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Bernhard Schlink

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Friday, February 27, 2004


Every now and again, certain groups that belong on the fringe get mainstream attention. The BBC, for instance, gives us the headline "Scientists Doubt Animal Research." As someone who's done a good deal of animal research, this pushed a few buttons.

This may be, in its purest meaning, true: some scientists doubt some animal research. The spin, of course, is just what the anti-experimentation nutjobs want.

Now, I understand how the animal-rights types feel: that animal experimentation shouldn't happen, and if it must there ought to be stricter standards. The article talks about these scientists wanting said stricter standards, but, well, we already have them.

What the "anti-vivisectionists" refuse to realize, of course, is that modern science, particularly medicine, is simply not possible without animal research. Even they occasionally acknowledge that performing basic experiments on humans is even less acceptable than doing so on animals, but they always say "what about computer models?" Computer models are nice, but they'll never actually predict a biological system, which have the nasty habit of doing unpredictable things.

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