Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/427

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ON THE DREAD AND DISLIKE OF SCIENCE.

scientific purposes. The animating impulse of an effort to awaken a due sympathy with animal suffering and check an inconsiderate infliction of it is one which so entirely commands my esteem, that I would willingly overlook the flagrant contradiction of people tolerating without a murmur the fact that yearly millions of creatures are mutilated and tortured to give a few men pleasure, to make food more palatable, and domestic animals more tractable, yet are roused to fury by the fact that a few score creatures are mutilated (a smaller number tortured) to discover remedial agents and scientific truths. All the pain inflicted for sport or other pleasure is condoned; the pain inflicted for scientific ends is pronounced diabolical. Is it, therefore, not on account of the suffering inflicted, but on account of the scientific purpose, that vivisection is to be reprobated? Ten thousand times the amount of suffering is disregarded if only its purpose be not that of acquiring knowledge. And that this is so, is manifest in another case. For suffering may be also inflicted on human beings, and on a large scale, without exciting any outcry, if the motive be commercial advantage. Not to mention wars undertaken to push commerce, let us only consider some industrial experiment which will certainly drive hundreds of families from their employment with starvation as the consequence; yet the sufferings thus occasioned, if they excite pity, weigh so little against the prospect of the general good, that if the starving workmen revolt and destroy the machinery, the philanthropist is ready to enforce on them the utmost rigor of the law. Here the social benefit is allowed to override the individual injury. That is to say, an experiment which has the prospect of enlarging wealth may inflict suffering on men, women, and children; but an experiment which has only the prospect of enlarging knowledge must be forbidden if it inflict suffering on animals! Obviously such a contradiction could not be upheld if science were recognized as a social benefit. It is not so recognized. And one indication of this is the frequent accusation that physiologists are actuated by the "selfish motive of acquiring reputation," not by the unselfish motive of benefiting mankind. I will not pause to discuss the question of motives, nor how far the selfish motive may further a social advantage; I will only ask whether the motive of the industrial experimenter is less selfish? Unless science were a social benefit, no one would ardently desire a scientific reputation.[1]

Having indicated the existence of the dread and dislike of science, let us now glance at the causes.

The primary cause is a misconception of what science is. No rational being dreads and dislikes knowledge. No one proclaims the

  1. When one observes those who believe hospitals and colleges to be important institutions, socially beneficial, threatening to withdraw all support unless the teachers openly declare what they do not believe, namely, that vivisection for scientific ends is unjustifiable, one is reminded of the recent outbreak of fanaticism on the part of the Jains. This Hindoo sect has such a horror at the destruction of animal life that a group of the most fervent murdered all the Mussulman butchers in the neighborhood.