Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dr. Lawrence Hansen's Visit Frightens UW Vivisectors into Hiding

A key component in the University of Wisconsin, Madison's successful derailment of the creation of a Dane County-sanctioned citizens' advisory panel on the use of monkeys at the university was a promise made to County Board Chair, Scott McDonell that the university would hold a series of public forums to address the matter. This promise gave McDonell a small amount of political cover for the criticism that he had earlier promised the authors and proponents not to interfere with the proposal -- Resolution 35.

After months of inaction, the university finally announce a series of three speakers, only one of which Charles Snowdon, has any connection to the university's use of monkeys. Arguably, Snowdon's work there is the least cruel, least disturbing to those haunted by the knowledge of what is going on there day and night.

Matter-of-factly, the forums are a public relations ruse. The university staff involved in the use of monkeys and the university administrators involved in reaping the financial windfall that accrues from the taxpayer-funded grants paying for the experiments are not in the least bit interested in public discussion about his issue. This was made crystal clear at the first of the three planned monthly forms.

When the matter of Resolution 35 came before the two county committees that deliberated on it (well, one did and approved it; McDonell's didn't and essentially killed it), the room was filled to overflowing with maybe a third of the people coming from the primate center.

But at the first of the forums, there was essentially no one from the primate center in attendance (I say "essentially" because the primate center vet, Saverio (Buddy) Capuano III, was there, but didn't say a word.)

Eric Sangren, the Research Animal Resource Center Director and chair of the forum committee was there and introduced Dr. Hansen, but he didn't ask a question or challenge a claim either. There was no discussion between anyone from the primate center, or the university at large, about the use of monkeys, the claimed reason for the forums. The forums are a public relations ruse.

On the up-side however, the university painted itself into corner by coming up with the forums and then inviting two pro-animal people to be a part of the planning committee. After the university's continued failure to locate anyone willing to talk about the issue, they suggested inviting Dr. Lawrence Hansen, and so the committee was stuck when he accepted.

Three possible reasons that essentially no UW vivisectors or policy-makers attended are that 1) they aren't actually interested in the topic or public discussion about anything that poses a potential threat to their income stream; 2) they were intimidated by Dr. Hansen's credentials; 3) some mix of 1 and 2.

In any case, Dr. Hansen's presentation turned out to be the best such talk I've attended. Watch it yourself:

Dr Lawrence Hansen from luciano M on Vimeo.

Here's the Q&A:

Dr Lawrence Hansen Q&A from luciano M on Vimeo.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Primate/Animal/Human Cognition

These lectures, put on line by Dario Ringach, are well worth watching.

See too, my earlier post and the discussion that followed: The Structure of Cognition, December 19, 2010.