Recent Nonsense on Social Media
Sunday March 31, 2019
I have answered countless versions of the same questions countless times but as Understanding Animal Research (UAR) seems to want to cover this ground again, I will respond to some of their nonsense.
Why would the FDA contradict itself saying animal testing is required but itdoes not work?
The US government frequently contradicts itself and issuing a press release hours after someone publicly said something at odds with what someone else said is commonplace. Currently, the Trump administration denies global warming while many in various sections of the government accept it. There are many examples of this type of thing throughout history. One thing to keep in mind is whether the statement makes the government look bad. If it does, it is probably correct. The same is true of any individual or industry. One statement from the tobacco industry acknowledging its products caused cancer outweighed the thousands of previous denials.
The US government is a huge organization. Even divisions within the government are huge. It is likely that if you ask any two given people at the FDA a question, for example, does animal modeling increase the likelihood that drugs that come to market are safe, you will get two different answers. Part of this is the fact that different people do different things in any given organization. Ask an administrator whether the product is good and you might get a different answer than that said by a scientist within the organization. Part of this is explained by ignorance but part is usually perfidy.
Statements against interest count far more heavily than statements supporting the status quo,or that make an individual or organization look good. Michael Kingsley stated: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth - some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say.” Society knows the truth about many things because of gaffes on the part of someone.
Dr Greek won’t debate us on all aspects of animal use in science.
Drs. Ray Greek and Lisa Kramer have just published two chapters in the book titled Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change. Human-Animal Studies. Volume 22. Which is edited by Kathrin Herrmann and Kimberley Jayne. The two chapters are
"The Scientific Problems with Using Non-human Animals to Predict Human Response to Drugs and Disease."
"How to Evaluate the Science of Non-human Animal Use in Biomedical Research and Testing: A Proposed Format for Debate."
The “proposed format for debate” chapter outlines, in some detail, the rules for the debate EDM 66 is proposing. Ever since I called for a peer-reviewed debate, with scientists who are experts in their field to be the judges, UAR has declined the invitation with numerous excuses. As the only real issue between UAR and myself lies in using animals to study phenomena that involve higher levels of organization, for example the predictive value of animals in drug development and disease research, I originally suggested we debate only that topic. They responded that such a debate would not allow them to present some of their best evidence and I therefore agreed to a series of debates after we debated the predictive value issue. I stated, at the time,that I was not sure what I was going to debate at the other debates as I have acknowledged that of the nine ways animals can be used in science, seven are scientifically viable. (For these uses, today, there are more efficient genuine 'alternatives'). We might debate what alternatives are currently available, but I doubt that would be much of a debate either.
Because of the reluctance of UAR to debate, I asked FLOE in the UK to arrange a debate through Parliament that would be open to the animal model community as a whole. As each side needs to present a position paper, there can be far more than one author writing and one organization represented. Coming from Parliament would give the debate legitimacy and probably would be the only way the animal model community,in general, would comply. The opposition needs to represent the entire animal modeling community, not just UAR, Speaking of Research, or the Foundation for Biomedical Research and so forth. The topic we would debate still focuses around the predictive value of animals, (see above book chapter) but the animal model community has always been free to present any pro-animal model data they wish. They can talk about agriculture in the UK or the main players in French literature of the 16th century if they wish. There are no limits on what they can present. I personally don’t see how discussing the ways animals are used in veterinary medicine, for example is going to help their case but if they deem it important for some reason, by all means present it. If they don’t like my definitions of words then challenge that. Again, it is their case and they can use anything they see fit.
Some of Chris Magee’s statements on Twitter.
Dr Greek is a pseudoscientist. His references aren't credible, and are often authored by one R. Greek. He also doesn't get published in relevant journals or those with a decent impact factor. Oh and he's a former PETA spokesman. Apart from that completely unbiased.
Calling someone a pseudoscientist is an insult implying that the person has misunderstood, or does not know, the fundamentals of science and hence looks at data and misinterprets it outrageously. Typical beliefs of pseudoscience include the belief in so-called Integrative Medicine, creationism, conversion therapy, AIDS denialism, and so forth. But there is a difference between name calling and proving the claim. If Mr. Magee wishes for his charge to stickhe needs to provide evidence, the type of which is not amenable to 140 characters. But, such evidence would be appropriate for a debate as called for in EDM 66. A format for such a debate can be found in Greek, Ray, and Lisa Kramer. 2019. "How to Evaluate the Science of Non-human Animal Use in Biomedical Research and Testing: A Proposed Format for Debate." In Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change. Human-Animal Studies. Volume 22., edited by Kathrin Herrmann and Kimberley Jayne, 65-87. Boston: Brill.
References are normally provided for articles published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature so the readers can refer back to them in order to confirm the authors are interpreting the literature correctly. This charge, as the one before, necessitates evidence which is not provided by Mr. Magee. Many articles refer back to other articles by the same author as the research usually progresses and builds upon former findings. There is nothing odd about this.
Moreover, I am about the only person writing about animal models being complex systems with different evolutionary trajectories,so one should expect a relatively large amount of self-citation. All of the references regarding drug development, complex systems, and evolutionary biology, the basis for Trans-Species Modeling Theory (TSMT) come from other sources. Again, the best forum in which Mr. Magee should present his evidence and implications for his charges is a peer-reviewed debate (see above).
The relevance of journals is subjective and impact factors vary with subject matter. I have had a letter published in Nature Medicine, which is one the top 5 medical journals with an Impact Factor of ~32. That's not bad. Of course, most of my publications have been in journals that are not as impressive. Progress in Biophysics & Molecular Biology has an Impact Factor of ~3.5 and published my article on Trans-Species Modeling Theory.But most journals have low Impact Factors and as I said relevance is subjective. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine has published two of my most important articles and has an IF of just over 1. All of which is immaterial to whether the concepts and facts I present are representative of the material universe. Which is exactly what debates are meant to uncover. Journals that some animal model representatives publish in contain low impact factors as well: Journal of neurophysiology IF 2.9, Journal of Vision IF 2.7, and Cognitive Science 2.6. Of course, there is more to journal importance than Impact Factors and that is where subjective relevance appears. A journal scoffed at by many might be considered vital in the community it serves. And even if the journal is sub-standard, what matters is the viability of the science published by the author, regardless of where it appears
Likewise, I have never claimed to be unbiased. Everyone has biases. Certainly, people whose incomes depend on animal modeling have a bias in favor of it. The question, once again, is whether what the person states is consistent with the best science we currently have.
Mr. Magee’s brief comments are typical of people without the facts on their side. They attack the person not the argument, they use fallacies, ignore facts they don’t like, and misrepresent their opponent’s position.
Magee has also questioned what I mean by the word predict. I have explained thisin numerous articles including references (1-5). But if Mr. Magee is not satisfied with my position, he could certainly explain why in thepeer-reviewed debate as mentioned above. The debate consists of written submissions so he should have plenty of space to explain why I am wrong.
Mr. Magee has also stated that animals used in drug development are merely used to test a hypothesis. That is false. Again, if Mr. Magee and others in the animal model community want to discuss this and let the experts decide, then let them approach Parliament and support EDM 66,and help organize the animal model community to put forth their best arguments for why animal modeling should continue. Or whatever else they want to talk about.
1. Shanks N, Greek R. Animal Models in Light of Evolution. Boca Raton: Brown Walker; 2009.
2. Shanks N, Greek R, Greek J. Are animal models predictive for humans? Philos Ethics Humanit Med. 2009;4(1):2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citation&list_uids=19146696
3. Greek R, Greek J. Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable? Philos Ethics Humanit Med. 2010;5:14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citation&list_uids=20825676
4. Greek R, Hansen LA. Questions regarding the predictive value of one evolved complex adaptive system for a second: exemplified by the SOD1 mouse Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. 2013;113(2):231-53. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079610713000539
5. Greek R. The Ethical Implications for Humans in Light of the Poor Predictive Value of Animal Models. International Journal of Clinical Medicine (Special Issue on Medical Ethics). 2014;5(16):966-1005. http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=48946#.VCB_20tu3fN