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Virginia School Takes Down ‘Blood and Guts’ Web Site

It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. That was certainly the case when disturbing images of students enrolled in the aptly named “Blood and Guts” class, which is offered to gifted students at the Governor’s School at Lynchburg College in Virginia, appeared on the Internet.

Students participating in Blood and Guts courseThe school’s Web site description of the course contained images of students mugging with animal organs, posing with pig fetuses, and pretending to eat animal intestines. The Web site explained that over the entirety of the course, students dissected a wide range of animals, including sharks, snakes, turtles, frogs, minks, and pigeons. 

PCRM contacted the Governor’s School to express concern about the course, and the Web site was immediately taken down. Despite that action, Lynchburg’s local newspaper, the News and Advance, as well as other newspapers around the state and The Washington Post, covered PCRM’s concerns about the gruesome course. 

“Sociological studies have demonstrated that dissection encourages an attitude of such moral indifference that students commonly carry out vulgar mutilations on the animals by the end of the lesson,” wrote Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., a PCRM ethologist, in a letter to the school. “This behavior is particularly distressing since these students are among the brightest in their high schools, and they intend to pursue medical careers. The barbaric, vile behaviors that ‘Blood and Guts’ incites bears no resemblance to the compassion required to be a doctor.”

PCRM has suggested that the Governor’s School use non-animal teaching methods for next year’s “Blood and Guts” course. Jim Koger, director of the program, cited concerns about cost as a reason for not using alternative teaching methods. However, there are many low-cost and free methods, such as having students shadow veterinarians and surgeons, or using one of many state-of-the-art dissection simulators. Simulators are often more cost-effective than dissection, because they can be used by many students year after year. In fact, PCRM is offering a free copy of Digital Frog II, an interactive CD-ROM that uses animation, video, narration, and still images to create a realistic dissection experience, to the Governor’s School of Virginia and to anyone who would like a copy for educational use.


PCRM Online, September 2006

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