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Asimov on Zoology

In Chapter 30 of his autobiography I. Asimov: A Memoir Isaac Asimov tells of "... one of my more incredible mistakes ..." — the decision to major in zoology in graduate school:

... Oh, I would have done well enough if it were a mere matter of book learning, but it wasn't. There was a laboratory and we dissected earthworms, frogs, dogfish, and cats. I disliked it intensely but I grew inured to it.

The trouble was that we had to find a stray cat and kill it by dumping it in an ashcan which we filled with chloroform. Like a fool, I did it. After all, I was only following the orders of my superior, like any Nazi functionary in the death camps. But I never recovered. That killed cat lives with me, and to this day, over half a century later, when I think of it, I double up in misery.

I dropped zoology at the completion of the year.

This, incidentally, is an example of the division between intellectual and emotional understanding. Intellectually, I understand the necessity for animal experimentation if medicine is to be advanced (provided the experimentation is absolutely necessary and is carried through with a minimum of suffering). I can argue the point eloquently.

However, I will never, under any circumstances, participate in such experimentation or even observe it. When the animals are brought in, I always leave.


(cf. SufferTheAnimals (2000-06-11), CompassionateCarnivorism (2002-11-19), IsaacAsimov (2007-11-28), ...) - ^z - 2008-01-20


(correlates: DependentVariables, Asimov on Lester del Rey, AsimovOnHappiness, ...)