11/19/2009 Duke opens new lemur center, getting divorce from sordid past.

This is in response to a Chronicle story about the opening of a new lemur center.

Good day from Fact Checker...

We need some background here. This facility was once known as the Duke Primate Center, and it got its name change as part of a PR attempt to whitewash its history, which is quite chilling.

The horror reached its zenith in the winter of 1996, particularly cold in Durham, when three lemurs froze to death and 27 others were injured, many critically. These injuries occurred when the lemurs gathered in a circle around heating lamps -- and the circle of animals trying desperately to escape the cold tightened to push those on the inside into the hot bulbs. Others suffered frostbite and needed amputations of toes and tail tips.

In addition, Duke failed to provide veterinarian care as specified in the federal Animal Welfare Act, which protects the subjects of research from abuse.

Moreover, Duke failed to make corrections that winter despite a series of three inspections by federal authorities. Even though Duke paid substantial fines, Inspector David Kelly said that the fines are not stiff enough to force real change. "I don't have much faith in Duke administrators," Kelly told The Herald-Sun. "The general attitude that they can do no wrong needs to be looked at.... We all make mistakes; they don't like to admit it." (Some stories never change!!)

(The fines -- and criminal charges -- should have been imposed against university administrators personally in the judgment of Fact Checker)

Well the good news is that this seared the conscience of the community, and an uproar finally caused the administration to act. (Does that sound familiar, current Dukies?)

Duke found money to construct a better facility. We hired a new compassionate director away from Yale (she has a UNC and Duke background though) and changed the name to Lemur Center so if you Google it or search it in Chronicle archives, you do not find out the historical truth.

That's why you need Fact Checker.

Final notes: this facility was supposed to be finished in October of last year. I have heard no explanation why construction was delayed and some of the animals will spend part of the winter without accommodations deemed essential to them, until the 2nd building is opened. The Chronicle should have picked up on this, at least.

The Durham Herald-Sun reported some weeks ago that two employees of the lemur center were laid off -- the first such casualties in the university's budget crisis.

Two years ago, an unknown animal rights group in Ohio (of all places) asserted abuse at the Lemur Center. People who Fact Checker relies on checked this out and failed to find justification for the allegations.

These animals are believed to be the closest to humans in the chain of evolution. They are endangered in the wild, and we have the largest colony in captivity. They have provided us with much knowledge about ourselves, and they deserve the care that Duke is finally according them, 13 years after the horrible events in the winter of 1996.

√ Thank you for reading Fact Checker.

Fact Checker, you seem to have a big ego, you didn't really check any of the facts in the article (instead you wrote your own), and your check marks are really the mathematical radical symbol.

In any case, what troubles me most about this is, most obviously, the amount of money being spent. I'm willing to give them the fact that the center is useful for primate research (research being a core mission of the university), but is $8.2 million really the kind of emphasis we want to give to lemurs when we cant even spend a fraction of that to keep the staff from the MCC. I know I "don't get" or have access to the inner workings and logistics of Duke financing, but whatever the bizarre rationale for this is, I think I'm going to remain fairly skeptical. To a certain extent, it doesn't matter what the means are if the ends you're accomplishing aren't worth it in the first place.

Main question: why is "Duke" so blatantly prioritizing "happiness in another species" over the happiness of its own student body?

Sure, you can say this is an overstatement, that Duke cares much more about student happiness than the lemurs. This is undoubtedly true, but the main point is that, from this, we can see that the balance of priority is not stilted towards the students nearly enough.

Fact Checker has in the past and will continue to acknowledge all errors and correct them. Please detail what you think I made up, rather than just shouting. If I knew your e-mail I would send you pictures of the lemurs who were scorched to death.

The Duke community knows what the research and integrity that is symbolized by √.

And thank you for the evaluation of my character. I would venture to guess we have never met and it is nice to know you can divine so much from comments posted on this website.

As for the rest of your diarrhea about how research animals should get nothing and students everything, your heart is so gracious.

Fact Checker, your fact checking of my post is off in itself. Your first point claims that I stated that your post was "made up". I did not say this. I said that your claims did not "correct" the facts that were discussed in the article. While your post might be--and I would even venture to say probably is--true, you are not "fixing" the facts from the article but rather creating content of your own. In a way the appropriate thing would not be for me to say what I think you made up but for you to first state the claim from the article you wish to check and then show how it is incorrect. That is, don't send me pictures of scorched lemurs but, instead, first show where the original article says "no lemurs were ever scorched." This in itself is perfectly legitimate, but to create new contents under the pretense of fact checking is deceptive. Further, while omissions from the article could be considered to give only a partial story, addressing these topics is not strictly checking the ones that were brought up originally.

Second, I should cite the line from your original post that states "That's why you need Fact Checker." As the word ego can be defined as "a person distinguishing itself from the selves of others," I believe your assertion fits to this quite nicely. Self-image is another part of a developed ego, and your personal branding radical sign seems to do that for you as well. While I did not say that you, in fact, had a big ego, I did say that it seems like you do from these indicators, which culminate well in the phrase "The Duke community knows what the research and integrity that is symbolized by √." (note: as I believe myself to be a member of the Duke community and am refuting this claim--if only on a small scale--then it seems like either I am mistaken that I am a member of the community, your claim is false, or you are talking about a limited, personally defined sense of the "Duke community".)

Finally, your fact checking has gone amiss again (or your hyperbole has gone ill-received) when you say I claimed that "research animals should get nothing and students everything." I did not state this, rather addressing a "balance of priority". In this, I do stand by my claim that $8.2 million for lemurs at a time of economic distress does seem like a bit much.

How the hell did you clear the admissions office?

I final question, concerning my apparently unnatural lack of graciousness--while not strictly equivalent--would be to ask if you, Fact Checker, occasionally enjoy hamburgers, chicken nuggets, pork chops, or the (meaty) like.

No I do just fine stuffing myself with fetuses and other body parts.

This will be my last comment on this article; it has been nice discussing with you. In any case, I do find a contradiction in saying that it is perfectly legitimate to slaughter millions of livestock to eat but that it would be a mistake not to spend $8.3 million in order to protect a few lemurs. While I understand that there is more than protection going on, this is irrelevant to the claim against graciousness and the research aspect is another debate altogether.

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