The naked chutzpah and hypocrisy of an AR wackaloon

Aug 16 2013 Published by under Animals in Research, Conduct of Science

There's a new post up over at Speaking of Research that documents The Double Life of Dr. Lawrence A. Hansen. The most astonishing thing is that this AR wackanut has the gall to hold research funding as PI and publish papers that, you guessed it, involve animal research. Including a study in "mongrel dogs" [cited 21 times including twice in 2012] which he first authored some ten years before hitting the scene in outrage over med school physiology labs which used canine models.

Go Read.

32 responses so far

  • The Other Dave says:

    I am disappointed, DM. Your post shows no willingness to accurately understand Dr. Hansen's views or debate the ideas. It makes you look reactionary, exclusionary, and ignorant. I do not want people to think your post represents the thoughts of the majority of biomedical scientists. I do not believe they do.

    Dr. Hansen's position, as I understand it, has two main parts:

    1) Knowledge for knowledge sake is not enough justification for animal experiments.

    That is why it does not matter whether 92% of nature readers agree with the statement "animal research is essential to the advancement of biomedical science." In 1850, the vast majority of U.S. Southerners (and Northerners too a few decades earlier) would have agreed with the statement "Slavery is essential to the U.S. economy." Thankfully, some people thought otherwise.

    2) Curing human disease requires animal experimentation, but the best experimental model for this endeavor is humans themselves.

    Do you not agree that the best model for humans is other humans?

    I think the only part of Dr. Hansen's argument that is up for debate is whether it is feasible to get enough human volunteers to make sufficient progress understanding and curing disease. Dr. Hansen believes so, and his NIH funding proves that he is willing to try. I think this is commendable.

    Would you like to try again with a better post?

  • The Other Dave says:

    And since some may be wondering...

    Yes, we use mice in my lab. I justify it to Dr. Hansen and other animal rights advocates this way:

    1) Live mice are used only for relatively benign behavioral experiments.
    2) For everything else, mice are euthanized quickly and humanely before their tissues are harvested for experiments.

    Our use of mice in this way runs counter to Dr. Hansen's opinion that animal use cannot be morally justified. And actually, I agree. However, given the widespread unfettered roaming of house cats, the routine use of rodent poison, the mechanical harvesting of crops, and hundreds of other ways we humans regularly contribute to the suffering and death of mice, it seems a bit silly to get worked up about our stuff, which we think does contribute worthwhile things to society.

    Am I a hypocrite for agreeing with Dr. Hansen and yet using mice in my lab? Maybe. But I'd rather be a thoughtful hypocrite than an belligerent vivisectionist.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I understand his arguments. He is wrong. Today's case is that he is a hypocrite as well. As are most AR nuts and frankly most AR symps as well. As you demonstrate with your hypocrisy and careful parsing of what animal use you happen to find acceptable. That oh so conveniently is just what you do professionally, whodathunk.

  • Enkephalin says:

    Personally, I cannot stand hypocrites. I think that when your actions clearly contradict your deeply held ideals, Other Dave, then you have no intellectual honesty whatsoever. What use is it if your are "thoughtful", when those thoughts contradict what you do? What value can give your ideals if you yourself do not respect them?

    I use rats and mice in my lab in much the same way as you do. However, I do not delude myself thinking that the way I use them is more ethical than the way animals are used by other scientist. Animal Right activists condemn the use of any animal for any purpose, period. If you agree with that, you should act accordingly, become a vegan and not use animals in your experiment. And, while you are at it, not use any medication that has been developed using animal research

    You are very good a rationalization, though.

  • The Other Dave says:

    Oh, now we're all getting a bit carried away. I use natural resources. I eat. My very existence causes net death and suffering. I don't like death and suffering. Yet I'm not about to kill myself.

    Let's step back in to the real world and have a reasonable discussion.

    So, under what conditions is it not OK to kill a mouse?

    1) Killing the mouse will instantly magically cure a child's otherwise terminal cancer. OK/Not OK?

    2) Killing the mouse will instantly magically make a hangover go away.

    3) Killing the mouse will instantly magically make a pimple on a teenage girl's nose disappear before the prom. OK/Not OK?

    4) Killing the mouse because it is sort of fun to kill things. OK/Not OK?

    What if we substitute chimp for mouse? What if there is only a 10% chance of the proposed thing happening? What if it's a 0.000002% chance?

    If this stuff were so easy to figure out, even among practicing biomedical scientists, there wouldn't be IRBs and all the discussion. So let's stop pretending it's black and white. Instead of condemning a scientist who I suspect is way more successful than anyone blogging or commenting here (including me), how about we discuss the merits of his argument?

    So, DM. You say that Dr. Hansen is wrong. Do you agree with my summary of his arguments? If not, where did I go wrong? Regardless, how exactly do you think he is wrong? If you can't defend your opinion in a rational way here, why should some poor reader believe you should be entrusted with millions of taxpayer dollars and believe your opinions regarding drug effects?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Nobody does entrust "Drugmonkey" with any tax dollars whatsoever. So I fail to take your point.

  • The Other Dave says:

    It says right up there in the upper right of my screen that "DrugMonkey is an NIH-funded researcher..."

    Now stop squirming and evading like a 4 year old who has pooped his pants, and deal with the topic like a grown up.

  • Enkephalin says:

    Here is how I deal with those topics:

    1) "Knowledge for knowledge sake is not enough justification for animal experiments."

    I think it is enough justification. Knowledge is extremely valuable, is what makes us human. On the list of things we use animals for (food, clothing, entertainment, having something jumping on our lap when we can home) I would place knowledge close to the top of the list.

    2) "Curing human disease requires animal experimentation, but the best experimental model for this endeavor is humans themselves."

    Disagree. Humans are not very good experimental models. They are hard to breed, have a very long development time and their genes are hard to tamper with... Now, seriously, biomedical research is far more complex than creating disease models. This is the kind of simplistic arguments that ARs use all the time and are fundamentally wrong.

    As you said, is far from black & white.

  • Enkephalin says:

    But, more basically, I think that to leave an ethical life one should start by making his actions consistent with his principles - that is, by no being a hypocrite. What is good is to have any principles and ideals is you do not respect them? In practice, this means that if you think that drugs are bad, you should start by not taking them. If you think that it is unethical to keep and kill animals for food, you should become a vegan. And if you think that animal research is wrong, you should not do experiments on animals yourself. Furthermore, in the last case you should not profit from the results of animal research (i.e. medicines), the same way that when you think killing animals is unethical, you do not eat the meat of an animal even if you did not directly kill it.

    Therefore, I do think that you, Other Dave, and Dr. Hansen are hypocrites. You say that using animals for research is immoral, and then you do precisely that. If you think that some use of animals in research is ethical, then you are in a basic disagreement with Dr. Hansen, PeTA and other animal right ideologues. In their eyes, you are a vivisectionist. Like Groucho Marx once said "we have already established what you are, now we are just discussing the price".

  • Juan Lopez says:

    I disagree with both sides.
    The other Dave: the fact that millions or billions of mice are killed elsewhere does not justify using them in research. your arguments imply that a murderer could get away by saying "sure, I killed that family. I value those things i took very much. Plus, what's the big deal, there are plenty of humans and they do much worse things to each other. I killed them humanely". Bollocks.

    Enkephalin: so, we can't take advantage of anything partially resulting from something we disagree with? That's crazy! So, I disagree with Europeans violent conquest of America. What to do? I can't be in America because it is the result of something I disagree with, and I can't be in Europe because those countries profited from their conquest. Same story for every other continent. Can't live anywhere? Can't be part of society? Of course we can disagree with some forms of medical research and still use the results obtained. Double bollocks.

  • Paul says:

    Other Dave, you are missing the point. It's not Hansen's opposition to animal research that makes him a hypocrite, but the fact that he says things like"The species differences that have evolved over millions of years make animal modeespecials largely useless, except for the purposes of enhancing scientific careers and attracting lots of grant money.” while simultaneously being an author on numerous original research papers that involve animal studies, including some such as the 2010 PLoS One paper where animal studies were clearly the most important contributing studies to the paper. Perhaps Hansen places homself amongst those scientists he accuses of using animal research for the purpose of " of enhancing scientific careers and attracting lots of grant money.” but I kinda doubt it.

    It's absolutely right that there should be serious debate about the use of animals in research, when should and how be done, but it's also right that the hypocrisy of scientists who lend their support to animal rights organizations (especially those like Peta with a long record of distorting and misrepresenting the facts in their csmpaigns against individual scientists and institutions) dhould be exposed.

    Oh, and I suspect that DM was objecting to your use of the word "entrusted" rather than the implication that his work is funded by the NIH...and given the way such grants operate "entrusted" isnt the word I'd use either.

  • Dario Ringach says:

    @ The other Dave,

    First, basic science is fundamental science. Knowledge is the pillar upon which everything else rests. What exactly is "applied" in "applied science"? What exactly is "translated" in "translational research"? It is knowledge. To refer to basic science as "knowledge for knowledge sake" is ignorant. Coming from a scientist it is appalling.

    Second, yes -- humans are the best models for humans, but you cannot study the evolution of disease at the cellular and molecular level in humans using invasive methods in ways we find ethical and in a controlled environment.

    Third, human volunteers already participate in research which is sometimes invasive and/or experimental. One can advocate for expanding such studies, but there are ethical limitations.

    Fourth, if humans are the best models for humans, why do you and Dr. Hansen use mice? Why don't you get human volunteers?

    Finally, you are free to be a hypocrite. But don't plan on leading a public life where you morally chastise others for the same behavior you engage in. If you do, expect to be criticized.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    Paul and Dario, of course we can criticize things we participate in, and belong to groups doing things we don't like. Yes, then we should accept being criticized back.

    I see the contradiction you are pointing out to The Other Dave, but I disagree that it is hypocritical to support animal rights and use animals. Each of us may see the line to be drawn at a different point. Some organizations may be too radical, and others not enough. I suspect that some scientists in the US have voted Republican and others have voted Democrat. Both parties have pushed for dubious things that can be seen as anti-science or unethical. The same for all parties. This does not render invalid all the arguments for science or ethics that those voting scientists make.

    We are full of contradictions. All of us. Please point them out, as we should strive to be more consistent. But I will not concede you a moral high ground versus those you call "hypocrites". My argument is the same you are using: inconsistencies and contradictions in our behavior, problematic and telling as they may be, do not render meaningless some points we may want to make. Still, I hate hypocrisy. See the problem?

  • physioprof says:

    I am flabbergasted that anyone could seriously argue that a person simultaneously making his living participating in animal research and being an active member of an extremist anti-animal research organization is akin to "we are all full of contradictions". I mean seriously, are you people listening to yourselves and how outrageously full of shitte you sound?

  • The Other Dave says:

    I like Juan's thoughtful answers.

    But I think people here are still treating morality/immorality as a bright line which one can cross or not cross. You are arguing about where the line should be.

    But I don't think there's a line at all. I don't think Dr. Hansen does either.

    What there is, is just circumstance. Is it OK to murder people on the street for the fun of it? How about in war? How about defending your family? How about when they threaten your life? How about when they are terminally ill and begging for it? When is it OK to steal? Can you break in to your neighbor's house and take stuff? What about after a zombie apocalypse and they are all turned?

    So sometimes I think it's OK to kill people, I can imagine situations in which I would steal or loot. Does that make me full of contradictions? Does that make me a hypocrite because normally I think murder and theft are morally wrong?

    No, it just makes me a realist.

    So, let's assume that everyone here thinks that it is OK to use dogs in biomedical research.

    Is it OK to use pound dogs that will otherwise be euthanized?
    Is it OK to breed dogs for biomedical research?
    Is it OK to use one's own pet dog for a key experiment?
    Is it OK to capture dogs loose in the neighborhood and use them in the lab?
    Is it OK to kidnap dogs from people's houses, but only if that dog didn't seem to have a very good life anyway?
    Is it OK to steal those annoying little snappy fashion accessory dogs and kill them just to see whether their yappy little heads will keep trying to bite you even when they are chopped off the body?

    If you answer yes to some of those and no to others, are you a hypocrite?

    Is it not a good idea to minimize use and suffering of animals in research whenever possible? If so, under what conditions should use be minimized? When the use is flimsily justified? When the animal model is not appropriate? Isn't that what Dr. Hansen is saying?

  • Dario Ringach says:

    "...but I disagree that it is hypocritical to support animal rights and use animals."

    Then you are deeply confused about what "animal rights" philosophy is.

    It seems that Dave believes that Dr. Hansen is instead an animal welfarist that draws a line at mice... but then that line is probably due to ethical reasons and not scientific ones.

    Dr. Hansen is free and capable of defending himself.

    I hope he does.

  • physioprof says:

    I hope he does.

    He will no more defend his hypocrisy than do the anti-abortion extremists who both harrass women outside health clinics and procure abortions for themselves or their loved ones.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    "I am flabbergasted that anyone could seriously argue that a person simultaneously making his living participating in animal research and being an active member of an extremist anti-animal research organization is akin to "we are all full of contradictions". I mean seriously, are you people listening to yourselves and how outrageously full of shitte you sound?"

    Physioprof: some rather popular political parties appear to me as extremist and anti-science. Should I then consider anyone who votes for them incapable of making a thoughtful claim or a valid point on science? That would be ridiculous. Even if I disagree with them and am deeply frustrated at what comes about when they hold power. The fact that you dislike those anti-animal research organizations and see them as extremist does not necessarily make every point they make wrong.

    Yes, there is a contradiction in agreeing with animal rights and using animals in research. My point was about what Enkephalin wrote: "Furthermore, in the last case you should not profit from the results of animal research (i.e. medicines).". That's BS. It is perfectly reasonable to be against using animals in research and still use a drug developed using animals.

    I should point out that I am not familiar with Dr. Hansen or his claims. I am commenting here on what has been said here.

  • Dario Ringach says:

    @Juan Lopez

    "It is perfectly reasonable to be against using animals in research and still use a drug developed using animals."

    No, it is not "perfectly reasonable". Just the opposite.

    I suspect you would refuse the benefit of buying very cheap tomatoes if you knew they come from a farm that exploits human workers... If you were to buy them, you would be supporting an ongoing practice that you oppose and believe to be immoral. It does not make any sense to say "I abhor the exploitation of farm workers, but I surely like the price of the tomatoes I just bought."

    The same applies to animal research. If you believe the benefits are the result of morally objectionable work, do not support it. It does not make sense to say "I abhor animal research, but hey -- it is my life that is on the line here." You have other options that did not involve work with animals such as homeopathy, reiki, yoga, acupuncture, aromatherapy, or simply nothing at all. And it is all available at your nearest hospital.

  • physioprof says:

    Physioprof: some rather popular political parties appear to me as extremist and anti-science. Should I then consider anyone who votes for them incapable of making a thoughtful claim or a valid point on science? That would be ridiculous. Even if I disagree with them and am deeply frustrated at what comes about when they hold power. The fact that you dislike those anti-animal research organizations and see them as extremist does not necessarily make every point they make wrong.

    I don't think you have the slightest fucken clue what the word "hypocrisy" even means. Because it has nothing to do with whether you hold a particular opinion that is correct or incorrect.

  • Dario Ringach says:

    @Physioprof

    Indeed... No clue...

    Here is a previous discussion of "I abhor animal research but want my medicine too" with a definition included:

    http://speakingofresearch.com/2011/11/17/opponents-of-animal-research-should-refuse-medical-treatment/

    An intellectually honest reply came from an animal rights philosopher that admitted vaccinating his daughter. He said:

    "I might be a hypocrite, but that does not mean my objections are wrong."

    That is correct... His objections are wrong for a different set of reasons.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Wanting to deny other people the relative comfort that you enjoy because *your* particular medical / health issues have been addressed, DR, is most certainly a reason that the AR nut is wrong.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    TODAD-

    Your murder analogy is hopelessly inaccurate. More like enjoying the benefits of soldiers having killed a bunch of other people on your behalf (as all USians do), being willing to fight and kill for your country under certain self-justified circumstances and all the while decrying the military and specifically harassing and persecuting particular soldiers. In Hansen's tortured case, while being an active duty volunteer soldier his own damn self, of course.

    Sounds...insane, doesn't it?

  • Juan Lopez says:

    @ Dario
    So I take that you agree with everything done in society and by the government, right? You take advantage of roads, schools, courthouses, economic activity, energy production, media, etc. don't you? If you use it, or anything else that uses it, then you must agree with them 100% as well as with everything it is connected with or was derived from. Otherwise you are a hypocrit. That would be ridiculous. But it is what you are arguing. Except that you pick a piece that you feel comfortable with.

    Perhaps it helps if I remind you that I also find it hypocritical to do research with animals while arguing against it. My challenge is to those who preach here as if they are pure and clean with no contradiction between thought and action.

  • Dario Ringach says:

    @Juan

    Who ever said that we are "pure and free"? If you really want to look for moral righteous types you would have a much better chance among the animal rights movement.

    In any case, you can rest assured I do my best not to support practices that I believe they are wrong. No, I cannot say I am 100% failure free... However, I am certainly not going around demonstrating against human exploitation during the day, and then opting for cheap tomatoes that resulted from that very same exploitation at night.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    Dario, I agree with you. I try not to support what I think is wrong, and to support what I think is right. But this is difficult. Because of the tempting prices of cheap tomatoes, as you say, but also because of the connectedness of things. Often there are things we partially support or partially oppose. What to do? There are things we can do, often not ideal.

    Enkephalin was preachy, in my opinion, when writing that someone opposed to animal research cannot use drugs developed that way. Indeed many of the animal rights activists do argue as if they are THE pure and free. In my opinion, they aren't either.

  • The Other Dave says:

    OK, first off, anyone here thinking that people who don't agree with something should not benefit from it... should just die right now. Or stay away from me, because you are a psychopath. We all benefit from historical murder and exploitation and zillions of horrible other things. Somewhere, back in the mists of time, no doubt one of our mutual ancestors did something bad that we can credit with our existence. So shut up with that tired stupid argument already.

    Second, Maybe people should actually look at Dr. Hansen's record before getting too wound up about what some dumb blogger spewed. He is an incredibly accomplished intelligent guy. I bet there's no one here with even half his credentials. So maybe just maybe he might be worth listening to and his arguments worth thinking about. Right? Let's not be pig-headed.

    http://pathology.ucsd.edu/faculty/hansen.htm

    Also, Dr. Hansen himself has written about the apparent contradiction being shoted about by several here: http://chronicle.com/article/Animal-Research-Groupthink-in/125238/

    Read it.

  • Dario Ringach says:

    @The Other Dave

    I read it.

    Dr. Hasen is so full of contradictions it is not clear where one should begin.

    Most obvious is that in one hand he says in the Chronicle article that “... and many of us do not object when transgenic mice are painlessly euthanized after being well cared for during their short lives.”

    On the other, he says during an interview just last year that (http://antidote-europe.org/en/interviews/professor-larry-hansen-on-ethical-dilemmas/)

    “The only way to get what looks even a little like AD or PD pathology in rats and mice is to make them transgenic — that is, to insert human disease causing genes into the rodents. This does create a Frankenstein-like mutant model with some expression of AD or PD pathology which can be manipulated to make it go away. But reversing artificially induced AD or PD changes in animals that never naturally develop them is a far cry from curing the human diseases. The “cures” that work in the rodents have never worked when applied to humans.”

    It don't think Dr. Hansen knows exactly what he believes.

    He should stop telling others what to do until he can figure out what his story is.

  • Well, hello all,

    I was (sort of ) pointed in this direction by dariouringach .
    Judging by the rational, reasoned descriptions posted here of anyone who holds to a viewpoint generally identified as "Animal Rights" I'll wager that I've come to the right place!!

    I've read all of the commentary here (well, most of it, I swear it!).

    All those in this thread will state - or allude to - their viewpoint/belief/faith that human animals are superior to non-human animals. I get it.
    Presumably, this is the overweening justification held by those commenting here for experimenting on non-human animals. I get that, too.

    But no one ever states with equal confidence WHY humans are superior to other animals vis-à-vis the necessity of animal experimentation.

    I asked this of darioringach and he declined to directly answer this.

    Any other takers?

    Cordially, Lee C

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Nobody said anything at all about "superior" so far as I noticed. Nor offered this as a justification for anything. As it happens this thread is about hypocrisy.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    Yea, more about some humans claiming superiority over other humans.

    Just kidding.

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