Animal testing and “experts”


From “Q&A Experts and Studies: Not Always Trustworthy,” an interview in Time with David Freedman, author of Wrong, a book which focuses on how wrong “experts” and “studies” usually are:

What about studies that involve animal testing and take what they study on animals and apply it to humans? Is that really an effective way to determine what we should eat or what cancer treatments will work?

There are some things we just can’t study on humans because it would be incredibly unethical. Of course, it’s a much debated question of whether it’s ethical to study on animals too, but putting that question aside, clearly it can really help science move forward to do animal research. However, the fact of the matter is, the majority of animal research does not translate well to human beings, and in spite of the fact that scientists love to point out that we share anywhere from 90% to 99% of our genes with different types of mammals, we know we’re really different than mice and we’re even really different than apes. Again and again and again we see that drugs and behavior and almost anything you want to look at in animals turns out to not apply well to human beings. So, yes, it advances basic science to ask these questions, but does it result in good advice for us? In general, the answer is no.