Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Raving silliness ascendant in Wis. politics

The Republicans took control of Wisconsin a couple of election cycles ago, and one of the things they were quick to do was to install pro-hunting/trapping/fishing/gun nuts in decision-making positions in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). An article this week in the Wisconsin State Journal that reported on the issue was surprising for its balance and its deviation from the paper's traditional ballyhooing of activities centered on hurting and killing animals. But then, it was written by the Associated Press, not someone with the WSJ. "Wis. GOP efforts to expand hunting irk opponents."

The Capital Times, a Madison weekly, ran an editorial on the same topic written by local animal-advocate Charlie Talbert. It was titled "Why is taxpayer money being spent to promote hunting and trapping?"

But the reason I'm writing here about these articles is because of a response to Talbert's editorial that was just published. As a character sketch it provides a good idea of just who is being catered to by the DNR. Anyway, its raving silliness gave me a chuckle, its dark implications aside.

Nathan Weber: Yes, spend tax dollars to promote hunting and trapping.

Friday, September 20, 2013

We need more leaks and whistleblowers

Systems are optimized for their own survival and preventing the system from doing evil may well require breaking with organizational niceties, protocols or laws. It requires stepping outside of one’s assigned organizational role.

A good entry into this notion:

The Banality of Systemic Evil
Opinion. New York Times.
September 15, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

More on the Double-Trouble Tom Yin Case

Regular readers of this blog will recall that nearly five years ago, PETA made a public records request from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for copies of records involving invasive brain experiments on animals. One of the documents they received in response was a description of Tom Yin's sound localization experiments with cats. They read in the documents that Yin had been photographing some of the cats' surgeries to implant cranial caps, eye coils, and cochlear implants. PETA followed up with a request for copies of those photographic records.

The university refused to comply. PETA filed a lawsuit, and after a three-year-long court battle, paid for by Wisconsin taxpayers, the university finally settled, but only when their key argument turned out to be a complete fabrication. The university had claimed that the surgical methods and devices being used were proprietary and that they had promised the company that developed them that they would keep them secret. If they had been telling the truth, the pictures would never have been made public.

But PETA investigators were able to track down and speak to the purported owner. They learned that the company's research was being paid for by an NIH grant that required them to make public as soon as possible, everything they produced as a result of the grant. This discovery by PETA demolished the university's key argument. They were, once again, caught in yet another matter-of-fact bald-faced lie.

As part of the settlement agreement, the university extracted a promise by PETA that they would not divulge Tom Yin's name. They argued falsely that if animal rights activists learned who was responsible for doing these things to the cats, that Yin's safety would be put at risk. Anxious to get the photos, PETA (unwisely perhaps) agreed to the terms and entered into a binding agreement not to divulge Yin's name.

But the university didn't mean what it said. They were lying. They are liars. Liars lie. They believe that the public is simply too stupid to notice.

So now, because so many people have written to them after seeing the pictures and told them that they won't donate to them until the cat experiments are stopped, they have made Yin's name public and put his face on YouTube. They have produced two little propaganda films filled with nonsense and some matter-of-fact lies -- what a surprise.

Their fundamental defense of Yin's cruelty is this: The use of bilateral cochlear implants is the result of Tom Yin's experiments on cats.

They assume (perhaps accurately; propagandists understand the implications of the bell curve) that viewers won't take the time or have the knowledge needed to check out the facts.

If they are telling the truth the evidence ought to be pretty easy to find. If they are making it up, then there won't be any evidence of Yin's work contributing to the early use of bilateral cochlear implants.

According to Colorado State University's Writing Center, "A review paper for the biological sciences serves to discuss and synthesize key findings on a particular subject."

A review paper published in 2008 by researchers at the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, titled "Restoring hearing symmetry with two cochlear implants or one cochlear implant and a contralateral hearing aid," makes no mention of Yin and includes nothing published by him even though it includes 105 published papers in the bibliography. The authors apparently didn't find his work -- if they'd even heard of it -- worth mention. [Restoring hearing symmetry with two cochlear implants or one cochlear implant and a contralateral hearing aid. Firszt JB, Reeder RM, Skinner MW. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2008. Review.]

Bilateral cochlear implants have been in use for over a decade. See for instance the studies referred to in Systematic review of the literature on the clinical effectiveness of the cochlear implant procedure in paediatric patients. Forli F, Arslan E, Bellelli S, Burdo S, Mancini P, Martini A, Miccoli M, Quaranta N, Berrettini S. Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2011. Review.

In the second of the two videos below, you'll hear Yin say that the cat in the video "seems quite content" and "his tail is wagging." It's odd that someone who has experimented on cats for decades thinks a cat "wagging" his or her tail is content. Even more odd, is that the film makers and reviewers must think so too.

An aside: A few years ago, veterinarian Eric Sandgren, the very well-paid director of the UW's Research Animal Resource Center, came to one of our anti-vivisection meetings and told us that he had recently adopted two cats and that he was surprised that they had different personalities. The go-to university spokesperson for all things vivisection didn't know that individual animals are, well, individuals. It's no wonder that the the history of animal care at the university is filled with suffering and federal violations.

You can watch the propaganda videos here:

"It is hardly to be expected that a man who does not hesitate to vivisect for the sake of science will hesitate to lie about it afterwards...." -- George Bernard Shaw. The Doctor's Dilemma. 1909.