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
This implies the existence of other forms of 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.
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
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
Modern allopathic medicine is fallacious because it depends
on AN ERROR IN THE METHOD OF BASIC RESEARCH- a basic methodological
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
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
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,
3.. Strict regulation of experimentation on man ("clinical
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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