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World-renowned scientist Yuval Noah Harari has spoken out about the role of scientists when it comes to debating animal welfare.
According to Harari, scientists tend to stay away from political and ethical debates – but more and more political and ethical questions depend on scientific knowledge.
Speaking on a video made in collaboration with Compassion In World Farming, he says you can have different opinions on issues like animal welfare and global warming, but ‘if you don’t have the facts, your opinion doesn’t count for much’.
He adds: “Scientists should know, that in this context, silence is also a political statement.
“If scientists know something important, which is relevant to a current political debate, and they choose not to say it publically, this is also an ethical choice.
“Of course science can’t decide ethical questions…but science can decide factual questions.
“Science never tells us what is good, it can only tell us what is true.”
Harari believes science can be helpful in advancing the debate about animal welfare.
He says when it comes to farm animals, there are two key scientific questions: can animals suffer at all, and do animals suffer in practice?
He says: “For example, do dairy cows suffer when they are separated from their calves?
“You often hear people engaged in these discussions saying things like ‘cows cannot suffer at all’, or ‘cows aren’t sad when you separate them from their calves because they cannot experience sadness it is a human emotion’.”
He adds: “Such statements reflect scientific ignorance. There is a place for different ethical views…but only on the basis of scientific facts.
“People are entitled to have their own views, but they are not entitled to have their own facts.”
You canwatch the whole video here