorists. If the reasoning is, as I suspect, something along the lines of “I can do greater good doing ‘this’ than ‘not this’”, why the hostility towards scientists who do what they do for the same damned reason?

    *I am personally very acutely aware that some of them unfortunately do NOT avoid becoming murderers or terrorists. I know of no examples of such people being strictly suicidal; although sadly I don’t think the existence of such people would surprise me much, the cases I do know of also tried to kill as many others as possible.

  185. 185
    paddy

    IngisKahn @151:

    leighshryock already said yes. Anyway, where do you think all the anal probes come from?

    Why does every conversation I have end up being about anal probing?

    ++++

    leighshryock @155:

    I guess I’ll give a bit more reflection on the subject of experimentation on humans by other sentient species:

    I’d say that, even if on about the same level of sentience, they would technically be justified – if there were an extreme need. However, I’d much prefer that they ask and obtain consent from the individuals being tested on. (And in such cases, wouldn’t be necessitated by an extreme need, because they obtained consent.)

    How do you define extreme need? Any definition’s capricious. The Home Office says in its report on animal experiments in 2011 that: “The overall level of scientific procedures is determined by a number of factors, including the economic climate and global trends in scientific endeavour.”

    Do the kitten experiments qualify according to your definition of extreme need? If so, I think you’re setting the bar a bit low.

    And we’re not talking about sentience, but rather some other attribute that we neither possess nor can fully comprehend. As with animals, let’s say humans are unable to give consent to the other species because the other species’ form of communication is too advanced for us to understand.

    We’re talking about “a much higher/more complex form of sentience” (Woo_Monster @152), something that we don’t have.

    I’m sorry to keep banging on about it, but I think it’s a good analogy. All I’m really saying is “put yourself in the same position as the animals.”

  186. 186
    captainchaos

    Wait, what? I’m supposed to vote “yes” in this? Fuck that!

    I was deeply shocked to read the cold, clinical and callous way PZ defends this. I’m extremely disappointed in him. Oh their eyes are sewn shut *carefully* and after much deliberation? Oh well that makes it perfectly alright then.

    The way so many people just assume that as long as it isn’t *proven* that an animal can suffer it’s alright to do anything you want with it, or that (maybe) saving the life of a human being always trumps the suffering of animals is awful. Not to mention that it’s an attitude that comes from religion and is therefore double disappointing to see in someone like PZ.

    This is bullshit. It should be the other way around. Animals have just as fundamental a right to exist as we do. Just because we have intelligence doesn’t make us morally superior to or more valuable than all other life on the planet. As long as you can’t prove an animal is basically worthless to the universe and can’t feel pain or otherwise suffer, the default position should be that you can’t harm it. *Especially* mammals, for which it is pretty clear that they have an emotional life, memory, etc. Cats dream, for crying out loud.

    This is fucked up. I don’t want to benefit from any medicine that is based on cruelty against animals. And yes, I would still think that if that medicine could save my life, or that of my children. I’m not saying I would have the discipline and fortitude to actually refuse it. But that would just make me just as fucked up.

  187. 187
    captainchaos

    I voted “no”. I find it interesting that “no” is still winning with 61% to 39%. PZ may be badly misreading his audience on this one.

  188. 188
    Sili

    I voted “no”. I find it interesting that “no” is still winning with 61% to 39%. PZ may be badly misreading his audience on this one.

    How so? The polls are rarely posted with a direct order to vote one way or another.

    PZed has laid out his arguments for this particular sort of kitten experimentation – just as Coyne a while back laid out his against another kind. It’s entirely up to the individual to make up their minds about the usefulness of this research.

  189. 189
    IngisKahn

    @captainchaos

    I don’t want to benefit from any medicine that is based on cruelty against animals.

    Good luck with that. <_<

Comments have been disabled.