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February 20, 2006

"Build the Oxford animal lab!": What happened when an ordinary student decided to stand up to animal rights extremists - and founded Pro-Test

Posted by Laurie a.k.a. Sqrrl101

Laurie a.k.a. Sqrrl101 (Laurie Pycroft) - a sixteen-year-old from Swindon - was so appalled by the antics of the animal rights extremists campaigning against the Oxford University animal lab that he decided to stand up to them. Here he tells the story of the founding of Pro-Test - an organisation which is campaigning in support of the Oxford University animal lab.

I've always been a very scientific and extremely logical person. From a reasonably early age, I've felt that science and knowledge are the most important things humanity possesses, and indeed what defines humanity as a species, and separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. My view is that humans are the dominant race on this planet and, not for any spiritual reasons, but pragmatically, we therefore have a right to use lower life forms for our benefit. I'm not talking about using animals simply for our amusement, and I'm not suggesting that animal welfare isn't an issue, but what I do believe is that if an animal can be used to save a human, or even significantly improve human quality of life, then that's entirely justifiable.

The morning of 28th January started as normally as could be expected. I woke up, dressed and so forth as normal, and set out on my way to Oxford to meet two friends of mine. The journey, too, went fairly smoothly and without incident, if you don't count the bus-replacement service that's normal for a Saturday train journey. As I remember, the train got in at about eleven, and I waited an hour or so for my friends to meet me.

They arrived, and we began walking in search of somewhere pleasant to sit and chat, and perhaps get a nice injection of caffeine goodness. Our search was fruitful, as we chanced upon a coffee shop. We went in, ordered our respective beverages, sat down, and began talking about this and that. Whilst we chatted away, I happened to glance out of the window, and noticed an abnormally high police presence - a few pairs of officers were walking along the street, and I could see a couple of police horses. As I was wondering about the reason behind this, I noticed a group of people marching towards the building in which I was seated, waving their placards and chanting:

stop the Oxford animal lab!
Admittedly, at this point, I only knew vaguely of the planned animal research laboratory in Oxford, but owing to my personality and long-held views on animal research, I immediately decided to go out and strike a blow for the scientific community.

Accompanied by my two companions, I made my way outside and began to follow the activists, whereupon I chimed in with my own chant of:

build the Oxford animal lab!
This caused some degree of mirth amongst onlookers, and brought a small group of the protestors to break off from the main march and begin shouting at me to tell me to "fuck off home" and declare that I was a "torturer" and "evil". Eventually, they all continued marching away, leaving me slightly stunned at their disregard for open debate. After being congratulated by a few members of the public, my friends and I walked into the town centre, with the intention of quietly enjoying the rest of our day.

We wandered along a pedestrianised road, again chatting on various subjects, when we turned a corner and noticed another, different, group of protestors, all chanting the same slogan as the first group we'd encountered:

stop the Oxford animal lab!
Again, I found myself slightly annoyed by them, and this time decided to do something more effective to stand up for the other side.

We walked briskly to a stationery shop, entered, and purchased a sheet of white A2 card and a black marker pen. Resting on a table in the shop, I scrawled in large letters Support Progress - Build The Oxford Lab and proceeded to go outside and down the street so I was just opposite the SPEAK - Stop the Primate Laboratory at Oxford University - protestors. When I felt the position was right, flanked by my companions, I held the sign aloft. Instantly, some of the protestors came towards me, shouting and swearing. One man was dragging a dog by a leash. He walked right in front of me, positioned his face a few inches from mine, and began screaming:

Do you want to torture my dog?!
Calmly, I tried to inform him that I don't believe animal testing to be "torture", and that labs don't use pets anyway, but he was having none of it, and he continued shouting until a police officer came between me and him, and advised me to move on for my own safety. I obliged, and walked further down the street in order to continue my peaceful protest.

Under the watchful eyes of the police, we continued to hold up the placard and stand quietly further down the street. Our protest was mostly met with support from the public - many people came up to shake our hands, spoke their praise, or simply smiled in amusement at our stand. There were, however, a number of people who weren't so positive. One elderly man walked past with his wife and shouted at us:

You're excrement! Human excrement!
To this we replied that while we disagree, he has a right to an opinion as much as we do. There were a few people who just walked up to us and shouted reasons that animal based research is "evil", not leaving us a chance to explain ourselves. Only a very small minority, perhaps one or two of the negative responders engaged in reasoned debate with us - but to their credit, the ones that did had a very civil manner and we agreed to disagree on the matter.

After an hour or so of standing where we were, I noticed that the SPEAK protest had moved on, so we decided to follow them at a safe distance. We rounded a corner, and found another spot at which we'd be safe from too much persecution, so we stood there and raised our card once more. With one notable exception, the public's response during our stay in this spot was almost unanimously positive. The one real exception were a group of five or six middle-aged protestors who were just leaving the SPEAK demonstration when they passed us. They stopped, read our placard, and became very angry - hurling abuse at us, not letting myself or my friends get a word in edgeways. Suddenly, one of the women in their group grabbed the sign. I resisted, pulling it back and telling her politely but firmly to let go, but she refused and tore a corner off of the placard. Immediately she shouted "Hah!", dropped the torn-off piece, turned away, and ran off.

Slightly bemused by their behaviour, my confederates and I shared a laugh at their immaturity, and got back to silently showing our support for science. After another hour of this, we decided to call an end to the event, and went for a meal, congratulating ourselves at a job well done, the whole thing having cost me a grand total of 1.98.

I got home quite late that evening. I hung up my coat, made my way to my room, sat at my computer, and made an entry about the whole incident on my blog. Within a few minutes, the comments started flooding in, with messages of support such as:

Genius!

You truly are a hero to the people of Oxford!

[and] You've got to organise another pro-test.

The last of these intrigued me, and made me consider founding an organisation with the aim of supporting scientific endeavour. I read the comment again, and decided I really liked the "pro-test" pun. Thus, Pro-Test was born.

I started designing the website on paper the same night, and by Sunday lunchtime, the code for the site was completely done. I bought the domain name and web-hosting by early evening, and before the day was out, Pro-Test.org.uk was online. Having posted a message about the site on a student newspaper site, as well as my blog, the hits started flowing in, and by Monday we were getting up to 100 hits an hour. This sky-rocketed to over 300 by Wednesday. All this time, I was publicising Pro-Test as much as possible by contacting newspapers, websites and other news groups. By Wednesday this had all paid off, with an article in The Times entitled: Students fight back for animal research.

On Thursday, I travelled to Oxford once more to be filmed by ITV news for a piece on the Oxford lab. The same day, SPEAK released an article all about me in an attempt to defame my character. The whole thing was very amusing, and a complete ad-hominem attack. Thursday also saw the publishing of a leader in The Guardian, and another article appeared in The Sunday Times. After a week, I'd achieved multiple major appearances in the national press.

The next week went just as fast as the first one, with me working sixteen-hour days in order to get the organisation off the ground. On Monday, I made a rather important decision, and leadership of Pro-Test was divided between a committee of myself and eight students from Oxford as a way to improve Pro-Test's efficiency, and to lighten my workload. By Friday, almost all of the plans were in place for our first demonstration to take place on 25th February. Not bad for two weeks' work.

The last three weeks have probably been the busiest, most productive and most surreal weeks of my entire life. It's been strange to say the least, and it looks to be getting even more weird by the day. I must admit, though, that it's been very enjoyable - and receiving e-mails of support from people with life-threatening diseases thanking me for fighting for their right to treatment has been great.

Laurie a.k.a. Sqrrl101 (Laurie Pycroft) is the founder and leadership committee member of Pro-Test.

Correction: The headline to this story - and an earlier version of its introduction - is somewhat misleading. Laurie a.k.a. Sqrrl101 (Laurie Pycroft) is not an Oxford University student. In fact, he lives in Swindon, is aged 16 and is taking a gap year between GCSEs and A levels. The misleading headline is entirely the fault of the editor of the Social Affairs Unit Web Review - and has nothing to do with Laurie a.k.a. Sqrrl101. In my defence, I am not unique in making this mistaken assumption - it is also made in the report in The Times and the leader in The Guardian. In fact, the only report (prior to this piece) which seems to have got this correct is that in the Sunday Times, itself written by a first year Oxford classics student. All in all, this really makes Pro-Test an even more remarkable phenomenon.

To read about how Laurie Pycroft responded to the media's sudden interest in him, see: Animal Testing, the Media and Me - Laurie Pycroft, the sixteen year-old founder of Pro-Test, describes his response to the media's sudden interest in him.


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Well done Laurie, keep up the good work! This is the first genuine grassroots campaign for animal research and against animal rights and antivivisection direct action in living memory.

In fact, almost exactly 100 years ago medical students and antivivisectionists clashed in running battles on the streets of London. This was the culmination of the infamous "brown dog affair", sparked by a successful libel case against the National Anti Vivisection Society.

Let's hope that Pro-Test sticks to its principles of peaceful protest next Sunday, and that it continues to campaign successfully on behalf of the University and the people of Oxford for as long as it's needed. All proper surveys conducted in recent years show that most people recognise the need to use animals in research to advance medicine.

Posted by: Barbara Davies at February 20, 2006 03:04 PM
•••

It does not really say much for Oxford students if it takes a 16 year old school boy to launch a campaign to defend the university's legitimate activities against a bunch of animal rights activists. Oxford students should be ashamed of themselves that none of them came forward to launch such a campaign - we have supposedly the brightest and the best, and for pro-science, pro-reason activism they have to rely on a school boy to get them started. Pathetic.

Posted by: Dave at February 20, 2006 06:52 PM
•••

I like the correction - the SAU states:

The headline - and introduction - to this story is somewhat misleading.
They in fact mean it is a complete load of bollocks - but at least you have corrected the impression - which is more than can be said for the Times or Guardian.

Posted by: Bob Green at February 21, 2006 03:43 PM
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In response to Dave: The reason people from the University have not spoken out is because of threats of violence and intimidation by the ALF.

SPEAK talks of democracy and the right to free speech but those who oppose their views on animal experiments are showered by abuse: an attempt to supress free speech. The animal righties are regularly vandalising Oxford Colleges.

This 16 year old kid doesn't do animal research and isn't taught by people who do. He knew little of the Oxford lab when he made his sign. Under those circumstances it's a lot easier to be impulsive. Oxford students don't have that luxury.

Now that the ball has got rolling, students are rallying around and the campaign is starting. They are now speaking out. Who started it is not really important any longer.

Posted by: Rob at February 24, 2006 03:43 PM
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Pro-test is of course a v interesting development. I hope it isn't an impertinence to take this opportunity to point people toward my www.direct-action.info in which I discuss the rights and wrongs of, well, direct action.

Posted by: Richard D North at February 24, 2006 06:58 PM
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Well done Laurie for standing up to these nazis. I trust the police will be protecting your right to free speech in full. Normal people are sick to death of the mentally deranged parading their symptoms in public disguised as opinions. Good luck!

Posted by: Andy at February 25, 2006 10:51 AM
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Well done Social Affairs Unit for getting this piece written - and getting Laurieto write up his story for you. You seem to have been well ahead of the game - The Guardian only wrote Laurie up today. Although now his name is all over the papers the need for a.k.a. is perhaps over - stand up Lauire Pycroft, you should be proud of yourself.

Posted by: Daniel at February 25, 2006 02:24 PM
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You are such a hero! These thugs who are obviously misinformed should be locked away. They seem to equate a rat to a human. The rats probably have a better life in a lab than in a sewer. They are fed, given water and cared for each day. Good for you to have the "cashews" to stand up to the irrational nutcases!

Posted by: marie at February 26, 2006 06:25 PM
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I won't dignify you with threats of violence like some people, but I'd like to ask you why, if you 'have always been a logical person' do you argue that experimenting on animals is right 'especially because they were bred for the purpose'. Perhaps you'd like to explain how this fact negates the fact that animals are innocent sentient beings who cannot consent to the testing? Also, if you believe that some should suffer for the good of all, why don't you volunteer to be experimented on?

"My view is that humans are the dominant race on this planet and, not for any spiritual reasons, but pragmatically, we therefore have a right to use lower life forms for our benefit."

You might like to reconsider that statement, there's a lot more insects than humans.

The notion of 'lower life forms' is rubbish. Who are you to deem them 'lower', I doubt a rat or dog would think so. And even if they are 'lower', animals owe nothing to humanity.

So you believe that those who are dominant have the right to exploit those who are 'recessive' as it were? That's essentially saying the strong have the right to pick on the weak. Very ethical. That's somewhat at odds with your complaint that you 'can't have free speech without the police coming round'. After all, the ALF are the equivalent of the 'dominant race'.

If you don't believe animal testing to be torture, I'd like to know your terminology for inducing diseases in animals that obviously cause them suffering.

Keep up your protest, I think the majority of sane people can see you for what you are.

Posted by: blackangel at February 26, 2006 10:04 PM
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I would like to think that I am part of "the majority of sane people" (ref: Blackangel's comment) who can see Laurie Pycroft for exactly what he is. He is a rational, principled young man with the enthusiasm of youth and the desire to express a sincerely held point of view.

He is able to do that without casting aspersions on the character of those who hold the opposite view, which is exactly the trap that Blackangel has fallen into. And by maintaining his approach, Laurie's position is seen by the "sane majority" as a lot more defensible than that of the other side of the argument which all too easily falls into personal attacks (both verbal and physical).

Blackangel wonders if rats or dogs would think they are lower life forms. No they wouldn't. But that's becuase they are animals and they don't think the way humans do. They have no idea of the taxonomy of life forms on earth - only human rationality and science has been able to determine that.

Of course, that doesn't mean that animals have no rights at all - but that's not what Laurie is saying. We have tough choices to make. Do we accept a certain degree of animal suffering in order to give ourselves a chance of making life better for numerous people? Some people, Laurie and myself included, think that is acceptable. Blackangel and the ALF think that it is not acceptable. Now, let's discuss rather than throw stones, injure people and destroy property.

As for the contention that "the ALF are the equivalent of the 'dominant race'", I believe that puts Blackangel clearly outside the group which he terms to be "the majority of *sane* people".

Posted by: Tralf at February 28, 2006 09:57 AM
•••

"Blackangel wonders if rats or dogs would think they are lower life forms. No they wouldn't. But that's becuase they are animals and they don't think the way humans do. They have no idea of the taxonomy of life forms on earth - only human rationality and science has been able to determine that."

Animals are quite capable of logic/rationality, we just happen to be a lot better at it. But that's immaterial. A sentient being is a sentient being. As I said above, animals owe us nothing.

"As for the contention that "the ALF are the equivalent of the 'dominant race'", I believe that puts Blackangel clearly outside the group which he terms to be "the majority of *sane* people"."

Firstly, I was quite obviously being sarcastic. Secondly, that was hypocritical. You just gave out to me for 'casting aspersions on Laurie's character'.

"Now, let's discuss rather than throw stones, injure people and destroy property."

Did I say I approved of throwing stones and injuring people? I think that protests should be peaceful.

Posted by: blackangel at February 28, 2006 06:41 PM
•••

I greatly admire Laurie Pycroft for standing up for his beliefs by opposing the often mindless opposition against the new Oxford animal research lab. I, too, object to their tactics, but not because of the animal suffering involved, but because their sensational nature obscures logical scientific discussion. As a reporter wrote in "The Economist" (18 February 2006) regarding the recent American V.P. Cheney shooting incident: "It's hard to interest reporters in complex issues when there's a simple dramatic story to tell."

This is especially true of the observations of legions of medical scientists who oppose animal experimentation because ithe results are not reliable for studying human medical problems on account of the many differences between species. Some of these differneces should be obvious such as the difference in circulatory requirements between animals who walk on all four legs and those who walk upright. Other differences are minute and involve cellular and even molecular responses that render reactions of each species unique to that species. Therefore, it is only by unpredictable coincidence that the reactions of one species coincide with those of another.

So, why waste money money building yet another animal research facility when there are so many more scientific methods of studying disease and devising treatments based on human responses rather than those of other species?

Posted by: Bina Robinson at March 9, 2006 02:26 PM
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Laurie et al.

I am an American who wishes you well. In my country we have a religious right that has in effect stopped rational thought on many points. Our president's stand against stem cell research, intelligent design, global warming and other strange positions should be a stern warning to all about the tyranny of the fanatic.

In a very real sense the real terrorists are not the people with the bombs but the insane who act on little knowledge and much hatred. In that category we place PETA, most religious groups, Bush and others who never analyze beyond their narrow minds.

As we say over here, hang in there, we shall overcome, one nutter at a time.

Peter

Posted by: Peter Brown at July 3, 2006 06:25 PM
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i would like to say well done to Laurie. this "blackangel" person really needs to grow up to be honest. not only is he speaking out of his asshole what he is saying is crap. dogs ARE a lower life form rat ARE a lower lifeform thats why we are able to capture and use them for our benefit.

>>>>"My view is that humans are the dominant race on this planet and, not for any spiritual reasons, but pragmatically, we therefore have a right to use lower life forms for our benefit."

You might like to reconsider that statement, there's a lot more insects than humans

this little pun here? ITS NOT FUNNY ive heard better things come out of my a**. want the brutal truth? your NOT funny

~Jerry

Posted by: Jerry Madayag at September 28, 2006 09:57 PM
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No one wants to see loved ones suffering with an incurable disease, but at the same time we are meant to be the dominant, more intelligant and civilised race. We should be looking for and funding research without using animals. Whatever any one says or standards that are meant to be met, the animals used live a miserable life. Not only having to suffer inflicted diseases but never having freedom to roam or fresh air.

Posted by: pen at October 24, 2006 05:15 PM
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I just don't understand how you could not realise that you are wanting more tortured animals. Maybe you should do some research on the subject. I am righting a report on the matter.

Posted by: Bethany at February 22, 2007 02:40 PM
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"I've always been a very scientific and extremely logical person."

You are a logical person therefore you practice logic which is a system of drawing conclusions from premises (or axioms) using a set of rules (or operations). I can also be a "logical" person. This however does not prove you are justified in supporting animal testing. People such as myself do not accept your premises (i.e.

1. Science and knowledge are the most important things humanity possesses.
2. [Science and knowledge] defines humanity as a species, and separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.)

I must give you some credit for admiting that premise #1 was your personal feeling. This is how you feel. I understand (but vehemently disagree) with your opinions. This is what the above two statements are, however - just your personal feelings and opinions.

Since I do not accept your premises, I am under no obligation accept your conclusion.

Of course, I cannot prove that animal reasearch is cruel and should be stopped. Like you, I can only offer my opinion, and provide some support for it (i.e. humans are too over populated, no creature has the right to torture another, animals have intrinstic value comparable to humans, animals have the right to life, animals models don't provide valid information for humans, who cares that some animal reaseach advances medicine since people like me will not benefit from it anyhow [in the US, no insurance = no medical help], etc. - I could go on and on but won't as you get the point).

It would be nice if you were correct (i.e. lab animals are not tortured), but you aren't. While I think most scientists are humane, many are not. I'm know some animals endure unspeakable suffering because I've seen the photos and videos which show this. Some scientist will try to explain such images away by saying that animals cannot suffer because their brains aren't advanced enough - they just look like they're suffering. If is looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's usually a duck! Anyhow, I don't hate science (I am a physics major after all), but I do hate animal research. I'd rather die than allow animals to be tortured to death to perserve my life for a few more years. I am not so important that the death of countless nonhumans is justified to save me and neither is any other human being.

I do try to see both sides. I cannot deny that animal research has had some benefit in the past (in my view, the ends do not justify the means), but a lot of it is NOT necessary. It's a way to get funding. Biologists pretend that it is needed when it isn't to provide more jobs/work/funding for themselves. These activities are expected from lawyers, but science is supposed to be about truth! It shouldn't be about publishing more papers and getting funding (we need reform). If we really want to understand human conditions, we could get better data from POWs or convicted serial killers. Not too many people would stand for that (I wouldn't as I believe mercy should trump the pursuit of truth). If we can't even abuse a guilty human for our own selfishness, how can we abuse an innocent animal?

Posted by: Tara at March 15, 2007 10:47 AM
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I am just wondering if you are that adamant that what you are doing is right laurie then why have the panic button,s fitted.
What you have done can be seen as very brave,by your friend,s,but sadly it seem,s that Oxford University are covering their own backside,s.
It is rather shameful of them that they have stood by and allowed a child to speak up.
I hope you can see this through as i am in no doubt that there is going to be a lot of trouble for your friend,s and family.

Posted by: abi at September 13, 2007 03:48 PM
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PSH! colleges just use animal labs to further their own economic
gains. did you know that colleges get over $10 million dollars (american) for non-training labs from the government? and that they get "overhead costs" of another $10 million that they dont even use for the lab or research? there are alternatives that are both more reliable, have results that come faster, and are cheaper. THIS MEANS THAT THERE IS LESS OF YOUR TAX MONEY BEING SPENT ON RESEARCH THAT DOES NOTHING. I mean, for all the years they have been doing cancer, aids (which is a disease only humans can catch), and other disease research, how many results have we come up with for an unfailable cure? ZILCH. plus the questions is not "can they think?"
or "can they reason?" but
"CAN THEY FEEL PAIN?" and yes, all
animals, human and non-human (thats right, just cause we built a
society that cares more about how it looks and how long it lives
than how its treating its other living, feeling, companions DOES NOT
make us better) can indeed feel pain. there is one thing that is
great for inoperable cancer. pacific yew. all your science can still not
beat a plant. and guess what? it almost never passed the animal
stage because the animals showed no result. yeah, if you havent checked (which i believe you did not do any research against vivisection before writing this, besides what other pro-vivisectionists told as propaganda against non-human animals) animal tests and experiments are highly variable, extremely inacurate when applied to human animals, and overall, unreliable. i ought to send you my research paper on this. Oh, and get reading. try somethings that dont support your viewpoint, too. i did. thats why im here. Try Animal Experimentation: a Harvest of Shame. its by a heart surgeon known for his precision and accuracy. Its great. itll shoot down your little misguided views that you have been fed by the industry. In addition, simply put, why would a human life be more important than the thousands or millions of animal lives stolen? Have you ever seen a depressed animal, outside of lab research, circus, meat dairy egg industries, or abused/neglected animals? i think not. have you ever seen depressed PEOPLE who are not abused in any way? Sure. i see them all the time. we even have to have medicines for it. overall, the quality of life for a non-human animal is much better, even though they cant build buildings over swamps or make machines that are killing this earth. they dont judge eachother on weight or appearences. they dont have wars over oil. they dont have nuclear weapons capaple of killing millions. they dont have overpopulation in their native habitats (before PEOPLE intervened). most importantly: THEY DONT TORTURE AND KILL INNOCENTS OF OTHER SPECIES JUST BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN THEM AND IT MIGHT [MIGHT!!!] BE ABLE TO HELP THEM PERSUE A SHALLOW GOAL OF LIVING LONGER (dispite the fact you pretty much have a miserable life over 70 when everything is shutting down LIKE ITS SUPPOSED TO). cant say that about human animals. oh and if it werent for diseases, this world would have been way overpopulated a long time ago. and not just with people. diseases are necessary. when there are more babies being born and surviving than there are people dying, we are in dire need of disease. im sorry, i hate to see ANYTHING suffer, but its true. not to mention that anything that was done with animal experimentation could have been done without. o and your "lab animals dont suffer" bit? that "fact" has been derived from researchers who consider suffering and pain to be, I quote, "the acute pain of surgery without analgesic or anesthetic" does this include the dogs that are set on fire for burn research? does this include the cats, rats, dogs, etc force fed obcene amounts of substances to be left in their death throes in enormous suffering? not by vivisectionists. please. try reading other viewpoints. i do believe that herbs are the answer (aspirin was birchbark and penicillan was mold and the pacific yew evaporates many cancers) and that no animal testing or experimentation should be done. i do believe that you do not think that you are a bad person, nor are you necissarily, you are just misinformed and stubborn about that misinformation.

Posted by: anna at September 14, 2007 04:23 AM
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I am only interested in responding to the comments in the first paragraph of Laurie's story because the rest is based on the misconcpetions of that paragraph.

To me, Laurie cannot be a scientific and logical person at the same time. "Logic" is subjective isince my logic can be different to his logic. And thankfully, mine certainly is: because my "logical" thinking tells me that I would not inflict pain on any other that I myself cannot sustain. Call it logic, call it common sense, call it whatever you like. Science and knowledge are NOT the most important things humanity possesses, or indeed what defines humanity as a species, and separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is the capacity to "feel", to show emotion and compassion which defines us, IF there is a definition at all. Think of the linguistic connotations of "humane" and "humanity" - they are to do with compassion, kindness and generosity. Be that as it may, I see no distinction between animals and humans. It is only humans themselves who (like Laurie) unilaterally elected themselves as the dominant race on this planet. I agree that the reason is not spiritual because I do not believe in the concept of Creation and I am an atheist (even though my beliefs on this issue are more in conformity with the tenets of Buddhism). But nor is the reason pragmatic. Laurie's type of justification of human "superiority" rest on a self-referential system. Have we consulted animals on their preference? Just because we cannot, we take the easy and selfish way out to call ourselves "dominant", "pragmatic", "logical" and "scientific". We therefore have NO DAMN RIGHT to use "lower" life forms for our benefit. On my scale of human values, Laurie and his followers are those "lower" life forms, if at all. While I'm glad that he would not venture as far as "using animals simply for our amusement", what I do believe is that if an animal can be used to save a human, or even significantly improve human quality of life, then that's NOT entirely justifiable. If I, or even the person whom I love most in this world - my mother - required life-saving medication which knowingly resulted in cruelty to animals, I would rather die or have my mother die. And I know, she is proud of me for saying so. Thankfully, I have not been faced with a life-threatening disease so far, but I am confident that I would not even take a vitamin tablet that was the result of animal cruelty. As an immature 16 year old, I can understand Laurie's way of thinking, but I don't think any other humane/human person needs to endorse his views. In an ideal world I would like us to be all vegetarian and not need to perform research on animals for scientific purposes, but I am not an extremist and I am certainly more logical and pragmatic than Laurie. So my final call is this - if you are eating or experimenting on animals, please practise the least torturous method of doing so. Surely, if we are so "superior", we can think of a way to achieve that at least.

Posted by: Avanti Perera at April 23, 2008 11:43 AM
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