The article “A Debate in the Dentist’s Chair” (San Luis Obispo Tribune, January 28, 2000) described an ongoing debate over whether newer resin fillings are a better alternative to the more traditional silver amalgam fillings. Because amalgam fillings contain mercury, there is concern that they could be mildly toxic and prove to be a health risk to those with some types of immune and kidney disorders. One experiment described in the article used sheep as subjects and reported that sheep treated with amalgam fillings had impaired kidney function.
a. In the experiment, a control group of sheep that received no fillings was used but there was no placebo group. Explain why it is not necessary to have a placebo group in this experiment.
b. The experiment compared only an amalgam filling treatment group to a control group. What would be the benefit of also including a resin filling treatment group in the experiment?
c. Why do you think the experimenters used sheep rather than human subjects?