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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 9:15PM #1
solfeggio
Posts: 8,528
And that would be the lowly chimpanzee, great numbers of which are used in labs every day for medical research.  As noted in the NY Times piece, the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world that 'conducts invasive research' on chimps.  (The other country is Gabon.)

Now, it is possible that, in the U.S. such research may be soon at an end, because there is an act before Congress right now that would ban invasive research on all the great apes: 

www.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/science/chimp...

All of this begs the question: Considering that the genome sequence of the chimpanzee is remarkably similar to that of humans, how useful are experiments on apes in finding cures for human ailments?  So, then, shouldn't it follow that labs should treat chimps more like humans?

According to the Nuttfield Council on Bioethics, there are ethical problems associated with such testing:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_testing_on_...
  
news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/09...

However, the head of the American Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, believes that all chimps should be transferred to sanctuaries:

hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2011/11/chimp-san...

If it were up to me, I'd go with Mr. Pacelle, because I don't like the idea of any nonhuman animals being used for what are sometimes incredibly cruel and painful experiments.  Using nonhuman animals in this way is speciesism, which is simply human exploitation of other animals for human purposes.

In other words, humans are supposedly inherently superior to all other species, and therefore those other species are nothing more than property to be used for the benefits of humans. 

But, scientists have argued that all life on this planet is on one physical continuum, and that there is really no difference between humans and other species.  So, therefore, shouldn't we all be on the same moral continuum?

However, the question looming before us here is whether or not any of this testing is justified and therefore a necessary evil for the advancement of human health, and there seems to be plenty of evidence that it is not:
   
thevarsity.ca/articles/47124
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC351...
www.avert.org/hiv-animal-testing.htm

    
    
  
    


      
  
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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 9:46PM #2
Ebon
Posts: 9,815

I take (mild) issue with the "proto-humans" description since A) evolution doesn't have a predetermined plan and B) whatever the chimpanzee eventually evolves into will be it's own creature, not a knockoff of humanity.


That aside, I've been meaning to ask you how you feel about psychological testing with animals. The subject came up in my course a few days ago and I had mixed feelings. I'm fine with non-harmful tests like maze-running (still a useful tool in testing memory formation) or false-belief tests (a method to see if animals can develop what's called "theory of mind") but I'm extremely ambivelent when you get to things like Harlow's monkey torture (just look it up if you want to know) or invasive techniques.

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. ~ Proverbs 14:31

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 10:09PM #3
jane2
Posts: 14,288

Nov 15, 2011 -- 9:15PM, solfeggio wrote:

And that would be the lowly chimpanzee, great numbers of which are used in labs every day for medical research.  As noted in the NY Times piece, the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world that 'conducts invasive research' on chimps.  (The other country is Gabon.)

Now, it is possible that, in the U.S. such research may be soon at an end, because there is an act before Congress right now that would ban invasive research on all the great apes: 

www.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/science/chimp...

All of this begs the question: Considering that the genome sequence of the chimpanzee is remarkably similar to that of humans, how useful are experiments on apes in finding cures for human ailments?  So, then, shouldn't it follow that labs should treat chimps more like humans?

According to the Nuttfield Council on Bioethics, there are ethical problems associated with such testing:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_testing_on_...
  
news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/09...

However, the head of the American Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, believes that all chimps should be transferred to sanctuaries:

hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2011/11/chimp-san...

If it were up to me, I'd go with Mr. Pacelle, because I don't like the idea of any nonhuman animals being used for what are sometimes incredibly cruel and painful experiments.  Using nonhuman animals in this way is speciesism, which is simply human exploitation of other animals for human purposes.

In other words, humans are supposedly inherently superior to all other species, and therefore those other species are nothing more than property to be used for the benefits of humans. 

But, scientists have argued that all life on this planet is on one physical continuum, and that there is really no difference between humans and other species.  So, therefore, shouldn't we all be on the same moral continuum?

However, the question looming before us here is whether or not any of this testing is justified and therefore a necessary evil for the advancement of human health, and there seems to be plenty of evidence that it is not:
   
thevarsity.ca/articles/47124
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC351...
www.avert.org/hiv-animal-testing.htm

    
    
  
    


      
  



Solf


You do luv to make the US the evil empire.


Did learn today that NZ has caved to India on uranium.




 

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 16, 2011 - 12:15AM #4
solfeggio
Posts: 8,528

Ebon -


Harlow's monkey torture sounds horrible.  I cannot imagine why anybody would think such an experiment would serve any useful purpose at all.  It was completely unacceptable.


You have to wonder if Harry Harlow wasn't a sadist.

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 16, 2011 - 12:30AM #5
solfeggio
Posts: 8,528

Ah, Jane, it was Australia that has agreed to lift the ban on uranium sales, not New Zealand.  Since NZ is a nuclear-free country, we don't sell uranium to anybody.


www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=127333243...


And, let's see - Yes, I'm sure that the U.S. is indeed the Evil Empire, with leaders that constantly conspire to do dastardly deeds.  Do Satan and his wicked minions share the White House with Mr. Obama?  Oh, absolutely.  They all spend their days plotting and thinking up ways to cause ruin to everybody else in the world.


Happy now?

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 16, 2011 - 12:37AM #6
Ebon
Posts: 9,815

Nov 16, 2011 -- 12:15AM, solfeggio wrote:

Harlow's monkey torture sounds horrible.  I cannot imagine why anybody would think such an experiment would serve any useful purpose at all.  It was completely unacceptable.



The initial experiments, the ones testing whether the monkeys preferred the wire mother-substitute or the terry-cloth one, they were fine. Didn't hurt the animals in any way, just tested which one they preferred and we learned that there is an inborn tactile element to the mother-child bond. That was useful. It might seem obvious now but when the experiment was done, child-rearing advice was to touch babies as little as possible so we learned something valuable and the monkeys weren't harmed.


Everything after that, I can't find a defence for. I think the worst one was probably the experiments that locked infant monkeys in full iso-tanks for two years. What possible application did that have? It didn't help us treat patients, it didn't tell us anything about the human mind, it didn't even tell us much about the minds of monkeys since it was so utterly artificial. We learned nothing of any value from it and tortured the poor bloody monkeys!


And it's worth noting that under the British Psychological Society ethics rules (which I am bound by, even as a student), everything after the initial experiments would not be allowed. There are very, very strict rules now on the research you can conduct with animals and anything which causes the animal anything more than momentary discomfort (physical or mental) is not allowed except in the most critical of research. We can run rats through mazes and try to teach monkeys sign language as much as we like but, unless it's for something of massive importance to the human race, we cannot hurt them in any way. I find it slightly disheartening that that needed to be made a formal rule but people like Harlow explain why it was necessary.


You have to wonder if Harry Harlow wasn't a sadist.



Given some of his other comments, which included sentiments that he couldn't understand why anyone liked animals, I tend to think he was either outright sadistic or, possibly, sociopathic (that is, lacking conscience, empathy or remorse).

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. ~ Proverbs 14:31

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 16, 2011 - 8:34AM #7
shmuelgoldstein
Posts: 2,171

They are animals, not humans. They are not even "proto"-humans.


Animals are in this world to serve us, not the other way around.


Having said that, any work done with animals should be done in as humane a way as possible.

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 16, 2011 - 10:38AM #8
jane2
Posts: 14,288

I stand corrected--it was a NZ newsaper piece.

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 16, 2011 - 11:36AM #9
REteach
Posts: 13,548

is it ok to use mice, zebra fish and fruit flies?  Why or why not?  btw sorry for typing.  bike accident on way to work and hard to hit shift

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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2 years ago  ::  Nov 16, 2011 - 12:19PM #10
arielg
Posts: 9,107

Nov 16, 2011 -- 8:34AM, shmuelgoldstein wrote:


They are animals, not humans. They are not even "proto"-humans.


Animals are in this world to serve us, not the other way around.


Having said that, any work done with animals should be done in as humane a way as possible.




 You are contradicting yourself. Why should it be done in a humane way?  If they are here to serve us, we should use them  in any way we consider desirable. No one is here to serve anyone.


I bet it was some human who came up with the idea that they are here to serve us. (They  will say that  God said so.  That makes it more believable to some)


But from a  less ethnocentric point of view, it is clear that  we are all a thread in the fabric of life. Nothing exists by itself. We all live and die the same way.


We don't have the foggiest idea why animals were created and have no right to decide to dispose of them. (You could say this idea was created by another human,  of course)  Nature seems to be relentless in  the creation of new form of life. 


 
  “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”   Mahatma Gandhi 
 
    

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