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ttomasic@brynmawr.edu's picture

Human research...

A topic that I feel wasn't addressed enough in class or even in the forums is the potential impact of human research on the scientific community. It is interesting that we would still subject animals to what we ourselves would never undergo, or at least would never admit to allowing another human to undergo. But by do we believe that we are better than any other animals on this planet? I would agree with Paul Neuman's sentiments last week that the only thing keeping us from using human subjects in place of animals is that we are ourselves human and see too much likeness between the researchers and the subjects. After all, we know that it can and has been done, when the subjects were dehumanised by those who wished to do research.

Besides, we are already participating in human subject medical trials, as was brought up in class. Can we really deny an new drug that seems to cure cancer, just because we don't have decades of research on it to look for potential side effects?

Unfortuantely, as good as animal models are, and as willing as we are to value a human life over that of a lab rat, like is the best model for like. It can take into account any and all abnormalities and differences in the human brain and body, something a mouse or rat could never do.

Another interesting point that was brought up in earlier discussion is relevancy. Should research only be performed when it is absolutely necessary? How do we define what is necessary, and who gets to define that? Most of the medical and scientific knowledge that we have now was garnered in some way from animal research, but looking at exactly how it came about would turn our delicate stomachs today. Was it necessary then? Maybe, but probably not. Is it useful now? Without it, we would be as clueless now as we were in the middle ages. Just a thought.

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