Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Being a Softie versus Being Soft on Ethics

In my Cognitive Neuroscience class today, the teacher was discussingneural plasticity, and mentioned an experiment which I was horrified by.Infant cats had their eyes sewn shut, and their brain was imaged before andafter a year of development to demonstrate that the visual centres did notdevelop without exposure to light. The cats were then killed and dissectedfor further examinations. The article's citation is:

Mriganka Sur, Douglas O. Frost, and Susan Hockfield,"Expression of a Surface-Associated Antigen on Y-Cells in the Cat LateralGeniculate Nucleus Is Regulated by Visual Experience," J. of Neuroscience,8, No. 3 (1988), 874-882.

Apparently, the expression on my face of hearing my professor clinicallytalk about this was apparent -- she asked me if anything was wrong.I mentioned that I worked for a time in an animal shelter.. and she saidshe'd like to talk about the topic sometime -- she's a big supporter ofsuch things, and that there were large benefits to such experiments.I certainly agree that there are benefits, but that's not really a fullexamination of the ethics of such horrifying research. I'm aware that Ihave some unorthodox positions, at least for someone trying to enter thefield of neuroscience, on medical ethics (I feel that a lot of the detailsof informed consent and similar are too conservative, and that given certainprovisions such as right of withdrawl and protections against physical harm,a lot of the rest of the ethical rules are fluffy and stupid), but in thiscase we're talking about experiments where nothing resembling consent ispossible, and incredible harm is being done to the subjects. It's reprehensible,and in situations like this, I smile on those who take direct action tofree critters in such a miserable situation*. Yes, there arebenefits, and so too would there be benefits to grabbing homeless people offthe street for human experiments, and so too were there benefits to theexperiments some German scientists did in WW2 on their unfortunate subjects,but regardless of the benefits, it remains that sufficiently intelligentcreatures had this misery put upon them without consent, things worse thandeath. No society should permit such things.

On other news,Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli who worked on Israel's nuclear programme, wasreleased from prison (treason) after 18 years there, today. He was being keptthere because he was the one who revealed to the world Israel's not-so-secretnuclear weapons capabilities. He was apparently kidnapped while in Italy, whichcreated an international fuss, and while allowed out of prison,will not be permitted to leave Israel for a year.

Males are unnecessary -- with the right circumstances, femalescan create more females. Of course, no males can be produced (none of thecrippled Y chromosome is around), but that might not be a big problem..

Here's the foot, here's the mouth (4 days later)Insert at will.

Someone sent me this. Funny.GNOME Straw is a neat little RDF reader.

I recently have been playing, to help someone at work, with the perl moduleNetServer::Generic .. it's neat, but the simple webserver provided is veryhorribly broken. We fixed it.. with some work, and now there's a reallyfunny way to check up on my boss.

LINK I do understand that that's a link to a rather more liberal source thanyou'd prefer for an unbiased understanding of things, but the pictures are notvery different from the things described and shown in some of the classesI've taken.

Tags: science, tech

  • Still alive

    Been feeling a bit nostalgic. Not about to return to LiveJournal - their new ownership is unfortunate, but I wanted to briefly note what's been up…

  • Unplugging LJ

    It's about time I pulled the plug on the LJ version of my blog: 1) I'm much more active on G+ than I am with general blogging. I post many times a…

  • Mutual Trust

    I don't know which should be considered more remarkable: That a cat should trust a member of a far larger and stronger species that it can't…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded