Skip to comments.Animal Testing
Posted on 06/22/2013 4:42:35 PM PDT by Enza Ferreri
The end to animal experimentation seems to be nearer than we could previously imagine. In 2008 three US federal government agencies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with the aim of ending animal testing of drugs and chemicals for human use.
The realization of this ambitious plan will take years, but it's a start of historic importance, especially considering that the three agencies involved have been among animal testing's biggest funding bodies.
This momentous agreement followed a 2007 report released by the world's most prestigious scientific body, the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, entitled "Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: a Vision and a Strategy".
The report acknowledges the superiority of non-animal methods of testing substances for toxicity to humans, compared to animal methods.
The report admits that the animal testing method has never been accurately evaluated for reliability and usefulness but used by acquiescence and historical habit, and recommends non-animal methods of testing on in vitro human cell lines, epidemiological studies, and computational methods.
This entirely new trend in the most pro-animal-experimentation scientific establishment community in the world is due not to ethical considerations for the welfare of lab animals, but rather to the recognition of the many profound limitations of animal testing as a scientifc method.
Apologists of animal experimentation say that, while non-human animals species are similar to the human species in all characteristics that are relevant to permit extrapolations of results from experiments performed on them to us, they are still sufficiently different from humans in all ethically relevant aspects to make such experimentation morally acceptable.
How convenient. That is the best of both worlds. Nature has, in its magnanimity, created beings who tick all the boxes, fit all our needs in this department: complex and human-like enough to experiment upon, and at the same time simple and dumb enough to not be worth bothering about ethical issues concerning them.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately (depending on your perspective), contemporary evolutionary biology has got news for proponents of this argument.
Modern evolutionists, proponents of the so-called New Synthesis in biology, say that, when a change occurs in one species to adapt to its environment, this primary change is not alone: it is always accompanied by other modifications of characteristics different from the first, not so much to adapt to the environment as to adapt to the primary change in the bodies of the members of that species.
So, now we have the modern human species (Homo Sapiens Sapiens), evolved in such a way to have developed exceptionally large brains, unique - as far as we know - in the animal world, and erect standing, again the only species to have done so.
It would be impossible according to contemporary evolution biology, it would go against the grain of it, if these gigantic changes had not been brought with them other substantial modifications to differentiate humans from other species even further.
When we think of erect standing, for instance, we realize that the disposition of internal organs in us must differ from that in quadrupeds: vertical versus horizontal.
What we are saying is rather simple, and we are not in contradiction either with modern biology or with our own statements.
The human species is indeed unique. But its differences with other animal species are of a quantitative, not qualitative, nature.
It would be inconceivable for a species to have developed characteristics which are not also, to some extent, present in other species. Natura non facit saltus, or nature does not make jumps, is still true now as it was when the phrase was first coined. The larger human brain evolved from similar, if smaller, primate brains. It is exceptional, but not extraordinary or supernatural.
This means that other animal species will share with humans important mental characteristics, like intelligence, awareness, self-awareness, emotions, sensations, and the like. They will be less intelligent, maybe, but still intelligent. Many will have a sense of self as we have, albeit possibly less developed. Children of various ages are probably a good comparison for other animal species with different degrees of capabilities.
So we are not denying that the human and other animal species have a lot in common. But we are saying that, because we know that there must also be important differences, we cannot possibly tell in advance what they are. When someone performs an experiment on an animal species, what is unknown - by definition - is not only the result on that species and on the human species, but also, and this is the crucial point, whether humans and the species in question are the same or different in that respect. That is always necessarily the case - otherwise the experiment would be pointless - because, in order to know if there is likeness or unlikeness between two things, we first need to know the two things to compare: that is, in this case, both what the experimental results are for that species and the corresponding datum in the human species, and the latter is exactly the purpose of the investigation so cannot be known.
Animal testing is not just bad for animals but for humans too.
Animal experimentation has many serious limitations as a scientific method, which are explored in the Animal Testing section of the Human Health and Animal Ethics site.
Bio-medical researchers keep using animals because it is the current paradigm, because the theory behind it, outlined by the French physiologist Claude Bernard in the 19th century, is still the prevailing orthodoxy of the field.
There has been no validation of animal experimentation as a method with useful applications to human health, indeed there is ample evidence to the contrary. We examine this evidence in the Animal Testing section.
We look at alternative methods of biomedical research and why they are better.
Don’t test animals. They do not know the answers. /s
Did the Nazis “do it right” with tests on Humans?
How about tests on prisoners!
And the first time someone is injured by a drug, that was not tested on something living, and sues the hell out of the drug companies, we will have to listen to thousands more of lawyer commercials on TV!
I’m sorry, but there is no scientific rationale for completely abolishing animal studies. As a scientist—who loves animals to the point where I will not kill a spider or insect in my house, but instead capture them and put them outside—I am horrified by the prospect of eliminating animal studies. That would pretty much stop medical research in its tracks.
I have to wonder what an animal-rights activist is doing posting on a conservative forum.
You can’t do a really good test on animals.
You need humans.
First of all that is an ad, it is not produced by the site.
Secondly, they mean euthanasia for non-human animals, not for humans, if that is what attracted your attention so much.
Are you an animal rights activist or are you not?
Do you support PETA or do you not?
Two simple questions you can answer with a yes or no.
I don’t love animal testing and I’m glad there are other means of testing many things. However, some things still require it.
I support animal rights. I do not support PETA.
Thank you...Am glad you don’t support PETA and would also say I would not post an article from a site that PETA advertises on, but I guess that’s just me.
The article above is full of half-truths and outright lies.
Where possible, researchers use animal alternatives. Animals are expensive, and every study that involves animals must be reviewed by an ethics committee. If a procedure might cause pain to an animal, the researcher must explain how they plan to relieve the pain—and if they don’t plan to give pain relief, they must have a strong experimental justification for it. In addition, any researcher doing studies with live animals must take species-specific ethics training annually. This training includes learning how to humanely euthanize animals when continuing the experiment would cause too much pain—allowing an animal to die could mean that it experienced a lot of pain. And so on, and so on.
While computers are essential for research, they simply cannot model a complex biological system.
There are many kinds of experiments that do not require testing in animals. For instance, I did not need live animals to try to figure out how dioxin is poisonous when I was in grad school—indeed, the kinds of experiments I did couldn’t have been done in animals. However, I used tissue extracts (taken from animals), and I grew cells, which need to be fed with fetal calf serum.
I could go on, but I won’t. The bottom line is that there is no substitute for animal use in research, unless one is doing plant research.
Animals don’t have rights, animal testing is useful, and this “article” is mostly lies and BS.
Absolutely right, it was difficult reading the entire mess.
Good for you! Animals do indeed have rights: the right not to be treated cruelly, the right not to be abused or neglected, the right to shelter, food, and water. Those are legal “rights”, the abridgement of which is punishable by law, so those braying that animals do not have rights need to get a clue. Agree about PETA — as do most pro-animal groups who know what they believe. It’s only the “no rights for animals” people who are truly in the dark about them and start screeching about PETA on animal threads....
The site has no control over which ads are shown, they are automatically served.
If you accuse someone of writing half-truths, let alone lies, you should give specific references, whereas you do not explain what these half-truths and lies are. This is the standard procedure in scientific and academic discourse, which, as a scientist - as you profess to be - you should know very well and practice.
You say that researchers where possible use animal alternatives because animals are expensive.
But in reality, as in all areas where big business and huge amounts of money are involved, the opposite happens: the interests at stake are so great that a massive campaign of promotion - and misinformation, into which trap you seem to have fallen - is put into place.
Be it manufacturers of cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, weapons, or the animal experimentation industry, if something which is bad for human welfare is at the same time good for some peoples pockets they will find a way to advertise it, justify it and make it appear right.
Also, public research establishments can have an interest in using animals to justify their requests for higher grants and funding.
There is a huge industry behind animal experiments: lab animal breeders, carers, handlers, importers, manufacturers of products for lab animals and so on.
The “strong experimental justification for it” that you claim must be given is simply the dogmatic belief in a 19th-century paradigm of reductionist, anti-evolutionist biology, that of Claude Bernard.
You say: “While computers are essential for research, they simply cannot model a complex biological system.”
Nor the complex biological system of a species can model that of another. You cannot have it both ways: if a biological system is complex, it is also species-specific.
The bottom line is that you have not given any valid arguments in support of your bottom line.
You make another comment: “I have to wonder what an animal-rights activist is doing posting on a conservative forum.”
What is there in conservatism that is irreconcilable with advancing the moral status of animals?
This is another dogmatism, like believing that we cannot do without animal experiments.
This article is indeed difficult, it requires specialist knowledge, which commenters who can only use one sentences and monosyllables like “mostly lies”, “BS” and “mess” and believe that they have delivered arguments evidently do not possess.
I will only comment on this part for now, because I have to go to work soon.
The problem with pseudoscience is that, because it is not based on any sort of evidence, it is impossible to counter point-by-point. A scientist such as myself only has one reality to describe, while anti-science activists can invent an infinite number of lies. Anti-science activists also use a liberal amount of scientific jargon--usually incorrectly--but their target audience is unlikely to understand it, or to recognize the misuse of scientific terminology. Furthermore, how can I point at a specific lie or half-truth and provide a reference? The very fact that it is a lie or half-truth means that it is *not* supported by any evidence-based reference; if I were to follow the reference chain on any of those lies, they would lead, at best, to the originator of the lie. Most likely, the reference chain would lead nowhere.
Wow it took you 3 days to come up with an answer, and it’s nothing more than an insult. Sorry out here in reality the article IS lies, no special knowledge needed.
I don’t spend all my time reading comments. You seem to think that I spent 3 days thinking of your comment before I could “come up with an answer”.
It is no more an insult than calling somebody a liar.
I’m simply telling the truth. If you do not have specialist knowledge of the subject of an article which requires it, you cannot tell whether what it says is true or not.
I do not know if you are a scientist, but I certainly know that you do not understand the difference between science and philosophy of science.
What I wrote cannot be pseudo-science, because it does not claim to be science. It is philosophy of science, epistemology, so it is not science itself, but *about* science. That’s what I am, a philosopher of science, that’s what I graduated in.
Have you ever heard of Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend? Ever heard of epistemology?
You go on about anti-science activists, but that has nothng to do with my article. You are obviously referring to other people and do not address what I wrote except with insulting terms like “lies” and such.
Again, a lie - do I really have to explain these things to a self-professed “scientist”? - is something intended to deceive, in analogy with pseudo-science pretending to be science.
Children always talk about people telling them lies, adults simply and intelligently say that they disagree with a certain opinion, if that is the case as it seems to be now.
In addition, that pseudo-science cannot be countered point-by-point is a groundless statement going against evidence, since it has been done innumerable times.
Indeed, specific lack of evidence is an argument against specific pseudo-scientific claims. The operative word here, though, is “specific”. Just to say: “It’s a lie”, although might be well received in a kindergarten playground, would not be accepted by any reasonable person capable of rational discussion.
You can’t have it both ways: either you can counter an argument, in which case you should, or you cannot, in which case how can you possibly say that it’s fallacious? You have fallen into a paradox.
I totally agree.
I don’t care why it takes you multiple days to reply, but it does show a lack of care. Which makes sense. Not much reason to care when you’re pushing forth a line of lies and BS. No specialist knowledge is needed, that’s just a dodge for a liar that knows no facts will defend his lies.
I am a scientist, and it should have been very clear from my style of writing and apparent familiarity with the subject matter that I do not write about scientific matters from an abstract viewpoint. Also, I could not care less about "philosophy of..." anything. I'm sure that if you were to talk with someone who studies "philosophy of science", they would spout all kinds of mumbo-jumbo that have little or nothing to do with the practice of science.
What I wrote cannot be pseudo-science, because it does not claim to be science. It is philosophy of science, epistemology, so it is not science itself, but *about* science. Thats what I am, a philosopher of science, thats what I graduated in.
What you wrote falls clearly into both the anti-science and pseudo-science categories. It is anti-science, because it complains about current best practices in scientific/medical research, without any apparent understanding of why and how we scientists select our methodologies. It is pseudo-science because it puts forth claims that cannot be supported by any evidence--for instance, that computer modeling could substitute for empirical experimentation--and insists that those would be better scientific practices than the actual practices in use. Our current methodology is a result of thousands of years of method refinement; no one who does not have scientific training can possibly say with any credibility, "Oh, wouldn't this OTHER way that aligns with my particular world view be better for science?" Short answer: it wouldn't.
I should also point out that if you want to know *about* science, you are far better off talking to real scientists than to philosophers. Philosophers cannot reason their way into understanding how and why we do what we do, but scientists, for the most part, love to talk about it, in both the theory and the practice. In other words, we are far more expert in our guiding philosophies than any philosopher can be.
Have you ever heard of Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend? Ever heard of epistemology?
They are irrelevant. A big difference between scientists and philosophers is that scientists are very concrete people who deal strictly with the observable and testable, while philosophers deal with abstractions that have little basis in the physical world. There is little commonality between scientific thought and philosophical musings. The word "philosophy" in my degree has a different meaning than the word "philosophy" used as a college course title.
You go on about anti-science activists, but that has nothng to do with my article. You are obviously referring to other people and do not address what I wrote except with insulting terms like lies and such.
Your article is little different than any other anti-science article I have seen. There are many flavors of anti-science (animal rights, environmentalism, creationism, vaccine refusal, organic foodism, etc.) but they all have common threads. They complain that the actual science is somehow unreliable and defective. They propose alternatives that not only cannot possibly work, but which would cause research to come to a screeching halt. They claim that scientists' refusals to use their alternatives holds back scientific research. It does not matter how you dress up your particular brand of anti-science, it is not novel.
Again, a lie - do I really have to explain these things to a self-professed scientist? - is something intended to deceive, in analogy with pseudo-science pretending to be science.
The lies of anti-science are very subtle, often being written using similar language as scientists. They have a specific target--people who have minimal, if any, scientific training, but who know enough to recognize the language use. To use a specific example from your previous post--that computer modeling can substitute for animal use--this sounds plausible to someone who sees the entire world around them as mostly a black box, having no idea about how anything works or the complexity of chemical/physical processes that all combine to form the world we experience. Computers are mind-bogglingly complex, aren't they? So claiming that computer modeling can substitute for actual experiments makes perfect sense to them. But as a scientist, I recognize the lie immediately, and am also left with the rather helpless certainty that no matter how much I explain how and why computers are unlikely to ever substitute for actual experiments, the explanations will roll off like water from a duck's back. The target audience for this brand of lies does not want to know reality, it wants to believe the pseudoscience.
In addition, that pseudo-science cannot be countered point-by-point is a groundless statement going against evidence, since it has been done innumerable times.
Indeed, specific lack of evidence is an argument against specific pseudo-scientific claims. The operative word here, though, is specific. Just to say: Its a lie, although might be well received in a kindergarten playground, would not be accepted by any reasonable person capable of rational discussion.
It is a game of whack-a-mole. I can counter a specific lie with reams of evidence, complete with links to the relevant studies. But as soon as I do, the anti-science believer will come up with a new lie or different angle on the same old lie. And when I counter that with facts, explanations, and evidence, they produce yet another lie--actually, they rarely produce just a single lie in response, they produce several. I am constrained in that I must stick to reality, but my opponents in this argument have no such constraints. I care about reality; they care about feelings. Another facet of this game of whack-a-mole is that the lies are never presented alone; usually they are part of a long screed replete with lies. To adequately counter a single lie in such a screed takes more time and effort than they put into writing their entire screed; a full refutation of every lie in such a screed would end up being quite long.
Mostly, I am content to leave people alone who like living their lives in an emotional swamp, but in cases where their feelings endanger scientific progress or their health, I speak up. For example, I'm unlikely to say anything to someone extolling the virtues of "organic foods"--they may pay more for food than they have to, but they aren't necessarily endangering their lives--but I *will* counter those who promote the consumption of raw milk, because that practice *does* cause illness and death.
You cant have it both ways: either you can counter an argument, in which case you should, or you cannot, in which case how can you possibly say that its fallacious? You have fallen into a paradox.
There is no paradox. My decision to select one or two example lies to refute, instead of taking the time and effort to refute *all* of them does not mean that I am unable to counter those lies, or that they cannot be refuted. It means that the time and effort I have to refute lies is finite, while the lies are infinite.
To illustrate: in theory, I can remove and count every single grain of sand on a beach. In practice, such an effort would take an extraordinary amount of time and effort, which I could use for more worthwhile activities. So, instead of counting every grain, I will take a core sample somewhere in the middle of the beach, quantitate the sand in that core, measure and estimate the volume of the beach, and extrapolate data measured from my sample to derive the number of sand grains on the beach. In this way, I take an activity that might take years and condense it into a few days' worth of work. My approach to the lies of pseudoscience is similar.
I thought you were against insults. A bit of hypocrisy.
It has nothing to do with caring. How long it takes to reply depends on how busy a person is. Jumping to conclusions seems to be your praxis.
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