Jump to content
Sthira

Animal Experiments - Worthwhile, Cruel or Both?

Recommended Posts

[Admin Note: The first few posts of this thread, starting with this one by Sthira, are from the Exercise thread, but deserve their own discussion, here in chitchat --Dean]

 

I don't wish suffering upon anyone or any creature. But if karma exists, researchers who shock rats for ego gratification and career advancement or wtf should repay in their next lives as electroshocked rats.

Edited by Dean Pomerleau
Edited for clarity and topicality - eliminated reference to my daughter :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an ethical vegan, I'm all for avoiding the infliction of needless suffering on any sentient creatures, including rodents & researchers. I apparently misinterpreted this comment:

 

Maybe it's time to speed up the game by providing electrical shocks to researchers rather than rats for wasting time and money on meaninglessness.

 

as a rather mean-spirited suggestion that we should torture the scientists for wasting time and money on meaningless research, rather an expression of your compassion for the exploited rodents.

 

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Sthira, not all animal experiments are cruel to their subjects.  The below quote from a paper, I won't let the cat(s) out of the bag regarding the remarkable results re CR treatment, certainly suggested otherwise.

 

"Each room had comfortably organized living, feeding and playing areas, and room temperature was kept at 25°C. Cats could get water and food freely and play toys, such as moving rats and frogs. Furnishings in the room were cleaned every day and sterilized regularly."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Al,

 

The below quote from a paper, I won't let the cat(s) out of the bag regarding the remarkable results re CR treatment, certainly suggested otherwise.

 

"Each room had comfortably organized living, feeding and playing areas, and room temperature was kept at 25°C. Cats could get water and food freely and play toys, such as moving rats and frogs. Furnishings in the room were cleaned every day and sterilized regularly."

 

Its pretty hard to hide from Google. :-)  A search on that passage brought up the new paper [1], which I saw a few days ago and almost posted about. While interesting, I didn't think the neuronal changes (presumably improvements) in visual cortex the researchers observed as a result of R were all that remarkable. Nice to see, but hard to really figure out how significant they were. Unfortunately it was only a 12-week experiment and they weren't interested in measuring the cats health (or longevity). 

 

Well, Sthira, not all animal experiments are cruel to their subjects.  

 

The cat in this video (screenshot below, embedded video below that), which is undergoing the same type of experiment you point to in [1], doesn't look very happy. Probably because of the big hole they've cut into its skull to record from visual cortex, and the big chunk of wires protruding from its brain. :-(.

 

YVy7G1M.png

 

Here is the whole video. It was some pretty interesting research into visual representations in the brain [2], but I certainly feel very sorry for the cats involved...

 

 

--Dean

 

--------------

[1] PLoS One. 2016 Feb 10;11(2):e0149004. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149004.

eCollection 2016.

Dietary Restriction Affects Neuronal Response Property and GABA Synthesis in the
Primary Visual Cortex.

Yang J(1), Wang Q(1), He F(1), Ding Y(1), Sun Q(1), Hua T(1), Xi M(2).

Author information:
(1)College of Life Sciences, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu, Anhui, China.
(2)Business School, University of the West Scotland, Glasgow, United Kingdom.

 

Free full text: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0149004

Previous studies have reported inconsistent effects of dietary restriction (DR)
on cortical inhibition. To clarify this issue, we examined the response
properties of neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) of DR and control groups
of cats using in vivo extracellular single-unit recording techniques, and
assessed the synthesis of inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the V1 of cats from
both groups using immunohistochemical and Western blot techniques. Our results
showed that the response of V1 neurons to visual stimuli was significantly
modified by DR, as indicated by an enhanced selectivity for stimulus orientations
and motion directions, decreased visually-evoked response, lowered spontaneous
activity and increased signal-to-noise ratio in DR cats relative to control cats.
Further, it was shown that, accompanied with these changes of neuronal
responsiveness, GABA immunoreactivity and the expression of a key
GABA-synthesizing enzyme GAD67 in the V1 were significantly increased by DR.
These results demonstrate that DR may retard brain aging by increasing the
intracortical inhibition effect and improve the function of visual cortical
neurons in visual information processing. This DR-induced elevation of cortical
inhibition may favor the brain in modulating energy expenditure based on food
availability.

PMID: 26863207

 

------------

[2] J Neurosci. 1999 Sep 15;19(18):8036-42.

Reconstruction of natural scenes from ensemble responses in the lateral
geniculate nucleus.

Stanley GB(1), Li FF, Dan Y.

Author information:
(1)Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Division of Neurobiology, University
of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.

A major challenge in studying sensory processing is to understand the meaning of
the neural messages encoded in the spiking activity of neurons. From the recorded
responses in a sensory circuit, what information can we extract about the outside
world? Here we used a linear decoding technique to reconstruct spatiotemporal
visual inputs from ensemble responses in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of
the cat. From the activity of 177 cells, we have reconstructed natural scenes
with recognizable moving objects. The quality of reconstruction depends on the
number of cells. For each point in space, the quality of reconstruction begins to
saturate at six to eight pairs of on and off cells, approaching the estimated
coverage factor in the LGN of the cat. Thus, complex visual inputs can be
reconstructed with a simple decoding algorithm, and these analyses provide a
basis for understanding ensemble coding in the early visual pathway.

PMID: 10479703

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^^ Thanks, and that recent Japanese diet with rats fed very careful, tasty cuisine. Oh I totally agree that "all animal experiments" aren't cruel to critters. I worked in a research facility with chimps, orangs, and spider monkeys, and those animals were cushioned like royalty. They led way better (caged) lives than many of their pesty researchers. They lived longer than their eco-stressed wild friends, too. What irritates me are unnecessary studies. Harm caused to research animals for studies about stuff we already know shouldn't happen very frequently. Like, exercise is healthy. We know that. Why electroshock rats to provide more data about stuff we already know?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sthira,

 

I snuck a post in about the cats while you were composing your reply to Al. I wonder what your reaction is to Al's cat study now? The vision researchers are certainly learning new things about how the visual system works from these experiments on cats, dating all the way back to the pioneering work of Hubel and Weisel

 

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[Admin Note: The first few posts of this thread, starting with this one by Sthira, are from the Exercise thread, but deserve their own discussion, here in chitchat --Dean]

 

 

I don't appreciate that. Edited by Sthira

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[Admin Note: The first few posts of this thread, starting with this one by Sthira, are from the Exercise thread, but deserve their own discussion, here in chitchat --Dean]

I don't appreciate that.

 

May I ask why? This is an important topic, deserving of its own thread, but quite off-topic for the Exercise thread, don't you think?

 

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[Admin Note: this and the next few posts are an interesting but rather off-topic digression in the midst of this thread on the benefits of olive oil. This is a better home for them.]

 

Huh? "Vegan noise?" Last I checked nuts, seeds and EVOO were all vegan.

By vegan noise I poke a little at my tribe. Some vegans I know personally are much more militant than I'll ever be, and they tend to make noise. Which is fine, I'm happy for strident voices in a movement that obviously supports my values and behavior. As we've discussed elsewhere, I'm practicing a vegan lifestyle for humane treatment toward critters first (even though we're all forced to be hypocrites because we're all benefiting by the ill-treatment of animals for medical research.) And I practice vegan eating for narrow personal health goals, but that's further down the list for me.

Leave chickens alone.

But anyway, I look at the vegan megaphone people as more about selling their books and making a living than I look at them as relaying final dietary solutions for all. Some meat and some dairy for some people during some stages in their lives -- including mine and yours -- is probably beneficial, and wtf am I to judge?

I'm not too thrilled with Furhman's writing. I like Greger much more, but who cares about what I like or don't. A vegan lifestyle is good for animals and probably good for us, too. It's a no-brainer for me.

How many cliches did I write here in this post already? Ha

Edited by Dean Pomerleau

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Dean!

 

I approve of your attitudes on animal experiments.  I should note that my eldest daughter -- who is an MD/PhD program at NYU (and is married, practicing Orthodox Jewish, with a delightful six month old son who I'll see July 1-4 :)xyz ), has to sacrifice mice as part of the research work that she's doing on MERS; she doesn't enjoy it.

 

  --  Saul 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mike,

 

Nice to hear from you again!

 

From what you edited out of your post (sorry - I caught it before you deleted it):

 
Sthira,

I certainly appreciate yours and Dean's ethical consideration of animal life; But 
not eating them will not help them at all!!! In fact you will be condemning millions of animals to non-existence. That's right because if we do not eat them then who would bother to bring them into existence? 

 

Ah - the famous Non-Identity Problem in philosophy. A fascinating topic. I recently read a really good whole book about that very question, called The Non-Identity Problem and the Ethics of Future People. It was about what we do (or do not) owe future people, but the same arguments apply to animals.

 

It's actually a really sticky question which the following example illustrates:

 

Suppose by eliminating fossil fuels quickly (say over the next 20 years) we could dramatically reduce global climate change and therefore the hardship experienced by our descendents 100 years hence. Should we do it? A pretty strong argument can be made that it would be immoral to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels. How can that be? Because in our efforts to eliminate fossil fuels we will dramatically alter the future, including changing which people will be born 100 years from now. So in our efforts to do the right thing by helping the environment, we'd actually be denying the future existence of people who would otherwise be born and live reasonably happy lives (i.e. better than having never been born), despite the relatively crappy world we'd have to leave them in order for them to be born at all.

 

But notice the key statement that makes this an ethical conundrum is the qualifier "and live reasonably happy lives (i.e. better than having never been born)". If we leave them a planet in such bad shape that they'd prefer to never to have been born (think Mad Max: Fury Road bad), the problem disappears. In that case of course we should eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels, since if we don't, our descendents will live miserable lives and wish they'd never been born.

 

The same argument goes for animals. The lives of animals in factory farms are certainly the equivalent of the Mad Max Universe for animals in terms of hellish suffering. So there is no conceivable way to justify bringing them into existence.

 

But what about humanely raised animals? Can't bringing them into the world be justified? In particular, if they live reasonably happy lives, and are killed in a painless manner without knowing (or suffering over the fact that) they are about to be slaughtered, isn't it be ethically justifiable to raise them for food since otherwise they wouldn't be born or live their "happy cow" lives?

 

The obvious counterargument to this weak justification for eating meat is human children. If we could raise (extra) human children and given them happy lives up until age 12, then secretly and painlessly slaughter them in their sleep in order to eat them or harvest their organs for rejuvenation therapy, that would be perfectly justifiably by this (and your) argument. After all, if we didn't kill and eat them, or harvest their organs, they'd have never been born in the first place or have lived shortened but nevertheless quite happy lives. So why don't we raise (extra) kids for food too? Speciesism - no other explanation. 

 

Sorry Mike - just like with Saul, your lame attempt at an excuse for eating animals won't cut it, and shouldn't reduce the cognitive dissonance you feel as a result of your support for our treatment of the animals we call "livestock", even the "humanely raised" ones, to say nothing of the one's suffering horrendously in factory farms.

 

BTW, for anyone interested in a gentle introduction to the fascinating ethics of the Non-Identity Problem, see the video embedded below.

 

--Dean

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saul,

 

I approve of your attitudes on animal experiments. 

 

Thanks Saul. Your approval means a lot to me. Now stop eating the damn animals!

 

BTW, for anyone wondering about the context of Saul's post, it is in response to our short digression about eating animals over here on another thread.

 

And for anyone interested in a different new discussion about lame excuses for eating animals, see this post in yet a different, unrelated thread.

 

Just call me an animal justice warrior ☺.

 

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dean the fallacy of your argument it seems to me is simply that we and the animals are all in the same boat. Existence requires the slaughterhouse one way or the other. If I said to the average human would you have chosen your life knowing you were ultimately going to die and no guarentees as to when and how such that it might be a drawn out one full of pain and misery. I suggest the vast majority would say they still would choose existence and take their chances. Applying the same logic to animals suggests to me that the most humane consideration that faces us us is to treat them humanely. After all wild nature is not exactly a better choice than humane farming for most animals. In fact it's worse!

Edited by mikeccolella

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike,

 

You're right, the inevitability of death (for now), and suffering along the way, for both humans and animals is an obvious bummer. That's why we should endeavor to avoid adding to the amount of suffering in the world when we can help it. In this light, perhaps we both can agree (I hope!?) that large-scale factory farming, the source of the vast majority of today's meat, is unconscionable due to the treatment of animals, not to mention the effects on the planet.

 

Where it appears we disagree, is that I consider cutting short the life of even a humanely-treated animal for my trivial self-interests (i.e. because I like their taste) to also be objectionable, just as I would consider humanely raising extra children to age 12 only to kill and eat them to be objectionable, despite the fact that these extra children had a very nice (if shortened) life, and wouldn't have existed if I hadn't wanted to eat them. This suggests to me what seems like a reasonable ethical principle - once you've intentionally brought a sentient creature into the world, it's wrong to cut its life short, even painlessly, in order to satisfy your trivial self-interests.

 

I don't see how anything you've said addresses this parallel case. I presume you wouldn't be comfortable eating humanely raised children, would you?!

 

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rather than eating humanely raised children, you might gain more longevity by surgically connecting to them so you could share circulatory systems. Parabiosis has great potential, of course, I mean there's so much more in that young blood than merely GDF-11.

 

Remember, not bringing children into existence to use them humanely for parabiosis will not help them at all. In fact, you will be condemning millions of children to non-existence. That's right because if we do not use their circulatory systems, then who would bother to bring them into existence?

 

Before we get carried away, realize this is the Internet, and that was a dumb joke. Or rather sarcasm, which is the lowest form of comedy.

Edited by Sthira

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sthira have you ever watched a pack of coyotes go at it bringing down a wildebeast or worse then that a pack of orcas doing a number on a bunch of cute, beautiful seals. Horrifying. You tube it if you dare! Some of the seals just lie around suffering and all butchered while the orcas gorge on others whipping them into the air and swallowing them etc.

 

Sorry but humane farming does not sound like an awful way to go compared to what Nature dishes out!

 

And Dean I just cannot compare children to cows, pigs and chickens-sorry!

Edited by mikeccolella

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike,

 

And Dean I just cannot compare children to cows, pigs and chickens-sorry! 

 

Ah - now we get to the root of the matter. I always hesitate to use labels, but in this case it seems you've done it for me. Your a speciesist Mike. Quite understandable. Virtually everyone is.
 
As you and I have discussed before, Nietzsche pretty much hit the nail on the head over 100 hundred years ago. In his "Parable of the Madman" (see video in this post) , Nietzsche said God is dead, and we have killed him. But the echoes and implications of his death at our hands haven't yes full reached us. Despite most smart and rational people in the West no longer believing in the Christian conception of God (hence, "we killed him"), we nevertheless hew to many of the core beliefs of Christian doctrine. What Nietzsche had most in mind were the core Christian values of compassion - putting others before oneself, the meek shall inherit the earth, all men were created by God, and so are equal under the eyes of God, etc. All good stuff (IMO) that has helped human society to flourish, despite Nietzsche's scorn for the way these Christian values of compassion homogenize us, and devalue "Great Men", thereby discouraging such men from living up to their potential.
 
But there is another Christian value that also serves as a double-edged sword - the doctrine that Mankind has a special place in God's heart, a special place in the universe, and a special role to play, and therefore deserves and has been granted dominion over all things. After all, unlike all the other creatures on earth, we were created in God's image. So humans are more important that cows, pigs and chickens. And so can do with them what we please. 
 
Speciesism is build into Christianity. Despite many (perhaps most around here) having thrown off the trappings of Christianity and it's naive metaphysics, we have yet to throw off many of its core values. Speciesism is one of the vestigials of Christianity we've yet to throw off. Nietzsche called it - saying that despite having killed God, we're destined to live in the shadows of lingering Christian values for a long time to come. In fact, according to Nietzsche this would be "the history of Europe [i.e. the West] for the next 200 years"). Speciesism is one such lingering shadow. 
 
As a wise physicist once said (my emphasis), and which from your previous statements I think you'll agree with (at least the first three sentences):
 
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.  Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
 
Nietzsche said all that about the living in the shadow of Christian values about 140 years ago. It seems like he may be about right - in another 60 years give or take, maybe we'll get beyond our anthropocentric, speciest view of the universe and our place in it, to finally widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures. I'm hoping it won't take quite that long...
 
--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://phys.org/news/2015-03-quantum-einstein-spooky-action-distance.html

 

Yes Dean you got me! I plead guilty of the charge. I am a speciesist.

 

Now let me contradict that by saying (reminds me of a line of Whitman's poetry) I do strongly tend to agree with the concept of universal oneness and that we are deluded into thinking we are separate. I would even go one step further and at least question the limitation you include wrt time and space. That might also be part of the delusion; at the least it appears to be somewhat shaky-see link above. If so the universe may be even more connected then we currently conceive based on our notion of discrete particles all separated by time and space.

 

For the record I do eat no meat, but some fish and a 1/2 cup of kefir. I am capable of feeling compassion for cows, chickens and pigs but fish not too much. Not enough to reject the consumption of a can or two of sardines weekly and an occasional piece of salmon.

I am petty and selfish;-)

I do agree with your physicist that our task is to free ourselves from the prison of our delusions. It is a tall order, but a worthy one. His suggestion of how to do that has a long history in Buddhism and is connected to the idea of universal compassion even for a fly. So wow I have a long way to go!!!

 

 

"Very well then I contradict myself; (I am large, I contain multitudes) "

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Edited by mikeccolella

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike,

 

I would even go one step further and at least question the limitation you include wrt time and space. That might also be part of the delusion; 

 

I agree with you, and I don't think "my physicist" who mentioned space and time would disagree either.  For anyone who didn't follow the link, the quote was from Albert Einstein. The big AE knew that space and time are illusions better than just about anyone in history - after all he was the first to realize how fungible space and time actually are. In fact, in consoling the family members of a friend who'd recently died, Einstein wrote in a letter:

 

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For those of us who believe in physics, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

 

Regarding entanglement and "spooky action at a distance", yeah, he got that one wrong. Nevertheless he had a pretty good track record.

 

For the record I do eat no meat, but some fish and a 1/2 cup of kefir. I am capable of feeling compassion for cows, chickens and pigs but fish not too much.

 

I didn't realize you were a pescovegetarian. You're more enlightened than I realized! ☺ Fish are a bit harder to take a shining to than land animals for most people. Maybe this will help, or at least amuse. Fish are friends not food

 

His suggestion of how to do that has a long history in Buddhism and is connected to the idea of universal compassion even for a fly. 

 

Helped an earthworm off the hot sidewalk this morning before it dried out. Once ate a worm that had died on the pavement this way - hoping to shift the worm to the karmic fast lane by helping it be reborn as a human. ☺

 

All creatures great and small. 

 

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am capable of feeling compassion for cows, chickens and pigs but fish not too much.

Understood. I think many people feel this way ("fish feel no pain") because fish don't look mammalian warm and cuddly, and so many have a hard time extending compassion toward them. Some fish certainly do feel pain, though. Consider rainbow trout, for example, that have pain receptors (nociceptors) on their faces and necks. Nociceptors respond to injury, and they're found in amphibians, birds, and mammals including people. Somebody did a cool study of fish "pain" receptors a long time ago, here, which is interesting:

 

Lynne U. Sneddon, et al., "Do Fishes Have Nociceptors? Evidence for the Evolution of a Vertebrate Sensory System," Proceedings of the Royal Academy of London, Apr. 30, 2003

 

Sthira have you ever watched a pack of coyotes go at it bringing down a wildebeast or worse then that a pack of orcas doing a number on a bunch of cute, beautiful seals. Horrifying. You tube it if you dare! Some of the seals just lie around suffering and all butchered while the orcas gorge on others whipping them into the air and swallowing them etc.!

I'm sure this is a typo because as you know coyotes and wildebeests live on different continents. But your point is since jackals or hyenas hunt and kill wildebeests (or wolf packs hunt down pronghorns) then why shouldn't we eat meat?

 

And my point is we can get our nutrients without increasing the suffering of animals, so why not do it? Cannot we rise above? Most people very much appreciate work done to improve conditions of warehoused animals before and during slaughters, but I'm sure we agree the crowded confinement conditions are truly awful for any sentient being.

 

The idea that orcas maim and kill seals is interesting because sometimes orcas seem to just throw them around willynilly and without even bothering to eat them -- like cats playing with cockroaches. Some speculation I've heard is adults whales may be teaching calves how to hunt; but then it has been observed in adults without the presence of young, so maybe some orcas are just sadists(!)

 

Anthropomorphism is always a treat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Helped an earthworm off the hot sidewalk this morning before it dried out. Once ate a worm that had died on the pavement this way - hoping to shift the worm to the karmic fast lane by helping it be reborn as a human. ☺

 

All creatures great and small.

 

--Dean

Funny coincidence: wow: on the sidewalk outside the studio this morning I noticed what appeared to be a dried out earthworm "walking" upright.

 

I got down on my hands and knees (on a very crowded morning sidewalk) and watched a single tiny black ant that had lifted up this dead worm, hoisted it, somehow, someway, and now, a miracle of strength, that ant was moving that dead worm with precision.

 

Meanwhile, people-walkers (oblivious dancers) stomped all around this amazing scene of wildlife, so I protected the ant as it moved its meaty food source onward. I shielded a tiny little wildlife documentary -- as compelling and astonishing as a cheetah running down a gazelle -- from the rush-stomp of people people always more damned people....

 

Then! Late to class! Scolded, the strength of that tiny black ant dragging that upright vertical dead worm is inspiring me through another day of life here on this awful/wonderous planet.

Edited by Sthira

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×