. . .of animal rights and how that affects the Meaning of Life to us humans.
“Ironically, it is at just this point of their agreement—about monkeys and companion animals not being special—where both groups’ values differ most from those of the general population. . .apes and monkeys and dogs and cats are being confined, vivisected, and killed while animal advocates are ignored as a lunatic fringe.”
CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
November 7, 2010
Animal Research: Groupthink in Both Camps
Lawrence A. Hansen, M.D., is a professor of neuroscience and pathology at the University of California at San Diego, where he also leads the neuropathology core of the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
Professors like me, with established research credentials at animal-research-intensive universities who are also members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are rare. But a dual identity as a research faculty member and an animal advocate affords a unique perspective on both camps.
A striking similarity between the two is that animal researchers and defenders of animals both employ groupthink, a mode of thought that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, where members striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.
We faculty members with deep concerns for animal welfare are often viewed by our groupthink scientific colleagues as untrustworthy or even treasonous agents provocateurs, since we are inclined to raise both ethical and scientific objections to invasive and lethal animal experimentation, especially when it involves primates and companion animals—that is, dogs and cats.
Meanwhile, our animal-rights associates suspect us of insufficient ardor for animal welfare, since we acknowledge that not all research involving animals is torture, and many of us do not object when transgenic mice are painlessly euthanized after being well cared for during their short lives.