As an example of how far scientific experiments with animals travel away from the basic ideas of the foundation of scientific knowledge, I found an experimental test report on the website of The Scientist magazine that shows data proving that mice have empathy by sadistically injecting them with acetic acid and then describing fear in nearby mice. At the end of the article is a blog section where dismay at the sadism of the experiment is universally expressed by the readers, most of whom are scientists. Beyond this dismay, a psychologist, Caruso, points out that the experimenters were not actually testing empathy. Not only was the design of the experiment flawed, he shows that the scientists don't actually know what empathy is; the entire experiment was bogus. As it involved the sadistic treatment of animals, and since there was no actual science involved, the activity by the scientists was a felony. Unfortunately, there is a loophole within animal cruelty laws allowing scientists to use cruelty as part of experiments; however, since this is not actually science but fraud the scientist is, technically, a criminal at the lowest level in the US: a felon. As a felon this scientist should lose his right to vote as well his ability to get a passport; his whereabouts should be monitored, and he would not have access to firearm weapons. Since the crime fits the description of heinous, he would if convicted spend time in prison. He would further be punished in prison, as prisoners tend to abuse prisoners convicted of abuse.
The sub-title, of the article by Ishani Ganguli of the research conducted by Jeffery Mogil, is "Adults become more sensitive to pain after watching other mice in pain, the first sign of empathy in non-primate mammals." As important as the article is itself, are the blog-format comments at the end of the article. In one contributing comment, psychologist Thomas P. Caruso refutes the entire thesis of the experiment; he says the animals are experiencing sympathy, rather than empathy. Below his comments, are those of other readers who comment that the use of sadism in experiments cannot possibly produce useful results; it seems logical that experiments done with respect to empathy, have to be done by people who can actually know what empathy is. Caruso points out that their very definition of empathy is wrong.
"became interested in looking at empathy in mice after they stumbled onto an interesting pattern in a large data set suggesting that a mouse's sensitivity to a pain test depends on its exposure to others that have been through the test. The pattern suggested that mice "might be talking to each other" about their pain in ways that changed their response to it, he said."
"In this study, the scientists injected acetic acid into one or both of each pair of same-sex adult mice they were studying, causing them to writhe in pain, and allowed them to observe each other. An injected mouse writhed more if its partner was also writhing, but only if the mouse had previously shared a cage with its partner for more than 14 days." (Ganguli)
Caruso, who is cited previously from this article commenting on empathy and sympathy, commented here that "when a mouse has a reaction based on its relation to another mouse or event, this is not empathy, but sympathy." Caruso here shows that the experimenters do not have the faintest clue what empathy is.
Also of concern is a comment in the article by de Waal, the elephant researcher also cited earlier, that this "This 'highly significant' [paper]...confirms that empathy is an ancient capacity." I find it disturbing that de Wall would rubber stamp this experiment that clearly proves nothing. The cruel nature of the experiment should have brought de Waal's attention to the bogusness of the experiment's design. Tim Dodgshun, himself a scientist, as well as others added comments,
"Inflicting pain on mice by injecting them with Acetic Acid for God's sake...observing them writhe in pain and then "systematically blocking each of their senses, using physical barriers or rendering the animals deaf or unable to smell". To study what? Empathy. The irony overwhelms me. This sort of behaviour on the part of some scientists makes me ashamed to call myself one. And we wonder why people get fanatical and threaten all sorts of retribution for treating animals this way on the flimsiest of pretexts." Tim Dodgshun
"No creature wants to feel pain. In fact, except for some really messed up human-animals, most sentient beings try very hard to avoid pain at all costs. Thus, this 'experiment' is just another reason to degrade/torture animals we feel are 'lower' than us in the name of science and the all mighty dollar." Randy Sandber
"I am appalled that this evident example of gross cruelty apparently is met without comment in the national media. What can I do to as an ordinary individual to put a stop to this type of so called research?" Dwynwen Kovacs