I read with both amusement and astonishment Ricki Lewis's recent article concerning the use of animal dissection as a method of teaching anatomy (The Scientist, Nov. 10, 1997, page 13).

It is not only sad but also ironic that in an era of great technological advances and scientific breakthroughs, traditional anatomical dissection is being viewed as "totally unnecessary," according to Nedim C. Buyukmihci's comments in the article. While it is true that alternative teaching methods exist to convey anatomical information such as computerized simulations and plastic models, there is simply no substitute for animal dissection to facilitate the learning of anatomy. Anatomy is not merely a visual science. Rather, anatomy is learned by looking, smelling, feeling, and exploring. To say that the knowledge gained by passively glancing at a fictional, idealized model is the same as that attained by actively participating in surgery is utterly absurd.


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