Today is the World Day for Laboratory Animals. While it evolved over the years to the World Week for Laboratory Animals, unfortunately it is still largely used as another platform for the speciesist rhetoric which is quite characteristic of the anti-vivisection movement.
The anti-vivisection movement was not founded in order to convince the scientific community that animal experiments are scientifically invalid, but to stop cruelty to animals in laboratories, yet the opposition to vivisection is largely based on anthropocentric arguments.
Typical arguments by the anti-vivisection movement focus on how wasteful, unreliable and unscientific animal experiments are. ‘Experiments are bad science’ they say, since they do not produce information that can be reliably applied to humans.
But animal experiments are, first and foremost, bad ethics, not bad science. The problem with animal experiments is not that they do not produce information that can be reliably applied to humans but that they involve torturing sentient beings.
Many anti-vivisection organizations state that they are “dedicated to ending harmful, flawed and costly animal experiments through the advancement of smarter, human-relevant research and the promotion of animal-friendly changes to laws and policies”
But animal testing must be ended regardless of the ability of the ones who morally oppose it to present scientific alternatives. Inflicting pain and disease on nonhumans to benefit humans is wrong even if there weren’t “smarter, human-relevant research alternatives”.
The implied message in the ‘flawed science’ rhetoric is that if there were no research alternatives then the torture would be fine.
Another common argument is that ending vivisection will benefit people as well as animals. This argument implies that the situation of the two is somehow the same, but in most cases humans lived their lives and at some point got sick regardless of nonhumans (or because they consumed nonhumans), while nonhumans were bred to a life in confinement and torture and got deliberately infected with disease by humans. The situations are not at all comparable.
Historical cases of medicines which turned out to be harmful for humans after being tested on nonhumans, such as the Thalidomide and the Vioxx, were supposed to be, at most, strong evidences for the harmfulness of animal experiments for humans as well. Instead, the anti-vivisection movement uses these cases, over and over again, as a proof that animal experiments are unscientific, in what is supposed to be a moral discussion. The overuse of these examples and moreover – the speciesist character of this argument, reflects the helplessness of the movement.
No one became an anti-vivisection activist to prevent the next medicament human disaster, but the everyday disasters inflicted upon dozens of millions of nonhumans.
Activists are playing the human card because they know the nonhuman one doesn’t stand a chance. They argue that vivisection is a medical and scientific fraud because they believe that humans are much more concerned that they are not being treated well, than that they are taking part in a global torture mechanism. They don’t believe that humans will oppose vivisection “just” because animals are tortured, so they tell them that humans are at stake too.
That means that animal rights activists don’t believe in a non-speciesist world.
Their lack of faith in humanity is so deeply internalized that it seems so obvious to them that they should talk about humans’ interests, while significantly minimizing the real issue – animals’ suffering.
Activists adopt the rhetoric of “The National Consumer League” or “The reliable Science Society”, despite that their true motive is a moral opposition to the use of nonhumans.
The animal liberation movement shouldn’t be about advancing science without harming animals, but about animals not being harmed. Any other call is anthropocentric and speciesist.
The movement chooses not to speak out loud its basic agenda, and instead adopts messages that go against its whole raison deter. This absurdity must raise profound questions about the chances of educating humanity and convincing humans to cease their tyranny over other animals.
We must get to the root of the problem to solve it and the root is an historical crime against weaker beings, excused by human superiority.
The real problem is not in the way scientists see science, but in the way humanity sees nonhumans. And that problem is not going to be solved by asking the abusers if they are willing to stop abusing, but by start looking for ways to stop the abusers from abusing regardless of their will to stop harming.