Sunday, June 24, 2012

... less special than we seem

What was he thinking? Study turns to ape intellect
Updated 07:33 a.m., Sunday, June 24, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — The more we study animals, the less special we seem.

Baboons can distinguish between written words and gibberish. Monkeys seem to be able to do multiplication. Apes can delay instant gratification longer than a human child can. They plan ahead. They make war and peace. They show empathy. They share.

"It's not a question of whether they think — it's how they think," says Duke University scientist Brian Hare. Now scientists wonder if apes are capable of thinking about what other apes are thinking.

The evidence that animals are more intelligent and more social than we thought seems to grow each year, especially when it comes to primates. It's an increasingly hot scientific field with the number of ape and monkey cognition studies doubling in recent years, often with better technology and neuroscience paving the way to unusual discoveries.... more.

Mind still a mystery, not unique to us

Complex thinking goes beyond primates: Dolphins understand zero, elephants rescue each other
By Associated Press, Sunday, June 24, 9:25 AM

WASHINGTON — It’s not just man’s closer primate relatives that exhibit brain power. Dolphins, dogs and elephants are teaching us a few lessons, too.

Dolphin brains involve completely different wiring from primates, especially in the neocortex, which is central to higher functions such as reasoning and conscious thought.

Dolphins are so distantly related to humans that it’s been 95 million years since we had even a remotely common ancestor. Yet when it comes to intelligence, social behavior and communications, some researchers say dolphins come as close to humans as our ape and monkey cousins.

Maybe closer.

“They understand concepts like zero, abstract concepts. They do everything that chimpanzees do and bonobos can do,” said Lori Marino, a neuroscientist at Emory University who specializes in dolphin research. “The fact is that they are so different from us and so much like us at the same time.”

In recent years, animal researchers have found that thought processes in critters aren’t a matter of how closely related they are to humans. You don’t have to be a primate to be smart. ... more.

Risks. Chapter 9

The Risks of Empathy, a Novella

Chapter 9

Karen had called in sick on Monday. It was the first time she had missed a day at the Enzyme Interaction Institute since getting her dream job. She was sitting on the floor leaning against the wall of her small apartment. The room was dark. Harlow, a large orange cat was curled on the pillow that Karen had in her lap. His fur was damp and salty.

Except for trips to the bathroom and filling Harlow’s bowls with fresh water and dried kibble, Karen had been sitting in the same spot for two days. Her TE was lying next to her, the net was on her head. She pressed play, and for the one hundred and fourteenth time since her first experience Saturday evening, Karen became a rat.

She knew the two rats next to her, but the other rat was a stranger and everyone was on edge. He smelled friendly, and his nervousness was obvious. One of the rats with her had a litter of babies hidden away and she was very concerned about the stranger. Whiskers were twitching and everyone was sizing up the situation carefully and keeping all the escape routes in mind. It was pitch dark and Karen couldn’t see a thing. The experience was entirely olfactory, tactile, and auditory.

Karen inched carefully toward the stranger until their whiskers were touching. She could smell other strange rats on him but knew that he had not been around them for many days. She sensed that he had been separated from his colony in some way and was seeking the company of other rats now. His squeaks and slow movement told her that he was intending no harm.

The other two rats slowly came forward and began smelling the stranger more carefully. Karen could sense a slight relaxation in the female’s wariness. Suddenly the other rat jumped on the stranger and they tussled briefly, but the stranger endured the nips and kicks with little resistance.

They crowed around him and nibbled the fur on his back and licked his anus. He remained still and did not struggle.

They all remained quiet for a time, then went together to look for something to eat.

The first few times Karen had experienced the rat TE, she had been very confused. There was nothing at all to see. As she ran the TE over again, she began to be aware of the meaning of the scents and sounds. She learned that there were things on the TE that were not so apparent the first few times she experienced it.

She could now recognize that the rat knew things about the other rats and his environment that seemed almost subconscious. The rat had a mental map of the tunnels he was in that Karen recognized as a system of drainpipes. He knew which ones led to the streets and where the dumpsters were in relation to the storm drain exits. He knew where there was water and where he had to be especially wary due to other rats’ territories. He knew safe places to hide and soft warm places to sleep. He knew where he had hidden little morsels for latter snacking.

Though she never could tell for certain, she didn’t think that he had names for the other rats, but it was clear that he knew them and knew things about them. He seemed to trust some and to be nervous about others. He knew that the rat with the litter of babies was his sister.

The most startling thing to Karen had been her eventual recognition of the sympathy and empathy that the rat felt for the stranger. The rat, and the other two rats with him, recognized that the stranger had been alone for a while and that he had been lonely and frightened.

None of these things had been apparent to Karen the first time she had experienced the rat TE, and each time she ran it again, she picked up more subtlety and information.

After Karen’s third experience a wave of fearful understanding washed over her as she thought of the hundreds of thousands of hamsters and guinea pigs stored in their plastic boxes at the Enzyme Interaction Institute. Their stark plastic cells, their confinement, the many painful procedures they were being subjected to, it all added up to a horror that Karen realized she was contributing to. Her growing self-loathing led her to experience the rat TE again, and then again and again. Her eventual tears had soaked the pillow on her lap as she buried her head and sought to muffle her sobs from the neighbors on the other side of the thin cheap walls of her apartment. Harlow sensed her hurt and had been on her lap for most of the weekend, his back catching many of Karen’s salty tears.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Air Leak Sparks Safety Fears at CDC Bioterror Lab

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency charged with preventing the spread of infectious diseases has come under attack today for "serious" airflow problems in an Atlanta building that houses anthrax, SARS and monkeypox.
Air Leak Sparks Safety Fears at CDC Bioterror Lab
ABC News. June 13, 2012.

Risks. Chapter 8

The Risks of Empathy. A Novella.
Chapter 8

Richard Selling, president, CEO and founder of the mega-giant marketing conglomerate, Selling Inc. was not used to being summoned. Nevertheless, when the President called personally and asked him to stop by for a chat, Selling didn’t give the thought of saying “no thanks” much consideration. He had a good idea what the meeting was all about.

Selling sat at a conference table with President John Adams, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General. The Attorney General had a single thin manila folder in front of him. Everyone else was provided with a glass of water. A crystal pitcher of water had been provided for each of the participants.

The Secretary of State, Rebecca McGuire, a woman of stature and brilliance, was leading the discussion.

“Mr. Selling, we invited you here as a courtesy based on your prior service to your country. We thought it best to have a face-to-face and frank discussion regarding the criminal charges we are going to file against Selling Inc. today.”

“Just hold on Rebecca,” began the President. We haven’t actually decided to go ahead with the criminal charges have we? Sam?”

Samuel B. Wilkins, Attorney General of the United States of America, reputed to be the best trial lawyer and legal mind of the decade, and rumored to have higher aspirations, did not even glance at the President. His eyes remained steadfast on his prey.

“What’s going on here?” began Selling. “You people are outside the law. Why wasn’t I told to bring legal counsel? This is outrageous!”

Wilkins withdrew a single sheet of White House stationary from the manila folder. “Mr. Selling, this document grants you complete immunity concerning the government’s case against Selling Inc. At this point in time, you need no counsel.”

The Secretary of State picked up the conversation. “Mr. Selling, we recognize that you could not have known the far-reaching effects that the recent release of the animal TEs were going to have on the nation’s, the global, economy. But the past two weeks, as you are aware, have been unprecedented in human history. The loss to the U.S. economy is likely to be in the trillions of dollars and we are hearing rumors of outbreaks of violence across the country and from around the world.”

“Violence?” said Selling. “I haven’t heard anything about much violence.”

“We have been successful in our attempt to keep it contained. I’m sure a man of your experience can recognize the dangers to our society should certain unscrupulous types hear that unrest and armed conflict are occurring.”

“Just what is happening?”

McGuire looked over at Wilkins and the President.

Adams stood up and said, “Damn it to hell Wilkins! If we don’t bring him in who the hell else do we have?”

“Alright John, but you know my concern.”

The President walked over to an antique sideboard that had been a gift to the White House from the French people back when there was a France, and the White House was still in need of furniture. He pressed a discretely placed button under the table’s edge. “Jenny,” he said. “Give us the virtview, please.”

The room darkened instantly and a virtual holographic map of the U.S. appeared at the end of the conference room. Secretary McGuire again led the discussion.

“The red pinpoints on the map,” there were maybe ten of them, “represent the areas of greatest concern at the moment. Here in Chicago,” and the image jumped to a street level view, “the fighting around the stockyards has been disturbingly intense.”

As she spoke, Selling watched U.S. soldiers firing from the protection offered by tanks parked in front of a seemingly endless vista of cattle pens and cows. That they were being fired upon was clear as well because the soldiers kept reacting to rounds ricocheting off the armored vehicles.

“The numbers of persons firing on our forces is quite large here and we are essentially in a siege situation as we attempt to protect the cattle from those who seem intent on releasing them.”

The scene shifted back to the large map and McGuire’s pointer went to somewhere on Iowa, and the scene jumped again.

“This is, or I should say was, Reynolds Pork and Lard. RPL was the largest supplier of pork products in the world. Last year they grossed over $17 billion. They were a major contributor to this administration’s Presidential campaign.”

Selling saw burnt rubble. A few dead pigs and a few dead humans lay scattered around in the smoking ruins. A number of people were picking their way through the debris and occasionally kneeling down at one of the bodies. A man put a pistol to the head of a pig and fired. Smoke rose from everything and created a hazy and eerie scene.

“We understand that a group of nearly a hundred people dressed in black descended on the facility three nights ago and shot all the workers they could find. Over a two-day period nearly ten thousand pigs were stolen. One of the workers who had been able to hide in a grain bin finally escaped and called the authorities. The bodies and fire are a result of the ensuing clash.

“Jenny,” said the President, and the lights in the room came back on and the hologram vanished. “I think you can see Richard,” the President was famous for calling people by their first names and always encouraged others to call him John, “that your, excuse me, Selling’s, new animal TE’s have caused a real problem. Reports are rolling in from all over about much smaller situations than the two I just showed you. Our people tell us the situation seems to be worsening and that, if we don’t do something soon, that things might just spin out of control, and I don’t think we want that, no sir, now do we?” The President looked at Selling.

Richard Selling was not used to having others tell him what to think. His willingness to brook the rules of the road had catapulted Selling Inc. into the world’s largest mass marketer of consumer electronics and home furnishings in the world. As populations continued to rise, in spite of expert opinions that they were due to level off soon, ever more consumers demanded the newest this and that. Selling Inc. stood out as the company offering the newest and latest of everything.

Two nights ago, through a blind-brokered deal, Selling had quietly sold every share of every stock in his private portfolio remotely connected to the animal agriculture industry. Selling had sat and experienced every one of the ten animal TEs one after the other. He had variously been a dog, a cat, a cow, a pig on the way to slaughter, a parrot living in a cage, a chimpanzee in a zoo, a city rat – this was an especially interesting experience as the rat was recorded in an underground lair, an elephant in a wildlife park – no really wild areas remained on land any longer, a dolphin in the Pacific, and a chicken.

Following the nearly twenty-hour emersion in the minds of other species, Spelling knew that the world had become a different place, that he had become a different person, that everything was going to be much different in the very near future.

“So, in order to try and reel in the problems you see being associated with the animal TEs you are going to publicly punish me.”

“No, no, not you Richard,” the President smiled compassionately, “but we have to set an example; we have to let people know that the government is reacting, that we are in control, that everything is OK. More than anything we have to let the food producers see that we will protect their interests and that they don’t have to worry about that this new fad.”

Selling sat quietly for a moment. “Mr. President. John. Have you experienced the animal TEs yourself yet?”

President Adams looked at Selling, cleared his throat, and glanced almost imperceptibly toward the Secretary of State.

McGuire answered without pause, “We don’t believe that it is in the nation’s best interests for the President’s health to be placed at risk for the sake of entertainment. It’s a sacrifice he’s had to make for the people of the United States.”

Selling had kept his attention on Adams as McGuire had spoken for him. The politician’s smile had not wavered.

“I’ve had a full report from my advisors, Richard. I know all about these recordings. I can’t see what more is to be gained by seeing them myself.”

Selling finally looked over at McGuire. Their eyes locked. “What do you mean by risk, Ms. McGuire?”

“We are aware of associated mental illness from the use of Selling TEs. Our experts have prepared a report that shows that there is a real and significant risk from exposure to these recordings…”

“All the TEs or just the animal TEs?”

McGuire looked toward the Attorney General.

Attorney General Wilkins stepped in with careful noncommittal, “Our analysis is incomplete at this time, but we are certain that there is risk. We are working to determine the best way to proceed. The public’s interest is our paramount concern.”

Selling understood now. They wanted to keep the public engaged with the TEs to relieve their mass boredom with life, but wanted at the same time, to stop them from experiencing the world through the mind of an animal. And to do this, they were going to claim that the animal TEs caused mental illness. He wondered how they planned to keep people from experiencing them.

“Have any of you experienced the animal TEs?” Selling asked them.

Wilkins and McGuire looked toward each other, seemingly unsure of who should answer. Finally, the Secretary said, “I experienced the cow TE. It was clear to me immediately that it posed a national security risk. I think it unconscionable that such products would be placed on the market. I recommended to the President that immediate steps be taken to stop the production of all the animal TEs and further recommended that you be placed under arrest for attempting to undermine the political stability of the United States. My grandparents were ranchers in Montana, you’ve made a mockery of everything good about their life.”

The room was quite. The President seemed to have lost some of his smile. Finally, he said, “Yes, well, John. I’m sure you can sense Rebecca’s concern and passion for her family and the American way of life. As you can see we are well informed and are trying to do what’s best for the country.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

H5N1 panel addresses campus concerns

Daily Cardinal June 08, 2012

Incoming students may be familiar with the controversy surrounding two H5N1 influenza (‘bird flu’) research papers, including that from the laboratory of UW-Madison Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka. Recently, Kawaoka joined other UW-Madison representatives for an open conversation with the campus community.

Entitled “Biomedical Research and National Security: Learning from the H5N1 Story,” the meeting took place May 31, at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on campus.

The event included talks from each of three UW-Madison professors including Kawaoka, Associate Dean of Research Policy William Mellon and bioethicist Pilar Ossorio, followed by a Q&A session for interaction with attendees.

As a response to public concerns, the meeting addressed a wide range of biosafety and bioethics topics....

I wondered why I hadn't seen anything about this meeting, so I looked here and found an announcement posted the day before the event. I also Googled the event using the title and Kawaoka. The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery/Morgridge Institute for Research posted an announcement the day before the event as well and noted that "The session will not be filmed or webcast." The only report on the event seems to be the article above, published a week after the event in one of the two school newspapers.

I finally found an announcement on the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery blog from 2 in the afternoon on May 29, almost exactly two days before the event. It says that the event was open to the public, but I wonder how they let people know that? Maybe that post was the extent of their public advertising?

This event, put on "as a response to public concerns" wasn't meant for the public, apparently. Maybe the organizers were concerned about questions that might have been asked in public by people more informed than incoming students about biosafety and the ethics surrounding dangerous research at the university.

Risks. Chapter 7

The Risks of Empathy, A Novella
Chapter 7

On October 16, 2159, after much discussion and heated debate, Selling Inc. began broadcasting a new series of Total Experiences. In all, there were ten Experiences in the set.

Rita had become something of a TE junky. She was spending much less time at the bar these days and figured that to be a good thing, if only for the savings. Now she simply drank alone at home with the TE. She had experienced all the “Falling in Love” series many times each. She learned that she liked surfing and skydiving. She had tried one or two of the sex experiences, but other than for an occasional change, she could take them or leave them. She figured it must be her age.

Every time a new Experience was announced, Rita was quick to give it a go. She liked to think of herself as adventuresome. Of course, her adventures all took place in her gray apartment from her worn recliner. But no matter, when she had her TE turned on, she was someone else, somewhere wonderful.

She was a cow. By her side was the most perfect creature in the world, her calf. Licking him was heaven. He smelled like nothing she had smelled before, and she simply could not get enough of his sweet aroma into her cool wet nostrils. She looked up and around her and all she could see were other cows with their own calves and green grass and blue sky and she felt the deepest contentment she had ever known.

A sound grew in her ear. Looking over her shoulder she saw a thing that made her quiver with fear. The thing had others with it. She could think only of her calf. She bellowed loudly to tell the other cows and moved to be between the things and her baby.

Soon they were all around her and the other cows, pushing and yelling. She was afraid and could hear the fear in her calf as he began crying loudly. Soon all the calves and cows were yelling and the fear was everywhere. They hurried this way and that trying to keep the new calves from being accidentally stepped on and then they were all trapped.

They put something on her calf’s neck and pulled him away. Her anger was strong and she tried to protect him, but they hurt her and were much stronger. She could hear him crying and she kept calling to him. Her pain and worry and fear and bravery were overwhelming.

The man in the dark sweater appeared and said, “If you would like to experience being a cow again, press replay.”

Rita pressed the stop button, was back alone in her gray apartment, remembered that she had a quarter pound of ground round in the cabinet over the hot plate and, shaking, vomited the entire contents of her stomach.


Sarah called Dave and the kids, Jimmy and Amanda, to dinner.

As everyone took their place at the table, Sarah asked Jimmy, “How was school today sweetheart?”

“What’s that?” said Amanda as she sat down at her place across from Jimmy.

“That’s your mom’s famous stuffed pork chops, young lady,” answered her father. I seem to remember you eating two of them last time we had ‘em. Eh Jimmy?”

Dave looked over at his son who seemed to be almost as white as the tablecloth.

“What’s wrong Jim?”

“Where do you get pork chops?” asked Amanda.

“Well honey,” said her mom, “I get them down at Republix market. The butcher always cuts them extra thick for me. You remember Mr. Johnson. I think you were there with me last week when I bought them. Why sure you were. Don’t you remember?”

“I know where you bought them, mom. Where do pork chops come from, though?”

“Oh!” chuckled Dave. “You mean what part of the pig are the chops. They’re kind of near the ribs, aren’t they Sarah?”

At this both Jimmy and Amanda stood up and began shouting almost at once about how horrible it was that they had killed a pig and didn’t they know how scared the pig was and how could they do this and then they both ran into Amanda’s room and Dave and Sarah could hear them still yelling and crying and simply carrying on.

“Now what do you suppose has gotten in to them?” said Dave looking with confusion toward his wife.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bennett, Kalin, Maternal Deprivation, and Me

I received a copy of the minutes from a closed session of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) almost two months ago. You can view them here. This passage is included:
Dr. Lindstrom asked if there has been any discussion about the type of extreme experiments of this study. Dr. Krugner-Higby [A lab animal veterinarian] said yes, and said that she feels the creation of nursery-raised infant non-human primates (NHP) is severe because of what it can do to young animals. Dr. Capuano [Primate Center attending vet] said this type of research continues to be carried out at other NHP research centers, but acknowledged that this type of research has not occurred at UW-Madison since the 1980s. Dr. Lindstrom asked if this is an established animal model for this work, and asked if separation from the mothers could be half as long as is proposed. Dr. Krugner-Higby said the PI will say that his lab has gone as far as they can within "normal" anxiety range and the research needs to be carried out past that range. Dr. Capuano said that the PI is trying to compare mother-reared animals to nursery-reared animals at a specific developmental stage. He said that he is unsure if the ACUC has the right to tell a PI not to do their research because the research may cause harm. The ACUC frequently approves protocols that will have adverse effects on animals. Dr. Krugner-Higby said the difference is in other studies of pathogenesis (such as SIV) specific therapeutic or preventative endpoints can be identified and reached, but in these studies endpoints are less clear, noting the behavioral damage to the animals from this type of study is all ready well-known. Dr. Krugner-Higby said that she has read both of the grants listed on this protocol and neither of the grants describe the creation of nursery-reared infants in the specific aims nor in the Vertebrate Animal Sections. She said PI knows that he will have to inform his program officers of this explicit proposal. Dr. Capuano said he believes that a new grant has been submitted to cover that aspect of work. Extensive discussion ensued. It was noted that the PI is trying to learn what is different about the brains of young anxious NHPs in order to eventually develop therapies to treat anxious children and adults. Dr. Capuano said the PI over the past year has tested every NHP infant for the anxious phenotype to identify candidate animals for his work, and again stated he is not sure if the ACUC should question NIH-approved scientific research. Dr. Krugner-Higby noted the request for the creation of nursery-reared infants has not in fact been approved. Dr. Smith noted that this study is basic science, but the hypotheses and goals are not clearly noted in the protocol. He added that the proposed deprivation is not necessarily troubling, but it is the fact that the PI has not explained it well in this protocol in terms he can understand. Dr. Lindstrom agreed. Ms. Boehm asked if these NHPs infants are purpose-bred, do the fathers of the infants need to be accounted for? Dr. Capuano will check with Dr. Welter.
Shortly afterward, I wrote to the chair of the UW Letters and Science ACUC:
Hello [Chair],

I recently reviewed ACUC minutes of a meeting during which concern was raised regarding a study which will utilize maternal deprivation in rhesus monkeys.

Just to gain some clarity, has Allyson Bennett's project been approved by the L&S ACUC?

Is her's the only pending or currently active project overseen by your committee currently utilizing maternal deprivation in monkeys?

Thanks in advance.


Hi Rick. With apologies, I'm not comfortable giving out information about protocols as I don't know what's available to the public and what's not. If you would be willing to share with me the minutes to which you are referring, those might provide a basis for discussion since those are already publicly available.



This is the abstract on the NIH RePORTER website:

I'm not asking about the minutes; I'm asking whether this study has been approved and is underway.


Hi Rick. As I said, I'm not comfortable being the source of information about protocols. There are, as you know, standard procedures for processing such requests at RARC.



A Möbius strip is a surface in three-dimensional space with only one side and one edge. The apparent resumption of maternal deprivation at the university is so outrageous, such a backward moral leap, that it seems to have teleported me onto the surface of a sort of mental Möbius pretzel. It seems that no matter how much I looked at the various bits of evidence about this, no matter which turn I took, which route I followed, I kept coming back to the same mistaken conclusions.

I had asked the L&S ACUC Chair about Bennett’s project because I recalled seeing the abstract of her funded study on NIH Reporter; it was the only listed study that involved maternally depriving baby monkeys.

I linked to the abstract in the email thread above. For reasons I can’t explain other than being trapped on that mental Möbius pretzel, no matter how many times I read this passage: “The studies will use a longitudinal research approach to identify the consequences of different early rearing experiences (nursery- versus mother-reared) on specific aspects of behavior and brain in middle- age (14-19 years; approximate range within 40-60 human years) in an existing population of adult rhesus monkeys;” I never could see anything but baby monkeys being taken from their mothers; somehow, I think, the shock of the conversation from the Grad School ACUC coupled with the fact that the only funded project involving maternal deprivation of monkeys at the university was Bennett’s, led me to some weird conceptual alloy or amalgam made up of both. I even discounted, at first, the use of male pronoun in the minutes.

My Möbius pretzel thinking about all of this was additionally confounded by the approach of Mothers Day and my desire to use this seemingly ideal opportunity to call attention to the resumption of maternal deprivation at the university.

Eric Sandgren called me a liar when I wrote that Bennett refused to debate me, but people who actually know me, know that I don’t lie. I wrote it because I believed it. I now understand at least this bit of confusion. A friend and colleague of mine is a member of the Ethics Forum committee. She and I did talk about asking Bennett to debate me, but Bennett's flat refusal to even talk in public about what she does made pursuing that challenge a non-starter.

[A brief side trip: I have to chuckle whenever a vivisector calls me a liar, which (maybe surprisingly) isn’t so very often. This is particularly funny when it is a senior staff person at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. That institution has been caught in really big lies like their repeatedly broken written promises to the County that the monkeys housed at the zoo wouldn’t be used in harmful experiments. And denials by senior staff that that even happened. They have engaged in blatant cover-ups and the destruction of information they feared would be embarrassing if made public. They have been caught breaking the state’s anti-cruelty laws and repeatedly violating Animal Welfare Act regulations. These lying lawbreakers are engaged in cruelty on a scale hard to fully understand, and they call me a liar and get all huffy if I make a mistake about some detail of their hidden evil work.]

I’m going to try to state the facts (as I understand them) and correct the unexplainable errors I have made regarding all of this over the past weeks:

1. Allyson Joy Bennett isn’t depriving baby monkeys of maternal care. I wrongly stated that she was.

She is using monkeys who were born and then maternally deprived at the NIH Animal Center in Poolesville (here's their propaganda page)– probably used and written about by Harlow’s protege Stephen Suomi, and then shipped to her previous institution, Wake Forest.

Her grant abstract gives few clear details about what she is and will be doing to these monkeys. A request for her UW-Madison approved protocol has not yet resulted in any information. In recently published papers using other monkeys born at Poolesville, raised without their mothers, used in unknown ways, and then shipped to Wake Forest, she continued to add to the insults and trauma they had already suffered. Here’s an example:
A nonhuman primate model of early life stress, social impoverishment through nursery-rearing rather than mother-rearing, has been shown to produce increased impulsive and anxiety-like behaviors, cognitive and motor deficits, and increased alcohol consumption. ....

Materials and methods
Male rhesus monkeys were born at the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and transferred to Wake Forest University School of Medicine at roughly three years of age. The animals were initially socially-housed and then moved to individual housing (76 × 60 × 70 cm3) approximately 1.5 years prior to this study to participate in a long-term voluntary ethanol drinking study. The home cage for each animal was equipped with an operant panel that supplied food, water, and ethanol for each animal. Monkeys were trained to operate the drinking panel to self-administer water or ethanol (4% w/v in water, see Grant et al., 2008 for more details). During the final 12 months of the experiment, animals were allowed free access to water and ethanol for 22 h/day. Monkeys were fed a diet of Primate Food pellets (Research Diets Inc., New Brunswick, N.J.) and fresh fruit. Water was available ad libitum. Experiments were performed when the monkeys were six years of age. This study was conducted in accordance with the Guidelines of the Committee on the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (NRC, 1996) and approved by the Wake Forest University Animal Care and Use Committee. Upon completion of the drinking study, necropsies were performed and samples collected for the appropriate assays.

From: Effects of early life stress on drinking and serotonin system activity in rhesus macaques: 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in cerebrospinal fluid predicts brain tissue levels. Kimberly N. Hugginsa, Tiffany A. Mathewsb, Jason L. Lockea, Kendall T. Szeligaa, David P. Friedmana, Allyson J. Bennetta, Sara R. Jones, Alcohol. 2012.
2. I don’t now believe an offer or challenge to debate Bennett was ever conveyed. She was asked to give a talk at one of the so-called Ethics Forums, but declined to participate; an odd choice for a vivisector who is an active member of the small pro-vivisection group that calls itself “Speaking of Research.”

I think my lapse into fantasy on this point is because of my unfortunate conceptual hybridization of Bennett and the PI whose project caused such concern at the Grad School ACUC.

3. I think the unnamed PI in the Grad School minutes is Ned Kalin. It seems that it is him who is intend on reviving the particularly cruel methods pioneered by Harlow. Kalin, apparently, has been asked to debate me.

During the course of all this, I received a message of concern from a whistle-blower at the university urging me to file a records request for studies at the university using maternal deprivation.

I submitted this request:
May 10, 2012

Richard Lane
Associate Director
Research Animal Resources Center
396 Enzyme Institute
1710 University Ave.
Madison, WI 73726-4087

This is a public records request for a copy of all pending or approved protocols for projects at the University of Wisconsin, Madison involving animals and utilizing any one or more of the following methods:

maternal deprivation
social deprivation
environmental deprivation
surrogate peer-rearing

I am prepared to pay a reasonable search and duplication fee for the fulfillment of this request up to the amount of $100.00, but kindly ask that such fees be waived as this release will benefit the general public. If the aforementioned request for a waiver or reduction of fees is denied and fees are expected to exceed $100.00, please notify me to this effect before this request is processed.

Your prompt attention to this matter will be appreciated.
Two weeks later I got a phone message at home from the Research Animal Resources Center Director, Eric Sandgren (who thinks I’m a liar.) I replied to him in an email on May 24:

Hello Eric,

You suggested I call and speak to you about a recent records request. I prefer to maintain a written record of any communications with the university regarding this request, and so will try to clarify my request here.

Thank you for your phone message of May 23 asking for clarification of my May 10, 2012 request for a copy of all pending or approved protocols for projects at the University of Wisconsin, Madison involving animals and utilizing any one or more of the following methods:

maternal deprivation
social deprivation
environmental deprivation
surrogate peer-rearing

Additionally, I would like to amend my request to also include protocols using the method: early differential rearing, and any other method that involves the removal of an animal from his or her mother prior to the species-typical weaning age and is utilized as a means of inducing a change in behavior or physiology, or is used experimentally to determine whether any such removal for any amount of time causes a change or changes in behavior or physiology.

I have requested a copy of Allyson Joy Bennett's approved protocol in a separate request; there is no need to include that protocol in any response to the request described here.

The terms of art listed above are used in published scientific reports, grant applications, and published abstracts that refer to somewhat similar procedures. Typically, young animals are intentionally removed from their mothers, usually within 24 hours of birth, and are then raised either alone (isolation-rearing, surrogate-rearing, surrogate peer-rearing) or with an age-matched animal of the same species (peer-rearing).

Sometimes, the animals are maintained in conditions intended to isolate them from social or sensory experiences (social deprivation, environmental deprivation).

Nursery-rearing is a term of art used in some projects using the methods mentioned in the paragraphs above. Nursery-rearing can include animals being raised alone or with an age-matched animal of the same species.

To help you better understand my request, here are couple quotes that use one or more of the terms. These are from abstracts of currently funded research at the university:

"The present studies will determine if stimulation of Acb AMY1 receptors improves baseline or deficient PPI (induced by psychotomimetic drugs such as amphetamine or phencyclidine), and/or if agonists for this receptor augment the efficacy of clinically prescribed antipsychotic medications in the PPI paradigm. Finally, we will explore whether the family of amylin-related genes is regulated by isolation rearing, a developmental manipulation in rats that is known to produce schizophrenia-like PPI deficits in adulthood." 1R21MH093824-01 BAKSHI, VAISHALI P. AMY-1 RECEPTORS: NOVEL TARGETS FOR ANTIPSYCHOTIC DEVELOPMENT.

"The specific aims of this research are: 1) To determine the long-term effects of early differential rearing on specific aspects of behavior in rhesus macaques; 2) To determine the long-term effects of early differential rearing on both global and specific aspects of brain morphology and cerebral composition using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); 3) To assess the relationship between performance on cognitive, learning and memory tests and structural aspects of the brain in these nursery- and mother-reared monkeys;" 7R01MH084980-02 BENNETT, ALLYSON J. LONG-TERM COGNITIVE AND NEUROANATOMICAL CONSEQUENCES OF CHILDHOOD STRESS.

A proposed series of experiments involving some form of maternal deprivation were recently discussed at both the Graduate School and the College of Letters and Science ACUCs, and at a joint meeting of both committees. I believe the Principal Investigator on that project is Ned Kalin, but I am uncertain who the PI is at this point in time.

Because I do not know the term of art being used in that proposed research, I have included in my request many of the various terms of art for variations on maternal deprivation that are found in published reports, abstracts, and grant proposals.

From various published reports:

"A nonhuman primate model of early life stress, social impoverishment through nursery-rearing rather than mother-rearing, has been shown to produce increased impulsive and anxiety-like behaviors, cognitive and motor deficits, and increased alcohol consumption." Huggins KN, et al. Alcohol. 2012.

"For the first 8 months of life, infants were either with their mothers and peers (MPR, n=21) or reared in a nursery using either peer-rearing (PR, n=20) or surrogate-peer-rearing (SPR, n=20)." Dettmer AM, et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012.

"This paper exploits a unique ongoing experiment to analyze the effects of early rearing conditions on physical and mental health in a sample of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). We analyze the health records of 231 monkeys that were randomly allocated at birth across three rearing conditions: mother rearing, peer rearing, and surrogate peer rearing. We show that the lack of a secure attachment relationship in the early years engendered by adverse rearing conditions has detrimental long-term effects on health that are not compensated for by a normal social environment later in life." Conti G, et al Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012.

"Males and females rhesus macaques reared either with their mothers (MR), in peer-only groups (PR), or in a "surrogate/peer-reared" (SPR) condition with limited peer interactions, were used as experimental subjects." Cirulli F, et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2011.

I hope these examples and my comments above will enable you to identify the pending or approved protocols for projects at the University of Wisconsin, Madison involving animals and utilizing any one or more of the many varieties of maternal deprivation. It is copies of these pending or approved protocols for projects at the University of Wisconsin, Madison which I am requesting.

Nothing here should be interpreted to mean that I am requesting copies of only the Bakshi protocol and the proposal discussed by the two ACUS mentioned above. I am requesting copies of any and all protocols using any of the methods explained here, but not in this request the Allyson Joy Bennett protocol.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my request.


Rick Bogle
To which Sandgren replied on the same day:
Thanks, Rick. I'm blind-copying this to the person here who is handling the request, and she and I will talk to see if this gives us what we need to move forward.

I'm hopeful that we will have a way to get this to you--I do not think it will be too difficult. The reason I called was that we don't have an easy way of searching our various databases to find those terms, and I didn't want to be in a position where we missed things that you were especially interested in because of that. Also, did you want this restricted to non-human primates? It will be far more difficult to identify records that might be responsive if you want any species.

I may email you again if I feel I need to run by you my interpretation or your request.
I replied:
Hello Eric,

Thanks. No, I am not limiting my request with regard to the species of the animals being used.
And Sandgren answered:
I'll pass that on.
And then, in a letter dated the following day, May 25 and post-marked May 25 as well, I received this from this from the Research Animal Resources Center:

Dear Mr. Bogle:

I am writing in response to your request for "all pending or approved protocols for projects at the University of Wisconsin, Madison involving animals and utilizing any one or more of [eight specific methods]."

We are unable to process your request as written as it is not sufficiently specific as to subject matter or length of time, and imposes an unreasonable burden on the University. (See Wis. Stats. 19.35(l)(h); State v, Gehl, 306 Wis.2d 247 (2007)). Please note that we have no reasonably efficient way to locate protocols according to concepts such as the methods you specified as we do not organize protocols on the basis of the types of methods you listed, and running a database query would only allow us to identify the use of your terms in titles of protocols. Furthermore, whether particular experimental designs constitute the methods you specified is a matter subject to interpretation. The task of locating records responsive to your request would require excessive amounts of time and resources, as each animal protocol would need to be manually reviewed, possibly with veterinary input to determine whether any component of any research protocol was considered to utilize one of the cited methods. Because we receive a high volume of records requests, each of which must be responded to in a timely manner, we must ask that you narrow your request to encompass a limited period of time, and to refer to a readily identifiable set of records that are capable of being located through reasonable efforts. To the extent that this amounts to a denial of your request, please note that it is subject to review by mandamus under Wis. Stat. § 19.37(1), or upon application to the Attorney General or District Attorney.

[Signed] Richard R. Lane,
Associate Director
There wasn’t, apparently, any communication about this between Lane and his superior. Maybe Lane was cut out of the loop when Sandgren stepped in. It’s hard to say. It's also hard to guess which of these communications is the definitive university response. Maybe its all just rope-a-dope.

I should also tell you that the Alliance for Animals was contacted by Allyson Joy Bennett in an email. She said that our recent newsletter had misrepresented her methods (and it unfortunately did for the reasons spelled out above), she said that she isn’t maternally depriving monkeys (which I’ve tried to clarify above), isn’t frightening them with a snake (I think that’s Kalin, since he has done this for years), and is not planning on killing the group of monkeys she is now using. She demanded that we correct our errors (I directed her to the webpage which clarifies the use of the snake) and told her that we would correct our error concerning the snake in our next newsletter, we’ll also clarify the fact that she’s using monkeys previously abused but not now creating abused monkeys. I told her we would hold off on any other corrections pending an opportunity to review her approved protocol. I asked her to send us a copy since getting records from the university is so often very difficult and time consuming.

In conclusion, no one I know who has been involved in this work for very long hasn’t made an occasional mistake, particularly those who try to understand what is being done to the animals in the labs. This is inevitable when dealing with people who behave as if they know that we are asking for information that will embarrass them or cause them to run afoul of regulators and the legal system.

In this case though, my errors involved something other than the typical institutional secrecy was at play. And, as I said above, I’m still trying to figure it all out. In any case, Bennett has been involved in a series of projects that have further abused monkeys whose entire lives have been manipulated in ways intended to harm them. What she is planning to do now remains undisclosed. It is probably Ned Kalin who is trying to get approval to start maternally depriving baby monkeys. The university hasn’t been forthcoming about any of this. And I have been very negatively impacted by this dark news.

Risks. Chapter 6

The Risks of Empathy, A Novella
Chapter 6

Harry sat in his car reading the paper. The street was damp; a sheen of oil covered everything. The air was typically heavy with smog; the sun was a dull spot just visible between a row of tall gray concrete skyscrapers. Across the street a man sat in a doorway; he seemed to be dozing. Few people came and went into the building, probably because it was mid day and most people were either working or plugged into their TEs.

Harry noticed a small article in the business section about the decline in suicides in the city. He had noticed himself that there seemed to be fewer jumpers than usual. The article suggested that suicide rates had always risen and fallen throughout history. Harry figured it had something to do with the fact that people were not quite as bored as they had been. Even he had found the new TEs to be alluring and time consuming. And consuming time was an important consideration these days.

A man in a black sweatshirt and a young girl, who to Harry’s practiced eye seemed to be resisting the arm around her shoulders, walked up he steps and spoke briefly to the man in the doorway. The three of them went into the building.

Harry radioed the station that he required back up, gave the building address, and quickly got out of the car and followed the three into the dark building. The elevator was out of order, of course, and Harry could hear them walking in the stairwell. He followed quietly and made sure he kept against the wall so as not to be seen from above.

They pushed open the door and left the stairs on the fourth floor. Harry hurried to catch up and just as he made it to the door and looked out, he saw a door close down the dank hallway. Harry quickly and very quietly hurried to the room, put his ear against the dented graffiti-covered door and listened for a moment. Satisfied, he hurried back to the stairs and radioed once again with the floor and room number.

Satisfied that help was on the way, Harry was quickly back in place outside the room and listening through the door. He heard a sound from the girl that seemed to suggest that he didn’t have much time to waste. Without hesitation, and with many years of practice, Harry pulled his pistol and made short work of the doorjamb and doorknob. He pushed his way through the door and was greeted by the surprised faces of the two men. One reached for his own gun and Harry shot him in the head. The other man was wearing an experience recorder and was seated in a chair next to the table where the girl was tied down and also wearing a recorder. The second man seemed to have the good sense not to move.

Suddenly, they were joined by four uniformed officers. One of them was handcuffing the man wearing the recorder, another was helping the young girl who was obviously in shock and another knelt beside the man with the hole through his brain.

“Not much hope for this guy.”

“Nope,” answered Harry. “Modern medicine still can’t rebuild a brain demolished by a 45 at close range. That’s too bad.”

“Looks like a torture-murder gig,” one of the officers said.

On the table next to the girl was a pair of pliers, a razor, a bottle of alcohol, and a cigarette lighter.

“Yep. We've been watching this guy for some time. We've confiscated some of the TEs he’s been black-marketing.”

“These people are really sick.”

“Yep. Last month we found eight different illegal TEs. Rapes, murders, torture executions, really horrible things being sold in a dozen different locations. It seems to be a growing fad. Get this scum down to the station, and take the girl to County Med. I’ll initial your reports when I get back to the station. Make sure no one messes with the recorders.”

“Got it.”


Stan and Earnie had reaped a handsome sum from their invention of the cerebral transmitter that was now so widely known as the Selling Total Experience. They had taken the money and retired for a while to a Mexican beach. Though lovely and warm, it wasn’t long before the lush tropical luxury began to tire them both. They had always been most excited by discovery and invention. Without much discussion, they pooled their resources and bought a new laboratory replete with the best electronics money could buy.

Back to work, they had decided to pursue their original investigations into the transmission of thoughts and perceptions. They decided to see whether they could look into the mind of another species.

Ted was Stan’s large mixed breed dog. He seemed to have some shepherd and collie ancestry, but there seemed to be some hound in the woodpile as well. He was dark, had long ears, longish hair, and was always with Stan. Earnie joked occasionally that if Stan had to choose between him and Ted, that Ted would win out. Stan never contradicted Earnie's claim.

Ted was good-natured and seemed not to mind the hat Stan was having him wear every now and then. The hat was, of course, an experience recorder modified to fit the dog.

Stan sat with a net on his own head while both he and Earnie worked at their own computer consoles.

“Look at the spikes in Ted’s alpha and epsilon waves,” said Stan. “I think we have to modify the input to coincide with the third band in the recorder.”

“Right,” answered Earnie, and he modified an algorithm in the program. “What are you getting?”

“Not too much. Something.”

“Maybe Ted’s just not too aware of his environment,” joked Earnie. “Hum. How ‘bout this?’ And he fiddled with another parameter. “What now?”

“What now?” he repeated. “Hey Stan! Are you getting anything more?”

Earnie looked up from his computer and over at his friend. Stan seemed to be having some sort of mild seizure. His eyes seemed unfocused and his shoulders were twitching slightly. A bit of drool ran from the corner of his mouth. The slight smile on his face kept Earnie from pulling the plug on Stan’s head net. He sat twitching and drooling for maybe five minutes while Earnie watched the computer monitors in fascination.

Finally, Stan moved his hand slowly to the computer keyboard and stopped the experiment himself. He went over and sat down next to the large dog and put his arms around his neck and began to make a noise that seemed to Earnie to be a mix between a quiet laugh and a shaking sob.