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.


Anonymous said...

We get it... You object to research done 60 years ago. What's new here?

Anonymous said...

I think a point may be that we're considered that people who actually do ethically and scientifically defend this research currently have more victims within their reach.

If I found out my physician thought the Tuskegee experiments were A-OK, that might concern me as well.

Anonymous said...

...and my point is that what people did with animals 60 years ago is very different from what you are allowed to do today.

Anonymous said...

But your point is beyond silly. History matters. And, I merely responded to newly published papers. Write to the authors and complain to them.

Anonymous said...

what was done to animals 60 years ago is not being done today? What planet is this person living on? Experiments like this are being done on primates today and much worse. All of it ia covered up by lie after lie, Your comment leads me to believe you are probably a vivisectionwho drills holes in a monkey's skull without anisthetic and thinks it's ok. Can we vivisect you? Or better yet, can we inject you with hiv abd study its affects on morons?

Anonymous said...

My comment had a typo that may have confused my whole message - "considered" should read "concerned".

Anonymous said...

First, I don't do primate experimentation (I already said so).

Second, who is doing Harlow type of experiments today?

Third, nobody... absolutely nobody, drills holes in awake animals in US institutions. If you believe this, you are living in the world of lies created by AR activists.

Gary said...

There may be several points that anonymous is missing or choosing to ignore:

- There are people today who vigorously defend Harlow. So that is relevant to today's research - as well as disturbing.

- The vivisection lobby is forever claiming advances in all manner of human well-being due to vivisection. It is good that we are rebutting those claims.

- Recently, a researcher at the University of North Carolina (UNC) was caught drilling into the skulls of unanesthetized rats. The researcher said he did this for convenience. He was not caught by the USDA but by PETA. UNC said "problem solved." A year later PETA caught him doing the same thing. This, and countless other undercover investigations that show callous indifference to animal welfare in vivisection labs, show that a) the inspection system is tragically deficient, b) penalties are a joke, c) since AR undercover investigators cannot be everywhere at once and laboratories are opaque, similar cruelties may be happening every day.

- The larger issue is not whether we're drilling holes into live monkeys today but whether we're continuing to inflict needless suffering on laboratory animals, even according to the stated standards of most pro-vivisection scientists. And the answer is yes. For example, we inflict long-term and severe psychological torture on monkeys in crudely designed drug addiction experiments that are soundly criticized by veterinarians and primatologists and the results of which are almost unanimously ignored by practicing psychologists and drug counselors - who often have to compete with these experiments for funding. Furthermore, animal advocacy investigators routinely discover extreme neglect and non-compliance with the AWA in animal labs across the country - year after year. The suffering and deaths caused by this neglect is obscene.

Anonymous said...


1) I will not defend every single NIH project. The vast majority of projects are good, a very small percentage are not so good but got funded anyway. No system is perfect.

2) I will not defend investigators that do not play by the rules. I agree there should be strong consequences for those that decide to ignore regulations.

3) You say "The larger issue is [...] whether we're continuing to inflict needless suffering on laboratory animals"

I agree.

The basic question that separates us is this: assuming animals are treated humanely and with respect, assuming the information gained could leads to cures, is it ethical to experiment on animals?

You say 'no'. I say 'yes'.

I think that if there is anything at all we do with animals that is ethically justified is scientific research.

I think animals are not necessarily needed for food any more. Animals are not necessarily needed for clothing any more. Animals are not necessarily needed to test shampoo or make up any more...

In contrast, there is no replacement for animals in some types of scientific research where you need to study the entire organism.

You may like this statement or not, but it is the simple truth.

(And please, don't send me to read the PCRM web-site).

Anonymous said...


I think I could form a syllogism from your post that looks something like this:

P1: Needlessly killing animals, or, at least, killing animals for shrewd pleasures or convenience is wrong.
P2: Raising/killing animals for food constitutes needless killing.
C: Raising/killing animals for food is wrong.

So, a natural question seems to arise, are you vegan?

If not, then your assurances that vivisectionists don't harm animals unnecessarily seems hollow. Maybe they're just willing to be inconsistent like you.

(If you are vegan, then please forgive my hasty, but likely reasonable, assumption)

And, here, I think we see another salient point about considering history of vivisection/Harlow. When we talk about ethical principles/ideas, some of these ideas are fuzzy. I can say I'm against cruel treatment of animals and you can too but we can still wind up justifying and condemning very different acts. If we talk about specific historical facts or instances, suddenly the ambiguity is cleared and our theories get clearly translated into practice.

We often hear the vivisection industry and their apologists say that they're for "respecting" animals in labs and using them only when "necessary." This same bunch of folks also speak approvingly of the acts of Harlow. So now that we've discussed history, it immediately becomes clear that their (your) idea of "necessary" and "respect" are very different than mine.

Anonymous said...


By "necessary" I mean that there will be no progress in some fields of biomedical research if we do not use animals.

By "humane" and/or "respect" I mean that we need to avoid pain and/or suffering when possible, for example by the use of anesthetics.

I am not currently a vegan, but I am indeed considering a vegetarian diet.

What about you? Do you refuse medicines developed with animal work?

Anonymous said...

Anon: "1) I will not defend every single NIH project. The vast majority of projects are good, a very small percentage are not so good but got funded anyway. No system is perfect."

"Good" in the sense of a valuation of a medical research project that claims to be focused on advancing human heathcare, would seem to be an appropriate label only when such advancement actually results.

Using this metric, basic research continues to be largely a failure. As evidence of my claim consider this:

In 2004, William Richard Rodriguez, M.D. Chief Medical Director, Veritas Medicine and Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School had this to say [Rodriguez, WR Can biomedical research in the United States be saved from collapse? 2004 MebMD, Veritas Medicine]:

"Exactly one year ago, the nation's most thoughtful and deliberative body [the National Academies of Science's Institute of Medicine] devoted to translating the fruits of biomedical research into meaningful improvements in patients' lives … released a quiet, highly critical indictment of the biomedical research effort in the United States. [Sung NS et al. Central challenges facing the national clinical research enterprise. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003;289:1278–1287.] Moreover, in an accompanying editorial, a leading neurologist, Dr. Roger Rosenberg of Tennessee, disparaged this group—the Clinical Research Roundtable of the Institute of Medicine (the “CRR”)—for not being critical enough. [Rosenberg, RN. Translating Biomedical Research to the Bedside: A National Crisis and a Call to Action. Journal of the American Medical Association 2003;289:1305-6."

Dr. Rosenberg wrote:

"There is an assumption that the recent exponential growth of scientific information about disease, as evidenced by the substantial increase in the numbers of published articles in biomedical journals, heralds a rapid move to improve human health.

This illusion is the subject of an intense analysis…."

This is the translational problem. This was pointed out in an editorial in the first (second?) issue of the journal Translational Medicine. The author noted that basic science had failed to live up to its promises of improved medical care.

The result of these reports has been a proliferation of labs calling themselves the Center for, the Institute of, ... Translational Medicine. But the proof is in the pudding.

So, Anon (or anyone else), you say that the vast majority of NIH-funded projects are good. Here's a challenge: cite five papers published within the past ten years that you feel are representative of the good studies paid for by NIH--these would be animal studies that have resulted directly in a clear and unambiguous benefit to human patients.

Anonymous said...

I can certainly point to many articles are representative of good science.

Yet, anything published within the 10 years would probably be too short of a time scale to demonstrate conclusively that some piece of animal work has translated successfully to human health. (I think you have some strange notion about how long it takes to develop cures.)

A better perspective is gained when you look at work over the course of decades. Then, there are more examples than I could possible summarize here...

You can find some here:

...and here:

...and elsewhere.

Those that deny the role of animal research in advancing human health in history only expose how little knowledge they really have on this topic.

My original point, however, was that our disagreement runs deeper than this one issue.

Your position (as I understand it) is that even if animal research could lead to cures we should not be doing it. No matter how the animals are treated; no matter the species.

This is an extreme point of view.
One that has driven you to justify violent actions. You are an extremist.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Anon is relying on simple propaganda rather than actual evidence to make his or her point; and, apparently, since he or she cannot rise to the challenge of citing even five papers (how about three?)demonstrating the notion that the "vast majority of projects are good," the only thing left is to cast childish dispersions.

Anonymous said...

Medical history is propaganda?!
My goodness!

Fine, here you have four recent examples:

1) Recovery of spinal cord lesions by embryonic stem cells. McDonald et al, Nature Medicine, 1999. An example of application of stem cells for the treatment of spinal cord injury.

2) Gene therapy used to restore vision in blind dogs. Acland et al, Nature Genetics, 2001. This is now undergoing human clinical trials.

3) The development of nanoparticles in cancer therapy. These allow targeting tumors via molecular recognition and minimize secondary effects (like those of chemotheraphy or radiation).
Brigger et al, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 2002.

4) The development of neural prosthesis for paralyzed patients. Velliste et al, Nature, 2008.

All the above and more made possible by the responsible use of animals in research.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly the sort of research pointed to by CRR and others. The translational problem is that "breakthroughs" in animals aren't leading to improvements in patient care. What don't you understand about this?

BTW, FBR is pure propaganda.

Anonymous said...

You want me to believe that you actually read those 4 papers in 5 minutes and arrived at a reasoned conclusion that they have nothing to contribute to human health?

Is is sad to see you wish to remain ignorant about these issues. So much for a school teacher!

Anonymous said...

The matter of translation might just be too hard for you to understand.

Zillions of animal-based papers can be presented that might yield benefit to human healthcare in the future. The rub comes in finding some that actually have.

The details of the papers are unimportant here if the experimental results have yet to be proven efficatious in humans. Thus, when I read that stem cells have shown some benefit in experimental spine lesions in rats, I can search quickly to see whether or not the procedure is being tried in humans and with what effect if it is. If it isn't then there is no reason to look further; that procedure or discovery has yet to be translated into patient care.

Thus, a brief search shows that nanoparticles are yet to be used in cancer screening, embedded brain electrodes are yet to be used to move mechanical arms for quadraplegics, etc.

If the "vast majority of projects are good" then clear examples of animal-based studies leading to improved patient care should be readily available; but they aren't, and this is root of the National Acadamies' criticism of basic research.

I'd love for you to cite papers that you feel are clear examples of genuinely productive animal-based research. There must be some out there given the multitude of papers being published, but it is devilishly hard to find one, as your citations suggest.

Anonymous said...

I already explained that any research within the last 10 years would be bound to be at most now in clinical trials.

You need to wait more to see which may or may not develop into effective human treatments.

I know for a fact that all the examples I brought up are now undergoing clinical trials.

You view historical facts are "propaganda" and today's breakthroughs in basic research are "empty promises". It may all be a self-defense mechanism to avoid a melt-down of your belief system.

Anyway, given that you appear to have the crystal ball in your hands, please illuminate us all:

Which research method is assured to yield cures spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Cancer or AIDS? Oh, yes, and all done within 10 years please.

Gary said...

Due to lack of time, let's just look at one of the diseases you mentioned. With AIDS, all of our relevant findings, e.g., the way HIV works, which retrovirals have potential and actually work, side effects of drugs, means of AIDS transmmission, differences between progressors and non-progressors, viable safe sex prevention approaches, have come from in vitro studies, clinical observations, epidemiological studies, and other non-animal research. Primate studies gave us misleading info on the rate at which HIV spreads and vaccines that worked in primates (who, for all practical purposes, don't get AIDS) but not humans. So I'd free up the billions going to AIDS-related primate research, as well as the primates themselves, and allocate resources solely to human-focused research, which is ethical and predictive.

Gary said...

Hi anon,

You say you won't defend investigators who won't play by the rules. That sidesteps the larger issue: They consistently find blatant cruelties and violations that are not found by USDA inspectors. That indicates that there is a systemic problem.

Furthermore, while I don't advocate wanton rule-breaking, if the existing "rules" repeatedly result in severe and preventable suffering, and the enforcers of the rules are asleep at the wheel, is there not some moral justification to use peaceful methods that go around the rules in order to expose and hopefully end this cruelty?

If we are truly interested in cures for our most deadly diseases, then since mainstream medical groups agree that cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are mostly preventable through lifestyle changes, why is so little of the NIH budget devoted to trying to get people to eat more fruits and veggies and be more active? Switch all the viv resources to that and we may see dramatic improvements in lifespan and quality of life.

But the profit and glory is not in prevention, but in discovering a magic pill or technique. Our focus on vivisection is very arbitrary.

Since you brought up PCRM, you remember when they developed a non-animal insulin assay test? Until that time, the vivisection industry would claim, using their self-servig illogic, that diabetes patients owed their lives to animal tests, blah, blah, blah. But only because no one ever cared to develop a non-animal alternative. (Which, according to third parties, works as well as better than the animal-derived method.)

You're probably aware of conclusions from Harvard researchers (and I think other sources) that medical research *in total* is only responsible for a tiny portion of increase in human lifespan during the 20th century. And these days, given our high levels of technology and the fact that cures are done at the genetic and sub-cellular level where one little change in, say, gene sequence can result in vastly different outcomes, animal models are more irrelevant than ever.

So, for these and many other reasons, let's not pretend that we are dependent on animal research. We do it out of habit and hubris.

Gary said...

Forgot to add....strictly looking at the science and ignoring ethics... In addition to the fallacious logic of:

- We looked in animals
- We found something useful in animals
- Therefore, we're dependent on looking in animals,

we must consider all the ways in which animal models have impeded medical research, and factor those into the equation. For instance, how many millions suffered because unreliable animal data couldn't show that smoking caused lung cancer? (And why are we still stuffing mice into tobacco smoke-filled tubes 50 years later?) What about the incorrect assumption from animal models that diabetes was a disease of the liver, or that polio entered through the brain, or that bypass surgery wouldn't work because veins weren't strong enough, or that cardiac catheterization wouldn't work because when tried on animals they died? And so on? More recently, animal data suggested that hormone replacement therapy decreased rather than increased risk of heart disease, and RAS pathways, through which cancer progresses, were overloooked due to focusing so much on rodents.

If we make an effort to transition completely to non-animal methodologies, we will not only continue to improve all those other methods but rid ourselves of the inherent extrapolation problems of animal models.

Also, to affirm a point Rick made: please, no FBR materials. It's a foregone conclusion, given that they're a lobbying group for the viv industry, that they're going to exaggerate the benefits of animal research and never criticize it.

Anonymous said...

Anon, dude. Ouch.

Gary just spanked you.

Anonymous said...


I am all for prevention.

I am all for re-balancing the NIH budget to put more into prevention and alternatives to animal research.

But you are wrong -- we have learned (and continue to learn) a lot from animal research that applies directly to humans.

You are either afraid to admit so or are as ignorant as Rick about the history of biomedical research

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to add -- I am against the bombings that Rick and others glorify as heroic actions. You too?

Anonymous said...

I ask again:

"Which research method is assured to yield cures spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Cancer or AIDS?"

I am still waiting for an answer here... but perhaps you are not willing to step up to the challenge. The fact is, there are now current alternatives to animal research.

I guess it is easier for you to complain about those that are actually trying to do something.

Anonymous said...


Go back and re-read Gary's comments. He more than answered your questions; it's you who has made claims regarding the "vast majority" of NIH-funded animal research projects but have yet to point to even one that has improved patient care.

You claimed that papers published within the past ten years simply can't be expected to have yielded benefit as of yet.

If your claim is true, regarding the vast majority of NIH-funded vivisection, then it should be a simple manner to look back at the papers that resulted from them and see the clear benefit they produced.

Go back in time as far as you like. Start listing examples of this vast majority. If you are right, this should be child's play.

I suggest that you won't be able to do this (I suspect that you don't have a notion of even how to begin) because there isn't a vast number of papers to point to as clear examples.

If basic research has and is failing to deliver on its promises, as the NAS says it has and is, then it is incumbent on those who support it to demonstrate clearly that the costs are really warranted.

Standing back and crying that because you can't imagine any way to improve heath care other than animal experimentation, is like saying that we should keep swinging dead cats around our neck because we can't think of anything better to do for our warts. If something doesn't work, it is illogical, and in this case, odious, to keep doing it.