Regulation or abolition and anecdotal experience

Participating in various vegan forums, particularly Vegan Freak Forums I frequently read: "But I read/saw/participated in X and that proves regulationist activism induces veganism!" a great deal. Athought this may seem reasonable intuitively, without doubt, this statement reflects a serious amount of confusion when properly parsed.

First, it is irrational to extrapolate a rule from a single data point. Because one swan is white, it does not follow that all swans are. Second, it is irrational to extrapolate from a historical correlation that there is a causal relationship between the two events. Because I drink espresso at sunrise in the mornings, it doesn't follow that it's much more than a coincidence that these two events happen simultaneously (that is, my drinking the espresso doesn't case the sun to rise).

Or, to put it another way, because someone pushed me down a flight of stairs and I became rich from the insurance settlement, it does not follow that this is either the only or the best way to become wealthy. As important, to propose this as a universal get rich quick scheme neglects a number of other independent variables that may not be applicable in many, if any, other instances. Reason tells us that is better to focus work on what we know will make a meaningful different for animals (i.e., veganism), just as it would be better to save wisely and invest wisely should we wish to become wealthy.

Animal welfare advocates often make these two basic errors in clear thinking. They confuse anecdotes for data, don't trouble to look at the data (which is actually available and actually shows that the rise of welfare activity correlates with a rise in animal use over all), and some even refuse to believe the data when it is presented to them (this is the religious wing of the movement). For those looking for research, I recommend Gary Francione's book Rain Without Thunder, particularly chapter 5, as a starting point.

They also assume that because someone is handed a go vegetarian pamphlet and s/he goes vegan, it's a result of the pamphlet. This is misguided. People who go vegan often already hav interests in and'or concern for animals or larger concerns about cruelty, ethics, justice, etc., and the pamphlet/video/whatever provides them with the justification for the decision they have already been in the process of making. This is why they're on the Internet researching in the first place and'or why they don't toss the pamphlet they are handed or have requested at a table, booth or other event into the trash.

If we take what's best for animals seriously, an abolitionist pamphlet (that promotes animal rights and veganism as the lived daily practice of that ethic) would always be preferable in each and every instance, since it clearly explains why people shouldn't use animals rather than confusing people with muddy thinking and promoting speciesism, a continuation of animal use and what amounts to a largely religious (in the pejorative sense of this term) take on our relationship to nonhumans.

There are a number of abolitions pamphlets now available, and I recommend anyone who takes animals seriously to use those instead.
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