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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pigs buried in snow in Austrian avalanche experiment

Date: Thursday Jan. 14, 2010 12:48 PM ET
VIENNA, Austria — "Vehement protests from animal activists prompted scientists on Thursday to temporarily stop an avalanche experiment that involved burying pigs in snow and monitoring their deaths after."

"The two-week experiment -- taking place in the Western Austrian Alps -- was trying to determine what factors make it possible for humans to survive an avalanche in an air pocket until rescued without suffering permanent brain damage.
Hermann Brugger, co-director of the experiment led by the Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine in the northern Italian town of Bolzano and the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, asserted the pigs didn't suffer because they were sedated and given an anesthetic beforehand."

"But activists called it cruel and pointless.
Following protests Thursday, Herbert Lochs, director of the Medical University of Innsbruck, confirmed the experiment had been halted temporarily due to the massive media interest in the activists' protests. A total of 29 animals had been selected for the tests."
"It is absolutely unacceptable that these highly sensitive, helpless animals are killed for such an unnecessary test," said Johanna Stadler, head of the group Four Paws.
"People are shocked and outraged that such cruel experiments can even be carried out in Austria," echoed Gerda Matias, president of the International Union of Animal Experiment Opponents.
In a statement posted on the Medical University of Innsbruck's Web site, organizers said the experiment was ethically justifiable and had been approved by a commission in Austria's Science and Research Ministry.
Brugger, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said the study could help humans survive an avalanche and that stopping now would mean that those pigs that already died did so in vain.
"We want to save lives, that's the only goal of this study," he said in an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF.


What an ironic thing for Brugger to say:"We want to save lives, that's the only goal of this study."

Save the lives of humans at the expense of another animal. How can someone think like this? Hermann Brugger, why are we humans better than other animals?
Have other animals on the planet brought the world to the brink of destruction by the building up of nuclear armaments? The fact that some humans thought it was necessary to create these weapons to keep us safe from being destroyed by other members of our species....what does that say about our species? The fact that members of one religion on our planet want to kill members of other religions on the planet (or other members of the same religion on the planet, what does that say about our species?) The fact that members of one race of humans see no problem with the idea of  killing members of other race(s) on the planet, what does that say about our species? The fact that laws had to come into existence to control the behavior of our species, again what does that say about human beings?

Hermann Brugger believes that the main justification for burying these pigs in the snow was so that human lives could be saved in the future. I assert that he and his fellow scientists engaged in their "experiment" not to save human lives, but rather 
they engaged in this experiment using another life form on the planet because they are selfish human beings!  He and his associates are simply interested in their own self interest and self concern. These scientists have decided to place  one's own needs or desires above the needs or desires of
another species of life on our planet!

I assert that Hermann Brugger and others like him have no morals or values, and that is the reason they chose to act the way they do.

As stated at the website:

"Selection pressures facing scientists today continue to escalate. Funding, promotion, and professional survival itself depend on the credit that goes to those who foster a project from idea through publication. Those who publish first, and publish alone, get more credit."
And as stated by Leon Kass, whom President Bush  appointed as chairman of the President's Council on Bioethic :
"Science has become so dangerous, in [Kass's] view, because it is a powerful force, yet one that has been deliberately stripped of moral values by scientists who are trained to pursue the truth objectively."

 Do we really want people in this world, who are given as much power as scientists in our world, to act in ways which are immoral?

Hermann Brugger and his collegues seems to lack some scientific knowledge concerning pigs so I will educate them.
"Pigs have been touted as the smartest, and the cleanest domestic animals in the world. The phrases, “sweat like a pig” or “smell like a pig”, may come to mind. But, consider that pigs don’t have sweat glands, and therefore, can’t sweat (except on the very ends of their snouts). The lack of sweat glands means lack of odor - affording no credibility to either statement." "To compensate for the lack of a natural way to bring their body temperature down, pigs seek out water or mud. Pigs rolling in mud may look uncouth, but they are actually being quite smart. The mud not only keeps them cool, but keeps biting pests at bay, and prevents sunburn."

As Smart as the Primates

"Intelligence research was done with pigs in the 1990s. One of the experiments was to train the pigs to move the cursor on a video screen with their snouts. When the pigs used the cursors again, they were able to distinguish between the scribbles they already knew, and the scribbles they were seeing for the first time. The pigs learned this skill as fast as the chimpanzees."
"All species of pig are smarter than dogs, and capable of abstract representation. “They can hold an icon in their mind, and remember it at a later date,” says Professor Stanley Curtis of Penn State University, who discovered that pigs dominate at video games with joy sticks. Curtis goes on to say, “Pigs are able to focus with an intensity I have never seen in a chimp.”

Smarter Than a Three-Year-Old Child

"Other tests were done where the pigs were taught the meaning of simple words and phrases. Several years later, the instructions were repeated, and the pigs still remembered what to do. The same thing was done with different objects placed in front of them. They were taught to jump over, sit by, or retrieve the item. Three years later, they could distinguish between the items."
"The studies also showed:
  • Pigs lead complex social lives that behaviorists once believed to be true only of primates.
  • Mother pigs sing to their piglets while they are nursing.
  • They excel at video games that would be hard for a young child, and sometimes better than the primates.
  • Pigs dream.
  • Pigs have a good sense of direction, and can find their way home from long distances.
  • They learn from watching one another.
  • Pigs outsmart each other. One will often follow another pig to food before grabbing it away from him, and the pig who was tricked will change behaviors to reduce how many times it is tricked."

"Pigs have a highly developed social structure and their young   clearly learn primarily from their sow mother first, and then from age-matching piglets. In Europe where many pigs have been released to the wild in order to regenerate and sustain wild boar populations -----they interbreed readily ----- the death of a sow even when the piglets are past weaning presents problems, because the sow teaches more than just simple foraging. They teach a measure of cooperation, and family bonding."
"Tests show that pigs in captivity can detect which are their littermates just by looking, in the equivalent of a small police lineup, even after separation and the masking of any telltale scents,  or communicating calls or sounds. In other words, they retain a visual memory of their family group. Their recall  can be reinforced with food rewards to optimize performance in some measures of litter mate identification, such as speed of recognition. In other words,  pigs can sharpen their native memory through focus on task they eventually recognize as being rewarding. They are quite educable on the whole."
"Tests also show that pigs remember where food is stored, even if hidden. In instances where  there are multiple locations of hidden stored foods from which to choose,  they first  retrieve the food that they like the most, or which has the greatest abundance."
  "... previous studies have shown that some pigs deceive their fellow pigs, by holding out on knowledge of where the choicest cache is hidden, and instead, lead them to a less desirable alternate, so as to reserve the best for themselves. This sort of deviousness is also, a lack, another  pretty good indicator of pig intelligence."


What gives these scientists the right to kill another intelligent species of life on our planet?

As stated by   Ernest Partridge:

""We've all heard the complaint that "science is amoral." Indeed, even scientists and philosophers of science persistently remind us that "science is value neutral." Both are troublesome half-truths: in a sense, science is truly value-free, yet in another sense, it is profoundly value-laden."

"Scientific morality"  is widely regarded as an oxymoron, since it is commonly believed that science is "value neutral." This belief embraces a pernicious half-truth. The logic of science stipulates that the data, laws, hypotheses and theories of science exclude evaluative terms and concepts, and that the vocabulary of science be exclusively empirical and formal. There are no "oughts," no "goods and bads," no "rights and wrongs." (The fact that social sciences deal with values descriptively, is only an apparent violation of this rule). Capitalist and communist missiles are subject to the same laws of trajectory. The same laws of physiology apply to the physician who heals, and the murderer who poisons. The "value-free" status of scientific vocabulary and assertion is the "truthful half" of the belief that science is "value free."
"But as an activity, science is steeped in evaluation, for the "value-free" methodology that yields these "value-free" statements, requires a discipline and a commitment that appears to merit the name of "morality." Thus the advancement of science is characterized by behavior that can only be described as "virtuous," and the corruption of science as moral weakness. In other words, the activity of science (that is to say, of science as a human institution) is highly involved with values."

Ernest Partridge continues by stating: "In his little book, Science and Human Values, Jacob Bronowski gives a masterful presentation of the moral preconditions of science. The fundamental moral premise, says Bronowski, is "the habit of truth": the collective decision by the body of science that "We ought to act in such a way that what is true can be verified to be so." This habit, this decision, gives a moral tone to the entire scientific enterprise. Bronowski continues:
"By the worldly standards of public life, all scholars in their work are of course oddly virtuous. They do not make wild claims, they do not cheat, they do not try to persuade at any cost, they appeal neither to prejudice or to authority, they are often frank about their ignorance, their disputes are fairly decorous, they do not confuse what is being argued with race, politics, sex or age, they listen patiently to the young and to the old who both know everything. These are the general virtues of scholarship, and they are peculiarly the virtues of science. Individually, scientists no doubt have human weaknesses. . . But in a world in which state and dogma seem always either to threaten or to cajole, the body of scientists is trained to avoid and organized to resist every form of persuasion but the fact. A scientist who breaks this rule, as Lysenko has done, is ignored. . .
The values of science derive neither from the virtues of its members, nor from the finger-wagging codes of conduct by which every profession reminds itself to be good. They have grown out of the practice of science, because they are the inescapable conditions for its practice."

"Science and scholarship are engaged in a constant struggle to replace persuasion with demonstration -- the distinction is crucial to understanding the discipline and morality of science"
""Persuasion, a psychological activity, is the arena in which propagandists, advertisers, politicians and preachers perform their stunts. To the "persuader," the "conclusion" (i.e. what he is trying to get others to believe: "the message," "the gospel," "the sale") is not open to question. His task is to find the means to get the persuadee (i.e., voter, buyer, "sucker") to believe the message. Whatever psychological means accomplishes this goal (apart from "side effects") is fair game. (When the "persuader" and the "persuadee" are one and the same, this is called "rationalization"). If the message promises "repose," or otherwise is found "rewarding," the simple and primitive tendency will be to accept it."

""Demonstration (or "argumentation" or "proof"), a logical activity, is the objective of the scholar and scientist. Therein, hard evidence and valid methodology is sought, and the conclusion is unknown or in doubt. However discomforting the resulting conclusions might be, "demonstration" has evolved as the best "proven" means of arriving at the truth -- or more precisely, at whatever assurance of truth the evidence will allow. "Demonstration" is exemplified in scientific method (in particular, through freedom of inquiry, replicability of experimentation, publicly attainable data, etc.), in legal rules of evidence, and in the rules of inference of formal logic."

"A scientist or a scholar is an individual who has determined, as much as possible, to be (psychologically) persuaded only by (logical) demonstration. Being human, every scientist falls more or less short of the mark."
"The temptation to resort to persuasion to the detriment of demonstration is universal in mankind. (After all, "all humans, by nature, desire to believe they know" -- their foregone conclusions). But the ability to resist this temptation is a matter of degree. Thus science has been devised to ensure the highest humanly attainable degree of non-subjective demonstration. Much of the strength and endurance of science derives from in its social nature, and the severe sanctions that are entailed therein. Thus the scientist who claims a discovery must tell his colleagues how he arrived at his knowledge, and then offer it for independent validation, at any suitable time and place, by his peers. If this validation fails, the "discovery" is determined to be bogus. If the failure is due to carelessness, the investigator is subject to ridicule" 

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" ( and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (


Hermann Brugger,  and your fellow scientists at the Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine you claim that by burying these pigs in the snow  you and your fellow scientists  will  determine what factors make it possible for humans to survive an avalanche in an air pocket until rescued without suffering permanent brain damage. How did you arrive at this conclusion, and if you cannot tell us how you came to arrive at this conclusion, then  how do you justify killing these pigs who had the right to live out their lives, without being subject to your "experiment"?  Herman Brugger I challenge you to tell the world how you arrived at the conclusion you did!!

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.