Rats and Mice

Imagine a typical laboratory. The image that comes to your mind might be similar to this:


A plain, white room, sparsely filled with people in plain, white lab coats, working quietly. Take a look at The Jackson Laboratory’s (Jax’s) website (https://www.jax.org/genetics-and-healthcare/genetics-and-genomics/why-mouse-genetics#). Does it remind you of a lab?

The purpose of this design may be to communicate to us, that Jax is a no non-sense, strictly professional place. At Jax, science is taken seriously. The manner in which the article is written also adds to the “scientific feel” of the page. For example, the article is summed up with bullet points, which argue for the advantages of mouse research.  The article also tries to keep its voice factual and unemotional.

The large visual (reproduced below), is also kept emotion-free.


Compare that to this image of a mouse:


Overall, Jax is surreptitiously trying to suppress any sympathy the reader may feel towards the mice.

And they have a valid reason for trying to do so.

The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), founded in 1929, coincidentally Jax’s founding year also, is an advocate for the humane treatment of animals. They have an elaborate article arguing against the use of mice in research, and they also present some interesting statistics. Before you click on the link, take a moment and try to imagine what images they may have on their page. Here is a link to their page: http://www.navs.org/what-we-do/keep-you-informed/science-corner/animals-used-in-research/mice-and-rats/.

You probably noticed that NAVS doesn’t have many visuals either. In this blog post, there is a picture of a mouse in clothes. This seems to almost humanize the mouse. Any thoughts of using it (or rather him, now), for testing, would be barbaric. Why is this so? Do we already have some bonding towards it (him)?

In scientific arguments, using emotional appeals, is generally (if not always) frowned upon. The reason is emotion isn’t universal: different people can and will have different reactions. Facts, however, are facts; they are universal.

NAVS hasn’t taken the cheap, emotional path, to argue for its cause. There are no pictures of mice dressed as humans. Instead, NAVS provides some solid statistics regarding the use of mice in research. NAVS has also cleverly planted a question in our minds: “Does the use of mice in research even work?”

“…it is not safe to assume that what occurs in rodents will predict what happens in people.” – NAVS, in their article.

Our safety has been brought into NAVS’ argument. All of a sudden, NAVS is arguing for “us”. Therefore, “we” must be on NAVS’ side, right?

Both Jax and NAVS present strong arguments. Whose side are you on?


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