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Sergei’s Litter

Article #307 • Written by Scott Cianciosi

From the 1920's through the 1950's, a Soviet scientist by the name of Sergei S. Bryukhonenko spent countless hours slaving away in his laboratory. In his homeland, he was known as a respected researcher for his influential insights into blood transfusion. Not content with his previous achievements, Bryukhonenko wanted to push his work to the very limits of possibility. His macabre research focused on the possibility of sustaining life through artificial means. His lab was home to all manner of bizarre experiments and occurrences. His staff quickly became accustomed to the sight of disembodied heads and desiccated animal corpses. As uncomfortable and ghastly as it was, his findings would prove influential to many modern medical procedures.

Bryukhonenko's intention was to create the world's first fully functional heart-lung machine. In essence, these are devices that can provide the body with oxygenated blood while a patient is otherwise unable to. This could be for a variety of reasons, most notably while in surgery for a heart transplant or bypass. It's extremely hard to operate on a beating heart, so these contraptions are needed to keep a patient alive during invasive heart surgery. Beginning his work in 1920, by 1925 Bryukhonenko’s autojector was already being shown to the general public. Consisting of automatic pumps, a reservoir for storing blood and two tubes for injecting and extracting the blood, it's a dangerous primitive looking machine by today's standards. However, by most accounts, it was dependable and performed its job adequately.

Not content with his early success, Bryukhonenko got to work on a new project; one that would take a far more unsettling turn. Determined to learn all he could from his autojector, he began experimenting on dogs. In true revolutionary fashion, Bryukhonenko's early experiments focused on liberating canine organs and appendages from the oppressive shackles of their privileged bourgeois bodies . His scientists managed to keep a heart beating and a lung functioning independent from their bodies. They could keep a severed head conscious for short periods and could even bring a dog “back” from the dead. As incredible as it sounds, these claims are supported by scores of eye-witnesses, as well as reliable documentation.

Sergei Bryukhonenko
Sergei Bryukhonenko

All of these achievements can be seen in “Experiments in the Revival of Organisms;” a 1940 film filled with dour Russian nurses and canines in various stages of death. The most amazing and unsettling part of an already amazing and unsettling movie is the famous “dog's head” presentation. In it, technicians place a freshly severed dog's head on a small table. The creature is then fed a supply of air and blood using Dr. Bryukhonenko's system of tubes, pumps, and basins. As proof of the experiment's success, the head is subjected to all manner of stimuli in an effort to show that the head is in full control of its faculties while on the machine. Its pupils adjust when exposed to a spotlight, its mouth accepts and swallows candy and licks its snout clean when covered in citrus. Its eyes tear when an irritant is introduced and it even reacts to the sound of a hammer being struck nearby.

As if a conscious severed head weren't enough, Bryukhonenko ends his movie by resurrecting a dog from the dead. The process involved draining the blood from a living dog and leaving it for approximately ten minutes. The technician then connected the dog to the autojector, pumped its blood back in, and waited a short time for the heart to begin working again. According to the narrator, these resurrected dogs went on to live normal lives after their ordeal on the operating table. Unfortunately, things aren't always as they seem.

“Experiments in the Revival of Organisms” is not without its detractors. Many argue the film is at best exaggerated Soviet propaganda, or at worst an outright fake. When watching the movie itself, it's clear that there is no way to prove many of the things being shown. Because the shots are tight, changed frequently, and the camera itself never moves, it stubbornly resists any attempt at scientific scrutiny. Taken by itself, “Experiments in the Revival of Organisms” would fail to satisfy anyone not already predisposed to believing it.

With some further probing into the details of Bryukhonenko's research, a few strategic omissions become evident. The severed head only survived for minutes on artificial circulation, as opposed to the hours purported by the narrator. The resurrected dogs came out brain damaged and usually lived no more than a few days, rather than the years of happiness and virility that the test subjects in the movie experienced. All of this, though, must be weighed against the fact that Bryukhonenko's research directly contributed to breakthroughs in the field of artificial life-support and organ transplanting. His experiments were largely successful, but apparently not successful enough to make it to the general public without a rose-tinted filter. For his contributions to Soviet medicine, he was posthumously awarded the Lenin Prize.

Demikhov's dogs at the Medical History Museum in Latvia.  Photo courtesy of Andy Gilham.
Demikhov's dogs at the Medical History Museum in Latvia. Photo courtesy of Andy Gilham.

Unfortunately for man's best friend, the Soviets weren't quite finished with their experiments. Not long after Bryukhonenko's work, Vladimir Demikhov decided that experimenting on one dog head just wasn't enough. Demikhov was already a famous scientist for his previous work on canine organ transplants; his research being integral in proving that organ transplants in humans were a realistic possibility. That's why, in 1954, he unveiled the world's first surgically created two-headed dog. This involved grafting the head of a puppy, and sometimes parts of its upper body, onto a fully-grown large-breed dog. Somehow managing to out-weird even Bryukhonenko's experiments, Demikhov has some convincing footage to support his scientific assertions. Unlike “Experiments in the Revival of Organisms,” footage of the two-headed dogs was often filmed in public settings, and included longer uncut shots. These factors lend the Demikhov films a bit more legitimacy, although deception is certainly still possible.

Not to be outdone by their cross-ocean rivals, the United States engaged in their own experiments involving attaching or swapping body parts. A contemporary of Bryukhonenko named Robert E. Cornish did his own research and won his own kind of fame in the area of dead-dog revival. He used a technique involving chemical concoctions and a decidedly less high-tech artificial circulation mechanism. By see-sawing the corpses, to keep the blood circulating, Cornish would inject the dogs with an anticoagulant and adrenalin mixture. Although his first couple experiments failed, he eventually managed to revive the asphyxiated dogs. Cornish, whether through humor or hubris, named each of his test dogs "Lazarus." Like Bryukhonenko's, the Lazarus dogs were severely brain damaged, as well as blind. They lived for months afterwards with Cornish, their shambling and struggling supposedly frightening all the other dogs in the house. Unlike Bryukhonenko, Cornish wasn't regarded as a hero by his peers. In fact, he was eventually forced from his research position at UC Berkeley, probably owing to the questionable merit of zombie-dogs and the media's unfavorable coverage of his work.

In the 1960's and 70's, Robert J. White of Cleveland, Ohio put himself on the world scientific map with his research on the successful transplanting of organs and body parts. In the 1960's he created a two-brained dog, to prove that the brain was an "immunologically sound" organ. Unlike the heart or kidney, the brain can be transplanted with little likelihood of the organ being rejected by the body. In a continuation of this research, in the 1970's White and his team managed to successfully transplant the head of a monkey onto the body of another monkey. With the inability for the scientists to reattach the severed nerves of the animal, it was paralyzed from the neck down. Understandably angry upon awakening, the monkey's first course of action was an attempt to bite the scientist working near him. It was soon clear that the test monkey retained full control over everything above the neck, and it was able to blink, eat and move its facial muscles. Insofar as its head was concerned, it was as if the operation had never happened.

It's hard to imagine experiments like these being done in the 21st century. With the advent of animal rights groups and growing concern for the plight of mammalian test subjects, a world that would tolerate such ethically ambiguous experiments is quickly becoming a thing of the past. However, the work of these “mad” scientists, while perhaps off-putting to most of us, has actually done a great deal for the medical world. Bryukhonenko's autojector paved the way for our modern artificial life-support machines, and White's experiments in organ transplants helped us better understand the body's physiological ability to adapt. Together with the work of other medical pioneers, this work ultimately led to the creation and continued success of surgeries we take for granted today. Without these men, it's only a guess as to when life support machines or heart transplants would have become a possibility. One must wonder what medical breakthroughs are looming just over the horizon, and which ones are worth the lives lost to discover them.

Article written by Scott Cianciosi, published on 20 December 2007. Scott is a writer and teacher currently living in South Korea. At night, he dons a cape and fights crime on the streets of Seoul.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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149 Comments
dtaylor
Posted 20 December 2007 at 12:55 am

First!

What a freak show of a story!


cerebulon
Posted 20 December 2007 at 12:58 am

Reminds me of Lovecraft's "Herbert West: Reanimator." I saw that dog-head video years ago. I always wondered what the story was behind it. Thank you.


Verily
Posted 20 December 2007 at 01:47 am

Creepy..

Third!


Tink
Posted 20 December 2007 at 01:51 am

Ewwwwww! Gastly, but DI!. Cruelty vs. creation, bet this one will garner a slew of debate here in comments.
Grateful for the scientific progress, knowing that today, organ transplant, and life support are availiable.
Thank you, Scott C!
Wishing everyone a Merry and Happy season, XXOO.


errna
Posted 20 December 2007 at 01:55 am

bloody hell...


Acronymous Blanket
Posted 20 December 2007 at 02:01 am

fifth!


David Marcoe
Posted 20 December 2007 at 02:50 am

I don't think the issue was whether or not such research should've been done, but *how* it was done. Did things like head transplantation really need to be done to demonstrate that organs could be transplanted? Did the heads of dogs need to be severed and attached to machines to demonstrate the viability of life support? Did frankenstinian surgeries involving puppies and monkeys really need to be done to prove the point? I would put forward that these experiments, even as they show the prowess of the scientists who preform them, show certain lack of creativity in not being able to demonstrate their theories without such brutal experimentation. These experiments may have resulted in progress, but they didn't need to be preformed in these ways to make the same discoveries.


David Marcoe
Posted 20 December 2007 at 02:53 am

BTW, if you wish to judge for yourself, you can watch Experiments In The Revival of Organisms here.


Former-Marine
Posted 20 December 2007 at 03:07 am

9th! Oorah! (now I'll read the article)....


Former-Marine
Posted 20 December 2007 at 03:24 am

Highly Damn Interesting indeed. Thanks for the story. Thinking of what those dogs and monkeys went through is horrible. However, the results of that research enabled us to accomplish many medical miracles. OORAH! Keep up the great job.


Anterak
Posted 20 December 2007 at 03:44 am

I can't agree more with David Marcoe.

These scientists made the pavements from great progress, but did they really need to go "that far" to prove their points?
Good, you can keep a body alive with a machine remplacing heart pumps.
Bad, you need to empty one dog's blood to check said machine can pump it back, to life.
What's the point?


Baragla
Posted 20 December 2007 at 03:49 am

Can I transplant my brain into the body of a ... "donor" - and thus live forever?


Anterak
Posted 20 December 2007 at 04:00 am

Baragla said: "Can I transplant my brain into the body of a … "donor" - and thus live forever?"

Aren't brain cells duplicating? Our brains are degenerating slowly, from early age (if not birth?).


emjeff
Posted 20 December 2007 at 06:11 am

This is very interesting, but I doubt the work described here had any impact on the development of the modern heart-lung machine, mostly because the research was (in all likelihood) only published in Russia.


wh44
Posted 20 December 2007 at 06:18 am

Baragla said: "Can I transplant my brain into the body of a … "donor" - and thus live forever?"

No. Currently there is no way to re-attach nerves.


nona
Posted 20 December 2007 at 06:28 am

This reminds me of a Tale of the Unexpected story, where a dying man gets his brain, and one eye transplanted into some kind of plastic shell, and he remains sentient, aware and conscious. His wife takes the brain and eye home to live with her - but as it turns out, he was a bit of a git, and she takes her revenge by having casual sex in front of the brain/eye thing, who can't do anything about it. Bit twisted really...


another viewpoint
Posted 20 December 2007 at 07:36 am

...does the name Frankenstein ring a bell with anyone here? Or was that Frankenstine or Frankensteen?

...reminds me of a song...I ain't go no-body, and nobody got me!

...can you remember his name? NO, but his face sure rings a bell.

To all...have a happy, happy and a merry, merry. Catch you on the "other side" of New Year! :-o


accessname
Posted 20 December 2007 at 07:57 am

eighteenth!!!!!!!!!


accessname
Posted 20 December 2007 at 07:58 am

nineteen!!! that's right, one-nine, 19!!!!! post number 19!!!!! yay!


accessname
Posted 20 December 2007 at 08:00 am

I think this will be post number twenty. That's right folks, am I great or what, post number 20, two-O.


Lisette
Posted 20 December 2007 at 08:21 am

Creepy... and not very ethical.


Kao_Valin
Posted 20 December 2007 at 09:26 am

Ethical is nice, but sometimes one must crack a few eggs for progress. If one were given the choice to sacrifice x number of children for x^y others in the future, it is likely one would take that sacrifice. Also I can see why these people would do such horrific things with their science. Bad press is still press. The scientists cannot be blamed for marketing their knowledge, even if it was exaggerated. How else does one get funding to continue without positive results?

I say it was a neccesary evil that no one was willing to get their hands dirty to do. Without showing the real possibilities outside the theoretical, it was probably far flung to step further and ask how else it could be done. If anything, showing how awful it was done may have shocked others into improving the techniques for the good of everyone. Sort've like how the stem cell research "problem" was worked around. From my understanding there are zero ethical dilemas with stem cell research and organ transplanting now. That is, option wise. One can always do things old school with some zygotes and dog heads.


grok68
Posted 20 December 2007 at 10:10 am

i have yet to understand "necessary evil"....


Reaper
Posted 20 December 2007 at 10:15 am

I'm sure I needn't tell anybody here, but the macabre is subject to the eye of the beholder. What if [insert pioneering scientist's name here] hadn't illegally documented the human anatomy via autopsies oh-so-long ago?

Sure, that seems tame to us now, but it didn't back then. In the same way, as we grow in our scientific knowledge of the body, it is reasonable to expect that we'll have to continually infringe on our sense of ethics to gain knowledge -- knowledge that could mean worlds to the future of medicine.

Likewise, we are getting to a point where concrete ethical boundaries actually do exist (i.e., cloning). But I don't think these folks were anywhere near furthering that science. They simply wanted to keep people whole...a science that quite a few people could benefit from, especially in this time of war. Head transplants may seem disgusting to us now, but just think of what Stephen Hawking could be doing if he wasn't crippled by his faulty anatomy? I personally would love to live in a world where the loss of limbs was viewed in no worse a light than a broken bone, as well.


Yardvark
Posted 20 December 2007 at 10:29 am

Lisette said: "Creepy… and not very ethical."

What are you talking about? Do you know how many cows are being slaughtered right this very minute so we can have a hamburger tomorrow? They used to kill them by swinging a sledge-hammer and hit them right in the middle of their foreheads. I think they do it by electricity now. Cows are domesticated animals, like dogs, so they trust humans. We herd them into the slaughterhouse where they are, unsuspectingly, killed, and then ground up or whatever. So if a dog or cat or whatever contributes to medical advancement, it's better than just being a hamburger, isn't it?


dtut
Posted 20 December 2007 at 12:04 pm

Mike Vick would be very jealous.


mjunk
Posted 20 December 2007 at 01:09 pm

Kao_Valin said: "Ethical is nice, but sometimes one must crack a few eggs for progress. If one were given the choice to sacrifice x number of children for x^y others in the future, it is likely one would take that sacrifice. "

Careful, Kao. Once you begin that sort of math, you can justify almost anything. If you turn little Timmy and Jenny turn into x and x', the skies the limit. If history teaches us anything, it's that "The End Justifies the Means" is a dangerous policy to follow. Or, more accurately, it is dangerous for anyone to have a neighbor who is following that policy.

As for me, someone please email me a Do Not Resuscitate Order - - The Short Form. Just in case, you know....


anbeekm
Posted 20 December 2007 at 01:11 pm

I need a shake to go with this McCreepy.


thingummy
Posted 20 December 2007 at 01:41 pm

Yardvark said: "What are you talking about? Do you know how many cows are being slaughtered right this very minute so we can have a hamburger tomorrow? They used to kill them by swinging a sledge-hammer and hit them right in the middle of their foreheads. I think they do it by electricity now. Cows are domesticated animals, like dogs, so they trust humans. We herd them into the slaughterhouse where they are, unsuspectingly, killed, and then ground up or whatever. So if a dog or cat or whatever contributes to medical advancement, it's better than just being a hamburger, isn't it?"

No, it isn't. Cows are delicious food items. Cats and dogs are cute and cuddly. Cows may experience some pain or anxiety upon being slaughtered but I'm willing to bet it's nowhere near what those experimental animals went through. There's a huge difference between being turned into hamburger, which sustains life, and living the rest of your life as a brain-damaged "zombie" or having a limb severed or a head transplant. Perhaps some of this is necessary for scientific advancement but it's never humane. And I'll bet the scientists go out for a nice steak dinner after a hard day at the lab so you can't paint them as being humanitarian.


Nightowl77
Posted 20 December 2007 at 01:44 pm

Yardvark said: "What are you talking about? Do you know how many cows are being slaughtered right this very minute so we can have a hamburger tomorrow? They used to kill them by swinging a sledge-hammer and hit them right in the middle of their foreheads. I think they do it by electricity now. Cows are domesticated animals, like dogs, so they trust humans. We herd them into the slaughterhouse where they are, unsuspectingly, killed, and then ground up or whatever. So if a dog or cat or whatever contributes to medical advancement, it's better than just being a hamburger, isn't it?"

Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty murder.


LimaBeanMage
Posted 20 December 2007 at 02:31 pm

mjunk said: "Careful, Kao. Once you begin that sort of math, you can justify almost anything. If you turn little Timmy and Jenny turn into x and x', the skies the limit. If history teaches us anything, it's that "The End Justifies the Means" is a dangerous policy to follow. Or, more accurately, it is dangerous for anyone to have a neighbor who is following that policy.

As for me, someone please email me a Do Not Resuscitate Order - - The Short Form. Just in case, you know…."

I think danger lies within the x y train of thought only when it is constant. Actually that is how we often define sociopaths. Of course, it is inherent in all humans to think of each other, and other organisms, in terms of variables and statistics in choice circumstances. Part of what makes us human is the ability and the very real need to perform inhuman acts at certain points in our lifetimes. The ethical boundaries may not be breached, relative to the majority, as long as a person retains a certain amount of "humanity" within the rest of their life.

I might go as far to say that all of science, in regards to humans or living organisms in general, requires a certain amount of ethical neutrality to actually yield progress. Indeed, science has no ethics attached to it in the first place; we are the ones that pin any emotional response onto it. This doesn't mean we have to remove all ethics from science, but we have realize that we cannot harness its powerful potential without sacrificing parts of our humanity or anything else that we want to hold on to. It is extremely unlikely that we will be able to literally tell science, in all of its metaphysical and metaphorical glory, to have heart. Science cares not for love, just as we do not want to sacrifice or harm "innocent" life, so both sides will have to find an amount of balance in between otherwise we will get nowhere.


mjunk
Posted 20 December 2007 at 03:00 pm

Lima, I am not sure that I can agree with you. Why do you think peole have a "very real need to perform inhuman acts"? I don't think I have ever performed one, and I don't feel any pressing need to perform one. As for as measuring things "relative to the majority," that is too easy a justification. What majority? The majority of Americans? English speaking people? Democrats? College graduates? Left handed, red haired tap dancers? You need to define the majority before I will give "majority rule" a pass as an reason for accepting anything.

As for telling science to have a heart..why not? After all SCIENCE is a just a concept, only slightly less nebulous than ART. But I have never heard of a Scientist that wasn't a human first. I don't believe that discovering the TRUTH or the ANSWER is always worth the price. If we have to sacrifice a part of ourselves for the betterment or advancement of the rest of us...then that part of us that remains is not worthy of what has been gained.

And I don't believe that we risk getting nowhere. If you look back, we have come so far already, and I beleive that we have done so for the most part without sacrificing our "humanity." That being said....pass the hamburgers, please.


sapguy_wi
Posted 20 December 2007 at 03:12 pm

Leave it to the damn Commies to do something like this to mans best friend. If they aren't killing them by launching them on ballistic projectiles into outerspace, then they are chopping their heads off and re-animating them.

Makes me proud tho have chanted.." What makes the Grass grow? COMMIE BLOOD, SGT!"


Tink
Posted 20 December 2007 at 03:46 pm

This one is an un-ashamed member of P.W.E.T.A.
People Who Eat Tasty Animals...

"Any one who doesn't like cats, have not had them properly prepared."

Just kidding 'bout the cats. (Their stringy.)


thingummy
Posted 20 December 2007 at 04:16 pm

Science cares not for love, just as we do not want to sacrifice or harm "innocent" life, so both sides will have to find an amount of balance in between otherwise we will get nowhere."

Science may not care but too many scientists take that as permission to do whatever they want guilt-free. Each decision that affects an innocent life should be thought, nay agonized, over carefully prior to commission. Not enough "Scientists" do that.


Bewildered
Posted 20 December 2007 at 04:33 pm

Bah - I have a terrible cold today, and i don't feel all that bad, because someone probably killed a few mice trying different drugs to sway the symptoms of the common cold. I say we take the 'first posters' and try to transplant their brain(s) into monkeys, or has that already been done? Haha... poor monkeys... (...a moments silence in respect to the poor mice that sacrificed their lives so that i may be snot free and high on pseudoephedrine, free to enjoy my ignorant bliss, free to leave the killing and experimentation to someone else to do for my benefit, because they want to and enjoy it... Thank you...)


Proeliate
Posted 20 December 2007 at 04:46 pm

thingummy said: "Science may not care but too many scientists take that as permission to do whatever they want guilt-free. Each decision that affects an innocent life should be thought, nay agonized, over carefully prior to commission. Not enough "Scientists" do that."

Gummy, there is no legitimate industrial or academic scientist, in modern societies, who can use animals in research without a committee's approval (FDA, NIH and several other governmental organizations require these committees). These committees contain both veterinarians and non-scientific personnel to give it a well rounded perspective. Though, I believe most of us would view this as a good thing, realize this process is not without harm. Projects may be delayed by months, years or even terminated by these committees. This slows down research, and while much of this research may not seem to affect us, if you have a terminal disease which this research may help, these slow downs are equivalent to a death certificate.


Radiatidon
Posted 20 December 2007 at 05:02 pm

Tink said: "This one is an un-ashamed member of P.W.E.T.A.
People Who Eat Tasty Animals…
Just kidding ’bout the cats. (Their stringy.)"

Hey guys, on the move and missing out. Was able to catch a peek on my laptop and took a quick trip to DI. No time to really comment on anything but saw this from Tink.

Had the misfortune to dine on Kitty when in China. Was almost finished with the meal, which was very tasty until the discovery that it was cat. My Mandarin was way too weak to really know what all the menu items were, but mostly they were very good.

Did it taste like chicken… to be honest I really don’t recall what the flavor tasted like. The knowledge of my meal’s origins sort of decreased my enjoyment of it. ;)

As for animals used in experiments, there was a facility at Dugway in Utah called “The Animal Farm”. Nasty really what they did there. Not just mice, but also all the way up through pets to farm animals. Testing nerve agents, radiation exposure, blast concussion damage…

Visited the facility after it was shut down, creepy and depressing atmosphere. Had a large blast furnace to destroy the “experiments” in case of possible contamination.

Well, gotta run. Hope everyone has a Joyful and wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid al-adha, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Eid al-Adha, and New Years! :)

The Don


Bash
Posted 20 December 2007 at 06:02 pm

Kao_Valin said: "Ethical is nice, but sometimes one must crack a few eggs for progress. If one were given the choice to sacrifice x number of children for x^y others in the future, it is likely one would take that sacrifice."

Problem with this math is suppose x is 10 or 100 or 1,000. Now what if y is zero? What x is acceptable when theone represent by x^0 is your own child?

The problem is that at the time the experiments are being done there is no guarentee they will ever prove helpful to anyone. They may even be replaced by something else before they have the chance to help anyone.

thingummy said: "No, it isn't. Cows are delicious food items. Cats and dogs are cute and cuddly."

Thats not fair, it seems to imply only cute and cuddley things are entitled to live. I'm neither cute nor cuddley and I'd like to live too.


Stead311
Posted 20 December 2007 at 06:03 pm

Wow, I had no idea that so much intense research was done to advance mankind. I think with the development of technology.. such barbaric methods will slowly go the way of the dinosaur. I am not saying permanently or anytime soon but, inevitably, it will.

Not to mention.. ***and I am sure some will disagree with me***... but if you really think about surgical methods used today.. I mean.. really think about it.. our methods are still quite archaic and uncivilized. Truly, cutting people open and fishing around their insides is just so...undeveloped. I am not picking on the medical community... simply saying that when one really sits down and takes a good look around them.. you start seeing things for what they are and although we have developed.. we may not have developed as much as we have thought. We give ourselves too much credit sometimes.


ChrisW75
Posted 20 December 2007 at 06:07 pm

I would strongly disagree David Marcoes comment. I Think that the experiment DID need to be performed. If it hadn't, no one would have gone ahead and done it on people. In order to make medical progress, a life needs to be risked, we can do all the theoretical supposition we like, but at the end of the day, how do you prove that taking a heart out of one animal and putting it into another animal can be done without killing the recipient without actually doing it?
Sure you could try it out on someone who is going to die without it, but then, when the person dies anyway, how do you prove whether it was the transplant or whatever caused him or her to need it in the first place. Bottom line, while it is distasteful and some of these experiments went way too far, some of these things are necessary for medical progress.
That said, there does need to be strong evidence that the desired results can be achieved and will be of benefit to humanity before such things are done, which is why I think they have committees to do this nowadays.

DI Scott, thanks.


Guesser
Posted 20 December 2007 at 07:02 pm

Further on David Marcoes comment, we're judging the results of the experiments in hindsight. If it had turned out that severing heads and reattaching them was easily viable without serious damage, then our current medical techniques would likely be more extreme. Instead though, we're somewhere in the middle. My personal take on this kind of research is that it's like a bloody and tragic revolution. People need to be prepared for it all to come to a full stop for a long duration, because if it were to continue indefinitely, the ongoing tragedy would be the norm. You've got to be extremely suspicious of the motivations behind people who say such a thing is worthwhile or who actually try to initiate it, but in the lulls there happen to be differences we can be grateful for.

I was a little startled to read the bit about Robert J. White in Cleveland. I long ago heard second hand that there was an emergency medicine conference in Cleveland in the late 60's or early 70's where dogs that had been stabbed in the heart were suddenly wheeled in front of all the students (so that they could gain some first experience in dealing with it). In this case, supposedly just one dog survived. I don't know if it was a one time deal or a regular occasion. I wonder how these stories might interrelate.


Samillionaire
Posted 20 December 2007 at 07:55 pm

Some people have stuffed moose heads on their walls... it'd be really creepy to have a LIVING moose head on ur wall so it blinks and stuff... imagine what the guests would say when the moose eyes follow them muh ha ha ha ha...

43rd!!!


oldmancoyote
Posted 20 December 2007 at 08:01 pm

While I have never eaten fluffy the kitty cat, I have partaken of Fido. In some parts of the world Fido and Fluffy are more likely to be eaten than beef. We Americans may find it appalling but lets face it we are not the be all and end all of humanity. I could care less whaat someone else is eating. As for ethics, that too is in the eye of the beholder. Even our views of what is ethical change as time goes by. Adding the second head Ithink was extreme simply because it really served no purpose. I would rather scientists experiment on animals than on me. Just pass me some pie!


slickdick101
Posted 20 December 2007 at 08:16 pm

I'd like to be one of these experiments... that would be neat.


flatrick
Posted 20 December 2007 at 08:17 pm

I have a really hard time understanding people talking about ethics when animals are concerned.
The animal kingdom is cruel. Eating/using/testing animals is vital for the human kind. So, I really do not understand the huss evolving around the subject. If dogs were the masters of the world, they would certainly treat us the exact same way we treat them.
Also, I am very sceptical about animals having any real feelings, or atleast, animals being aware they have feelings...basically, I think that a dog that has a severed head can at best be "feeling/thinking": "ouch, I am hurt", "damn, why can't I move?", "where's my treat?".
Animal right groups have a tendency to attribute a far too great awareness to animals...if a cow is killed this way or that way, doesn't change anything...the cow doesn't understand what's happening either way.

Scott Cianciosi said: "It's hard to imagine experiments like these being done in the 21st century."

I don't really understand why you are saying that...I'd bet my whole fortune on the fact that these kinds of experiments are still pursued.
These kinds of experiments are needed and they can't (yet) be conducted on humans, can they?
I liked the article a lot, but I was hoping a lot more on the prospective...but I guess information on that is hard to obtain

"with the advent of animal rights groups and growing concern for the plight of mammalian test subjects"
.

"a world that would tolerate such ethically ambiguous experiments is quickly becoming a thing of the past."

That is a rather naive thing to say, in my opinion. There are way worse things that are done to animals in present experiments, things much more painful and gruesome.
So, a bit of a hasty conclusion...


Guesser
Posted 20 December 2007 at 09:45 pm

flatrick:
I had a similar view of animals' perspectives when I was very young. Now though, I've occasionally come to the bizarre realization that there's also not a whole lot consciously going on in my own head at any given time either. I can even find myself arguing against someone when it suddenly hits me that I don't really know or care what I'm going on about and could almost do it in my sleep. It's embarrassingly mechanical. Perhaps we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously, and should allow that understanding to filter down to the rest of the animal kingdom as well. I suspect most animal rights activists would find this reasoning to be extremely backward (humbling ourselves to a more common level rather than holding others up as having some sort of absolute inalienable value), but the results are similar.

As for what to do in practice, it's recognizable that a lot of animals aren't as social or mournful as us and don't have as much concern for fellow members of their species as we do. In that case, I find it acceptable to give them a peaceful and relatively painless life, while occasionally luring members away and swiftly chopping their heads off. Serve them up along with a healthy serving of grain and vegetables. If they don't feel the loss, that's a good deal. Pain on the other hand is something immediate and practical. Many animals have response from nerve stimulation that very similar to our own aside from difference in surface features. Their entire bodies are extremely similar (and even evolutionarily related) to ours and share many of the same needs for survival. I can see no scientific defense for the position that they they are experiencing anything entirely different than us in the simplest sense, and it follows most easily that it should be alike to us. Trouble doesn't begin with a negative assessment of the situation, but with simple pain from the nerves (really, if they don't understand, then it may as well be torture). That said, I'm not at all against animal testing in general (particularly in animals that don't mourn the deaths of members of their species as much as we do, since even if it's still terrible, it's at least a demonstrable improvement) and its limits are always open for discussion.


bhudson
Posted 20 December 2007 at 11:24 pm

I'd like to point out that research on zombie dogs continues. And, as mentioned, has yielded great dividends in helping humans.


lernet
Posted 21 December 2007 at 02:15 am

Seeing how the discussion turns to ethical issues, I would like to point out that some animals do mourn, like elephants. They have been spotted to linger around the spot of the death of a family member. Regardless whether animals mourn, all animals has the ability to feel pain. I think that unless you're from a farm, it's really hard to imagine eating your own pet. And if you are not able to eat your pet, an animal you love so much, then you have to extent that love beyond and towards all the animals. If this sort of experiment is not allowed on humans, it should never, ever be allowed on animals. They do not communicate the same way as we do, but I'm sure you have seen animals struggling, seen their will to live, seen them screaming and yelping in pain. So how can you convince me that animals cannot feel pain and that humans are right and justified in performing such cruel acts to animals?

Scientific progression should always go hand in hand with humanity progression. A world with advance technology but without any empathy towards any other forms of lives is a very sad world indeed.


fvngvs
Posted 21 December 2007 at 02:48 am

Wow! That article has just broken the DI-o-meter. it read an amazing 11.2 before it broke. Damn you Scott! Now I have to get another one.

The amazing thing is that these experiments were performed before WW2 with equipment that we would, these days, regard as primitive. Still, it gets people thinking about the possible, and, noticing the failures, thinking about what went wrong. This is what advances the science. This is on a technical level, mind you; I'll leave the ethical questions for the committee.

Did you all notice that the blood supply was open to atmosphere? OK, and hence the need for the anti-coagulant, I guess. I'd put down the not-as-great-as-claimed successes to extreme cases of "pumphead" (google it).


Anterak
Posted 21 December 2007 at 02:52 am

@flatrick :
Sources, links, datas for all you are saying?

flatrick said: "The animal kingdom is cruel."

That doesn't mean anything. The animal kingdom is harsh, not "cruel" in the human sense. Hunters rarely make suffer their preys for the joy of it, or more than necessary. (maybe cats do, but cats are evil :p)

Again, I'm not against experiments on animals, as long as it's done in best possible ways.
Opening dogs for transplants "trys" is a good thing for me. Severing one's head to put it on another dog's body, emptying a dog's blood, switching monkeys' heads... I don't see the point, I don't see what it brought to enhance sciences and knowledge.


Falco Peregrinus
Posted 21 December 2007 at 05:11 am

Baragla said: "Can I transplant my brain into the body of a "donor" - and thus live forever?"

wh44 said: "No. Currently there is no way to re-attach nerves."

Actually there is... at least for paraplegics at present, as far as I know. The technique isn't approved by the FDA, this may have changed, but in some other country a medical trial relinked like 8 peoples spinal cords but they had to go through extensive physical therapy to even being to walk again. I don't know if any made a 100% recovery or if the treatment is ongoing. They used adult stem cells from the patients nasal olfactory tissues. I saw it on TV like 3-8 months or so ago. So while a brain transplant is not entirely unfounded, it still probably wouldn't work well, if at all as of yet.


1c3d0g
Posted 21 December 2007 at 07:10 am

Yes, that's why he said CURRENTLY. I'm sure that in the future, given enough time, scientists *will* find a way to re-attach nerves.


tampagirl
Posted 21 December 2007 at 07:48 am

As our civilization advances we become less "earthy" therefore we view things that our ancestors wouldn't blink an eye at, as barbaric. What we deem acceptable now will some day deem to be harsh and cruel. It is how evolution moves us forward. Remember the scene from Star Trek 5 (I think it was 5 were they go back to save the humpback whales). Bones is walking hospital corridors saying how terrible the patients are being treated...he even gives a woman waiting for Dialysis a pill to grow a kidney. Today dialysis is cutting edge technology..someday it will be seen as barbaric.


Intellectual-Bonobo Hybrid.
Posted 21 December 2007 at 07:48 am

Is attaching a head to a different body a head transplant? Or a body transplant?


wargammer
Posted 21 December 2007 at 07:58 am

Reaper said: "I'm sure I needn't tell anybody here, but the macabre is subject to the eye of the beholder. What if [insert pioneering scientist's name here] hadn't illegally documented the human anatomy via autopsies oh-so-long ago?

Sure, that seems tame to us now, but it didn't back then. In the same way, as we grow in our scientific knowledge of the body, it is reasonable to expect that we'll have to continually infringe on our sense of ethics to gain knowledge — knowledge that could mean worlds to the future of medicine.

Likewise, we are getting to a point where concrete ethical boundaries actually do exist (i.e., cloning). But I don't think these folks were anywhere near furthering that science. They simply wanted to keep people whole…a science that quite a few people could benefit from, especially in this time of war. Head transplants may seem disgusting to us now, but just think of what Stephen Hawking could be doing if he wasn't crippled by his faulty anatomy? I personally would love to live in a world where the loss of limbs was viewed in no worse a light than a broken bone, as well."

are you insane?

if something were to happen and you needed to expirment to find a cure, that is one thing.
if a bunch of children were sick and the only way to say any of them was to expirment, that is one thing.

to cause pain and suffereing for some imagined benefit, is what sane people call evil.


Biks
Posted 21 December 2007 at 10:25 am

I've always wondered if someone like Stephen Hawkings would go for a head transplant. His body at the moment is of no use to him, and at some point it will be the thing that eventually leads to his death. Unlike the rest of us, he's very accustomed to the situation he's in.

Which leads to another point - if you could keep swapping bodies out indefinitely, would you keep doing it for a head that's been slowly getting Alzheimers? At some point this head would not know where it's at and become a confused, scrambled mess. Who would pull the plug based on it's intelligence/awareness?


tampagirl
Posted 21 December 2007 at 11:06 am

Now I have visions of a 25 year old body with an old wrinkly head with watery pale blue eyes....ugh!


dead_jc20
Posted 21 December 2007 at 04:13 pm

first post..nice article...i was wondering about doing a head transplant on myself.....hmmmm


darque
Posted 21 December 2007 at 06:08 pm

Firstly, I would like to congratulate Scott on a very Damn Interesting article, and congratulations also go to all those sensibly involved in such a serious and controversial discussion.

A few people here seem to have the idea that there is "no point" in doing these sort of experiments on animals. To put it bluntly, all of these kind of experiments are performed with a view to eventually reaping a benefit to humanity. As said in the article, these experiments have been an enormous boon to the medical society as we know it: helping to pave the way for modern life-support machines, heart and other organ transplants that some of us almost take for granted in this age. Even at the start of our parents' lifetimes, these machines and procedures would have been nothing short of miraculous. To all those opposed to the "unnecessary cruelty" of these experiments, I can only wonder if your tune will remain the same when you or someone you love requires a heart transplant to stay alive.

It is abundantly clear that the most productive time when potentially life saving surgical breakthroughs are discovered is when some genius/unbalanced pioneer blurrs the ethical boundaries. I would draw your attention to the most infamous surgeon of all time: Dr. Josef "the Mangler" Mengele. He was the nazi doctor in charge of the biological experimentation on the Jews during the holocaust. While there is no excuse for causing the death of 6,000,000 human beings in the name of science, religion, politics or any other cause, there is something something to be said of Dr. Mengele's research. His experimentation has improved our understanding of human physiology dramatically. He crossed the ethical boundary by performing experiments usually reserved for cadavers on living human beings, and as a result we now understand the basic principles of blood flow, the physiological functions of the various chambers of the heart and the effects of electrical stimuli on raw, living human muscle among various other anatomical principles. As much as he will never be credited with these discoveries due to the nature of his experimentation, it is to the "evil" Dr. Josef Mengele that we owe countless lives.

I understand and even empathize with the viewpoint of most of the animal rightists among us: there is no excuse for unnecessary cruelty to animals . The keyword is UNNECESSARY. It is terrible for any living creature to have to live for a few minutes, least of all hours or days as a "zombie", but I feel that perhaps the suffering and death of one, or perhaps a hundred non-human mammals can be justified by saving the life of one, and only one, human being.

As for the issue of sacrificing x children to save x^y children. I sincerely hope none of us here ever have to be put in the position of pulling the metaphorical trigger, but I also hope that whomever is unfortunate enough to be in that position has the intelligence and fortitude to do the right thing... what is best for the greater good.

It is clear that when somebody unbalanced, uneducated or with a dishonourable agenda lives by the rule "The ends justify the means", bad things happen. However, perhaps to the detriment of humanity, "necessary evils" are, and will be for the forseeable future, literally what they are named for: Evil, but very, very necessary.


flatrick
Posted 21 December 2007 at 06:57 pm

I knew I shouldn't have commented on this one. I've read every single article on DI, but only commented once before...because I know the articles are often subject to lengthy and time-consuming discussions.

However, since this particular discussion needs some deep reasoning, I thought I might give it a shot.

Guesser said: "Now though, I've occasionally come to the bizarre realization that there's also not a whole lot consciously going on in my own head at any given time either. I can even find myself arguing against someone when it suddenly hits me that I don't really know or care what I'm going on about and could almost do it in my sleep. It's embarrassingly mechanical.

I agree with you. I wasn't throughout enough with my earlier post, but this doesn't actually contradict what I said.
There was a really nice article about this subject (on DI or elsewhere, I can't remember), on how mechanical/instinctive all our actions were. This article stated that the only reason why we do anything ultimately is to be recognized positively by the society/community we live in. This is to say all our impulses are pretty primitive and there is no such thing as a real free will...also, all animals are very similar to humans (even the gene codes are, for most of the mammals, over 90% similar).

But there still is a crucial difference between humans and other animals, and that is the awareness of our condition.
To be as simple as possible, I'll give you -what I would like to think as- a fine example: take an ant. How many ants have you killed on purpose or accidentally? How many ants have you tortured on purpose or accidentally? Countless numbers I'd guess. And from what I've heard, they have a really good sensory/nerve system, making them ever so sensitive to any kind of pain. But do animal activists care? No, because they aren't as gullible as other creatures, such as dogs...animal activists just choose arbitrarily which animals need to be ethically protected.
So where should you draw the line? Should you not treat badly amoebas? Ants? Fish? Dogs? Etc. In my opinion, dogs haven't got much of a difference with ants on this perspective...there are even fish which have more nerve endings than dogs and we still keep fishing with hooks and whatnots, letting the fish die on boat-decks.
And think of it in this way: if you think all animals should be protected, then there are countless of animals that are killed and tortured every day, without any way of preventing it (i.e. in the case of ants). A couple of dogs isn't going to change much, you'd be better off trying to prevent people from marching on ants...you'd save more individuals than by manifesting against animal experimentations.

Hmmm, I just realized I wasn't really answering to your post...well here we go. The thing with human is that we have our consciousness, which make each individual a complete being. But animals seem to be just blobs of matter that happen to have (chemical) reactions to bad and good stimulas. The fact that we have the same kind of reactions makes us able to associate these stimulas with ethical notions as well...so for us, it's not anymore a question of something just physically bad or good (pushing us to a simple reaction) but something generally bad or good.
However, these latter notions are only percieved and interpreted by humans. Animals won't be able to go as far. So, from this point of view, you can't say that giving them a bad physical stimuli is a bad or good thing to do. It's just a "thing" you do to them and they react in the appropriate manner. Think of it this way, if you will: you're constantly in pain, but you are completely unaware of it (in your mind's eye). You instinctively take a course of action which should alleviate or eradicate the pain, but you have no idea of why you are doing this...you don't even know that this reaction will eventually take the pain away! You can't even anticipate or "hope" that the pain goes away.
For me, the animal has much similar reactions as a sodium-reaction with water...the matter has no idea why it is dissolving within the water, but it just acts as it supposed to act, reacts to its environment as it always has.

Modern science has set the common opinion on a false route by saying that our genes are so similar...because there still is a huge gap and difference between humans and animals.
I might draw the line by chimpanzees, which are proven to have some sort of intellect...but dogs? No, dogs just react.

Guesser said: "That said, I'm not at all against animal testing in general (particularly in animals that don't mourn the deaths of members of their species as much as we do, since even if it's still terrible, it's at least a demonstrable improvement) and its limits are always open for discussion."

There is also another noteworthy thing...if animal experimentation wasn't possible, there would be even more (human but possibly even animal) individuals which would suffer because of the lack of health care.
I will always value human life over that of an animal and I think of human activists as crazy people for not thinking the exact same way.

lernet said: "Seeing how the discussion turns to ethical issues, I would like to point out that some animals do mourn, like elephants. They have been spotted to linger around the spot of the death of a family member. Regardless whether animals mourn, all animals has the ability to feel pain.

Elephants mourn, but it still could be a simple reaction (as explained above).
You shouldn't try to give animals so much credit and especially not try to compare our feelings with those of animals. At least, I think it's extremely hasty to say that elephants "mourn" as if they were mourning like humans.
Mourning is a very complicated action, a kind of derivative of sadness. And I have a hard time believing elephants could be sad in the way humans can be sad. Their mourning would be more similar to a "pissed-off" or "what-the-hell" reaction (yeah, I'm trying to be a little provocative, wouldn't be funny otherwise :) I'll explain myself: elephants are over-protective of their children and community, because they have one of the worst demographics of all animals. So they have a natural tendency to make everything that is possible in order to protect everyone; they even slow their marching pace for sick and old ones (which is unheard of in other animal communities), and please o please do not start thinking that they are altruistic too now! So when one elephant dies, they simply might be waiting to make sure they are dead.

lernet said: "I think that unless you're from a farm, it's really hard to imagine eating your own pet. And if you are not able to eat your pet, an animal you love so much, then you have to extent that love beyond and towards all the animals.

I don't follow you here...seems like a syllogism with a bit of a shaky conclusion.
It's like saying the following: I have a wife/woman. I like to make love to her because I love her so much. Then I should extend my love.making beyond and towards all women! :)
No, really, if you try to rationalize an idealistic, you can't make shortcuts...

lernet said: "If this sort of experiment is not allowed on humans, it should never, ever be allowed on animals. They do not communicate the same way as we do, but I'm sure you have seen animals struggling, seen their will to live, seen them screaming and yelping in pain. So how can you convince me that animals cannot feel pain and that humans are right and justified in performing such cruel acts to animals?"

You are a human and you are able to make sense of these feelings even on fellow beings.
An animal can't make any sense of these feelings even within himself.

It's really quite that simple.

lernet said: "Scientific progression should always go hand in hand with humanity progression."

The problem with medical science is that progression is nigh impossible without any kind of experimentation. But I still don't think humanity progression has anything to do with empathy towards animals...

Anterak said: "Sources, links, datas for all you are saying?"

I don't know exactly what you are referring to by "all I am saying"...I really don't see what of my sayings needed a source, link or data?
But overall, it's more of an opinion I've forged myself, by reading bits and tids here and there. I read a lot of scientific reviews (on paper, and not on the internet...only read DI on the net), so all of my facts come directly from reliable sources. If you could be more specific with what you wanted, I could try to search it up for you.

Anterak said: "That doesn't mean anything. The animal kingdom is harsh, not "cruel" in the human sense. Hunters rarely make suffer their preys for the joy of it, or more than necessary. (maybe cats do, but cats are evil :p)"

I don't see why you say that...here's what wikipedia says: "Cruelty can be described as indifference to suffering and even positive pleasure in inflicting it. [...] Cruelty usually carries connotations of supremacy over a submissive or weaker force."

So what makes you say this adjective doesn't apply to the animal kingdom? Most animals are pretty indifferent to the suffering of other animals, especially their preys. And does "only the strong will survive" ring a bell?

Humans are no more cruel than animals. In fact, humans are less cruel.
Animals need to kill, and in the process often torture, their preys. They are indifferent to this course of action.
Humans need to experiment, and in the process often torture, their test-dogs. They are NOT indifferent to this course of action. As you and many others, you even feel empathy towards these creatures. In other words, we aren't cruel!

Anterak said: "Again, I'm not against experiments on animals, as long as it's done in best possible ways.

Opening dogs for transplants "trys" is a good thing for me. Severing one's head to put it on another dog's body, emptying a dog's blood, switching monkeys' heads… I don't see the point, I don't see what it brought to enhance sciences and knowledge."

2 reasons:
- As seen even on DI, most of the scientific progress is made by trial and error...scientists just try out different things till something works out. Most of the scientific community don't even know what their discoveries are good for in the first place...it often takes years for them or for other people to think of a purpose/application for a discovery.
- Finance. Scientists always have needed to prove to their (present or future) source of income what kind of progress they have made. The more spectacular, the better...


flatrick
Posted 21 December 2007 at 07:19 pm

By the way, here's a quite interesting link I stumbled upon: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3040891.stm

Northen european countries are always a head further in progress :)


tarteauxpommes
Posted 21 December 2007 at 08:14 pm

Looooong post.

Say anything you want about the ethics and morality and all that of this sort of experiment, it's still really, really, really creepy. Zombie monkeys. Think about it.


kittykactus
Posted 21 December 2007 at 10:27 pm

Gah!
Just reading this creeps me out.
However, DI, indeed.


sd9sd
Posted 21 December 2007 at 10:33 pm

Brings into the question of the 'soul'. Apparently the guy who switched monkey heads met the Pope and started talking about his own concept of the soul. The Pope looked back at him with the kinda expression that said "Oho, so you think you know everything eh?" :)
Imagine trying to explain religion and the soul to the Pope :)

My own opinion: If this could be done to animals, it can be done to humans too. Pretty much says that if humans have a soul, then animals do too. And if humans don't, then animals don't have a soul either. Some people believe that only humans have a soul and animals don't. Well, isn't the 'soul' a man-made concept anyway? Born out of the desire to continue living after dying? And the lovely excuse that we can meet our bereaved ones sooner or later.


skammer
Posted 21 December 2007 at 11:47 pm

An animal can't make any sense of these feelings even within himself.

God? Is that you? Oh, it's just a complex.. tehee!

It seems like your projecting yourself on/in things you can only guess at but make a claim on anyway. How much intelligence does one need to have before being able to 'make sense' of pain?

follow up Q': Would Einstein feel more pain stubbing his toe than you stubbing your own?


dead_jc20
Posted 22 December 2007 at 12:49 am

hmmm...naeebak ako,teka lang...bakit kailangang ihead transplant ang ulo ng unggoy?nauutot ako


Bolens
Posted 22 December 2007 at 12:46 pm

dead_jc20 said: "hmmm…naeebak ako,teka lang…bakit kailangang ihead transplant ang ulo ng unggoy?nauutot ako"

Yes, eventually everything tastes like chicken.


rev.felix
Posted 22 December 2007 at 06:08 pm

Bolens said: "Yes, eventually everything tastes like chicken."

Except for pie.

Unless maybe it's mincemeat pie...


Dean
Posted 22 December 2007 at 08:01 pm

flatrick said: But there still is a crucial difference between humans and other animals, and that is the awareness of our condition.

The thing with human is that we have our consciousness, which make each individual a complete being. But animals seem to be just blobs of matter that happen to have (chemical) reactions to bad and good stimulas. The fact that we have the same kind of reactions makes us able to associate these stimulas with ethical notions as well…so for us, it's not anymore a question of something just physically bad or good (pushing us to a simple reaction) but something generally bad or good.
However, these latter notions are only percieved and interpreted by humans. Animals won't be able to go as far. So, from this point of view, you can't say that giving them a bad physical stimuli is a bad or good thing to do. It's just a "thing" you do to them and they react in the appropriate manner.

I don't get that. Humans decide what they consider to be good and bad, but an animal doesn't understand what good and bad is, so you can't do something bad to an animal? If someone set a dog on fire because they felt like it, I'd say that was a bad thing to do because it causes the dog harm for no good reason. And because the dog can't understand the moral issues it is not a bad thing to do? Can you do bad things to baby humans before they know what good and bad is?


tednugentkicksass
Posted 23 December 2007 at 03:00 am

lernet said: "I think that unless you're from a farm, it's really hard to imagine eating your own pet.
Scientific progression should always go hand in hand with humanity progression. A world with advance technology but without any empathy towards any other forms of lives is a very sad world indeed."

What? Farmers are more likely to feel loss at the death of a "pet." Usually a country person has a better relationship with any animal they may consider a pet. It's a far more personal relationship.
I was in the vehicle that ended my first dog's life, and I probably feel more guilty than any "normal, city person" would. The neccesity of some animals' exermination is indebatable, but to to claim country-folk are less torn by such deaths is idiotic at best.

To be honest, any animal death that improves human life is easily justifiable. To debate that point is in-humane (in the very definition of the word) and idiotic. Animals are a lesser life-form, and disposable.


tednugentkicksass
Posted 23 December 2007 at 03:03 am

P.S. I don't want any sick suppositions here... I didn't eat my goddamned dog.


Ilaeria
Posted 23 December 2007 at 06:01 am

Wow, fascinating stuff but also disturbing. I'd like to suggest a disclaimer before this story, along the lines of "Warning: this story may disturb some readers" or whatever. I love DI but I also love my dog and the idea of someone experimenting on her like that is rather disturbing to me.


dota_na_lang
Posted 23 December 2007 at 07:07 am

anak ng... may bang pinoy pla dito! dota nalang tayo

DI indeed!

i agree that at times, science will have to breach ethical barriers for progress, though i wouldnt wanna pet the dog before its operation... dont think i can handle that much ... well.. science.

yes these experiments were/are disturbing, but i agree with some posts here that say that someday, our current medical procedures will be viewed as barbaric some day as well.

imagine, hundreds of years ago, even today, some tribe in some isolated area, drill holes in peoples heads because they have a headache, sure the procedure is damn interestingly barbaric and unethical, but for them, thats how they solve there migraine problem... fortunately for us, for those living with the modern convenience of pills, or syrups, .. (because of scientific progress) we don't have to go to a witch doctor so we can sleep easy. what i'm trying to say here is that, in what ever we wanna achieve, long term or otherwise, we have to start somewhere.


ringerc
Posted 23 December 2007 at 12:13 pm

Psychological research is also filled with important experiments that could never be performed today. Some of them are truly horrible and there are good reasons we can't do them - but yet, we rely on the knowledge gained through them.

Classic examples are Milgram's experiments on what people will do on the word of an authority figure. What's rather unpleasant is that, at least in the social context of the day, Milgram was able to show that normal off-the-street people in England could be induced to act in a way that would, were the experiment "real", kill the subject. It was horribly traumatic for the participants. It's also noteworthy because of the incredibly profound social implications at the time, as it was hard not to see it as saying that the average person in the wrong circumstances could be induced to do the sorts of things that'd relatively recently been seen in Germany in late WWII.

Wikipedia has an article on the topic. No idea if it's any good, but it'll certainly have some useful links. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment .

Another noteworthy experiment in this regard was the Stanford prison experiment. It's both a scary illustration of how "normal" people can rapidly get out of control in the wrong situations and a demonstration of how important good oversight is in psychological experiments. (Oversimplifying): The experiment placed two groups of students in a simulated prison environment. The prisoners could ask to leave at any time. What's scary is how out of control the "guards" became, with a lot of prisoner abuse and truly nasty behaviour. What's perhaps more unnerving is that the "prisoners" were rendered so helpless that they did not ask to leave - despite the fact that that's all they had to do to get out. I find it disturbing that the experiment was not stopped several days before the final halt as it was clearly out of control and completely unacceptable. In fact, the failure of the experimental oversight was in some ways as important as the experiment its self. This site: http://www.prisonexp.org/ claims to be by one of the main people involved in the experiment, and appears to fit the facts as I'm familiar with them. It's well worth a read. Again, wikipedia also has an article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment .

These are just two famous psychological experiments with profound effects on the field that could absolutely never be performed today. In fact, they both helped shape experimental ethics in psychology.


ringerc
Posted 23 December 2007 at 12:29 pm

I should note, re the Stanford experiment, that it wasn't a well constructed or run experiment, and the researcher's involvement could've easily pushed the results in the the direction of his expectations (among many other possible issues). Despite that, the results are if nothing else interesting and disturbing, even if we can't draw strong conclusions from them in formal scientific terms. The behaviour of people surrounding the formal experiment, however, is as interesting as that of the people participating in it.

I rather wish the Milgram experiment was as unclear.


dead_jc20
Posted 23 December 2007 at 03:45 pm

oo may pinoy dito.. :) hindi ako nagdodota.tumitira lang ako ng rugby.hehehe

dota_na_lang said: "anak ng… may bang pinoy pla dito! dota nalang tayo

DI indeed!

i agree that at times, science will have to breach ethical barriers for progress, though i wouldnt wanna pet the dog before its operation… dont think i can handle that much … well.. science.

yes these experiments were/are disturbing, but i agree with some posts here that say that someday, our current medical procedures will be viewed as barbaric some day as well.

imagine, hundreds of years ago, even today, some tribe in some isolated area, drill holes in peoples heads because they have a headache, sure the procedure is damn interestingly barbaric and unethical, but for them, thats how they solve there migraine problem… fortunately for us, for those living with the modern convenience of pills, or syrups, .. (because of scientific progress) we don't have to go to a witch doctor so we can sleep easy. what i'm trying to say here is that, in what ever we wanna achieve, long term or otherwise, we have to start somewhere."

that's right, every scientific field has gotta start from scratch.we won't be saving lives if it weren't for individuals like Sergei S. Bryukhonenko and his pioneering, though unethical experiments...anyways i was thinking, what if they switched the heads of a human and a dog?..an anubis and a freak should result i guess....


flatrick
Posted 23 December 2007 at 08:36 pm

I'd just like to say for starters that my opinion on the subject is quite vague since it is extremely difficult to have a any certaintity about emotions, especially those of animals, who can't communicate with us.

With this said, I am completely open to discuss the subject and even change my opinion on the matter.

tarteauxpommes said: "Say anything you want about the ethics and morality and all that of this sort of experiment, it's still really, really, really creepy. Zombie monkeys. Think about it."

Creepy yes, but that's not the worst I've heard about. That's why I'm not that chocked either.
Zombie monkeys? No, that's not really it. Zombies are dead and often depicted as stupid, macabre, ill-looking, cannibalistic, extremely strong, etc. These transplanted monkeys have two normal body-parts, which both are still living and with nothing else extraordinary.

skammer said: "It seems like your projecting yourself on/in things you can only guess at but make a claim on anyway."

That's not entirely true, because I'm not really making any claims...I'm just giving my personal opinion.
Let's say I'm 75% convinced of what I'm saying...but even if the balance was 50-50%, you would still get better value on betting (if you play poker, that should make sense) that animals can't be hurt in the way humans can be.

skammer said: "How much intelligence does one need to have before being able to 'make sense' of pain?

follow up Q': Would Einstein feel more pain stubbing his toe than you stubbing your own?"

That's what I was also pondering about. I don't know how much intelligence you would need to make sense of pain, but no, I don't think Einstein would feel more pain. There's no graduation, just that one difference between humans and animals...the mind of an animal is in the dark, while a human's mind is in the clear. There's no in-between.

dota_na_lang said: "imagine, hundreds of years ago, even today, some tribe in some isolated area, drill holes in peoples heads because they have a headache, sure the procedure is damn interestingly barbaric and unethical, but for them, thats how they solve there migraine problem… fortunately for us, for those living with the modern convenience of pills, or syrups"

There are still some tribes nowadays that treat migraines with rather barbaric means; the shaman summons all of the bad energy (headache) from the body into one single point, which is generally one or more fingers. Then they cut the finger(s) and apparently it works too!

ringerc said: "These are just two famous psychological experiments with profound effects on the field that could absolutely never be performed today. In fact, they both helped shape experimental ethics in psychology."

Both of these experiments have been treated on DI as well.
However, I'm not really sure why you are saying that they are "psychologically unethical" because the Milgram experiment is still frequently set up. Derren Brown, for instance, tested a dozen of people in this way in his TV show in 2005.


flatrick
Posted 23 December 2007 at 08:46 pm

Oh and by the way, I forgot to mention one thing.

It has been proven long ago (and scientists are quite certain of this) that animals absolutely can't "think". It's rather strange and difficulte to understand and percieve this fact (much like the fact that the universe is unlimited, if that is the case), but you really have to try to stop comparing animals to humans that much.
Even if animals and humans seem very much alike and have feelings that are very similar, this one single difference alters every other aspect of our being and makes us extremely different from other animals. That is why I talk about a "dark mind" and compare animals to blobs of matter, that are just able to react...their feelings are just "simple" reactions, but because we experience the same kind of emotions and are able to give them a (ethical) meaning/context/indepth we tend to think that they experience the same thing we do...and that is not true, at least in my humble opinion.


flatrick
Posted 23 December 2007 at 09:19 pm

Dean said: "I don't get that. Humans decide what they consider to be good and bad, but an animal doesn't understand what good and bad is, so you can't do something bad to an animal? If someone set a dog on fire because they felt like it, I'd say that was a bad thing to do because it causes the dog harm for no good reason. And because the dog can't understand the moral issues it is not a bad thing to do?"

You're pushing my theory to its limits, but in theory, yes you could put a dog on fire.
However, you still are killing a living being for no reason and you could consider that as a bad thing...it would resemble a kind of vandalism or sabotage of mother nature's offspring.
But once there is a reason (i grant you, that it has to be good enough to balance out the "nature vandalism"), there is no reason why you could not put a dog on fire. Take as an example those russian dogs which were sent to explode under tanks (DI article) or dogs used for cosmetic reseach (which get very painful burns, much like as if they were one fire). Police dogs also get killed every day, because they are sent to missions in which a human could get hurt. And there are a lot of animals that are even killed for almost no reason, like in pleasure hunting or fishing...

I am by the way a lawyer (yes yes, that's probably why I am so cold-hearted) and I can tell you this much. There is not one single country or international convention that grants an animal any rights. Only humans have rights. All the laws that protect animals (i.e. not allowing someone to burn a dog for no reason) do not actually protect the animal in itself, but their proprietor as if animals were just humans' property like any other object or "blob of matter".

Dean said: "Can you do bad things to baby humans before they know what good and bad is?"

There's a hint of sarcasm in this question, but it actually isn't that a stupid question. I'll start off by asking you first is abortion good or bad?
Personnally I think it's an extremely good thing, but I also think that an aborted baby is already a human being...in other words, I think that every abortion is a real death sentance. I say this because foetuses that are over 9 weeks old already have the capacity to start "thinking" and have enough cerebral and sensorial activity to be "hurt".
So, to answer your question, yes you can do bad things to a baby (for a good reason, which flips the bad thing into a good thing).
Other anedoctical precision: in most countries, you can't murder a baby which has not been born yet, even if it' just a matter of hours away. So, if a pregnant mother is going to the hospital to give birth, but gets into an accident which kills the baby, she only can get civil reparation for her moral loss, not condemn the killer for criminal offence.

Now, concerning a born baby, I'm not entirely sure it would not be able to make a difference between good and bad as soon as it's born. But even if it would be the case, as soon as you would hurt it, the baby would be able to associate that feeling to something ethically bad. It doesn't need to know the word ethical or even its meaning in order to classify actions ethically (in comparison, even an adult that doesn't know the word ethical can still make the ethical difference between good and bad).
The baby would be completely aware/conscious that you hurt it, whereas an animal wouldn't.


Guesser
Posted 24 December 2007 at 02:46 am

flatrick:
I think you're overcomplicating matters and jumping in random directions rather than limiting focus to what is relevant. To say without qualification that animals do not feel pain nor think is the sort of very strong statement that could be knocked down by a single counterexample. When it comes to perception, coming up some really intelligent models and thoughts can never undermine all the perspectives that everyone (and every animal in this case, perhaps) currently hold. I would say that memory of all the perspectives you have thought before at their various levels of development should be considered relevant along with just your current and most advanced understanding. Try to imagine not thinking so hard, or thinking or feeling in another way, if it's something you've ever done. Do you not realize that people aren't thinking so hard all the time? Do we not live with it every day? I have plenty of ways to imagine that pain is pain and it's just something I want to run from. I've also got plenty of ways to reason it away, and to suffer through troubles so that I can later remember what has happened as inconsequential. We employ these sorts of strategies as they suit us. In trying to understand someone or something that tries to run from hurt, I feel that perhaps the best I can understand is to reminisce about how I've felt before that resembles it best. When the subject is a member of another species, there's necessarily going to be a lot of error.. very likely drastic misunderstanding. But I should be able to find it plausible that perhaps they have a reason to run as I would, and also that perhaps they do not.

Some of what you said makes me wonder if you've got any religious notion at the foundation of your opinions. "It has been proven long ago (and scientists are quite certain of this) that animals absolutely can't think"... Does that mean I can't think? For practical purposes, the term often includes humans, and with good reason.


Guesser
Posted 24 December 2007 at 03:04 am

I have no major stance on these kinds of issues by the way.. I just try and throw a wrench in if someone says something that seems questionable, thinking maybe it will change things a bit.


Guesser
Posted 24 December 2007 at 03:08 am

Err... about this - "perhaps they have a reason to run as I would".. That's about the dumbest thing I could have said. The "reason" is what isn't necessary. It's pain and you avoid it.. about as fundamental as anything.


buford t. justice
Posted 24 December 2007 at 05:32 am

the ethics thing again..but all love life... or endure it


Dean
Posted 24 December 2007 at 07:53 am

That's funny flatrick, it's like if you harm an animal you've infracted against Nature Corp. Very lawerly! I know we need to test things on animals, but I believe we shouldn't pretend the pain and suffering they go through doesn't exist. Seems ungrateful to me.


sd9sd
Posted 24 December 2007 at 09:04 am

Flatrick my dear, there are two basic laws:
1. Survival of the fittest.
2. The law of society decided by the fittest who survive.
'Good' and 'Bad' is decided by an individual when law 1 is applied. 'Good' and 'Bad' is decided by the leader/s of society when law 2 is applied.
Theoretically, there is nothing such as 'Good' or 'Bad'. Caniballism is 'Good'; according to the cannibals (no. I didn't ask them ;) If I did, they'd say "Hmm..dunno..let's see if it is good by eating you ;) ).
No matter how much you defend your views of good & bad, it's of no use until the leader of society decides the same thing.
Watch how ants mercilessly tear off the legs and wings of a half-squashed-but-still-alive-and-struggling cockroach and carry it to their nest, and you'll see that Nature has always been like that and always will be. We too are a part of Nature and it's not surprising that we behave like animals at times.
It's easy to decide good and bad when we're well fed and living normal lives. But when you're starving, you'll eat up your own words of good and bad, just for the sake of getting a morsel of food into your mouth.


flatrick
Posted 24 December 2007 at 06:54 pm

Guesser said: "flatrick: I think you're overcomplicating matters and jumping in random directions rather than limiting focus to what is relevant."

I think that's quite an unfair thing to say, at least concerning the random directions part.
I tend to have a very rational and practical approach of any subject. I explain my thoughts step-by-step in order for everyone to follow them easily. It might take some time to explain the whole process, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's that much more complicated. And anyhow, the subject is so complex that you can't just try to simplify it.
Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but I always take my time to answer and discuss every argument that has been presented to me. I always proceed this way in a discussion, because I think it's so easy for a person (with an opposite opinion) to just overview my arguments which they don't know how to discuss and just select the few which they feel they can counter.

Guesser said: "To say without qualification that animals do not feel pain nor think is the sort of very strong statement that could be knocked down by a single counterexample."

I'm not sure what you are aiming at by saying that I'm not qualify to make these statements?
First of all, there probably is no one qualified to say if an animal feels pain or not the way we do. So I feel I'm just as entitled as anyone to present my hypothesis.
Secondly, you gave me no counterexample to knock out the statement concerning "thought". It's true that I'm not a scientist and thus not the most qualified person to discuss the topic. However, this almost general knowledge and as solid hard fact as the fact that humans think with their brain and not with their heart. I actually think you are a little bit silly (no offence meant) by trying to prove the contrary. I won't bother try to convince you of what I've said, because there is plenty of information on this matter everywhere for you to discover if that is not the case yet. It's silly because you blame me for not being qualified, yet I'm just repeating what the scientific world present as a certainty and you consider yourself qualified enough to pretend it's false information?

Guesser said: "When it comes to perception, coming up some really intelligent models and thoughts can never undermine all the perspectives that everyone (and every animal in this case, perhaps) currently hold."

I'm trying to follow you here, but I'm not 100% I understand you from this point on.

Guesser said: "I would say that memory of all the perspectives you have thought before at their various levels of development should be considered relevant along with just your current and most advanced understanding."

The thing is that understanding itself came at some point to humans while no animal has an understanding, a real thought process if you will. So, again, there exists no such graduation you imply.

Guesser said: "Try to imagine not thinking so hard, or thinking or feeling in another way, if it's something you've ever done. Do you not realize that people aren't thinking so hard all the time? Do we not live with it every day?"

Yes, but no animal is even able to think that much. What you don't seem to understand or at least to acknowledge (see my first answer to you) is that animals have no degree of thought.
I understand it is very hard to believe and it might even seem absurd (see my comparison with the size of the universe), but THIS is a rock solid proven fact. In other words, I'm absolutely not giving you my opinion here, just repeating what all scientists would say.

Guesser said: "I have plenty of ways to imagine that pain is pain and it's just something I want to run from. I've also got plenty of ways to reason it away, and to suffer through troubles so that I can later remember what has happened as inconsequential. We employ these sorts of strategies as they suit us. In trying to understand someone or something that tries to run from hurt, I feel that perhaps the best I can understand is to reminisce about how I've felt before that resembles it best. When the subject is a member of another species, there's necessarily going to be a lot of error.. very likely drastic misunderstanding. But I should be able to find it plausible that perhaps they have a reason to run as I would, and also that perhaps they do not."

Exactly. They do not have a reason to run away...they don't even have a choice, because it's just part of a "reaction" (that is predestined to function this way). A human, on the contrary, has a free will (or does he? that's another debate yet) and can "choose" not to run away from pain. I stress out the word "choose"...

Guesser said: "Some of what you said makes me wonder if you've got any religious notion at the foundation of your opinions. "It has been proven long ago (and scientists are quite certain of this) that animals absolutely can't think"…"

No, no religious foundation. I'm not an atheist, but not the strongest believer either...anyway, that citation you made has nothing to do with religion, only science.

Guesser said: "Does that mean I can't think? For practical purposes, the term often includes humans, and with good reason."

You're just playing with words. If you prefere I rephrase it, I'd end it by saying "all animals except humans".

Dean said: "That's funny flatrick, it's like if you harm an animal you've infracted against Nature Corp. Very lawerly!"

Well it's much alike vandalizing a great landscape, for instance burning down a forest for no reason...fauna, flora....potato, potatoe...

Dean said: "I know we need to test things on animals, but I believe we shouldn't pretend the pain and suffering they go through doesn't exist. Seems ungrateful to me."

I'm not exactly saying that the pain doesn't exist, just that they do not percieve/feel it the way we do...but yes, in a nutshell, I'm saying they do not endure sufferings.
There's nothing to be grateful for, or at least there is no reason to be grateful. The animals do not care if you are grateful or not, a human in the same position on the contrary could care...

That might sound a bit harsh, but let's compare animals to plants again...are you grateful to a tree when you use paper or firewood?
If you want to be spiritual about it, you might consider being grateful to mother nature (both in case of a tree and an animal).

sd9sd said: "Flatrick my dear, there are two basic laws:"

Please oh please, do not take such a condescending tone with me (have I been offensive to anyone?), especially if you are pretending to teach me basic law principles of which you obviously have no idea of.
My English (5th language) might be a bit bad, but it's very stupid to think that my linguistic incompetence has anything to do with my competence in law...so please spare me of your invented theories about some basic binary classification.

sd9sd said: "Theoretically, there is nothing such as 'Good' or 'Bad'.
Caniballism is 'Good'; according to the cannibals (no. I didn't ask them ;) If I did, they'd say "Hmm..dunno..let's see if it is good by eating you ;) ).
No matter how much you defend your views of good & bad, it's of no use until the leader of society decides the same thing."

Now you're trying to enter into some philosophical discussion about good&bad which has such abundant litterature that there's no point to bring it up here.

Anyhow, I'm saying experimenting on animals is good by the standards of our current society.

sd9sd said: "Watch how ants mercilessly tear off the legs and wings of a half-squashed-but-still-alive-and-struggling cockroach and carry it to their nest, and you'll see that Nature has always been like that and always will be."

Ah, the ever so simplistic comparison to animals...I'll repeat it one more time. Even if humans are animals as well and even if our genetic pool is very similar to those of other mammals, we still are extremely different. An animal resembles more a plant than a human.

sd9sd said: "We too are a part of Nature and it's not surprising that we behave like animals at times."

That's an easy excuse for BAD persons. They do not behave like animals, they are simply bad. Animals can't be bad, nor good, without the will to be either. A human can be.

sd9sd said: "It's easy to decide good and bad when we're well fed and living normal lives. But when you're starving, you'll eat up your own words of good and bad, just for the sake of getting a morsel of food into your mouth."

What's this got to do with the subject?...


flatrick
Posted 24 December 2007 at 07:07 pm

Oh, and yes, in case you do not know, they do not only teach law in law schools. You go through economical, sociological, psychological and historical aspects of laws and basic principles. So I have a good knowledge on the subject good&bad, like most of politicians who almost always have a juridical background and who need to take decisions on the base of what is good and what is bad.


flatrick
Posted 24 December 2007 at 07:09 pm

errr, I forgot the most important one: the philosophical aspect of laws and basic principles.


sd9sd
Posted 24 December 2007 at 09:00 pm

Wasn't being condescending, just trying to be nice coz you seemed to be an opponent who doesn't try seeing the other person's point of view.

flatrick said: "What's this got to do with the subject?…"
: Heh heh....that's exactly what I was thinking after I posted the comment :) It's got mostly to do with the good and bad theory.
flatrick said: "... similar to those of other mammals, we still are extremely different"
really? try telling that to a tiger which is dragging you to a corner to eat you. I'm pretty sure it'll say "grroooowl snaarl" [translated: "oh mighty human..I forgot you had superior brains. I'll leave your brains alone, lemme eat the rest of you"] (yeah tigers can say a lot with just a growl and a snarl ;) )

If we really were superior to the animals, we'd have the knowledge about why you're living on planet earth. But since we don't, we're just the same blob of meat as any other animal. So while we're roaming the earth, the animals have the same right to eat us and do whatever they want to us, as we have the right to eat them and do whatever we want to them. Everything is justified for the animal which wants to live. It's not a rule I made up. It's a rule that existed on earth until the animal rights people popped out of thin air and confused all of us. Of course they haven't taught the new rules to the animals. It's just sad that the animals who lived with us, trusting us, were being used for all those gory experiments.

The tiger wants to say something to flatrick: "Grrrr" [translated: Wish you a Merry Christmas flatrick]
Merry Christmas everybody!!! :)


sd9sd
Posted 24 December 2007 at 09:46 pm

flatrick said: "The animals do not care if you are grateful or not, a human in the same position on the contrary could care..........Animals can't be bad, nor good, without the will to be either. A human can be."

And plenty of other quotes in which you purport to have a telepathic connect with the minds of animals. You think we're so feeble minded to accept your assumptions?
The tiger says: "Snarrrl Grrowl" [Translated: "I'm really grateful that flatrick can't read my mind. Else he'd have told Santa that I didn't have the will to be good this year"]
Okay, enough of these tiger quotes :)


Guesser
Posted 24 December 2007 at 09:54 pm

flatrick:
"Guesser said: "flatrick: I think you're overcomplicating matters and jumping in random directions rather than limiting focus to what is relevant."

I think that's quite an unfair thing to say, at least concerning the random directions part.
I tend to have a very rational and practical approach of any subject. I explain my thoughts step-by-step in order for everyone to follow them easily. It might take some time to explain the whole process, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's that much more complicated. And anyhow, the subject is so complex that you can't just try to simplify it."

Yeah, that did come out a bit unfair. What I meant to get at is that, as I said later, saying that all animals do not feel is a very strong statement that could be knocked down by a single counterexample. To talk about good and bad, the harshness of nature, who is on top and can do what they want, how we "think" (also without the definition of "think" as used in the study, which I'd say is a necessity even if we were discussing intelligence), aborted babies, other things I've forgotten, and so on... while it's important in expanding the application of our current ideas into different problems, and it's a communications exercise, I don't see that it's making much progress in swaying anyone's preconceptions or unsettling the core premise (that most animals do or do not feel pain). Unfortunately, each one of us is necessarily going on our own experience when it comes down to it, since our ability to communicate such ideas is limited and we haven't had the opportunity to be someone else. For this reason, I shifted toward mentioning how the premise is fragile and hinted toward a different mode of thinking that someone might not have already employed against it. I figure that if I'm attempting to alter someone's ideas about someone else's perception (or worse yet, that of an animal).. it's necessarily bizarre, and if I'm to honestly try and make a difference rather than just try and win a debate, then it's mostly going to be left up to the other person's contemplation and the best I can do is encourage different modes of thought. It's a kind of bs, yes.. but it's a try.

"Guesser said: "To say without qualification that animals do not feel pain nor think is the sort of very strong statement that could be knocked down by a single counterexample."

I'm not sure what you are aiming at by saying that I'm not qualify to make these statements?"

I didn't mean to say that at all. I said "without qualification" in reference to a lack of qualifiers, not you. I could have said "without reservation" instead and it would have been just as appropriate. Sorry about that. You actually seem pretty smart and I appreciate that you quote things nicely and make it easy to respond (if not for those things, I likely would have stopped commenting sooner).
Regarding what comes after that... the brain of any mammal serves as the processing center of the nervous system. For any wild mammal that possesses a brain (all), I trust you'd agree that its brain serves an important processing function. My understanding is that its utility weighs against its required energy expenditure and effect on form. Where is the line drawn between processing and "think"ing? Why? ("think" is a word in human-developed modern english.. hardly something absolute anyway) Even if humans are the only ones to "think" (by some definition, I would agree.. though I might argue against the usefulness of the definition), we certainly process information in a similar manner. While it's good to acknowledge distinctions, we shouldn't ignore the striking similarities. To distinguish ourselves in a manner that removes ourselves from the company of other species seems like a questionable subjective choice. Currently, some of us do and some of us don't, and perhaps that's a happy medium.

Later, when you go on about humans being the only ones who think and animals being simple responders.. My view is that this is part of a practical inertia that we accept as we come to terms with rapid scientific progress with some apprehensiveness of being left without up-to-date analogues of traditional notions of a soul and free will. With our highly developed brain, it appears to me that we're not simple mechanical responders, but rather more complicated mechanical responders. There's not much use in all that stuff if it's not doing the work, and in honesty, our best understanding is that it is still physics at work. On a practical working level in scientific research and in medical treatments (such as after brain trauma), this viewpoint is all but accepted. Rather than allow a mechanical explanation to debase the value of humanity (the traditional fear and player in the inertia), it is possible to allow this to draw attention to the potential value of mechanical configurations, such as animals, and just to be a whole lot more controversial, potentially things we create (in Japan with a Shinto tradition, the standard of sanity in this respect is quite different). It's fun to consider that thinking is not what it's cracked up to be and that perhaps persistent sleight of hand and communication toward self-preservation are where it's at.

"An animal resembles more a plant than a human."
I'm sure you're talking about this in the sense of one being "unthinking".. but, as I explained above, I don't really care. Structurally, mammals are very similar and expend energy toward processing tasks.


exsomnis
Posted 24 December 2007 at 11:04 pm

Who's to say that there isn't some ghastly animal or even human research going on in some secret laboratory, funded by some government, somewhere in the world.....


rev.felix
Posted 24 December 2007 at 11:36 pm

Completely off topic, Merry Christmas everyone!


Scott Cianciosi
Posted 25 December 2007 at 04:59 am

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas! Let's all have a safe and happy holiday season.


Dean
Posted 25 December 2007 at 06:21 am

Merry Christmas DI and commentators!
A little research taught me animal pain is another annoying un-provable personal opinion thing. So Damn Irritating!


Guesser
Posted 25 December 2007 at 07:49 am

Yeah.. once it's down to a certain level, you can't really prove that other people exist, let alone feel. Then it's down to practical assumptions. Start talking about animals and it's even worse..
Merry Christmas


Web
Posted 25 December 2007 at 10:05 pm

Hey flatrick,

Any sources for the "animals do not think" theory?

Cheers, and merry christmas all


Kao_Valin
Posted 26 December 2007 at 09:19 am

Animals think. It may not be all that complex, but that doesnt negate the fact that they think. Brains process information and output the reaction. That is thinking. Just because it isnt a complex dance of interrelated memories, emotions, and logic, that doesnt mean it isnt thinking. Conscious thought however is different. Being self-aware and thinking are different arent they?

Also, if it has a nerve system it can feel pain. What kind of goofy backwards anatomy class did that come from. I'd need sources for that. Pain is simply a stimulus. Just because an animal doesnt associated complex memories tied to this stimulus, why does that mean they dont feel pain? Sure I'm not suggesting animals feel pain in the same way, but this doesnt mean they dont feel pain.

Also, others have hinted I may be a sociopath simply because I stated that whole "x^y" equation earlier. This means I trade losses for gains just like everyone else. I dont have to be agreeable to everyone's ethics. I dont even aim to be. That isnt to say I aim to bother anyone. That is quite the contrary. The belief does not equate to evils or wronging society. It just gives me conscious control over how I justify my actions. I see where I make trade-offs.

When one commits horrible or cruel acts to a few people or animals, that has an exponentially positive gain over time. Building foundations on past suffering is the cornerstone of society. Be it simply devoting some hours of the day to volunteering or switching monkey heads. Wasteful needless suffering or inflicting pain and suffering for personal gains only is evil. One should do their best to not screw up anyone's life, or cause pain to regardless to species IMO. However, sometimes society needs a quick return on investment.


Coyoty
Posted 26 December 2007 at 02:06 pm

It seems to me that one dismisses the sensibilities of others in order to rationalize the abuse of those sensibilities.


Inti
Posted 26 December 2007 at 04:04 pm

Animals do feel, and in particular cases are capable of complex thought (e.g. great apes in the family Hominidae). This conclusion can be reached by the very simple reason that animals (lets focus on vertebrates for this particular case) do have homologous nervous systems. These homologous nervous systems where evolved for the primary role of acquiring information from the environment in the fashion of sight, smell, touch, etc. These senses, my friends, are by their very nature "feelings". You can try to hide the sun with the finger, but the sun will still be there.


Guesser
Posted 26 December 2007 at 06:41 pm

About the x^y equation..
Someone who views life in terms of these kinds of equations might be willing to accept greater personal sacrifice as well, so I see it as potentially being part of an ethically sound outlook as long as it also involves a whole lot of empathy and scrutinizing oneself carefully. In ethical issues, we're always weighing factors that we consider impossible or distasteful to weigh against one another. This can be done consciously, unconsciously, quantitatively, or otherwise, but it's happening. The potential trouble that I see in weighing emotions quantitatively is the fallacy that because it is quantitative it is somehow more exact, precise, or correct. The equations and measures can give clear quantitative results, but the error in the construction, selection, and application of the equations is so great as to offer no benefit over a gut feeling. It's perhaps worthwhile to consider that most people are going by their gut, and that these people might wind up feeling some discomfort with your conclusions. For that to change might require a revolution with no clear path (can't get there from here). I could propose for all of humanity to switch to more quantitative measures in ethics and probably accept whatever revolution occurred, but at present, I don't see it as realistic or useful.


Guesser
Posted 26 December 2007 at 06:47 pm

I should clarify that I'm not saying it's bad to try and weigh difficult things quantitatively. By all means do it all part of a suite of analyses. It can catch things that you might otherwise miss.


Kao_Valin
Posted 27 December 2007 at 08:13 am

The modern world needs real and specific quantitative rules, or its up to speculation on when and how they should be followed. However making up these rules may require a little gut instinct and good foresight.

No one is more is less likely to come to any one conclusion based on using gut instinct or logic. This comes from gut instinct's ability to be directed to any conclusion based on current state of mind and past experience.

People have instincts that would weed out some details others would feel are paramont. Really the argument is over those said details, and it is good to see most people seem to realise that. However, when it comes to saying one is good or evil simply because of a conflicting conclusion, that seems counter productive. One with that conflicting conclusion could press that same good or evil labeling simply for allowing others to suffer. Soon enough both sides think that each other are evil, and discussion collapses into insult exchange.


htamm6
Posted 27 December 2007 at 01:07 pm

Sorry about the long post!

I have never been one to post before, only a reader. In fact, I admit I have only read the articles and only rarely browsed at the comments. This time, while browsing the comments, I found myself often times becoming very confused as the explanations just seemed to get more and more convoluted and complex each time. Though, all I was trying to do was continue reading in the hopes that I would get maybe a better explanation to follow what I had read prior.

That being said, after all this reading I felt compelled to post something also. I want to make it clear that I am not nor am I in anyway making any claims that this is absolute truth. It is all my opinion and my observations and thoughts from reading this article, the comments, etc.

"Flatrick:
It has been proven long ago (and scientists are quite certain of this) that animals absolutely can't "think". It's rather strange and difficult to understand and perceive this fact (much like the fact that the universe is unlimited, if that is the case), but you really have to try to stop comparing animals to humans that much."

I find it funny that somehow scientists whom have proven that animals do not have the same level of comprehension as that of humans somehow concludes that they absolutely can't think. What if this proof instead means that they just comprehend things on a more basic level?

And how do we ask one another to stop comparing animals to humans, when that is the whole basis of measurement that the scientists used to conclude their findings? Isn't this request kind of an oxymoron or paradox in itself? If we aren't comparing animals comprehension to a human level, and doing instead an apple to apple comparison…then wouldn't it be more fair to the animal to compare between its own species? If we do this, than wouldn't the results of what is then proven be completely different than what was proven when compared to a human? But we don't, we measure things on a human level, using our awareness or brain power or whatever you want to call is as the measuring tool.

And how do we say scientists are "quite certain" and use that as something that is proven? That statement "quite certain" in itself means kind of sure, or highly likely, or my personal favorite "Oh ya definitely maybe". :)

Thus far, the only thing that I have concluded from even this article and its comments is that only humans kill others (and other creatures) for the personal gain of fulfilling their own curiosity or desire (or like someone mentioned about another DI article for getting recognized in society). I haven't yet ever heard of any theories or findings that said animals killed because they were curious what would happen if they did it.

Is this research necessary? Obviously there are going to be valid points on both the yes or no side. Is this type of research "humane"? No matter how we put it, no. But humans as a species are going to find some way of justifying it and coming up with reasons to explain away the negativity associated with it.

I am not on either side, as who am I to say what is right or wrong, or good or bad as that was/is defined by I don't even know who anymore. I am only broaching questions which I hope would clarify the 2 sides for me so I can better understand both parties' plights who have commented thus far.

(P.S. Not trying to pick on you Flatrick, just the scientists and their claims. I hope it wasn't taken personally as I too am a similar thinker.)


Inti
Posted 27 December 2007 at 01:36 pm

To all of those who argue that animals have not feelings, and even get to the extreme of saying science has absolutely proved so. I would like to refer them to this simple but enjoyable publication:
http://www.elephantvoices.org/tools/documents/feelings.pdf
Science, by its very nature, will never accept an absolute true. Moreover, the whole role of science is to contribute with evidence in favor or against particular hypotheses. Science is not able to prove absolute truths, but only to disprove them.
Finally, we need just a few background in evolutionary biology to understand how every living creature in the world is related to each other. We share many traits with other species of vertebrates, including feelings and a degree of complex though and reasoning. That some of these traits express at its maximum states in humans makes us no better than other species. Without brains we will be the most inept and weak of all living creatures.


Inti
Posted 27 December 2007 at 01:40 pm

My apologies for the former spelling, I wrote it in a rush and English is not my mother language. I will be more careful next time.


sd9sd
Posted 28 December 2007 at 07:33 am

Maybe it's better asking for a valid source for the claims of others than using humour to disprove it. Humour can be wrongly interpreted as an insult. My apologies, flatrick. It was all in good humour.
It appears our long drawn conversations are giving the DI writers plenty of time to prepare new articles :)


supercalafragalistic
Posted 28 December 2007 at 08:54 pm

tednugentkicksass said: "What? Farmers are more likely to ......."

Also grew up on a farm and thought I'd try to chime in here. Fascinating discussion. I'll do my best to add to it :) I'm part Native American and come from a long line of hunters. I grew up eating turtle, squirrel, pheasant, goose, duck, deer, and rabbit from the wild. We also raised chickens, turkeys, our own geese, pigs, cows, etc. The people I grew up with and around do have a different perspective on their environment. I think it's a natural part of human existence to live this way, and I think it's also different if you hunt and/or raise it yourself rather than buy food from the store. I feel like my family is more in line with a cultural heritage, so I guess I see it through that lens. It's a different lens from which most people think about these things- am I right?

Based on my experience if someone were unusually cruel to an animal or tried to do experiments they would be seen as a similar personality to that of a serial killer. By the same token, we would butcher a hundred chickens in a weekend because they were ready to eat, and we'd put them in our deep freeze so we could eat them all year. We never saw that as cruel, or really thought about it much. I live in the big city now and there a lot of city people who eat those chicken McNuggets who would have no clue what to do if they were starving to death and put in a room with a live chicken. If presented with such a scenario many people would die. These are great questions and issues. Trust me, I don't have any easy answers myself. Thanks for letting me talk about my experience and ponder the ethical issues presented in the above article.

The issues presented in the above article and the comments lend weight toward my personal decision in life to donate my body to science when I die. If I willingly donate myself then scientists can sew my head onto a dog if they want to without any ethical backlash- right? I'm not exactly wagging my tail in anticipation, LOL! but it's not bothering me either. I dunno? Thoughts from the peanut gallery???


flatrick
Posted 28 December 2007 at 09:44 pm

The period of time being what it is, I have had no time to respond until now.

The discussion seems to be drawing on to an ending and it wouldn't make much of a difference even if I tried to answer everyone now.
Everyone seems happy with their point of view and are willingly sticking to it, so I rest my case.


Inti
Posted 29 December 2007 at 07:59 am

Faltrick,

It is not about sticking to a personal point of view, but finding what is true amidst confusion and falsehood. I will recommend you to investigate what biologists and evolutionary psychologists say about animal consciousness and feelings. If you want to find out if animals feel pain, regret, and other feelings of that sort, you may want to ask the experts, and not just speculate on your own.


GMBurns
Posted 29 December 2007 at 12:38 pm

Bolens said: "Yes, eventually everything tastes like chicken."

Not so.
Lizard tail tastes like pork chops -go figure.


flatrick
Posted 29 December 2007 at 08:40 pm

I see that some people aren't inclined to let the topic end so abruptly. The only reason I am responding is because of the disdainful tone of Inti.

Inti said: "It is not about sticking to a personal point of view, but finding what is true amidst confusion and falsehood."

On this particular case, it is impossible to find what is true with certaintity, but this aspect has already been discussed (and agreed on) above.
So, on the contrary, it's a matter of personal view as long as science can't prove anyone wrong.

Inti said: "I will recommend you to investigate what biologists and evolutionary psychologists say about animal consciousness and feelings."

I have read a good deal on evolution and what biologists say. Sociobiology is something I'm particularly intrigued about and I recommend to anyone reading this to take a look at Alan and Barbara Pease's work on human's sociobiology...very interesting indeed.

My guess would be that you have read one, perhaps two, articles on the matter and have settled your mind on the matter...then come to DI and "recommend" others to read more, because they do not agree with the assumptions made on those particular articles.
The fact of the matter is that MOST articles and books dicusssing this topic openly admit that they can't give any certain conclusion. Also, most researches made in soft sciences proclaim that consciousness (and suffering) is exclusively (or, in some cases, almost exclusively) human. Most researches made in hard sciences proclaim without a doubt that consciousness or "higher consciousness" is exclusively human; however, they can't conclude if animals only feel pain or suffering. If you want to know more about the differences between pain and suffering (and whether they belong to human or non-human feelings), I recommend you read Daniel Dennett's "Animal consciousness: what matters and why".

I'll also point you out that the evolutionary theory applies to animal behavior, but adaptationist approaches to human psychology is criticized by scientists.

Inti said: "If you want to find out if animals feel pain, regret, and other feelings of that sort, you may want to ask the experts, and not just speculate on your own."

As I've repeated a dozen times already, I'm not speculating on my own, but basing my assumptions mainly on what I've read...this includes theories, critics to these theories and counterarguments.
Since you want me to explicitely show what the experts say, I'll grant your wish.

Here's what Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says on animal consciousness: "An article such as this perhaps raises more questions than it answers, but the topic would be of little philosophical interest if it were otherwise.
To philosophers interested in animal welfare or animal rights the issue of animal sentience is of utmost importance. This is due to wide, but by no means universal, acceptance of the biconditional statement:

[A]: animals deserve moral consideration if and only if they are sentient (especially possessing the capacity to feel pain).

Some philosophers have defended the view that animals are not sentient and attempted to use one of [A]'s component conditionals for modus tollens. Indeed Carruthers (1989) even argued that given their lack of sentience, it would be immoral not to use animals for research and other experimentation if doing so would improve the lot of sentient creatures such as ourselves."

Peter Carruthers is far from being the only one making such conclusions; to name only a few other philosopher (who all take duly note of what scientists say and discover), there is Galen Strawson, Frank Jackson, William G. Lycan, Stephen Laurence, and Stephen Stich.
They all agree that "according to higher-order thought accounts of phenomenal consciousness it is unlikely that many non-human animals undergo phenomenally conscious experiences." (Peter Carruthers)


sd9sd
Posted 29 December 2007 at 10:11 pm

GMBurns said: "Lizard tail tastes like pork chops -go figure."

Ewwww... ;)

flatrick said: "because of the disdainful tone of Inti"

Well, I detected a neutral tone when I read Inti's comment. If you provided a link to a website which supports what you say about animals, it'd be easier to prove what you're saying coz a link is what people here are asking for.

Inti said: " you may want to ask the experts, and not just speculate..."

Not challenging what you said, but sometimes the 'experts' themselves are pretty unsure about their own opinions. Especially in fields of medicine and physics. Many concepts are based on assumptions which get challenged and toppled. I feel speculation is good...humanity has advanced because some people have had the courage to speak against the crowd which is hell bent on following tradition.


Web
Posted 30 December 2007 at 01:49 am

This is the bit I'd like a reference to:

flatrick said: "It has been proven long ago (and scientists are quite certain of this) that animals absolutely can't "think"."

If it's not too much bother, could you refer to the scientists rather than the philosophers?

flatrick said: "(who all take duly note of what scientists say and discover)"


Tink
Posted 30 December 2007 at 05:46 am

Not getting into the debate here, as this one firmly believes that most mammals are cognizent of their emotions.
I have witnessed my old neutured dog laughing out loud at a queen cat in heat, who, locked in the house, was doing a hoochie coo cat song & dance, trying to seduce him.
I witnessed this same dog mourn for over a year, with tears and whines, after "his Boy" (my son) went missing.
I thought a few might enjoy these links:
http://www.elephantvoices.org/index.php?topic=tools&topic2=tools/documents/feelings.pdf

Individuals who claim animals have feelings
are usually accused of anthropomorphism, ascribing
human traits to nonhuman beings. But
after years of ignoring or discounting what pet
lovers have long maintained, scientists are finally
beginning to believe that mammals, at least, have
some form of emotions , and investigating them
is now a hot topic.

http://www.wisegeek.com/do-animals-laugh.htm

" It's not clear why animals laugh or what they find so funny, but some animals do indeed indulge in laughter...Animal studies on rats, monkeys and dogs, show that certain sounds they make are indicative of laughter... intelligence studies on dolphins have shown that two dolphins can refer to a third dolphin by name.

http://www.livescience.com/animals/050331_laughter_ancient.html
No Joke: Animals Laugh, Too
By Robert Roy Britt, LiveScience Senior Writer

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7348880

It's no joke: Even animals laugh....LiveScience...msnbc.com
Expert says dogs pant and rats chirp to express mirth

Happy New Year folks!


adastra
Posted 30 December 2007 at 11:57 am

just think of what Stephen Hawking could be doing if he wasn't crippled by his faulty anatomy?

Umm... maybe his "faulty" physical anatomy is the reason he has concentrated so much on his mental gifts?


adastra
Posted 30 December 2007 at 01:31 pm

if you really think about surgical methods used today.. I mean.. really think about it.. our methods are still quite archaic and uncivilized. Truly, cutting people open and fishing around their insides is just so…undeveloped. We give ourselves too much credit sometimes."

Well, yeah, but... if it does more good than harm, more than 50% of the time? You DO realize you could have, probably would have, died of a toothache 100 years ago?


flatrick
Posted 30 December 2007 at 02:03 pm

sd9sd said: "Well, I detected a neutral tone when I read Inti's comment."

I don't understand how you can't see what is implied by Inti, it's not even very subtle.

sd9sd said: "If you provided a link to a website which supports what you say about animals, it'd be easier to prove what you're saying coz a link is what people here are asking for."

These kind of remarks are kind of frightening, because it proves how much people rely on internet. There are tons of information on the internet, that's true, but almost all of it is completely or at least partly false. Everyone head straight on for wikipedia, although everyone know it can be edited by anyone (and the least by real experts).
Also, I'd guess most people trying to find more information on the subject will try to google up "animal consciousness" or something similar; the problem is that almost all sites interested with the subject are for animal rights.

Everything I've read has been on paper and are published by reliable sources. However, I found this article which evolves around neurophysiology, ethology, evolutionary, psychology, computional models, and robotics (http://www.mbph.homepage.t-online.de/CogScience/ACinCS.pdf): "So whereas in the human case consciousness is equivalent to self-awareness there may be a level of
awareness (compared to the human case somewhere below non-articulated explicit awareness) in organisms which have phenomenal states and distinguish themselves (in different degrees) from their environment and their flock. One may speculate to think of this awareness in vertebrates to be somewhat like the right hemisphere thinking in average humans; there has to be something functional similar to an “I think” lacking although the step to an explicit self-awareness. (An exception closer to self-awareness – if this admits of degrees at all – might be the great apes.)"

But here are many more references for articles on paper: http://consc.net/mindpapers/8/all#.8.8b

However, I read that "over the past five years, a change in basic [scientific] assumptions about animals and their inner lives has occurred." (http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/perspectives_on_science/v014/14.3schonfeld.html)
I might need to get up-to-date, but I'll keep on reading paper-articles (and not be influenced by information gotten from internet).

PS. DI remains an interesting internet-site, but not reliable either...it's not written by experts, but only by journalists who get most, if not all, of their information from internet.


Inti
Posted 30 December 2007 at 03:16 pm

Flatrick said:

"These kind of remarks are kind of frightening, because it proves how much people rely on internet. There are tons of information on the internet, that's true, but almost all of it is completely or at least partly false. Everyone head straight on for wikipedia, although everyone know it can be edited by anyone (and the least by real experts)." (#119)

However, he recurs to cite the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which is the first link you will find when googling "animal consciousness".

Another problem with Flatrick's reasoning is his absolutist argument:

"It has been proven long ago (and scientists are quite certain of this) that animals absolutely can't "think"." (#79)

Which indeed is false, because he latter corrects himself by saying:

"On this particular case, it is impossible to find what is true with certaintity, but this aspect has already been discussed (and agreed on) above.
So, on the contrary, it's a matter of personal view as long as science can't prove anyone wrong." (#113)

Saying science can't prove anyone wrong is also not true. For example, for centuries people believed in the heliocentric theory. Copernicus's work, latter supported by Galileo's research, ended that false believe with a single blow. Thus, the world would not be what it is today, if science would not act as a ratchet making us step closer and closer to ultimate truths. This ratchet however, sometimes provides huge leaps as the revolutionary ideas of Newton and Darwin. You can "stick" to believing the sun orbits the earth, but that, of course, is only inside your mind and nowhere else.

At this point of time, it is unbelievable that someone could say that animals do not feel pain. Then why higher vertebrates have an intricate and complex network of nerves, specially designed by natural selection to feel exactly that: pain?

Finally, Flatrick suggests I have red just a couple of papers and then make up my mind on the subject. I should tell him I am a Ph. D. in evolutionary biology and I am aware of the complexities involved in the issue of animal sentience and consciousness. However, I must strongly disagree with his propositions about the lack of such traits in animals. If what Flatrick wants is a list of scientific literature published on the subject supporting the evidence, then I will not waste my time on it. The presence of feelings in animals is almost a truth as the sun orbits around the earth, and there is tons of literature suggesting such a thing.


nazianzen
Posted 30 December 2007 at 05:01 pm

Now I know where C. S. Lewis got his inspiration for "That Hideous Strength." This is deeply disturbing.


flatrick
Posted 30 December 2007 at 06:40 pm

Inti said: "Flatrick said:

"These kind of remarks are kind of frightening, because it proves how much people rely on internet. There are tons of information on the internet, that's true, but almost all of it is completely or at least partly false. Everyone head straight on for wikipedia, although everyone know it can be edited by anyone (and the least by real experts)." (#119)

However, he recurs to cite the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which is the first link you will find when googling "animal consciousness"."

As I've said many times before, I only got paper-articles. Moreover, almost none of them are in English. As everyone was moaning for an internet-link, I searched one up. I came up with Stanford's Encyclopedia, which seems like a pretty reliable source.

But what is unbelievable is the fact that you keep harassing me (for no particular reason) and pick up on things that have nothing to do with the original topic.

Inti said: "Another problem with Flatrick's reasoning is his absolutist argument:

"It has been proven long ago (and scientists are quite certain of this) that animals absolutely can't "think"." (#79) "

As I just said before, this was true until the last five years, which is to say until 2002-2003. Apparently scientists have started to change their minds, but I'm still unaware of the reason. And as I said, I will also take a look at this novelty...that was actually one of things that lacked in the DI-article (bringing up more contempory information) and which I originally commented on.
However, since you pretend to be a Ph. D. in evolutionary biology, I don't understand why you haven't enlightened us about what happened 5 years ago? Instead of trying to bother me, you should be trying to add something constructive to the article.

Inti said: "Which indeed is false, because he latter corrects himself by saying:

"On this particular case, it is impossible to find what is true with certaintity, but this aspect has already been discussed (and agreed on) above.

So, on the contrary, it's a matter of personal view as long as science can't prove anyone wrong." (#113)"

I should have been more specific, I realize that now since you bring my comment up; on this latter statement, I was referring to the fact that animals can or cannot feel pain (which was the primary discussion). The first statement was perfectly correct though, 5 years ago at least.

Inti said: "Saying science can't prove anyone wrong is also not true."

Why are people so fond of playing with words? Shouldn't that be a quirk of mine, being a lawyer?
Anyway, this time there's no need for me to rephrase, because you just happened to miss an important detail (capped): "So, on the contrary, it's a matter of personal view AS LONG as science can't prove anyone wrong."

Inti said: "At this point of time, it is unbelievable that someone could say that animals do not feel pain."

How the heck can it be unbelievable when experts tell us so (at least 5 years ago)?

Inti said: "Then why higher vertebrates have an intricate and complex network of nerves, specially designed by natural selection to feel exactly that: pain?"

This has been discussed above. See "pain" versus "suffering".

Inti said: "Finally, Flatrick suggests I have red just a couple of papers and then make up my mind on the subject. I should tell him I am a Ph. D. in evolutionary biology and I am aware of the complexities involved in the issue of animal sentience and consciousness."

You probably noticed already that I have strong doubts about this. And I have plenty of reasons:
1. if true, it would have made a lot of sense that you came up with a lot of facts/information to back up your statements.
2. if true, it would have made sense that you underline what you say by presenting your title.
3. if true, it would have made sense that you have easy access to a list of scientific literature published on the subject (with the most reliable and up-to-date sources), in which case I don't see why you wouldn't want to present it (not only for me but for everyone).

But hey, no worries, should be pretty easy for you to prove your title (your name, published articles, thesis, faculty network messaging address, etc.).


Web
Posted 30 December 2007 at 07:58 pm

Do you plan to post any references flatrick? Even "paper-articles" are worthless to laymen if they haven't been published in a peer reviewed journal. Please simply state your sources.

Troll?


flatrick
Posted 30 December 2007 at 08:47 pm

Web said: "Do you plan to post any references flatrick?"

No.

Web said: "Troll?"

Give me a break.


Guesser
Posted 30 December 2007 at 08:52 pm

As I see it, people in the scientific community are still chipping away at the last remnants of biased definitions and perceptions of intelligence, sanity, and everything associated. Start to con what was normal even 50 years ago.. Try looking up scientific racism for instance.


Guesser
Posted 30 December 2007 at 08:52 pm

con/consider


sd9sd
Posted 30 December 2007 at 09:24 pm

flatrick said: "The discussion seems to be drawing on to an ending and it wouldn't make much of a difference even if I tried to answer everyone now. Everyone seems happy with their point of view and are willingly sticking to it, so I rest my case."

That was #110. Flatrick, that was a time a beam of wisdom shone upon you. You really should've rested your case. There are plenty of people still doing their research about animal consciousness etc., and they're throwing to us the bits and pieces of information that they find every now and then. Discussing it here is futile coz as someone had posted earlier, "those convinced against their opinion are of the same opinion still".


Arnþór
Posted 31 December 2007 at 02:05 am

For science!!! *hack*hack*


flatrick
Posted 31 December 2007 at 10:00 am

sd9sd said: "You really should've rested your case."

True. That's the thing with (internet)discussions, always seems hard to put an end to it, especially when someone continues to argue against you.
Next time I'll think better than to start commenting an article!


supercalafragalistic
Posted 31 December 2007 at 08:53 pm

Inti and Flatrick, you two should get a room. If you invite me to the wedding I'll promise not to wear fur. LOL! So nice to see love blooming and flourishing on our fine site. But, seriously-these are cool comments. I've got no easy answers myself, but I think people end up better as a result for at least trying to engage in a subject like this. Debating is hard! I think it's good for the brain, though. Peace. :)


Nightangel
Posted 31 December 2007 at 10:01 pm

Hi, new commentator, long time viewer. Happy New Years, btw. My personal opinion on this particular matter is that there ARE no easy anwers. Although I am certainly not for needlessly cruel experementation on animals, I am certainly grateful for the scientists who have done such experements on animals in the past since those studies have saved many live and will continue to do so for years to come.
Just my take on the situation. :)


Bewildered
Posted 01 January 2008 at 05:37 pm

This is all quite funny, why don't you do some experiments of your own rather than relying on other peoples research? Go and find a dog, grab its head and look into it's eyes so you can get a feel for what it's eyes look like and see if you can "see anything going on inside" it's mind. Have a bit of a think about how you're feeling as well when you look into it's eyes. Now give it a good old pat and rub and tickle and feed it and have another good solid look into it's eyes. See if you can see what it's thinking, and have another think about how you're feeling when you look into it's eyes. Now grab the dog and shout at it, pinch it and hurt it a bit, maybe smack it quite hard or as hard as you are willing to. Now have a look into it's eyes and see what they look like. Can you see what it's thinking? Is it different with each different form of treatment? How did you feel at each stage of your experiment? None of this will prove conclusively to the world that a dog is or isn't "sentient" but i bet it'll make you think about it, for yourself, rather than rely on what you've been told or read. Judging by some of the comments above, this maybe the first time you've actually thought for yourself and done something by yourself, it's an interesting excercise, and as long as you don't kill the dog, or the dog doesn't kill you in return, you might learn something about the dog, or maybe, if you're lucky, yourself...


flatrick
Posted 01 January 2008 at 10:27 pm

Due to the openminded nature of DI articles, I had made the brash supposition that its readers boasted the same quality. Trying not be disappointed, I'm telling myself that this specific article touched animal-loving people deeply enough for them to make hot-tempered comments.


Inti
Posted 02 January 2008 at 12:36 pm

Should we then classify you as an animal-hating people? Or maybe animal-neutral people? Take your pick.

My point is that hot-tempered comments are not part of the scientific realm of reasoning and method. However, for us humans, it is often difficult to stay neutral in the many aspects of knowledge and inquiry. Nevertheless, this is not an excuse to raise arguments in favor or against particular hypotheses without hard evidence at hand.

Having said that, I apologize with you Flatrick if in my comments you found traces of disdain or animosity. Overall, my intentions are not to attack you, but to correct you upon certain inconsistencies in the ideas and comments previously posted by you.


Web
Posted 04 January 2008 at 07:57 pm

I love animals. At the same time, I agree with flatrick that animal testing is acceptable and even necessary. What I don't agree with is the idea that animals have no feelings, and can be used experimentally without conscious. I'm still waiting for a reference stating otherwise as everything I can find on the ever so fallible internet seems to support my pov.


supercalafragalistic
Posted 04 January 2008 at 08:01 pm

I have a great deal of respect for the comments and I've gotten a kick out of them. I think Bewildered has a good idea about trying it out for yourself-- I think I might just do that, and I love the call to action to think for yourself- advice I value, agree with, and try to apply a similar philosophy in every area in my life. I tried say it above but I'll say it again that debating is hard, I don't think I'm great at it myself, but I have to really give kudos to those who stick their necks out and try. I bet if Inti and Flatrick had their own television show it would get some pretty good ratings. I've been a loyal watcher, that's for sure, and I really think I've learned something from you guys. Thank you! :)


drizen
Posted 06 January 2008 at 06:46 pm

WOW!!!! That just blew my mind.......lucky I have this other one surgically attached to the back of my NECK!!!
DI indeed, and balls to the people who say it's un-ethical.
Letting a person die of heart failure on the operating table because people won't research the matter due to the grotesque involved is more un-ethical than what was done in the name of research.


Goofball
Posted 07 March 2008 at 02:00 am

Swapping heads -- It's true. I saw it on Gilligan's Island once.

Oh, and I grew up on a farm. I've eaten my pets before. At first, it was hard. BTW, zucchini DOES have personality. You vegetarians are sickos! How can you play god and say that plants don't miss their vital organs?


Jim Hensley
Posted 07 March 2008 at 09:22 pm

Weird science at its best.


polock3406
Posted 21 March 2008 at 07:17 pm

One Hundred and forty-eth!! =)


Rachelita
Posted 05 May 2008 at 02:08 pm

Yuck! Just Yuck!!!!


troyboy
Posted 18 August 2008 at 10:50 pm

I've got a great idea for these annoying "First!" posts that we see all over the place these days.

A simple script on submit of the form checks the length of the post and if it is really short it checks for the word "First" (with or without exclamation mark, these settings can be configurable).

It then simply replaces the occurance of "First!" with the statement "I am a RETARD" and locks the comment for everyone else to laugh at for eternity :)


Ratsoup
Posted 28 September 2008 at 04:20 am

I just finished watching the movie X Files: I Want to Believe. The bad guys that the FBI is after are trying to do something similar. Of course they are not doing it for science, but for to get some pedohpile who's dying to cancer a female body or something. They even have twoheaded dogs and stuff. Was really interesting to watch after reading this article first.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 03 April 2009 at 03:44 am

First of all, I am not by any means an animal rights activist. I'm not even against animal testing (for medical purposes, not for cosmetics), but this whole "animals can't think" stance is a pet peeve of mine...

flatrick said: "I am by the way a lawyer (yes yes, that's probably why I am so cold-hearted) and I can tell you this much. There is not one single country or international convention that grants an animal any rights. Only humans have rights. All the laws that protect animals (i.e. not allowing someone to burn a dog for no reason) do not actually protect the animal in itself, but their proprietor as if animals were just humans' property like any other object or "blob of matter"."

Fortunately, this is beginning to change:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_rights#Early_21st_century:_First_animals_to_be_granted_legal_rights
What you don't seem to understand or at least to acknowledge (see my first answer to you) is that animals have no degree of thought.
I understand it is very hard to believe and it might even seem absurd (see my comparison with the size of the universe), but THIS is a rock solid proven fact. In other words, I'm absolutely not giving you my opinion here, just repeating what all scientists would say.

No it isn't. Neither fact, nor proven. I think it is arrogance to the extreme to assert that anything as complex as thought could be expressed in binary values of Yes or No. And to top that you draw the line exatly between humans and the next step down the evolutionary ladder.

I'll repeat it one more time. Even if humans are animals as well and even if our genetic pool is very similar to those of other mammals, we still are extremely different. An animal resembles more a plant than a human.

If you truly believe that, I suggest you brush up your basic biology.
Here's what Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says on animal consciousness:

Sure, that's why philosophers make the best scientists...
Philosophy may have its uses, but making scientific claims is not one of them. In fact by it's very nature, philosophy has to make claims that are unprovable. As soon as they're provable they leave the realm of philosophy.
I should have been more specific, I realize that now since you bring my comment up; on this latter statement, I was referring to the fact that animals can or cannot feel pain (which was the primary discussion). The first statement was perfectly correct though, 5 years ago at least.

If you had ever seen an animal in pain, you couldn't maintain this opinion. Of course you cannot measure pain in animals, so there is no way of proving they feel pain, but you can't measure pain in humans either. You can only infer the pain through physical and behavioural reactions. If you discount that as evidence for the existance of pain, you would have to say that a human who is incapable of communicating his pain orally is also incapable of feeling it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain#In_other_species
Specialists currently believe that all vertebrates can feel pain, and that certain invertebrates, like the octopus, might too.

I realize that you discount wikipedia as a reliable source of information, but you will find that this article is suitably referenced.
I'll close my post with a quote by another philosopher (Jeremy Bentham 1748-18362):
The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps, the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but, "Can they suffer?"


sudo
Posted 31 July 2010 at 01:38 pm

This article has been translated into Russian language by me.

http://interestingnews.ru/?p=325

Back link retained. Thank you.


seb
Posted 21 September 2010 at 02:32 am

I don't understand and will never understand how anyone can rationalize cruelty in the name of science. It's human arrogance that has no empathy for what animals go thru in these experiments. It IS unethical and it takes a certain type of person to do such things without any kind of remorse or humanity. All to make sure we survive because we're so damn special, right? Please. If you think we're that special why don't you sacrifice yourself for these experiements if you care so much about saving human lives? People think they're so important, yet they're never willing to put themselves up as guinea pigs.
And to the questionably intelligent people out there who think animals feel no pain - I have such a hard time even addressing you because it boggles my mind that you can't see it. Are you people that out of touch that you've never seen a dog or cat cry when they get hurt? Even on TV if not in your own home? Either you're completely brain dead or you're lying to compensate for your apathy. Either way, something is wrong with you if you don't know animals suffer.
This story shouldn't even be on this site because animal torture isn't a circus freak show. I'm tired of people not taking it seriously enough.


seb
Posted 21 September 2010 at 02:34 am

flatrick said: "Due to the openminded nature of DI articles, I had made the brash supposition that its readers boasted the same quality. Trying not be disappointed, I’m telling myself that this specific article touched animal-loving people deeply enough for them to make hot-tempered comments."

Does this open-mindedness pertain to experiments on children or just animals? If it's just animals, then I'd say it's not as open-minded as you claim.


1STL
Posted 16 March 2011 at 01:23 am

We are pupils of 1°STL in France and we have just worked on this article. This text about the very beginning of transplants experiments have both shocked, disguted, and amazed us. These bloody experiments allowed medical progress, but we are assassins and mistreating poor defendless animal for our survival.

Thanks for this article.


DiscoKiller
Posted 21 June 2012 at 06:05 am

" I was referring to the fact that animals can or cannot feel pain " - is my dog limping for fun then? I should tell her to stop.


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