Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Scientific Mouse

I always find interesting the very sharp distinction some humans make between them and their non-human animal counterparts. Some people might very strongly believe there is a huge difference in human and non-human animals. The fact of the matter is humans are very much like animals—at least biologically. A lot of today’s (and past) medical advances have depended on humans being similar to animals in this way. It’s widely known in the scientific community that mice and humans share virtually the same sets of genes, for example. A classic proof of this is the 1940s study of penicillin in mice. Scientists injected 8 mice with deathly amounts streptococci bacteria. Four of the mice were also injected with penicillin. The four mice with penicillin survived, while the other four died. As torn as I am about the fact that some mice died at the hand of humans and the brilliant medical discovery itself, my point remains the same: humans must share some similarity with non-human animals for these types of studies to have any relevancy to humans. The distancing by humans of other animals, in my opinion, fails to recognize the reality that all animals are physically related in one way or another. A realization of this can help us not only understand non-human animals a little better, but also help us understand what it means to be animals ourselves.

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