Answering “scientific” arguments of animal rights extremists

From Respectful Insolence at Science Blogs:

I spent a lot of time writing about animal rights extremists who have threatened to harass the children of an investigator whom they view as a “vivisector” and how they fetishize the very violence they decry. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to see that a fellow ScienceBlogger, namely Eric Michael Johnson of The Primate Diaries, appears to share some of the scientific misconceptions that the animal rights extremists when he prefaces an Open Letter to the Animal Liberation Front with:

Vivisection, or what in polite society is merely called animal experimentation, is a barbaric practice that has led to some necessary medical breakthroughs but has mostly served to profit multinational pharmaceutical and cosmetic corporations. I agree with the researchers who published in the British Medical Journal in 2004 that:

Clinicians and the public often consider it axiomatic that animal research has contributed to the treatment of human disease, yet little evidence is available to support this view.

I am also sympathetic to your frustration that, despite mounting evidence that little is gained from this research, its use continues and even grows.

As was pointed out in many of the rapid responses to this BMJ review article, the analysis was poorly conducted and selective. Many of the rapid response letters show the problems with the review Eric cited point out its failure to address any but a subset of the very broad questions it asks. As for benefits to humans from animal research, my field of surgery is chock full of them. Virtually every major surgical advance in the last 100 years was developed first in animal models: transplantation, heart surgery and cardiopulmonary bypass, testing of medical devices, the list goes on and on.

More here.