Media coverage of angry protestors and acts of sabotage claim so much public attention that few of us question the stereotypes that have developed around the animal research controversy. Those who support animal testing are routinely dismissed as mad scientists, emotionless logicians, or sadists with little regard for nonhuman creatures, while animal protection activists are dismissed as hysterics, antisocial radicals, or simple folk who prize rabbits and rats over human beings. Julian McAllister Groves takes a fresh look at the arguments and talks to people on both sides to discover what really motivates them. He probes into their ideas and emotions to understand how people get involved and why the arguments become so polarized.
Living in a university town that is an important center of biomedical research, Groves could not ignore the intense opposition to research using animals. As he began to analyze the formation and activities of local protest groups, he started to attend meetings and talk to activists about their beliefs. To his surprise, many activists emphasized rational and scientific justifications for their commitment to the movement.
Conversely, scientists who spoke with him frequently discussed their use of lab animals in the context of their feelings about pets or a particular animal that they had become attached to. Hearts and Minds looks past the placards and sound bites to get to the intellectual and psychological reasons that people use to explain their positions. It discards worn generalizations and offers a nuanced portrait of people who are seriously engaged in reconciling their ethics and their behavior. Author note: Julian McAllister Groves is a lecturer at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in the Division of Social Science.