Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Attacks on Science Come From Many Quarters
We are most familiar with irrational attacks on science from right-wing Christians, but we should not forget they sometimes come from other quarters, as well. Robbie McKie writes in the Guardian (UK) about the perverse reaction to Parkinson's sufferer Mike Robins.
At a recent public meeting to discuss a proposed animal research centre in Oxford, 63-year-old Robins was jeered and ridiculed when he tried to show how surgery, perfected through animal experiments, had transformed his life.
'I was bayed at,' said Robins, a retired naval engineer from Southampton. 'Several hundred people were shouting. Some called out "Nazi!", "bastard!" and "Why don't you roll over and die!" I tried to speak, but was shouted down. It was utterly terrifying.'
The attack has shocked even hardened observers of vivisection debates. 'I have seen many unpleasant things at these debates, but to scream at a middle-aged man with Parkinson's disease and then tell him he deserved to die is the worst I have observed,' said Simon Festing, director of the Research Defence Society, which defends the scientific use of animals for experimentation...
'I wanted people to see how a person can benefit from animal experiments,' said the Oxford surgeon Tipu Aziz who operated on Robins and spoke at the debate. 'That is why I asked Mike to appear at the debate. I am now very sorry I put him through that horrible ordeal. To these people, Mike's existence is a refutation of their core beliefs. They say animal experiments do no good. Then Mike stands up, switches his tremors on and off, and their arguments are blown away. That's why they shouted him down.'