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Mad Science ! February 25, 2009

Posted by Chris in Medicine, Science & society.
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First off let me just give a brief over view of what I’d like to accomplish via this blog.
I’m going to talk about animal testing though out the majority of this installment.
Then I will follow up with a second post about human testing (as per my comment in class about the pregnant mothers being subjected to radiation/uranium tasting on their unborn children)

My goal is not to gross you out, though in honesty – I hope I do.
My goal is for you to walk away from this blog, your computer..
and some time, maybe 5 min.. maybe 5 days from now think back to what I say.
Think back to the videos and pictures I’ll post and really ask yourself – at what cost..

If you don’t feel a connection to animals – I understand, well I don’t really understand, but I know some people don’t like animals. The next installment will deal with human testing – primarily Japan,Russia, Germany and USA.
Maybe you will connect better with seeing 1/2 dissected mothers, while their unborn children lay next to them.

.. anyways enough of that..
on to Mad science !

In my class presentation I showed you experimentation video from the 50’s, 60’s and even as recent as the mid 70’s. The cold war acted as a catalyst for mad science to take place. We were looking for anything to beat the Russians at/with and vice-verse.  It only stands to reason that median would be on the list. This begs the question, how does one show their medical superiority? The answer is easy, perform the most outrageous experiments on humans and animals. The more extreme the experiment the more press it gets and thus the only saying goes, no press is bad press.
Ok you might be thinking that’s all good and dandy, but why did this continue into the 70’s ?
It’s because the idea that the most extreme experiments win you the publicity still holds true today. The difference is today many “scientists” try to conceal their experimentation as best as possible, allowing only enough proof to show in order to secure grants. This happens for many reasons: fear of someone else coming along and doing the same experiments, fear of protest from the general public… the list really does go on.

Is animal testing morally right?
Yes No
Human life has greater intrinsic value than animal life Animals have as much right to life as human beings
Legislation protects all lab animals from cruelty or mistreatment Strict controls have not prevented researchers from abusing animals – although such instances are rare
Millions of animals are killed for food every year – if anything, medical research is a more worthy death Deaths through research are absolutely unnecessary and are morally no different from murder
Few animals feel any pain as they are killed before they have the chance to suffer When locked up they suffer tremendous stress. Can we know they don’t feel pain?
1: http://www.animalport.com/animal-testing/animal-testing-facts-figures.html

Compelling arguments on both sides. I am really torn between 2 mindsets. The first is if this is what it takes to continue the ‘evolution’ of our species then so be it! The second state of mind is, basically how I connect with the animals. It’s strange that I have less of a connection to people who willingly go into human testing than those animals who are forced into it.

You might be thinking – well, yes we test animals, but we have ethics boards to prevent cruelty and unusual/unneeded experiments.  You would be right, “institutional review board (IRB), also known as an independent ethics committee (IEC) or ethical review board (ERB)” are there to protect animals! Except they don’t apply to government or industry work. For government or industry work the only requirement they need to meet when testing or running experiments is that they not break the law.

Here are some videos that I hope resonate with you, in what way I don’t know.
Maybe you will be sickened by them, maybe you’ll just brush them off as a part of life.
I just hope they effect you in some way. –
Please watch at least the first video, it will only take a few min of your time.

In this day and age, do we really need animal testing?
Is this science or is this cruelty to animals?
If its both science and cruel –
should we accept the results, and by accepting the results are we paving the way for more mad science to take place ?

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Comments»

1. Greg - February 25, 2009

Its because the idea that the most extreme experiments win you the publicity still holds true today. The difference is today many “scientists” try to conceal their experimentation as best as possible,

Those mad geniuses, concealing their experimentation to win publicity!

In this day and age, do we really need animal testing ?..

Yes. Your attempt to tar all animal testing with the most egregious abuses is a transparent emotional ploy, and the implicit alternative (release drugs to the public, or move to human trials, without testing in animals) is monstrous.

Chris - February 25, 2009

little knowledge is a great danger Greg.

I understand animal testing was necessary in the past as they did not have the technology available as we do today.
Now we have nano-mapping technology that allows us to map a human brain with minimal surgery. A simple outpatient procedure.
We have synthetic organs used for testing drugs – we have the ability to stop the use of animal testing.

Why don’t we ? – because a synthetic testing organ is more expensive then an animal.

So before you state my argument is ” the most egregious abuses is a transparent emotional ploy, and the implicit alternative” read up on the subject.. get educated and try again..

2. Greg - February 25, 2009

Now we have nano-mapping technology that allows us to map a human brain with minimal surgery. A simple outpatient procedure.

We do?? We’re going to have to get the time travel guys in here to explain how you’re posting from the future, then, because the last time I checked the ability to do this (image reconstruction via fMRI; full article available here) was still pretty new and exciting. I’m especially curious as to what good it would do us to “map” the brain, given that we don’t have the computational power to simulate it (and even if we could, experimenting on an accurate simulation of a human brain is surely a bigger ethical problem than experimenting on animals).

Similarly, if we have synthetic organs good enough to test drugs on, why are people still dying for want of organ transplants? Even if such organs did exist, testing in a single organ would not allow us to see system-wide effects or interactions between the effects of a drug on different organs. If we wanted to test that, we’d need to test it on a whole system of organs at once, and we usually call that an “animal.”

So before you state my argument is ” the most egregious abuses is a transparent emotional ploy, and the implicit alternative” read up on the subject.. get educated and try again..

I stated that? As far as I can tell, you just copy and pasted a random segment of my sentence, because it doesn’t make any sense at all to claim that your argument is “the most egregious abuses… and the implicit alternative.” It makes plenty of sense to call it a blatant appeal to emotion, though.

Chris - February 25, 2009

Maybe I should have been more specific – my apologies.
Hooking up patience to brain map equipment during brain surgery is all but common practice now. Especially now that we have perfected (and are still perfecting) nano technology, we have the the power to map extremely specific areas in the brain. The maps allow us to find the hot spots and thus avoid them during surgery, but also so study the use for these spots. We also can test to see what these spots are used for (much of which we already know)
Please see this CNN report for an example:
Link

Next up on the list
“Similarly, if we have synthetic organs good enough to test drugs on, why are people still dying for want of organ transplants? ”

Because these ‘organs’ are machines – many of which are larger then the whole of a human torso – does it have to look and feel like an organ from a human body to be able to act as one ? … no according to scientist who know much more about these things then you or I – these synthetic organs seem to do the job quite well. – But again – they are also not identical looking / functioning to those we have in our bodies.

Your next point is a good one: – not to say the last points you made weren’t
“testing in a single organ would not allow us to see system-wide effects or interactions between the effects of a drug on different organs.”

Your right – it doesn’t give a good view of a system wide effect.
But then again – neither does animal testing.
We find that the effects our drugs have on animals (and for that matter many of our surgical experiments) are completely different then the effects on a human.
Even our closes relative the monkey – shows drastically different “system wide effects” from drugs/surgery then we as humans do. This is one of the largest reasons why most drug tests don’t make it past the human testing stage – even when they make it past the animal testing stage with flying colours.

My apologies on cutting your last quote.
“Your attempt to tar all animal testing with the most egregious abuses is a transparent emotional ploy, and the implicit alternative (release drugs to the public, or move to human trials, without testing in animals) is monstrous.”
This is the quote in full.
well worded – very well worded actually.
My presentation is meant to pull on the heartstrings of those reading. Since emotions and morals are tightly woven together into the fiber of our conscience, I was hoping the emotional response would trigger a moral response.

I should have consulted with you while writing my paper- it would have opened many avenues I could have gone down while doing my presentation.

Keep the comments flowing !

3. Chris - February 25, 2009

Also side note, only roughly 20% of animal testing is for medical research. The vast majority is for psychology experimentation and also the beauty product industry.
Because god knows they have to know what happens if you get mascara in your eye.
:o(


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