Temple Grandin - The Science of Livestock Animal Welfare
(44 minute audio)
…and I die a little bit inside.
For those of you who don’t know, Point of Inquiry is a podcast of a skeptical/rational/secular think-tank organization, Center for Inquiry. Some folks around here probably won’t really care all that much, and may even think that the rational/atheist community is a bunch of arrogant self-righteous wankers (kind of like vegans, but different!), but there does seem to be a quite a few PPK members who keep tabs on the “community of reason.” Personally, I keep the community at arm’s length precisely because of how biased, uncritical, and irrational many self-professed rationalists are when it comes to meaningful animal ethics.
Temple Grandin has gotten plenty of mainstream press that is uncritical of her methodology and heralds her as some sort of a hero for animals. What’s troublesome here is that Point of Inquiry is supposed to be a skeptical of extraordinary claims. Before I even listened to the audio, I had a sinking feeling Grandin would be offered an unchallenged platform. Perhaps if the old host DJ Grothe had done the interview, I would have had a little more hope for some skeptical balance, and not just because he’s (strongly rumored to be) vegan, but because he’s fantastic at challenging guests while keeping the conversation positive and fair.
They really couldn’t find any other animal expert other than someone who designed slaughterhouses? They couldn’t find a zoo keeper at least, or any other animal behavioral scientist whose job isn’t to slaughter them? I bet Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary does just fine managing traumatized rescued animals without an electric prod or the gift of “thinking in pictures.”
Ugh, there were just so many unchallenged assumptions and the usual sad, sad, stories that Grandin offers as positive examples of her craft; it's hard to know where to even begin. I suppose I could only reiterate the usual criticisms of Grandin; there's nothing new in the interview. It’s just a blow to have to hear her assertions repeated in a venue I wasn’t at all expecting. Don’t intelligent, thinking people accept that factory-farming is bad? Why have a spokesperson for the industry rattle off an infomercial for it?
Anyway, all you skeptical, naturalist, science-minded vegans, give a listen, sound off here to remind me that there are actually rational people out there who think that maybe we don’t need to slaughter animals for no good reason after all. And if you are one of the rational, skeptical, science-minded vegan bloggers out there, please, please, please consider posting a response to Grandin’s appearance on Point of Inquiry to hopefully balance out the awfulness.