I’ve seen a lot of questions recently about Americans for Medical Advancement’s Ray Greek. Nothing better captures Greek’s particular brand of animal rights idiocy than a review of Sacred Cows and Golden Geese by Michael F.W. Festing,
There are many biographies of Pasteur which describe exactly how he did this by using intra-cerebral inoculations of infected neural tissue to induce rabies in dogs and rabbits, with homogenates of dried spinal cords of rabbits as a vaccine. . . . It took Pasteur five years to develop the vaccine, at which point he had about 50 dogs that were immune to rabies.
. . .[After immunizing dogs, a mother brought a child bit by a rabid dog to Pasteur.] Pasteur and his colleagues examined the child and decided that they dare not refuse to treat him. [The child, Joseph] Meister did not develop the disease, and by 1 March 1886, of 350 patients treated, only one had developed rabies, and she had not been treated until 37 days after she had been bitten. It has been estimated that 40-80% of people bitten by rabid dogs developed rabies, so there is not the slightest doubt that Pasteur had in fact developed a highly effective vaccine, which has since saved many thousands of human lives. The vaccine continued to be used for many years, until replaced by a vaccine prepared in cell cultures.
On page 33 of this book [Ray and Jean Greek’s Sacred Cows and Golden Geese], it states that “. . . Pasteur used animals as pseudo-humans as he attempted to craft a rabies vaccine. He took spinal column tissue of infected dogs and made what he thought was a vaccine. Unfortunately, the vaccine did not work seamlessly and actually resulted in deaths. Yet, this gross failure did somehow did not detract from the reverence for the animal-lab process.” This account is simply not true. The vaccine did not cause any deaths, it failed to cure one person out of the first 350, for a very good reason, and it was highly successful. The book does not even acknowledge that Pasteur did in fact produce a rabies vaccine.
One of the perplexing things about such animal rights distortions is why people like the Greeks try to get away with such obvious falsehoods. Perhaps they believe that more than a century later the average reader of their book is likely unfamiliar with how the rabies vaccine was created, but surely they must be aware that debunking the false history they put forth is trivially easy. As Festing puts it,
Unfortunately, the book [Sacred Cows and Golden Geese] “. . . is a feat of omission and distortion,” to use the words that it uses to describe somebody else’s work. it cannot be described as a serious attempt to show the limitations of animal research, because any facts that conflict with the beliefs of the authors have simply been ignored, or history has conveniently been rewritten. As a way of reducing the use of animals in medical research, I think this book will be counter-productive, because even if the authors do have a few good points to make, its numerous inaccuracies and distortions make it impossible to trust anything that they have written.
Sacred Cows and Golden Geese (Book Review). Michael F.W. Festing, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals 29, pp.617-620, 2001.