On the benefits of sharing yourself and your work with the public

There are those in the scientific community who are still fearful that an open and public discussion of animal research will lead to more bad than good… that the risks associated with attracting attention to yourself or your University outweigh the potential for reward. I disagree, in the strongest possible terms. My experience tells me that the opposite is, in fact, true.

I’ve been a target of a hateful and misguided campaign by animal rights activists. And in response, I’ve done by best to openly describe who I am, what I do and why. It’s easy to focus on the negative backlash to those efforts made by extremists, but the voices of support are equally important. In an earlier post, I shared one such solemn voice. Fortunately, there have been other moments when the voices of fanatics were overwhelmed by those of supportive and appreciative.

Five years ago, today, I was standing outside the gate of my Los Angeles home. An old car slowed down and pulled over. As the window rolled down, I saw a genteel old face. The passenger in the car introduced himself – his name was Sherm. He lived about a half mile down the road, and he had heard about me and my research. He also had seen the ugly protests made by animal rights extremists outside of my home, while driving by.

He thanked me for my work and for standing up against the people who marched in the street in front of my house. He said he knew how important research was and that he was grateful that good people like me were doing it. And he asked to shake my hand (I was grateful to accept).

After he pulled away, I walked down to my house, thankful for that one brief moment. And I was reminded that, if we do not step forwards and invite the public to understand us and what we do, how can we ever expect them to support us?


  1. Curious, would you be ok with using the dogs in your header photo in your studies? Would the people holding their leashes be ok with you addicting them to meth?

    “Open public discussion” of animal research by people like you DOES bring more harm than good. Why? Because the public finds out the horrors of what you do behind closed doors funded by the taxes taken out of their checks. That said, keep talking.

    I and all of the addicts in recovery I know have never seen a single benefit or advancement to your research nor do they support your torture of monkeys under the guise of using our bodies as an excuse so you can keep profiting off of the exploitation of both nonhuman animals and humans with drug addiction struggles. We know what addiction feels like and thus can empathize with the absolute horror you are putting animals through for your own interests.

    You dare to compare animal rights activists to anti-choice people who rob women of their bodily autonomy while you rob animals of their bodily autonomy to make money. You decry destruction of property while you promote and enact destruction of bodies and lives. Practice what you preach and quit your job.

    It’s very clear that you will never stop abusing and exploiting animals. Every person who has committed atrocities like those you have will find a person to congratulate them on occasion. You are very lucky to have been born into a life where you are not treated the way that you treat animals. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I assume you would never want to be in their shoes. You are wrong. What you do is wrong. It will always be wrong. This pathetic blog just adds insult to injury.

    1. All these issues were dealt with in previous posts. You can deny, until you run out of breath, that the successful treatment of some addictions has depended upon discoveries from animal research, but your claims are patently and objectively false. Multiple drugs that are saving lives around the planet by reducing smoking, drinking and opioid dependence are responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives.

      And as for your “gotcha” question about our pets, I’ve discussed this point previously, as well. https://unlikelyactivist.com/2014/01/23/scientists-their-pets-and-research/

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