Friday, October 10, 2008

Laws should protect animals

From the The Daily Bruin

Assembly Bill 2296’s punishment of speech may lead activists to more violence to make their voices heard

Dan Kapelovitz, Jill Ryther and Jaimie Bryant
Published: Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Members of the campus community recently received an e-mail from UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block extolling the virtues of Assembly Bill 2296, a new law that restricts the speech of animal-rights activists (whom he calls “anti-animal research extremists”) in order to protect animal researchers. As this law moved toward passage, much was said about the fear animal researchers feel when confronted by protestors. By contrast, few have commented on the pain and terror experienced by animals used in experiments or have explained why there is protest against animal research at UCLA and other institutions in the first place.

Every day at places like UCLA, animals are subjected to excruciating, unrelieved pain as involuntary subjects in research experiments that have not been described or justified to the public. Researchers and the heads of experiments hide behind unsupported general claims that such research is necessary and productive for human health, but they offer no information by which the public can assess their claims as to specific experiments.

Therefore, the public has no information about the research that is being done or whether, in fact, any of it has led to or has the potential to lead to worthwhile advancements. Researchers and the heads of institutions like UCLA reject calls for transparency about the animal research that is conducted.

Because of the way research applications are reviewed and funded, it is highly likely that research dollars are wasted on useless animal testing and experiments. Funding might well have been more productively invested in research methods that bear actual fruit in advancing human health.

Animal researchers like to further argue that they are in complete compliance with state anticruelty statutes and federal laws that regulate scientific research on animals. However, as legally interpreted, neither state nor federal laws provide any protection to animals tortured at institutions like UCLA.

State anticruelty statutes define “cruel” as only the infliction of “unnecessary” suffering on animals. Scientific research is arbitrarily defined as “necessary,” which means that the infliction of even the most horrific suffering on animals falls outside the legal boundaries of the “anticruelty” statutes.

Federal law is no different. The Animal Welfare Act purports to regulate scientific research, yet the AWA covers only a very small minority of the animals used in research and explicitly states that none of its provisions can be used to impede or affect research design or implementation. The AWA does not prevent the infliction of horrific suffering on animals; it only creates paperwork for research scientists who need to provide minimal justifications for their unwillingness to provide pain relief or consider alternatives to animal-based research or testing.

Chancellor Block, a former animal researcher himself, praises AB 2296 for providing new protections for animal researchers, but animal researchers already have complete legal protection from violent conduct. That is why we believe that a primary purpose of the new law is to intimidate peaceful protestors; the first versions of the law were even more expansive in curtailing their speech. Even though AB 2296 was reduced in scope before it was enacted, it still punishes speech.

Given the history of law enforcement reactions to animal advocacy protests, we believe that such a law is likely to be abused by law enforcement officials who use their authority to intimidate peaceful animal activists into silence. It is animals-–and the people who care about them – who are not sufficiently protected by existing laws.

Unfortunately, laws like this – whose focus is the speech of protestors – may actually increase violent acts against researchers rather than diminish them. When lawful speech is stifled by expansive use of such laws to intimidate protestors, activists concerned about imminent and ongoing violence against animals may feel the need to resort to methods other than speech to have their voices heard. That tragedy could be avoided with more transparency and more public debate about whether the extreme pain inflicted on animals is justified.

Dan Kapelovitz is President of the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law. Ryther is the Communications Director of the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law. Bryant is Professor of Law, Faculty Adviser to the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More on Terasawa

Ei Terasawa (and here) is a vivisector at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a senior scientist at the NIH-funded Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. I have commented on her work and have scanned and posted on line many official documents associated with her research and her violations of the Animal Welfare Act. (Just stick her name into the search window above.)

Here, I will comment on two features of her work that I have not mentioned specifically elsewhere. The first is her stated justification for using animals and her stated justification for using rhesus macaques. The second is the large volume of blood taken from some of the monkeys she is experimenting on and veterinarians’ role in her work.

Terasawa’s justifications

For at least the last dozen years—the period of time for which we have many primary documents—she has consistently used nearly identical written justifications. This is question 11 and her responses from a 2008 approved protocol: (I've commented on her individual points and claims below. Here they are more or less whole and intact.)

11a. In straight-forward, nontechnical language that would be understandable to a layperson (aim for a high school-senior reading level), outline the specific scientific goal(s) and significance of this research. Be convincing as to why this work is important for advancement of knowledge, improving human or animal health, or for the good of society. Spell out all acronyms at first occurrence.
Puberty and adolescence occur during the transitional period between childhood and adulthood. Adolescence (behavioral maturation) usually follows puberty. Many disorders, including precocious and delayed puberty, and problems associated with these disorders, as well as polycystic ovarian syndrome, one of the most common infertility problems, originate at this developmental stage. Moreover, the onset of puberty at the normal age is very important, as any deviation from peer age can result in psychological problems in later life and the pubertal increase in steroid hormones modifies brain circuitry formation necessary for adolescent behaviors. Several neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia and autism start or worsen in association with puberty. For these reasons, investigation of the control mechanism of puberty, using the non-human primate as a model, is essential and would contribute to the understanding and management of problems associated with human adolescence. Because there are no direct methods for examining neurochemical changes in the human brain, the animal model is indispensable in achieving these goals.

At the onset of puberty, the luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) neuronal system in the brain (hypothalamus) begins to be active after a long dormant state. Previously, we have found that an increase in LHRH release is the key factor for determining the timing of puberty and the pubertal increase in LHRH release from the hypothalamus is the result of the reduction in a tonic 7-ammobutyric acid (GABA) inhibition and subsequent increase in glutamate release. However, the mechanism triggering puberty is still unclear. Therefore, the overall objective of this proposal is to determine the role of the hypothalamus in controlling puberty in the female rhesus monkey.

Recently, because an absence of or delay in puberty in patients withmutations in the gene encoding GPR54 has been reported, GPR54 and itsligand, kisspeptin-54, have been proposed to play a critical role in the mechanism of the onset of puberty. It has also been shown that LHRH neurons express GPR54 and kisspeptins stimulate luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) release. Hypothalamic expression of KiSS-1 mRNA, increases with puberty. KiSS-1 is the gene for several kisppeptins, including kisspeptin-54. Moreover, mice lacking the GPR54 gene failed to undergo puberty and had immature gonads. These reports are consistent with the hypothesis that the GPR54 and KiSS-1 genes are responsible for the onset of puberty. However, to support this hypothesis several critical questions remain to be answered:
[three lines of text deleted] Thus, to answer these questions in this study we will investigate the role of kisspeptin in the mechanism of primate puberty.
11b. Specifically justify the use of animals for this research. Explain why it is imperative to use animals and why non-animal alternatives such as computer simulation or in vitro systems are not possible.
Because we are aware of the value of an individual animals life, we have considered alternatives to the use of animals. For this study, however, the use of non-human primates is essential, as the onset of puberty and the function of the hypothalamus are complex processes which cannot be simulated with computers or tissue cultures. In addition, in order to apply knowledge obtained from research to humans, we need to learn about these processes in non-human primates. This project is in the forefront of its research field and there are no duplications, as seen by continued support by NIH. Unlike the circuitry involved in long-term depression in the hippocampus, computer simulation is not yet available due to the complexity of the circuitry for hypothalamic neuroendocrine function in animals.
11c. Specifically justify why you chose the species cited in 9a for your work, such as the appropriateness of the species for your proposed work. Cost considerations are not justifications.
The overall objective of this research is to understand the function of the hypothalamus in the rhesus monkey, as a model for humans. Since the genes in the rhesus monkey are more than 95% homologous with those in the human, and many aspects of hypothalamic functions in the rhesus monkey are similar to those in the human, the studies done in the monkey are essential for the improvement of human health. Function of the rodent brain, which is often used for a model, differs from function of the primate brain. Lower organisms do not have comparable functions, in vivo studies collecting samples from the brain are not possible in humans. Thus, research in non-human primates is very important. Finally, the PI has a large amount of background data on puberty in female rhesus monkeys.

Terasawa has been receiving public funds to study puberty in rhesus monkeys since at least 1977 and has received millions of tax dollars.

She current has two grants listed on CRISP: "Hypothalamic Control of Puberty" (5R01HD011355-25 (that -25 at the end means that the study is in its twenty-fifth year of NIH support. "Hypothalamic Control of Puberty" is funded through 2012 (as of October 2008.) In 2008, it received $382,456. The other grant is "Hypothalamic Control of Gonadotropin Secretion" 5R01HD015433-24. That grant was awarded $358,401 in 2008.

A number of UW officials (various chairs and members of UW Animal Care and Use Committees) have signed Terasawa’s many protocols over the years, very many of which include the questions and answers above.

The US Department of Agriculture’s discovery of Terasawa’s Animal Welfare Act violations exposed the failure of the university’s legally mandated animal research oversight committees (comprised almost entirely of UW vivisectors) to fulfill the university’s legally mandated responsibilities regarding animal care and use and its oversight. In response, the committee made an example of Terasawa by suspending her animal use for two years and requiring many rewrites and revisions of her protocol.

It seems fair to assume, given that the protocol was much discussed by the committee and that she was required to submit a number of revisions, that the protocol was read carefully by at least some of the committee members, even if they had not been vigilant previously. Its eventual endorsement implies a clear understanding and approval of her claims, hypotheses, and methods by the committee members and other university officials.

She argues and concludes in 11a:

1. Puberty and adolescence occur during the transitional period between childhood and adulthood. [This is true for many mammals.]

2. Adolescence (behavioral maturation) usually follows puberty. [This too is true for many mammals.]

3. Many disorders, including precocious and delayed puberty, and problems associated with these disorders, as well as polycystic ovarian syndrome, one of the most common infertility problems, originate at this developmental stage. [These named and vague unnamed disorders and problems may or may not all originate during puberty. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a human-specific disorder. Precocious and delayed puberty have a multitude of various causes including genetics and/or environmental variables that in turn have variable effects on various species.]

4. Moreover, the onset of puberty at the normal age is very important, as any deviation from peer age can result in psychological problems in later life and the pubertal increase in steroid hormones modifies brain circuitry formation necessary for adolescent behaviors. [This run-on sentence is unnecessarily confused but has survived close scrutiny for years. Her first point, that “any deviation from peer age [onset of puberty] can result in psychological problems in later life,” is hyperbole. Her second point seems a little confused and seems to imply that “adolescent behaviors” are necessary.]

5. Several neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia and autism start or worsen in association with puberty. [This is probably true.]

For these reasons, investigation of the control mechanism of puberty, using the nonhuman primate as a model, is essential and would contribute to the understanding and management of problems associated with human adolescence. [Where above did she say anything about nonhuman primates? Whether or not a better understanding of the “control mechanism of puberty” would lead to any better management of problems associated with human adolescence remains to be seen.]

Because there are no direct methods for examining neurochemical changes in the human brain, the animal model is indispensable in achieving these goals. [Her claim here seems to be more hyperbole. Studies examining neurochemical changes in the human brain are underway and published.]

11b.

1. Because we are aware of the value of an individual animal’s life, we have considered alternatives to the use of animals. [As suggested below, these considerations have included only computer models and tissue cultures. In fact, scanning technologies have been used to study neurochemical changes in the brains of children. See for instance: Benazon NR, Moore GJ, Rosenberg DR. Neurochemical analyses in pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder in patients treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2003.]

2. For this study, however, the use of non-human primates is essential, as the onset of puberty and the function of the hypothalamus are complex processes which cannot be simulated with computers or tissue cultures. [This bald claim has no bearing in fact. She has yet to prove that her research is essential, and she has said nothing the alternative method of studying humans directly with scanning technology.]

3. In addition, in order to apply knowledge obtained from research to humans, we need to learn about these processes in non-human primates. [This is a wild and controversial statement. She implies clearly that results from current research on the hypothalamus in many strains of mice, rats, sheep, mole-rats, zebra fish, cats, and dogs can’t be applied to humans, and while I agree with her, her claim that the results from non-human primates alone can is unproven. She implies without substantiation that the biochemistry of a marmoset’s, a gorilla’s, a rhesus macaque’s and a human’s hypothalamus are fundamentally the same while those of the afore named species are fundamentally different.]

4. This project is in the forefront of its research field and there are no duplications, as seen by continued support by NIH. [But NIH funds many duplicitous studies. Simply being one of thousands of NIH-funded studies implies nothing about possible duplication. Futher, one might imagine that if her research is important, or at least deemed important by others studying the biology of puberty, that others would be pursuing similar lines of study. Thus, duplicate discoveries could be made outside her laboratory, but she insists this isn’t the case.]

5. Unlike the circuitry involved in long-term depression in the hippocampus, computer simulation is not yet available due to the complexity of the circuitry for hypothalamic neuroendocrine function in animals. [Again, she seems blind to any other methodology, which suggests a low likelihood of innovation, insight, and meaningful discovery from her laboratory.]

11c.

1. The overall objective of this research is to understand the function of the hypothalamus in the rhesus monkey, as a model for humans. [Is her goal the development of a model, understanding the rhesus hypothalamus, or understanding the human hypothalamus?]

2. Since the genes in the rhesus monkey are more than 95% homologous with those in the human, and many aspects of hypothalamic functions in the rhesus monkey are similar to those in the human, the studies done in the monkey are essential for the improvement of human health. [But this assumes that Terasawa fully understands the genetics of hypothalamic function in rhesus monkeys, humans, and rats, but she doesn’t; no one does. Moreover, other researchers make the straightforward claim that knowledge gleaned from rats is applicable to humans. See for instance Pine MD, Hiney JK, Lee B, Dees WL. The pyrethroid pesticide esfenvalerate suppresses the afternoon rise of luteinizing hormone and delays puberty in female rats. Environ Health Perspect. 2008. And, Hiney JK, Srivastava VK, Pine MD, Dees WL. Insulin-like growth factor-1 activates KiSS-1 gene expression in the brain of the prepubertal female rat. Endocrinology. 2008. You have to wonder why the authors of this paper don’t cite Terasawa’s work in this area if she is, as she claims, at the leading edge. Her claim that her “studies done in the monkey are essential for the improvement of human health” is farfetched and unproven.

3. Function of the rodent brain, which is often used for a model, differs from function of the primate brain. [But, again, this implies that she understands how the differences influence the function of the hypothalamus, and clearly, given that understanding the function of the rhesus hypothalamus is her overall unrealized goal, she doesn’t yet have the knowledge needed to make such a difinitive statement, and moreover, researchers study rats' hypothalami say otherwise..

4. Lower organisms do not have comparable functions. [She must not understand modern ideas concerning evolution. There aren’t such things as “lower” or “higher” organisms. This is the old, quasi-divine and wholly discredited Great Chain of Being. Every organism alive today has an equally long evolutionary history. We are all descendents of an ancestral lineage. Striation into “higher” and “lower” forms is in the eye of the beholder and means nothing in a biological sense. This implies something about her grasp of biology generally. Moreover, many scientists, like those cited above, claim that other mammals’ brains and particularly their hypothalami, do share similar functions.]

5. In vivo studies collecting samples from the brain are not possible in humans. [But she hasn’t really explained why other methods would not be productive.]

Thus, research in non-human primates is very important. [Thus, nothing. Her arguments are illogical and peripheral. They are undermined by her wild claims and assumptions and confounded by contradictory facts. And yet, these are the whole of her justification for her decades of highly invasive experiments on monkeys. These are the arguments that convinced the oversight committees to repeatedly endorse her decades of cruel experiments

Finally, the PI has a large amount of background data on puberty in female rhesus monkeys. [That, at least, is undeniable.]

The large volume of blood

According to the AABB (previously known as the American Association of Blood Banks), a human can donate a pint of blood, about 10% of the total volume, once every 56 days. Terasawa says she is drawing an estimated 20% of the total volume per 30-day period from some of the monkeys.

She says, “Animals being bled at maximum level may require fluid replacement therapy and clinical care. A [redacted] veterinarian will be contacted for any single blood draw greater than 10% of blood volume and for animals being drawn chronically at maximal levels to asses clinically and provide supportive care and clinical monitoring. This may include fluid replacement and periodic CBCs.”

I suspect that these monkeys are chronically severely fatigued.

But the cruelty aside, I find particularly monstrous and grotesque the role of the veterinary staff in all of this. There is something uniquely distasteful and disturbing about doctors keeping vivisectors’ victims alive so that they can be experimented on further. To me, there is nothing more hideous or immoral than such behavior; it gives me nightmares.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pygmies


Pygmies ©1998
In One Act

Characters, in order of appearance:

Babe - Dr. Barbara Goldfarb, Ph.D. in swine management, confinement practices; Gourmet cook with a fondness for foie gras, veal etc; Asked by USDA to develop intensive breeding program for pygmies. Married to Harry.

His Holiness (HH) - The Right Reverend Jeremiah Christian, D.D.; Big Book scholar; Gamecock producer; Favorite charity: Salvation Through Immortality by Cryogenics for Youth.

Jenny - Dr. Jennifer Kindheart, D.V.M.; animal lover; owner of So Cute Kennels, supplier of dogs for pets, biomedical labs, and fighting. Vet for "Helping Hands Foundation." Avid big game trophy hunter. Hates trappers and trapping.

Mary - Preschool teacher and Harry's identical twin sister. She is confused on many topics. [Yes, Mary's a woman, Harry's a man; she's blond, he's dark. None of the characters seem to notice this inconsistency, but then, they seem to overlook very many inconsistencies.]

Margaret, a TV anchor woman.

Kitty, a TV reporter.

Steam-O-Matic commercial characters:
Woman
Woman's husband
911 Operator
Steam-o-matic spokesmodel

Harry - Dr. Ishmael Mohandas Abernathy Harold Krishna, M.D., Ph.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., Chief researcher for Good Samaritan Foundation's Retarded African Pygmy Experimental Laboratory. Married to Babe.

Scene One

Babe and HH are sitting together sipping red wine and after some small talk begin to discuss the exciting news of Harry's Nobel Prizes.

HH: Praise be! to the Lord's undiscriminating compassion! Mysterious are His ways! Isn't this just the most inspiring evidence of His love for us?

Babe: Well, I'm sure Harry must feel vindicated at last. He has been saying for years now that (with great emphasis) pygmies are not human! I've even heard that after he receives the Nobel prizes for Medicine, Genetics, and Peace that he's been invited to England to be knighted.

HH: Praise be! to the Lord's undiscriminating compassion! If anyone deserves these high honors it must be Dr. Krishna. Imagine three Nobels to the same scientist, and one for peace! He has had to secretly work in his secret underground pygmy laboratory for so long!

Babe: Maybe now people will learn of the sacrifices he's had to make. Once he even had to leave a dinner I was giving to go back to the lab to check on some young pygmies he was using. He has made such sacrifices! Weren't you at that party Your Holiness?

HH: Praise be! to the Lord's undiscriminating compassion, yes my child I was at your dinner party, and a fine meal it was if I remember right. The veal was particularly tender and pale, how are you able to create such sumptuous fare?

Babe: It's true that I do love to cook, but that dish started with my company's new techniques to process vegetables. First, we place the brand new baby processing units in a new smaller container. This has proven very effective at making the processed vegetables very sweet and tender. We have also discovered that the tails, ears, and lower legs are simply unnecessary to the efficient processing of vegetables. With these new methods, tenderness and flavor are guaranteed.

HH: Praise be! to the Lord's undiscriminating compassion! [Abbreviated hereafter as PB!TTLUC!] Will the unbeliever never be convinced? Do you know what time Dr. Krishna will be returning?

Babe: No, Your Holiness, but did you hear that his twin sister is flying in for the ceremonies? She will be staying with us for a while. She's Harry's identical twin.

HH: PB!TTLUC! I look forward to meeting her. How honored she must feel.

A knock at the door. Jenny enters and is clearly upset and going on and on about her latest efforts to ban trapping.

Jenny: My God! What's wrong with those people? Can't they see how cruel trapping is? I must have asked fifty people to sign my petition and all I heard was, "Hey! We've got to get fur from somewhere!" and, "What are you wearing those leather boots for?" God! I told them that crocodile skin had nothing to do with trapping, but God! They just didn't get it!

Oh! Hello Your Holiness, I'm sorry. I didn't see you sitting there. What you must think of me.

HH: PB!TTLUC! God looks on those with money with unlimited love. A small contribution to my favorite charity: Salvation Through Immortality by Cryogenics for Youth will make Him love you even more. Now write that check child so I can continue on my way.

Jenny grabs her handbag and quickly scribbles a check.

HH: Tell Dr. Krishna I will be by later to congratulate him on his profound victory for love. PB!TTLUC!

Exit HH

Jenny: I am going to have to start paying more attention to the people in the room when I come in. I must have given The Reverend ten thousand dollars by now just to pay for my language.

Babe: But Jenny, it is for a good cause. He has been able to freeze thirty-five rich children so far. Now those children still have a chance at salvation. The Reverend is such a kind man. He cares so much for their souls and their money.

Jenny: I guess you're right. I mean, I know you are. I guess I'm still just a little upset from my ordeal this morning. There I was trying to get out of the office early with my anti-trapping petitions, when three beagle pups escaped from the back of one of my customer's pick-up trucks. It took us forever to get them back in. If they hadn't run back to their mother I don't think we could have caught them.

Babe: Who was buying them?

Jenny: One of our regular customers: Acme Animal Supply. They sell them to researchers all over the country. They say So Cute Kennels always has the best prices. Oh, you should have seen how cute those little puppies were. I just love my job.

Babe: Have you heard about Harry's three Nobel Prizes?

Jenny: What? You're kidding! Here I am going on and on about my own day and here it is Harry's big moment. I just knew he would get this break eventually. I'm so glad that I've been able to do some of the veterinary work at the secret labs. It makes me feel a little important too.

Babe: He should be home any minute, but I doubt he'll remember your help. Why don't you wait for him? Oh look! I think there's something on TV about him right now. I'll turn it up.

Scene Two

A typical TV newsroom scene. An anchorwoman seated at a counter with notes in front of her. She has an earplug in.

Anchorwoman: In what is being called the greatest biomedical breakthrough of the century Dr. Harold Krishna has announced to the world that (with great emphasis) pygmies are not human. Ever quick to see the benefits for humans, religious leaders and medical experts have declared this the biggest breakthrough in medical history with a possibility of curing everything now in sight.

Shortly after Dr. Krishna's announcement the Nobel Prize Commission announced its plans to award Dr. Krishna a Nobel Prize in veterinary medicine, a Nobel Prize in animal genetics, and a Nobel Peace Prize for this heroic humanitarian effort.

For more on this important story we go live to Kitty Smith standing by at the once secret labs of Dr. Krishna.

Kitty, are you with us?

Scene Three

Reporter in front of primate lab.

Kitty: Yes Margaret, I'm here. And the excitement that this story is generating can only be described as electric. It was only yesterday that people thought all the experimentation going on in these labs was on monkeys. At first people were shocked to learn that they had been misled, but now that shock has turned into pure jubilation after learning that (with great emphasis) African pygmies are not human!

Back to you Margaret.

Scene Four.

TV studio

Anchorwoman: Well! This is exciting news! Stay tuned to Channel 15 for more on this unbelievable story.


Steam-o-matic Commercial

Scene: A woman is ironing a shirt. She irons her hand and screams. Her husband runs in and asks what happened. She tells him and, with urgency, tells him to call 911 and he does. The woman weeps while holding her wrist throughout the scene.

We hear his conversation with the 911 operator.

Operator: 911 emergency.

Husband: My wife just ironed her hand. I think she is hurt really bad!

Operator: What brand of iron is it?

Husband: What? (To wife): Honey, they want to know what kind of iron it is.

Wife (incredulous): What? It's a Steam-o-matic. Why do they need to know that?

Husband: She says it's a Steam-o-matic.

Operator: Is that the 900 model or the SuperSafe 10,000?

Husband: Honey, the operator wants to know what model it is.

Wife: (With understandable incredulity.) What model? My hand's been pressed!

Husband: I know honey, but they say they need to know.

Wife: It's a SuperSafe 10,000.

Husband: She says it's a Steam-o-matic SuperSafe 10,000.

Operator: Well that's good news sir. Product safety tests with the Steam-o-matic SuperSafe 10,000 have shown that young monkeys who have had their hands ironed almost always recover some use of the ironed hand.

Husband smiles, wipes brow with back of hand in relief and signs a-ok to wife.

Cut to spokesmodel with Steam-o-matic sign under her close-up.

Spokesmodel: We at Steam-o-matic are doing everything we can to guarantee you the safest products possible. With Steam-o-matic, if you should ever have an accident with one of our products, you can rest assured that we have already tested every possible injury on a dog or a monkey. We at Steam-o-matic really care about you!

Cut to man and woman. Her hand heavily bandaged.

Both: Thanks Steam-o-matic!

Cut to Steam-o-matic logo. Exit with Steam-o-matic jingle.

"Steam-o-matic, we test on dogs and monkeys for you!" Spoken: Steam-o-matic!

Scene Five

Babe and Jenny are sitting on a couch having just watched the news blurb and commercial.

Jenny: You must be so excited.

Babe: This should make us very rich and famous.

A knock at the door. Babe goes to the door. Enter Mary, Harry's identical twin, carrying suitcases.

Babe: Honey, your home early! What are all those bags for?

Mary: Babe! It's me! Mary! I've forgotten how often people get me and Harry confused. Even mother made mistakes sometimes.

Babe: Oh Mary! How silly of me. Come in. You must be exhausted.

Mary: Thanks.

Babe: Jenny, I don't know if you've ever met Harry's identical twin sister Mary. Mary, this is our dear friend and family vet Jenny Kindheart.

Jenny: My God the resemblance is uncanny. If you had not said something I'm sure I would have been confused.

Mary goes to a chair, sits, and starts crying.

Babe: Mary! What on earth's wrong dear?
Aside to Jenny: She's always been high strung.

Mary: A month before I left, Joseph fell off a high tower he was working on. I've been embarrassed to tell anyone about it.

Babe to Jenny: Joseph works as an antenna installer all over the world.
To Mary: Poor Joseph. Was he hurt dear?

Mary: Well, he fell quite a ways and landed on an open toolbox. Somehow a crowbar was shoved into his anus.

Babe and Jenny together: Oh no! How horrible! etc.

Mary: The doctors say he's going to be OK but are unsure whether he will be able to father a child, and that is his biggest wish.

Jenny: So you and Joseph don't have any children?
Mary: No, not really. (Pause) We do have five girls, but Joseph and I really want a boy, I'm sure you can understand.

Jenny: Of course I understand. Your concern for yourselves is admirable, wouldn't you say so too Babe?

Babe: Absolutely. And I am sure Harry will be sad to hear about Joseph's accident too. In fact I think I hear him now.

Harry enters.

Everyone: Hello honey, congratulations Harry, etc.

He sees Mary, goes to her and greets her seemingly blind to her tears and quiet sobs.

Harry: Mary! I am so glad you could come.

Babe (aside to Harry): Harry, Mary's upset. Joseph has been in an accident.

Harry: (aside to Jenny and Babe): She's always been high strung.
Harry to Mary (genuinely worried): Joseph has had an accident?

Babe: Joseph fell off a tower and somehow fell on a crowbar. It went up his anus and the doctors don't know whether he will be able to be a father again.

Harry: Be a father again? To Babe: They don't have any children; oh wait, I remember now. To Mary: Mary, don't you and Joe have a couple of girls?

Mary: Yes Harry. We have five girls, but Joseph really wanted to have a boy. I'm sure you understand.

Harry: Of course I do! And (brightening) I also have wonderful news for you. My experiments have shown unequivocally that African pygmies with metal rods shoved into their rectums are still able to ejaculate. Isn't that wonderful news? You see? You and Joe can keep trying for that boy.

Mary: That is definitely good news. But doesn't that hurt the pygmies?

Harry: But Mary! (With great emphasis) We are not pygmies! That is what all the excitement is over. We now know without question that pygmies are only 99.996% genetically similar to humans. (With great emphasis) We are not pygmies! This means that they do not feel things the way we do.

Mary: Oh, I see. We are not pygmies so we don't have to care about them?

Harry: Not the same way we care about people! And because they are so small we can fit many into a cage. They breed so easily that we are going to be able to send them to laboratories all over the world.

Jenny: Harry, have you discovered a way to overcome the problem of them mutilating and killing themselves?

Harry: This was a big problem for quite awhile. We are beginning to do some controlled studies to determine just how much boredom they can endure. This will teach us many important things, and help TV producers plan for new shows.

But now we are breeding retarded African pygmies and the problem seems to be solved. Retarded African pygmies are really very easy to manage. Of course we will keep some normal pygmies around for the boredom and suicide studies and we may be able to find other uses for them as well.

Mary starts to sniffle again and seems on the verge of tears once more.

Babe: What on the earth could be wrong now Mary?

Mary: I was afraid to say anything, but after Joseph's accident he was home from work for a while and was cooking some pan-fried prawns for me and the girls. Babe, do you ever make that dish? I think we got the recipe from you.

Babe: Is that the one where you remove the prawns' legs so they cannot crawl out of the skillet just before you drop them into the hot lard?

Mary: Yes that's it.

Harry and Jenny: They are so delicious fixed that way!

Mary: Well, (sniffling again) one of the prawns thrashed around with its tail - almost as if it was in pain or something.

Babe: The recipe calls for putting a lid on the skillet right away and holding it there for three or four minutes or until you can't feel them jumping around any longer.

Mary: I don't know what went wrong, but Joseph was splashed with the hot lard and somehow managed to pull the entire pan off the stove on to himself. He received third degree burns from his stomach all the way to his knees. And he hadn't really recovered from the crowbar up his anus yet.

Harry: This is no problem! We have discovered in our laboratory that retarded African Pygmies dipped briefly into boiling oil with metal rods inserted into their rectums are still able to ejaculate! You see? There is nothing to worry about.

Babe: Doesn't the hot oil hurt them?

Harry: There may be some discomfort, but don't forget, they are only 99.996% genetically similar to us. (With great emphasis) They are not human beings. We are not pygmies, so we don't have to care!

Mary: I guess Harry's right. After all he is going to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work, and Harry I am so proud of you. Just look how your work is already helping people like Joseph.

A knock at the door.

Babe: That must be Reverend Christian. He wanted to come by himself to congratulate you Harry. He was here earlier. With all this going on about Joseph's injuries I forgot to tell you.
Babe (to Jenny): Jenny, could you get the door, and don't forget to watch your language around Father Christian.

Jenny: OK

Jenny exits. Enter HH accompanied by Jenny. HH walks up to Mary; he doesn't notice Harry at first.

HH: PB!TTLUC! Dr. Krishna! Let me congratulate you on your incredible discovery and secret research. You are to be commended sir. Your work will heal much suffering.

Harry comes over before Mary can speak.

Harry: Your Holiness. I'm over here. But allow me to introduce my identical twin sister, Mary.

HH: PB!TTLUC! I feel like I'm looking in a mirror. Amazing, simply amazing!

Harry: Your Holiness, we were just discussing the ethical implications of using pygmies in biomedical experiments. What do you think?

HH: PB!TTLUC! These are not questions mere mortals can answer. The Book has answered them for us already.

HH goes to a large black book sitting on a nearby table. He opens it randomly to the center.

HH: It is written: "And man shall use every animal as a tool to avoid any small discomfort and the final judgment." There. All the answers are there. No one has to think about these things themselves. The important decisions have all been made for us. PB!TTLUC!

Babe: You make it all so easy to understand Your Holiness.

Mary: Yes. Coming from you Reverend, I guess dipping pygmies in hot oil and shoving metal rods up their anuses is just God's way of showing compassion for His human children.

HH: PB!TTLUC! You must have had some religious upbringing!

The phone rings. Harry answers it.

Harry: Mary, it's for you. Long distance.

Mary takes the phone. Everyone else begins small talk but soon notice Mary is crying once more. Mary hangs up the phone.

Jenny: Mary, what's wrong dear? Not more bad news?

Mary: Oh God! Excuse me Your Holiness.

HH: God always forgives the rich.

Jenny [aside]: As long as you make a donation.

Mary: There's been an accident! Joseph went back to work last week. They had a job high in the Alps. He slipped and fell into a shallow lake and lay in freezing water for three days. He has frostbite from the waist down.

Harry: Don't worry Mary! My retarded African pygmy studies have shown that very often even after weeks of submersion in freezing water, even with open sores from being dipped briefly into boiling oil, with a metal rod shoved into their rectums, retarded African pygmies are still able to ejaculate! Isn't this wonderful news?

Mary: (Through her tears) But you said pygmies are different from people.

Harry: But you are forgetting that they are 99.996% genetically similar to us. And, we can do anything to them we want to because (With great emphasis) we're not pygmies! This is the beauty of biomedical research. If we do a study, sooner or later it is bound to be useful.

HH: PB!TTLUC! Dr. Krishna, after hearing these explanations from you I know that you deserve every humanitarian award there is. Never have I known a man with such concern for others. Doctor, you are an inspiration to us all! A toast!

Babe brings wine for everyone.

HH: PB!TTLUC! To the man who has taught the entire world about love and kindness through his discovery that (With great emphasis) we are not pygmies!

All: To Health! To us! To Humans! To Pygmies!

Fine

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Memories of Dorothy and Intent


In Loving Memory of Dorothy

Between 3:00 and 4:00 pm on September 22, 2008 our sweet, sweet Dorothy died. She died from what appeared to be heart failure in a forested enclosure, surrounded by the chimpanzee family who loved her.

Dorothy spent at least 25 lonely years, and probably closer to 40 years, chained by her neck before a daily parade of people at an amusement park - people who thought it hilarious that she would beg for cigarettes and savor the butts they threw at her. After the first ever armed confiscation of primates in Cameroon in May 2000, Dorothy enjoyed eight years and four months at Sanaga-Yong Center surrounded by people and chimpanzees who cherished her.
I met Dorothy when she was still chained to the tree. A hundred feet away Nama was chained by the neck to a steel bar driven into the ground at the center of a barren circle of well-worn earth. I got to be with them again about a year later after they had been rescued. They were very lucky to have discovered by Dr. Speede.

Thinking about Dorothy and Nama's years in chains made me think again about intent.

Intent is commonly used as a blanket excuse for much of the harm we do to others. Richard Davidson, for instance, appeals to the Dalai Lama's position that good intentions excuse the experimental brain surgeries and fearful experiences Davidson and his colleagues subject young monkeys to. This position seems to be essentially universal in the vivisection community.

The hotel owner probably wanted to entertain his guests. His intent was not to hurt the chimpanzees and monkeys he had chained, but to make his quests smile and laugh; and by all accounts he was successful. But I don't think his good intentions were sufficient to justify the suffering he was causing.

In the best case scenario, a vivisector genuinely believes that the work they are doing is the best chance for developing a treatment, cure, or prevention of some malady, but why is the very slim chance of success considered an adequate excuse to hurt an animal, while entertaining people isn't? Why should knowledge be given higher status than fun and excitement?

Why should dog fighters be imprisoned but vivisectors be lauded?

Maybe the answer lies in the numbers. It might be argued that some advancement in healthcare could benefit many people while a sporting event entertains only a relatively few. We should keep in mind too, the therapeutic effects of being happy, so if watching a dog or rooster get mangled makes someone happy and improves their health, why is it that even vivisectors sometimes decry staged fights or slaughters?

Of course the numbers game can't explain sport hunting or trapping.

Intention can serve as a universal get out of jail card in some circumstances. Good Samaritan laws protects us somewhat from unintended or inadvertent harm we might do if we are trying to help someone in an emergency.

Few people are likely to support the idea of kidnapping the neighbor's child to provide one's own child with a new liver. But what about paying for a piece of liver or a kidney? It is generally considered unethical to pay for an organ, yet the black market organ dealers could be acting with the best of intent. Why should their motives be viewed as less moral or ethical than the motives of someone who hurts and kills animals in the pursuit of arcane biological minutia?

Intent does matter but it is not a universal excuse. When we accidentally hurt someone or even kill them, the legal consequences are justifiably less severe than if we are caught intentionally harming or killing someone.

So back to Dorothy and Nama. Why is the intention to entertain considered an inadequate excuse but the intention to cure is considered adequate? This seems ethically out of balance; it suggests that either animal fighting is good or that the rest of the harm we visit on animals is bad. I don't see a logical and consistent way to reconcile these contrary positions.

Consistency seems to require that we embrace vivisection, factory farming, and bull fighting, or else, that we call all of it atrocity.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Power

It seems a matter of plain fact that the suffering endured by a minority group coincides neatly with the amount of power we have over them.

Twins

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Harry Harlow's Dark Shadow



If I worked in a field or in an institution associated with the name Harry Harlow, I too might think that his work needed defending; he was, and is, after all, an icon of the complete inability of an industry to regulate itself; its lack of a moral compass; and a willingness to rely on arcane and meaningless theoretical minutia to justifify cruelty.

Some (most?) within the industry must bear an unspoken sense of guilt over Harlow’s career. Some, even his past students, have spoken about their ethical failures:
Harlow’s colleagues, me included, never challenged him on the ethical points,” [John ] Gluck says, flatly and with regret. “The strength of our spines were [sic] not sufficient to carry the weight of our professional goals and our conscience.” (Blum. Love at Goon Park. 2002.)
Frank C. P. van der Horst and Rene van der Veer published three papers in the journal Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science in 2008 that, in part, argue that Peter Singer’s criticism of Harlow is unjust or inaccurate. (See: Harlow and Bowlby for links to these papers.)

In “‘When Strangers Meet’: John Bowlby and Harry Harlow on Attachment Behavior” they write in the introduction: “Although it has been argued (Singer 1975) that Harlow’s experimenting had no influence on Bowlby’s theorizing, here it will become clear that [it did].” They follow up more forcefully in the conclusion:
We may conclude that Harlow’s scientific influence on Bowlby has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt: Harlow’s experiments showed in a remarkable way what Bowlby had been theorizing about since his introduction to ethology in the early 1950s. Our findings make abundantly clear that Singer (1975) was completely wrong in asserting that Harlow’s findings had no impact on Bowlby’s theory whatsoever….
That’s a strong statement. But it refers to a straw man.

Singer does not argue that Harlow didn’t influence Bowlby’s theorizing.

Here’s the only passage in Animal Liberation (Singer, 1975) that mentions Bowlby and Harlow:
In another article Harlow and his former student and associate Stephen Suomi described how they were trying to induce psychopathy in infant monkeys by a technique that appeared not to be working. They were then visited by John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist. According to Harlow’s account, Bowlby listened to the story of their troubles and then toured the Wisconsin laboratory. After he had seen the monkeys individually housed in bare wire cages he asked, “Why are you trying to produce psychopathology in monkeys? You already have more psychopathological monkeys in the laboratory than have ever been seen on the face of the earth.”

Bowlby, incidentally, was a leading researcher on the consequences of maternal deprivation, but his research was conducted with children, primarily orphans, refuges, and institutionalized children. As far back as 1951, before Harlow even began his research on nonhuman primates, Bowlby concluded:
The evidence has been reviewed. It is submitted that evidence is now such that it leaves no room for doubt regarding the general proposition that the prolonged deprivation of the young child of maternal care may have grave and far-reaching effects on his character and so on the whole of his future life.
This did not deter Harlow and his colleagues from devising and carrying out their monkey experiments. In the same article in which they tell of Bowlby’s visit, Harlow and Suomi describe [details of their efforts to induce depression.]
This is the sum total of Singer’s comment. He says nothing about Bowlby’s theorizing. Singer says only that according to Bowlby, the matter of a child’s need for maternal care was resolved, yet in spite of that, Harlow and his colleagues demonstrated the effect of maternal deprivation in monkeys; ad nauseam, I would say.

The story of Bowlby’s visit to Harlow’s lab has been retold often. It is repeated by Debra Blum in Love at Goon Park as well as by Stephen Suomi in “Rigorous Experiments on Monkey Love: An Account of Harry F. Harlow’s Role in the History of Attachment Theory.”

It raises the question of Harlow’s and his students’ insight and qualifications. You have to wonder what they missed, what they couldn’t see, what passed them by without notice. They seem to have been nearly blind. If someone who claims to be studying the behavior of an animal is unable to see the animal's distress, then how likely is it that his or her observations of the animal's behavior and motivations are accurate, complete, or at all meaningful?

According to Horst and Veer, Harlow and Bowlby were introduced to each other by British ethologist Robert Hinde. Hinde visited Harlow’s laboratory some time in the late 50s or early 60s:
I must have next met Harry when I visited Madison and was appalled by his room full of of cages with babies going “whoowhoowhoo” [a distress call] and Harlow had no sensitivity at that point that he was damaging these infants.
Notable too, is the fact that Harlow had been studying the behavior of primates since the early 1930s, and yet, more than twenty-five years later he was unaware that the monkeys in his lab were psychopathic. How sensitive to the implications of his research data could he and his students have really been?

Horst and Veer base their high opinion (defense?) of Harlow on his contributions to Bowlby’s theories. But Bowlby’s theories were just that. By the time Harlow entered the scientific argument in 1958 concerning the theoretical reason that children suffer when deprived of contact with a caregiver, the matter that children needed such care was not in dispute, no matter the rewriting of history that Harlow’s defenders are wont to rely on.

For instance, in 1962, the World Health Organization published Deprivation of Maternal Care. A Reassessment of its Effects. Public Health Papers No. 14 as a follow-up to John Bowlby’s 1951 landmark WHO report: Maternal Care and Mental Health. From the Preface:
Bowlby’s monograph Maternal Care and Mental Health was published by the World Health Organization in 1951, and was at once acclaimed as an unequalled contribution to its subject. Its success is shown by the frequency with which it has been printed and the many languages into which it has been translated.

The conclusion Bowlby reaches in his monograph is that prolonged deprivation of the young child of maternal care may have grave and far-reaching effects on his character and so on the whole of his life; and he draws the corollary that the proper care of children deprived of a normal life is not merely an act of common humanity, but essential to the mental and social welfare of a community. His indictment on that score of the nurseries, institutions, and hospitals of even the so-called advanced countries has contributed to a remarkable change in outlook that has led to a widespread improvement in the institutional care of children.

While the practical effects of Bowlby’s monograph in the realm of child care have been universally acknowledged to be wholly beneficial, his theoretical conclusions have been subjected to considerable criticism….
It is this arcane argument that Harlow contributed to. In his 1951 Maternal Care, Bowlby mentions a single animal study—one using twin goats—to bolster his supposition that differences in rearing conditions were adequate to induce behavioral abnormalities. In his 1952 follow-up work and restatement, Child Care and the Growth of Love, he cited only two animal studies. He again mentioned the goats:
Though there can be no mistaking that these findings all point the same way, their value is frequently questioned on the grounds that many children in institutions are born of parents of poor stock, physically and mentally, and that heredity alone might well account for all the differences. Those who make this objection do not seem to be aware that in the majority of the studies described, care has been taken by the investigators to ensure that other groups of children, brought up in either their own home or in foster homes and of a similar social class and as nearly as possible of similar stock, were studied at the same time for purposes of comparison. The only certain method of ruling out the effects of heredity is by comparing identical twins. Though there are no human twin studies of the problem, one psychologist is doing experimental work on twin goat kids, one of whom is separated from its mother for a brief spell each day and the other is not. Except for the daily experimental period of forty minutes, both kids live with and feed from their mother. During the experimental period, the lights are periodically extinguished, which is known to create anxiety in goats, and this produces very different behavior in the twins. The one which is with its mother is at ease and moves about freely; the isolated one is ‘psychologically frozen’ and remains cowed in one corner. In one of the first experiments the isolated kid discontinued suckling from its mother and, the experimenters being unaware of this and so unable to help, it died after a few days. This is ample demonstration of the adverse effects of maternal deprivation on the young of mammals, and disposes finally of the argument that all the observed effects are due to heredity.
He also cited Konrad Lorenz’s work on imprinting in goslings.

Horst and Veer argue that Harlow’s work influenced Bowlby. In fact, the opposite seems to be a more accurate characterization of their interaction. Harlow based his work on Bowlby’s. Harlow wasn’t even original.

Stephen Suomi, in "Rigorous Experiments" writes:
…Two years later [in 1964] Hinde did essentially the same thing in a slightly different setting, and indeed maternal separation studies are still being carried out today, but if one goes back to the very first published studies carried out in Harlow’s lab (Seay et al. 1962, and Seay and Harlow 1965), in the Introduction and in the Discussion sections of those papers there is nothing but Bowlby. These monkey studies were modeled exactly on Bowlby’s published accounts of the effects of maternal separation on children, including the use of exactly the same terms—“protest,” “despair,” and “detachment,”—that Bowlby had employed in describing the reactions of children following separation from and reunion with their mothers….
Horst and Veer argue that Harlow was a “giant” in his field. But Harlow was well known and a standout before he began his experiments on attachment in monkeys. "The Nature of Love" was part of his inaugural address as the new president of the American Psychological Association in 1958. His published papers, prior to 1958 (and after) do not seem to warrant the leadership positions he has held.

Harlow’s fame and notoriety appear to have been based on a remarkably strong personality rather than on any contribution to human well-being. This is probably why psychologist and colleague Duane Rumbaugh could observe, “It was surprising to me how fast the citations dropped off after his death.” (Love at Goon Park) And it explains why no one had the spine to stand up to him.

Harlow’s affect on childcare is little more than a myth. Even in the 1964 WHO reassessment of Bowlby’s work cited above, of the six papers, two include a single reference to Harlow ("Nature of Love") and one includes "Nature" and two others simultaneously, out of about 273 other referenced works between the authors. From 1959 through 1964 Harlow had published at least 27 papers.

There is a large dollop of irony in all of this. Some psychologists, so-called experts in human behavior, are unable to overcome the power of Harlow’s dominant personality, even decades after his death.

Wisconsin Discovery Portal

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison and many other large research universities around the country, responses to open records requests are censored—redacted, in the parlance of public records statutes and regulations.

The number one redaction is a researcher’s name. The claim made by industry to justify this particular bit of censorship is that researchers must be protected from wild revolutionaries and domestic terrorists who might go berserk upon learning the name of someone torturing animals. It’s a bogus claim all the way round of course since federal databases like CRISP and PubMed are easily accessible by the public, to say nothing of researchers’ labs’ web pages.

And, as if further evidence of this odd schizoid duplicity about privacy is needed, UW has published a database of UW researchers called Wisconsin Discovery Portal that
… contains over 2,600 carefully maintained research profiles, is an outgrowth of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery project’s goal of facilitating collaborative research. Each profile has been gathered by WDP staff by searching existing public websites and contains information such as:

Contact information, title, and appointments
Research tools and facilities
Publications, patents, and funding
A detailed description of research interests
And, it allows keyword searches. So, if someone wanted to know who on campus tortures dogs, cats, birds, primates, turtles, or some other animal, much information is now more readily available.

It’s a good resource for those who want to know who is doing what to whom. I guess UW isn’t as worried about animal rights activists as they like to claim in public.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Harlow and Bowlby

The journal, Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, has published a series of papers on the relationship between Harry Harlow and John Bowlby. The are well worth reading. Five of these papers are published online as open access articles.

Introduction to the special issue:"When Strangers Meet": John Bowlby and Harry Harlow on Attachment Behavior
Frank C. P. van der Horst, Helen A. LeRoy and René van der Veer

Loneliness in Infancy: Harry Harlow, John Bowlby and Issues of Separation
Frank C. P. van der Horst & René van der Veer

Rigorous Experiments on Monkey Love: An Account of Harry F. Harlow's Role in the History of Attachment Theory
Stephen J. Suomi & Frank C. P. van der Horst & René van der Veer

The Monkey as a Psychological Subject
Harry F. Harlow

Harry Harlow: From the Other Side of the Desk
Helen A. LeRoy

I've commented on this topic previously and will again at some length.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Slime molds and mind

Twice now, an anonymous poster has argued that because altruism is seen in social amoebas, pointing to altruism as evidence of a similarity between human and non-human mind is illogical.

Anonymous said...
The existence of altruistic behavior in other species cannot be denied. In fact, I previously pointed that it also exists in other species, such as insects and even social amoeba.

However, one cannot infer from such behavior that "the mind of animals is like our own". Otherwise, one would be led to conclude the mind of social amoeba also shares similarities to the human mind. This, I hope we all agree, does not make any sense.
Let’s clarify the terms altruism, social amoeba, and mind.

Biological Altruism
First published Tue Jun 3, 2003 [Okasha, Samir, "Biological Altruism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)]

In evolutionary biology, an organism is said to behave altruistically when its behaviour benefits other organisms, at a cost to itself. The costs and benefits are measured in terms of reproductive fitness, or expected number of offspring. So by behaving altruistically, an organism reduces the number of offspring it is likely to produce itself, but boosts the number that other organisms are likely to produce. This biological notion of altruism is not identical to the everyday concept. In everyday parlance, an action would only be called ‘altruistic’ if it was done with the conscious intention of helping another. But in the biological sense there is no such requirement. Indeed, some of the most interesting examples of biological altruism are found among creatures that are (presumably) not capable of conscious thought at all, e.g. insects. For the biologist, it is the consequences of an action for reproductive fitness that determine whether the action counts as altruistic, not the intentions, if any, with which the action is performed.
It is this apparent “conscious intention to help another” seen in de Waal and in Masserman that is indicative of a similarity in the minds of humans and other animals. Anon’s appeal to the behavior of "social amoeba" as a reason to reject the likelihood of conscious intention by monkeys to help others is spurious.

But what about those "social amoeba" and insects?

There is reason to believe that honeybees (Apis mellifera) have minds. (See: Donald R. Griffin: The Question of Animal Awareness, 1981; Animal Thinking, 1984; Animal Minds, 2001.)

"Social amoeba" aren’t what are normally called amoebas. The Amoebae are a diverse group of unicellular species These amoebas include the organisms responsible for amoebic dysentery.

"Social amoeba" refers to a distinct phase of various organisms loosely grouped into the slime molds. There are some interesting images here.

Whether a "social amoeba" acts with conscious intention to help another remains to be seen, but an assertion that there is no possibility that such organisms act willfully is dogmatic and unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. Some slime mold plasmodiums have been claimed to be good maze solvers.

But what of mind?

My Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) is 819 pages long, not counting the front and end matter. As you might suppose there are many interesting and sometimes contradictory essays about mind and related notions. But none of them do as good a job at summing up what is generally meant by mind as does neuroscientist Sam Harris in The End of Faith (2005).

Harris: "The fact that the universe is illuminated where you stand, the fact that your thoughts and moods and sensations have a qualitative character, is an absolute mystery."

We have such little understanding of the biological basis for this illumination that when we see organisms behaving as if they too live in such a world, then, until a body of relatively unambiguous evidence says otherwise, we should act as if they too exist mentally in a way similar to the way that we do. The degree of similarity might be a function of evolutionary relatedness, but as Harris implies, the truth is anyone's guess right now.

The fundamental notion of the Golden Rule seems to be common to many species. It is only arrogance or ignorance that compels us to say that their suffering is so unlike our own or that their mere existence or internal world is so inferior to our own that any harm we deign to visit on them is justified by our own magnificence.

Negligence?


In my last post, Research negligence results in death, I mischaracterized the behavior of UW vivisector Schultz-Darken and UM vivisector Craig Ferris as negligence.

Let me correct myself: They were not negligent.

The marmoset died as a direct result of their willful disregard of federal law, regulations, and the promises they made to the members of the IACUCs that approved the protocol.

The plain bald fact that nothing was done about this speaks clearly about the charade of oversight of animal research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and by extension, the industry generally.

Was Ei Terasawa punished for negligence because of some hidden racism? Maybe this explains the penalties for her negligence and the lack of penalties for Schultz-Darken's and Ferris's willful violation of federal law.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Research negligence results in death

“Baby's smell tamps down dad's testosterone levels”

First, read the UW press release.

Now read the local insightful coverage from the local newspaper.

I wonder whether the CapTimes story would receive a high mark in a journalism class?

I shouldn’t be too critical since the entire story is taken almost verbatim from the UW news release; how could they have known the back-story?

Spinmeister Terry Devitt typically leaves out the big Whys? or the dark details; instead he writes a piece about the oh-so-cute little monkey dads. His job after all is to put the university in as good a light as possible, to entertain the public with his right hand and cover up the dirt with his left.

So, what didn’t he say and what didn’t the CapTimes know?

Two marmosets died in research associated with this news article. In the most egregious case, researchers violated the approved protocol and neglected to monitor a monkey while they scanned his brain in an fMRI machine at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW).

The protocol, the document approved by the UW-Madison Graduate School IACUC guaranteeing that the research is very important and humanely conducted, they tell us, stipulated that the vital signs of the monkeys used in the study would be recorded every 15 minutes while they were being scanned.

The moneys are anesthetized, placed into a restraint device, and then revived. Then they are placed in the magnet and scanned while being exposed to various scents. One of the monkeys squirmed apparently, and dislodged the temperature probe that was in his rectum.

The researchers also thought that due to the monkey’s movements – his efforts to free himself – that the other recordings – respiration and heart rate – were unreliable. The monkey was scanned, apparently, for an extended period of time.

Unlike the federal violations that occurred in the Terasawa affair, when a monkey having chemicals pushed and pulled into and out of her brain died while the technician was at lunch, in this case, senior researchers were present and negligent. In the Terasawa affair, Terasawa was banned from using monkeys for two years and the technician quit or was asked to resign.

In a letter to Axel V. Wolff, Director of the Division of Compliance Oversight, Office of Laboratory Animals Welfare, NIH, David Gutterman, Senior Associate Dean of Research at MCW, wrote that: “The animals were being studied in the physical presence of Dr. Craig Ferris, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Schultz-Darken was also present.”

Oddly, since most protocols have a single primary investigator (PI), this one had three. Gutterman explained: “The protocol was initially approved at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (UW); the PI there is Nancy Schultz-Darken, PhD.... an MCW faculty member will be the PI responsible for an outside researcher using our imaging facility.... Dr. ShiJiang Li assumed this role of the PI for this experiment.” Named as the PI in the UW primate center annual report is Craig Ferris.

Gutterman:
The relevant portion of the approved protocol indicates that during the imaging session in the MR unit, the animal would be monitored for body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, and oxygen saturation.... Values were to be recorded every 15 minutes. Ranges for all the parameters noted were given, and if any of the values recorded deviated from previously noted ranges, and correction attempts failed, the individual study would be terminated.... Mr. Mat Brevard, operator of the scanner from the University of Massachusetts, physically observed the animal and identified no respiratory abnormalities or apparent behavioral changes. He also touched the animal and did not perceive any noticeable increase in body temperature. Dr. Ferris therefore proceeded with the imaging session despite the inability to perform the required monitoring. The MCW veterinarian present at the time concurred with this decision prior to leaving the room. The animal was found deceased when it emerged from the magnet. The exact time of death was uncertain.


It was later said that the monkey’s brain had over heated.

What were Ferris and Schultz-Darken doing while the monkey was being cooked? What kind of scientists promise in writing to monitor an animal’s vital signs and then determine that poking him is just as good?

This whole affair is indicative of the crap that’s passed off as science and meaningful oversight and paid for by the taxpayer.

And what happened to Ferris and Schultz-Darken as a result of this gross and fatal violation of federal regulations? Apparently, nothing whatsoever. In fact, today, Schultz-Darken is the chair of the UW Graduate School IACUC.

And finally, as if more evidence of the system’s failure is needed, Devitt neglected to say that the research itself is beyond speculative. The scent-informed world of marmoset physiology, behavior, and motivation is worlds away from our own. Using marmosets to study scent-induced behavior in humans is like using dolphins to study walking.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vivisectionists' disease

According to Google, there were 167 news articles online today (August 26, 2008) about Yerke's researchers' report on evidence of empathy in adult female capuchins. [Frans B. M. de Waal; Kristin Leimgruber; Amanda R. Greenberg. Giving is self-rewarding for monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2008.]

I've listed the most common headlines below.

This study provides good evidence of animals having minds similar to our own. It is equally strong evidence of widespread mental illness in the vivisection community.

Our mental and emotional similarities make it abundantly and undeniably clear that we suffer similarly. The largest portion of this evidence comes from experiments using non-human primates, like this one.

And yet, in the face of this evidence, vivisectors subject monkeys to procedures that would never be allowed, even on consenting adults, and if attempted, would land the assailants in prison.

When I say they are mentally ill, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they aren’t mentally ill, then their continuing use of animals must be explained in some other way. Maybe their bigotry is just so extreme and profound that they must always and absolutely deny the moral implications in the ever-building evidence. Is bigotry a mental illness?

Or, maybe job security is so important to them that any threat to their livelihood is a rallying cry.

Or, maybe some of them have come to the conclusion that what they do is immoral but feel that they have to defend themselves lest their families, friends, and neighbors start to disfavor them.

Whatever the cause, the vivisection community’s response to the evidence that animals have minds like ours is extreme and contrary to what the response likely would be from the majority of people.

I think the vivisectors know this, and that their fear of the public’s likely response is one of the main reasons that they are so secretive. Paranoia, cruelty to animals, bigotry, denial, delusion, and the absence of empathy seem to be the common symptoms of their illness.


Monkeys find giving rewarding
Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom

Test of charity shows monkeys are capable of empathy
guardian.co.uk, UK

Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others
Science Daily (press release)

Monkeys experience joy of giving, too, study finds
Reuters

Monkeys reward friends and relatives
The Associated Press

Study Finds Generous Monkeys
RedOrbit, TX

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Post this poster

Print, copy, cut, and post this poster.

UW IACUC Unaffiliated Members

I was recently part of a small group that had the opportunity to meet with the UW Graduate School’s unaffiliated IACUC member of approximately five years, The Rev. Maurine Lewis, Rector of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church.

For those who don’t know, the Animal Welfare Act stipulates that every research institution using species covered by the Act must have an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee responsible for assuring that the institution’s animal use complies with the Act. The Act stipulates that the committee must have, at a minimum, three members: a veterinarian familiar with the use of animals in research, a representative from the institution, and an unaffiliated member to represent the community’s interests.

It was an enlightening meeting. We asked whether she was familiar with Stuart G. Mondschein, JD, another of the university’s IACUCs’ unaffiliated members. She hadn’t heard of him. (The University of Wisconsin, Madison has six such committees, one each for the various schools using animals: the vet school, the grad school – which oversees the primate center, the ag school, etc., and the All Campus Committee.)

Nor had anyone given her a copy of his article from the June 2007 issue of Lab Animal.

From what Reverend Lewis said, and from what Mr. Mondshein has written, the unaffiliated members at the University of Wisconsin are isolated from each other. The university does nothing to facilitate dialog between them, or even introduce them to each other. Maybe there isn’t anything sinister in this, but there is clear and blatant incompetence if the goal is informed decision-making.

Mondshein lamented that the unaffiliated member is left to figure it all out on his or her own. And yet, let any criticism arise in the press regarding animal use and the university spokespersons are quick to point out that the community’s interests are represented on the oversight committees by an unaffiliated member of the public; unaffiliated, uninformed and isolated, apparently.

We learned in our meeting with Reverend Lewis that although she has seen the animal housing rooms at the primate center, she has never seen a monkey with a cranial implant, or one who appeared to be ill, or any stereotypic behavior. She is under the impression that after the monkeys are no longer wanted for research that they are retired and are allowed to live out their lives with other aging monkeys. She hasn’t been inside a primate lab in a number of years she said; now she sees only mouse labs. And, she is uncertain that she even sees all the protocols approved by the committee.

She characterized herself as the “stupid one” on the committee and said that so long as Dr. Sandgren and the primate veterinarian, “Buddy” Capuano approve of the research, who is she to challenge their opinion?

The community’s interests are not being served by keeping these people isolated from each other, providing little training for them, or by keeping them out of the more controversial labs. The negligence with which these people are treated says much about the university's and the industry's interest in substantive discussion and decision-making regarding the use of animals.

The unaffiliated members appear to be dupes more than informed active participants who represent the public's interests.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Conversation with Eric Sandgren

In my post featuring the image of the marmoset in the long-term restraint device developed by vivisectors at the University of Wisconsin, I brought up Ei Terasawa’s push-pull perfusion studies and mentioned some of Eric Sandgren’s statements about the matter. Eric left the following comment:

Eric Sandgren said...
You should know, Rick, that a paper published in 2007 uses data collected sometimes years earlier. As I correctly stated, push-pull perfusion experiments are not being used now. Second, your blog demonstrates that we do discuss this sort of procedure in public--you have provided the citations, to which you had free access. Thank you for proving that point. Third, regarding oversight, you say its broken, I say its not broken. We both use evidence to back up our convictions. Where does that leave us? In the real world, where things are not packaged up so neatly, as you would have us believe. Forth, I'm responding to correct an error of fact in your blog (that I had made a misstatement). I'm not interested and won't take part in a typically pointless back-and-forth blogging match. Maybe you could invite me to one of your meetings and we can have another of our face-to-face conversations. Finally, why do activists have such a problem spelling my name consistently? August 19, 2008 9:37 AM
Rick said...
As you know Eric, and as you stipulated in correspondence with Terasawa, she was to stop using the term “push-pull perfusion” and begin using “micro-dialysis.” In any case, she has now, apparently, actually switched over, in spite of her essay explaining that micro-dialysis is a scientifically inferior method. The difference between the two procedures is the design of the tip of the tube. The restraint, surgical preparation, cannulization, and brain structure being probed are the same. It’s unlikely that the monkeys undergoing the ordeal could differentiate between the two.

You write: “Third, regarding oversight, you say its broken, I say its not broken. We both use evidence to back up our convictions.” You have no evidence. There isn’t evidence on your side of this particular point. Evidence looks like the USDA IG’s report and Plous and Herzog. If I’m wrong, please do cite a reference or two.

You must not understand just how unusual an illustration like this is in today’s journals. The university doesn’t discuss the details of its animal research in public. You know that as well as I do.

Thanks for pointing out the typo.

For the record, you stopped coming to our meetings on your own. You’ve never been turned away. August 19, 2008 12:20 PM
And then, for a reason I can’t fathom since there seems to be nothing confidential in it, Eric sent me the following email:
from Eric P. Sandgren
to Rick Bogle
date Aug 20, 2008 9:51 AM
subject Rick, Rick, Rick
mailed-by rarc.wisc.edu

There you go again. Want some evidence for oversight working? Its posted on your own web site in the two pieces about Ei Teresawa. Your whole discussion about Dr. Teresawa always starts by describing the "identification" of problems by the USDA. Well, according to documents posted on your site, Teresawa's protocol already had been suspended before the USDA visit. We had reported that suspension to OLAW and to USDA. You actually have the gall to suggest that the USDA VMO put the wrong date on the report? The IACUC worked in its job of oversight. As you prove. Thanks.

Regarding push-pull versus perfusion, you state that the animals likely don't know the difference. Do you realize that you've just said there is no difference between 12 hours of restraint and over 3 days of restraint? Wow. See how your fellow activists feel about that statement. To me, that's a very significant difference.

Regarding your meetings, I attach below an email from you to me on 10-16-07 when I asked to meet with your group after the second debate. I'll also forward it to you:

"Thanks for the update.
Eric

Rick Bogle wrote:
> Hi Eric,
>
> After some discussion, we've decide that we'll have to get back to you at a
> latter date. We will discuss a possible meeting with you at our next
> meeting.
>
> Rick Bogle
>"

You never did get back to me.

Rick, you should write novels because you are so good at Historical Fiction. Do you see why a number of people might find it hard to take you seriously when your work is so sloppy? Come on. You can do better than this. Don't trivialize your own cause.

I guess I don't expect to read any acknowledgment of these points anywhere, but I can hope.
Eric, I can't see any reason not to have this discussion in public.

I’ll address each of your points.
There you go again. Want some evidence for oversight working? Its posted on your own web site in the two pieces about Ei Teresawa. Your whole discussion about Dr. Teresawa always starts by describing the "identification" of problems by the USDA.
Well, according to documents posted on your site, Teresawa's protocol already had been suspended before the USDA visit. We had reported that suspension to OLAW and to USDA. You actually have the gall to suggest that the USDA VMO put the wrong date on the report? The IACUC worked in its job of oversight. As you prove. Thanks.
You contend that the problem was discovered by the university rather than APHIS.

You should review the minutes of the May 12, 2003 Graduate School IACUC.

This document makes it clear that the problem was discovered by APHIS and that that is what brought the matter to the committee’s attention.

Further, Terasawa (you should learn to spell her name correctly) had been using this method – the method you said was too risky – for seventeen years. The university’s oversight, in spite of the involvement of what must have been many people over this long period, had failed to notice the problem for nearly two decades. This is what you cite as evidence that the oversight system works.

On this point we will just have to disagree about what the evidence demonstrates.
Regarding push-pull versus perfusion, you state that the animals likely don't know the difference. Do you realize that you've just said there is no difference between 12 hours of restraint and over 3 days of restraint? Wow. See how your fellow activists feel about that statement. To me, that's a very significant difference.
Just to clarify: Push-pull is perfusion. The procedures you are trying to contrast are push-pull perfusions and micro-dialyses. In any case, any judgment regarding the monkeys’ experiences should be based on a full accounting of what is done to them. In both the push-pull perfusion and the micro-dialysis, the build up to the actual procedure appears to be identical and spanned many weeks and in some cases, months. I do agree though, that 12 hours of constraint is better than 3 days, much like losing a finger is better than losing a hand; neither of which is a good thing.

We will just have to disagree as to whether this is a significant difference. To anyone observing the procedures and the events leading up to them, it would be very difficult, maybe impossible, to distinguish one from the other.
Rick Bogle wrote:
> Hi Eric,
>
> After some discussion, we've decide that we'll have to get back to you at a
> latter date. We will discuss a possible meeting with you at our next
> meeting.
>
> Rick Bogle
>"

You never did get back to me.

Rick, you should write novels because you are so good at Historical Fiction. Do you see why a number of people might find it hard to take you seriously when your work is so sloppy? Come on. You can do better than this. Don't trivialize your own cause.
Sorry. You are though, being selective here. Don’t forget that you asked me to get together with you to discuss this blog and to just “jaw.” I agreed, and you left it hanging. You even apologized for this recently when we spoke to each other before we taped “For the Record.”

Again, I apologize for not getting back to you on your wish to meet with the entire group. I spoke with them about this again, and you are welcome to attend a meeting. We meet on Thursday evenings but will switch to Wednesdays beginning in September. Email me and I will send you the time and location and put you on the agenda.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mea culpa

A couple of Sudays ago I had a letter published in the Sunday Dallas Morning News:

Apes' rights reinforce human rights

Re: "When human rights extend to nonhumans – Granting apes rights will only devalue human life, says Wesley J. Smith," last Sunday Points.

Mr. Smith's criticism of acknowledging apes' basic rights is easy to understand. His organizations, the Discovery Institute and its daughter organization, the Center for Bioethics and Culture, exist primarily to fight against teaching evolution in the schools and to push their anti-science agenda.

These organizations are spin-offs of the Ayn Rand cult's vision of a social hierarchy that turns the American ideal of equality on its head.

Scientific evidence makes it clear that apes' and humans' emotional and cognitive responses to our world are of a like kind. Establishing their basic rights under the law reinforces human rights because it acknowledges that our similarities to each other are more important than our differences.

Rick Bogle, Madison, Wis.
A few days later I was taken to task by the Center for Bioethics and Culture's founder:
CBC misrepresented in letter

Re: “Apes’ rights reinforce human rights,” by Rick Bogle, Sunday Letters.

The Center for Bioethics and Culture is not a “daughter organization” of the Discovery Institute. Perhaps I would have been less irritated if Mr. Bogle associated the Discovery Institute as a “daughter organization” of the CBC? But, in either case, his association would have been grossly inaccurate.

Also, the CBC has never been involved in the evolution debate or had any position on the teaching of evolution. Nor was Wesley Smith’s article about evolution. In an era of Google transparency, it is utter tripe that Mr. Bogle didn’t do his homework. For that matter, did he think that this glaring misrepresentation of the CBC would go unnoticed?

Regarding his beliefs that the CBC pushes an anti-science agenda: more nonsense. More than half of our directors are doctors, nurses, scientists or public health professionals. Hardly an organization to brand as anti-science since our livelihood depends on the science professions.

Jennifer Lahl, founder and national director, The Center for Bioethics and Culture, San Ramon, Calif.
Ms Lahl is correct; I was mistaken. I confused the Center for Bioethics and Culture with The Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

It's hard to keep it all straight. Ms. Lahl's organization notes that Wesley J. Smith is a special consultant. And here, they mention only Smith:
Our Directors include physicians, nurses, public health experts, marketing and finance businessmen, 5 staffers including consultant—Wesley J. Smith, J.D. all share a commitment to a truly human future. The CBC team has had an impact in major news publications, national radio, network TV, national and international speeches, and boasts a portfolio of leading national experts on hand to promptly address key bioethic issues. We are regularly asked for feedback and background by media, individuals and major organizations as well as bodies outside of the U.S. as well as provide speakers for national events.
And you can't read many of these articles or these and not pick up on the common themes.

But, in spite of Smith's clear involvement in Center for Bioethics and Culture and his stardom at the Discovery Institute, I was wrong in my characterization of her organization being a Discovery Institute, anti-science, creationist, Ayn Rand cult spin-off.

It's just a bed fellow.