Animal Protection > AR Interviews

Quackery, aka Science – an interview with Dr Elaine Hickman

Melbourne-based group Guardians are doing a great job in educating activists and the general public alike on the horrors of animal experimentation, including which charities support vivisection, and which ones donět. They keep their fees down so as to reach more people and are in need of new members, so please do consider joining them.

Lee Jackson spoke to Dr Elaine Hickman of Guardians – A Group Exposing Vivisection. She's a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Guardians Editor and here is what she had to say on this highly contentious subject.

First published in Vegan Voice Magazine.

Q. Have any animal experiments provided useful results?

A. Useful in terms of the advancement of medical science and human health? No. Not from the experimental results of which we are aware. How could they be when such results are derived from unscientific methodology, methods such as attempting to extrapolate data for a human condition from an animal model?

Q. Why does vivisection persist?

A. Because the generally uninformed public believe that it is necessary for medical advancement. Because there are vested interests in its survival. Animal experiments provide a medium via which various companies can produce specific results. For example, pharmaceutical companies can łprove˛ or łdisprove˛ the safety of their products depending upon which species they use.

Q. How much animal experimentation is now being done in Australia? Which industries are the culprits?

A. Unfortunately, Guardians have limited access to such recent local data. Information like that is generally kept behind closed laboratory doors. Our aim is to pry open those doors If we had the resources, it would be invaluable to research this question. We often rely on information from similar anti-vivisection organisations in the United States. Various industries support animal experiments, such as cosmetics, pharmaceutical, agricultural, military, medical and educational.

Q. Is the Draize test still being done on rabbits for cosmetics companies?

A. As far as we know the Draize test is not being conducted in Australia but we believe it still continues overseas.

Q. How long have Guardians been in operation, and how well are you progressing?

A. Guardians have been in operation for almost 10 years now. We have seen many changes over that time, but we still need more funds and volunteers to achieve our goals.

Q. Guardians is fighting vivisection strictly from a scientific point of view. Why not the moral platform?

A. We believe that the fight from the moral platform has been fought for many decades now with little effect. The question will often arise from the scientists: Which would you prefer we experiment on -your dog or your baby? This question misleads the public to believe that although perhaps morally hard to accept, such experiments are necessary to improve the human condition. We fight to educate that attitude.

Q. You must have met many scientists/ vivisectors. How can they purport to admire scientific methodology (scrupulous rational discourse) and yet have no qualms about using, for instance, monkeys in AIDS research even though monkeys donět get AIDS? They hold up logic as a prized symbol but then refute it by their actions. What do you think?

A. I think that such scientists see logic in their methodology because they are detached from the bigger picture. It becomes hard to use your common sense and reason when you are constantly distracted by academic pursuits such as recognition and grants.

Q. Do you really think vivisectors are prepared to change their traditional viewpoint on animal experimentation?

A. Yes. Some vivisectors have undergone dramatic change, come to realise certain truths and made great strides in the anti- vivisection movement. Such change will become more likely when the public donět support their actions, and when the governing and funding bodies withdraw their support.

Q. Xenotransplantation. What animals are being trialled and is it going on in Australia?

A. Once again, such information is generally kept behind closed doors. We assume that it is -why wouldnět Australia (with its current vivisection attitude) join the xenotransplantation circus? Multitudes of different species are being used in xenotransplantation.

Q. Vivisection is extremely lucrative for those involved: How then do we suppose we can stop it?

A. Educate yourself about the truths behind vivisection and educate others. Support organisations such as Guardians. Donět support organisations/charities who waste money on vivisection research. Many organisations rely heavily on public funding and this requires a certain public attitude. Lobby the government to do the same regarding specific research ­ which we indirectly fund via our taxes.

Q. How did you personally get involved in the animal rights movement?

A. I am not personally involved in the animal rights movement. I choose to live my life in accordance with certain principles, but my focus is on the movement toward non-fraudulent research, medical advancement and human health.

Guardians can be contacted at:
PO Box 59, Pascoe Vale South, Victoria 3044.

Phone/Fax: (03) 9386 3778