Both Nature and the LA Times this week have articles cautioning against labeling animal-rights extremists “terrorists” in the US. The justification that they’re using is that the groups in question, ELF and ALF, are not terrorists because so far they’ve only destroyed property, and haven’t managed to kill anyone yet. Terrorism, in their view, should be limited to instances in which people are actually killed or in which the government is attacked.
I completely disagree.
Take, for instance, the case of Dario Ringach as described in this article from science:
In the United States, however, if you conduct experiments on primate nervous systems, you might have the following experience. Photographs, allegedly of your subjects wearing expressions of extreme pain, are circulated to media outlets. Crowds with bullhorns picket your residence, and leaflets declaring that you commit “atrocities” are distributed to your neighbors. Your colleague who works on monkey behavior is the target of a firebomb. It is mistakenly placed on a neighbor’s porch; the good news is that the fuse timer failed, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says the blast might well have killed those inside.
Am I making this up? Well, it happened to Dr. Dario Ringach, a member of the neurobiology faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The work he did on higher-order information processing in visual systems had been published in good journals, including this one. The dÃ©nouement of the assault he weathered for 4 years is described in a triumphal press release from the Animal Liberation Front (ALF): “You Win” it said, quoting Ringach. The subhead read, “UCLA Vivisector Dario Ringach Quits Animal Experimentation.” The release boasts about the reason for this outcome: He “asked that his family be left alone,” it says. Well, in the absence of timely help from his institution, he made the best decision he could, as you or I probably would have. Meanwhile, the ALF has taken credit for both this victory and the firebombing.
The use of terror to frighten Dario Ringach out of research is what I consider a prime example of how ALF is a terrorist group. The fact that they simply haven’t managed to kill someone yet with firebombs and arson, doesn’t mean they haven’t tried, or haven’t put people at risk of being killed including the firefighters that are responsible for ensuring such buildings are clear and putting out the blaze.
I know how I would feel as a scientist that whose lab and work was targeted, as was the genetically-modified poplar tree experiment that they destroyed (really, what idiots, being afraid of a GM poplar). I would see it not just as destruction of my work but a threat to my life. And these attacks on science show just how ignorant animal rights and environmental extremists are, and why I include them as denialists on this site.
When you see them argue against studies of genetically-modified plants, or use of animals in research, it’s not enough for them to simply argue that it’s wrong to use animals or plants for this or that, but that they have to lie and distort the science to do so. When they say humans are biologically vegetarians, not omnivores, they’re full of it. When they say we can do biological research without animals, they’re full of it. When they say that animal models don’t help us understand disease, they’re full of it. When they say GM crops are dangerous because of things like bt toxin, they’re full of it. And I see these arguments again and again, from groups like PETA, the PCRM, the anti-vivisection societies, the various GM food paranoids and regular folks they have been duped into believing this unscientific nonsense.
If you believe we shouldn’t use animals for research, that’s fine. But you have to accept that that means no biology can be accomplished, and not lie to people and say that animals aren’t critical to biology and medicine (or worse yet we can just use a computer). It reflects extreme ignorance of how biology works, from how we use serum in our cell culture, to generation of immunological reagents, to animal models, to the basic study of physiology of tissues and the testing and discovery of medicines. Even ecology and conservation biology routinely requires the death of animals for experiments or to study population in the wild for their benefit.
If you don’t want biology, that’s an honest answer. But that’s the choice, and it is not a false-dichotomy. Animals and animal products are critical to the biological enterprise at all levels. If animal rights advocates want to advocate for that, let them. But it’s not ok for them to lie about, and firebomb those that that disagree with them.
Here’s the legal definition of terrorism.
(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that –
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended –
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
I say these guys are terrorists. They are using violent means to intimidate scientists and others they don’t agree with in the hopes they will abandon their research or other practices. Are we to honesty believe the writers of these two articles when they say that mere property damage – using tactics like arson – can’t be enough to justify terrorism? If Tim McVeigh blew up an empty federal building would that have made his act not an act of terrorism? If the Islamic radicals that attacked our country on 9/11 flew empty planes into empty buildings at night would that have changed it into a mere property crime?
That’s utter nonsense. Politically-motivated and massive destructions of property have to be considered acts of terrorism. These men are terrorists. Throw them under the jail.
42 thoughts on “ALF Qaeda”
Might as well toss PETA in there too with Newkirk’s connections to Rodney Coronado. They come off as the more popular and more reasonable …cough cough… group, but they have their history of supporting terroistic activities.
We should not equate these people with AlQaeda type terrorists. These people don’t create widespread fear in the general population, but are a threat to some sorts of properties/activities. They should be treated as serious crimes, but equating them with the big-time terrorists is going too far.
Destroying life-saving research is the same damn thing as killing someone. Youre just going about it in a round-about way so you dont have to see the faces of the people youre killing.
My building used to be on an ‘animal rights’ watch list because of our primate facility (maybe it still is, but the facility has moved). If our building were set on fire, countless lives would be lost because of the research that burned.
I’m not afraid of Al Qaeda. Animal rights extremists pose a far greater threat to me.
Also I don’t buy that just because they’re not as effective in terrorizing the whole country their crimes are any less terroristic.
I could accept applying the term this way if we can also call anti-abortion activists terrorist.
Well, let’s see. Anti-abortion activists have shot doctors, firebombed clinics, been arrested under RICO for trying to disrupt women’s clinics, yeah I’d say they qualify.
After all Rudolph was a anti-abortion terrorist.
Anyone else see “Soldiers in the Army of God” on HBO? A great documentary about how mainstream anti-abortion activists actively encourage violence from idealistic young men against clinics. It’s downright creepy. In particular the “White Blossom Ball” where all the arsonists and terrorists meet each year unmolested.
I agree with you.
The Nature article cautioning us not to label animal rights terrorists was arguably the dumbest article that I’ve ever seen in Nature. Terror against scientists is exactly the intent of animal rights extremists in order to get them to stop doing animal research. That no one has been killed yet does not change that.
Re abortion, I read years ago that the Reagan/Bush I administrations deliberately did not classify bombings of abortion clinics as terrorist acts, which meant that the U.S. was free of terrorist attacks in the 1980s. Apart from the bombings and shootings, that is.
ALF spokecreatures have certainly endorsed violence and killing of researchers. The only difference between them and Al Qaeda is in capability.
I just read the Nature editorial. Good grief. How ironic that this is coming from the UK, where the ALF and their allies have used a thuggish campaign literally of terror and intimidation to shut down animal research.
maybe this doesn’t apply to the real hardcore wack-jobs (though I suspect it does) but what really chaps me is the hypocrisy. they should disavow use of ANY and I mean ANY medical or technological advance that resulted from animals. you know they don’t. and the “what’s past is past but stop the future stuff” is even worse. First because it is the height of arrogance to say “well, all my health risks have been taken care of, can’t do anything about animals used already. sorry for you guys waiting for the next success, you are SOL”. Second because they are very likely to change their minds when it affects them or their children. Think the Reagans. Ronnie was agin’ fetal tissue research, bet Nancy was too. Just what side of stem cells do you think they would have been on? an easy call. but when one of theirs comes down with something that MIGHT be solvable, oo, they’re all on board.
so animal righties should have to go on record forever and anon. and never be allowed to change their minds and use modern medical care no matter what happens. now if they had that sort of internal consistency well, than at least we’d have to listen to their position with some seriousness. it still wouldn’t be convincing but much like the rare Christian who seems to live a life consistent with a reasonable reading of the New Testament, well, at least you’d be able to respect them personally.
say, that woman who divorced mccartney, isn’t she a big animal rights’ activist and an AMPUTEE!!!!!!! (or is she just anti-fur-trade but pro research? anyone know?)
I think you’re wrong when you say “doesn’t mean they haven’t tried” (to kill people). It seems they’ve tried to be sure not to kill people (unlike rightwing terrorists in the US for instance). This doesn’t mean their methods aren’t methods which could reasonably be expected to be dangerous for others — fire and bombs are always a problem that way. I think your point would be far stronger without that error.
Now, what they’re doing is terrorism, but also having our feds consider these people far more dangerous than the various rightwing terrorist groups is nonsense.
The magnitude of the crimes, and the intent to be (somewhat) careful of human life, as opposed to the deliberate targeting by true terrorists needs to be considered. It cheapens our efforts against real terrorists, if we equate these people to them.
I do see these people as a serious problem, and am glad our system is treating them harshly, I just don’t want the term terrorist to be used so broadly.
For God’s sake, send something in to Nature’s letter department. Your response cuts right to the heart of the stupidity of that editorial.
Drugmonkey, I agree with you in principle here, if not with your zealous way of stating it. At my university there are occasional animal rights protests, and it’s all I can do to avoid engaging them in exactly this discussion about their lack of internal logic. The problem is that you can’t win (for many of the reasons highlighted on this blog).
Mark, this is an excellent post. Dario’s story has reached a lot of folks here, as there is monkey research in the lab of one of my advisors. When this went down, there were a lot of meetings and speculation over what actually happened. At least my school has stated they would be far more pro-active than UCLA at defending the families and property of their researchers. That people can get away with this stuff and not be called terrorists is pure insanity. It reminds me of a situation in a certain part of the Middle East.
Terrorism, in their view, should be limited to instances in which people are actually killed or in which the government is attacked.
So…if a bomb goes off and someone is crippled, that’s not terrorism. And when my government drops a bomb on yours it’s not terrorism, but when yours drops one one mine it is. That’s a staggeringly badly thought out position.
Terrorism is “using violence or the threat of violence to promote political change”. Whether it works or not is irrelevant, and who does it to who makes no difference. It’s a method, not an ideology.
Incidentally, you might recall that the US twice tried to make the UN pass resolutions against terrorism using the above definition. They backed down when someone pointed out it made George Bush a terrorist. Together with every political figure who’s ever fought a war.
I tend to agree with you up to a point Mark, some actions by animal rights extremists certainly fit any reasonable definition of terrorism, but I do worry that the term is sometimes over used. The majority of extremist actions would more properly come under the heading of harassment or criminal damage, I’d prefer to leave the word “terrorism” for actions that result or have the potential to result directly in serious injury or loss of human life. Recently there have been several instances where AR extremists have been convicted or charged with blackmail, an offence that carries sentences on a par with more minor terrorist activities. I see that there is a problem in that among many potential supporters of AR being accused of terrorism is almost a badge of honour, it’s lmost as if they’ve decided that if somebody accuses them of being a terrorist that automatically makes them a freedom fighter.
I stress that in my view there are many cases where the term terrorist is justified, but it shouldn’t be devalued. As for the argument that destroying labs and their experiments and data may result in many avoidable deaths in the long run, I’m not convinced. Duesberg and his fellow HIV/AIDS deniualists have without doubt helped to greatly exacerbate the number of deaths from AIDS in Africa in the past decade (probably by hundreds of thousands) but we seldom hear them being accused of mass murder.
Anyway, in the UK the fight against extremism has been greatly helped by pro-science organizations such as RDS and the Coalition for medical progress, and perhaps most dramatically by Pro-Test in Oxford (http://www.pro-test.org.uk/). Pro-Test is now seeking to establish chapters in other Universities and even other countries, for more details go to the Pro-Test Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2204725192. Visible public support for scientists seems to be what the AR extremists fear most.
Paul, in this specific instance they burned down a slaughterhouse and firebombed a GM horticultural farm and these authors are arguing these instances are not terrorism.
I’m not saying every dumb thing an animal rightsist does is terrorism, but certainly we can agree setting fire to these buildings is more than just picketing. This is terrorism.
I rather define it “organized use of violence or threat of violence on population groups” since organized crime can terrorize population groups and modern wars contains huge elements of terrorism.
The post is excellent, and I would add that conversely the term “war” is overused. Here the animal-rights extremists aren’t waging war on breeders or other animal users, they are staging terrorism.
As a side note, I do think that anthropomorphic chauvinism affects parts of animal husbandry in a bad way. But I can’t see any feasible alternatives to much of animal use at the moment.
I agree that the term “terrorist” is reasonably applied to people who engage in attacks that are directed against people (or designed to appear to be directed against people). I would not apply it to those who engage in vandalism such as damaging buildings that are unoccupied or believed to be unoccupied. Although reprehensible and criminal (especially if people are hurt), but I don’t think that the latter meets the definition of terrorism.
I like you trrll… But bullshit! My building is never unoccupied! You can come here at 2 am and find 10 grad students working, 5 janitors, 8 med students studying because the library closed, 15 PIs finishing up a grant, and so on. Ive been here in the middle of the night working myself on countless occasions. They never ‘know’ a building is unoccupied– they ‘know’ that they dont care (collateral damage, of course).
Terrorism being as overused as it is, I much prefer to use the words vandalism (causing property damage), murder (killing people), attempted murder (trying to kill people and failing) and war crimes (a.k.a. state terrorism). There is no reason whatsoever to invent a new political or legal classification such as terrorism – all the stuff terrorists do is already both illegal and immoral. It is clearly sufficient to make political motivation for a crime aggravating circumstances.
This also neatly avoids both the fight over what the difference is between a partisan and a terrorist, and the tendency to lump politically motivated murder and politically motivated vandalism together as if they were equally serious crimes. They are not.
Not to mention the fact that it removes the ‘justification’ for all those terrorist laws that allow the executive to arrest someone ‘on the side’ without little niceties like due process…
You know that old saw about a Republican being a Democrat who was mugged? A bit of that going on here.
Scientists and academics tend to be a bit left of center politically, fair enough? We tend to be suspicious of governmental overreach when it comes to compromising personal liberty and finding new excuses to incarcerate people. We are not the biggest fans of Homeland Uber Alles Security, PATRIOT act, and the rest.
HOWEVER, those of us who do animal research have been “mugged” by one particular slice of the lefty political spectrum. It IS terrorism for those who are terrified that they might get Ringach’ed. This puts us in favor of some repressive governmental overreach that we might not support in other less personal contexts. It is not a comfortable political position with which to grapple so you get a lot of hair splitting semantic debate.
For those arguing the animal righties haven’t killed anyone yet, well, the anti abortion people hadn’t killed anyone yet….until they started shooting doctors. The skinny on the LA dud firebomb is that the neighbor (not of Ringach, btw, it was another scientist) was a little old lady who’s house backed up on a hill. This is why the authorities concluded that if the front of the house went up in flames it was likely to be lethal- no escape.
look, whether it is “terrorism” or not is just a stupid distraction from the real issues. Where is the line between permitted expression and illegal behavior? People who were civilly disobedient in the Civil Rights area didn’t hide, they served their jail time and used the legal proceedings to advance their agenda. Animal rights extremists HIDE. The go on the lam to AVOID the legal consequences of their actions. The public front people (disingenuously) disavow the direct actions. Doesn’t that give us some insight into whether this is legitimate societal protest for change or criminality?
Sorry I screwed the pooch closing that tag. The first paragraph is obviously the quoted part.
Wow. This is precisely the sort of over-the-edge conversation that takes place between “scientists” that keeps me coming back to ScienceBlogs.
The original post is filled with completely whacky and ego-driven delusion. I really like this: “If you believe we shouldn’t use animals for research, that’s fine. But you have to accept that that means no biology can be accomplished…” No biology? Wow. Maybe Jane Goodall’s a geologist?
Seriously though, all knit-picking semantics aside, terrorism is usually the result of a weaker group being willing to engage in war against a stronger group. Going head to head would be group suicide.
A much more interesting question than whether every nasty letter sent to a vivisector is an act of terrorism, is whether terrorism is ever warranted.
And, as an aside, animal rights organizations do sometimes make errors, but I’ve never caught them in an outright lie. Lab administrators and university spokespersons on the other hand, do lie and intentionally limit public knowledge about what is happening in the labs. This is just a matter of public record.
Wow, way to diminish these terrorists crimes Rick. I’m talking about the firebombing of a slaughterhouse, and a horticulture facility, and the threats to the life and attempted murder of scientists by arson in the Dario Ringach case.
Somehow this got translated to “letter writing”.
And if you want examples of PETA and other ARAs lying they’re endless. How about PETA’s ad campaign last year that suggested chickens had the same cognitive abilities as dogs and “some people”. How about the claims that we can use computers rather than lab animals? How about their lies about their own euthanisation of hundreds of animals they they threw in dumpsters? And as far as real threats to researchers, how about the head of the PCRM saying it would be ok to assassinate scientists?
Your response to my statement that animals are required for biology research is also complete inane. Jane Goodall? Is that the best you can do? It is obvious to anyone that I’m talking about molecular biology, gene discovery, medicine, physiology etc., in the examples I gave. Yeah, you can still go out in a field and look at apes, big whoop, how is that going to cure cancer?
ARAs lie all the time about the nature of research being done, about the protocols in place for animal welfare, and about the importance of animals for research (Spend some time at with the archives at animal crackers if you’re interested). No serious biologist believes that the overwhelming majority of biology, especially molecular biology, physiology, and medicine would be possible without their use. I’m actually a lot less concerned about the damage that Bush and the Republicans can do to biological science compared to ARAs.
Jane Goodall is involved in behavioral studies. She may have degrees in diciplines which have connections to biology (ethology, primatology), which btw, wouldn’t have been possible if those who went before her didn’t experiment on animals: but the research she does is basically psychology.
The thing that most elevates ARAs to true wingnuts is their utter lies about science and medical research. Their most egregious lies are when they claim that we don’t need animal research. Usually this involves some sort of specious claim that we could just use computer models or cell cultures to get the same results. That’s just bullshit of the stinkiest kind. Biology in vivo is far more complicated than in vitro, and our present computer models are nowhere near sophisticated enough to model behavior in living animals or humans. Indeed, if we just tested things in cell culture, we would never discovered antiangiogenic therapy, which relies on the interaction between tumor blood vessels and the tumor cells to work.
Now if ARAs would volunteer themselves and their children to be the first subjects in which to test drugs and therapies that have only been tested in cell culture, then at least they’d be putting their lives where their mouths are. In fact, when you ask them how we are to move promising drugs from the experimental stage to human stage without testing them in animals first, they either dissemble, or repeat the same crap about testing using computer models.
Why do I doubt that you’re putting NIT-picking (to pick a nit) and semantics aside?
A: that’s a semantic argument. So much for that idea.
B: No, terrorism is a bunch of crazy jackasses who know that rational people would never agree with them, committing acts of violence in order to cow others into accepting their dictates (oops: there I go arguing semantics again).
Well, you are hereby awarded my “worst straw-man stuffer of the week” award: every nasty letter? Who said anything about that? The issues discussed were arson and bombing: do you really equate those activities with mailing a complaint to someone?
Ooh, surprise, surprise: have you tried? Mark mentioned several in the above post: “Humans are biologically herbivores”, for example. Don’t strain yourself.
Good lord. “This is just a matter of public record”. You have a bright future at the Discovery Institute. Or maybe Ken Hamm’s new museum.
Jerry Vlasak is not the head of PCRM!
A comment above:”How about the claims that we can use computers rather than lab animals?”
Well, what about the scientific articles reviewing the evidence if animal experiments are really useful?
The BMJ is not indeed animal-friendly nor an animal rights terrorist pamphlet, that I know…
That’s right, he was just their spokesman. Their front-man, their voice, the face they wanted to show the world.
Your papers do not prove what you think they prove. They show a limited utility of animal studies reproducing clinical effects when study design is poor and the clinical disease is poorly mimicked. This has just about nothing to do with all the examples I mentioned.
Trouble is, ‘terrorist’ means two different things. One is the definition given above which, as I understand it from the LA article, can result in severer penalties in US law. Which is fine – similar to hate crimes.
The other is as used politically by our governments, where it means something which can’t be defined by words in the normal sense: it means an emotional reaction of horror and revulsion, an assertion of incomprehensibility and alienness of motivation, an appeal for a refusal to understand.
When Al Qaeda are described as ‘terrorists’ we are not supposed to think of them as committing some rather more heinous crime than murder, we are supposed to think of them as devoid of humanity. The mere attempt to understand and analyse their motives (beyond ‘hating freedom’) is treated with suspicion, as indicating weakness and a propensity to betray.
Using definition 1 to categorise ARAs is a good thing if it helps people start thinking about what they mean when they call someone a terrorist. As long as definition 2 is so prevalent, it’s a good reason not to call anyone a terrorist.
The LA Times author may be wrong, but I can see why he’s nervous: he doesn’t want his brother put in a category about whom, for a very large slice of the population, with encouragement from politicians, rational thought is both impossible and unacceptable.
Without engaging any of the specific cases mentioned here, I’d like to make an observation: Contrary to received opinion, terrorism has a simple, consistent definition. Terrorism is the use of politically motivated violence against civilian targets by non-state actors.
If the violence is not politically motivated, it’s not terrorism. If it’s directed against military or government targets, it’s not terrorism. If the violence is perpetrated by a government or military organization, it’s not terrorism. These things are all bad, but they’re not terrorism.
The reason that people get twisted into knots by this definition is that, no matter what your politics, this definition inevitably includes groups you support and excludes groups you abhor. Which IMHO is just too bad. There are going to be cases in which groups you support engage in terrorism. Your support doesn’t render it not terrorism, it just means that you will countenance terrorism under certain circumstances but not others. There will also be times when groups you abhor will engage in despicable activities that are not terrorism. It doesn’t make their acts any less abhorrent.
The use of the word “terrorism” as a generic pejorative by all sides weakens the legal status of terrorism as a crime, and makes it more difficult to effectively fight terrorism as a tactic.
Rick, If you haven’t yet found an example of ARA’s lying then you really haven’t been trying hard enough. If you want one example just look up Peter Thatchel’s claims about the role of animal tests in the development of HIV protease inhibitors. Another is tha claim that rodent tests failed to predict the transgenerational carcinogenic effects of DES when the rodent studies which would have shown this were not done before DES went into widespread use, and when they were done later showed the same transgeneralional effect seen in humans. Having said that most ARA’s don’t so much make facts up as present them out of context and usually spun beyond all recognition. I guess that in the last couple of years I’ve examined about 50 claims by ARA’s, none has been acurate.
Getting back to the Nature editorial this raises a key point that might be missed in the debate about when we should use Terrorism. The Nature editorial urges dialog between scientists and moderate ARA’s. I really wonder if any such dialog can be of any use given the huge degree of dishonisty displayed by “moderate” groups such as the BUAV, EMP and PeTA. It makes it very difficult for scientists to have any dialog with these groups when they’re forced to spend the greater part of the discussion correcting the ARA’s misrepresentations.
Ricks mention of the Perel et al. study is interesting, I read the original full version (there’s a link to it from the rapid responses to the BMJ paper, for some reason it won’t past properly for me here) and it presents a different picture. For 3 of the 6 drugs examined there was good concordance between human and animal data, for a forth there was concordance but Perel at all thought the animal studies too small to be able to say for sure. For two others Tirilazad for stroke and corticosteroids for brain injury they claimed that there was discordance. In the case of Tirilazad the more detailed data actually indicated agreement between the animal data and the human trial data, that when given before or very soon after the stroke Tirilazad was helpful but that the benefit declined sharply within half an hour of the stroke, most humans were not given Tirilazad until an hour or more after the stroke. For the corticosteroids the authors concluded that the most likely explanation for the results seen was that the animal head injury model was oversimplistic and didn’t represent the actual clinical situation (i.e. it would have been misleading even if they’d used humans rather than rats due to co-morbitities, variable injury types, delays before treatment etc).
Both BMJ papers have been criticised as being overly focused on a small area of research and too simplistic in their approach. Also most scientists would contend that to expect animal (or in vitor lab studies) to be routinely double blinded (a key criticism) is unrealistic.
Having said that there are lessons to be learned from then, particularly where experimental design is concerned. The first lesson is probably that just because it’s an animal study that doesn’t mean it will give valid results even if you don’t design your experiment properly. But overall it actually shows that animal studies are in fact pretty good at predicting the results in humans.
Just so everybody understands, Rick up there is from Primate Freedom. He’s a denialist, by my definition, who likes equating primate research to Nazi science.
I wouldn’t treat him as an honest broker.
But beautiful analysis Paul, I came to the same conclusions. People keep missing the point though, it’s not just about using animals as models of disease, which is very difficult to do and takes a great deal of work to make an animal model effective. It’s about everything in biology really requiring animals. I’m talking about the serum on our cells, the antibodies we use for detection of proteins, to primary cell lines, to tissues to study physiology, to various basic science in vivo experiments attempting to understand the basics of biology.
One thing you’ll find about the ARAs are they are very dismissive of basic science, and biology as a whole. You’ve really got to nail them down and make them acknowledge if they had their way, it really would be just people like Jane Goodall, standing around looking at nature, and not being able to investigate it on a molecular level.
Terrorism is the use of politically motivated violence against civilian targets by non-state actors.
What constitutes “violence”? You can use this to define civil disobedience as terrorism … conversely it also allows most of the Fortune 500 (if not all) as terrorist organizations. In principle I agree, but we have to work on the parameters to avoid being silly. Egging Starbucks isn’t terrorism.
Domestic terrorists defined too broadly, critics say
Well, that’s clear enough as a working definition.
First, I post using my real name and link to my blog. I post everywhere using my real name. Mark Hoofnagle points out that I am me, as if no one would have known, and says,
On the matter of animals as models of human disease and drug response, I am a skeptic, not a denialist.
I equate primate vivisection with human vivisection, not primate research with Nazi science as Mark claims. This may be a fine point to some, but denialism blog seems to make overly broad statements regarding animal rights and the value of animal use to science with some regularity as when they claimed that the study of biology must cease if the harmful use of animals was outlawed. When I pointed this out, and used Jane Goodall’s work as an example, denialism blog retorted “is that the best you can do?” No, the original claim denies plant biology altogether.
I suspect that denialism blog’s original rant was just poorly thought out and an example of the inherent risk of being misunderstood when one’s writing is imprecise.
Mark’s comment about my honesty is falacious. I am biased, but by linking to my blog, and by posting with my real name, I intend this to be obvious. He asserts that I am not an honest broker, implying perhaps that he evaluates the animal rights movement and vivisection honestly. If that is his claim, I think he’s wrong.
One characteristic of the true denialist (denialism blog is a pretty good example) is that the denialist is apt to cite sources to support their claims that are litle more than circular or are from others like themselves chanting the same mantra. I had commented that I hadn’t seen many examples of outright lying by animal rights organizations and Mark said,
But this links to a blog post that does little to substantiate his claim of outright lies. It just demonstrates that some people don’t like PeTA. There isn’t a clear connection to his claim that PeTA is lying or says that chickens have the same cognitive abilities as dogs and some humans.
I suspect that this is a misinterpretation or faulty paraphrase. Chickens do have cognitive characteristics common to dogs and to humans, and this is probably what was originally claimed. See for instance: Chickens worry about the future.
Anonymous poster Chuck C took me to task when he wrote:
But he doesn’t really offer any evidence for his apparent claim that I am misrepresenting the facts. It seems to me that the facts are readily available. This is an area of interest to me so maybe I’m just familiar with the situation while Chuck C isn’t.
For instance, almost every (maybe all) university website that has a statement regarding the care and use of animals in its research program makes the same claim. Here’s an example from Emory University:
The regulations at play here are the PHS policy that requires an annual written Assurance from the facility stating that it will adhere to the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Inspections by PHS are rare. Actual adherence to the Guide is not verified by PHS.
The main body of regulations stipulating guidelines for the care and use of animals in the US (I have very limited knowledge of the specifics elsewhere) is the Animal Wefare Act. The keystone of the Act is the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The Act is enforced by the USDA; compliance with the Act is checked annually through inspections by the Animal Care division of the USDA Animal Plant and Animal Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS-AC inspectors are usually veterinarians.
The IACUC system does not work very well, and, from my personal inspection of IACUC documents from a number of universities and their actual practices, I’d say the system is broken, assuming it ever worked. By consistently citing oversight by an IACUC as evidence and assurance that animals in labs are being treated humanely and used only when absolutely necessary, universities are consistently misleading the public, and, I imagine, their own staff who haven’t taken the time to evaluate this assertion.
The IACUC system has been subjected to very little independent evaluation, but when is was, the results were clear. See Plous S, Herzog H. Animal research. Reliability of protocol reviews for animal research. Science. 2001. The authors found that:
Adding insult to injury, the USDA inspections mentined above have also been found to be ineffective, this time by the USDA IG’s office. See OIG Report No. 33002-3-SF September 2005.
The two key components of oversight of the care and use of animals — the two key components cited by essentially every institution using animals as evidence that the animals are appropriately cared for and used — are broken. The uniform repeated recitation amounts to broadscale chronic misinformation to the public by those using animals.
Individual instances of misleading the public abound and covering up details of the way the animals are used is common. The most telling and blatant example of a recent coverup is the case of the University of Wisconsin’s destructon of a carefully indexed archive of videos made by researchers there stretching back many years. This was basic and irreplaceable data. In all, as far as we know at the moment, the archive included at least 628 videos. Here’s an inventory of the lost records.
In 2003, USDA inspectors discovered that monkeys in Ei Terasawa’s push-pull perfusion studies of monkeys’ pituitaries had died while, on at least one occasion, the lab tech was away on a lunch break. For 17 years prior to the USDA discovery, Terasawa had been keeping the monkeys’ chaired for up to 4 1/2 days at a time while various neuroactive chemicals were pumped in and out of their brains. (You can find part of her protocols and some of the correspondence on line here.
Once she was caught, the University of Wisconsin IACUC chair said that this showed that the oversight system was working, and then they ordered her to change the name of the procedure from push-pull perfusion to microdialysis. This is another instance of misleading the public.
Until very recently, the UW primate center had been saying on their website that they had discovered the cause of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). Meanwhile, NIH websites were saying that the cause was unknown. Now UW says that they have discovered “one of the causes.” No they haven’t. What they do is to mimic some of the symtoms of PCOS in women by dosing monkeys pregnant with female fetuses with testosterone. The offspring, unsurprisingly, are born with abnormal hormonal regulatory systems and altered genitalia depending on dose and timing.
Paul, another anonymous poster took me to task as well. He wrote:
So I tried looking up ‘Peter Thatchel’. I think he was a gay Labor candidate in the UK. I tried looking up ‘Peter Thatchel HIV protease inhibitors’ and got only 2 hits: this blog thread, and a Pro-Test page that won’t open. This is a weak example of ARA’s lying. (Maybe this is tied in with Peter Duesberg, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, who argued that HIV had not been proven to cause HIV/AIDS? If so, you can’t really claim that Thachel was lying if he accepted one scientist’s opinion over (even many) others.)
I’ve been involved with all of this for some time. So far, I haven’t found many instances of lying by animal rights organizations. I have found instances of being wrong, and of making errors. Writing about a very secretive industry is inherently prone to error. I’ve made errors, and have always called attention to them when I have and have tried to correct them. This is what I’ve seen generally, everywhere. It is not what I’ve seen by the vivisection industry. At all.
Finally, Mark writes: “One thing you’ll find about the ARAs are they are very dismissive of basic science, and biology as a whole.”
There is some irony here. Basic science, and its relation to clinical care has been criticized recently by a number of observers. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Science convened a Clinical Research Roundtable in 2000 to analyze the success of basic research. They reported in 2003 that there is a “disconnection between the promise of basic science and the delivery of better health.” And that unless new strategies are enacted, the “data and information produced by the basic science enterprise will not result in a tangible public benefit.” The Journal of the American Medical Association characterized the report as not worded strongly enough.
In 2004, William Richard Rodriguez, M.D. Chief Medical Director, Veritas Medicine and Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School had this to say [Rodriguez, WR Can biomedical research in the United States be saved from collapse? 2004 MebMD, Veritas Medicine http://tinyurl.com/l75kv]:
Mark sems to hold on to a promise; he seems to be denying that basic research — essentially the use on animals as models of human molecular biology — is proving to be much less the boon to medical advancement than has been claimed.
There are strong theoretical reasons for this failure. At the fore are evolution and complexity. Evolution takes place at the molecular level, in the DNA, where species differences originate. It makes sense that drug response differs between species because drugs frequently interact with an organism, ulimately, at the level of the gene. Evolution makes this expected. Even subtle and slight genetic changes can lead to dramaticly different responses even between strains of the same species. Using one species to model another on anything but the grossest level (I wonder what will happen if we drop an anvil on its head?) is proving to be a dead end.
Denialists in basic animal-modeled science cling to the illusion that because what they do has all the physical accoutrements of what they think of as science, that it must be science. But it isn’t. Science is self-correcting and there is little evidence that these practioners are at all interested in testing their assumptions. They take it all on faith.
Using one species to model another is an archaic paradigm that holds on from the days when we thought we would see an easily understandable stepwise progression from mouse to rat to cat to dog to monkey to ape to human. We don’t. Each organism has a long history of independent evolution, they are each differently complex.
I probably do sound a bit like a denialist here; but I’m willing to be proven wrong. There must be instances, given the large probabilities involved, that one species will correctly predict something about another species. The inherent problem is that this can only be known retrospectively, and usually the predictions are wrong. An interestng book that addresses some of this in Brute Science (Shanks and LaFollette, Routledge, 1997.) Shanks, the Curtis D. Gridley Professorship in the History and Philosophy of Science at Wichita State University is an active defender of evolution.
Here’s a last example of denialism by vivisectors. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to build a replacement for its (previously USDA) Plum Island, NY facility, and one of the universities that put in a bid was the University of Wisconsin. They offered to put it in the Town of Dunn, WI, very near Madison. (This was an unbelievably stupid decision given the fact that Dunn is a national award winning community, known nationally for its staunch resolve to maintain its rural character) Anyway, when the UW made its big presentation to sell the idea to the Town of Dunn (the small town hall was packed), the eight or so UW representatives were asked whether any of them had read Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory, by Michael C. Carroll. (Harper Collins, 2005.) None of them had; no harm done.
But then, at subsequent presentations, they were asked again whether they had read it. They never did read the book, apparently, even though residents kept asking about it. It’s like they didn’t want to know what it said.
Now that’s denialism.
A lot of what animal rights extremists do is very much like the NAACP did in the NAACP v. Claiborne case. Was this terrorism?
“For example, the Court dealt sensibly with a famous economic boycott called by a Mississippi chapter of the NAACP from 1966 to 1973 to protest the failure of local officials to desegregate public schools, hire black police officers, or include blacks on juries. Charles Evers, the NAACP field secretary, made a number of fiery speeches, warning “Uncle Toms” who broke the boycott that they would “have their necks broken by their own people.” “Enforcers” stood guard at the doors of boycotted businesses to take down the names of blacks frequenting them. The names were published in a local black newspaper and read aloud at NAACP meetings. For most boycott violators, punishment stopped at being called demeaning names, but sometimes physical coercion followed.”
Terrorism comes with corruption. To deny something that is known without becoming a “professional” as wrong is more than absurd.
Medicine has going forward in the last decades because of huge technological advances, NOT because of electrods implanted in primates or pig hearts “glued” to them.
To inject a “human” disease in a completely healthy animal whose natural habitat is a jungle, not a dark cage in a noisy lab, and have him/her living a solitary life, starving stressed and in pain and fear, just won’t give a “magical” vaccine. It just talks about VIOLENCE dominating some “human minds”. If what those “researchers” are doing would be RIGHT, they would not hide it nor lie about it.
This corruption in biomedical research should stop, as for decades MILLIONS of animals are tortured and killed yearly and TOO MUCH MONEY wasted in mixing apples and bananas.
AS long as corrupted governments allow this circus to go on, it will, but it is for sure that one day someone will say STOP. And then those “in favor” of vivisection will be against, not because it is RIGHT, but because it is the “convenient” position to be. Nasty people, aren’t they?
Those who find explanation to anything coming from their side, and oppose everything from the other side are the extremists. Those who act with cruelty and violence, and pretend to justify their abhorrent acts with lies are corrupted… and are terrorists.
Brian and JCM, you’re both idiots. I don’t know how you found this thread after all this time, but you’re an embarrassment to our species.
Brian, arson is not comparable to the civil rights actions of 40 years ago. Leaving bombs on people’s porches is what the KKK was doing, not what the freedom riders was doing, you’re on crack.
JCM, you’re also an idiot. Biomedical research does not torture animals. You clearly have no idea what goes into animal research, the regulation, the oversight etc. Also, people have very little idea how critical animals are for the biological research enterprise. Without animal products there are no antibodies, no serum for cell culture, no primary lines, no tissues for physiology, no models to study disease. This is hysterical ARA nonsense and shows how completely and embarrassingly ignorant ARAs are about what biology and medicine use animals for. This thread is closed.
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