The treatment of animals has long been a source of controversy. It seems ever since the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England was formed in 1824, there have been long running debates on the topic of animal rights and society's duty to protect them.
It's been reported that as early as the late 1800s, dissection took place in US colleges. In the 1960s, the Biological Science Curriculum Study resolved to institute hands-on study of animals in education. Dissection, the instance of cutting into a dead animal for the purposes of learning anatomy or physiology, quickly became commonplace in biology education. The ethics of dissection have recently come into controversy, especially with the advancement of technology. Groups such as PETA maintain that it is morally wrong and should be abolished.
Those who defend this stance argue that technology has evolved to the point that virtual dissections would be as effective as a hands-on one for the purposes of education.
However, after having participated in a few virtual dissections, they seem to fall under three categories: the videogame type, pictures and videos accompanied by text, and those that detail the dissection through a progression of button clicks.
Not one of those seems to be a plausible substitution for an actual dissection. Even the most interactive offering, the one resembling a videogame, fell far short of recreating the experience. These virtual dissections are more suited as supplementary material in preparation for a dissection than an actual substitution of the act. Computer programs are simply NOT sophisticated enough to reproduce a living organism in a manner that is realistically portrayed and a viable surrogate.
It is my opinion that in courses required for graduation, students NOT be forced to dissect against their will. An alternative should be available to...