Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monsters: Monsters and Monkeys

[From an image at AnimalLiberationFront.com]
Ideologues like Mengele can appear to be “cold cynics” in that they need not feel others’ pain if it is in service of a “higher purpose.” They can also have pockets of pragmatism for the same reason—certainly the case with Mengele. Nor is ideological fanaticism incompatible with personal ambition. While Mengele might have been a “good soldier” for the SS (as Dr. B. put it), one who lacked “fake SS ambitions,” we know him to have had very real ambitions that had to do with his ideology and with his overweening desire to become recognized as a great scientist.(1)
“He was a monster, period, no more doctor than anything else, … a monster and … only evil or calamities could come from him.” -- Robert Jay Lifton, quoting an anonymous prisoner doctor.(2)
Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, is the most notorious of all the Nazi scientists who used human prisoners in their experiments. He is particularly remembered for his research on twins, most of whom were children. He experimented on dwarfs and people with abnormal physical characteristics in general. He studied noma—“a gangrenous condition of the face and mouth…known to result from extreme debilitation,” and eye color. In all these areas, he was particularly desirous of determining genetic factors. Genetics was a watchword used at the time by the Nazi’s to justify their infamous goal of racial purity.

Few if any people today voice a scientific appreciation for Mengele’s research (unlike the praise for J. Marion Simms’) or any of the other research using human prisoners conducted by the plethora of German scientists who did so. But if Germany won the war, history would have painted them in a much different light.

Today, there are a plethora of scientists around the world who use monkeys in their experiments because they believe them to be very like us; not only in a mechanical sense – all primates have a four-chambered heart, for instance – but also mentally and emotionally. Some of them use young monkeys because they believe them to be substantively like human children, mentally and emotionally.

Nearly all scientists who use animals in publicly funded behavioral research and in neurophysiological research on the brain do so because they believe that animals’ brains and behaviors are so similar to our brains and behavior. This is evident and stated clearly in many scientific papers. Not surprisingly, this is particularly true in experiments on monkeys.

This belief – that a human child and a monkey child are so much alike – is what fueled Harry Harlow’s, Steven Suomi’s and Harlow’s many other students’ personal career choices. Stanley Milgram’s work suggests strongly that permission and encouragement by authority accounts for the limits many of us place on our actions. This comports neatly with Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Kohlberg said that morality for most of us is just a matter of doing things that others reward us for doing, or obeying people and institutions we deem to be authorities. If someone like Stephen Suomi had been a Nazi scientist or a doctor in the antebellum south, is it very far-fetched to imagine that he would have been isolating human children in vertical chambers? It is likely that scientists who today use animals because the animals’ emotional responses to the world are very like our own, are members of the same set of personality type that includes Descartes, Magendie, Bernard, Seligman, Harlow, Simms, and Mengele.

It’s hard to know how many people with this personality type – monsters – are active today, but there are at least many thousands. Limiting the group to just those who are using monkeys in publicly funded experiments, or further still, to just those using young monkeys in publicly funded psychological or brain physiology experiments whittles the number down even more. And with the Internet, it’s a matter of only a few keystrokes to gather a rough list.

Dario Maestripieri is a scientist at the University of Chicago. He has received many awards and much encouragement from authoritative scientific institutions. According to his lab’s web page, his areas of research include:

Rodent male and female aggressive behavior
Primate social relationships
Primate communication and cognition
Primate mating systems and reproductive strategies
Primate maternal behavior and offspring development
Primate infant abuse and neglect
Primate behavioral neuroendocrinology
Evolution of animal behavior
Evolution of human behavior, and
Human psychological, physiological, and behavioral adaptations for social processes

Maestripieri’s research on primate infant abuse and neglect is a good example of monstrous behavior. These excerpts are from “Early experience affects the intergenerational transmission of infant abuse in rhesus monkeys,” the report he published in 2005 in the journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS):
Infant abuse in monkeys shares several similarities with child abuse in humans, including its prevalence in the population, the relation between age and vulnerability to abuse, some psychological characteristics of abusive mothers, and the role of psychosocial stress in triggering abuse. In rhesus and pigtail macaques, infant abuse is concentrated in some matrilines and among closely related individuals such as mothers and daughters or sisters.
The abusive mothers who served as study subjects had been observed in previous years and their abusive behavior had been documented. Only mothers whose frequency and severity of abuse did not jeopardize their infant’s life were used for this study. These abusive mothers were typically consistent in the frequency and severity with which they abused offspring born in successive years.
… the focal sampling method focused on hourly rates of maternal abuse as well as hourly rates of the following maternal behaviors: making contact, breaking contact, cradling, grooming, restraining, and rejecting. Infant abuse was operationally defined as dragging (the mother drags her infant by its tail or leg while walking or running); crushing (the mother pushes her infant on the ground with both hands); throwing (the mother throws her infant a short distance with one hand while standing or walking); hitting (the mother violently slaps her infant with one hand or arm); biting (common definition); stepping or sitting on (the mother steps on her infant with one foot or both feet, or sits on her infant).
The results of this study demonstrate that rhesus macaque mothers who abuse their offspring produce daughters who are likely to become abusive mothers themselves.… In addition, previous studies have shown that macaque mothers who abuse their firstborn offspring continue to exhibit similar patterns of abuse with all of their successive offspring, [He cites three papers to substantiate this claim, all co-authored by him in 1997 and 1998.] thus suggesting that maternal inexperience is not a primary cause of abuse.
Because experimental cross-fostering studies cannot be easily conducted with humans, nonhuman primates provide unique animal models for the study and understanding of the development of human behavior. The availability of a primate model of child maltreatment provides the opportunity not only to conduct research on the causes and consequences of this phenomenon but also to test various forms of intervention and therefore contribute to its prevention.(3)
By at least 1997 or 1998, Maestripieri thought that monkeys who abused their offspring (by dragging, crushing, throwing, hitting, biting, and stepping or sitting on them) would continue to abuse their subsequent children. In 2005, he was still watching and writing about mother monkeys abusing their babies, and continues to do so.

His observations were and are being made at the Yerkes Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta. This matters because the monkeys he has watched and written about live at the whim of the vivisectors there. It is an overt decision by them, and presumably Maestripieri and his co-authors, to allow abusive mother monkeys to keep having babies, and to allow their abused female offspring to also have babies, all of whom they expect will be dragged, crushed, thrown, hit, bit, and/or stepped or sat upon by their mothers. (Presumably, other monkeys at Yerkes are so abusive that they sometimes kill their babies, because as Maestripieri noted in his 2005 paper: “Only mothers whose frequency and severity of abuse did not jeopardize their infant's life were used for this study.”

Given the almost absolute control over the monkeys’ lives that Maestripieri and the Yerkes staff have, we must conclude that the infant abuse that occurs there is not the mother monkeys’ fault. It is the fault of monsters that, knowing full-well what will happen, allow successive generations of abusing mothers to keep having children who will themselves go on to be abusive.

Let’s take a fast tour around the country.

A team of researchers from Yerkes, The Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and Saint Louis University are depriving new-born rhesus monkeys of their vision in one eye:
Two [infant] rhesus monkeys… were monocular vision-deprived by placing an opaque, dark contact lens, in each animal’s left eye. The uniocular contact lens rearing began at birth and extended for two months. The extended wear, gas permeable lens was replaced on a daily basis with a like sterilized opaque contact lens. Three [infant] rhesus monkeys… were vision-deprived in the left eye at birth by tarsorrhaphy and were observed for four months.(4)
Tarsorrhaphy is the medical term for sewing the eyelids almost shut.

At the Washington National Primate Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle, Gene Sackett, one of Harlow’s students, reports that monkeys placed at birth in a torture apparatus are severely impaired months later. Now we know.
The study described here is the first to experimentally demonstrate the effects of experience on the development of tactual-visual transfer. Infant pigtailed macaque monkeys (Macaca nemestrina) were reared from birth to 2 months of age in special cages that allowed the separation of tactual and visual experience. When assessed on a battery of measures at the end of the 2-month period, animals reared without the opportunity to integrate information across the two sensory modalities performed at chance levels on a paired-comparison measure of tactual-visual transfer and performed worse than controls in a visually guided reaching task. After living in the standard laboratory environment for 2 additional months, they were reassessed. While their visually guided reaching now no longer differed from that of controls, they continued to perform at chance on the tactual-visual transfer assessment and their performance on this task was significantly worse than the control groups… The results are discussed in terms of a possible sensitive period during which specific environmental input is required for the development of normal tactual-visual cross-modal processing.(5)
[Held R, Bauer JA Jr. Visually guided reaching in infant monkeys after restricted rearing. Science. 1967.]

This image shows that Sackett et al are wrong about their cruelty being the first of its type, and the sort of thing that the Washington monsters have been doing to the baby monkeys. It’s quite evil.

Vivisectors at the hidden but gigantic FDA complex known as the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, have been intravenously infusing pregnant mothers and infants with ketamine for 24 hour-long periods. Ketamine is a PCP relative that the National Institute of Drug Abuse describes like this:
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, so called because it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Ketamine acts on a type of glutamate receptor (NMDA receptor) to produce its effects, similar to those of the drug PCP. Low-dose intoxication results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause dreamlike states and hallucinations; and at higher doses still, ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.(6)
At the University of California, San Francisco, monsters are severing the largest of the muscles that control eye movement.(7) They are doing this to newborn infant monkeys. Then, when they are between three and four years old, they attach a titanium post to their skull. Then they restrain their heads and record their eye movements. Although they are unsure whether they used two or three monkeys in this experiment, they are certain that the monkeys’ damaged eyes were able to track less well than their undamaged eyes.

Monsters at University of Wisconsin’s Harry Harlow Laboratory of Primate Psychology continue to churn out an endless string of papers detailing the effects of exposing pregnant monkeys to alcohol.
METHODS: The offspring of monkeys who did or did not consume moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy were assessed for temperament as neonates … in response to mother-infant separation at 6 months of age… RESULTS: Prenatal alcohol exposed carriers of the s allele exhibited increased neonatal irritability…(8)
Here’s a paper from the NIH National Animal Center in Poolesville, Maryland. It’s another Suomi publication, but the title caught my eye, so I thought I’d include it here as part of the tour:
…The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of three rearing conditions on biting behavior and to determine whether early infant behavior can predict later self-biting. The subjects were 370 rhesus macaques born at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Animal Center between 1994 and 2004. They were reared under three conditions: mother-reared in social groups [183 monkeys], peer-reared in groups of four [84 monkeys], and surrogate-peer-reared [103 monkeys]. Significantly more surrogate-peer-reared animals self-bit compared to peer-only or mother-reared animals… In the play-group situation, surrogate-peer-reared subjects who later self-bit were found to be less social and exhibited less social clinging than those that did not self-bite… Our findings suggest that surrogate rearing in combination with lower levels of social contact during play may be risk factors for the later development of self-biting behavior.(9)
This paper, “Early predictors of self-biting in socially-housed rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta),” was published in 2007. Suomi has been observing and reporting on the devastating effects of maternal deprivation since 1970; he’s still at it almost 40 years later.

Here’s another dose of evil from Yerkes:
…in absence of their biological mother, infant primates form attachment to surrogate mothers. Although, this early attachment is critical for the development of normal species-typical social and emotional skills, the neural substrates underlying the formation of social relationships in primates are still unclear. The present study assessed, in infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) reared by human caregivers and social interactions with peers, the effects of bilateral neonatal (1-2 weeks of age) ibotenic acid lesions of the amygdala and hippocampus (N=6 in each group), aspiration lesions of the orbital frontal cortex (N=6) or sham lesions (N=5) on the development of a social attachment with the principal human caregiver.(10)
Get it? They took very young monkeys from their mothers and then injected acid into various areas of their brains. The monsters wanted to know how this affected their social attachment to the person caring for them. (This reminds me of my nightmares about the doctors and the nurses “caring” for my junior high school friends Wayne and Gary as they crippled their legs.) They conclude:
The present non-human primate findings are discussed in terms of their relevance for autism.
Mark J. Nijland is a vivisector at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. He has spent a number of years studying the effects of various insults to developing sheep fetuses. He has recently branched out to monkeys in a series of experiments being funded by the NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (the same outfit that Suomi works for.) In his new work, he is studying one of what must be a myriad of fetal developmental results of “nutrient restriction” in developing baboons. Here’s his explanation for a lay audience (you and me):
Lay Description: We pass more biological milestones before we are born than at any other time in life. Our data will develop what is know [sic] about kidney development in the primate and demonstrate that sub-optimal conditions in utero alter the trajectory of renal development. Clinicians will use the information to understand optimal life style and diet in pregnancy.(11)
It looks like he’s simply being paid to demonstrate a known fact.

A colleague of his at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Thomas J. McDonald, is being funded to study the effect of a 30% “maternal nutrient restriction” on developing baboon brains, the same as Nijland’s reduction. Maybe they are using the same baboons. McDonald says:
… the fact that much of brain development that goes on during gestation (G) in primates occurs postnatally in laboratory rodents is a clear disadvantage in rodent models. In addition, it is important to emphasize a point made by Rice and Barone that “... both the visual and auditory systems of albino animals of all species are abnormal; therefore, albino rats or mice are a poor choice for assessment when the nervous system is of interest.” This very important caveat makes it imperative that observations made in rats be confirmed in a primate model prior to assuming applicability to humans. The present application looks at the effects of 30% maternal (M) nutrient restriction (NR) on fetal brain development in a primate model, the baboon. The paradigm does not produce weight loss in the fetus; however as will be shown, it does produce dramatic reductions in many parameters in the developing brain. In addition, our 30% MNR paradigm reduces fetal blood urea nitrogen thus suggesting fetal NR and demonstrating that body weight is a very poor indicator of fetal NR. We have chosen to look at the frontal cortex since it is an area of the brain that has been shown in rodent models to be adversely affected by even relatively mild (isocaloric, two thirds less protein) nutrient restriction and we wish to determine if a similar result will be seen in a primate model. In addition, we believe that NR effects in this area will be mirrored by detriments in other areas such as the cerebellum and accordingly, we will retain other brain areas for future studies. Investigations of this type cannot ethically be done in humans; this fact makes studies in a model with a brain that is similar to humans such as the baboon, all the more urgent.(12)


What’s urgent is that monsters like Nijland and McDonald stop and desist. Who doesn’t know that pregnant mothers, pregnant mice, sheep, monkeys, and humans need an optimal diet to deliver as healthy and robust a child as possible? Do we need to know the arcane biochemistry of isolated organs affected by sub-par nutrition? Only a monster could dream up such meaningless cruelties and them scheme to have taxpayers foot the bill.

We could keep going, but the facts are clear. All over the U.S. animals are in the clutches of very callous and cold vivisectors, who like their monstrous predecessor, Claude Bernard, cannot hear the animals’ cries.


(1) Robert Jay Lifton. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic Books, 1986.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Dario Maestripieri. Early experience affects the intergenerational transmission of infant abuse in rhesus monkeys. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005.

(4) Georgiana Cheng, Henry J. Kaminski, Bendi Gong, Lan Zhou, Denise Hatala, Scott J. Howell, Xiaohua Zhou, Michael J. Mustari. Monocular visual deprivation in Macaque monkeys: A profile in the gene expression of lateral geniculate nucleus by laser capture microdissection. Molecular Vision. 2008.

(5) Batterson VG, Rose SA, Yonas A, Grant KS, Sackett GP. The effect of experience on the development of tactual-visual transfer in pigtailed macaque monkeys. Developmental Psychobiology. 2008.

(6) National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Drug Addiction. “NIDA InfoFacts: Club Drugs (GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol).” http://www.drugabuse.gov/InfoFacts/clubdrugs.html

(7) Economides JR, Adams DL, Jocson CM, Horton JC. Ocular motor behavior in macaques with surgical exotropia. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2007.

(8) Kraemer GW, Moore CF, Newman TK, Barr CS, Schneider ML. Moderate level fetal alcohol exposure and serotonin transporter gene promoter polymorphism affect neonatal temperament and limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis regulation in monkeys. Biological Psychiatry. 2008.

(9) Lutz CK, Davis EB, Ruggiero AM, Suomi SJ. Early predictors of self-biting in socially-housed rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). American Journal of Primatology. 2007.

(10) Goursaud AP, Bachevalier J. Social attachment in juvenile monkeys with neonatal lesion of the hippocampus, amygdala and orbital frontal cortex. Behavioural Brain Research. 2007.

(11) Grant Number: 5P01HD021350-170003 (funded for 2008.)

(12) Grant Number: 5P01HD021350-170002 (funded for 2008.)

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