In the name of science..

What does this phrase mean? In some cases I think it serves as a blanket excuse for actions that would not otherwise be condoned, and in others, a legitimate cover for things that NEED to get done.  Who decides under which of these two categories “science” falls?  Sean was telling me last week about a class he took in the ethical/quick/most painless method for killing lab animals.  On one level I’m glad that they’re teaching this kind of stuff to the future scientists of the world, but on the other hand, I’m perturbed that so much of science includes using lab animals that there is a course in it.  In the case of the dissections we did on Thursday, I personally didn’t find the benefits of the dissection worth the deaths of the animals we dissected.  Sure, it was kinda cool to examine the digestive tracts of a crab under a microscope, but my background in marine biology is so limited that for the most part I had no idea what I was looking at (the guide we were provided was minimally helpful to me, no knock on it but I think it was written for people that had a basic familiarity with crabs).  Nor will I be applying this knowledge of a crabs insides to anything that I will be doing in the future.  What’s done is done, but I wouldn’t do it over again if the opportunity came up.

One thing I distinctly remember from this lab is catching the crab and preparing it for dissection.  We chose to use a net to catch him because he fought like hell to avoid capture, snapping his pincers and scuttling every which way.  It made me really sad to see that we would be dissecting something so full of life and vigor.  And then when we couldn’t anesthetize him properly, we decided to kill him by breaking him in half over the edge of the table.  I think its a little bit messed up that don’t have rules regulating the killing of invertebrates.  For my independent research project I’m doing work on some of the small farms on the island and one of them, Sweet Earth, is slaughtering turkeys and chickens in the coming weeks.  I’ve been invited to help out and I think I will if only to better understand something I’ve taken for granted up to now.  A greater appreciation for death might be the only thing I remember about this lab in 5 years, so I guess in that sense it was worth it.




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