Dissection of sleazy, dishonest AR shillery posing as journalism

Jan 04 2016 Published by under Alleged Profession, Animals in Research

Notice what I did there? Setting a bias right from the start with click-bait headlining?

Well, that is just how a buzzfeed piece entitled "The Silent Monkey Victims Of The War On Terror" starts.


I called this piece out for being sleazy and dishonest in a tweet and the author, one Peter Aldhous, Buzzfeed News Reporter, took exception. He emailed me asking how I could possibly accuse him of being a shill for the AR agenda, asserting he has no allegiance whatsoever to animal rights and complaining about how someone as allegedly influential as me could damage his professional reputation.

So I felt I owed him an explanation.

First, I make no apology for my distaste for AR adherents. They are terrorists, yes, terrorists, and they inhabit a nihilist, anti-social ideology. Of terrorism.

Second, I've written a few posts about the use of animals in research (see below for Additional Reading). There is a pretty good dose of information at Speaking of Research as well. I mention this not so much to draw specifics as to show that there is information available on the web, readily searchable, for a journalist to quickly find for an alternative viewpoint to the AR nonsense. That is, if they are interested in researching a story. I'll also point out that the Science Editor at Buzzfeed is someone who spent years pounding the floors at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and has even written on the use of nonhuman primates in autism models. Again, the point is that this journalist has a route to further education and balance, if he had only chosen to use it. The piece does not reflect any such background, in my reading of it.

What I want to dissect today, however, is the way this piece by Aldhous is carefully crafted to attack nonhuman primate research, as opposed to providing a reasonable discussion of the use of animals in specific research.

The article starts with "victims" and has chosen to describe this as resulting from "The War on Terror". Right away, we see a sleazy link between something that many Americans oppose, i.e., the description of the Bush agenda as a war on terror and the Bush agenda itself, and the use of animals in research. It is a typical tactic of the AR position. If you can establish that one area of research is unneeded in the eyes of your audience then you are three quarters of the way home.

And this is AR thinking, make no bones about it. Why? Follow the logic. There are sizable swaths of Americans who disagree that we should spend public money investigating any number of health conditions. From infectious disease like HIV (although see this) to obesity to diabetes to depression to substance abuse. Simply because they do not agree that these are topics that are worth of investigation. Anthrax, botulism and nerve gas are no different in this respect. Some people feel that the war on terror is overblown, the risks of a bio or chemo weapon attack are small and we should not put any public money into this topic whatsoever- from research to law enforcement.

So if you argue that your particular agenda should rule the day when it comes to research, you are saying that everyone's agenda in a pluralistic democratic society should rule the day. This leaves us with very little science conducted and certainly no animal science. This is why I call this a bit of AR shillery. The logic leads to no animal research on any health topic.

Note, it is fine to hold that belief in pluralistic democratic society but let us be honest about what you are about, eh? And sure, I can see that there would be some agenda so narrowly focused, so out of the mainstream that we cannot reasonable credit as being a legitimate concern of the American people. It should be self-evident from the support for the Bush administration's war on terror (and our public discussion over bioterror) that this is not the case here.

Ok. But what about the converse? Is just any use of animals in research okay then? No, no it is not. Certainly, we have a cascade of federal law, federal regulation and widely adopted guidelines of behavior. We have rules against unnecessary duplication. We wrangle, sometimes at long length, over reduction and refinement of the research that uses animals. Even an apparent exemption from the full weight of the Animal Welfare Act for certain experimental species doesn't really exempt them from oversight.

Getting back to the article, it next pursues two themes including the idea that there are a "lot" of monkeys being used and that they are all "suffering" and in pain. The article includes this pull quote:

“Wow, that’s a lot of monkeys,” said Joanne Zurlo of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who studies alternatives to animal experimentation. “It’s quite disturbing.”

It is? How do we know this? How are we to evaluate this with any sort of context? How is it "disturbing" unless we have already decided we are against the use of monkeys in this, or for that matter any, research?

The piece brags about some exclusive review Buzzfeed has conducted to examine the publicly-available documents showing about 800 nonhuman primates used in "Column E" (the most painful/distressful category) US research in the 1999-2006 interval and a jump to about 1400 in the 2009-2014 interval.

Speaking of Research maintains an animal-use statistics page. The US page shows that of the species not exempted from tracking by the Helms Amendment, non-human primates account for 7% of the total (all categories of research use) in 2014. This is 57,735 individuals- note that given that non-human primates can be used for years if not decades in some kinds of research, this does not equate to a per-year number the way it would for a species that only lives 2 years like a rat. But at any rate, the 600 extra [ETA: "E" category monkeys] that the Buzzfeed piece seems to be charging to the war on terror is only a 1% increase in the annual "E" use of non-human primates.

This is "disturbing"? Again, I think this alone shows how disingenuous the piece really was. A "one percent increase in the use of monkeys for bioweapon research" doesn't really have the same punch, does it?

What about other frames of reference? From the Speaking of Research page:

Scientists in the US use approximately 12-25 million animals in research, of which only less than 1 million are not rats, mice, birds or fish. We use fewer animals in research than the number of ducks eaten per year in this country. We consume over 1800 times the number of pigs than the number used in research. We eat over 340 chickens for each animal used in a research facility, and almost 9,000 chickens for every animal used in research covered by the Animal Welfare Act. For every animal used in research, it is estimated that 14 more are killed on our roads.

Or what about the fact that Malaysia culled 97,119 macaque monkeys (long-tailed, i.e. M. fascicularis and pig-tailed, i.e. M. nemestrina; common research lab species) in 2013. Culled. That means killed, by rough means (by the reporting) without any humane control of pain or suffering. No use for them, no scientific advances, no increase in knowledge...probably not even used for food. Just.....killed. 167 times the number scored as used in bioweapons research were just eliminated in a single year in a single country.

Failing to provide these contexts, and writing a piece that is majorly focused on the number of research monkeys used for bioweapons studies is dishonest, in my view.

Okay, so what about the pain and suffering part of the piece? Well, Aldhous writes:

BuzzFeed News has calculated the number of primates used each year for what the USDA calls “Column E” experiments, in which animals experience pain or distress that is not fully alleviated with painkillers, tranquilizers, or other drugs. Because monkeys are emotionally complex creatures that are thought to experience suffering similarly to how we do, such experiments are especially controversial.

The number of primates used in these ethically fraught experiments

Notice the slant? First of all, human introspection about the "pain and suffering" of nonhumans is suspect, to say the least. Yes, including monkeys, dolphins or whathaveyou. The statement about monkeys being "emotionally complex creatures" is pure AR theology. The idea that nonhuman suffering is identical to human suffering is entirely unproven and there are large numbers of people who disagree with this characterization (see the Malaysian culling, above, for an example). If you try to get people to define terms and provide evidence you devolve into really bad eye-of-the-beholder anecdata on the one hand up against a profound lack of evidence on the other. Humans are demonstrably different from all other species we know to date. And efforts to view nonhumans as "like us" invariably involve some very convenient definitions, goal post moving, blindness to the quality or universality or ease of the human trait, etc.

Calling it "especially controversial" and "ethically fraught" is hardly even handed journalism. Where is the balance here? The people who shout loudest about the use of monkeys being "controversial" don't believe in any animal research. Seriously, probe them. What use of animals isn't ethically fraught? Hammering this idea over and over throughout the piece is poisoning the well. It is acting like this is established fact that everyone agrees with. Not so. And the slant of these terms is certainly on the side of "this research is bad". You use other terms when you want to describe a neutral disagreement of sides.

One very important point is the lie of the truncated distribution. We know perfectly well that there is a big part of the American distribution that is essentially unconcerned about animal use and animal suffering. If you know anyone who uses sticky traps to deal with unwanted household rodents...they are doing Category E research. Catch and release fishing? Ditto. People who own large dogs in city apartments and walk them just twice a day....well it isn't Category E but it sure doesn't sound humane to me. The point is that research and researchers do not operate in this part of the distribution. They operate in the well-regulated part of the distribution that is explicitly concerned with the welfare of animal subjects in research. Notice all the pull quotes he included from researchers seem to express caution? Obviously I can't know how selected and cherry picked those comments were (I suspect very) but they do testify to the type of caution expressed by most, if not all, animal researchers. We are always looking to reduce and refine. And look, individual scientists may view different research priorities differently...but it is hardly fair to only present the skeptics. Where are the full throated defenders of the bioweapons research in this article? Well, they wouldn't talk on record* due in very large part, I assert, to a well-informed skepticism that journalists ever care to be balanced on these topics.

The Aldhous piece goes on to a very sleazy sleight of hand by mentioning a violation report in which an animal research facility was cited for failing to follow care protocols. He picks out three institutions:

three institutes have dominated the most ethically contentious primate experiments: the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio.

Since 2002, these three institutions have collectively used more than 6,400 Column E primates. In 2014, they accounted for almost two-thirds of the monkeys used in these experiments.

Again with the "most ethically contentious" charge. Nice. But the point of this is...what? Many bioweapons pathogens can only be studied at very high cost isolation facilities. It is good and right that there are not many of them and that they account for the majority of the animal use. It is also good and right that they are subject to regulatory oversight in case any slip ups need to be corrected, yes?

After a routine inspection in March, Lovelace was cited for failing to provide monkeys with the care that was supposed to be delivered — including intravenous fluids, Tylenol for fever, and antidiarrheal drugs.

The report shows that three animals did not receive Tylenol when they should have, and three did not receive anti-diarrheals when they should have, for 2-4 days of symptoms. There were 57 animals in a Cohort that did not receive injections of fluids but there is no indication that this resulted in any additional pain or distress and we can't even tell from this brief protocol language whether this was supposed to be as-need-per-veterinarian-recommendation or not. There are two additional Cohorts mentioned for which it is noted the animals were treated according to protocol and the table in the Aldhous piece lists 431 animals used at Lovelace in 2014, probably the year for which the above citation refers. Naturally, Aldhous fails to mention these citation numbers leaving the reader free to assume the worst. This is classic misdirection and smearing at work. Which is why I call it dishonest. "Loose stools or fever for 2 to 4 days in less than 1% of individuals" sounds more like an over the counter medication warning or a threshold for when to finally call the doctor to the average ear.

Aldhous next diverts into a fairly decent discussion of how animal models may or may not fully predict human outcome but I think that in the context, and with his shading, it falls short of the mark. I'm not going to step through all of his examples because there are certain fundamental truths about research.

1) If we knew the result in advance, the experiments wouldn't be necessary. So if we sometimes find out that animal models are limited, we only come to this conclusion in the doing. There is no way to short circuit this process.

2) We use animals, even monkeys, as proxies and models. Sometimes, they are going to come up short of full prediction for human health. This does not mean they are not valuable to use as models. Again, see 1. We only find this out in the doing and most research is novel territory.

3) The overlap between animal testing and research is fuzzy in this discussion. If you want to evaluate medications, your research may not be dedicated to, or idealized for, novel discovery about the disease process itself. This doesn't make it less valuable. Both have purposes.

4) It is dishonest to point to places where animal research failed to predict some adverse outcome of a medication in humans without discussing the many-X more potential medications that were screened out with animal models. Protection from harm is just as important, maybe more so, than identification of a helpful medication, is it not?

So as you can see, I think this piece in Buzzfeed is written from start to finish to advance the AR agenda. It is not by any means fair or balanced. This is relatively common with journalism but that is no excuse. It is sleazy. It is dishonest. There is every reason to expect that balanced information and opinion is readily available to a journalist, even one who has no scientific background whatever.

I do not know the heart and mind of the author and as I mentioned at the outset, he protested vehemently that my take was not his intent. Which is why I have tried to focus on the piece and what was included and written. I will suggest that if Aldhous is sincere, he will read what I have written here, follow the links and take a very hard editor's look at what he has written and the impact it has on the average reader.

*I don't know the solution to this problem. A piece like this one Aldhous wrote is the type of thing that hardens attitudes. Which makes it harder for the balanced story to get out. It's a vicious cycle and I have no idea how to break it until and unless science journalists stop with this sleazy and biased AR shillery on their own.

Additional Reading

Logothetis driven out of monkey research

UCLA scientists have been under attack for over a decade

Repost: Insightful Animal Behavior: A "Sufficiently Advanced Technology"

Dolphins ain't all that either

33 responses so far

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    First, I make no apology for my distaste for AR adherents. They are terrorists, yes, terrorists, and they inhabit a nihilist, anti-social ideology. Of terrorism.

    A *tiny* number of then are terrorists, yes. Most are just misguided liberal arts majors who really do think animal testing is just something scientists do for fun and have no more interest in harming scientists than other nutjobs like creationists or anti-vaxxers.

  • Dave says:

    TLDR version?

  • AnonymousE says:

    no animal experimentation = human experimentation
    (at least in my discipline - drug discovery)

    Having said that, not all experiments on animals are legitimate, of course.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Do you get to decide for the country (or world) what is "legitimate" research, AnonymousE?

  • dr24 says:

    Since when are monkeys silent? #shouty

  • banditokat@gmail.com says:

    Some excellent points, Ted.
    When I talked about this at work, I got a lot of 'what would you expect from Buzzfeed' eye rolls which is how I saw Twitter respond as well. I would as part 346 to your diatribe that particularly important to howl at places like BuzzFeed when they get things wrong because they are so widely read. Its giving me massive whiplash to go between articles they have on terrible cases of harassment where their reporters are on the cutting edge vs this drivel about how we test drugs on monkeys for weapons research (which is true but, having worked in the areas of hazardous agent testing for DoD programs can say our work used animals only to try to figure out how soldiers/civilians should be treated who had already been exposed).
    I was hacked at your Twitter suggestion that Virginia is an "otherwise good journalist". Virginia fires up ignorance under the banner of science news. All the time? I don't know. But at least twice recently and that makes her a bad journalist.

  • jipkin says:

    I don't think the buzzfeed readership is interested in a deep dive into NHP research... Can't see that getting the clicks and Facebook shares if there isn't some controversial and emotional juice in the story.

    Your post touches on a trend in these kinds of pieces, in which it is somehow okay by journalistic ethics to omit research and broader context by claiming to only be focusing on one particular small piece of the story. Makes no sense.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It isn't just buzzfeed. it's all of news media.

  • Grumble says:

    OK, so, we must use NHPs because they are so similar to us, yet at the same time, no one knows whether their pain and suffering is similar to ours?

    Do you not find these two positions at least partially contradictory?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Only if you are trying to study "pain and suffering". Which isn't the point of bioweapon research, one imagines.

  • Grumble says:

    It's a fine distinction, and one that AR activists will jump on. When it's convenient to you, NHPs are similar to humans. When it's inconvenient, they aren't similar to humans. Unless you have a rigorous basis for saying "they are similar" when studying bioweapons, but "they are dissimilar" when it comes to pain and suffering, then your argument here has a giant hole.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It's pretty simple Grumble. Close in some ways, more distant in other ways. Do you even biology? Monkeys have the same basic skeletal structure as humans. They don't speak the Queen's English.

  • DJMH says:

    Agreed with Grumble. The best we can say is that the monkey's experience of pain, suffering, boredom, existential angst, etc, is unknowable to us. Based on their similarities to us in many neuro ways, we should therefore be (and are) conservative about how we treat them. For you to dismiss Column E stuff as trivial or completely uncontroversial, imo, feeds into the classic stereotype of scientists as cold-hearted bastards.

    I agree with you on all the points about the fact that the number involved here is not big in the greater scheme of things, and that the research they're doing is probably pretty valuable for the next time we get hit with an Ebola scare or whatever, and therefore it is worth doing. But *that's* the argument to make, not "IDGAF about NHP experience."

  • drugmonkey says:

    How is your position not generalizable to rats, mice or fruit flies, DJMH?

    And you will notice I explicitly did not say IDGAF. At all. Nice sleazy smear attempt. Funny how reference to monkeys brings that out in people.

  • drugmonkey says:

    "E" protocols do, and should, require an elevated threshold, no matter the experimental species. This is built in to the regulatory oversight. This means we care *more* about who, what, how, where, why. Whether it is a mouse or a monkey. Also, the baseline scrutiny setting is in practice, and should be IMO, higher for USDA species than for non-USDA.

    I fail to see how this makes it "controversial" or any more ethically "fraught" than anything else about animal use in research.

  • Grumble says:

    I do even biology. The question is, do you even psychology?

    Your argument is completely without merit. Monkeys do have the same basic skeletal (and other organ systems) structure as humans. Monkeys also squawk in the "same basic" way as humans squawk when they are injured. Which is evidence that they experience pain and suffering in a similar way to us. Why would evolution have produced similar anatomical and physiological systems in NHPs and HPs, yet not have produced similar mechanisms for pain and suffering?

    And DJMH is, I think, not accusing you of not giving a fuck. He's accusing you of coming across as not giving a fuck. That is precisely what you presumably want to avoid.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Ok dudes.

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    Grumble - Exactly. The correct way to justify NHP research is not to ignore the real ethical problems with working on animals that are nearly human but to justify it by the fact that saving millions of human lives is worth a few thousand NHP lives.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I disagree that being in scientific error about "nearly human" (nothing we know to date is even remotely close on some key variables of interest) is a proper way to go. This is like saying to antivaxxaloons "sure vaccines cause autism but the low rate is totally worth the herd immunity".

  • DJMH says:

    Obviously I don't think you don't care about animals, but this is a very real image that many people have of scientists, and when you say that "The statement about monkeys being "emotionally complex creatures" is pure AR theology," it really sounds like you believe monkeys have the emotional capacity of a doorknob. The man-on-the-street is going to disagree with that, and as such your argument is weakened.

    One of IACUC's explicit goals is reducing the number of animals used. The article is contending that this set of experiments is way out of line with typical usage. I agree that the article fails to provide crucial context, and that these are probably valuable experiments, but I would not justify possibly painful experiments on monkeys by dismissing the idea that these experiments may be painful, which is what you seem to be doing in your "theology" paragraph.

  • Grumble says:

    " scientific error about 'nearly human' "

    This is a routine justification for using NHPs, which I see all the time in grant applications. Not that exact phrase ("nearly human"), but that NHPs' physiological, psychological and/or social systems are the most similar to human of all the species available for research. I don't see how identifying similarities (including in the behavioral response to painful stimulation) is in any way a scientific error. Nor is an error to infer from similar behavioral responses that similar psychological processes ("feelings") are involved.

  • bagger vance says:

    "...for a journalist to quickly find for an alternative viewpoint.... That is, if they are interested in researching a story. " Aldhous, much like some things i've seen at this blog, may not even be aware that there is another side to a story. Center- or right-wing observers have certainly noticed by now this 'slant' you describe in the MSM, but i guess it conflicts rather rarely with your own views.

    From his website (http://www.peteraldhous.com/):"I also teach investigative and policy reporting in the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and data visualization in the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley."

    Awesome, the next generation will be much the same then.

  • Lee says:

    I think the broader issue is how do "we" study highly infectious diseases without them being category E experiments? If we want to test and identify possible treatments for anthrax, tularemia, hanta virus, etc., how can that be done without using animals models that mimic human infection?

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    It's a bit hard, especially in the post-genomic era, to ignore how close the NHP are to us, despite whatever "variables" you are referring to. That's kind of the reason research is moving away from chimps and towards macaques -- the latter are less related to us while still being close enough for SIV work, for example.

  • The Other Dave says:

    Holy shit, dude. Animal research doesn't cause nearly as much suffering as when I have to read a more-than-four paragraph blog entry.

    But I agree with your points. I think there's room for a lot of thoughtful discourse regarding humanity's relationship with animals, nonhuman primates in particular. But that article wasn't an example of it. Nice post.

  • bacillus says:

    Because of the scarcity of natural outbreaks of diseases caused by potential bioweapon pathogens, FDA created the so called "Animal Rule". This permits licensing of drugs and vaccines against such pathogens if the animal model of infection mimics that of the human infection to a sufficient degree that efficacy in the former likely predicts efficacy in the latter. As it happens NHP do better mimic these infectious diseases than lower orders of mammals. We know this because, NHP were the norm for studying bioweapons throughout the 1940s-1970s, and because the US govt has very good data on the human diseases that it acquired from the Japanese after WWII in return for immunity from a Nuremburg of their own. Hence, FDA essentially mandates NHP testing of drugs and vaccines against bioweapons as a condition of licensure.

    FWIW, I fully support DMs views on the use of NHP in research even though all of my own research models for the past 34 years have been rodents or rabbits. Indeed, it is my opinion that wimping out to the AR brigade by wholesale switching away from NHP to rodents has likely hindered rather than helped many areas of basic and translational biomedical research. Just look at how much money big pharma has lost on Ph3 clinical trials for treatments for (psycho) neurological diseases and stroke based on their safety and efficacy in murine species. Would the outcome have been different if NHP models had been used in their stead? I don't know, but I do know that go / no go criteria tend to be much more stringent when your animals cost $10K versus $10 a pop.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Nor is an error to infer from similar behavioral responses that similar psychological processes ("feelings") are involved.

    They don't have "similar" behavioral responses with respect to "feelings". And therein lies the point I made somewhat tangentially. When you delve into the evidence and the definition of what you mean when you say this, it gets down to a profound lack of evidence on the one side and a lot of dancing and goalpost moving and conveniently defining and a comical refusal to acknowledge the unbelievably amazing things that humans do and the contexts in which they do them. This brings me to the end of my interest in having this particular discussion.

    If you want to consider a topic that is considerably less emotionally freighted, consider language. It may help you to see my point.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Bagger- 1) I'm not a journalist and 2) I have you and neurocon for balance.

  • Grumble says:

    "They don't have "similar" behavioral responses with respect to "feelings". And therein lies the point I made somewhat tangentially. When you delve into the evidence and the definition of what you mean when you say this, it gets down to a profound lack of evidence on the one side and a lot of dancing and goalpost moving and conveniently defining and a comical refusal to acknowledge the unbelievably amazing things that humans do and the contexts in which they do them."

    Your mumbo-jumbo response doesn't excuse your mumbled-jumbled thinking. I'm talking about the behavioral and related psychological responses to very simple noxious stimuli, and nothing more complex than that. You break a person's arm and he screams. You break a monkey's arm and he screams. (Same with treating either with bioweapons.) That both species are in pain is utterly indisputable. I'm not the one dancing and moving goal posts, now am I?

    The reason why you might need NHPs for bioweapons (or any other biomedical) research is because of their similarity to humans. You cannot simply dismiss the fact that it is precisely that similarity that means that their pain and suffering is likely to also be similar to ours. And this goes for lower species as well.

    "This brings me to the end of my interest in having this particular discussion."

    If I were an AR activist, that would be just the response I need to accuse animal users of moral torpitude. We need to think hard about what justifies making an animal suffer. I think you do think hard about that, which is why I find your position (and lack of interest in discussing its contradictory nature) surprising.

  • Former Technician says:

    I haven't done much NHP work, but our IACUC requires that we put a portion of our mice in class E when doing infectious disease research, because they might get sick and suffer. Oh, that and "vaccine injections are painful". Class E for us = potential suffering, not actual suffering. We are supposed to euthanize before actual suffering.

  • mH says:

    "We don't know what animals experience" is a bad position for scientists to take on this issue. It is unconvincing and runs counter to almost everyone's intuition regarding mammals. And I do think it is reasonable to assume that mammals who behave similarly to a suffering human are experiencing something like our suffering. Otherwise it just descends into sophistry. I mean, if you tell me you are in pain, the only evidence I really have is your words, and we know people lie all the time, right?

    The legitimate arguments are that we go out of our way to reduce the stress and suffering of animals undergoing experimental procedures that are undeniably painful, that we use the minimum amount of pain and number of animals to achieve the aims of the study, and that we are better regulated than any other sector that harms or kills animals (meat, animal products, wildlife control, pet trade). I can't speak to all research, but obviously most protocols that cause pain or discomfort in animals cause far less pain and discomfort than that experienced by the humans with diseases we are trying to find explanations, treatments, and cures for. Many care standards for lab mice are more stringent than laws for taking care of your own human children.

    The fact that humans kill animals for any number of purposes--food, sport, disease control, they inconvenience us by where they live--is broadly socially accepted. Animal research is obviously a tiny proportion of this and is not where the worst suffering occurs by a long shot. What it is is the softest target for AR wackaloons--we have to acknowledge that to many people there is something inherently creepier about an animal in a lab than one in an abattoir. You can't have discussions with ARAs because they are idealogues. But I don't think you can win arguments with the semi-reasonable majority (?) by saying "who knows what animals feel?" because people believe they DO know what animals feel. We need to own that we are doing is something that might legitimately concern a reasonable person, but that we are able to answer those concerns and demonstrate the care, professionalism, and respect surrounding our use of animals. I think the animal research community HAS done this over and over, but they will always have to do it.

  • […] Dissection of sleazy, dishonest AR shillery posing as journalism Millions of Small Asteroids That Could Threaten Our World Remain Uncatalogued A Reprieve for Fungus-Battered Frogs Largest Wildlife Census in History Makes Waves in Conservation Do hand dryers spread viruses in public bathrooms? […]

  • Tim Howe says:

    There is no such animal as a Buzzfeed News Reporter, just a hopped up kid with a mobile device and a transparent agenda. Good on you to smack down the pretensions, we need more like this and in a lot more fields.

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