Over at Fusil of Yarn, there seems to be a bit of inner conflict stirred up by the kind of things that people do to animals in the name of science. As usual we have my arch nemesis, Slate, to blame for this foolishness. From Fusil of Yarn:

Wanted: a neuroscientist who can bear to do this without skipping a beat to write up the same experiments. And I don’t want straight-forward argument of sadly hurting one animal to save one thousand humans. I’d like to hear from the people who do all this, look into the monkey’s apparently sad eyes, and see nothing there. Will they stand up?
When I was in high school I did the same sort of stuff with mice over the summer. Basically we injected them with fluoresecent cancer cells, and then gave them daily doses of an experimental cancer treatment.

At the end of six weeks we killed the mice. There were two techniques for this: either you stuck them in a little guillotine type device that broke their little mouse necks or you put them in a beaker and gassed them to death with CO2. The gassing turned out to be much more efficient as you could do several at a time.

After that, I spent about a week dissecting the dead mice, removing the brain, lungs, spleen, and femur. This was pretty cool at first, but got a bit tedious as time went by, although I have to say I did get pretty damn good at it. The hardest part was cracking open the skull without turning the mouse brain into goo.

The last thing I had to do was freeze each of these organs with liquid nitrogen and then mash them into a pulp so that they could be tested for cancer cell count.

Did I feel anything for the mice? I remember the gassing being mildly disturbing at first--I had pet mice as a child--but I soon became desensitized.

While I was working at the lab, I also saw someone else experimenting on a rabbit. That was harder to take because rabbits are really cute.,So I propose the following: maybe we should breed test animals that are ugly like cockroaches, H.R. Geiger's aliens, or the baby from Eraserhead.

P.S. This is not to say that I approve of using animals for, say, testing make-up. But when it comes to critical research that could save millions of human lives... too bad for the animals. Contrary to what some animal rights activists, you can't conduct all your research in a vial.

P.P.S. I don't think it's possible to separate animal testing by medical researchers from the greater good argument. Most people that I met went into this line of work precisely because it could save millions of lives. That was certainly my motivation: my father had died of lung cancer a year earlier. And I think at first almost all of them felt bad for the animals that they were using for tests. However, after spending years and years at the job the animal becomes just another tool in the lab, much in the same way that cows become nothing more than monetary assets to farmers.


  1. Robin on 7 June 2009 at 13:16

    Yes, but with a monkey, Gimpei. Kill a monkey!

    And Welcome back!

  2. aj on 2 November 2009 at 14:51

    this is very crule and it needs to be stopped

  3. Anonymous on 1 June 2010 at 02:07

    WTF is wrong with pple these days ?_? their sick as hell

  4. Anonymous on 9 October 2010 at 11:56

    oh man

  5. Anonymous on 26 November 2010 at 09:33

    Animal testing is cruel
    !! has to be stopped