I suppose they didn't know what they'd find, but I don't think it's appropriate to intentionally induce high levels of pain in animals just to see what happens.
This statistic from animal charity evaluators, show just how small a percentage lab testing makes up for in the total amount of animals we use and kill.
If your goal is to effectively reduce animal suffering, the only place that makes sense to start is factory farming. The conditions animals endure are much worse than most testing, and the scale is difficult to comprehend.
I don't mean to trivialize the suffering these mice went through, I just think it's important to make clear that we cause the same amount of suffering every time we eat meat, something that brings us much less value than this research.
Animal testing is often the best, if not only way to get data. The data may lead to the betterment of human lives, so you weigh the potential human benefit against the lives of the mice.
Most animal researchers believe it would be unethical to not conduct the testing. The studies should still be run in a way to minimize the number of animals while collecting the best possible data.
Source: experience in animal testing.
> Most animal researchers believe it would be unethical to not conduct the testing.
but this is what's so bothersome. why is human experience put above that of the mouse? in this specific example, it's even worse. stress in modern day society is almost entirely self-induced from a civilization/societal point of view. humans are very good at building overly complex meta structures in our lives, all of which contribute heavily to stress because it's unbelievably hard to navigate these unnatural systems. so now, mice have to suffer because of our own inability to control
i think the ethical argument you mentioned is quite a stretch when view in this real light.
There is no argument anyone can make for preference or equivalence that reduce to an arbitrary ethical foundation. I, and I think most people, just care about humans more than mice.
That said, I would question what exactly is the cause of bother. Is it bothersome because:
A) People honestly believe that a human life is equivalent to that of a mouse, or a number of mice?
B) It brings to light an uncomfortable but ethically justified reality of the world we live in.
You make a an accurate observation that human stress is often self induced, but I don't know how stress free pre-modern society was. From my experience, it is human nature to identify threats and feel stress, under just about any condition. Furthermore, I can't imagine that a "natural society" was stress free, with food scarcity, low life expectancy, and high infant mortality.
Ethical standards are both arbitrary and necessary. They're arbitrary because we choose them, and necessary because they optimize for our goals. Those goals are themselves implicit in our choice of ethical standards. My ethical system assigns the highest weights to human health and happiness. That also takes into account climate change, because I temporally discount large adverse climate events from the future and consider their effect on our progeny. I don't disregard animal life, I just place human life at the top of my ethical pyramid. If you value human and rodent life equally, and therefore human and rodent suffering equally, then I believe your ethical standards are as arbitrary as mine. You just have a different optimization function, and it is at odds, for better or worse, with that of most of humanity.
What we can be most certain of is, generally, the revealed ethical system of most cultures, as manifested by their customs and laws (excluding the myriad effects of autocratic regimes and the cultural stunting that they entail). We can also be sure of our physical location, which determines the cultural mileu and ethical standards which are used to judge our actions. Furthermore, through empirical studies, we can measure the alignment of ethical systems to their goals and adjust course. We cannot, however, find an objective ethical system. It does not exist. We should not be bothered by that any more than we're bothered by the lack of a magic genie lamp or Velveeta volcano. All of that is to say, your equation of: cost of mouse suffering > widespread benefits of resulting drugs, is simply a preference. It can be restated as "I and a few others who share my views prefer that the lab mice not suffer, even if the result helps millions of humans." Even if you actually believe that the mouse testing is only wrong because it is in pursuit of something ostensibly cosmetic, or, as you stated, because we have made life more difficult for ourselves through over-abstraction and animals shouldn't suffer the consequences, your ethical standards are not any less arbitrary.
"On your current moral view, if all traits true of a given human (who has moral value) are switched to match those true of a given nonhuman animal (who doesn't have moral value), is there any point in the trait-equalization process where moral value is lost?"
I said humans are at the top of my ethical pyramid because humans are a proxy for “intelligent beings” on a planet with no other creatures that are even close in intelligence (with intelligence being defined as it is common understood, and calling that definition arbitrary or saying that it’s not commonly understood would further illustrate the point in my OP). In reality, intelligent beings are at the top of my ethical pyramid. If we could CRISPR a new species of cow that completely lacks sentience and is simply a substrate for nutrients, and its meat was identical to that of more sentient cows, I would prefer its meat. Alternatively, if we can create cell-cultured beef or artificial beef that tastes as good or better than typical beef, I would totally eat it, and much prefer it to the brain-dead cow, since the brain-dead cow is still a mirror of a being with non-zero sentience.
You'll have the formalize that argument, because I'm not seeing the fallacy.
> In its central example, a human being, with their degree of thoughts, feelings, intelligence and all, is transferred to an animal, and the animal is still subsequently labeled as an animal. An accurate representation of my view would, at the very least, label the new animal as one with human-level sentience.
Let's walk this through using your example of intelligence as the trait. I'll also quote the definition of intelligence from Wikipedia as the frame of reference.
>Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. More generally, it can be described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.
Let's use the reducteo. If we replace animal with a severely mentally handicapped human, the human would fail the meet the above criteria for intelligence. We also have studies that show examples of animals demonstrating problem solving, emotional knowledge, etc. Which would likely place the intelligence of the animal above that of a mentally handicapped person. That being said, do you also support medical experimentation on the mentally handicapped?
I am not bothered by the arbitrariness of my framework, so long as it is internally consistent. I do not believe you have revealed an inconsistency. Find me a dolphin that has 200 unique calls, and I’ll show you how its language doesn’t meet the esoteric definition of abstraction which I am using, one which is not any less esoteric than yours, just as my ethics are no less arbitrary than yours.
I am entirely, exhaustively aware of the subjectivity of intelligence. What are words such as “intelligence” other than imperfect summaries with some degree of private meaning to the speaker that is never 100% conveyed into the listener’s brain? I can further break intelligence into a series of abstraction hurdles that humans meet but not animals, but that increases entropy beyond what I believe is necessary here.
You're creating a straw man.
You said previously you wanted "...intelligence being defined as it is common understood, and calling that definition arbitrary or saying that it’s not commonly understood would further illustrate the point in my OP)."
And I gave you the commonly accepted definition of intelligence, just as you requested. Do you refute the definition I give.
And then you go and claim its subjective and you can give it whatever definition you want....
I'm done here.
The commonly understood intelligence that I am referring to is that which can be clearly observed in someone with Down's Syndrome above and beyond what we observe in animals. Part of it is a matter of magnitude. Dogs seem to have empathy. I'm sure they do, but without sufficient cognition, that empathy is severely bounded. They will jump up and down and wag their tail when you return from a 5 minute walk. If, however, you die and there's other food in the house, they might nonetheless eat your face in short order.
Most meat that is claimed to be ethically sourced is far from it. Worse yet, the places where demand is growing the fastest, are places with minimal concern for how the animals are treated.
1)A knife is still shoved into their throats so they bleed out.
2)You can get all the nutrients you need in a plant-based diet.
I accept the utilitarian argument to justify it, just saying.
I think it says more about the observer than life sciences.
Morality in the real world is complex and most of the heuristics we use in our daily lives rapidly break down when examining most anything in detail.
While life sciences have a tremendous potential to help humans and the world at large, but there are also hidden costs that laypeople may not be aware of.
Not exactly. We have tools to examine the validity and soundness of arguments people use when they make a claim about morality.
We do have some good tools to examine arguments. Most tools to judge moral frameworks are relatively poor.
Most of the heuristics people use in their daily were learned from Disney and are garbage.
Is that a joke? Rats, cockroaches, and mosquitoes are all life forms. Poison ivy is a life form. Guinea worms are life forms.
We as intelligent beings get to decide what it all means. We can crush them, we can use them to our advancement, or we can set them up as gods and worship them.
But none of those things are beings. It's our language, and we , not mice, get to decide what the word "being" means.
being (countable and uncountable, plural beings)
A living creature.
The paper's very explicit on how this is done - they injected the mice either with RTX (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resiniferatoxin, a functional capcasin analog) or saline (at random) to induce a stress response, and countered it in some mice with buprenorphine to rule out false positives.
So, yeah, some of them got to deal with nothing, some dealt with a burning sensation, some dealt with burning followed by bliss, and some felt nothing but bliss.
But, at the end of the day they are lab mice, and there are plenty that are being subjected to worse treatment for less laudable scientific ends than understanding the physiological responses to stress and pain.
Idk, maybe I am becoming more uncomfortable in general with animal experiments but the ones I participate in, the animals are anesthetized when something painful happens. Certainly, we are choosing to benefit human life over animal life, and certainly they have a much shorter life span, but I do feel we should be minimizing harm and refusing to cross certain lines.
If someone that wasn't a professional said "look how quickly these mice turn white when you cause them searing pain" you'd have a different opinion of them.
Do you think the researchers in this paper failed or minimize harm or crossed certain lines? If so, where would you draw them?
If conducted or published in the US, they almost certainly went through an independent animal use review.
In my experience, the standard for mammal studies is the experiment must be of scientific merit and minimize unnecessary harm to the animals. nonhuman primates are treated separate and have a much higher bar.
You really don't want to find out how we conduct basic biology research, then...
Studying heat shock proteins, for instance? Burn their feet.
There's a protocol for how to snap their necks when you need to dispose of them.
I believe there's a pretty high chance humans in 2120 will look back on today and marvel at all of the facets of life that were filled with backwardness and barbarism, like we do for 1920, and like they did for 1820.
Torture mice to discover that stress turns hair white and whoa we might be able to prevent stress from turning people’s hair white. The benefit of their suffering is nowhere near developing vaccines for harmful diseases (at this point, anyway).
1) They did more than see if their hair turned white. They identified the protein responsible for stem cell death and methods to suppress the stem cell death.
2) Science is additive. Nearly every single medical product you benefit from today was supported by hundreds of modest animal experiments.
Many scientists guessed that this buildup was caused in part by lack of sleep, as they believed that one of the benefits/purposes of sleep was the removal of hydrogen peroxide, and other waste, from cells. The lead photos in many of these articles was side by side photos of presidents at their inaugurations and at some point during their term.
 See, e.g. https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2013/05/reversing-hair-g...
From the article:
Pain in mice triggered the release of adrenaline and cortisol, making their hearts beat faster and blood pressure rise, affecting the nervous system and causing acute stress.
This process then sped up the depletion of stem cells that produced melanin in hair follicles.
In another experiment, the researchers found they could block the changes by giving the mice an anti-hypertensive, which treats high blood pressure.
So, while stress may cause high blood pressure, it appears high blood pressure causes the white hair per the data in this article. I'm pretty sure things other than stress may also cause high blood pressure. From the article's title, they blame stress. What about all the other things that cause high blood pressure?
Then there is discussion on how to stop this from happening by blocking a protein which appears valid, but still a misleading title.
It's always good to play the game of asking whether such a signal is honest? ...why not just be unstressed and get white hair if it garners attention and help?
Which demands thinking in terms of tradeoffs ... What is the cost of premature white hair?
Etc etc etc
It can start earlier than that - I found my first gray hair around 16, and I'm now in my early 20s with pretty evenly mixed salt-and-pepper hair along the sides (the top has decided to run away, rather than go gray).
How did this get past the ethics committee?
Interesting! I would have guessed stress's involvement was mostly myth and actually just natural aging based on genes.
Looking at Barack Obama's hair before and after his first term, I would have said the opposite...
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22123771.
My guts are tied in a knot half the time wondering what's going to happen; if this is the end of free and fair elections, and maybe the beginning of something worse (this is a good summary: https://twitter.com/willwilkinson/status/1219638176953839617 ), and I guess that seeps through in my comments.
As to my degenerate comment - it's actually the truth. I've started to get white hairs in the past 6 months, and while I can't prove the cause, as above, I am very worried. My wife's family lived through fascism in Italy, and I've read enough, in both Italian and English, to not feel uncomfortable using that term even if it's a strong one. But, yeah, I guess it's incendiary and not appropriate here until it's in the history books.
A question for you: housing and urbanism come up a lot here, and I think that's also something that's inherently political, but I don't see moves to keep it out. Without doubt, it towers over local politics in the Bay Area, and has repercussions up here in Oregon (and beyond) as you may have seen perusing my comments. I feel the level of discussion is generally better regarding those issues, and it's certainly not as partisan in nature. But it is certainly political.
Dr. Takashi Tsuji in Japan devised a way to generate infinitely many hairs for implantation using stem cells, rather than transplanting a finite amount of candidate hairs from the back of the scalp. Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido also entered into a partnership with Replicel and is working on its own stem cell treatment, which involves the injection of millions of the precursors to hair cells and does not require any labor-intensive transplantation. https://www.folliclethought.com/ultimate-guide-to-hair-regen...
Dr. Tsuji announced that the Japanese drug regulator granted him an accelerated path to regulatory approval. He might have a product on the market some time next year for around $250,000, with the price declining over time. Shiseido/Replicel's treatment is in an earlier stage of development, but would probably be cheaper.
All that being said, I disagree that these efforts are "an exploitation of male vanity." First off, the development of a hair loss cure is not preventing the development of other drugs. If Dr. Tsuji's team of let's say 30 people were working on a cure for Alzheimer's, I don't think we would be any closer to curing that disease. In fact, a hair loss cure could do several useful things for the stem cell industry. It could generate useful insights into the development and application of stem cell differentiation and proliferation technologies. Additionally, a hair loss cure could normalize the use of stem cells on a scale never seen before. Furthermore, stem cell expertise is somewhat fungible, and widespread hair loss treatment via stem cells should increase the stem cell scientist labor pool, hastening the arrival of additional stem cell treatments.
I think it's arbitrary to divide medical treatments into noble/useful and ignoble/vain/unnecessary. Each person has a different and unique identity. Some % of your identity is rooted in your physical sense of self. That percentage varies across people, with a variable sub-% assigned to each physical trait. Sure, identity changes, but a painful phenomenon, something akin to cognitive dissonance, can occur: psychologically, you might never move on from the version of you with hair, and all of the positive traits you ascribe to hair, but your hair can nonetheless fall out. Your sense of self can be at odds with your physical appearance. Again, every person is unique. Not only do we have different brains and different circumstances in life, but physically, some people look much better bald than others.
On a societal level, I believe we should refrain from deriding a hair loss cure, or anything like it, as vain. Imagine someone who is disappointed with his new thinning/bald appearance. His family and friends strongly discourage him from "wasting" money on a "vain" cure. "I think you look fine, and looks don't matter for you anyway! Seriously, women don't care." If that delays or prevents him from getting his hair situation treated, then, tragically, society is prolonging his stress associated with hair loss. That is counterproductive. He won't get it out his head. He'll just further internalize the stress. For society, that's one fewer happy, fully productive person.
There are also tangible consequences for balding. There was a study that showed one group of women pictures of men with hair, and another group of women pictures of the same men without hair. These women were surveyed beforehand, and almost all of them said hair doesn't matter much. Their revealed preferences showed otherwise. Not only were the men with hair rated as more attractive, but they were also rated as more confident, wealthier, and better potential fathers, things that are orthogonal to scalp hair.
Lastly, actual vanity is a two-way street. It will exist so long as differential treatment based on physical traits exists, which is to say, forever and always. No one, literally no one, lacks subconcious bias based on physical traits.