Animal rights activism has been prominent, especially in the UK, since the 1960s. However, more recently there has been a growth of animal rights groups in the US, and with it a growth in the distortions and half-truths they propagate. At any animal rights demonstration you are likely to see placards depicting age-old experiments carried out in far-away countries where animal welfare standards were considerably lower. It is these distortions of the truth which help animal rights groups to gain funding, and grow their movement.
Whereas, once, the animal rights groups justified their activities purely from a moral standpoint, nowadays they have tacked on a scientific angle – claiming that animal research doesn’t work. By creating a myth of the “evil scientist” working behind closed doors and harming kittens just for the hell of it, they have created a web of mistruths which scientists have not stood together to destroy.
The fact is that animal rights groups do not exist to promote better animal welfare, but rather to band – on principle – all animal experiments carried out in the US and beyond. Animal welfare is of crucial importance to research since stressed animals tend not to give good results. Therefore it has often been researchers and animal care technicians who have championed advances in animal welfare – such as better designed cages, improved training, and new enrichment toys and activities for animals – these are all crucial part of the 3Rs – Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal research.
In the Bad Science section we investigate some of the claims of animal rights activists. Pseudoscience, misquotes and silly statistics from Morphine puts humans asleep but excites cats to Blood transfusions were delayed 200 years by animal studies, are all debunked in this section.
In the “Alternatives?” section we deal with one of the biggest animal rights myths – that all animal testing is replaceable (but that scientists opt for the more expensive route out of choice ….?). We explain the role of alternatives, and why they are not yet sophisticated enough to replace animal research.
In the AR Beliefs section we investigate the moral beliefs that drive animal rights activists. Explaining the illogic in granting animals rights (a purely human concept), and instead explaining why we can (and should) have a responsibility to treat animals well, without going as far as granting them ‘rights’.
In the AR Extremism section we look at what animal rights extremism is, and how it needs to be tackled. We also offer practical advice for researchers who have been targeted, or are at risk of being targeted, by animal rights activists.