Animal Rights

More Dubious Claims From Orac

| by Dr Ray Greek

In his March 15 blog, Orac stated the following, in response to an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee by Justin Goodman of PETA:

Goodman also has a rather different definition of "necessary" than physicians and scientists do. They also tend to have a different definition of "alternatives." Ray Greek, for instance, once tried to argue that animal research was worthless for predicting human responses while at the same time proposing alternatives that, by any reasonable measure, are less reliable than any animal model.

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Note that the link Orac uses for his claim is to his own blog not my writings.

I attempted to post the following in response to the blog but my comments have not been posted as of this time. (I will let you know if Orac refuses to allow them on his site. I have posted on the ScienceBlogs sites before so do not understand the delay.)

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I have responded to aspects of the above diatribe in detail at

Further, I have asked Dr Gorski to take our differences to the peer-reviewed, indexed scientific literature in the form of a point-counterpoint debate (I was asked to do this by an editor of such a journal) but he has refused. It is easy to make claims on the Internet but much more difficult to get those claims into peer reviewed journals. Internet-based tirades are no substitute for participating in publishing point for point debate in the literature. My claims can be found in the peer-reviewed literature at

He also refused to provide references for the following claim on May 10, 2010 that: “After all, one reason we use animals is because, as imperfect as animal carcinogenesis studies are, the correlation between cell culture studies is even more unreliable than that of animal studies.” (See

I suggest that all who read the above think critically about these facts when evaluating Orac’s position. The fact that Orac takes the time to publish the above but refuses to accept an invitation to take this to the literature speaks for itself. I see no possible justification for this refusal.

For more on my actual position, I suggest our recent book Animal Models in Light of Evolution and my blog at

Orac has refused to engage in the prediction debate and, considering his obvious lack of understanding of science in general, at least when it is his livelihood and reputation that are being questioned, I do not blame him. He would lose the debate. Better to snipe from the sidelines than to be exposed in the scientific literature as accepting the same reasoning that fortunetellers and astrologers use. It is easy to use critical thinking and science to expose flaws in the reasoning of others. Orac does this very well in his blogs about anti-vaxers and users of complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM). (His recent blog on academia and CAM was excellent.) The challenge to critical thinking is learning how to use it on yourself. As Richard Feynman said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”