Reverie, Ratties, & Racketeers

The Rise for Animals Team, November 7, 2023

In a thinly-veiled ploy for kudos and ongoing public support, researchers are packaging a long-known fact about rats as a newly-realized and headline-worthy discovery. 

Only, there’s nothing new to be learned, and the only thing headline-worthy is the scientific community’s disingenuous, self-serving, and unethical agenda.

Did you know that rats have imaginations? Of course you did . . . and so did scientists.

After almost a decade of invasive experimentation – which culminated in the forcing of water-deprived rats with machinery implanted in their brains to “earn” drops of water by navigating virtual reality scenarios – scientists are exclaiming “eureka”. Indeed, they are feigning surprise at the conclusion that rats – just like humans – are able to imagine and daydream.

There is no doubt that they already knew this, because per scientists themselves:

  1. The “ability to imagine . . . is fundamental to remembering past events and imagining possible future scenarios”. 
  2. Rats relive memories (i.e., remember past events) and plan for the future (i.e., imagin[e] possible future scenarios).

Even a layperson can deduce that, if rats have abilities that require imagination, they must have imagination – yet, apparently, it took professional scientists years’ worth of resources and countless other-than-human lives to make this deduction.  

And, now they are parlaying this pretended discovery into ongoing and future job security. 

Emphasizing that they have finally discovered an “animal model of imagination” – even though humans are imaginative animals and many other-than-human species, including rats, have already been proven to imagine, too – researchers have wasted no time in teeing up their next grant proposals (and next victims): exploring  “rodent brain function to understand the precise mechanisms underlying imagination,’….” and “‘how close [rats] can get to what humans are capable of.’”

This is nothing more than curiosity-driven research, which sacrifices countless lives for the sake of “I wonder…” Yet, the government’s use of our tax dollars ensures that researchers will continue to construct careers out of our capital and our fellow earthlings’ exploitation as long as we allow it. 

Because, for the scientific community, it’s not about helping anyone, humans included.

Rather, it’s about a lot of ugly things (like ego and money and politics and power) that fall away in our daydreams of a just world . . . very possibly the same world being imagined right now by the millions of rats for whose freedom we fight.

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