Anthony Bellotti addresses White Coat Waste meeting in Washington DCOpposition to research on animals is generally viewed in the US as a cause supported by loopy lefties and disdained by conservatives. But a Republican political strategist who worked on campaigns against Obamacare and Planned Parenthood is using his skills to stop government funding for animal research. Anthony Bellotti has launched a group called White Coat Waste which describes animal research as a waste of taxpayer dollars. “That story was being told in the Planned Parenthood and Obamacare debates, but not in the anti–animal research movement,” he told Science. “I wanted to unite the animal lovers and the liberty lovers.”
Earlier this month White Coat Waste opened fire with a Capitol Hill briefing earlier this month co-sponsored by a tax hawk Republican and a PETA supporting Democrat. They are working together to make government research more transparent and to help eliminate wasteful and unnecessary experiments.
White Coat Waste has also released a major report, Spending to Death, about unnecessary research on dogs. Its message is that:
1,100 beagles, hounds and mixed-breed dogs—even puppies—are subjected to painful, bizarre and wasteful experiments inside federal agency laboratories each year
Taxpayers are forced to pay for these experiments without knowing what’s being done, why and how much of their money is being spent
Five federal agencies spend millions of dollars on dog experiments including exposing dogs to anthrax, forcing them to suffer heart attacks and drilling into their skulls
New polling shows that a majority of Americans—Republicans and Democrats alike—want these experiments phased out, their funding cut and spending data about taxpayer-funded animal experiments to be publicly available
What are the group’s prospects for success?
Science writer David Grimm is skeptical. Liberal-conservative alliances eventually come unstuck over ideological differences. And powerful industry voices and patient groups will argue that animal research is essential to make progress in health-related research.
There is quite a bit of literature in bioethics journals about the ethics of telling white lies to patients, especially with terminally ill patients. But a far more common ethical conundrum has been strangely neglected: whether children should be told the truth about Santa Claus. This, thankfully, has been remedied. Two psychologists have written an article in The Lancet Psychiatry arguing that children’s moral compass could be permanently deranged by the disappointment of learning that their parents have been telling them lies.
Kathy McKay, a clinical psychologist at the University of New England, Australia and a co-author, told The Guardian: “The Santa myth is such an involved lie, such a long-lasting one, between parents and children, that if a relationship is vulnerable, this may be the final straw. If parents can lie so convincingly and over such a long time, what else can they lie about?”
The psychologists follow in the footsteps of Richard Dawkins, who saw through the myth of Santa Claus at the tender age of 21 months. He told a conference in 2014: “Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasies of childhood, magical as they are? Or should we be fostering a spirit of scepticism? I think it's rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism.”
We’d like to open up comments on BioEdge to a discussion of this issue.
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