Is all animal research inhumane?

I received an email from a reader in response to my last post on PETA’s exposing of problems with the treatment of research animals at UNC. The reader pointed me to the website of an organization concerned with the treatment of lab animals in the Research Triangle, And, she wrote the following:

Some people may think that PETA is extreme. However, the true “extreme” is what happens to animals in labs. If the public knew, most would be outraged. But, of course our government hides such things very well. Those researchers who abuse animals in labs (which is ALL researchers, by my definition), cannot do an about turn and go home and not abuse animals or humans at their homes. Animal researchers are abusers, and there is enough research on people who abuse to know that abuse does not occur in isolation. The entire industry must change.

There are a bunch of claims here, some of which I’m going to pretty much leave alone because I don’t have the expertise to evaluate them. Frankly, I don’t know whether even the folks we would all agree are abusing animals in the lab are full-fledged abusers who cannot help but go forth and abuse spouses, children, family pets, neighbors, and such. (I’m not a psychologist or a sociologist, after all.) And, while I’d like to believe that the public would be outraged at unambigous cases of animal abuse, the public seems not to be outraged by quite a lot of things that I find outrageous.
I would, however, like to consider the claim that ALL researchers who do research with animals are abusing those animals.

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Just because they’re out to get you doesn’t mean they don’t have a point.

Since I’m in the blessed wee period between semesters, it’s time to revisit some “old news” (i.e., stuff that I had to set aside in the end-of-semester crush). Today, a story from about a month ago, wherein the Rick Weiss of the Washington Post reports on the University of North Carolina’s troubles obeying animal welfare regulations in its research labs.
You knew that the National Institutes of Health had all sorts of regulations governing the use of animals in research (and even an Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, whose webpages have a bunch of helpful links for those involved in such research), right? You’d assume that the folks running a major research university (like UNC) would know that, too. Because you know who else knows it? PETA. And somehow, PETA had an inkling that researchers at UNC were maybe not taking the regulations on animal use all that seriously.

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The problem with cheaters.

[Finally I’m actually healthy again, and not in a hotel charging $10 a day for internet access. So, on with the blog!]
It must be a law of nature that when past and current graduate students dine together at the end of December the conversation turns, sooner or later, to cheaters. First, of course, you discuss the head-slappingly stupid techniques cheating students employ. (“If they thought we wouldn’t notice them doing that, they must think we’re really stupid!”) Then, you recount a sting operation or two (like planting someone next to a habitual cheater during an exam and having the plant spend the exam period writing utter nonsense — all dutifully copied by the cheater onto her own exam). Finally, there is the wringing of hands over how the graduate students’ efforts against cheaters are for nought given the policies at certain universities that, basically, don’t let you do jack to the cheaters.
It’s that last part that’s been sticking in my craw since the cheating cheaters discussion of which I was a part on New Year’s Eve.

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Dover Ruling

It’s here. The AP story, via Yahoo News:

Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum must include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said. Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives even while professing religious beliefs, he said.
“The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy,” Jones wrote.
The board’s attorneys had said members were seeking to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives to Charles Darwin’s theory that evolution develops through natural selection. Intelligent-design proponents argue that the theory cannot fully explain the existence of complex life forms.

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