The National Institute of Health recently announced its plan to retire the fifty remaining chimpanzees held in national research facilities and place them in sanctuaries. This significant decision comes after a lengthy process of examination and debate about the ethics of animal research. For decades, proponents of such research have argued that the discoveries and benefits for humans far outweigh the costs of the traumatic effects on the animals; but today, even the researchers themselves have come to question the practice. John P. Gluck has been one of the scientists at the forefront of the movement to end research on primates, and in Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals he tells a vivid, heart-rending, personal story of how he became a vocal activist for animal protection.
Gluck begins by taking us inside the laboratory of Harry F. Harlow at the University of Wisconsin, where Gluck worked as a graduate student in the 1960s. Harlow's primate lab became famous for his behavioral experiments in maternal deprivation and social isolation of rhesus macaques. Though trained as a behavioral scientist, Gluck finds himself unable to overlook the intense psychological and physical damage these experiments wrought on the macaques. Gluck's sobering and moving account reveals how in this and other labs, including his own, he came to grapple with the uncomfortable justifications that many researchers were offering for their work. As his sense of conflict grows, we're right alongside him, developing a deep empathy for the often smart and always vulnerable animals used for these experiments.
At a time of unprecedented recognition of the intellectual cognition and emotional intelligence of animals, Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals is a powerful appeal for our respect and compassion for those creatures who have unwillingly dedicated their lives to science. Through the words of someone who has inflicted pain in the name of science and come to abhor it, it's important to know what has led this far to progress and where further inroads in animal research ethics are needed.
"Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals is a brave book, because there is something in it that will anger those on different sides of the animal rights debate [...] Any argument about the use of animals in research has to consider both the harms and the benefits involved. What Gluck gives us is a better understanding of the harms. He tells us that even with the best intentions, we sometimes inflict unnecessary pain; we sometimes start to cut open the skull of a monkey who isn't fully anaesthetised. Even with the protections of the Animal Welfare Act, Gluck argues, the contemporary practice of working with animals fails to guarantee that we respect their interests. To have the frank and open ethical conversation that Gluck thinks we should have, we need to have the curtain fully drawn back, so we can see both the array of harms and the array of benefits. Reasoning fails in the dark."
– Times Higher Education
"Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals is a powerful appeal for human respect and compassion for those creatures who have unwillingly dedicated their lives to science. Gluck tells a vivid, heartrending, personal story of how he became a vocal activist for animal protection."
– Publishers Weekly
"A gem and a most timely work."
– Psychology Today
"Gluck's Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals is a deeply personal and courageous book about his awakening and transitioning from long-time researcher and 'sacrificer' to savior of the sentient nonhuman primates with whom he had the privilege to work. It should be required reading for all people who study nonhumans or who are pondering a research career in which other animals are used and abused 'in the name of science,' which really translates to 'in the name of humans.' This book will make everyone think hard about how science is done and the ethical questions that must be discussed. Gluck's frank and principled message will result not only in better treatment for the animals but also in better science, a win-win for all."
– Marc Bekoff, author of Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals
"After years experimenting on monkeys in a research lab, Gluck vowed to develop 'a thinking heart' about the terrible costs he was asking animals to pay in the name of science. In this he has succeeded brilliantly. Gluck's memoir moved me as no other book about animals has in years. His refusal to hide behind the claim that ethical guidelines today protect primates, dogs, rabbits, and other animals used in biomedical research – they don't, he's absolutely right – offers a way forward in bringing about the changes we owe to our fellow sentient creatures."
– Barbara King, author of How Animals Grieve
"In this beautifully written and erudite volume, Gluck tells the story of his career-length journey from a young, mainstream primate researcher to a public advocate for his former research subjects. Written by someone with an unusual command of both the science and the ethics of animal research, the chapters unfurl with several of the virtues possessed by their author: eloquence, intelligence, depth, compassion, and fairness to all concerned."
– David DeGrazia, author of Taking Animals Seriously
"Gluck tells the compelling story of how his thinking about human uses of primates in research evolved. His story is one of a professional psychologist learning to think beyond the value of his scientific research by incorporating thinking about the circumstances and points of view of the animals involved in the research. Gluck assesses how human beliefs about valid and necessary research with animals can easily be incoherent with basic moral standards. This gracefully written book is a beautiful read filled with insights about how we should and should not treat animals in research."
– Tom L. Beauchamp, coeditor, The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics
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John P. Gluck is professor emeritus of psychology and a senior advisor to the president on animal research ethics and welfare at the University of New Mexico. He is also research professor of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University and the coauthor of The Human Use of Animals.