Monday, March 30, 2009

Earthlings, and some eating

Many of you may have seen Earthlings, by far one of the best films about animals. The Brown Animal Rights Club recently hosted a screening on campus, something that is always worthwhile. But although the film is generally well received, the segment about animal experimentation provokes skepticism.

Earthlings argues that scientific research on nonhuman animals does little to advance medical understanding because humans and other animals are physiologically different. The film goes so far as to claim that we can learn nothing about ourselves from such experiments. This claim is dubious at best. Are we really to believe that scientists have been fooling themselves all along, thinking their experiments were useful - - and that animal rights advocates somehow know better?

This is frustrating in an otherwise excellent documentary. Rather than make needlessly sweeping claims about all animal experimentation, we would do much better to emphasize how rarely the suffering caused can be justified by the objectives of the experiment.

On a lighter note, our group encouraged Earthlings attendees to join us for a vegetarian potluck later that week. The potluck was one of many Meatout events worldwide, and we enjoyed a variety of tasty dishes!

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