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Animal Rights Activists and their Conspiracy Theories

Opponents of the use of animals in biomedical research appear to have difficulty reconciling their claim that the scientific work is invalid and fraudulent with the fact that it is also widely supported by scientists and physicians alike.

If the science is so obviously wrong, why do scientists insist on doing such work?

In the animal rights activist mind, the only possible answer is that there must be a vast conspiracy that includes our government, the National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Medicine, members of Congress, the USDA, health care and pharmaceutical companies, all of them working very hard to keep the "business of killing animals for money" well and alive... and to keep this secret from reaching the public domain.

Here is a version of this theory in Dr. Greek’s words:

“The animal-based research engine is fueled by the same forces of human nature that have harmed people since the dawn of time: ignorance, greed, ego, self-preservation and fear. Add to that inertia and blind obedience to the system, and you have the perfect formula for keeping this multi-billion-dollar industry thriving.”

As unlikely as this claim is, I thought I would take the time to explain to the public what a career in science really entails.

A career in science is certainly long and very difficult.  Even after paying your way through 4-5 years of college, and spending another 4-6 years of graduate studies on a stipend of about $20,000 a year, you can expect and additional 5-7 years of postdoctoral work where you will be earning an average of $42,000 a year. 

As one postdoctoral fellow lamented:

'It is incomprehensible that you spend 10 years of your life educating yourself and then you are earning the same amount as a bus driver'

So before you are ready to find a job in academia as an assistant professor, you are likely to find yourself married, in your 30s, and perhaps raising a child on this annual salary.  Finally, if you are good enough to obtain a job in a major academic institution you can then expect to earn an average of about $80,000 a year.

If scientists were really "after the money" as claimed, they apparently picked the wrong path somewhere...

Remember this classic joke?

Rebecca and Ruth sit by the playground watching their kids enjoy a day at the park.  Rebecca leans over and says: “Your children are beautiful...  How old are they?”  Pointing to them in turn, Ruth replies: “The doctor is three years old and the lawyer just turned five.”

Now consider the alternative ending:

“The neuroscientist is three years old and the mathematician just turned five."

Doesn’t work as well, does it?  Indeed, I do not recall my Jewish mother ever suggesting I should pursue a career in biomedical sciences out of concern for my future financial health.    

Did yours?


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