Sunday, January 27, 2019

Meat is Killing the Planet

Meat is killing the planet. Period. Full stop. The commercial production of meat is filled with misery, it is cruel, it causes illness, shortens our lives, poisons our water and air, is an engine of species' extinctions, and has a broad negative psychological influence on us. But hey, there's lots of money in it.

Denialists and critics will look at that list of costs and poke holes in it, or try to. But climate scientists, and those not making money on meat commonly acknowledge that eating meat is killing the planet.

A few links:

Scrap subsidies for farmers, scientific journal declares. 'Lancet' says food producers should be banned from lobbying and treated like 'Big Tobacco.' January 30, 2019.

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth.
The Guardian. May 31, 2018.

Climate change food calculator: What's your diet's carbon footprint? BBC News. December 13, 2018.

Think locavore is the answer? Guess again: For a lower climate footprint, vegetarian diet beats local.
Science Daily. October 23, 2018.

I'm very doubtful that we, the human collective, are going to be able to do much of anything to forestall the civilization-crushing effects of global warming; there's just too much money to be made in the short term from ignoring the warning signs and science.

In an odd and sort of selfish way, I appreciate the fact that experts in meat production and their institutions are denying or simply ignoring the problem. Since first looking into the large publicly-funded universities' justifications for their use of animals and their tortured attempts to justify it, I've found that plain facts don't matter to them. Their spokespeople are sometimes uninformed, wrong, and lie. The most charitable explanation for their circumlocutionary claims is money. By the time a vivisector or senior spokesperson is called on to publicly defend an institution's cruelty, they are financially vested. Their income, retirement, persona, academic standing, power, everything, is connected to, and sometimes wholly dependent on their institution's income from publicly-funded experiments on animals.

A less charitable possibility is that the field is populated with an abnormally high percentage of psychopaths. The actual explanation probably includes a bit of each.

The fact that vested professors of "animal science" at large agricultural schools deny the impact of meat falls perfectly into line with the vivisectors' assertions. This makes sense since both groups ardently defend raising animals to hurt and kill.

For instance, Frank M. Mitloehner, Ph.D., Professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist, Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, claims that meat production doesn't have much effect on the environment. His understanding of the science was questioned by a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. UC-Davis hosts one of the hideous NIH National Primate Research Centers. Peas in a pod.

A crazier example is the University of Wisconsin, Madison's promotion of meat. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences just hosted a "meat contest" intended to help meat producers increase their sales -- at a time when every sane person is urging people to reduce their meat consumption. The contest was promoted by local media. It was held in conjunction with the German Butchers' Association. This is a blurb about the contest from the butchers' website: "The winners will receive medals, certificates and trophies as with the quality competitions held by the German Butchers' Association. These awards may be important tools for you to positively represent and market your products and your company."

Denials and flat rejections of the crushing environmental impact of meat by those the public has been taught are experts helps explain the reticence of local media in places like Wisconsin, to cover the impending crisis. This amplifies the harm done by these institutions.

In any case, I have to admit to some satisfaction at the "experts'" efforts to delude the the public. I've watched them do this for over twenty years. Though the implications are bleak, it's nice to know I was right about them.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Shut-downs come and go

[A draft from almost exactly a year ago. Blogger has the annoying characteristic of automatically re-dating posts.]

Of the myriad claims and liists of the dire consequences of the government's "shutdown," none that I have seen are more checkout counter tabloid-like than the one put together by Mother Jones. The long list is kicked off with two doozies:
1. Patients out of options: The National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center will stop admitting patients into its clinical trials. During the 2013 shutdown, 200 patients, including two dozen children with cancer, were unable to seek experimental treatment.

The children-with-cancer card is a tried-and-true PR tool. NIH plays the card regularly as do vivisectors and their lobbyists. Scratching the crocodile-tear-soaked patina suggests that the two dozen children appealed to by Mother Jones were unlikely to have been helped even if there had not been a shutdown.

Experimental treatments are, overwhelmingly, failures. If they weren't, we'd already have a cure for whatever form of cancer these unfortunate children had. And, being enrolled in a clinical trial is no guarantee that one would receive the experimental treatment; one might be in the control group and not receive the treatment. Because such trials are blinded, no one knows what group they are in, so at least everyone can have some hope. But hope can be found in many places, even outside of an government-funded experimental treatment experiment. The main thing is that essentially all experimental treatments fail, and so it is mere pandering to point to a dozen children with cancer who were not enrolled in an experimental study as a result of a brief government shutdown and a cause of serious concern.
2. Patients waiting on a cure: The NIH will stop accepting grant proposals, putting a hold on new medical research.

This is more absurd than the children with cancer not being able to be part of an experiment highly unlikely to be of any benefit to them. The implication is that a few days delay in being able to submit an NIH grant proposal is going to delay some new drug or therapy coming on the market. Whoever came decided to include this on the list, and in such a prominent spot, is utterly clueless. They should have done their homework:
The Medical Revolution Where are the cures promised by stem cells, gene therapy, and the human genome?
Andy Grove: Where are the Cures?!
Desperately Seeking Cures
Where Are the Cures?

A Chimpanzee with No Legs Cannot Hear

[A draft from years ago that I never posted. Just clearing out by draft folder.]

There would be little media attention (or grant money) if researchers published a paper and said that it was just more of the same and demonstrated yet again what has been known for nearly a century. Much better to claim that it is a "first of its kind."

Nurtured chimps rake it in
June 14, 2007

Human interaction and stimulation enhance chimpanzees’ cognitive abilities, according to new research from the Chimpanzee Cognition Center at The Ohio State University. The study* is the first to demonstrate that raising chimpanzees in a human cultural environment enhances their cognitive abilities, as measured by their ability to understand how tools work. The findings have just been published online in the Springer journal Animal Cognition.

The scientists compared three groups of chimpanzees: one with a history of long-term stable, social interaction with humans (‘enculturated’); a group raised in a sanctuary setting, with only caretaker contact with humans (‘semi-enculturated’); and another group raised under more austere captive conditions (laboratory chimpanzees). The experiments looked at how the chimpanzees used rakes in order to retrieve a fruit yoghurt reward. The overall study examined not only whether the chimpanzees understood the properties of the tool, but also whether they understood the reasons why the tool worked....

*Furlong EE, Boose KJ, Boysen ST. Raking it in: the impact of enculturation on chimpanzee tool use. Anim Cogn. 2007 May 22.

Are you familiar with the old joke about the scientist dismembering the grasshopper?

Scientist: "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper jumps and scientist records: GH with 6 legs jumps 24.71"

Scientist pulls off one leg. "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper jumps and scientist records: GH with 5 legs jumps 19.23"

Scientist pulls off another leg. "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper jumps and scientist records: GH with 4 legs jumps 12.03"

Scientist pulls off 5th leg. "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper jumps and scientist records: GH with 1 leg jumps .16"

Scientist pulls off last leg. "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper doesn't jump. "Jump grasshopper jump!" Grasshopper still doesn't jump. Scientist pounds table. "Jump grasshopper jump!!" Grasshopper just lies there.

Scientist records: GH with no legs cannot hear.

Like this little allegory, the scientists studying the chimpanzees conclude: "These results provide the first empirical evidence for the differential effects of enculturation on subsequent tool use capacities in captive chimpanzees."

First, this isn't the first empirical evidence of a disparity between enculturated chimpanzees and chimpanzees living in deprived settings.

And second, the conclusion misses the actual phenomena demonstrated in their study.

The earliest empirical evidence regarding the wide disparity in tool use or tool mastery between enculturated chimpanzees and deprived chimpanzees, of which I am aware, can be found in The Ape in Our House (Cathy Hayes. Harper and Brothers; New York: 1951.)

In 1947, Cathy and Keith Hayes were given an infant chimpanzee by Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology director and chimpanzee vivisector, Henry W. Nissen. They named her Vicki and raised her as their daughter. The experiment with Vicki was the reason that the Hayes had moved to Orange Park Florida, where Robert Meanes Yerkes' primate colony had been established following its move from Yale. Keith Hayes was employed by the Yerkes laboratory as an experimental psychologist.

Vicki Hayes' developmental progress was closely monitored and recorded through at least the first five and a half years of her short seven and a half year life. (I have yet to find an explanation for her apparent early death.)

Vicki was filmed in a variety of situations. Her time with the Hayes is very well documented.

The Hayes' work with Vicki seems a clear anticipation of the Ohio State University claim. it does not seem that their study is in any meaningful way "a first."

Problem 1. This was a tunnel made of heavy screening, in the middle of which could be seen a gaily wrapped prize. Nearby was a long stick.

The first subject, Cassie, was given two minutes to see if she could figure it out for herself. When she told us that she could not get it, I asked "Shall I show you?" ...

Her little friends, Alice and Kathy, also had to be shown. Then, after much fingering of the apparatus, and shy smiling at the experimenter, they solved [the problem] as Cassie had.... the sole boy subject, Alan, was so fascinated by the equipment itself that after he had earned his prize, he did not open it, but put it back in the tunnel and poked it out again and again.

Vicki performed quite like the children, taking a similar length of time.

Frans, the laboratory chimpanzee, was hopeless. No amount of demonstration helped him, although he wanted his reward of fruit very much. Later, the experimenter guided Frans' hand through the proper movements, thus going beyond the demonstration, and aiding him to have the experience himself. This encouraged Frans to wriggle the stick aimlessly if someone put it into the tunnel for him, but he never did learn to make it move in the right direction. This problem, therefore, told us nothing about his imitative ability. He could hardly be expected to learn by imitation what he could not learn by direct experience. (Other work has shown that because of his lack of experience with sticks, Frans is unable to solve even the most elementary problems which require the use of a stick as a tool.) (pgs. 184-185 passim.)

The Hayes account and the Ohio State account both seem to demonstrate the effects of deprived environmental stimulation (and socialization) written about by Rene Spitz, John Bowlby and others throughout the 1900s. This seems a more likely factor than some special benefit associated with being raised like a human or around them. (Our god-like glow is a gift to all.)

It is unlikely that the deprived chimpanzees would have the same repertoire of tool use as wild chimpanzees benefiting from an intact cultural system and rich opportunity to observe and practice.

More recently, it has been observed that some of the Romanian orphans created by the dictates of Nicolae Ceausescu continue to have significant cognitive deficits. (Beckett C, Bredenkamp D, Castle J, Groothues C. O’Connor TG, Rutter M, and the English and Romanian Adoptees (E.R.A.) Study Team. “Behavior Patterns Associated with Institutional Deprivation: A Study of Children Adopted from Romania.” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 2002; 23(5):297-303.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

UW-Madison says, "Screw you."

The data connecting our meat consumption with global warming is unequivocal. The consumption of meat is associated with increased risk of disease. The production of meat causes suffering on a scale too large to fully grasp. These aren't opinions; they are plain facts.

The average person can be excused for not understanding much of anything. If the intelligence quotient (IQ) distribution graphs are correct, half of us have IQs of 100 or below. An IQ of 100 isn't particularly high; someone with an IQ of 100 probably wouldn't be considered to be particularly bright. But, those of us with a lower IQ are still consumers. And, because we make up half the market for many consumer goods, advertisers do what they can to take advantage of our limited insight.

Society, indeed, civilization, relies heavily on smart people. Smart people have an obligation to those less intellectually gifted to make wise decisions, to be at the tiller and help us navigate treacherous waters. Smart people who take advantage of those less observant and wily than themselves are little more than thieves, crooks, or charlatans, or worse.

We tend to look to those we think of as experts for insight and sometimes guidance. We take their opinions to matter, to help us understand the world. Society labels them for us: MD, PhD, DDS, DVM, etc. These experts are given even greater credence and respectability when they are associated with institutions like federal agencies, medical centers, or universities.

When an entire institution embraces a position, or implies approval of a position, it is unlikely that many of us would or even could question its authoritative position. This leaves a tiny few of us to do so.

We are killing broad swaths of life on Earth, and that article is from 2016. Generally speaking, we do this unknowingly. We have children, we pollute the environment, we buy products that are produced through practices that harm the global ecosystem, we behave as we do because our leaders, those we look to for guidance and wise counsel, are leading us astray.

The brightest among us ought to be doing all they can to lead us to safety; but they aren't. They are consumed by self-interest and greed. This, more than anything else is why civilization may be in its end days.

A case in point is the UW-Madison saying, "Screw you." At a time when the smartest people ought to be telling us to stop eating animals, that an ethic of kindness might yet save us, the University of Wisconsin, Madison is hosting a "meat competition" looking for ways to make meat more appealing, to increase it's consumption, which will hasten the warming of the planet.

Things like this are why hope alone may be hopeless. Stand up, speak out, defend the weak. If you've read this, you are now partially responsible for what comes next.

See too: Another Day, Another Dire Warning. Or, How the Experts and Our Leading Institutions Continue to Fail Us.

Monday, January 14, 2019


parabiosis: par·a·bi·o·sis /perəbīˈōsəs/ Biology noun: the anatomical joining of two individuals, especially artificially by vivisectors in physiological research.

I've been virtually immersed in the dark and cruel details of vivisection for almost 25 years now. One of the things I've come to believe is that there are no limits to what some scientists will do to animals.

As the images above and this blog's title suggest, the main focus of my activism has been on the use of monkeys and chimpanzees. These animals are so similar to us that I naively thought it would be easier to generate concern that would lead to laws protecting them than it would be for other animals. See my essay, "How Like Us Need They Be?" I've also been involved in anti-vivisection campaigns for dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, birds, and mice, and animal rights campaigns for elephants, marine mammals, geese, and chickens. I'm probably overlooking some others.

I mention all of this just to reinforce the fact that I've learned about some really hideous things being done to animals. In spite of all that, I was still shocked when I recently learned about an animal experimentation method called parabiosis. Here's a video: [or watch on YouTube.]

Here's another: [or watch here.]

Here's an MD's take on this line of research.

Interestingly, in a sick sort of way, some of the vivisectors doing this to mice have urged their colleagues to jump on the bandwagon.
While there may not be laws or rules that would outlaw the procedure in certain places, it is possible that a visceral reaction towards the idea of surgically connected mice has prevented animal care committees from approving studies involving parabiosis. Based on our years of experience with this model, we have observed the well-being of paired mice far exceeds that of mice exposed to many pathogens, cancer, traumatic injuries or debilitating mutations. See Eggel, Alexander, and Tony Wyss-Coray. "A revival of parabiosis in biomedical research." Swiss medical weekly 144 (2014): w13914-w13914.
These authors were much more successful than I have been. A search on PubMed finds 1,979 papers mentioningparabiosis. NIH Reporter, finds 74 currently funded projects mentioning parabiosis in the Abstracts or the Project Terms.

It feels like we are living in a horror movie or an incredibly bad dream. If the latter, I hope I wake up and don't remember this.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Vivisectors Love Animals - the Last Part

Vivisectors love animals and other lies the shitheads tell.

Coming full circle, in Vivisectors Love Animals - Part One, I reported that the presentation I attended in Mount Horeb was put on by Americans for Medical Progress, an industry front group. The moderator was AMP's Executive Director, Paula Clifford. The two speakers were Letty Medina, a laboratory animal veterinarian and the Director of Animal Welfare & Compliance at AbbVie, a Pharmaceutical Research & Development company, and another woman named Beth (Deb?) Danahoe or Donahue, or something like that. She identified herself as a "research technologist."

During their presentations, whenever a question was asked that might have led to some discussion, an unnamed woman in the audience would stand up and eventually, they just gave her the microphone whenever she wanted to chime in. When someone in the audience asked a question and tried to follow up, they were shushed and often the anonymous other woman came to the rescue.

In the process of reading more about AMP, I discovered that she was Cindy Buckmaster, the Chair of the AMP Board of Directors. She is also the Director of Center for Comparative Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She is a regular on the animals-are-here-for-us-to-use speaker circuit.

If there was a common thread in the presentations other than the assertion that our interests trump other animals', it may have been cancer. You cannot read the pro-viv literature without being told over and over again that you or a loved one are probably going to get cancer, and that the only choice we have other than throwing up our hands is to give them cancer. It seems that they always stroke people's fear with the names of the diseases that they think will frighten them the most.

Cindy Buckmaster, the unnamed go-to person in the audience, is a presence in the pro-viv community. She has written a number of op-eds [20-ish] for the magazine Lab Animal; I read them all, thanks to Google Scholar. [A subscription to Lab Animal is free upon request unless your name is associated with criticism of hurting and killing animals. I've had a number of subscriptions cancelled over the years under various names.]

It appears to me that Buckmaster genuinely likes animals and has even come to "love" some of them in some sick diseased way. This kind of "love" seems to be a fairly common phenomena -- liking, even loving members of a group or class that one simultaneously believes to be so inferior that hurting or killing them is justified, especially when it benefits members of one's own group. The history of slavery in the U.S. is filled with whites saying that they loved their slaves. Dairymen love their cows.

At the Mount Horeb presentation, Buckmaster never acknowledged who she was, even when I asked the presenter why she was given free rein to carry on at length while my comments and questions, and those of others were deflected and cut off. Buckmaster was the speaker's boss.

These people. Jeeze. I understand why they can't and won't engage in public debate. I wouldn't either if I were them.