Most Outrageously Absurd


Broken homes don’t lead to drinking in prairie voles

The Most Outrageously Absurd Award goes to a group of researchers at Emory University, Oregon Health & Science University and Quinnipiac University, who wanted to examine whether prairie voles who are raised by one parent would be more apt to drink alcohol than those raised by both parents.

This is a question that scientists have had difficulty answering based on human studies, yet they decided to see if they could answer it using prairie voles.

Why did they think this? Because prairie voles have a strong family structure that includes rearing of young by both parents. In fact, prairie voles mate for life and join in the raising of future generations.

In this study, the fathers were removed before birth and the pups were raised only by the mothers. The researchers found no differences in the offspring’s tendency to drink alcohol, whether they were raised by a single parent or both parents.

They also compared whether the voles would be more likely to drink “socially” by placing the drinking apparatus nearer or farther from an adjacent mesh cage with another vole. Researchers claim their results showed a preference for “social” drinking.

Another experiment compared the tendency to drink alcohol between prairie voles and meadow voles, which concluded that meadow voles drank less.

At the end of the experiment all voles were injected with ethanol, gassed with carbon dioxide and decapitated. The only justification they offer for this extreme measure was to analyze their blood ethanol level. It seems they never considered simply drawing their blood.

This experiment was supported in part by funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, for a grant that will run from 2011 to 2016, receiving over $270,000 for 2012 alone. Other funding was contributed by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Center for Research Resources. The total cost of this experiment examining voles to answer a question we have been unable to answer from human studies is impossible to determine. The stupidity of it, however, is easy to determine.

What You Can Do

Please help IDA in speaking out about the millions of dollars that fund this sort of outrageously wasteful and terribly cruel research on animals. It’s time to put a stop to it. The US economy is in crisis, making this even more urgent to address.

Click here to contact your US Senators and Congressperson. Ask for much stricter oversight for granting money to animal research. Insist that all NIH-funded experiments comply with its stated mission “to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”

You can also call your elected officials. Find their phone numbers, or call the US Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.


Anacker AM, Ahern TH, Young LJ, Ryabinin AE. “The role of early life experience and species differences in alcohol intake in microtine rodents.” PLoS One. 012;7(6):e39753.