Animal Studies Bibliography
Ulrich, Roger E. 1991. Animal rights, animal wrongs and the question of balance. Psychological Science 2(3): 197-201.
Animal rights activists are right to criticize the excesses used in some animal research labs, but they themselves are often guilty of using tactics that damage the environment and therefore both people and animals. For example, activists criticized the Amish for using horses to plow and suggested buying a tractor instead, but depletion of fossil fuels will harm people and animals much more than using horses to help with human labor. Both sides of the debate must be evaluated as to their contribution to continuing the whole of life on earth. The debate over animal research will be best served by more wisdom and less emotion (197) and an effort by scientists to reconsider animal research and its effects on our environment. Scientific models have demonstrated that our current use of resources is too rapid and that unlimited growth is not a reality. The mentality that supports such growth is an example of the work of scientists conflicting with what is good for the planet, as scientists often do much more research than is necessary. Scientists must take seriously the point that some of the work is unnecessary, and limit themselves to the work that we need. Animal rights activists have an extremely strong argument when they say that if scientists believe animals provide a good model for human behavior, then we must respect animals in the same way we would respect humans. Some note that the most important thing we've learned from animal research is not anything from the animal themselves, but rather how easily people (the researchers) can become desensitized to causing pain. In trying to sort out this debate, we must also note that a significant number of scientists have spoken out about the scientific problems of animal research (the validity of extrapolating from unnatural environments, etc.). These scientists also point out that new research designs that are cheaper and more valid than animal research have been developed. We must consider how much animal research we actually need and change our support for such research accordingly, with attention to the needs of the planet. Many important medical discoveries came without the use of animals, and were only proved on animals later. The requirement to prove a discovery on animals often delays the use of the treatment on humans while scientists seek an animal model that works the same way. Also, animal models hay offer misleading results that end up hurting human health. Part of the reason so many of us believe the claim that animal research is crucial to medical research is that animal researchers tend to dominate academics, which allows them to teach this version of the story and to discourage the criticisms of smaller research organizations who use other types of research. Further, academic journals accept articles supporting animal research and exclude those critical of it. One way to improve the debate is to recognize the extremes among both scientists and animal rights activists. We should think about ways to temper our use of animals, as a part of the overall effort to minimize our consumption and growth for the good of the planet. We should minimize criticism of one group's activities, recognizing that we all in some way engage in the use of living things to perpetuate our own lives. Scientists and all people should look at their own behavior and minimize what is not necessary, particularly when it harms other beings. Further, we must allow debate rather than continuing the propaganda creation by each side of the issue. We must look at whether the resources we use to do our daily activities (driving, eating, doing research) is justified by the benefits of those activities, and try to right the balance (201).