Charles Krauthammer’s article “Of Headless Mice…and Men,” published originally in Times Magazine in 1998. In what he described as “sheer Frankenstein wattage,” he questioned the consequence and purposes of monsters created in obscure labs around the world. In this case, headless mice and headless tadpole produced in University of Texas and University of Bath respectively. The disturbing scenario of organ plundering from clones was made into the 2005 movie “The Island“. The question of science and ethics, however, has yet to receive the attention from public it deserves. Despite some debates one hears from time to time, everything that carries the label of science still goes on by and large without public scrutiny. Even among my science colleagues, there are those who engage in daily experiments involving killing, mutilating and traumatizing animals. The latest one I learned was to deliver electric shocks to mice to observe changes in the neurological pathway and to find out how memory works. Needless to say, the brain of the poor mice has to be cut up to be observed. I am sure my colleague makes some curious discovery concerning the biochemical foundation of memory. But as far as I am concerned, the memory of the mice consists of nothing more than fear and exploitation by unscrupulous men.


By being silent, we endorse such barbarism which goes on daily in the name of science. While I am not pushing here for veganism or a completely cruel-free society, I am vehemently against unnecessary cruelty and acts which are against common sense. Just like how Mary Shelley had imagined in her Frankenstein over a hundred years ago, there will always be people who pursue their ambition without a conscience and with pure vanity. We cannot stop them. But we should continue to pressure governments and institutions not to fund such activities, or in some cases, even ban or put a heavy price on such violation. A colleague once told me how disgusted, then desensitized after she has been slicing brains for a decade. When I asked why she kept doing it. Her answer was that if she doesn’t, someone else does.


Rather than looking for new knowledge or miracle cure for some obscure disease in so-called scientific programs which governments pour in billions of dollars every year, let us go back to some basic questions we should put to ourselves in our daily lives: Is it necessary? Is it kind?