I just read an email “peta” sent me, about animals being tested in laboratories. And I cried from it. It is SO sad what psychology students do to animals in order to get information.
I remember at university, we talked about a lot of these psychology experiments on animals, because many of them were mentioned in our textbooks.
For example, there were baby monkeys who were separated from their mothers. Some of the babies were given a wire surrogate mother with a bottle, and some were given a cloth-covered mother with a bottle.
You can find out more from the link below. The results of the experiment are actually really interesting, even though the experiment is quite mean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow
This rhesus monkey study wasn’t uncontroversial among animal activists. But of course, if this was done to a human baby it would be even more of an outrage.
Anyway, when we discussed these kinds of studies in class, I got the strong sense that no matter how much these psychological experiments improved the lives of people, they can’t be worth it if animals have to suffer. I got the feeling these experiments were wrong. I don’t believe that much is wrong (because right/wrong is mostly subjective and depends on upbringing, culture and having the mental and linguistic capacity to conceive of/think of morality…for example, humans believe incest is “wrong” but rabbits seriously are incestuous all the time. I should know because I once had a large family of rabbits when I was a child) but I do believe that knowingly inflicting pain on others is almost always wrong. That’s not to say I’ve never hit someone, or that it didn’t feel good during and after. It was still wrong of me, according to my one small piece of moral advice.
Another experiment that one of my professors took part in involved cutting a rat’s head open to remove a part of its brain, and transferring that bit of brain to another rat to see if it would change the biological rhythms of the recieving rat (it’s so easy to sound clinical when talking about psychology and it’s easy to sound sensational and trigger emotion when you’re peta…wording can really provoke specific reactions…when I talk clinically, I feel less emotional about the rats. But, if someone were to describe the experiment like peta does here, I would cry: http://www2.peta.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=137829.0&dlv_id=0&pgwrap=n) Maybe that explains why psych students don’t seem very shocked by experiments on animals (FYI: the animals are usually killed after they are used in an experiment. I also feel like crying (I cry a lot, obviously) when I go to zoos, aquariums, when I see animals in cages, birds with broken wings, documentaries about farms. You get the idea.
I don’t know how I can care about a guy who was an asshole to me, or putting out a new album or what outfit I’m going to wear when things that are so much more urgent important are constantly happening. I think it’s thinking about the small things (see above) that make life digestible and easy and even though most people realize that things like nuclear/environmental disasters happen, or people/animals are abused, it’s easier to distract one’s self and get rid of the anxious feelings one might have about these issues. Also i guess it helps that we often don’t know the people or animals who are suffering. If my family member or pet was suffering, I know I would try harder to relieve this suffering than if it was happening to someone living far away and out of sight.
But some problems are urgent, and I don’t want to live my life without fighting for a worthy cause. But I think the reason why talking about these things IS soooo frowned upon is because it makes people feel anxious (including me!!!!) until something is done to remedy the situation, but we all realize there are many situations that are troublesome. And one person or one organization can’t fix everything. These problems are overwhelming and uncomfortable to talk about. It’s easier to make jokes, have fun, and distract yourself. I do this too, and I can’t imagine life without fun, distractions, and jokes.
And there’s also the issue of many people thinking that people are the centre of the world. Sure, it’s a nice position humans are in. Many of us can go to the grocery store for a meal without thinking long about where our food comes from (though I would guess we all know because there’s been so many documentaries on this topic).
But from an evolutionary standpoint, people haven’t been around very long at all, and why humans would be above any other animal is beyond me. If someone were to argue that humans are better because humans are more intelligent or more spiritual than animals, first of all I will say I don’t even believe in the idea of a spirit. What are people even talking about when they say they’re “spiritual” but not religious? I have no idea… And maybe humans know how to do math better than a cockroach or a dog, but in my point of view, knowing how to survive is a big part of intelligence. And people are knowingly destroying their environment because it’s built into our social systems to do so, and because it’s somewhat socially acceptable. And people still argue that capitalism works, even though the economy is collapsing. Even people that work for millionaire companies but are only paid 6-10 dollars an hour will argue for capitalism. Because people wouldn’t work as hard if the system wasn’t competitive? I would rather work hard for people I like and can depend on than a company who pays me slightly above the lowest wage allowed. And there are many humans one might consider “stupid”, even with the now enlarged spectrum of different types of made up intelligence (eg. “emotional intelligence”). What about human babies? That’s the only humor you’re going to get in this rant, by the way. But seriously, if human superiority is about intelligence, why should I eat a cow rather than a human baby? I mean, I don’t want to eat either one but an adult cow might seriously be smarter than a human baby.