A number of people commented on my double standards in posting the Robo-pigeon picture and expressing my disgust. As I said in the post, admittedly in a slightly weasely hedge, I was aware that this goes on in the rest of the world. Apparently, I wildly underestimated just how much, having not really thought this through. Mea culpa. Or, rather, my bad….
Anyway, as reader Jacob notes, you rarely see pictures of this sort in the west as people tend to have the same reaction as myself and some other readers like Mimi: ugggh. Jacob points out that it’s only through the work of groups like PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that we are kept aware:
The picture of pigeon with electrodes in its head is not an unusual experiment. Undergraduate students in the U.S. in neurobiology do it all the time to rats, and most university biology vivariums have cats and dogs with neuro-implants in them of various kinds including electrodes. It is a common method of measuring activity in certain portions of the brain in response to various external stimulus.
Most U.S. labs would prefer to hide these images, but for China with no PETA on their tails, they published the image for public curiosity as well as for show casing their work in neurobiology — in-flight remote control of pigeons — not a ground breaking research by U.S. standards.