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The History of a Crackpot Idea

There have been both successful and unsuccessful attempts to use the sensory abilities of animals throughout the existence of mankind

Throughout the existence of mankind, both successful and unsuccessful attempts to use sensory abilities of animals have been recorded. Without a doubt, it is an ethical question whether we have any rights to transmute a lower creature into an unconscious hero or not. However, when it comes to safety, as it happened in the times of aircraft development as a terrible tool of war, there is no time to think about it.

Briefly, during World War II the Allied forces faced some difficulties in creating a reliable system for guiding their missiles. While Japan adopted the kamikaze method, the Americans overcame the problem with the help of psychologist, an American behaviorist and university professor B.F. Skinner. In general, he made efforts to develop a pigeon-guided missile. Together with the United States military, the professor at the University of Minnesota was working on Project Pigeon. The aim of the project was to use pigeons for guiding missiles instead of losing people’s lives, and this idea was taken over by the military. By that time, Skinner’s work with pigeons had been well established. Skinner was sure that pigeons would complete the training perfectly. This project was a real program during World War II and it was designed to deliver a lethal payload. At the same time, it was established to protect pilots from any injuries. One can think that the idea of small birds carrying an explosive charge is ridiculous. Personally, I think that this project has done a lot for both the American military and history. Its innovative and unique nature made the project remarkable and memorable. In fact, it might have worked. It is a proven fact that pigeons can process visual information much faster than people. In this way, if Project Pigeon had been brought to life, it would have been successful in guiding missiles. However, pigeon-guided missiles have never been fully tested.

On October 8, 1944 the project was canceled. Since the electronic guidance systems had proven their reliability, the military did not see the need to use such an eccentric idea. Considering this, the project was not taken seriously by the Navy as less creative ways of missile targeting became workable. I believe that the leaders of the military just did not want to spend much money on such a doubtful project. They simply considered it as a great risk to take. Nevertheless, the work on this project made Skinner think whether it would be possible to control human beings’ behavior as well as the pigeons’ one. Undoubtedly, professor’s research on the project made contribution to the development of Behaviorism. In this way, Skinner rejected the objection that humans differed from pigeons. Apart from that, some psychologists, such as Ivan Pavlov, Gustav Fechner, and J.B. Watson, waved off any notion of soul, feeling, mind, or consciousness and stood firm that all human beings’ behavior could be described as a simple mechanical process as response to a stimulus. Even though Project Pigeon was never brought to realization, it played a crucial role in reorienting Skinner`s research towards the possibilities of behavioral engineering.

No one can argue that Skinner’s contribution to science is invaluable. However, when one thinks about using pigeons in the way Skinner proposed, ethical implications of using birds in such a manner should be taken into consideration to the do my assignment.  Indisputably, there are many examples of using animals as weapons in history. For instance, there are cases of using dogs in military communication, using chickens and pigs to detect poison gas, using dolphins, sea lions, and so on. The question is if it is morally right to use animals in such a way. One the one hand, making pigeons guide bombs might sound horrible. Sadly, these little birds would experience stress of a real combat and it would, definitely, reduce their quality of life in different ways. On the other hand, people’s lives could be saved due to the pigeons’ contribution. In any case, if the sacrifice to which the birds are brought does not justify itself, it is unacceptable to subject animals to such suffering.

To conclude, the experiments on animals are widely used in the real world for many reasons. Some of these researches bring harm to animals. Certainly, most often, such experiments benefit people and, in some particular cases, save their lives. However, if there are any alternative methods which produce the same results as experiments on animals, they should definitely be in priority.

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