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An Invitation To Optimism

Professor Pietro Croce

We must be optimistic! Antivivisectionism has progressed satisfactorily in the last few years and is constantly taking further steps forward, as various events have occurred that have forwarded our cause.

The first, and the most relevant, is the new approach to the problem, the scientific approach - the birth of "scientific antivivisectionism", for which we owe a debt of gratitude to Hans Ruesch and his celebrated books.

The second is the straightforward and courageous line of thought followed by scientific antivivisectionism, which rejects ideological compromises and half measures in all kinds of animal experimentation to do with human medicine and cosmetology.
Third, comes the founding of associations of physicians, veterinarians and biologists (such as our own DBAE, the German Vereinigung Artzte gegen Tierversuche and the Italian Fondo Imperatrice Nuda) against animal experimentation.
Fourthly, there is the growing interest of the mass media in our movement.
I started to refute animal experimentation fifteen years or so ago, and for me to see the birth of associations of medical professionals demonstrating the very same idea and having the courage to do so openly, has been, believe me, a source of great and crucial personal support.

The thought "I am alone against the great majority of public opinion", was sad and discouraging; equally distressing was the thought, "I am the black sheep in a community of scientists, Nobel Prizewinners, idols of drawing rooms, acclaimed masters of conference halls.". Even more distressing was the suspicion "Perhaps I am wrong - perhaps I am ready for a mental institution!" I can still remember the times when, fifteen years ago, in large but almost empty conference rooms, I was giving speeches to eleven old ladies and trying to explain to them - and to their inseparable pet dogs - the basics of scientific antivivisectionism.

You can understand, then, what it means to me today to see the growing legions of doctors - to see hundreds of colleagues - all joining us and all aiming at presenting a more organised stand in order to profess those same "odd", "crazy" ideas. It also implies that countless more colleagues simply do not have the courage or the opportunity, or the necessary freedom, to join us but are intellectually prepared to do so. (I have just said that these colleagues do not have the necessary freedom. But everyone else has to win the right to his or her personal freedom, by being prepared to accept some unavoidable risks.)

We, the members of DBAE, represent the scientific approach to antivivisectionism.
This implies the existence of other forms of antivivisectionism - namely:

Zoöphilic Antivivisectionism

Antivivsectionism originated as "Zoöphilia" in the second half of the nineteenth century. But Zoöphilia is a matter of feeling, and a sentiment is not something that can be transferred or objectified. In this case, we recognise an insurmountable limit to Zoöphilia Antivivisectionism. Nevertheless, we owe the utmost consideration to the sensibilities of our friends the animal lovers. Historically, we are all pupils of Zoöphilia Antivivisectionism; we should never forget that fact, and we should always remember our debt of gratitude and respect to its supporters.
Animalistic Antivivisectionism.

Animalism is a philosophy refuting the Judaeo-Christian concept of Man as lord and master over nature and the animals.

Whilst Zoöphilia appeals to sentiment, Animalism appeals to reason. However, what somewhat surprises me - not so much in their ideology as in the behaviour of some animalists - is their acceptance, under certain conditions, of animal experimentation, which is, in fact, the worst expression of the abuse which man exercises over the animals. Nevertheless, we are respectful of the philosophical approach of the Animalists toward our "minor brethren".

Our own refutation is expressed as Scientific Antivivisectionism

Orthodox medicine very often uses propositions which appear to be irrefutable.

But orthodox medicine appears to ignore the fact that "no refutation" equals "no science". The philosopher Karl Popper said: "It is not what appears to be true that is scientific, but only what appears to be refutable." Today's medicine thrives on a great many irrefutable propositions. But, once in a while, it steps on the banana skin of a phenomenon which is not refutable at all - death.

What explanations do the scientist provide us with? 1. They appeal to statistics and inform us that "unpleasant events", such as deaths caused by vaccines, drugs and so on, occur "only once in every thousand".

2. They seek refuge in sophistries such as, "We must balance useful effects against potential dangers", thus forgetting that the "potential dangers" are concrete and demonstrable, whereas the so-called "useful effects" remain almost always submerged in the quagmire of undemonstrability.

The Commercial approach to medicine

How can we fight the commercial attitude of allopathic medicine?

Medicine is not an industry. In medicine, the saying "to consume more is to produce more" is a dangerous nonsense. In medicine, "producing more" means "producing more disease".
Modern allopathic medicine is fallacious because it depends on AN ERROR IN THE METHOD OF BASIC RESEARCH- a basic methodological error.

The pseudoscientific "triumphalism" that hammers away at us from the mass media every day favours those who make their fortunes out of the misfortunes of their neighbours. When we discuss medicine, we must reject all attempts to think of the interests of the industry as prevailing over the benefits to the individual and collective health. We must persuade the politicians to abstain from demagogic worries such as: "If industrialist X goes bankrupt, then twenty thousand workers will be put under unemployment benefit!"

With the money spent on useless or dangerous remedies, we could provide for twenty thousand workers, and their families, at the Daniele Hotel in Venice!

Our opponents object: ".But medicine has made great progress in recent years!"
True - but no one can ever prove that progress has been made thanks to animal experimentation.

At this point, our opponents, trying to overcome this stumbling block, go into details such as: "How could you ever have discovered insulin, or produced polio vaccine without tests on living animals?"

If you think this argument through, you will realize that it lacks that "criterion of falsification" of Karl Popper which teaches that "A proposition is not scientific if it is not refutable."
The following statement is an example of a non-refutable proposition: "Thanks to chemotherapy, we prolonged the survival of Mr. Smith by six months." Pick up on this logical trap and reply: "How do you know when Mr. Smith was supposed to die if he had been without your chemotherapy?"

Almost all the "triumphalism" of our opponents is based on this dialectical fraud.
Of course there has been progress in medicine; but first of all we must keep in mind a phenomenon which is very common in nature - the phenomenon of "coincidence". But relying on coincidence is like gambling on roulette, when to hit the right number by chance doesn't mean that you've found a method for getting rich.

It also follows that using an erroneous conceptual scheme does not necessarily mean that everything we get from it is erroneous: the entire history of human thought is built on a sequence of erroneous conceptual schemes. Let us only remember that, for almost twenty centuries, nobody raised any objections against the Ptolemaic belief that the earth was the centre of the universe. But one day a man came along who, challenging the Holy Inquisition, demonstrated that the entire system was wrong - though navigation had sometimes benefited from it!

We must have the same courage about the erroneous methodology of animal experimentation, a methodology of which nothing should be retained - this for another reason also, that it would be impossible to discriminate between which part is right and which is wrong.
Vivisection is an aberration, a foolish practice that leads medicine astray, creating millions of human victims in the process: we are all victims of toxic drugs, of common medical errors, of wrong medical information and of medical delusions.

The experimenters started with frogs and progressed to mice, rabbits, cats and dogs, believing that climbing the zoölogical ladder meant approaching more nearly to the human species. Nowadays, every vivisector's ultimate wish is to experiment on monkeys: with an unbelievable biological ignorance, he confuses physiognomic resemblance with biologic proximity.

But researchers don't stop at monkeys: by experimenting more and more on humans, they testify to the uselessness and dangerousness of the results of animal experimentation, and so they seem satisfied to have found a new victim - MAN HIMSELF. And man is, indeed, the best experimental model for man. However, do not rely blindly on him: when man is used as a guinea pig, you run the risk of transforming him into something like a real guinea pig. That happened in the United States, when prisoners were used experimentally - for a human being in a cage resembles a guinea pig more than he does a man.

That is why we should put our trust in epidemiology, which is observation of spontaneous occurrences, whilst we should trust very little, and then only in very abnormal instances, in experimentation, no matter even if the experimental model is the best we can think of -that is, man himself.

To summarise: we must stop considering medicine as a mainly experimental science. And, above all, we must be aware of the fact that we are not struggling with the occasional dilemma, "to experiment or not to experiment" on living creatures. What we are fighting for is a new civilisation, to be offered to our technologically advanced but scarcely civilised world.
. . .

And now, I think you will be interested in some news from Italy:

First item of news
January 21st, 1991: a Scientific Antivivisection Committee was founded as a collaboration between LAV (Lega Anti-Vivisezione League) and Fondo Imperatrice Nuda (The Naked Empress Foundation - so named after Hans Ruesch's important book).

The three main targets of the Scientific Anti-Vivisection Committee are as follows:
1.. The total abolition of animal experimentation.
2.. Total rejection of "the three Rs" - Regulate, Reduce, Refine.
3.. Strict regulation of experimentation on man ("clinical experimentation")
The Scientific Antivivisection Committee is open to medical doctors and surgeons, veterinarians, biologists and pharmacists.

Our committee held its first meeting on February 1st, 1992, in Rome, in a room lent to it by the Chamber of Deputies Monteciorio.

Second piece of news from Italy

On December 15, 1989, all 30 technicians in the Department of Radiology at the Institute Rizzoli in Bologna (a leading hospital in the field of orthpaedics) were led by a young radiology technician, Miss Maria Teresa Ravaiola, in refusing to collaborate with a new departmental set-up for animal experimentation. Furthermore, they asked that their right to be considered as "conscientious objectors" should be acknowledged. This produced a sensational public uproar. But even more sensational was the uproar some two years later, on May 15th, 1992, when the President of the Institute Rizzoli, Dr. Gianfranco Ragonese, issued an order approving the request of the objectors!

Initial consequences have been as follows:

The staff of the institute Rizzoli have received 50,000 letters and telegrams of approval from all parts of Italy.

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