Dario Ringach, PhD has recently published an article titled, “The Use of Nonhuman Animals in Biomedical Research,” in The American Journal of Medical Sciences. The pdf is available here. I encourage everyone to read it. The same issue also has an article by Nathan Nobis, PhD titled: “The Harmful, Nontherapeutic Use of Animals in Research Is Morally Wrong.” I am not sure whether Nobis’ article will be available, except for a fee on the journal’s website, but the article can be accessed here for those willing to pay the fee or able to access it through their university or whatever.
As soon as I learned Ringach had decided to publish a soliloquy, instead of engaging in honest debate, I contacted the editor of Am J Med Sci and asked for space to respond. He allowed me to write a 500-word letter, titled, “Patients Are Not Rodents Writ Large,” that was published in the same issue. Because of the limited space, my response was very incomplete. But the gist can be summarized in the following quote from the letter. “Essentially every claim Ringach assigns to me is a gross misrepresentation, a straw man argument, red herring, ad hominem attack, or other fallacy. Further, much of the philosophy of science he presents is inconsistent with facts and definitions easily obtained from standard texts. Given that countering his claims one-by-one would require more space than is available, I will simply present my actual position howbeit in abbreviated form.”
I go on to state that animals and humans are differently complex secondary to evolutionary considerations so their predicting drug and disease response is highly unlikely. I add, however, that animals can be successfully used in science and research in other specific ways. If you read this blog, you are already familiar with everything I said in the brief letter. The complete letter can be accessed here for a fee. I will try to make it available on the AFMA website soon.
Ringach’s article is more or less equally divided into science and ethics. He focuses on positions he attributes to me in the science section and what he perceives as the animal rights position in his ethics section. The Nobis article is an explanation of the ethics from an animal rights / animal protection perspective. I would liked to have had equal space for my defense, as Nobis had for his explanation, but that was not to be. Nevertheless, I strongly encourage everyone to read Ringach’s article, especially the part that supposedly addresses science. Seriously! It is so bad and makes so many factually incorrect claims that one can easily see why he refuses to do a point-counterpoint in a medical science journal like Am J Med Sci or participate in a public debate. Anyone that reads my blog even occasionally will be able to point out his errors. Anyone that has read our books will be able to destroy his nonsense. The positions he falsely ascribes to me are such blatant examples of straw man arguments that even people who have merely overheard me speaking in a crowded room, from a distance, while concentrating on something else, could point out his errors.
The fact that Ringach was willing to publish a soliloquy, essentially against a philosopher who was addressing the philosophy and not the science, and yet refuses to engage in such an exchange with me specifically regarding science, should be cause for concern for even staunchest vivisection activist. I was lucky that Ringach bragged that he was publishing his diatribe, otherwise the journal would have come out with no response at all from me. Not even 500 words taking issue with Ringach’s misinterpretation of the philosophy of science in general as well as with various other misrepresentations of science. I have submitted, to another journal, an article that contains a point-by-point rebuttal of the Ringach nonsense and am waiting for a response. It is a very long article (as it is a point-by-point analysis of what Ringach states) but hopefully it will be accepted by some journal that values philosophy of science as well as truth in general. I will keep you informed of my progress.
However, even if my very long rebuttal is published, it will not influence Ringach or others that have a vested interest in animal experimentation. Their feigned interest in the science is not motivated by a true respect for science but by their ego and their mortgage. Ringach has not replied to my thalidomide article; an article I wrote in response to his challenge on thalidomide. Neither has he replied to the article I published on the AFMA website in response to his challenge about vaccines and intra-species variation. Nor has he responded to the arguments I routinely make in this blog except to introduce red herrings, straw man arguments, and more claims that he is unwilling to support. (Just FYI, links to more propaganda do not qualify as scientific evidence or even data.) And, of course, he continues to refuse to do exactly what he just did—publish his position in a journal like Am J Med Sci—along side one from me so the reader can compare them. Nope! He writes a soliloquy in an attempt to get his side out without risking a response from me in the hope that the reader will just take his word for all this.
And you know what?
It works. It really does. His strategy, and the strategy of the pro-vivisection movement in general, of denying reality, avoiding the issue except on their own very limited and biased terms, appealing to authority, engaging in debates with nonscientists while avoiding like the plague scientists that can point out their nonsense, and putting up billboards of children and rodents and asking the viewer which one to save (see my 5-part series that includes this topic) accomplishes its purpose. Noncritical thinkers do not question the nonsense, hence the practice continues despite the cost of human lives, animal lives, and money that could be funding medically important research. Even the people that can think critically and or have a sufficient background in science, refuse to get involved for political reasons of their own: “I work at the University and my department chair would be very upset if I were to take a public stand on this.” “My brother-in-law works with animals and my wife would kill me if I endangered his career.” “I am not going to condemn a practice that could cost people their jobs, even if that practice does not really do what they claim it does. Not in this economy.” I have heard these, and many more along the same lines, more times than I can count.
With the pharmaceutical industry coming out and saying that animal-based research is not predictive for humans and the current emphasis on personalized medicine, it is getting harder for the vivisection activist community to maintain their your dog or your child position. But until society cares enough to question the claim, or becomes educated enough to use critical thinking skills that demand that such claims be questioned, the vested interest groups will continue to get away with it.