An article by Helen Kelly in ALN titled The Animal As Sentient Being: Implications of the EU Directive 86/609 addressed the tension between the fact that animals are sentient with the fact that they continue to be used in biomedical research. Kelly:
Unifying the interested parties is a rising tide of conviction that the animal as sentient, dignified being stands right alongside the need to treat and cure serious disease.
Kelly here is saying exactly what we have criticized the animal-based resarch community for saying. Namely that using animal models will result in cures and treatments. Implied in this statement is the notion that animals are the only way to obtain the knowledge needed for cures and treatments and that animal models can predict human response to drugs and disease. (ALN is an animal-based research magazine written by and designed for the animal-based research industry.)
As I have said many times, animal-based research is sold to society on the basis of being able to predict human response to drugs and disease. It is not sold based on being a heuristic device, which it is.
The above is not an exception. CBC News published a story on June 30, 2010 titled Will depressed mice make for happier people? It states:
Scientists at Penn State University say they have developed a mouse that gets depressed in a similar fashion to humans, which could led to better treatment for the condition among people.
Let me state that this mouse could in fact lead to better treatment for depression. Of course, it could also lead to an end to the fossil fuel-based energy problem society faces. It could lead to anything. But if the authors wish for society to believe that this mouse has a realistic, reasonably high probability of leading to better treatments for depression then they need to provide a basis for this opinion and that they cannot do. The probability that the constantly reported new mouse model for X will result in anything other than knowledge for knowledge sake and a salary for the researchers is minimal. Animal models cannot predict human response to drugs and disease (see my previous blogs and Animal Models in Light of Evolution) yet, just as these two examples show, that is exactly how they are sold to society.