Animal rights fanatics offer stunts, not real solutions

Fanatical animal rights groups in the US love attention-getting stunts. PeTA creates video games extolling violence and propagates advertisements that exude adolescent sexuality. White Coat Waste uses Tea party rhetoric to insist federal investment in research is tantamount to borrowing money from China. And the Humane Society of the United States [HSUS] reels endless videos of sad animals on the television to raise money for their lobbying efforts, while tricking people into thinking their donations actually help animals in shelters.

An animal rights extremist group, White Coat Waste, uses Tea Party rhetoric in an attempt to undermine support for research investment

An animal rights extremist group, White Coat Waste, uses Tea Party rhetoric in an attempt to undermine support for research investment

These are stunts, nothing more – nothing less.

In Los Angeles, local animal rights zealots are trying hard to carve out their own niche in the “stunt” art form. They light candles during vigils on the beach, hand out post cards decrying UCLA researchers at art events and recite chants in eerie synchrony, while standing in front of our homes. In truth, the occasional bizarre chanting during these stunts is slightly less demented than their usual shrieks, threats and harassment.

Later this month, the ironically named anti-science group – Progress for Science – will mount an 11-day campaign to “honor” the 11 monkeys they believe are involved in scientific research projects at UCLA. They will probably once again come to my home and threaten my neighbors, while trying to make my life miserable.

But if Progress for Science truly has the respect for life than they claim they do, perhaps they should consider a different strategy. Perhaps before mounting their 11 day campaign for 11 hypothetical monkeys, they should find it in their hearts to lead initiatives for real people affected by real disease. For example, they could:

Lead a 930 day campaign for the number of Africans that have died from Ebola so far this year.

Initiate a 4,600 day campaign for the young people in our country who took their own lives last year, often due to mental illness.

Kick off a 1.1 million day campaign for the number of people living with HIV in the US.

Support a 2.2 million day campaign for the people suffering from or disabled by schizophrenia in this country.

Demand an 8.2 million day campaign for the number of people that will die from cancer in one single year, worldwide.

Health care providers and patients rally in support of mental health services

Health care providers and patients rally in support of mental health services

It is, of course, true that multi-million day campaigns are impossible, but biomedical researchers in many cases dedicate their entire working lives to addressing the harm in these diseases: our own life-long campaigns. Animal rights fanatics could contribute positively to these efforts, rather than standing in the way of progress, but they won’t do that because they are not actually interested in preserving life. They are interested in stunts.

If you are interested in preserving life, then please support biomedical research, including that which involves animals. This year alone, two Americans received a treatment for Ebola that was developed based upon animal research and that likely saved their lives. This is the promise of science. Stunts, on the other hand, contribute nothing, save no lives and end no suffering.

Celebrating science

I was recently interviewed by the APA Monitor, a publication of the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA website refers to itself as:

 the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA is the world’s largest association of psychologists, with nearly 130,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members.

Our mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

Studies of the behavior of non-human animals, often in naturalistic and laboratory settings, has been crucial to advances in psychological theory and practice. Indeed, there is virtually no part of psychology that has not be transformed by ideas and data gathered in animals. The APA outlined this point in a leaflet they distributed years ago.

One point I wanted to make very clearly during this interview had to do with the profound need to celebrate science, both as scientists and as members of the American public.

I think scientists should routinely get together and publicly celebrate what science does — not just to respond to protesters, but to show how great science is. This is something psychological and biomedical scientists should do more often: give good messages to the community about what we do.


We all see rallies on television, and we probably dismiss their importance as pomp and bluster. But if we don’t get together to publicly celebrate science and what it has accomplished, who will? And, more importantly, how will our children know to celebrate it.

I think a call for world-wide rallies to celebrate scientific research, particularly biomedical and behavioral research involving animals, is long overdue. What do you think?

Refuting animal rights bulls##t


This slide says it all.  Anti-science nuts around the planet,  most prominently those against humane and responsible animal research,  have benefited from this phenomenon for too long. They peddle cheap rhetoric and bullshit,  which we counter with facts and rational arguments.  They show doctored photos and spew convenient lies which we battle with inconvenient truths.

The challenge for is us great, but the cost of letting an animal rights agenda derail life saving knowledge is too great. 

HSUS: Huge Settlements from Ur Salary

Once upon a time,  you might have happily given your hard-earned money to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Maybe you did that so that they could pay for their upmarket Bel Air, California offices, throw fancy dress galas open to millionaires or perhaps even to produce endless TV commercials featuring C-list celebrities pining and whining for your money…

Or maybe you gave to them because you believed the line that they used most of the money to rescue and treat real animals in need.  Sucker!

Today, new news makes clear what you are actually donating to… Your donations will underwrite a multi-million dollar payout HSUS is making in order to settle a lawsuit that claims that they wrongfully spoke about the treatment of animals in a circus.

Who thinks that Pacelle and his cronies are paying many millions because they were wrongfully sued for telling the truth? 

Not those that monitor charities for good behavior and not me, either.

So, if paying of HSUS’s costs incurred during a propaganda campaign against legal and responsible animal owners is how you wish to spend your money: fine.  But do it with your eyes wide open.

Personally, I think supporting life saving research might be a better approach.  Consider just about any medical charity instead.  Your money will actually improve lives instead of being frittered away by HSUS.

“Still I Rise”: A message for animal rights extremists

You glare at my house, with anger and madness in your eyes. You scream that I am cruel and chant about blood and murder.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

You claim my research is futile and evil. You shriek that I am evil. You show pictures that have nothing to do with me or my research.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

You say that you will never stop your tactics or back down. You claim that your campaign of terror will continue until I walk away from science.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

You burned my car. You threatened to kill me and those I love. You have prayed for my suffering. You march and scream and torment and hate.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave….
I rise
I rise
I rise

You have made me question my beliefs and ethics. But that process has caused me to realize that what I am doing is right and to find the determination to continue my contributions to science and to humanity with resoluteness.

In essence, your actions have ensured that your hate can never triumph over my determination.

Dr. Maya Angelou had it right. May she rest in peace.

Paralysis breakthrough – electrical stimulation enables four paraplegic men to voluntarily move their legs

David Jentsch:

Thanks to a hero of science – Professor V. Reggie Edgerton at UCLA – and laboratory rats, the prognosis for people with severe spinal injuries is transforming right before our eyes. This is what science has to offer. This is what animal rights activists are afraid of, but we cannot and will not let them stop this kind of life-transforming research.

Originally posted on Speaking of Research:

This weeks issue of the neuroscience journal Brain carries an unusual image; against a background of nerve activity traces a man lies on the ground, and as you scan down the images he lifts his right leg off the ground. For most people this might just be a simple warm-up exercise, but for Kent Stephenson it was little short of a miracle, because he has suffered complete paralysis after suffering a mid-thoracic spinal cord injury. Speaking about his experience Kent noted that “Everything’s impossible until somebody does it”, and this is a breakthrough that is possible due to animal research.

Brain_cover image

Kent was one of four patients participating in a pilot study of epidural electrical stimulation sponsored by the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation, which is overseen by an international team comprising of Claudia Angeli and Susan J. Harkema of the University of Louisville, Yury Gerasimenko of the St. Petersburg’s…

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Voice Your Support for Animal Transport

Originally posted on Speaking of Research:

Quick Summary. FBR have a petition to support Air France who continue to be one of the few airlines willing to transport primates for research. Please support them by signing the petition.

For several years animal rights activists have targeted the airlines which transport animals for medical, veterinary and scientific research. They have had a lot of success, with few companies willing to transport animals. In the words of Nature:

The pressures on primate researchers have taken many forms. In the United States, for example, commercial airlines have effectively ceased all primate shipments by air within the country, making it difficult for researchers to transport animals. Many airlines in Europe have taken similar steps, but Air France continues to provide service.

In March, China Southern Airlines announced it would cease transporting primates. This leaves Air France as one of the few international airlines that continue to transport animals.

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