October 10, 2013

Bill Maher, anti-science?

"Stand-up comedian and television host Bill Maher called more than 100,000 Madison-area numbers Tuesday to warn University of Wisconsin-Madison students, faculty and the Madison community about animal cruelty in campus research labs.... But the university said in a statement Tuesday the claims have no factual basis...."

42 comments:

madAsHell said...

TIcket sales weren't meeting expectations?

MadisonMan said...

How many people in Madison answered?

I routinely ignore phone calls if I don't recognize the number calling. If no number is listed, say hello to my voicemail.

Matthew Sablan said...

Doesn't he have better things to do with his time? Even at a minute a call, that's... 100,000 / 60 = 1,666 hours. Which is .... 1,666 / 24 = approximately 70 DAYS of calling people. So, by this, do they mean that Maher recorded a message that was spammed out?

Mick Havoc said...

Jeebus, yesterday Ayres, today Maher. Lots of biliousness here.

lgv said...

I wish people would realize that all product are animal tested. The decision is which animal first. PETA is fine with humans being the first or no testing at all.

Should the first live animal test of a vaccine be on your baby? That's what I like to ask the anti animal testing types.

Despite the hopes and dreams of the PETA crowd, in vitro testing will never replace animal testing to a level that assures safety for humans.

We can demand humane and ethical treatment of animals in testing, but ultimately it's not a humane life for a test animal. It's like treating cattle humanely before we turn them into hamburger, or humanely taking a dog to the SPCA where it will likely be euthanized anyway. It makes us feel better, but the end result isn't all that nice.

Nice or not, animal testing is essential to science and to the safety and efficacy of all future drug products.

Levi Starks said...

It's funny to watch what happens when the Left goes full circle.

Sam L. said...

Answer: Of Course!

LordSomber said...

Listening to Maher is like being lectured to by a 17-year-old.

Tibore said...

Saying that Maher's gone over the edge sort of misrepresents things: He's not just falling off, he's doing a full on, triple-gainer cliff dive off of it.

Ps. I'll trust that PETA exists truly for animals and not for individual member's narcissistic self-congratulation when they stop highlighting cute animals and start trying to rescue insects and other less "desirable" animals.

surfed said...

@LordSomber - Classic.

Diamondhead said...

He's also an anti-vaccine nut who also doesn't subscribe to germ theory.

Revenant said...

I'll trust that PETA exists truly for animals and not for individual member's narcissistic self-congratulation when they stop highlighting cute animals and start trying to rescue insects and other less "desirable" animals.

PETA are crazies and hypocrites, but the hypocrisy you accuse them of isn't one they are guilty of. They use cute animals for the same reason politicians seek endorsements from Brad Pitt but not Roman Polanski. Nobody is going to sign up for a "save the naked mole rat" initiative, but they might sign up for a "save the cute little fluffy bunnies" initiative that also covers mole rats.

EDH said...

I wonder what Maher thinks of Tweeter Bird and Jerry for what they do to cats?

damikesc said...

I'll trust PETA more when they kill less than 70% of the animals they "save".

I'll trust them when Vice Presidents who oppose animal testing don't use meds that are the product of animal testing.

...also, didn't Maher claim to be a Libertarian?

n.n said...

He's not anti-science as much as he is pro-leverage. The plight of select animals in select conditions offered in select presentations has a purpose, which cannot be described by a genuine interest in the moral treatments of animals.

Fritz said...

Are you shocked? People of all political persuasions turn out to be anti-science when it conflicts with their agendas.

fivewheels said...

It's not so much anti-science as non-science. Some people are just not cut out to understand complex subjects.

Now it would be nice if those people would stop lecturing us on those subjects. I'm particularly unamused by the kids on the street with clipboards, potheads who failed Bio 1 in high school and certainly never came within 100 yards or 30 IQ points of a science class in college, buttonholing me about the perils of GMOs.

SteveR said...

Preaching to the choir Bill. Try a semi hostile environment, without an echo chamber, O Ye Brave One!

Big Mike said...

@lgv, I already tried asking an earnest young PETA type that very question, i.e., did she want humans to be the first test animals. She earnestly assured me that there were mathematical models that could be used instead of animal testing.

As a person who builds, validates, and exercises mathematical models I should have asked her some technical questions about her alleged adequate models, but instead I tried to explain the limits of modeling. It was like trying to explain evolution to a creationist or economics to a progressive.

Did you get that, global warming fans? You're supposed to validate your models.

richard mcenroe said...

If Bill Maher's against it, one might almost think the critters have it coming...

richard mcenroe said...

Didn't PETA put down thousands of those puppies they said they rescued?

richard mcenroe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikey Mannblaster said...

Maher is a racist sexist pig. He simply loves animals because he is one.

ErnieG said...

The allegations are over a year old, and were found to be baseless after a six month investigation. Maher should make another 100,000 calls to share that information.

Winston S. Churchill - "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

Edmund said...

My daughter is an ICU tech at an animal research lab. She takes care of pigs, sheep, and cows used in heart research. They have very, very strict protocols on the care of the animals. For example, they spend some time petting the animals on each shift.

In order to do animal testing, the test has to be shown to be needed and no other method usable. The test protocol is developed in accordance with federal humane guidelines. It's reviewed by in-house veteranarians for approval. It's then presented to an outside review panel that has vets, researchers, and laypersons on it. If they approve it, the FDA has their review.

n.n said...

The problem with PETA is not a purported interest in the ethical (not moral) treatment of animals, which is a reasonable expectation, but that their strategy is to promote a human-animal equivalence and thereby devalue human life.

Big Mike:

I have not come across a "creationist" who did not understand the principles of evolution. In fact, generally, people with that faith are not in conflict with philosophy practiced in a limited frame of reference (i.e. science). The conflict is between competing articles of faith. Those aspects of "evolutionary theory" which describe processes and events based on emergent patterns in limited, circumstantial evidence. The "theory" of evolution, as it has been accepted in many if not most forums, describes a philosophical concept and should be distinguished from the principles of evolution or a chaotic process which can be observed and reproduced.

Actually, the most notable challenge with respect to evolution is explaining to someone that a human life evolves from conception to death. There are quite a few people who would prefer to believe or acknowledge a human life is created from an arbitrary point of viability, typically for personal convenience.

Chip said...

The university's statement leads me to suspect that the claims are at least partially true.

Maher's stance on vaccination is one thing, but upholding ethical standards for the treatment of animals in laboratory research is not "anti-science."

Toad Trend said...

The thing about science is, there is more that is not settled, than there is. Good science is achieved by questioning it...it is much like forensics, in that much eludes our limited insight. Bill Maher is no scientist, but another in a long line of ignorant media whores whose impact in 50 years will be that of an antfart in a hurricane.

Toad Trend said...

The thing about science is, there is more that is not settled, than there is. Good science is achieved by questioning it...it is much like forensics, in that much eludes our limited insight. Bill Maher is no scientist, but another in a long line of ignorant media whores whose impact in 50 years will be that of an antfart in a hurricane.

Glen Wishard said...

Maher is not impressed with the argument that humans will be test subjects if animals are not, because he's a flake that doesn't believe in medicine, let alone science.

His reverence for animals over humans is nothing - NOTHING - but a religious belief, though Maher pretends to be superior to religion. His religion is missing all the faith, hope, and charity, but it has a double helping of intolerance.

LakeLevel said...

About 20 years ago I had a girlfriend who worked for Aveda. They were among the first to proclaim "not tested on animals". She had me try some new product without telling me I was substituting for animal testing. I still have the scar on my hand.

LoafingOaf said...

I clicked to the article Althouse linked.

It says Maher's message stated university researchers drilled holes into cats' skulls, implanted coils into their eyes, cut their ears off, and starved them.

The article quotes the university as responding: "The facts tell us that the research in question is important, was conducted appropriately and humanely, and will lead to a better understanding of hearing and technologies to address hearing loss."

So, the university doesn't deny the details of the research on cats, but makes an unsubstantiated claim that it was conducted humanely and will lead to important progress in understanding hearing and technologies to address hearing loss.

Before Althouse calls Maher "anti-science" for being appalled at the photographs and details of the research in question, shouldn't she present some facts which demonstrate that the research on the cats was conducted humanely and within the law and was needed for important scientific progress?

Or does Althouse believe that anyone making any inquiries into researchers after seeing disturbing photographs of experiments on animals at her university is "anti-science"?

On Google I found that the university fought for years to hide photographs of the experiments on cats from the public. Some of the photos are here: http://www.peta.org/features/uw-madison-cruelty.aspx

I also found that a veterinarian who oversaw the experiments on a cat stated: "I saw this research firsthand. Many of these cats suffered unnecessarily." http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/2012/10/12/former-uw-vet-says-lab-violated-the-law.aspx

Peta claims: "Experimenters justified the use of 30 cats per year not by saying that the experiments would lead to improvements in human health but rather by stating that they needed to 'keep up a productive publication record that ensures our constant funding.'"

Peta also claims the USDA found the university violated the Animal Welfare Act, among other things.

I don't know any more than what I've read in these few articles. Is Althouse vouching for the research in question? Will she show us why the research was needed to advance science and was conducted in a way that makes her proud of her university?

Instead of just calling Bill Maher a name, why doesn't Althouse show us why the experiments on the cats at her university were important to scientific progress and were conducted in a manner that can be held up as a model of ethical scientific research on animals?






LoafingOaf said...

Glen Wishard: "His reverence for animals over humans is nothing - NOTHING - but a religious belief, though Maher pretends to be superior to religion. His religion is missing all the faith, hope, and charity, but it has a double helping of intolerance."

Do you automatically support the methods of all scientists everywhere who conduct experiments on animals? Or do you acknowledge that some scientists have conducted experiments in ways that should not be supported?

If Bill Maher's concerns about the University of Wisconsin are irrational, how come the feds investigated them and found violations?

Big Mike said...

@nn, whenever I think of a creationist, I think of the following exchange:

Creationist: How can you say that dinosaur fossils are millions of years old when carbon-14 dating only goes back 50,000 years?

Big Mike: They don't use carbon-14 dating for very old specimens. They use potassium-argon dating.

Creationist stares at Big Mike for two or three minutes.

Creationist: Well evolution can't be true because carbon-14 dating only goes back 50,000 years. (Said loudly)

Creationist pivots on his heel and walks off.

@nn, the problem with creationism as a scientific theory isn't that it can't possibly be right -- once one postulates an omnipotent God then the omnipotent God can do anything, including planting rocks in the ground that look like dinosaur bones and the omnipotent God, since he (she?) can do anything, can play with the results of the potassium-argon measurements so they consistently come out in the 100 million years ago range. Trivial for an omnipotent God.

But the point of a scientific theory is to be able to predict things, and if an omnipotent God can do unpredictable things then where is the science?

Evolution makes predictions, and the predictions have, thus far, held up. But if we ever find fossilized human skeletons in Jurassic rocks then either evolution is wrong or time travel is going to be invented.

Rusty said...

But Oaf.
If it saves just one life..............

For the children!

We gotta kill it to know what's in it!


Michael The Magnificent said...

Did you get that, global warming fans? You're supposed to validate your models.

FAIL: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/17/temperature-models-vs-temperature-reality-in-the-lower-troposphere/

972989a8-d210-11e2-ac4d-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Let's see, the last bunches of folk who practiced "human experimentation" first.
1. Had their "sanitariums" shut down
2.Were disposed from their African "leadership" positions.
3. Known as National Socialists.
4.Permanantly screwed up a BUNCH of Male Negros with VD (SEE:#2)
5.Permanantly screwed up a BUNCH of American servicemen.

But, you know...it's Science!.
How come those disclaimers for drugs-as seen on tee vee and "popular" magazines-are longer than the rest of the ad?

CaptDMO

972989a8-d210-11e2-ac4d-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Let's see, the last bunches of folk who practiced "human experimentation" first.
1. Had their "sanitariums" shut down
2.Were disposed from their African "leadership" positions.
3. Known as National Socialists.
4.Permanantly screwed up a BUNCH of Male Negros with VD (SEE:#2)
5.Permanantly screwed up a BUNCH of American servicemen.

But, you know...it's Science!.
How come those disclaimers for drugs-as seen on tee vee and "popular" magazines-are longer than the rest of the ad?

CaptDMO

972989a8-d210-11e2-ac4d-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Let's see, the last bunches of folk who practiced "human experimentation" first.
1. Had their "sanitariums" shut down
2.Were disposed from their African "leadership" positions.
3. Known as National Socialists.
4.Permanantly screwed up a BUNCH of Male Negros with VD (SEE:#2)
5.Permanantly screwed up a BUNCH of American servicemen.

But, you know...it's Science!.
How come those disclaimers for drugs-as seen on tee vee and "popular" magazines-are longer than the rest of the ad?

William Chadwick said...

The animals were forced to listen to videos of Maher shilling for the State while pretending to be a libertarian. Now THAT's cruelty!

Nate Whilk said...

I remember a moment from Maher's "Politically Incorrect" TV show. One of the guests was Steve Allen.

Maher rattled off some number of weird beliefs (these may not have been the exact ones he mentioned):

"I believe in astrology, I believe in channelling, I believe in reincarnation. Does that make me stupid?"

Allen's whole reply: "Yes!"

Maher hasn't gotten any smarter.

the wolf said...

Oaf: You conveniently juxtapose Maher's claim and the university's denial as if they admit to their practice, buy you conveniently left out an intervening paragraph:

But the university said in a statement Tuesday the claims have no factual basis and said PETA’s repeated animal cruelty claims are “unsubstantiated” and “false.”

By which we conclude that the university denies the allegation.

Further:

A six-month investigation by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare into a UW-Madison experiment found no violations in the university’s use of cats in sound localization, but the organization recommended the university do more to control infection in lab environments and improve cleaning methods in surgical areas.

Which hardly sinks to the level of Maher's/PETA's claims.