Animal Rights

A Response to Jentsch and London

| by Dr Ray Greek

On July 24, 2011 Drs David Jentsch and Edythe London of UCLA coauthored a blog regarding their research. The essay was in response to a letter from Larry Hansen MD, Professor of Pathology and Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego. This is a commentary on their essay. (Please see above link for their entire essay.)

They begin by criticizing Dr Hansen for not including a scientific discussion of their work. I find this particularly ironic, as Jentsch has refused to debate the science of animal-based research with me. Indeed, both he and Dr Dario Ringach backed out of a debate they had agreed to in order to get me to participate in a panel discussion at UCLA. Other vivisection activists, including Dr Ringach and Dr Gorski, have refused to participate in a debate on the science of animal models in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. I believe I have offered this opportunity to Drs Jentsch and London but if not, please consider the offer extended.

It is the vivisection activist community that has resorted to “hyperbole and repetition of the general criticisms” not people like Dr Hansen and myself. Neither side can explain the science behind their position in a blog or letter. That is why I have requested that vivisection activists join me in debating the topic in the scientific literature where fallacies are not usually allowed and facts matter. The fact that they have not agreed to this speaks volumes regarding their confidence in their position. They are very willing to expound on the merits of animal-based research when there is nothing at stake, in blogs, but are unwilling to have their fallacies exposed in venue where such nonsense can be definitively refuted and on the record for posterity. The scientific literature is where debates about science take place. When people who profess to be scientists refuse to take the issue in question to the scientific literature, that ends the controversy from my perspective.

The rest of the Jentsch London essay is an attempt to justify their research. In the final analysis, their essay reveals a misunderstanding of the fundamentals of evolutionary biology and complex systems. Shanks and I have addressed the implication of the fact that animals are complex systems with different evolutionary histories in our book Animal Models in Light of Evolution. I refer the reader there for more information.