Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Snake Oil

Has there ever been a time that shucksters or the deluded haven't been peddling cures for all that afflicts us? I don't think so.

A long time ago people recognized the power in claims that they could cure disease and extend life. In a few cases, these claims have been legitimate, but the legitimate claims have washed all claims of improved health through a pill, potion, or procedure, with a patina of respectability that is often undeserved and sometimes dangerous.

It may be a universal truth that people peddling these wares claim to be motivated by their humanity and sympathy for their neighbors. For some reason, no matter how often the rotten core of some of these unscrupulous hucksters are exposed, people can't seem to understand that the problem is widespread. (For instance, today's Google News health related headlines: "FDA Faulted for Approving Studies of Artificial Blood," "New Worries Over Blockbuster Meds Avandia, Fosamax," "Parents Who Prayed While Child Died Charged.") Our nearly universal gullibility is probably connected to a blinding fear of pain, illness, and death, and endless hope.

The common blind acceptance of the claims made by the pharmaceutical companies today is no different from our past faith in witchdoctors, chants, crystals, human and animal sacrifice, patent medicines, and all the rest of the snake oil. We cling to the hope and promises and ask for little proof of positive effect.

With modernity has come the emergence of a new class of charlatans and their dupes; these are the vivisectors of course. Some of them aren't completely dishonest. Some must believe in the sacrifices they perform, but many of them are willfully self-delusional. Science as a mode of thinking and investigation relies entirely on the willingness to challenge one's beliefs and to modify what one believes based on evidence acquired through careful study and analysis. When strong evidence is denied or ignored and one continues to behave as if the evidence doesn't exist it amounts to a denial of rationality. When one does this willfully, for monetary other self-interested reasons, it is dishonest. When the denial is used to defend torture, something is severely amiss.

It seems a simple and straightforward observation that vivisectors are either dishonest or that the less thoughtful or dullards among them are being duped by their dishonest peers. I say this because there is a body of research* that has considered the use of animals as predictive models and tools in the pursuit of human health that is ignored or denied by them. The results of these investigations suggest overwhelmingly that animal experiments are a waste of time or else misleading.

Similarly, there is strong evidence that federal oversight of the industry intended to assure the humane care and use of animals is a failure.

Similarly, there is strong evidence that institutional in-house oversight intended to assure compliance with federal regulations is a failure.

Similarly, there is a large and growing body of evidence that animals have complex minds and are capable of many mental feats long thought to be in the purvue of humans alone. Animals are capable of much suffering, and in fact they do suffer when raised in laboratory conditions and are used in research.

In spite of this evidence, vivisectors routinely say that all medical advancements are due to animal experimentation, that there are strict laws governing the research, that every protocol is considered carefully, and that the animals rarely suffer.

In the face of the evidence, only a liar or a fool could make such claims. They might as well be claiming that they have discovered a cure for baldness.

Snake oil salesmen have donned white coats, affixed grandiose titles to their names (awarded by others of their ilk,) and continue to prey on the public's fear of illness and death.

*The examples in this post are but the tiny tip of a very large iceberg of evidence.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hey kids! Bored? Summer too long? Why not try a little dissecting?

“Actually, no one wants to experiment on animals.” Dr Mark Matfield, director of the Research Defence Society.

You hear similar statements all the time. Vivisectors claim that they don’t like using animals, but simply have to. This seems pretty weird to me since at least some of them like to hunt and fish. (I have no idea what the dicks with this dead bear do for a living.)

Surely some vivisectors in Wyoming enjoy rodeos.

I’d be surprised if at least some Spanish vivisectors aren’t bullfighting fans.

And, there can’t be very many vegan vivisectors. People have always enjoyed the blood sports.

So, it seems that they must be saying that vivisection is the one area of
animal use that is problematic. It’s pretty clear, I think, that they are trying to cast themselves in a good light rather than making an honest statement.

The silliness of their claim is apparent when one considers that many people like to watch others be hurt or killed. It isn’t farfetched to imagine that people who like to hurt animals or who don’t have qualms about hurting them would be natural candidates for work in the labs.

Here in Madison, WI, the local school district sponsors a collection of summer classes. Together, these are under the direction of Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR), the public recreation provider for the residents of Madison (within the boundaries of the Madison Metropolitan School District).

As you might imagine, given the “recreation” focus, area residents and students can learn how to make balloon animals, learn Spanish, go canoeing, learn digital photography, how to sail, dance, or learn many arts and crafts. And kids can dissect animals. That sounds like fun.

The dissection class is called Zoology. It targets students in grades five through eight.
Do activities dealing with the zoological world such as dissection and animal behavior. Each student receives a white rat to care for 24 hours a day. Adoption option at the end of the program. On the first day of class, bring small cage, water bottle, pencil and pocket folder. [Emphasis in the original.]
Students will dissect a fetal pig, a frog, a clam, a starfish, a crayfish, and a perch.

The students will “socialize” their rat with others’ during the class.

The two week-long class runs for an hour and fifty minutes, plenty of time for in-depth study of these dead animals’ anatomies, don't you think?

The enrichment coordinator, Welda Simousek, explains that the instructors feel that the “dissection experience is crucial for students who may be encouraged to pursue a medical field in the future…”. Crucial.

I don’t suspect that more than a very few of the 10, 11, 12, or 13-year-old students who take this “class” will go on to be medical doctors. What does seem clear is that they are being taught that these animals’ lives are worth two weeks of their summer boredom. I suspect that children exposed to this indoctrination are more likely to become vivisectors than medical doctors. And, when they do, they too will make up stories about how they wish they didn’t have to experiment on animals.

Cruel crap.

"Saving Human Lives"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

No opinion?

I wrote to the scientists and vivisectors who wrote that vivisectors should be accorded an exalted position in the eyes of the law. None have written back.

No one should be surprised by the actions of frustrated activists.

Hey UW! Nothing to hide?

(Click on the images to see a larger copy.)

When government hides details of its activity it undermines the American ideals of government of the people and by the people.

These ideals are fundamental elements of democracy. Simply, you can’t make an informed decision or offer an informed opinion regarding publicly funded and regulated government activity unless you know what is going on. When government blocks access to information about its activity, citizens should be alert to the strong possibility that it is doing so because it speculates that public knowledge of its activity would lead to a loss of revenue or power.

UW Madison, like any other governmental body, is required to provide copies of documents to the public when those documents were produced using public funds. Generally, only the location of animals, trade secrets, and personal information of its employees can be legally censored from public view.

In nearly every case of censorship by government or refusal to share information or to inform the public, government claims that the secrecy is in the public’s interest. In some cases, it claims that certain information can always be kept secret. It is understandable that certain information is kept secret. During times of war, details of troop movements and other strategic information should obviously be closely guarded.

When it comes to information regarding animal experimentation, the general guidelines for what is hidden from public view include the locations of animals (ostensibly to stop someone from liberating them), trade secrets--like the names of proprietary investigational drugs and devices (in order to protect possible future patents), and personal information on the individuals involved in the research (in order to protect their privacy.)

When universities are accused of keeping details of their experiments on animals secret, they generally protest that they aren’t hiding anything because researchers’ publish papers that describe their experiments in scientific journals available to the public. But it is a simple observation of fact that the details published in the journals are far less specific than the descriptions and explanations in the written protocols researchers submit to their universities and funding agencies—usually an institute within the NIH.

The proof is in the pudding. The University of Wisconsin, Madison is always being asked for copies of documents associated with its use of animals. I doubt that there has been even a moment in recent years that there hasn’t been a public records request sitting on someone’s desk and awaiting a response.

In the document at the top of the page, notice that not only are the names of researchers redacted, but even parts of the name of the protocol. The public can't know even the name of the project?

Here's another page:

It's pretty clear that what's being hidden here is something other than the location of animals, trade secrets, or personal information.

Here's another one:

and another:

Can you imagine writing to anyone or speaking to anyone about this public funds expenditure? Dear Senator Fiengold, I'm concerned that [something] is being done to monkeys in order to prove? show? develop? [something] by [doing something] to them!

It seems clear that the university simply doesn't want the public to know what it's doing with the public's money. Nothing to hide?

Want to buy a bridge?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

An erotic interlude

Below is a detailed observation of two rhesus monkeys having sex. It seems clear that there is much more going on than a simple act of mating. This seems just another instance of animals with complex minds interacting in ways that make sense from a human perspective. Even in erotica, it seems that we see behavior in animals that maps closely with behavior in ourselves.


C.R. Carpenter was an early primate researcher. His observations and descriptions of the natural behavior of primates, rhesus monkeys in particular, are classics. He established the rhesus colony on Cayo Santiago, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico (now part of the Caribbean Primate Research Center); he released the first monkeys there in December 1938, three month after capturing them in India.

Carpenter was among the first to acknowledge that the demand for rhesus monkeys by American labs would decimate the Indian population if maintained at its then current rate. India eventually banned primate exports, though there is a current effort to reverse the ban.

Carpenter said that the process of delivering rhesus monkeys to US labs entailed “deplorable conditions.” His recommendations included establishing breeding colonies here. [Rhesus monkeys for American laboratories, Science September 27, 1940. In Naturalistic Behavior of Nonhuman Primates.]


[Sexual behavior of free ranging rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), Journal of Comparative Psychology, February, 1942. In Naturalistic Behavior of Nonhuman Primates, C.R. Carpenter. Pennsylvania State University Press. 1964. p 309.]

Time: 9:26 a.m. First mounting (1) 2 thrusts, yawning by the male; interval 1 min., (2) 1 thrust, more yawning by the male; interval 1 min., (3) 3 thrusts, yawning, self grooming by the male; interval 2 min., (4) 2 thrusts, female crouching and extremely submissive; interval 30 sec, (5) 4 thrusts; interval 30 sec, (6) 2 thrusts; interval 1 min., (7) 3 thrusts; interval 1 min., (8) 2 thrusts; interval 1 min., (9) 2 thrusts, rather quick movement of hands and head by female; interval 3 min., (10) 3 thrusts, female grooming male; interval 1 min., (11) 3 thrusts; interval 30 sec, (12) 3 thrusts, female grooming male; interval 1 min., (13) 3 thrusts, female grooming male; interval 30 sec, (14) 4 thrusts, squeal by female; interval 1 !/2 min., (15)5 thrusts, female shows quick, jerky movement of right arm and sidewise turning of head; interval 30 sec, (16) 6 thrusts, female purses her lips and turns her face to the male, slight attack in the form of a slap by male; interval 1 min., (17) 5 thrusts, squeal by the female, male yawns; interval 1 min., (18) 4 thrusts, male slaps the female upon dismounting, at almost all intervals now female shows jerky arm reflex; interval 30 sec, (19) 3 thrusts; interval 2 min., (20) 5 thrusts; interval 30 sec, (21) 4 thrusts, after each mounting with intro mission the male squeals; interval 30 sec, (22) 3 thrusts, male squeals; interval 30 sec, (23) 3 thrusts, male squeals; interval 30 sec, (24) 3 thrusts; interval 2 min., (25) 3 thrusts, bluffing, jerky movements of female or her bluff toward the observer or other nearby animals stimulate the male to begin mounting; interval 1 min., (26) 3 thrusts; interval 1 min., (27) 5 thrusts, slight attack made by male on female; interval 2 min., (28) 5 thrusts, another mild attack, intromission squeal by male; interval 1 min., (29) 5 thrusts; interval 30 sec, (30) 7 thrusts, squeal; interval l'/4 min., (31) 5 thrusts; interval 3 0 sec, (32) 4 thrusts; interval 30 sec, (33) 7 thrusts; interval 30 sec, (34) 7 thrusts; interval 20 sec, (35) 5 thrusts; interval 1min., (36) 5 thrusts; interval 30 sec, (37) 22 thrusts, rigidity in male with ejaculation and squeal. The female turns her head to the right and upward as if trying to put her mouth to that of the male. Immediately on dismounting, the female begins to groom the male. Time 10:06. Total time elapsed 40 minutes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How like us need they be?

Via email to:

john.krystal@yale.edu, cameron.carter@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu, dhg@ucla.edu, manji@nih.gov, jsmarch@acpub.duke.edu, eric.nestler@utsouthwestern.edu, Zubieta@umich.edu, dennis.charney@mssm.edu, dgneuro@mail.nih.gov, ralitza.gueorguieva@yale.edu, raquel@bbl.med.upenn.edu, jlieberman@pi.cpmc.columbia.edu, roybyrne@u.washington.edu, drubinow@med.unc.edu, saa2007@med.cornell.edu, barondes@cgl.ucsf.edu, kb2t@nih.gov, BlairJ@intra.nimh.nih.gov, dbraff@ucsd.edu, sherwood.brown@utsouthwestern.edu, joseph.calabrese@uhhs.com, bcarlezon@mclean.harvard.edu, ecook@psych.uic.edu, rjdavids@wisc.edu, mdavis4@emory.edu, desimone@mit.edu, drevetsw@intra.nimh.nih.gov, Ronald.Duman@yale.edu, EssockS@pi.cpmc.columbia.edu, FaraoneS@upstate.edu, Robert.Freedman@uchsc.edu, k.friston@fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk, joel.gelernter@yale.edu, gellerb@beckermail.wustl.edu, mgill@tcd.ie, goulde@princeton.edu, graceaa@pitt.edu, grillonc@intra.nimh.nih.gov, haririar@upmc.edu, robert.innis@nih.gov, egjones@ucdavis.edu, KleinmaJ@intra.nimh.nih.gov, gkoob@scripps.edu, kryst001@mc.duke.edu, LEIBS@mail.nih.gov, DFLEV@stanford.edu, pat.levitt@vanderbilt.edu, lewisda@umpc.edu, liberzon@umich.edu, lipskab@intra.nimh.nih.gov, marder@ucla.edu, amarkou@ucsd.edu, graeme.mason@yale.edu, cmcdougl@iupui.edu, mcewen@rockefeller.edu, mcmahonf@intra.nimh.nih.gov, michael.meaney@mcgill.ca, herbert.meltzer@vanderbilt.edu, kathleen.merikangas@nih.gov, andreasm@mail.nih.gov, karoly.mirnics@vanderbilt.edu, lisa.monteggia@utsouthwestern.edu, alexander.neumeister@yale.edu, obrien@mail.trc.upenn.edu, OwenMJ@cf.ac.uk, pined@mail.nih.gov, rapoport@helix.nih.gov, srauch@partners.org, twr2@cus.cam.ac.uk, jrosenbaum@partners.org, drosen@wayne.edu, caross@jhu.edu, john.rush@utsouthwestern.edu, has1@columbia.edu, gerard.sanacora@yale.edu, afschatz@stanford.edu, yshaham@intra.nida.nih.gov, larry.siever@mssm.edu, larry.tecott@ucsf.edu, thase@mail.med.upenn.edu, TODDR@WUSTL.EDU, mmw3@columbia.edu, Rachel.yehuda@med.va.gov, takeo@brain.riken.jp, eayoung@umich.edu, ROSEMARY.MCCANDLESS@UTSouthwestern.edu, biol.psych@utsouthwestern.edu

Dear John H. Krystal, Cameron S. Carter, Daniel Geschwind, Husseini K. Manji, John S. March, Eric J. Nestler, Jon-Kar Zubieta, Dennis S. Charney, David Goldman, Raquel E. Gur, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, Peter Roy-Byrne, David R. Rubinow, Stewart A. Anderson, Samuel Barondes, Karen F. Berman, James Blair, David L. Braff, E. Sherwood Brown, Joseph R. Calabrese, William A. Carlezon Jr, Edwin H. Cook Jr, Richard J. Davidson, Michael Davis, Robert Desimone, Wayne C. Drevets, Ronald S. Duman, Susan M. Essock, Stephen V. Faraone, Robert Freedman, Karl J. Friston, Joel Gelernter, Barbara Geller, Michael Gill, Elizabeth Gould, Anthony A. Grace, Christian Grillon, Ralitza Gueorguieva, Ahmad R. Hariri, Robert B. Innis, Edward G. Jones, Joel E. Kleinman, George F. Koob, Andrew D. Krystal, Ellen Leibenluft, Douglas F. Levinson, Pat R. Levitt, David A. Lewis, Israel Liberzon, Barbara K. Lipska, Stephen R. Marder, Athina Markou, Graeme F. Mason, Christopher J. McDougle, Bruce S. McEwen, Francis J. McMahon, Michael J. Meaney, Herbert Y. Meltzer, Kathleen R. Merikangas, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Károly Mirnics, Lisa M. Monteggia, Alexander Neumeister, Charles P. O’Brien, Michael J. Owen, Daniel S. Pine, Judith L. Rapoport, Scott L. Rauch, Trevor W. Robbins, Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, David R. Rosenberg, Christopher A. Ross, A. John Rush, Harold A. Sackeim, Gerard Sanacora, Alan F. Schatzberg, Yavin Shaham, Larry J. Siever, Trey Sunderland, Laurence H. Tecott, Michael E. Thase, Richard D. Todd, Myrna M. Weissman, Rachel Yehuda, Takeo Yoshikawa, Elizabeth A. Young, and Rosemary McCandless:

I am writing in regard to the statement that was published on April 2008, in Biological Psychiatry, “It Is Time to Take a Stand for Medical Research and Against Terrorism Targeting Medical Scientists,” and signed by each of you.

I quit teaching and co-founded the Primate Freedom Project a little over a decade ago after learning details of the experiments taking place in the NIH primate research centers and the general effects on the animals from being housed in a laboratory. I found some of your comments interesting, provocative, and somewhat unbelievable.

In the fourth paragraph, you made the claim and assertion that in spite of improvements in animal care, activists continue to be unruly. “The recent events at UCLA make clear that diligently improving the ethical standards for primate research procedures is not, by itself, sufficient to prevent attacks.” I am a very close observer of primate research in the U.S. and have no idea what this claim might be referring to; no reference was included in your statement. If I am unaware of any improvements in “ethical standards for primate research procedures,” then it is a certainty that few other activists are either. If these improvements have not been publicized or made known, if in fact they are genuine, then your claim is hollow. I would appreciate any citation you might be able to provide that substantiates your assertion.

If your assertion proves to be false or else insubstantial, I trust you will admit that there really haven’t been improvements in these so-called ethical standards.

Of your entire statement, this claim, “The recent events at UCLA make clear that diligently improving the ethical standards for primate research procedures is not, by itself, sufficient to prevent attacks,” comes closest to addressing the concerns of activists. I will risk assuming, since this statement was published in a psychiatry journal and that most of you have published articles in the journal, that each of you has some interest in the nature of mind. The question I ask people is how like us does a member of another species have to be before we are ethically required to treat them with a semblance of the respect that we claim for all humans? The evidence of similarities between humans’ and other primates’ cognitive and emotional responses to the world around them is significant and increasing daily. It should be remembered that not too long ago non-Caucasians were deemed dissimilar enough from whites as to justify a status quo that kept them locked in poverty and political insignificance. The history of medical experimentation is a history filled with chilling accounts of experiments on the poor, the weak, and the different, and justified by medical doctors and scientists just like you. So, how like us need they be?

The main thrust of your statement is that attacks on researchers using primates are unjustified and that special laws should be enacted to single out those who do these things (even if laws forbidding these acts already exist.)

Your claim made me think about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s response to the riots that were occurring in US cities in the mid 1960s. He said,
The riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met; and it has failed to hear that large segments of society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity.
In the case of primate experimentation, it is the home demonstrations, the vandalism, and the threats that are the language of the unheard. It is the animal research community’s refusal to discuss the matter openly with the public, their fight to keep information secret, and their historical resistance to stricter laws and limitations that amount to more concern for tranquility and the status quo than for the humane treatment of animals.

I could go on at length about the failures of the oversight system, the instances of mistreatment of the animals (even by the Animal Welfare Act’s weak standards,) the cover-ups, and the suffering, and could site references for each, but that would stretch my note to many pages. Feel free to inquire about these claims if you doubt their veracity.

I’ll conclude with an observation, a request, and a challenge. My observation is this: scientific investigations into mind are revealing a complexity that is at present beyond our ken. Neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris, writing in The End of Faith (Norton, 2004) observes:
The fact that the universe is illuminated where you stand, the fact that your thoughts and moods and sensations have a qualitative character, is an absolute mystery… (209)
He spells out the issue well:
The problem of specifying the criteria for inclusion in our moral community is one for which I do not have a detailed answer—other than to say that whatever answer we give should reflect our sense of the possibility of subjectivity of the creatures in question. Some answers are clearly wrong. We cannot merely say, for instance, that all human beings are in, and all animals are out. What will be our criteria for humanness? DNA? Shall a single human cell take precedence over a herd of elephants? The problem is that whatever attribute we use to differentiate between humans and animals—intelligence, language use, moral sentiments, and so on—will equally differentiate between human beings themselves. If people are more important to us than orangutans because they can articulate their interests, why aren’t more articulate people more important? (177)
My request: Think carefully about your position and beliefs about the reasons that it is acceptable to you that primates are hurt and killed in scientific investigations. Commit them to writing and engage in public discourse to defend them. I would be happy to assist you in organizing public debates or panel discussions at universities or other public venues.

My challenge: Dr. King regularly voiced his opposition to violence, but he always added that it is our responsibility to understand the cause of the violence and to work to alleviate the conditions that spawn it. Calling for increasingly severe penalties for those who attack and threaten vivisectors while failing to engage in discussion about the situation that motivates these acts is contrary to King’s enlightened observation and charge. I challenge you to learn more about the minds of monkeys and apes and the details of what is being done to them and the effects to them of captivity in laboratory settings and to address this matter in an open and public manner.

How like us need they be?

I look forward to your responses.


Rick Bogle
Primate Freedom Project

PS: In the spirit of openness I will post this letter and any responses on my blog at http://primateresearch.blogspot.com/ where I have written about some details of Edythe London’s experiments on monkeys.

PPS: I hope one of you will pass this note along to Trey Sunderland. Since his guilty plea to ethics violations his email address is not readily available. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An example of the free speech the universities want to ban

Since posting the Stop UC Berkeley Vivisection banner here, the site has been killed. Click on the broken image above and you go to http://www.freewebs.com/abuseFrozen.htm which informs us that "This page is frozen."

The title of this post should be:

An example of speech the universities have banned.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Richard Davidson's Mushy-Headedness

On Saturday, April 12, I went with friends to hear Richard Davidson speak and to handout fliers about his primate vivisection to the audience.

When asked why he continues to conduct invasive brain experiments on monkeys, given the sophistication of the scanning technology at his disposal – the basis for essentially all the discoveries he talked about during his lecture – he made three interconnected claims.

First, he said that there are some experiments that cannot be performed on humans; the only ethical way to answer some questions is through experiments on animals. Second, he said that depression is such an important and debilitating condition, that trying to find ways to treat it justifies his invasive experiments on monkeys. And third, he said that it would be irresponsible not to do those experiments given the seriousness of this public health issue.

His primate-related papers are listed below. It is obvious from even a cursory glance at the titles that a) he is not studying depression; and b) he is is not looking for ways to treat depression or even to mitigate anxiety or fear – emotions he is studying.

Further, his claim that the scientific questions he is asking necessitate the use of monkeys is specious. For instance, a very recent study looked at the effects of the anticipation of pain on neurological parameters during fMRI in women with irritable bowel syndrome. (Berman SM, Naliboff BD, Suyenobu B, Labus JS, Stains J, Ohning G, Kilpatrick L, Bueller JA, Ruby K, Jarcho J, Mayer EA. Reduced brainstem inhibition during anticipated pelvic visceral pain correlates with enhanced brain response to the visceral stimulus in women with irritable bowel syndrome. J Neurosci. 2008.)

It might be thought that damaging the brains of humans is unethical, and so, it must be done in monkeys in order to answer Davidson’s questions. But, in fact, the areas of the brain that Davidson is studying in relation to fear and anxiety have been removed partially or entirely in clinical cases. For instance:
Bilateral stereotactic amygdalotomy for the management of patients with severe aggressive behavior disturbances was first introduced by Hideki Narabayashi in 1961. Since then, more than 500 cases have been reported in scientific literature, with a variety of cited behavior improvement rates. (Fountas KN, Smith JR, Lee GP. Bilateral Stereotactic Amygdalotomy for Self-Mutilation Disorder. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 2007.)
Davidson seeks out practioners of Tibetan Buddhist meditation for his research, but seems unwilling to seek out patients with a history of damage to the brain regions he is interested in. This seems unethical, given the harm he does to the monkeys, and scientifically irresponsible, given the greater predictive value of human data.

But more interesting than Davidson’s apparent laziness and false claims are two other claims he made to his audience. He said that he had canceled some of the experiments that he had planned to do because of the harm they would have done to the monkeys. So, here’s a challenge to Davidson (please don’t hold your breath dear reader): Please compare and contrast the studies you decided to cancel with the procedures you used in "Role of the Primate Orbitofrontal Cortex in Mediating Anxious Temperament" (2007) or "Brain Regions Associated with the Expression and Contextual Regulation of Anxiety in Primates" (2005).

The second claim is the granddaddy of philosophical mushy-headedness. Davidson claimed, as he has done previously when challenged on this matter, that his invasive experiments and fear-inducing procedures are justified by his meritorious intent.

What’s different this time around is that he has co-authored a document stating that anonymous direct actions against vivisectors “are horribly misguided.”

In other words, his intent justifies hurting, frightening, and killing animals he claims are like us emotionally, but flooding someone’s house in order to get them to stop poisoning monkeys with nicotine, and then killing them, isn’t.

I wonder what he thinks people are justified in doing to make him and others like him stop torturing animals? Do animals rate so very low that one’s intent to help them can never measure up to Davidson’s intent to demonstrate something (already known) about monkeys’ brains and emotions?

Automatic physiological waveform processing for FMRI noise correction and analysis. Kelley DJ, Oakes TR, Greischar LL, Chung MK, Ollinger JM, Alexander AL, Shelton SE, Kalin NH, Davidson RJ.PLoS ONE. 2008 [See my comments.]

Role of the Primate Orbitofrontal Cortex in Mediating Anxious Temperament. Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ. Biol Psychiatry. 2007

Brain Regions Associated with the Expression and Contextual Regulation of Anxiety in Primates. Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Fox AS, Oakes TR, Davidson RJ. Biol Psychiatry. 2005

Calling for help is independently modulated by brain systems underlying goal-directed behavior and threat perception. Fox AS, Oakes TR, Shelton SE, Converse AK, Davidson RJ, Kalin NH. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005

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

The primate amygdala mediates acute fear but not the behavioral and physiological components of anxious temperament. Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ, Kelley AE. Related Articles, J Neurosci. 2001

Cerebrospinal fluid corticotropin-releasing hormone levels are elevated in monkeys with patterns of brain activity associated with fearful temperament. Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ. Biol Psychiatry. 2000

Asymmetric frontal brain activity, cortisol, and behavior associated with fearful temperament in rhesus monkeys. Kalin NH, Larson C, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ. Behav Neurosci. 1998

Individual differences in freezing and cortisol in infant and mother rhesus monkeys. Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Rickman M, Davidson RJ. Behav Neurosci. 1998

A new method for aversive Pavlovian conditioning of heart rate in rhesus monkeys. Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ, Lynn DE. Physiol Behav. 1996

Lateralized response to diazepam predicts temperamental style in rhesus monkeys. Davidson RJ, Kalin NH, Shelton SE. Behav Neurosci. 1993

Lateralized effects of diazepam on frontal brain electrical asymmetries in rhesus monkeys. Davidson RJ, Kalin NH, Shelton SE. Biol Psychiatry. 1992

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Primate vivisectors are fretting

Press release from the Society of Biological Psychiatry:

Attacks Against Medical Researchers: Time to Take a Stand

Philadelphia, PA, March 31, 2008 – Biological Psychiatry, in its upcoming April 15th issue, is publishing a critically important commentary written by its Editors and members of its Editorial Committee and Editorial Board. This commentary is an urgent public statement, highlighting the increasing problem of terrorist acts against investigators conducting research in non-human primates in the United States. Collectively, the 87 authors wish to not only declare their stance against these terrible acts, but also to emphasize the unique and vital role that non-human primate research plays in furthering our understanding of the neurobiology and treatment of psychiatric disorders.

Attacks on these scientists are growing in number and intensity, with recent events having occurred at private residences and even against researchers’ family members, beyond the relative protection of university or institutional campuses. The authors of this Biological Psychiatry commentary unequivocally state their support for their colleagues in neuroscience research, and bring this issue into the forefront of public awareness.

Biological Psychiatry has provided access to this commentary free of charge on their website, [here, a .pdf, or here.]

It's worth noting that one of the "authors" of this defense of torture is Richard J. Davidson, himself a primate vivisector who speaks in public regularly and "promotes" kindness and compassion for all beings. He never volunteers information on his research into the neurobiology of fear and his invasive brain experiments using monkeys.

Also worth noting is the real reason for publishing this defense of torture: "we might help to ensure that these attacks upon scientists do not [stimulate] institutions to adopt overly burdensome administrative practices."

These people are all cowards who refuse to address the issue of primate vivisection openly in public in detail. They are morally adrift, refusing to address the implications of the body of evidence of mind and emotion in these and other animals. Their position boils down to one of bald old-time bigotry.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Vivisectors freed from Samsara

Vivisectors write and say some pretty dumb things pretty regularly. Check this out:
The author of this poster writes:
I should note that this isn't meant to poke fun at his Holiness; in fact, I respect him. It's a way of showing how absolutely outside of any accepted moral realm these violent extremist are. If done right, Bhuddists are with us! Who's with the extremists? Nobody. Well, at least no one in their right (or left, or any) mind.
A couple of observations spring to mind...

The host for this guy's blog (gal's?) is Scienceblogs. The only thing that makes these people froth at the mouth more than they do over animal activism is mention of a spiritual realm. Fair enough, but this odd embrace of the Dalai Lama discloses the very shallow nature of what passes as thought among vivisectors.

Mention of "flood geology," "creation science," or "intelligent design" can set off long strings of comments about the sanctity and supremacy of science and rationality. Again, fair enough. So how odd is it that vivisectors deny fundamentalist Christianity and then embrace the opinions of someone who has been taught since the age of two that he is the living reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama, and thus an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the "Lord who looks down," the Buddha of Compassion?

What is it about "his" Holiness that this toxicologist respects? S/he obviously knows very little about "Bhuddists." Maybe they're from Bhutan? This careful attention to detail is likely seen throughout this toxicologist's misery-filled work.

The toxicologist "explains" the poster: "It's a way of showing how absolutely outside of any accepted moral realm these violent extremist are." What gibberish is this?

Toxicologist must not know what was taught by Siddhāttha Gotama. Among the Noble Eightfold Path are the recommendations to engage in Right Action and pursue a Right Livelihood.

Right Action includes things like abstaining from killing and being merciful and compassionate to all living beings. Nothing like the Dalai Lama, that callous prick.

Right Livelihood is based on the concept of harmlessness and includes the admonishment not to engage in trades or occupations which, either directly or indirectly, result in harm to other living beings. Nothing like most toxicology.

In point of fact, the only reasons that toxicologists and other vivisectors embrace Tenzin Gyatso is that His Holiness has embraced a meat based diet and vivisection, things entirely at odds with classic Buddhism.

Their new spiritual guide, Tenzin Gyatso, swooned at the power of technology; living in what was essentially a medieval pre-scientific feudal society based on serfdom and ancestor worship, Tenzin was bedazzled.

Tibet and the Dalai Lama became cause celebres as dual victims of the dirty Red Chinese communist bastards. He was catapulted to international fame, with every star and leader in the western world literally stumbling over themselves to have him bless them or at least be photographed with him -- all they can think of is Shangri-La. It's easy to see how he lost his bearings.

It makes perfect sense that vivisectors now raise up on their shoulders this very confused man and declare themselves right with karma and a part of the "accepted moral [no doubt, sacred] realm."

Vivisectors say the dumbest things.