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Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Culture, featured, Life, Skepticism | 9 comments

Truth Matters – My Take

Over at Transubstantiation, Vandy Beth Glenn, talks about how Truth Matters and why we (skeptics, atheists, rational thinkers) shouldn;t play fast and loose with what peopleĀ might say in order to score a rhetorical point or two. That’s not how we do things.

And I totally agree. A similar incident has appeared recently. I’m not a huge fan of animal testing, but I can certainly see its value when used in the proper way (see here for a discussion of laws, regulations, and ethical considerations). I hope that the days of torturing animals for the sake of cosmetics or some such is over.

Then we get stuff like this

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This was posted on twitter with the statement: Retweet if you say NO to animal testing.

That’s horrible right?

Of course, that’s not the real story. This picture came from a 2011 newspaper article (here). The actual captions reads:

University of Florida vet school students and veterinarians work to spay and neuter cats as part of Operation Cat Nip on Wednesday.

This was a small part of the result of a large raid on a cat hoarder. Over 600 cats were rescued from horrible living conditions. Dozens had feline leukemia and other diseases and had to be put to sleep. More had additional problems like tumors and mouth disease.The cats in this picture are being neutered and spayed before being adopted.

When you have to do this kind of operation on almost 600 animals in less than a week, it looks a little weird. But, by all accounts it was done and done well.

I think that this image was co-opted for some anti-animal testing message because it looks terrible. It’s purrpose (get it?) is to cause an emotional reaction and turn off the thinking centers of your brain. In my experience, you use reasoned arguments or you can be pissed off. It’s very, very difficult to be both pissed off and reasonable at the same time.

So beware of links, retweets and facebooks posts. Before I share something on facebook, I always double check, by looking for the original article.

As an aside, this is equally fortuitous as cracked.com has this “5 easy ways to spot a B.S. news story on the internet” which is WELL WORTH your time.

  • Void L. Walker

    My former sister in law used to be a part of the PETA movement, and I saw this sort of tactic on her part; misinformation for the sake of conveying a point. In my opinion, certain movements (*cough* PETA) often behave as though they are religiously motivated ( I.E distorting facts, blurring the line between the truth and dogma). I think it is important to always be on guard, and certainly not just from apologist nut jobs. Our species has a tendency to give extra room for passion and expression, often quelling reason in the process. Nice article, and I also enjoyed the link.

  • Vandy Beth Glenn

    I hope those cats were sedated, and weren’t clamped into those poses for long. At the least they look terribly uncomfortable!

    Thanks for the hat-tip!

  • Luke Breuer

    You know about the McDonalds hot coffee incident, right? tl;dr McDonalds repeatedly served coffee that was too hot and a bunch of FUD was spread around like her holding the coffee between her knees while driving, instead of being stationary in the passenger seat. Here’s a neat little documentary:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCkL9UlmCOE#t=394

    • Agent_J

      I long argued with people about that case for just those reasons – it’s far different and more complicated than most want to believe.

      • Luke Breuer

        Well, many are used to truly believing their sources, and then predicating decisions on them, decisions which would be morally wrong if those sources were not accurate. And what’s the benefit from admitting wrongness? There’s not very much of that in our culture. Indeed, I almost never folks admit to being wrong in blog comment sections and forums. It’s depressing; pride & image are more important than truth.

    • Void L. Walker

      Nice link, Luke. It’s odd to see you here….I don’t know why, but it is. Glad you stopped on by, though :)

      • Luke Breuer

        Cast your bread upon the waters,
            for you will find it after many days.
        (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

        How’s that for enigmatic? :-p

        • Void L. Walker

          Last time I did that to bread, I had a very soggy sandwich…..bad advice, man.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Ducks got mine…