Colin Blakemore

I can’t help wondering…was it really about the guinea pigs? Or was it mostly about being a Protester, an Activist, a Rebel. Was it more about tormenting people than about rescuing animals. I can’t help suspecting, just as I can’t help suspecting similar things about those four guys on July 7. Zealots are like that. That’s why zealots are mostly so horrible.

Some protests at Darley Oaks farm have been peaceful. But other activists launched a campaign of intimidation against the Halls, their family, staff and suppliers. Their tactics, denounced as mob rule by some in the medical research industry, included hate mail, malicious phone calls, fireworks, a paedophile smear campaign, paint stripper on cars and arson attacks. The protests appeared to culminate in the theft in October of the body of Gladys Hammond, mother-in-law of Christopher Hall from the churchyard in Yoxall.

That sounds to me like cruelty for the sake of it, not for the sake of a goal. Just like those shits who gather outside abortion clinics and torment women on their way in.

Colin Blakemore talked about animal rights and the opposition to it and public opinion on ‘The World Tonight’ last night. He talked to Jeremy about the same subjects in the interview in Jeremy’s book What Scientists Think.

Ninety-nine percent of physicians in the United States say that it is essential to use animals in medical research; and more than ninety-five percent of British physicians say the same thing. So whilst it is important to listen to maverick opinion, it is clear we shouldn’t put too much weight on it when one considers that the American Medical Association, the Royal Society, the British Medical Association, and the General Medical Council all state that animal experimentation is necessary.

He also talked both on ‘The World Tonight’ and in the interview about what a huge majority – 90% – of public opinion agrees that animal research is necessary, which is a large shift in opinion from what it had been.

The support from the media, in particular, was quite extraordinary and a big surprise; virtually the entire spectrum made strong statements about the importance of animal experimentation. So the debate served a useful purpose; it produced a kind of national solidarity, which was much needed. This is also reflected in public opinion. The latest opinion poll shows ninety percent of the population in support of animal research. It is significant that there is no other major issue where you get this kind of consensus; we still treat the issue of animal research as if it is highly controversial, as if the public haven’t made up their mind; but they have made up their mind.’

But, the interviewer pointed out, the opinion poll Blakemore is referring to phrased its questions in a particular way (as opinion polls do). ‘For example, one question asked whether people could accept animal research for medical purposes, where there was no other alternative. But, of course, it is precisely the claim of the animal rights lobby that there are alternatives to animal research.’

‘Well, if there are, let’s see them delivered by those people who claim that there are,’ Blakemore responds, when I put this to him…’If there are alternatives, let’s see them. We want them. I don’t know of a single person who uses animals in their research who wouldn’t rather use an alternative.’

The whole interview is interesting. They all are. The Susan Greenfield one is my favourite, but they all are.

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