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ANU Monkey Experiments: Science Or Science Fiction

"He who dares to vivisect, does not hesitate to lie about it" - George Bernard Shaw

by Robert Ryan

Editor's Introduction:
A report by our Canberra representative, Robert Ryan, slamming monkey experiments carried out at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, at the Australian National University, has put the embarrassed vivisectors on the defence.

The ANU science student's report, which was published in the campus newspaper Woroni (Vol. 45, Issue 8, 1993), exposed the unscientific nature and uselessness of monkey experiments that purport to study human brain conditions. (See CAFMR Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2, for Ryan's article "How scientific are the ANU monkey experiments" which is a shortened version of his report.)

As a result, an anonymous vivisector working on the monkey experiments was interviewed by Woroni (Issue 11). In attempting to justify his/her threatened livelihood the vivisector uttered the usual myths and lies regarding the "validity" and "usefulness" of animal experimentation. Robert Ryan responded, writing a rebuttal that was published in the subsequent issue of Woroni and it reads:

Comments upon "Monkey Experiments in ANU - the facts (sic!)" by "Mr Researcher" (Mr R) in last issue of Woroni.

Mr R confuses us for Animal Liberation. The new anti-vivisectionists are not animal lovers, or at least are not necessarily so. They are for the most part former animal researchers, clinical researchers, medical professionals, science students and citizens who have had the mental clarity to ask fundamental questions: "For whom are these experiments carried out? What results do they produce?"

Vivisectors have a vested interest in promoting the slogan 'animal rights' and making vivisection a moral, ethical issue because this is the most effective way to shift public attention from scientific scrutiny of their work. They do not want you to know of the many scientists, including ex-animal researchers, who recognise vivisection as a useless method, a scientific fraud done for commercial reasons not scientific ones.

Ex-ANIMAL RESEARCHERS AGAINST VIVISECTION?: For instance Mr R certainly would not wish for you to know about Italy's Prof. Pietro Croce, author of the book Vivisection or Science - a choice to make (1991), who, after nearly three decades conducting animal experiments, from contemplating the results of his and others work, came to the conclusion:

"Every species, all the varieties of animals and even individuals of the same species are different from each other. No experimentation carried out on one species can be extrapolated to any other, including humans. To suppose that such experimentation could be legitimate for humans is the main reason for the failure and sometimes for the catastrophes which are inflicted upon us by modern medicine, especially in the area of drugs." (p. 14)

Prof. Croce had the courage, unlike most of his colleagues, to defy pressures from above, risk professional retaliation, retract publicly everything he had for a long time taught and believed in and now advocates the abolition of vivisection on medical grounds. His curriculum includes: Fulbright Scholarship, Research Department of the National Jewish Hospital of Colorado University in Denver, Research Department of Toledo, Ohio. Scholarship Ciudad Sanatorial of Tarrasa in Barcelona, Spain. Between 1952 and 1982, head of the laboratory of microbiological-pathological anatomy and chemo-clinical analyses at the Hospital L. Sacco of Milan, Italy. He is a member of the College of American Pathologists and author of many medical books, papers and articles. Currently he is active in a laboratory at Vecenza, Northern Italy, doing medical analyses. For your education Mr R we recommend his book.

Prof. Croce is by no means an isolated example. Let's take another from the Hans Ruesch compilation 1000 Doctors (and many more) Against Vivisection (1989), that of Donald J. Barnes who carried out classified research on rhesus monkeys at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. In USA Today of April 25, 1988 he wrote under the heading "Animal Research is Wrong":

"After reading your editorial, 'Animal research is needed; don't ban it', for the fourth time, I cannot force myself to believe it was written by one of your regular editors. You adamantly state that animal research is 'necessary' for human health, justifying this position with reams of drivel churned out by those who profit from the perpetuation of such research.

"To be perfectly honest, I admit to sharing many of your views only a few years ago when I was involved in laboratory research with non-human primates, a profession which I dutifully followed for almost 16 years. I was wrong as you are wrong. The real 'facts' demonstrate clearly that the use of non-human animals in medical and biomedical research retards rather than advances the progress of medical science." (in Ruesch 1989: 34)

In support of the abolition of vivisection Barnes writes to medical historian Hans Ruesch: "Most important, I agree with your position re the utter uselessness of vivisection. When I first left the laboratory, I remained sceptical, stating, 'there are some good experiments to be sure, but the majority are worthless', or words to that effect. Now after years of looking for those 'good' experiments, I have long since concluded that they do not exist. But I had to do the looking for myself. I was simply too conditioned to the 'Party Line' to accept anyone's word for this." (in Ruesch 1989: 36)

MR RESEARCHER'S EVASIVE ARGUING: In our original article we quoted scientist W.H. Wheeler. He points out that 1. electrodes are unreliable and can give false data as to how the brains' functional areas are organised and 2. it is dangerous and misleading to extrapolate results inter-species. Perhaps because he could not refute these points Mr R takes recourse in the old tactic of discrediting the journal "Science Digest" or the scientist by noting he isn't a neurobiologist conducting animal experiments so therefore does not have authority to criticise!

Firstly, because the mainstream media [and so-called "respectable" medical journals - Ed.] are financially interdependent with the interests of the pharmaceutical-chemical-vivisection industry, voices which dissent from their official dogmas often have to resort to publicising in smaller and/or less reputable media channels e.g. Science Digest. However, intelligent people can discern the content of a message from its package.

Secondly, if the same points made by an active neurobiologist animal experimenter is what you want then Zurich University's Prof. Konrad Ackert should suffice: "Modern brain research tries to investigate the structure and function of the brain. Since it must work on the live brain - we already know the dead one and it hasn't advanced us - modern research takes recourse to animal experimentation. Hence we experience a continuous embarrassment, as it wasn't possible to extrapolate directly on man the information obtained on animals." (in Hans Ruesch, Slaughter of the Innocent 1991: 301)

OUT OF CONTEXT?: But hark! We hear the cries of Mr Researcher that, "People against animal experiments often quote from obscure 'scientific' sources of dubious standing or cite more respectable people, but totally out of context". One wonders if Mr R's method of classifying a scientist as either "obscure" and "dubious" or "more respectable" depends a priori upon their anti- or pro-vivisection stance. What Mr R refers to by "totally out of context" is when pro-vivisectionists are quoted acknowledging the fallaciousness of their methodology while still trying to justify their funding and livelihood. When embarrassing contradictions are highlighted in their own positions and beliefs, such as Prof. Ackert above, vivisectors run for shelter hollering "out of context!!"

AN APPEAL TO EMOTIONS?: Mr R considers we used emotive words in a ploy to make the experiment sound unacceptable. The overheading "Monkey Torture" and the emotive cartoon were NOT of the author's consent. The previous Woroni editors imposed them (as they had a habit of doing - see recent letters sections). One does not need to add emotive words to make experiments sound "unacceptable" for your own protocol descriptions do this for themselves.

The word "brutal" in the phrase "brutal insertion of electrodes is bound to upset this delicate balance (of the brain)" was not referring to sadism on part of the researcher. The point is that the invasive procedure of perforating the cranium and inserting electrodes to, say, record neural activity in the visual cortexes is in practice associated with damage to this and other functional brain units at the same time. This in addition to other stress-causing laboratory phenomena, upsets the entire organic balance and natural reactions. Even the former vivisector Ivan Pavlov (see quote in original article) acknowledged this absolute difference between phenomena observed under normal conditions and those under artificially-induced laboratory conditions. To be unable to recognise this distinction suggests a lack of capacity to reason (i.e. brute, stupid).

However, Mr R describes this distinction of normal/artificial as "unrealistic nit-picking" with "little practical validity". Or could it be that to publicly acknowledge this difference would be an admission of the invalid nature of his work? But hey, he could always say he was "quoted out of context!"

FALSE ANALOGIES: Mr R attempts to justify animal experiments by drawing analogies between simple linear mechanical physics (i.e. "we can build cars and send people to the moon!") and complex non-linear dynamic biological systems. We shall see that these analogies are fallacious.

VIVISECTION: A METHODOLOGICAL ERROR: Vivisectionist thinking arises from empirical science of the nineteenth century and which postulates the choice and construction of "experimental models" with which to reproduce freely those phenomena to be researched.

As an example, two condensors charged positively and negatively with electricity placed near together produce a spark. This is the experimental model of a natural phenomena which is lightning. But for the study of humans, what is the appropriate model for their functions and malfunctions or illnesses? The proposition is made: "Let us take the animal as the experimental model for the human being."

But here at once arise several objections. Firstly, there is no true correlation between different species. For example, Arsenic kills humans but is harmless to guinea-pigs, chickens and monkeys; Digitalis dangerously raises the blood pressure of dogs but is used to lower blood pressure in humans; Penicillin kills guinea-pigs; Chloramphenicol damages the blood-producing bone marrow in humans, but in no other animal; many common lab animals - dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, mice - do not require dietary vitamin C for their own bodies produce it of their own accord. But deprived of dietary vitamin C guinea-pigs, some primates and humans will die of scurvy. There are enough of these species differences to fill a book.

Secondly, not only is there no correlation between species but there are major differences within a species. For example the human species is divided into four major blood groups. If there are such differences between humans, humans are even far more different from animals. Certain apparent similarities such as monkeys more or less erect stature are unimportant biologically.

INDICATIONS?: In support of animal experiments vivisectors, as does Mr R, then say: "We don't expect final answers from animal experiments, but only hints, indications, which encourage us to continue in a particular direction." This is, of course sheer nonsense; Professor Croce explains: "But what's an indication? An approximate information, merely orientive. And as the compass card shows, an orientation can point in the right direction, of which there is only one, or to one of the many wrong directions. And an animal experiment only rarely points to the right direction, and when it does, it is due to sheer coincidence, and at any rate verifiable only after the fact. Experimenting on animals to do medical research is like playing roulette."

VIVISECTION IS UNSCIENTIFIC: A fundamental rule, to be strictly observed in each scientific experiment, is that each experiment must be capable of being repeated. An experiment is repeatable when it is carried out anywhere, at any time and by any researcher, and always produces an identical result. If that does not happen it means that there is something wrong or it is not demonstrable or the method used to demonstrate it is flawed. Now, the question is this: does the experimentation on animals (including the human being) have the intrinsic characteristic of being repeatable anywhere at any time and by any researcher?

In his book Prof. Croce provides an answer to this from research carried out at the University of Bremen in a paper entitled "Problems of activity threshold in pharmacology and toxicology":

1. In Ionising radiation young animals react differently from older ones.

2. Tranquillisers - there are big differences in their effects between young animals and old animals.

3. LD50% - the common method of testing pharmaceuticals, chemical agents: in the experiments carried out in the evening almost all the rats died; in those carried out in the morning all of them survived. In the tests carried out in winter, survival rates were doubled in contrast to those carried out in summer. In tests carried out with poisonous substances on mice overcrowded together in cages, nearly all of them died, while those carried out on mice in normal conditions, all the mice survived.

CONCLUSION: The authors of this research concluded that "if such trifling environmental conditions bring about such widely differing and unforeseeable results, this means that animal experimentation cannot be relied upon in assessing a chemical substance and it is all the more absurd to extrapolate to problems of human health results which are intrinsically wrong."

Finally, the following should be noted. The above observations are made, not by anti-vivisectionists, but by the vivisectors, who had the merit of defining the limits of a methodology in which, hitherto, they have certainly believed. (Croce 1991: 18-19) It should be clear to anyone that an analogy between relatively constant inert mechanical systems and dynamic living biological systems is fallacious. Whereas one can usually be pretty sure of a constant result on the former, the latter by its dynamic quality "LIFE" incurs a frightening degree of complexity, so much that one is unlikely to obtain the same result on the same animal in succession. However vivisectors ignore this, because to acknowledge it means their scientism is erroneous. Even the founder of modern vivisection Claude Bernard came to this realisation at the end of his life. (See Slaughter of the Innocent by Hans Ruesch p. 216) But by then animal experiments had become a profitable cult and a useful alibi for the pharmaceutical industry when their products kill and injure people.

In sum, "In each specialised area, the logically thinking scientist can deduce no more than the fact that the animal used has under the conditions applied, shown a certain reaction or change in function, or has borne this or that surgical procedure well or badly. Any more far-reaching interpretation is speculation, at best a hypotheses with no appraisable validity for humans. The experiment must always be repeated and checked again on humans. Only when both the results of both the animal and the human experiment are available can one recognise any possible comparability and judge the degree of validity. It is therefore totally impossible to reach any conclusion from an animal experiment... The results obtained from experimenting on an animal does not enable one to say that a human will react in the same way". (Dr Werner Hartinger MD, surgeon of thirty years and first president of International League of Doctors Against Vivisection, 1991.)...

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Published in the Spring-Summer 1994 issue of the CAFMR Newsletter.

Copyright 1994 by the Campaign Against Fraudulent Medical Research,

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