Thursday, March 29, 2007

More Evidence of UW Lies

In July 2005, evil minions of University of Wisconsin, Madison again attacked those who have spoken out on behalf of the animals – particularly monkeys – being hurt in its labs.

I’ve skewered this propaganda elsewhere.

I recently read a paper that offers additional insight into just how calculating or ignorant the UW spin-doctors actually are. I call your attention to this because when one discusses such unethical behavior with the general public, they frequently imagine that you have twisted the facts or have simply made it all up.

This is from the 2005 UW newsletter:

Scientists subsequently injected rodents and other laboratory animals with MPTP in an attempt to produce the animal model, but they all failed. Researchers were about to give up when scientists, as a last resort, injected the MPTP into monkeys and only these animals developed Parkinsonism. We now know that other animals can be made parkinsonian, but had it not been for the research in monkeys, all the benefits from MPTP research would have been lost.
I've never read such a crap-filled self-serving comment, and I've read more than a few. Before (again) exposing the absolute lie or profound ignorance of these claims, let’s consider the source.

The current web address for the article is:

In other words, it’s on the Wisconsin Primate Center website. I suspect the author is Erwin B. Montgomery Jr., MD; Professor, Department of Neurology; Affiliate Scientist, National Primate Research Center. Regardless of who the author actually is, the UW cachet gives it an air of authority.

The new paper I referred to above is Modeling Neurodegenerative Diseases in vivo Review. von Bohlen und Halbach, O.; Neurodegenerative Dis 2005;2:313-320, in which the author writes:

At present, the mouse MPTP model provides the most useful animal model of PD to study neuropathological and neurochemical changes, whereas for behavioral tests, the monkey MPTP model appears much more suitable....

The Mouse MPTP Model
In mice, systemic or intracranial application of MPTP can lead to severe damage of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system, including symptoms of motor control disturbances resembling those of human PD, such as akinesia, rigidity, tremor, gait and posture abnormalities
The fallacy, futility, and morality of torturing animals aside, this paper exposes the falseness of the UW author's claims even more fully.

Further evidence of the UW author's lying or ignorance are the approximately 1,450 papers regarding mice and MPTP indexed on PubMed dating back to 1984, essentially the same point in time that MPTP was being injected into monkeys for the first time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Laughing Rats

Jaak Panksepp has published a new paper in which he states:

Rats make abundant 50kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) when they play and exhibit other positive social interactions. This response can be dramatically increased by tickling animals, especially when directed toward bodily areas toward which animals direct their own play solicitations (e.g., nape of the neck). The analysis of this system indicates that the response largely occurs in positive, playful social situations, and may index willingness for social engagement, similar to human infantile laughter, which may mature into productive adult socio-sexual behaviors. There are now enough formal similarities between rat 50kHz USVs and human laughter, to realistically hypothesize that they are neurally and functionally homologous at the subcortical level of brain organization. [Panksepp J. Neuroevolutionary sources of laughter and social joy: Modeling primal human laughter in laboratory rats.
Behav Brain Res. 2007 Feb 20.]
You can watch a short video of Panksepp tickling a rat here:

There are ethical implications regarding the use of rats in science and our dealings with them generally that stem from Panksepp's work. Panksepp's own decision to continue using them in ways that harm them could be an example of focal bilateral damage to his ventromedial prefrontal cortex. He began writing about the fact that rats makes these 50kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in about 1998. He began speculating that this is laughter in 2000. (Panksepp J, Burgdorf J. 50-kHz chirping (laughter?) in response to conditioned and unconditioned tickle-induced reward in rats: effects of social housing and genetic variables. Behav Brain Res. 2000 Oct;115(1):25-38.)

Since then, he has concurrently argued that rats laugh and has been torturing rats (here, here, and here. He argues that "the bedrock of emotional feelings is contained within the evolved emotional action apparatus of mammalian brains."

There is something twisted about vivisectors. They argued for decades that animals could be treated anyway whatsoever because they didn't have emotions. Now that they've been admitting (and claiming that it's they who made these "discoveries") that animals have emotional feelings, they claim that this is justification for experimenting on them.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Potential Cause of Vivisection Discovered

Those who have considered the problem of vivisection have offered a variety of reasons for why a few people in society are willing to repeatedly torture others. Suggested answers have included the failure to measure up to a real medical career, sadistic personalities, conditioned ethical blindness, a focus on money, or some combination of these and other contributing risk factors.

But now, a study published in Nature (advance online publication 21 March 2007), "Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements" presents a strong case that brain damge may be the answer.

... Here we show that six patients with focal bilateral damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), a brain region necessary for the normal generation of emotions and, in particular, social emotions ... produce an abnormally 'utilitarian' pattern of judgements on moral dilemmas that pit compelling considerations of aggregate welfare against highly emotionally aversive behaviours (for example, having to sacrifice one person's life to save a number of other lives).... In contrast, the VMPC patients' judgements were normal in other classes of moral dilemmas. These findings indicate that, for a selective set of moral dilemmas, the VMPC is critical for normal judgements of right and wrong. The findings support a necessary role for emotion in the generation of those judgements.
Vivisectors defend their activities with the abnormal utilitatian claim that human illness necessitates endless animal experiments regardless of the actual outcome.

The hypothesis that vivisectors have sustained focal bilateral damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), or are suffering from a birth defect of the VMPC is testable. All vivisectors should immediately volunteer for screening and possible diagnosis.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Give Us More Money, or Else!

Be Very Afraid!

The March 19, 2007, press release from Johns Hopkins University begins like this:

New Report Outlines Threat to Medical Progress in Combating Cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, Spinal Cord Injuries and Other Conditions

Johns Hopkins University and a consortium of seven other leading U.S. scientific and medical institutions today warned Congress that persistent flat funding of biomedical research could thwart advances in treatments for such diseases as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and erode U.S. dominance in science.

In its 21-page report, Within Our Grasp-Or Slipping Away? Assuring a New Era of Scientific and Medical Progress, the consortium said years of stagnant budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) also has interrupted promising research and forced young investigators to leave their scientific careers.

The group calls on Congress to provide more consistent and robust NIH funding levels to maintain U.S. global leadership in biomedical research. Other members of the consortium include the University of California system, Columbia University, Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Wisconsin Madison, and Yale University....
This is hoodwinking and fear-mongering at its best, er, lowest.

Rather than torture readers by picking the report apart one sentence at a time, I'll debunk it globally and then will look at the featured quotes, since the authors felt these gems to be particularly convincing.

Global debunking

The spin supporting the report has been significant. One of the "contributers" to the report is Joan Brugge, chair of the department of cell biology at Harvard Medical School. She is quoted in a United Press International story as warning us that the fight against cancer could lose ground if ever-increasing amounts of tax money aren't provided to scientists. It's like we're being held hostage. Maybe we'll all start smoking again as we worry about these scientists struggling to make the mortgage payments on their summer homes.

Brugge says: "The number of drugs moving into the pipeline based on our new, more profound genetic and molecular understanding of cancer are extraordinary -- and there's no money to handle the testing of these compounds."

Let's think about this pipeline for a minute.

At one end (think of this as the gaping maw of the universities screaming "More, more, more! Feed me Seymore!") we are pouring in literally tens of billions of dollars for basic research on species other than humans, and between 1998 and 2003, the amount more than doubled. At the other end -- if this research paradigm is legitimate -- we would expect a somewhat proportional increase in benefit. But the results have been very unimpresive.

Consider Dr. John P. A. Ioannidis's 2004 commentary in the Journal of Translational Medicine regarding the pipeline that begins: "There is considerable evidence that the translation rate of major basic science promises to clinical applications has been inefficient and disappointing."

Consider Dr. Roger Rosenberg's editorial comments in the Journal of the American Medical Association regarding the pipeline:
Lives are literally being lost daily because of inertia in the system to move promising research quickly enough to the patient in need... There is an assumption that the recent exponential growth of scientific information about disease, as evidenced by the substantial increase in the numbers of published articles in biomedical journals, heralds a rapid move to improve human health.

This illusion is the subject of an intense analysis.... [Rosenberg, RN. Translating Biomedical Research to the Bedside: A National Crisis and a Call to Action. Journal of the American Medical Association 2003;289:1305-6.]
In 2004, William Richard Rodriguez, M.D. Chief Medical Director, Veritas Medicine and Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School had this to say:
Exactly one year ago, the nation's most thoughtful and deliberative body devoted to translating the fruits of biomedical research into meaningful improvements in patients' lives … released a quiet, highly critical indictment of the biomedical research effort in the United States.[Rodriguez, WR Can biomedical research in the United States be saved from collapse? 2004 MebMD, Veritas Medicine.]
Rodriguez said that enormous sums of money invested in biomedical research is being wasted because of "inertia and disorganization" because of two stumbling blocks: "difficulty in translating laboratory findings into results that actually make a difference to patients; and difficulty in taking proven, successful treatments out of the research setting where only a few patients can use them, and into the real world."

In otherwords, dumping massive amounts of money into the gaping maws of the universities has made little difference to patients. And now, they want even more.

You can tout the possible benefits of drugs and treatments in the pipeline all you want, but if nothing's coming out, pouring in good money after bad is just dumb.

Notice too, the first stumbling block: "difficulty in translating laboratory findings into results that actually make a difference to patients." This refers to the near impossibility of translating animal data into human data.

Those gems

Sprinkled throughout the report are statements by the "contributers" that seek to convince Congress with nothing more than blatant appeals to authority and fear mongering; but then, they've nothing else to draw upon. Let's look at some of these gems:

Before the human genome was sequenced, researchers would take a single protein and study it intensely. It was like studying a single screw from an airplane to figure out how the airplane flies. With the genome sequence and new tools, we now have the complete parts list and can begin to understand the collective behavior of the components. There’s no way we could've done that previously.
Vamsi Mootha, M.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
In otherwords, in the very recent past he and others were making wild and silly claims about the importance of their research and its liklihood to lead to benefit. But now, it's important.

Here's a quote from one of Mr. Mootha's recent papers: "[W]e have mapped 1,404 proteins to ten subcellular locations in mouse liver..." Whoo-hoo!

The biomedical research effort in the United States has far exceeded that in any other country—largely due to the steady funding of the NIH research grant program. But we are beginning to lose our competitive edge because of the funding crisis at the NIH. Once the impetus is lost, I fear it will be difficult to reverse.
M. Daniel Lane, Ph.D.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
The United States spends vastly more on biomedical research than the rest of the world. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. spends a higher percentage of its gross domestic product on health care than any other country but ranks 37th out of 191 countries according to its performance. According to a 2006 report from Save the Children (see CNN), the United States has the second worst newborn mortality rate in the developed world, and American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway.

Who gives a hoot about "our competitive edge" if American babies, pregnant mothers, or anyone else, aren't getting the healthcare they need?

Here's a quote from one of Mr. Lane's recent papers: "Fatty acid synthase (FAS) inhibitors, administered systemically or intracerebroventricularly to lean or obese mice, increase hypothalamic malonyl-CoA leading to the suppression of food intake." Whoo-hoo!
I do science because I believe I can better the lives of patients.... Have you seen the bellies of patients who inject themselves with insulin? Or the skin of women with multiple sclerosis? They have so much scar tissue that each new injection is terribly painful. We owe it to our patients to come up with solutions.
Nicholas Peppas, Sc.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
Here's a quote from one of Mr. Peppas' recent papers: "The objective of this study was to elucidate the mechanisms contributing to oral bioavailability of insulin by poly(methacrylic acid grafted with poly(ethylene glycol)) (P(MAA-g-EG)) hydrogels using the gastric and intestinal fluids from rats."

Mr. Peppas might be genuine in his concern for human patients, but the potential income from his nineteen patents might also be a factor. Which makes me ask, why should taxpayers be forced to help promote his business interests?

And, though I pretend no expertise, maybe Mr. Pappas' description of an "insulin belly" is intended to provoke more concern than is due. I found this on the Humalog website: "[Y]ou may be new to giving yourself an injection. The first question many people in your situation ask is, 'Will it hurt?' Today, insulin needles are short and tiny, so there is minimal discomfort." And, there is an accompanying graphic pointing out the many locations available for an injection. But maybe Humalog is lying.
The doubling brought in a cohort of research ‘baby boomers.’ These new investigators suddenly have to compete heavily against each other and against senior investigators for grants. Many of them are leaving. This is a crisis for the research community. What is going to happen to the future of health research in the U.S?”
Lee Riley, M.D.
University of California, Berkeley
It's a crisis! Right. Ten years ago the research community told the public and Congress that if only they had more money they'd be sure find a cure for Cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Spinal Cord Injuries, and you name it. Now, after more than doubling the budget for basic research, they are telling us its a crisis. What gives?
The inherent risk taking—the driving engine for research—that’s the heavier toll of flat funding. People don’t take as many risks. You can’t afford to swing the bat and miss too many times.”
Jerry Chi-Ping Yin, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Hum, Mr. Yin seems to have done quite well for himself inspite of discoveries like this: "Using a model of protracted social isolation in adult rats, we observed increased anxiety-like behavior and deficits in both the latency to initiate sexual behavior and the latency to ejaculate."
In the past, it took four to five years of work to characterize genes involved in one species, then jump to humans or mice to ask its role in disease. Now we can do that in 10 minutes.”
Carol Greider, Ph.D.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
10 minutes? Ten years ago she wrote:
We are interested in using the mouse as a model system for the study of telomerase. We studied telomerase activity and expression of the mouse telomerase RNA component (mTR) in two different transgenic mouse models of multistage tumorigenesis: models of islet cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Today, she says on her website:
To understand how telomere functions to provide chromosome stability and how telomerase might play a role in cancer, we generated a telomerase null mouse. Mice that lack the gene encoding the mouse Telomerase RNA (mTR) show progressive telomere shorting during successive breeding. The mice are viable for up to six generations although in the later generations there is severe reduction in fertility due to apoptosis in the germ cells. Crosses of these telomerase null mice to other tumor prone mouse models suggest that under some circumstances tumor formation can be greatly reduced when telomerase is absent.
She just wants more money.
Microchip technology allows us to scan for SNPs—single changes in the human genome. Originally, one chip could scan DNA for several hundred SNPs. The next generation chip will cover 1 million SNPs. We are using this technology to scan DNA from 1,000 families with Alzheimer’s, looking for common genetic patterns and the genes involved in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.”
Leon Thal, M.D.
University of California, San Diego
Mr. Thal seemed to be claiming that without ever increasing amounts of money, researchers like him would what? Stop using gene chips? Here's how his website starts out:
My current research interests focus on three areas: the effects of basal forebrain lesion-induced memory loss, clinical pathological correlations in Alzheimer's disease (AD), and the conduct of clinical drug trials in AD.

In the laboratory, we are studying destruction of the basal forebrain in the rat which results in a marked decrease in cortical cholinergic markers as well as a multiplicity of learning and behavioral deficits secondary to impaired attention and acquisition.
As far as I know, people with Alzheimer's disease usually develop the symptoms in the absence of destruction of the basal forebrain. But what do I know?
Whatever you do to understand how a bacteria causes a disease, helps to understand how to prevent it.
Jorge Galán, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine
I hope he meant to say that learning how a bacteria causes a disease might help one find a way to prevent it. The idea that whatever one does will be of value is just dumb. But, maybe this attitude -- anything a researcher chooses to do is meritorious -- contributes to the failure of basic research to deliver on its promises. And, maybe that explains why he thinks this sort of research is worthy of more money:
[W]e show here that mice deficient in the adaptor protein myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88), which is required for signaling through most toll-like receptors, can be stably colonized by C. jejuni but not by isogenic derivatives carrying mutations in known virulence genes.
Have you noticed the trend in the research being conducted by the report's "contributers" yet?
We have learned so much about how diabetes and obesity damage blood vessels. All of the consequences of diabetes—kidney failure, blindness, loss of limbs, heart disease, and stroke—are vascular issues. And, in obesity, fat cells are factories of inflammatory substances that harm the blood vessel walls. All this knowledge comes from basic research.
Amparo Villablanca, M.D.
University of California, Davis
"Basic research" is code for experimentation on animals. Ms. Villablanca is a true believer; she probably believes that air travel is the result of animal experimentation as well. One of her recent papers starts out like this: "The overall goal of this project was to examine the interactions of hyperglycemia and loss of ovarian hormones on the artery wall in a type I diabetic mouse model."
Our product is not just our technology or medical breakthroughs. Our College of Natural Sciences alone puts 1,000 undergrads in research situations in labs, and most with NIH funding. That is a catalyst for creating innovative new scientists.”
Brent Iverson, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
Here's what Mr. Iversen has to say about his recent research: "These results represent the detection of free PA and LF by ELISA in the systemic circulation of two animal models [guinea pigs and rabbits] exposed to either of the two fully virulent strains of anthrax." Whoo-hoo!
Ten years ago, the search for treatment for spinal cord injury was a daunting and hopeless task. Then molecules like NOGO were discovered. Now there is hope. The neurological sciences are on the launching pad of a revolution.
Stephen Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine
It's always, "We're on the launching pad," or "A breakthrough is just around the corner!" A recent Strittmatter discovery: "Corticospinal axons extend within the lesion site, but not caudal to it, after dorsal hemisection in the transgenic mice." Bet you didn't know that!
Studies now show you can train spinal cord circuits to restore function. Understanding the basic circuitry of the spinal cord has the potential to address a wide variety of human diseases—from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, to spinal muscular atrophy in children.
Thomas Jessell, Ph.D.
Columbia University
Only a cad wouldn't want to give endless and vast sums of money to help children with spinal muscular atrophy. Do you think Jessell's research involves children with spinal problems? Nope, almost all of his work is focussed on chick embryos. The rest uses mice and mouse cells.
Until recently, young minority investigators have been making unprecedented gains in the laboratory and in access to career-making grants. Their work is addressing everything from the biology of cardiovascular disease to cancer, and their research is generating knowledge and applying it in ways that will help eliminate health care disparities between minority groups and the larger population.

A flattening of the NIH budget—in real terms, a decrease in funding is already having a serious impact on the ability of these young investigators to realize sustained federal support. Without reasonable growth in NIH funding of basic science, our nation will be at risk of losing the remarkable perspective this generation of researchers brings to science.
David Nichols, M.D.
Vice Dean for Education
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
That makes sense. If there isn't money to burn, the major research universities dump the minorities. If we don't give the NIH ever increasing sums, we hate children and minorities.
Young people are not going to pursue a career in science because the funding situation is so bleak. That will have a generational impact that will take
15 years to fix.
Richard Davidson, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Complete crap from a scientist who is content to allow decades of his research data be destroyed rather than risk the public seeing what he does to monkeys in his lab. What a guy!
We have led the world in biomedical sciences—primarily due to NIH support. We’ve created an infrastructure that draws the best people in the world. We’ve spawned a biotech industry second to none and a pipeline of products. The fuel has been NIH funding. Choking that off is shortsighted and will have economic impacts.
Samuel Stanley, M.D.
Washington University in St. Louis
Well, there could be some economic impact if we really took the time to fund important and meaningful research instead of the deadend studies represented by the "contributers" to this report. The main impact will be the unemployment premiums we will have to pay until these bums can find gainful employment. Mr. Stanley uses severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. He has explained that a decade of research using animals as models of amoebic infections in humans has led to no human trials.
Over the past decade, progress in vaccine development has been facilitated by new animal models that allow better testing of potential vaccine candidates and the application of recombinant technology to vaccine design. Oral vaccines and DNA-based vaccines have been successfully tested in animals models for immunogenicity and efficacy. There has been significant progress on a number of fronts, but there are unanswered questions regarding the effectiveness of immune responses in preventing disease in man and, as yet, no testing of any of these vaccines in humans has been performed.
He even admits that improved sanitation could eradicate of the disease.
Very, very productive scientists are doing no research. They are spending all of their time trying to get their labs funded again.
Robert Siliciano, M.D., Ph.D.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
This must explain where the public's money is actually going. Presumably, when Mr. Siliciano gets a grant, he pays himself to write more grant proposals and appeals to Congress like this one. Who paid for this report? Did the "contributers" record their own time and refund that percentage of their federal grants? This must be what Mr. Siliciano means by being productive:
There is currently no SIV macaque model in which the effects of combination antiretroviral therapy on tissue immune responses and latent reservoirs have been measured. This study was performed to define the impact of combination therapy on the specificity and distribution of the T lymphocyte response in multiple tissue compartments. Pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) were infected with SIV/17E-Fr...
Studies of different diseases in differents species are unlikely to ever be very productive if productivity is measured by how much the results help humans. So far, the SIV studies have been a colossal failure.
The last 10 years saw a tremendous build up in scientific capacity. The country needs this. The scientific community drives the economy. In biology, it drives the pharmaceutical industry, and will help people live longer in a productive way. Now, the rug has been pulled out. We’ll lose manpower to European countries, India, China, and Japan.”
Eric Kandel, M.D.
Nobel Laureate, Columbia University
Spare me the drama. Mr. Kandel's Nobel does not seem to have dampened his ego or his xenophobia. Here's the title and a link to one of his recent papers: Identification of a Signaling Network in Lateral Nucleus of Amygdala Important for Inhibiting Memory Specifically Related to Learned Fear. I hope he loses all his funding.
The impact of flat funding has been felt all over. Certainly, senior investigators are not immune. It is causing us to reduce the size of our labs. People are working on conservative topics. And there will be less international collaboration in the future, because people are feeling less inclined to split resources.”
Jon Clardy, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
Flat funding? Consider "contributer" Richard Davidson's funding over time.
The doubling built the momentum. Then the momentum comes crashing to a halt. That threatens the foundation in a very insidious fashion.”
Ira Mellman, Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine
Mr. Mellman's momentum: "In vivo, Myo1f-deficient mice showed increased susceptibility to infection by Listeria monocytogenes and an impaired neutrophil response. Thus, Myo1f directs immune cell motility and innate host defense against infection."

This report, Within Our Grasp-Or Slipping Away? Assuring a New Era of Scientific and Medical Progress, is a perfect example of the hoodwinking that keeps the vivisection industry afloat. Throughout the report the authors employ sick children, cancer, Alzheimer's, anything that might evoke our fear or evoke our fundamental concern for others in a seedy attempt to grub more money for deadend archaic experimentation with animals.

Looking deeper at that researchers' actual work, it is clear that they are part of the obstruction in the biomedial pipeline. The real constipation in the system comes from clinical scientists and epidemiologists having to having to compete with vivisectors for funding.

Throughout this essay, I've repeatedly put quotation marks around the word contributer. The researchers cameoed here, probably contributed to the report to the degree that they contribute to progress in medical care. It's all smoke and mirrors.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Covance and Jane Goodall

Covance is one of the largest contract testing labs in the world. For a fee, Covance will poison any number of animals of your species of choice.

While putting together a fact sheet for an upcoming protest at the Madison, Wisconsin lab, I came upon a statement regarding Covance from Jane Goodall on the BUAV website, Poisoning For Profit.

The small cages which are typical for monkeys used in medical research all around the world, these tiny wire, barren cages, with usually nothing in them at all, they are so horrendous. I mean, I've spent my life in the wild, I know what it's like for a social living creature with the intelligence of a monkey. They have this rich social life, they're surrounded by their family, they're challenged every day, their minds are working and their lives are just fantastic out in the forest.

And to see a monkey alone in a cage like that, with nothing to do so that they go completely crazed with boredom and sadness probably, it's deeply, deeply disturbing.

I think to use any animal in poison experiments is wrong. The higher up the scale we come vis-à-vis the complexity of the brain which suggests a greater capacity for emotions, for feelings, for understanding what's going on, for anticipating what's going to come next, is completely wrong. And to use primates, to use monkeys in experiments like this, is absolutely not acceptable.

The video that I saw showing how these helpless animals were treated, the brutality, the callousness, the joking and laughing, the total lack of dignity, they were being treated like things, like inanimate things, and it deeply shocked me. It made me extremely angry and something has to be done about it, and I don't see how you can have a group of people sitting to judge whether or not this should be allowed, who can see that film and not come away and say we have to stop it now.

I would like to see an end to primates and other creatures - dogs, cats - being used in experiments. But primates, because they are more like us, we just have this feeling that for them it must be particularly horrendous. And one of the things I think is so disturbing, you see this small monkey and he or she, pregnant females too, being dragged out of their cages, resisting with every ounce of strength they have out of total terror, total fear, total panic. And they have no way of escaping, they are using every little thing they have inside them to get out, and it just makes you want to start weeping, because they are helpless and there is nothing they can do. And then on top of that to be treated so cruelly, so brutally, so callously, it doesn't bear thinking about. And it is going on every single day....
Undercover investigations at the Covance labs in Münster, Germany and Vienna, Virginia, came away with video documentation that was essentially identical other than the fact that the lab workers in Germany were yelling at the animals in German.

The Virginia investigation led to multiple citations for violations of federal law. Covance was cited by the USDA for:

Handling primates in a verbally abusive manner

Handling primates in a physically abusive manner

Failure of oversight committees and scientists to properly classify procedures as causing pain and distress – resulting in a lack of protocol to alleviate pain.

Denial of veterinarian authority to treat pain or administer mercy euthanasia

Failure to provide adequate space and exercise for dogs

Failure to adequately provide mandated psychological well-being considerations for primates
You can read all the hideous detail and see the videos on line. We've put together a set of links here.

It's hard to imagine the twisted mindset someone would have to have in order to go to work everyday and do things that Jane Goodall characterizes as "absolutely not acceptable."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wanna buy a bridge?

Carrot, onion, beet expert serves as UW spokesman on BSL-4 lab safety

On March 8, 2007, three representatives from UW-Madison made a presentation to the Dane County Board of Supervisors on the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). UW-Madison is one of 14 semifinalists bidding to host the planned NBAF, a facility intended to replace the aging and contaminated Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. NBAF will feature BSL-4 laboratories intended to study the most dangerous diseases known and yet to be discovered or designed.

The day of the meeting, the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper ran an article discussing the controversy that has erupted between the citizens of Dunn and the university. See: Dunn residents, board oppose possible disease lab

This was the second such meeting open to the public. The first was a November 30, 2007, public presentation at the Town of Dunn, the proposed site for the new lab. [See: "Dunn is done for" and " The Poisoned Plum" for additional background. See too: STOP NBAF KEGONSA, the community effort’s website.

Irwin Goldman, associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences was the primary university spokesperson at the March 8, presentation; he was interviewed for the March 8, Wisconsin State Journal article:
Goldman said one of the things that struck him at the November town meeting was the level of misinformation about the facility. A number of people were concerned the facility would develop biological weapons, which university and federal officials say is simply not true.

Goldman isn't bothered by the politics.

"It's just like science," Goldman said. "You've got to lay it on the table and then let people pick it apart."
Goldman’s opinion regarding the “level of misinformation” among those at the Dunn Town Hall meeting is ironic and telling.

At that meeting, held on November 30, the panel of UW experts was asked whether any of them had read Michael C. Carroll’s Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory. No one on the panel was familiar with the book. During the Dunn meeting, it was clear that the panel’s information had come from the Department of Homeland Security’s website, and that not one of them had spent any time looking into the history of Plum Island or doing any independent investigation. They marched in perfect lock step and the blinders were securely in place.

At the March 8 meeting, over three months later, the three-man UW delegation had still not read the book, even though many people in Dunn had. The delegation was still unable to address concerns raised by its author.

The university’s decision to use Irwin Goldman as a spokesperson for its efforts to host the NABF is very odd. Odder still, was Goldman’s claim that he understood the nature of risk associated with science, and his smooth-talking-you-have-nothing-to-worry-about manner and message.

Irwin Goldman is an expert in the genetics of carrots, onions, and beets. From his website, here’s a list of his last ten published papers:

Horticulture, horticultural science, and 100 years of ASHS. HortScience.

Corn and vegetable yield trends, 1900-present. HortScience.

Temporal aspects of onion-induced antiplatelet activity. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition.

Trends in productivity of US crops and long term selection. Plant Breeding Reviews.

Evaluation of long-day onions for resistance to white rot infection using greenhouse and laboratory techniques. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

Recognition of fruits and vegetables as healthful: vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. HortTechnology.

Back to the future of food: phytonutrients and quality in vegetable crops for the 21st century. Acta Horticulturae.

Relationship of white rot resistance to pyruvate and S-alk(en)yl-L-cysteine sulfoxides in onion roots. Acta Horticulturae.

Flavor precursor (S-alk(en)yl-l-cysteine sulfoxide) concentration and composition in onion plant organs and predictability of field white rot reaction of onions. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

A one-pass semi-quantitative method for extraction and analysis of carotenoids and tocopherols in carrot. HortScience.

Goldman told the Dane County Supervisors that he was knowledgeable of the risk associated with biological research because he was familiar with the use of pesticides and herbicides. In his opinion, based on his own expertise in horticulture, he found nothing to be concerned with in having a BSL-4 lab in town.

I have nothing against most horticulturists. I’m a vegan and a gardener. But, honestly, how stupid would you have to imagine the public to be for you to choose an onion expert to serve as a spokesperson for the plan to build a laboratory that intends to study the most deadly diseases known?

Why an onion expert rather than a member of the UW Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)? And where was Andy Garcia-Rivera, Director of the UW Safety Department, and a permanent member of the IBC? He had been at the previous meeting. He had told the people of Dunn that lab personnel were trained to hold their breath in the event that a vial of some dangerous substance was broken.

Onion-expert Irwin Goldman was accompanied at the Dane County Supervisor’s meeting by Daryl Buss, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, and James Tracy, associate dean for research of the School of Veterinary Medicine. Their combined ignorance and arrogance was stunning.

One of the concerns raised at both meetings was the likelihood of biowarfare agents being studied at the proposed lab. This was one of the “misinformed” concerns raised during the Dunn meeting commented on by onion-expert Goldman in the newspaper.

Dean Buss said that because the United States had signed the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, such concerns were unfounded. Quit worrying; the government would never lie to us. He said he knew the lab would not be involved with germ warfare from visiting the Department of Homeland Security website. Unbelievable.

Buss and onion-expert Goldman should have considered some other sources like these: NIAID
Are NIAID scientists already studying potential agents of bioterrorism?
Even before the current emphasis on biodefense, NIAID scientists had been studying organisms that cause a variety of infectious diseases. Examples of diseases caused by these organisms include plague, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, West Nile virus disease, influenza, anthrax infection, Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever, HIV, tuberculosis, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, and Q fever. Potentially, some of these microbes also could be used as agents of bioterrorism. All of this work has been carried out in either the Maryland or Montana laboratories with required safety measures in place. (Modified 12/1/05)
Public Health Research Institute Center

PHRI has received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to perform biodefense-related research as part of an award to the Northeast Biodefense Center for a Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Announced by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, the PHRI award is part of a $350 million NIH initiative to protect the world against the threat of bioterrorism by funding eight regional research centers throughout the USA. [Affiliate institution: Plum Island Animal Disease Center.]

United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committees. December 2005. PLUM ISLAND ANIMAL DISEASE CENTER: DHS and USDA Are Successfully Coordinating Current Work, but Long-Term Plans Are Being Assessed.
[T]he information DHS provided about its role at Plum Island has emphasized deliberate introductions. For example, the Joint Strategy emphasizes the bioterrorism focus of DHS work at Plum Island in describing the agency’s mission "to conduct, stimulate, and enable research and development to prevent or mitigate the effects of catastrophic terrorism."
Bush "Developing Illegal Bioterror Weapons" for Offensive Use Wednesday 20 December 2006.

Common Dreams:
Washington alone rejects agreement on inspections to enforce 1972 treaty

Sunshine Project’s report on secrecy regarding bio-warfare at UW.

"It's just like science," Goldman said. "You've got to lay it on the table and then let people pick it apart."

Except, in the case of life sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, secrecy is the name of the game.

Just recently, the university destroyed over 600 videotapes of experiments using monkeys to keep the evidence off the table; a few years ago they paid off a veterinarian with over a quarter of a million dollars and told her to stay quiet about the care of the animals in the lab she worked in; just recently the university has stated that it will fulfill public information requests regarding experiments using monkeys by having someone work on them one hour a week and that fulfilling the requests will take many years.

I am quite struck by onion-expert Goldman’s misunderstanding of science at UW-Madison.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Torturing Monkeys. Everyday.

In humans, forms of ill treatment during captivity that do not involve physical pain appear to cause as much mental distress and traumatic stress as physical torture, according to a report in the March 2007 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

A news release from JAMA explained that the researchers interviewed 279 survivors of torture from Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Luka in Republica Srpska, Rijeka in Croatia and Belgrade in Serbia between 2000 and 2002. The survivors were asked which of 54 war-related stressors and 46 different forms of torture they had experienced. Researchers then divided events into seven broad categories: sexual torture; physical torture; psychological manipulations, such as threats of rape or witnessing the torture of others; humiliating treatment, including mockery and verbal abuse; exposure to forced stress positions, such as bondage with rope or other restrictions of movement; loud music, cold showers and other sensory discomforts; and deprivation of food, water or other basic needs.

JAMA summarized the authors' conclusions:
[A]ggressive interrogation techniques or detention procedures involving deprivation of basic needs, exposure to adverse environmental conditions, forced stress positions, hooding or blindfolding, isolation, restriction of movement, forced nudity, threats, humiliating treatment and other psychological manipulations do not appear to be substantially different from physical torture in terms of the extent of mental suffering they cause, the underlying mechanisms of traumatic stress and their long-term traumatic effects. These findings do not support the distinction between torture versus “other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” Although international conventions prohibit both types of acts, “such a distinction nevertheless reinforces the misconception that cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment causes lesser harm and might therefore be permissible under exceptional circumstances. These findings point to a need for a broader definition of torture based on scientific formulations of traumatic stress and empirical evidence rather than on vague distinctions or labels that are open to endless and inconclusive debate and, most important, potential abuse.”
(Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64:277-285.
At least 25% of the rhesus monkeys in US laboratories mutilate themselves. Research suggests that 10% wound themselves so severely that they require veterinary intervention. This has been the subject of some research due to the added costs of having to care for these animals. See for instance: Tiefenbacher S, Fahey MA, Rowlett JK, Meyer JS, Pouliot AL, Jones BM, Novak MA. The efficacy of diazepam treatment for the management of acute wounding episodes in captive rhesus macaques. Comp Med. 2005 Aug;55(4):387-92.

Among the listed forms of "inhuman and degrading treatment" in the JAMA report are many that are routine in the monkey labs: deprivation of basic needs, exposure to adverse environmental conditions, isolation, restriction of movement, threats, and witnessing the torture of others.

Claims that the monkeys in the nation's labs, and in labs around the world are treated humanely is debunked by this report in JAMA. An accompanying editorial is titled: "No difference between torture and other forms of abuse."

Don't hold your breath waithng on the primate vivisection community to draw attention to the implications of this study.

See too, the ScienceDaily article.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Could You Recognize Evil if It Stared You in the Face? (Will the anti-Christ come wearing a t-shirt saying I'm the anti-Christ?)

If you looked into the eyes of evil, would you even know? What if someone claimed to be good, compassionate, or even holy? If evil wasn't branded with a swastika, wearing a mask, or had a pointed tail, could you distinguish it from good?

On February 13, 2007, Richard Davidson, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, gave a public talk titled “Be Happy Like A Monk.” For his work on the neurobiology underlying Buddhist meditation, Davidson was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of 2006. He is a personal friend of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2005.

Davidson explained to the audience his methods for studying emotion and the effects of meditation in volunteers, both members of the general public and Buddhist monks. He defined happiness and talked about some epidemiological studies that have looked at possible correlations between happiness and marriage and happiness and money. The research strongly suggests that neither marriage nor money buy happiness. Then he went on to discuss the “Voluntary Cultivation of Compassion.”

The lecture hall was completely filled. The overflow was placed in a nearby hall and watched on closed circuit television. Davidson took questions after his presentation.

As people arrived they were given a leaflet that called attention to a part of Davidson’s research that he was unlikely to call attention to himself.

He finished his presentation with what he explained was one of his favorite quotations and a short video clip of the Dalai Lama urging students at MIT to embrace compassion. The quotation was from a letter to a friend written by Albert Einstein:
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Davidson announced at the beginning of his lecture that he would respond to the leaflet at the beginning of the question and answer session at the end of his talk. He did; this was his response:
I want to ask myself and respond to the issue that was raised in the leaflet that was handed out. Let me begin by saying that this is a very complicated and nuanced issue and I think that it is important at the outset to calmly and dispassionately reflect on this question. We have – I personally as a scientist have struggled with this issue a lot, and in fact I’ve spent many hours talking with the Dalai Lama himself about this issue, because it is something that has been of deep concern to me.

It is very clear to me as a scientist, that research on animals is important for the alleviation of suffering on our planet. I’m committed to that as a scientist and I believe that there are certain kinds of research which are just critical to do which will have enormously widespread impact in the relief of suffering.

One of the things that the Dalai Lama always asks us is, “What is your intention?” What is the scientist’s intention in the work that he or she is doing? The leaflet refers to the fact that a good portion of my work is on fear and anxiety, and it is.

If you look at the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the first noble truth is that life is suffering and we don’t have to look very far to see suffering in our world, and my research is deeply committed to understanding the nature and roots of suffering and to eradicating suffering in whatever ways that I can contribute to that enterprise. And so the work that we do in rhesus monkeys, and I must say it’s a really small portion of what we do, and it’s all done collaboratively, is done, in that context and with that intention.

The research on fear and anxiety is not because we want to promote fear and anxiety, it’s because we want to eradicate suffering of all sentient beings. And moreover, at the Waisman Brain Imaging Laboratory one of the things that we have been among the world’s leaders in is developing ways to non-invasively image the rhesus monkey brain, the non-human primate brain so that we don’t have to use invasive procedures. We actually have at the Waisman Brain Imaging Laboratory a small PET scanner that is specifically designed for pets, for rhesus monkeys, and it is a way that we can image the brain using the same imaging devices that I go into all the time. So this has been a tremendous advance because we can now see things in the brain of an animal without having to actually do surgery and engage in invasive procedures.

So it is a very important issue and I think that anyone who does research at the animal level needs to ask him or herself what his or her intention is, and if the intention is, the work is being done for the purpose of alleviating suffering and if everything possible is done to minimize the discomfort and suffering the animal subjects and if there’s reason to believe that the work will benefit the alleviation of suffering in sentient beings.

I personally have made the decision that this work is important and should go forward, and I will stand up to that position and I will advocate for it and I will defend it. [Seemed to wait for applause that never came.]

So, I do think it is an important issue. I appreciate it being raised. I think it’s important for those of us who do work at that level be reminded us of its importance. So, I will now take questions from the audience.
The remainder of this essay is a response to Davidson’s remarks above and a few others from the lecture.

Davidson: “Let me begin by saying that this is a very complicated and nuanced issue and I think that it is important at the outset to calmly and dispassionately reflect on this question.”

The issue is neither complicated nor nuanced. Beginning his response in this manner suggests that the simple details of the matter will leave him looking anything but compassionate. His admonition to reflect on the question dispassionately seems contrary to his comments concerning compassion. He mentioned compassion nearly 20 times during his talk. Compassion is the deep emotional response to suffering in others. Telling his audience that a deep emotional response to life is laudable except when it has to do with him injecting acid into the emotion centers of monkeys’ brains, frightening them, and taking public funds to do so, should signal us that he is a little less than transparent or a man of compassion.

Davidson: “It is very clear to me as a scientist, that research on animals is important for the alleviation of suffering on our planet. I’m committed to that as a scientist and I believe that there are certain kinds of research which are just critical to do which will have enormously widespread impact in the relief of suffering.”

Davidson seems to view science as a fundamentalist. When he says that it is clear to him – as a scientist (is this like being a Baptist?) – that research on animals is important and critical to relieve suffering, just what could he be referring to?

It is a simple matter of fact that very little actual science exists to support his claim. It is only very recently that any careful study of this question has taken place. The results have supported the anecdotal studies that have seemed to demonstrate the generally uniform failure of using any species as a good predictive biological model of another species.

Davidson either ignores or is ignorant of the recent and widely reported conclusions by Perel et al., in the British Medical Journal: “Discordance between animal and human studies may be due to bias or to the failure of animal models to mimic clinical disease adequately.” [Perel P, Roberts I, Sena E, Wheble P, Briscoe C, Sandercock P, Macleod M, Mignini LE, Jayaram P, Khan KS. Comparison of treatment effects between animal experiments and clinical trials: systematic review. BMJ. 2007 Jan 27;334(7586):197. Epub 2006 Dec 15. Review. See too: Pound P, Ebrahim S, Sandercock P, Bracken MB, Roberts I; Reviewing Animal Trials Systematically (RATS) Group. Where is the evidence that animal research benefits humans? BMJ. 2004 Feb 28;328(7438):514-7. Review. ]

Making a claim that “as a scientist” he is convinced, implies that he is aware of scientific evidence to support his claim. But there isn’t such evidence. Davidson was actually citing the dogma he thought might convince his audience that he isn’t evil, that the ends justify his means, that a man of compassion can torture restrained animals.

Davidson: “One of the things that the Dalai Lama always asks us is, ‘What is your intention?’ What is the scientist’s intention in the work that he or she is doing.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Intention is very important, there is little doubt about that and good intention is why we have Good Samaritan laws that protect people from being sued if an injury occurs during the course of trying to rescue someone. And no one faults a dentist when she drills out your cavity.

But intention is not the carte blanche that Davidson implies. If a scientist wants to find ways of helping rape victims recover, she is not at liberty to have people raped, no matter how honorable her intention. Davidson argues that because he wants to study the neurobiology of fear and potentially alleviate anxiety in human patients, he is then at liberty to experiment on the brains of monkeys and frighten them.

Davidson: “If you look at the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the first noble truth is that life is suffering and we don’t have to look very far to see suffering in our world, and my research is deeply committed to understanding the nature and roots of suffering and to eradicating suffering in whatever ways that I can contribute to that enterprise.”

Davidson’s comment is misleading. The Four Noble Truths are at the heart of the Buddha’s teachings. Upon his enlightenment, awakening to the nature of reality, Siddhartha Gautama, now the Buddha, the Enlightened One, met some fellow aspirants with whom he had previously wandered and practiced various deprivations.

He said to them that he had realized four truths concerning the cause of suffering and its cessation. He explained that suffering was an inevitability of life. Being born means that one will experience various pains, sorrows, illnesses, losses, and finally, death.

He explained that this suffering is caused by the fact that we have desires and that all of our desires are for things that are impermanent. Everything that we want, good health, love, wealth, friends, satisfaction, power, life, everything, will pass.

He explained that if we can overcome our desires, our longing, our wanting, that we can escape from suffering.

The Fourth Noble Truth is the Buddha’s method for doing this. He called his method the Eightfold Path.

Right View
Right Intention
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration

This is the Buddhist path to ending suffering. Right action includes abstaining from harming sentient beings. Right livelihood includes abstaining from dealing in enterprises based on using sentient beings. Not one of these parts orders us to hurt others or condones hurting them, no matter our intention. Buddha explains the certain detriment to anyone intentionally harming another.

This message of concern and compassion for all is repeated throughout the Buddhist canon.

Davidson: “And so the work that we do in rhesus monkeys, and I must say it’s a really small portion of what we do, and it’s all done collaboratively, is done, in that context and with that intention.”

Davidson makes two interrelated arguments: a little sin isn’t so bad, and he wasn’t the only one doing it. (And he appeals to his “good” intention once again.)

Imagine using this argument in a court of law. Your Honor, torturing children is a very small part of how I spend my time, and it was, after all, a gang rape. What’s the big deal? In fact, I was helping a scientist who wants to learn how to help rape victims.

Davidson: “[A]t the Waisman Brain Imaging Laboratory one of the things that we have been among the world’s leaders in is developing ways to non-invasively image the rhesus monkey brain, the non-human primate brain so that we don’t have to use invasive procedures.”

Davidson’s experimental work using rhesus monkeys is decidedly invasive.
Experimental subjects. Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were used as experimental subjects. The animals were housed at the Harlow Primate Laboratory and at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. Animal housing and experimental procedures were in accordance with institutional guidelines. Eighteen males underwent lesioning procedures at an average age of 34.9 months. Sixteen unoperated male controls were used for comparison and at the beginning of the study were on average 34.6 months of age. [The role of the central nucleus of the amygdala in mediating fear and anxiety in the primate. Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ . J Neurosci . 2004 Jun 16;24(24):5506-15.]
Davidson: “I personally have made the decision that this work is important and should go forward, and I will stand up to that position and I will advocate for it and I will defend it.”

In spite of Davidson’s claim that he has thought long and hard about this issue and has had long talks with the Dalai Lama about the use of animals, this seems to be his first public comment about the matter. It looks to me that he was embarrassed into making these comments because everyone in the audience had the flier that made his claim of compassion appear to be something other than genuine.

Before ending, I want to point out two interesting facts. First, His Holiness, the purported Dalai Lama, the incarnation of Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, supports animal experimentation. He has said so on a number of occasions at public presentations. This suggests that either Tibetan Buddhism is an aberration or there was an error made by the Lamas who identified Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, as an incarnation of Avalokiteśvara. If the Buddhism practiced by the Tibetans is authentic, there seem to be few other possibilities.

Second, Davidson appealed to Martin Seligman as an authority on happiness. This is telling. Martin E. P. Seligman should be remembered for his studies on the behavior of dogs exposed to uncontrollable electroshock under a variety of conditions. Generally, dogs were placed in slings and repeatedly shocked. After a period of time, a dog was placed in a shuttle-box to test the dog’s ability to learn to avoid electroshocks.

A shuttle box is an apparatus with two sections that an animal is able to move back and forth between. The floor of each side can be electrified independently. Dogs who had been restrained and shocked repeatedly were less able to learn to avoid the energized floor of one compartment by jumping to the other compartment.

Seligman reported that his observations were based on over 150 dogs.

When an experimentally naive dog receives escape-avoidance training in a shuttle box, the following behavior typically occurs: at the onset of the first traumatic electric shock, the dog runs frantically about, defecating, urinating and howling, until it accidentally scrambles over the barrier and so escapes the shock. On the next trial, the dog, running and howling, crosses the barrier more quickly than on the preceding trial. This pattern continues until the dog learns to avoid shock altogether. Overmier and Seligman (1967) and Seligman and Maier (1967) found a striking difference between this pattern of behavior and that exhibited by dogs first given inescapable electric shocks in a Pavlovian hammock. Such a dog’s first reactions to shock in the shuttle box are much the same as those of a naive dog. In dramatic contrast to a naive dog, however, a typical dog which has experienced uncontrollable shocks before avoidance training soon stops running and howling and sits or lies, quietly whining, until shock terminates. The dog does not cross the barrier and escape from shock. Rather, it seems to give up and passively accepts the shock. On succeeding trials, the dog continues to fail to make escape movements and takes as much shock as the experimenter chooses to give. [Seligman, M.E. “Depression and Learned Helplessness.” In (R.J Friedmand and M.M. Katz Eds.) The Psychology of Depression: Contemporary Theory and Research. V.H. Winston and Sons. 1974.]
Seligman and Davidson seem peas in a pod. They both claim to be experts on happiness, yet their careers are studded with instances of profound callousness and cruelty.

The idea that society accepts them as experts and looks to them to help people be happy seems to be a corruption of truth, of justice, and to subtly victimize those who seek them out as authorities on anything good and wholesome.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Primate Experiments: The Painful Reality

In a shocking new dossier, Animal Aid reveals how monkeys are made to suffer and die inside British laboratories and the ‘reasons’ given for their deaths. All the experiments revealed in the dossier took place in Britain (apart from one which was conducted in the USA with a British scientist) in the past two years and were published in 2006. The experiments include monkeys being deliberately brain damaged and then frightened, in order to assess their responses, and a 16-year old macaque being dosed with a drug that induces tremors, rigidity and incapacity.
Much more, here.

It's worth keeping in mind that vivisectors and their supporters in the UK are quick to claim that the rules for conducting research in the UK are among the strictest anywhere. Keep in mind too, that the number of studies conducted in the UK amounts to a tiny sliver of the studies (less well regulated according to the Brits) conducted here.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Why People Smoke? Nicotine May Be the Answer.!?!

Well duh! And I always thought it was to look cool.

How stupid is this? Really stupid, and, cruel.

According to an article in the Toronto Daily News with the headline Why People Smoke? Nicotine May Be the Answer: "Nicotine use is highly addictive, which is why most smokers who want to quit may not be able to succeed." May be the answer?? Bet you didn't know that.

This news comes from a publicly-funded study at the Preclinical Pharmacology Section, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health-Department of Health and Human Services in Baltimore. The paper is freely available on line here.

The problem addressed in the study was explained by the authors:
"[The] reinforcing effects of nicotine alone have often been difficult to demonstrate directly in controlled laboratory studies with both animals and humans as experimental subjects. Consequently, there has been continuing controversy in the literature about the validity of previous findings of reinforcing effects of nicotine in experimental animals and human subjects."
Did you get that? These dick wads (and everyone along the way who felt this study had merit) claim that there is controversy concerning whether nicotine is addictive. And so, they decided to torture five monkeys.
Five naive male squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciurea), weighing 730 to 950 g were subjects. They were housed individually in a temperature- and humidity-controlled room and were maintained on a 12-h light/dark cycle; the lights were on from 6:45 AM to 6:45 PM. Experiments were conducted during the light phase. Animals were maintained in facilities fully accredited by the American Association for the Accreditation of Laboratory Animals used in this study were maintained in facilities fully accredited by the American Association for the Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) and all experimentation was conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Institutional Care and Use Committee of the Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, and the Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Research Council 2003). In each monkey, a polyvinyl chloride catheter (inside diameter, 0.38 mm; outside diameter 0.76 mm) was used for i.v. injection of drug and was passed through the right or left jugular vein or through the femoral vein to the level of the right atrium under halothane anesthesia. Subcutaneous catheters led to the monkey's back where they exited the skin. The monkeys wore jackets at all times to protect these catheters. Each weekday the catheters were flushed, refilled with saline (0.9% NaC1) and sealed with stainless steel obturators. Before acquisition of nicotine self-administration, the monkeys have been euthanized to performed brain imaging experiment using positron emission tomography to measure the expression of brain nicotinic receptors. These results will be reported elsewere.
What total pricks.