It’s not that the scientists are lying, exactly, about what they’re doing. It’s not that they’re hiding it, either, really. Everything they do is written down as a proposal, approved by various subcommittees, recorded as results, and stored in case someone wants to look at it. The problem is more one of communication:
“Yes, [I found it],” said Arthur. “Yes, I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”
Like the plans to demolish Arthur Dent’s house, the descriptions of what people are doing in laboratory experiments are there — just very, very difficult to find. Most people don’t bother, or aren’t even aware that there are any descriptions out there to find.
For example, you can find, if you search online, some perfectly ordinary “rodent guillotines“. You may be able to find a page, as well, explaining why some research animals might need to be euthanized via guillotine (it allows the researchers to collect samples uncontaminated by euthanasia chemicals). Here’s a page describing research reassuring scientists that decapitation is painless (notice that it’s in response to research saying decapitation isn’t painless, and that it corroborates the original findings, but simply chooses to interpret them differently). You can find masses of pages describing the euthanasia techniques, including decapitation, used by different facilities (look at all those colleges! Did you know that your college tuition funded this kind of thing? Would you have gone to that college if you’d known?)
…how would you know to look for this if you hadn’t worked in one of these facilities? I wouldn’t have been able to come up with the search terms (“decapitation”, “euthanasia”, “rodent”, and “SOP”, if you’re wondering). It wouldn’t have occurred to me that this even went on. What other practices do we just need to know the search terms to find? (Try “cervical dislocation”, “neonates” and “scissors”, “captive bolt”, “hog stunner”, and finish up with “AVMA guidelines euthanasia” to see the full list.) It’s not like the information isn’t out there…it’s just that nobody is calling it to our attention.
What triggered this today was a random blog post from someone else mentioning that, hey, we’re not really saying a lot about this, are we? Has anyone else noticed that people are being really quiet about this? Why?