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Debate

Open public debate is the lifeblood of a participatory democracy.

Stiffling debate can be a democracy-killer.

We agree that publicly funded geologists and other publicly funded earth scientists have no responsibility to debate proponents of a flat earth because the flat earth hypothosis is undeniably a fringe idea. Debate can give respectability to claims that do not warrant much notice.

But this is far from the case in this instance. Few honest observers claim that vivisection is not of concern to the public.

Even the US government believes this to be the case. The opening sentence of the 2005 USDA audit of enforcement of the federal law regulating the use of certain species in research labs states:

Animal care and use in the United States is a controversial topic with varying points of view from the public, animal rights groups, breeders, research laboratories, and others.

Our efforts to stimulate public debate in Madison have been moderately successful, particularly when compared with the absence of public debate or even discussion elsewhere in the United States. An exception of sorts was the February 16, 2010 panel discussion at UCLA: "The Science and Ethics of Animal Research." The video can be viewed here. The public was not allowed to attend.

In Madison, the first public debate in eight years was held March 23, 2006:

A year and a half later, we successfully organized another:

And then, yet another on June 17, 2008 on (WISC-TV) Neil Heinen's weekend news show: For the Record, with Eric Sandgren, Richard Davidson, Rick Marolt, and Rick Bogle.

The next debate is set for March 15, 2010:

Dr. Eric Sandgren's willingness to engage critics on this issue should be acknowledged as an important reason for our moderate success in getting the issue in front of the public.

Madison's Hidden Monkeys is a project of the
Alliance for Animals.