1. Vivisection and Animal Testing Crime
2. The Cosmetic Pain
3. Health Charities Abuse
4. Descartes, Darwin, and Vivisection
5. Peter Singer and Animal Rights
6. Last Chance for Animals
7. Violations in American Universities
8. Brain Studies and Neuroscience
9. Aristotle and the Class System in Britain
1. Vivisection and Animal Testing Crime
The subject of animal ethics is still fledgling in a society where vivisection has been a bad habit for centuries. The death toll is striking. "One animal dies in a laboratory in the USA every second, in Japan every two seconds, and in the UK every twelve seconds." (LCA) Those labs are diversely found in universities, medical research and other institutes, and commercial organisations. Technically, animal experiments and animal testing do not necessarily amount to vivisection, but the alternatives, e.g., injections with drugs and diseases, are also subject to criticism. A generalising definition is that "vivisection is commonly called animal experimentation and includes the use of animals for research, product testing and in education" (source linked above).
Supporters of vivisection refer to the application of anaesthetic and euthanasia. The rules are often broken, say the critics, who urge that animal victims have their own right to life and to freedom from violation. Vivisection is repugnant to any sensitive person. There are many ghastly photographs of animal victims in laboratories, frequently showing parts of their body missing. The surgical violations are cruel in the extreme. The knifemen who do this perpetuate a horror scenario which dates back to the seventeenth century.
The insistence that animal experiments furthered a knowledge of physiology was strong in the nineteenth century, and endorsed by the biology hero Charles Darwin. A counter occurred in 1875, when the National Anti-Vivisection Society was founded in London. Today, the laboratory crimes are far more intensive, and accompanied by superficial and grant-grabbing arguments about the necessity for finding cures to diseases like cancer. Critics have developed counter-arguments, which reveal the horrors as being not merely unethical, but also unnecessary, profit-seeking, and criminal.
The worst case scenario of laboratory animals is comparable to that of a human invalid in a hospital bed who is mercilessly tortured by doctors in attendance. Millions of dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, and other breeds are currently lab victims, a factor swelling the coffers of medical and commercial science. Even horses, cows, sheep, fish, and birds suffer in the torture zone of laboratories. Pigs have their guts torn out by the insatiable knifemen. No creature is safe from the offences of laboratories. Appalling, and totally useless, experiments on primates have even transferred organs of pigs to monkeys and baboons. The programme is insane. Vivisection is a symptom of science gangrene from America to China and Japan.
Research programmes in the field of vivisection are very questionable. The salaries are often linked to official grants; vivisection appears "scientific" to retrogressive funding allocators. "The nearly infinite possible manipulations offer researchers the opportunity to 'prove' almost any theory that serves their economic, professional, or political needs. For example, researchers have 'proven' in animals that cigarettes both do and do not cause cancer - depending on the funding source." (The Truth About Vivisection)
The vivisection practices occur behind closed doors, with elaborate security systems to prevent public entry. LCA has informed that researchers often do not use anaesthetic in product testing, the animals being left to suffer, while "their vocal cords are frequently cut to spare the vivisectors the sounds of their screams."
Testimony to the depraved nature of animal experiments is abundant. For instance, animal testing by the US Army involved burning pigs alive with a flamethrower. A comparative refinement of Emory University was to sew up the eyelids of monkeys. The American space agency NASA committed nearly two million dollars of taxpayer money to fund experiments dosing small squirrel monkeys with "massive amounts of radiation." Another American extremist lab episode occurred at the University of Pennsylvania. "To study the results of head trauma, primates were strapped into machinery to receive high-impact blows to the head. A video camera captured footage of vivisectionists taunting the injured animals, who were left with severe brain damage." This report, via LCA (Last Chance for Animals), reveals the barbarous nature of events in well funded laboratories. The LCA version is brief and sanitised, and not even remotely exaggerated.
The undercover video of 1983 at the University of Pennsylvania caused a strong reaction. This university received a million dollars of taxpayer money every year, for thirteen years, to research human head injuries arising from motoring and sports accidents. The vivisectors chose to abuse baboons instead. The supervisor Dr. Gennarelli insisted that the stunning savagery was legitimate, and that there should be "no unnecessary fuss." The Gennarelli lab was closed. The manic proceedings in that lab were by no means unique, in view of other data.
Some vivisection laboratories in America and elsewhere are described as being worse than nazi concentration camps. The casual vivisector attitude to injury, agony, mutilation, and death is a psychological drawback of suspect dimensions. In view of the atrocities frequently encountered in detailed reports, vivisection has been described in such terms as medical fraud.
Asian laboratories are also notorious; in some countries there is no law controlling animal experiments. However, some recent breakthroughs have occurred in Asian sectors to offset the abuse of animals. The IAAPEA (International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals) is a relevant multi-language web source.
The cause of saving laboratory animals in China has been accompanied by developments in India, where the extensive dissection of animals by university undergraduates has been an unfortunate consequence of adopting outdated and primitive Western methods of science. A new plan for alternative habits in this direction means that 18 million animals are saved in India, offsetting the activities of traders in live and dead animals. Furthermore, a new door has been opened via the first anti-vivisection society recently launched in Iran, where due information has been slow to percolate.
The prospect of alternative humane research is still formative, and handicapped by animal experiments. In a global context, the laboratory exploitation of animals links with big business concerns and animal dealers who traffic in primates and other unfortunate creatures. Insensitive government officials have been too permissive, and deserve accusations of acute neglect.
"Many different kinds of experiments take place - painful and lethal diseases are inflicted on animals; animals are isolated, starved, burned, blinded, poisoned, irradiated, and they are still used to test a wide range of substances from food additives to cleaning products. All of the animals used in experiments are killed. After years of gradual decline, recent statistics (from 2002 onwards) have shown a steady increase in the number of animal experiments taking place, and the advent of genetic engineeering threatens to continue this upward trend.... Differences between the infinitely complex biological systems of different species of animals mean that data gained from experiments on nonhumans are an unreliable and dangerous guide to the human condition." (Animal Experiments)
In Britain, the Home Office figures for 2011 revealed nearly four million declared experiments; more cats and rabbits were subjected to tortures than before, although the biggest increase was in fish and bird experiments. Vast numbers of mice were victims as ever, and about half of the mice were "subjected to genetic modifications designed to induce disease and weaknesses." The mice "are poisoned, damaged, analysed and often literally binned." The insane scenario has been described in terms of "a depressing picture of pointless animal suffering, wasted resources, and a government adept in the dark arts of duplicity and cynicism." See Number of Animal Experiments Continue to Soar.
In 2012, the number of lab animals in Britain exceeded four million, and included "mice, cats, dogs, birds, and horses" (Dr Hadwen Trust outraged). There was also an increase in the use of primates. The politics of animal testing have been surveyed by the RSPCA. The enormous complication known as biotechnology is viewed by critics as an exploitive commercial and vivisector pest.
The plight of mice and rats in laboratories is too often neglected. Vivisectors consider such small animals to be easily dispensable. An undercover BUAV investigation in 2012 revealed disturbing events at a leading British lab (Imperial College, London). The commentary refers to "the shocking way in which animals were killed - all to the relentless blaring sounds of pop music." Guillotines for rodents are not impressive for the cause of bloodthirsty science. "The research involved the deliberate affliction of major organ damage, surgical mutilation and invasive head surgery."
Mice, rats, and rabbits are heavy casualties, to say the least. Rabbits are some of the least offensive and most helpless creatures on earth, and the suffering meted out to them by medical science and commerce is to be condemned. There are still so many compliant people who buy Torture Cosmetics and related products supplied by, e.g., a company who makes an annual profit in terms of billions of dollars. The cruel Draize eye irritancy test is unreliable. See also the drug injections at Lab test horror: Terrified rabbits.
2. The Cosmetic Pain
One aspect of animal experiments is cosmetic testing, which means another surfeit of pain. Commercial companies have been lobbying the European Union (EU) for the sale of animal-tested cosmetics, and their output should be avoided. In March 2013, the European Union legislated to prevent all cosmetic animal testing. This belated progress must be viewed in terms of the slow and modified response to this major issue occurring over forty years. The issue was brought to public attention in Britain by BUAV in 1973. The NAVS (National Anti-Vivisection Society) were campaigning on this issue in 1980, calling for a total ban on the use of animals for testing cosmetic and domestic products. Even now, major cosmetic firms are still agitating against the marketing ban, and household product tests are still permitted in Europe. The afflicting situation outside the EU (and UK) remains grim on all counts in many countries.
"Although cosmetic testing has been banned in the UK since 1998 and laws in Europe have banned the testing of cosmetic ingredients since 2009, animal experiments for cosmetics are required by law in China." (Cosmetic Companies putting Money before Ethics)
The ban occurred in Britain during 1997-98, in two instalments. The EU grasped the implications more slowly, but did follow on. Asian drawbacks have been attended by the factor of Western cosmetic companies opportunistically choosing to base in China. The EU legislation in 2013 means that EU countries will not sell cosmetics tested on animals elsewhere in the world. One significance is that unscrupulous companies in such places as America, Japan, and China will miss out on a lucrative market. (Cosmetic Testing Ends in Europe)
Another recent development is that India has banned animal testing for cosmetics after an intense public campaign. The date was June 2013. "The Bureau of Indian Standards has today approved the removal of any mention of animal tests from the country's cosmetics standard. The use of modern non-animal alternative tests also becomes mandatory." (Historic Ban on Cosmetics Animal Testing) There is hope for a similar change in China.
There is no room for complacency in supermarkets. "Everything from drain cleaner to washing up liquid can currently be tested on animals with few restrictions." (BUAV) In a technological world that is out of control, testing chemicals is an ugly business.
3. Health Charities Abuse
The British public must develop far more caution about health charities that seek donations. "Public donations are used by charities to fund experiments in which animals have cancers grown on their backs, have limbs broken, and are left crippled.... The good news is that there are almost twice as many charities which do not fund animal experiments, as those which do. The bad news is that some of the largest charities in the UK are funding shocking animal experiments." (About Vivisection)
Health charities like Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation are controversial. The accusation from critics is that such projects are strongly disposed to animal testing. The popular Cancer Research UK has been given a bad rating by the National Anti-Vivisection Society.
In 2011, Animal Aid launched a publicity campaign over this matter, referring to over sixty offending charities, though targeting four major ones (including Cancer Research UK) with a total income of over £700 million per year. This initiative was opposed by pro-experiment figures such as Lord Willis, spokesman for the Association of Medical Research Charities. The opponents proclaim the mandate of medical progress at the cost of animal suffering. The entrenched idea that progress legitimates suffering may be considered wanting. The vivisection advocates say that opposition to them is irresponsible, and guilty of delaying progress.
Three out of the "big four" UK charities claimed that no animal bigger than a rat was involved in their laboratory agenda. The British Heart Foundation evidently did conduct experiments on "other animals," but would not disclose the details. One of the four charities here was the Alzheimer's Society, who funded a repugnant series of brain injury experiments on mice at Edinburgh University. This was for the strained purpose of studying how mice respond to memory testing, a severe ordeal for mice which can continue for ten days or more. Critics say that such research is futile, being an attempt to reproduce findings that have already been discovered in humans. Yet in 2011, an Edinburgh researcher received from the same charity a grant of £335,000 to brain damage mice for a further three years. See Edinburgh's Victims of Charity.
Animal Aid cite Professor Lawrence Hanson, who has stated: "The species differences that have evolved over millions of years make animal models largely useless, except for the purpose of enhancing scientific careers and attracting lots of grant money." Opponents of animal testing have provided many examples of failures and errors involved in the reliance upon vivisection (e.g., the IIAPEA book Science on Trial by Robert Sharpe).
In the dispute over health charities, a spokesman from Humane Society International (HSI) urged donors to support medical charities which do not resort to animal research. Troy Seidle of HSI informs that it is "already possible, for one fifth the cost of a single animal cancer test, to screen up to 1,000 chemicals in 200 different robot-automated cell or gene tests in as little as 2 weeks." Seidle speaks of replacing "most, if not all, animal testing by 2025." The intervening years pose a huge ethical problem, and donors should choose progressive charities, not the outdated variety.
"Some health charities ask for donations to help people with diseases and disabilities yet spend the money to bankroll shocking experiments on dogs, rabbits, rats, mice, primates, hamsters, pigs, ferrets, frogs, fish, guinea pigs, sheep, birds, and other animals.... Enlightened charities focus their research where the best hope of treatment lies: with humans." (Health Charities and Animal Experimentation)
Additional drawbacks are created via the intensive profit-making output of animal-tested drugs which have been known to kill many humans. In 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported "that adverse reactions to prescription drugs (all of which must first pass a battery of animal tests) kill more than 100,000 humans each year. Animal tests failed to predict these dangers." (The Truth About Vivisection)
Cancer research was retarded in relation to tobacco. "Because animal experimentation did not link cigarette smoking with lung cancer, as clinical and epidemiological evidence had, warning labels on cigarettes were delayed for years. Hundreds of thousands of people died from lung cancer in the interim." (Vivisection: Animals in Research)
4. Descartes, Darwin, and Vivisection
Modern Western philosophy is ingloriously associated with vivisection and the abuse of animals. The entity in question is Rene Descartes (1596-1650), who became famous as a pioneer of the Scientific Revolution. I have attempted elsewhere to do justice to the tendencies of his overall thinking, although I have strong reservations, his flaws being all too obvious in relation to animals. Some investigation is necessary because of biographical lore and popular distortions. Descartes was a scientist who became associated with the formula: "I think, therefore I am." He thought in a crudely mechanistic fashion that accompanied his departure from Roman Catholic orthodoxy. His theories were systematised soon after his death by "Cartesian" followers.
Descartes believed that animals were automatons. This hopeless theory was singularly convenient for offensive experiments on living animals, which Descartes evidently conducted, although the extent of his activity in this respect is quite uncertain. The widespread vogue for experiments fell to those with no insight. The followers of Descartes, meaning the Cartesians, became notorious for brutal laboratory practices. A very early report, dating to the 1650s, has received different interpretations.
"The scientists administered beatings to dogs with perfect indifference and made fun of those who pitied the creatures as if they felt pain. They said the animals were clocks; that the cries they emitted when struck were only the noise of a little spring that had been touched, but that the whole body was without feeling. They nailed the poor animals up on boards by their four paws to vivisect them to see the circulation of the blood, which was a great subject of controversy." (Vivisection)
A feasible deduction has been that this description refers to a Jesuit school, although an early Cartesian environment has also been surmised. The extroverted Descartes himself dissected human corpses, and describes his own vivisection experiment on a living rabbit. His faulty logic of "animals are machines" inspired vivisectionist activity amongst his early followers. For centuries their objectionable attitude has conditioned laboratory conduct, which operated at the most primitive level, while continually asserting a superior role. This attitude was sustained by twentieth century behaviourism, a barbaric retrogression to the seventeenth century.
The key British biologist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) did not practice vivisection, and credited animals with feeling; nevertheless, he did not censor animal experiments, instead endorsing these for the purpose of scientific research. Darwin's horizons did not extend beyond the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876, which effectively legalised vivisection, providing secrecy for laboratory activity. This muted animal protection law was strongly criticised by the National Anti-Vivisection Society, founded in London in 1875. Darwin wrote to a correspondent in 1871: "I quite agree that it [vivisection] is justifiable for real investigations on physiology.... It is a subject that makes me sick with horror, so I will not say another word about it, else I shall not sleep tonight" (Animal Testing, accessed 04/12/2012). The easy route to sleep is not necessarily the best one. Too many animal victims can never sleep, save in death.
The hideous march of progress did not stop world wars, nuclear arsenals, and ecological deficits, but of course, such drawbacks are too often camouflaged by those seeking honours and salary. The Japanese intensively copied Western laboratory animal atrocities after losing a vicious war in which they resorted to human vivisection. Elsewhere, the Nazis performed medical experiments on many Jewish victims, their diabolical agenda converging with the general insensitivity created by laboratory experiments on animals. As with animals, so with humans. If they were not your race, it did not matter. Josef Mengele, a German SS officer active at Auschwitz, would, e. g., perform vivisections on pregnant Jewish women before despatching them to gas chambers. "Mengele was a doctor who became mad because of the power he was given." Some men are so vile that no description can encompass their crime. Animals are angels by comparison.
5. Peter Singer and Animal Rights
The Australian philosopher Peter Singer contributed an influential counter-thesis to the laboratory abuse of animals. His Animal Liberation (1975; new edn, 2001) was an important reverse of the Cartesian assumptions and the intervening three centuries of appalling "scientific" behaviour. Much has been written about that book, and of course, the critics resented the adverse implications for their laboratory salary. Singer argued against speciesism, in which humans have a strongly entrenched assumption of legitimacy over animals. He urges that all sentient beings should be regarded as having moral rights, thus granting an equality to animals.
Singer has emphasised that so many animal experiments are unproductive, which is actually a minor point for anyone sufficiently sensitive to forms of life outside their own selfish human existence (incidentally, I was an opponent of vivisection a decade before Singer's book appeared, and witnessed the incredible human neglect of this issue at that period; I was related to BWC in the 1960s). Singer's argument led to the appearance of animal rights movements in many countries. A rationalist in the Utilitarian tradition, Professor Singer gained the Chair of Ethics at Princeton University. See his recap of events in Animal Liberation at 30.
Deriving inspiration from Singer, Tom Regan wrote The Case for Animal Rights (University of California Press, 1983). This influential book urges the total abolition of animal experiments. Professor Regan also presses for the termination of commercial animal farming and commercial sport hunting and trapping. The objectives won some support, and also much opposition. The statistics can be depressing. "It is estimated that 500 million animals a year are sacrificed to science" (see Regan, ed., Animal Sacrifices, Temple University Press, 1986). See also Regan, Defending Animal Rights (University of Illinois, 2001); Regan, Empty Cages (2004). Some regard Regan as the major advocate of animal rights.
When Cambridge and Oxford celebrate a new subject, one can be sure that it has arrived. See David DeGrazia, Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status (Cambridge University Press, 1996); DeGrazia, Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002). DeGrazia is a Professor of Philosophy at George Washington University, and complements the argument. In his country, it is impossible to ignore the evils of American factory farming: "At a slaughterhouse, hens are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt until an automated knife cuts their throats" (Last Frontier of Bigotry, 2005). See also Gail A. Eisnitz, Slaughterhouse: the shocking story of greed, neglect, and inhumane treatment inside the U.S. meat industry (1997; new edn, 2007). This book describes the almost unbelievable fate of horses, cows, calves, pigs, and chickens in barbarous America, where skinning alive is commonplace.
Another name to reckon with in this field is Gary L. Francione, a Professor of Law who takes a firm abolitionist stance (empty cages, not bigger ones), advocating a more rigorous ideal than animal welfare, which is considered a hindering dilution in relation to animal rights. Merely to improve the condition of animals is not the same thing as freeing them. The property status of animals must be eliminated. Ethical veganism emerges here in a perspective of total non-violence. See Francione and Robert Garner, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation (Columbia University Press, 2010).
The academic giants of animal rights do not agree on every point. Their eminence is such that opponents cannot ignore them. Despite the emerging canon of animal liberation, a great deal remains to be done before any complacency is justified. The following is a snippet from a multi-emphasis citizen book suppressed by Wikipedia:
"As a consequence of efforts made by the RSPCA and some magistrates, over fifty people in Britain were sent to prison on charges of cruelty to animals in 2002. In the problematic rural sector of the West Country, RSPCA officers investigated thousands of complaints and rescued almost a thousand animals. Over 200 convictions resulted. Some spectators say that the jail sentences are trifling in proportion to the crimes. In contrast, many vivisection crimes are zealously guarded by big business and high salaries." (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, Citizen Initiative 2005, p. 339)
Today, there are vast numbers of suffering animals trapped in British and Continental laboratories, a situation permitted by gravely flawed governments. The more adamant critics (a growing number of them) say that vivisectionists should be jailed or deported. The pitiless Roman Catholic Inquisition can be compared to "scientific" crimes of the laboratory phase. The Cartesian lack of ethics was no advance upon the religious tortures. The situation in America is currently a grave reflection upon the so-called greatest civilisation ever known.
"Every year, tens of millions of animals are dissected, infected, injected, gassed, burned and blinded in hidden laboratories on college campuses and research facilities throughout the U.S. Still more animals are used to test the safety of cosmetics, household cleaners and other consumer products." (The Truth About Vivisection)
Hideous laboratory crime is justified by medical science on the pretext of curing human diseases. Perhaps the biggest disease is cruelty, which is endemic to horror labs in America and Europe, and also many other countries in the world. Civilisation is a long way off, indeed remote.
There are other forms of science to be preferred, such as astronomy, climate science, and social science. However, academics are zealous about their sciences. I now call my citizen "science of culture" (anthropography) a mere citizen philosophy. No status or equality is implied. All the sciences are cordoned; the ghost of Aristotle is no more generous than his original face. Science has always been a caste/privileged education phenomenon (with a few exceptions like Michael Faraday and the disputed outsider Karl Marx).
6. Last Chance for Animals
A major voice in the animal rights movement has been Chris DeRose, an American who in 1984, founded LCA (Last Chance for Animals). He has been committed to the non-violent investigation and exposure of animal exploitation, with abundant opportunities in his native country.
"One tactic that rocked the foundation of animal experimentation was a daring daytime break-in at UCLA's Brain Research Institute, documented by a film crew that showed the shocking truth of animal 'research.' This first-ever live action footage clearly demonstrated that animal rights activists do not fabricate laboratory horrors, as they had been accused of for years." (Founder's Story)
That event occurred in 1988. UCLA means University of California Los Angeles. The revelations about retrograde academic standards have still not been fully assimilated, and much remains to be done in the sphere of potential education. The subject of animal rights did not really become well known in America until 1999, when DeRose pioneered "the first animal rights television show designed for the mainstream public."
DeRose accumulated evidence which resulted in America's "first state prison sentences for multiple-count animal cruelty cases." He campaigned against the Coulston Foundation, a primate-testing laboratory notorious for violations, and which closed down in 2002. The following year, LCA was victorious in the exposure of a very exploitive animal dealer, who received a heavy fine. "This was the largest multi-agency investigation on any animal issue in U.S. history." Stolen pets is just one of the criminal subjects requiring opposition and rectification.
7. Violations in American Universities
Various college campuses in America acquired a predatory reputation. Many universities in that country have been fined for violating the Animal Welfare Act. Probably the most well known scene of violations was Columbia University, whose animal experiments were suspended in 1986 by the National Institutes of Health. Subsequently, a number of Columbia projects aroused controversy. In 2004, this institution paid a trifling fine of 2,000 dollars for several violations. By that time, Columbia had about 100,000 animals in confinement.
In 2002, a veterinary worker in a Columbia laboratory divulged information that was ignored by supervisors. "Baboons were used in horrific experiments, in which their eyes were cut out - sometimes while they were conscious - and the arteries to their brains were clamped to crudely induce strokes" (Columbia Cruelty). Another violation is worded as: "One experimenter at Columbia implanted steel pipes in monkeys' heads to observe the effects of stress on their menstrual cycles. Undercover video footage shows monkeys with pipes protruding from their skulls and blood dripping down their faces." Another sample of high salary sadism reads: "In other crude experiments, pregnant baboons had backpacks strapped to their bodies so that nicotine could be pumped directly into their fetuses in order to cause birth defects."
In subsequent years, Columbia was upbraided for dozens of additional violations, and failed to consider alternatives to animal experimentation. "Despite its horrendous track record of abuse and violations, Columbia University - and its affiliated Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute - still collect hundreds of millions of dollars a year in taxpayer-funded grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately half of which is spent on projects that involve animal experimentation" (source last linked).
Another well known instance is that of UCSF (University of California San Francisco). In 2004, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed a complaint against UCSF, citing 59 (or 75) violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including failure to treat monkeys that were visibly ill, and failure to administer painkillers to animals after surgeries. In 2005, UCSF was fined over 90,000 dollars. Subsequently, UCSF were accused of more than a hundred additional violations, including those mentioned by IDA (In Defense of Animals), a lobby which called for a removal of UCSF accreditation. IDA reported, for instance, "the agonising fate of a female monkey who, apart from her multiple invasive brain surgeries in a Parkinson's study, suffered further extreme stress due to painful complications from a piece of plastic acrylic left in her head for two years."
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) had much to say about UCSF, especially when six Californian medics filed a lawsuit against that body in 2007. "Many university-affiliated research centers across the country violate the Animal Welfare Act time and again - then use state funds to pay the fines and simply continue their experiments" (quote from "Illegal Experiments," Good Medicine, 2007, Vol. 16 no. 4, and online at pcrm.org). The PCRM described one of the violations:
"In one experiment [for Alzheimer's disease], UCSF researchers drilled holes in the skulls of macaque monkeys, bolted metal restraining devices into their heads, and attached data recording devices to track their movements and brain function while the monkeys 'worked' to receive rewards such as water. This experiment caused great pain and distress to the animals. Moreover, according to Dr. [Larry] Hansen, a neurologist who specialises in Alzheimer's disease, it won't yield results that are applicable to humans."
The lawsuit launched by the physicians and Californian taxpayers was countered by The Regents of the University of California. The general counsel for PCRM stated: "UCSF has broken the law in its mistreatment of dogs, monkeys, and other animals.... we are asking the court to halt these unlawful experiments and to appoint an independent monitor to ensure that any future research is in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act."
The elite University Regents were successful in persuading the San Francisco Superior Court to dismiss the complaint of medics and taxpayers. The dismissed party subsequently made a Petition for Review, which was denied by the Supreme Court of California in 2009 (Law Case). In other worlds, the New World denial of justice is much the same as in the Old World, where status elites controlled revenues and dictated policies over the centuries.
In 2007, over 17,000 violations of the Animal Welfare Act were reported nationwide by the US Department of Agriculture. Half a million animals were inolved in these laboratory violations. This large number did not include mice, rats, and birds, participants sacrificed in vast numbers by American laboratories, and who are not covered by the Welfare Act. The excesses and atrocities have continued. See also Against Vivisection.
8. Brain Studies and Neuroscience
The subject of animal rights is sometimes contrasted with neuroscience, the latter being seen as a virtual enemy due to the associations of laboratory research. My own approach to brain studies was in the capacity of a totally independent citizen thinker, with no link to laboratories.
Citizens are often despised by academics for being ignorant of their most elevated subject, i.e., science. I spent much time at one period trying to ascertain the truth about science at a major library in Britain. My private research (unpaid) was linked to philosophical interests. I produced an amateur book entitled Psychology in Science (1983), and some academics were surprised at the force of my resistance to the relativist theories of Paul K. Feyerabend, a philosopher associated with "new age" leanings to alternative therapy. The analysts conceded that I was definitely not a new age writer, and noted with some interest that I argued for a form of scientific method in the face of relativism.
I did not at first detail my citizen method, which subsequently emerged a little more fully in the book Meaning in Anthropos (1991). This was championed on Wikipedia, but squashed by a British plant biologist using the pseudonym of Smartse; the suppressor had not read my books, and wrongly insinuated that I was a "new age" exponent, even though he supported some American guru cultists in a very suspect campaign on Wikipedia.
During the 1970s, brain studies became popular via The Psychology of Consciousness (1972), a book by Dr. Robert Ornstein. I also read the contrasting work by British neuroscientist Colin Blakemore entitled Mechanics of the Mind (1977). The latter book repudiated Ornstein's syncretist version, and argued from within the traditional scientific perspective (I discovered years later that the author was a supporter of animal experiments). Seeking to know more about the background of diverse theories involved, I arrived at the stage of reading scientific journals of medical and neuroscientific relevance. I had to learn new terminologies in the process.
The consequence was my disappointment at the conflicting theories, the obvious lack of any ultimate knowledge, speculative provisos which hedged every turn of the journal corridors, and yet other drawbacks. I was shocked by the animal experimentation encountered (and implied) in some of the articles I read. I soon lost interest in this form of literature.
By that time, it was well known what could happen to animals in laboratories. A 1970s television programme had been unusually graphic. A scientist was caught on camera stabbing a cat to death in the barbarous manner favoured by some elite laboratory personnel. See also Rights of the Animals.
I no longer believe there is any point in citizen reference to brain complexities. The so-called "brain/mind problem" has been elaborately argued in numerous formats, and there is no academic concensus on this subject. Furthermore, some neuroscientists tend to zealously regard the brain as their unique possession, in the sense that citizens (and even other academics) should not dare to probe their conclusions. The "split brain" experiments associated with Roger Sperry (1913-94) created recognition of a basic lateralised cerebral function. The fact is that we all have a complex brain with the hemispheric analytic/holistic dimensions. The "brain maps" of numerous cerebral sub-zones can be variously interpreted. Much is conjecture and protracted argument. Prodigious confusion has resulted, in both the academic and public sectors.
Professor Sperry became an anti-behaviorist mentalist in his significant book Science and Moral Priority (1983). The temperament of neuroscientists does vary. One of the most readable "brain books" is The Private Life of the Brain (2000) by Susan Greenfield, which does not advocate vivisection but does briefly refer, e.g., to "experimental animals" (page 4) in a context of removal of a cerebral organ, resulting in "sham" rage. This sort of operation is very controversial. However, the basic theme of Baroness (Professor) Greenfield relates to the cerebral component of human emotion, and the relation of this to the human self.
Sperry's Science and Moral Priority was consided useful in my formative version of anthropography (Meaning in Anthropos, pp. 22-3). I had more critically approached The Self and Its Brain (1977) by Karl Popper and John C. Eccles, the philosopher of science and neuroscientist respectively (both now deceased). I was, for instance, in opposition to the Ecclesian belief that animals are automatons, a belief reflecting the vivisectionist tradition:
Fortunately, humans can experience without knowing the vast number of brain neurons involved. Such emotions as rage can be overcome. The scope of human consciousness, greater or lesser, will not be charted by animal experiments. Logically, that scope will vary greatly between different humans.
"He [Eccles] argues that animals would still react to injury even when unconscious. Eccles illustrates his contention with the affirmation: 'You can have a decorticate animal with its whole cerebral hemispheres removed and it would still react to pain and show rage and fear.' Regrettably therefore, in the anthropographic perspective at least, dualist interactionism remains barbaric despite (or because of) its theological undertones. The Cartesian principles are slow to die a painless death, yet they must somehow be replaced by an effective philosophy and an effective methodology suited to evolutionary goals as distinct from cul-de-sacs" (Shepherd, Meaning in Anthropos: Anthropography as an interdisciplinary science of culture, 1991, p. 15).
Here one has to guard against the brain lore invented by drug promoters. As an extension, The Guardian did social damage in 2011 by displaying an article explicitly encouraging the use of LSD, and via the theme of LSD being a great spiritual teacher. The writer concerned has advertised a doctoral credential in parapsychology, and has become a "sceptic" and Zen enthusiast. Confusions are widespread. For instance, it is both futile and wrong to inject monkeys with cocaine and other drugs; that species is too advanced by human standards of indulgence. The citizen only needs to observe the behaviour of academic drug pushers, and to move in the opposite direction.
Professor Blakemore, the materialist sceptic, has commented on near-death experience (NDE), and including reference to the research of Dr. Peter Fenwick. This confrontation between neuroscience and neuropsychiatry reveals a divide between contrasting approaches. Dr. Fenwick is a long-term supporter of David Lorimer, promoter of the contested Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), whose very admixed membership has included at least one person claiming to come from another planet.
Some SMN discrepancies evoked a lengthy letter of complaint from the present writer, an epistle which mentioned other new age organisations also, notably the Findhorn Foundation. NDE is a fashionable topic in the evasive new age, who do not reply to lengthy letters of complaint but instead detour all criticism. Dr. Fenwick (like Lorimer) was one of those addressees who did not reply. Being near death may not solve any problems; others prefer to deal with urgent matters in the present.
Baroness Greenfield has appropriately warned about damaging effects of the internet on younger generation brains. This contention is said by critics to require further proof. Chinese scientists and other researchers have referred to "internet addiction disorder" (IAD), and indicate that web addicts contract undesirable brain changes, similar to those induced by drug and alcohol problems. This has been described as preliminary research. No proof of damage is needed for some in the older generation, who are strongly aware of internet drawbacks, and not merely for children. Climate science has been bashed by four letter word bloggers, and some adults have been victimised by internet trolls.
An acute form of blindness is required to discount the juvenile assimilation of pornography, bad language, and primitive grammar pervasive on the web. Twelve per cent of all websites are now pornographic (according to internet authorities), and twenty five per cent of all search engine requests relate to pornography. Further, the activity of drug promoters on the web is no valid reason to understate warnings about dangers and fatalities. As for violent video games, the recent real life death tolls (influenced by those games) are sufficient proof of screen danger for anyone still sane.
9. Aristotle and the Class System in Britain
It is not merely animals who are abused by deficient career roles, but humans. Many factors in this context are not widely recognised, and less so than with animals, ironically enough.
Over two thousand years ago, the ancient Greek scientist Aristotle endorsed slavery and supported the class system, being a conforming elitist of his time. In his Politics, he asserted that barbarians (non-Greeks, potential slaves) existed to serve the more civilised and rational Greeks. Aristotle is also counted among the first vivisectionists, describing in his Parts of Animals how he dissected animals to gain a knowledge of anatomy; he confused this activity with philosophy.
Aristotle nevertheless outlined a moral theory in which animals "share with humans many of the same psychological capacities, including, for example, sensation and desire" (Tom Regan, Defending Animal Rights, University of Illinois, 2001, p. 6). Aristotle was superior to Descartes in this respect, but he also asserted that "animals exist for the purpose of advancing the good of human beings" (ibid.). Aristotelian thinking assumed that inferiors had to serve the interests of superiors. He believed that women were inferior to men, and defined "slaves by nature" as lacking the ability to grasp truths through reason, which here equated with virtue.
Aristotle and other elite Greeks perpetuated strong class bias against the masses, who were considered unfit for philosophy and science. The lower classes were viewed as an uneducated rabble limited to mundane occupations. The Platonists and Aristotelians both comprised elitist traditions of education. A fair number of the pedagogues were apparently paederasts; they never did any work. Servants and slaves could be treated abominably.
Subsequently, at the "university" in Alexandria, Aristotelian scientists are reported by the Roman medic Celsus to have dissected living men, meaning low class criminals taken from the jails, a trend doubtless facilitated by the class snobbery of that Ptolemaic period.
In the contemporary era, so much more advanced according to official and popular reports, slavery is outmoded, but the class system is still present to a strong degree. The academic ramparts against citizens are not explicitly declared, but exist at every turn of the academic lifestyle of near cloistered ease. Keep Out, that is the unofficial ruling. Scholars and scientists are much the same in this respect, while many academic philosophers are likewise zealous in the undeclared cause of elitism.
The current social situation in Britain, afflicted by crime and delinquency, does not support the popular beliefs about an advanced lifestyle. Mobile phones are no index to intelligence; internet trolls prove a primitive mentality. Moreover, current society attests a semi-feudal complexion in the large number of entities asserting their titles of Lord and Sir, some of them possessing very substantial investments, and not always of the most admirable kind.
The veteran British Royal Society is not known for scruple about vivisection. Prime Minister Tony Blair and Lord Sainsbury (Minister for Science) were amongst the high officials in Britain who have expressed support for animal experiments. Critics say that faulty decision-making is a blight in high places.
Pop stars have gained giant status awards, despite their participation in the ruin of culture since the psychedelic era of Lennon and Jagger. Yet Sir Mick Jagger and his companions have been celebrated in the psychedelic sector by Professor Richard Tarnas. It is not difficult to feel that a disproportionate attention is given to pop music by comparison with the neglected intellectual priorities relating to citizen rights. Sir Jimmy Savile (1926-2011) is a perverse example of the "charity" bestowed upon the victimised public. The media camouflage protecting this very active paedophile was fatal. In that direction, the BBC have come under strong scrutiny.
Billionaires are at a global premium, and can spend many millions on crude daubs ("contemporary art") which act as status symbols (the major centre for this acquisition being New York). What a pity that billionaires (and millionaires) do not give more money to animal charities than to the daub market. They could so easily give a boost to incentives like the National Anti-Vivisection Society, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, the RSPCA, and the Dr Hadwen Trust. Similarly, In Defense of Animals and Last Chance for Animals. The sample list continues with projects like Animal Aid, Humane Society International, and The Brooke. In some poor countries like Ethiopia, small female donkeys are known to pull a load of 400 litres of water along rough roads every day. This truly is "an incredible load for a small creature" (The Brooke). The harness can create painful sores, and untended hooves can cause a bad fall.
Complaints from the majority prevented Cambridge University from "building a massive primate testing facility," a situation indicating academic tendencies to exploit animals. Further, the infamous pig-to-primate organ transplants of the 1990s were conducted by a biotechnology company acting "in collaboration with the University of Cambridge." Severe and fatal suffering was inflicted on hundreds of primates as evidenced by detailed records relating to Huntingdon Life Sciences laboratories. The inhumane drawback was called xenotransplantation. The backward government politics of the situation should be well known. Hearts and kidneys from genetically engineered pigs were transplanted into the necks, abdomens and chests of monkeys and baboons. "The demands of the powerful and the influential hold more sway than the scientific reality" (quote from xenodiaries).
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
December 2012 (modified July 2013)
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R.D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded December 2012, last modified July 2013.