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Old 07-31-2019, 02:46 PM
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Life is a cruel joke for pretty much all living things except for maybe humans.


I've been binging a lot of nature shows on Netflix lately.

It has dawned on me, life is a cruel joke for pretty much anything that lives except for humans (and their pets).

Think about it:

If you're a animal, you're either going to die in the jaws of another animal, injury, or starvation.

Insects also have all kinds of fucked up ways to die.

Humans, as far as I can tell, are the only ones that have any real chance of dying peacefully and comfortably (relatively speaking).

Kind of a sobering thought when you think about our place in this universe.
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Old 07-31-2019, 02:48 PM
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Who's laughing?

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Old 07-31-2019, 02:49 PM
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Life's a bitch and then you get eaten.
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Old 07-31-2019, 02:50 PM
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Who's laughing?

~Max

The Hyenas?
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Old 07-31-2019, 02:52 PM
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Polar bears seem to do ok.
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Old 07-31-2019, 03:01 PM
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"...except for maybe humans."

I would say especially for humans.
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Old 07-31-2019, 03:10 PM
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I think the meaning of "life is a cruel joke" is specific to humans. FFS, we thought of it. Not those arrogant aardvarks.
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Old 07-31-2019, 03:14 PM
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I would say that almost no humans die peacefully and comfortably outside those who are drugged up. Especially those that die of "old age" (which means a slow unstoppable nightmare failure of everything in your body and mind.) The peaceful and comfortable deaths are the ones that happen so quickly and unexpectedly that you don't know that it happened. A "peaceful and comfortable" death is when someone sneaks up behind you and shoots you in the head while you aren't noticing.

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 07-31-2019 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 07-31-2019, 03:28 PM
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The Hyenas?
I read that with Cheech's voice.

But in all seriousness, if it's a joke the only ones who might "get it" are humans and possibly God, if you believe in that sort of thing.

~Max
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Old 07-31-2019, 04:00 PM
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Life is a cruel joke for pretty much all living things except for maybe humans.

Shh! They will find you now. Because you know. Try to stay distracted by the TV or phone or other media, it is your only hope.

It is a good life! It is!
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Old 07-31-2019, 04:34 PM
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On the plus side, the vast majority of life can't feel pain. Supposedly only vertebrates can feel physical pain, and supposedly only mammals and birds can feel emotional pain.

So most of the life on earth has no pain. All the single celled organisms, invertebrates, etc.

I get called a pessimist when I point out all the suffering in life. Some people are just desperate to be naive.
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Old 07-31-2019, 04:59 PM
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On the plus side, the vast majority of life can't feel pain. Supposedly only vertebrates can feel physical pain, and supposedly only mammals and birds can feel emotional pain.

So most of the life on earth has no pain. All the single celled organisms, invertebrates, etc.
Say what? I have never heard this before. How would they know?
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Old 07-31-2019, 05:21 PM
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If you're a animal, you're either going to die in the jaws of another animal, injury, or starvation.

Insects also have all kinds of fucked up ways to die.
Such a pessimist! You're not seeing that there are so many incredible ways for new life to happen, and there is so much to eat! Unless, of course, you're in an unfavorable habitat with insufficient food, in which case something else will have so much to eat!
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Old 07-31-2019, 05:23 PM
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Say what? I have never heard this before. How would they know?
The "animals can't feel pain" story is a myth people tell themselves to make themselves feel better about the way they treat animals.
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Old 07-31-2019, 05:32 PM
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"Life is a cruel joke for pretty much all living things except for maybe humans."

And even then only for some.

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Old 07-31-2019, 05:33 PM
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The "animals can't feel pain" story is a myth people tell themselves to make themselves feel better about the way they treat animals.
Sunspace was responding to a post that mentioned single-celled organisms and invertebrates, which lack any kind of faculties necessary to process pain. There might be subjective, nonphysical pain, but such a phenomenon is without physical evidence and likely non-falsifiable.

~Max
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Old 07-31-2019, 05:43 PM
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Fortunately, (as far as we know), humans are the only species with a sophisticated enough sense of humor to understand the concept of a "cruel joke" both in its ironic, and un-ironic sense. To all other creatures, that's just life.
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Old 07-31-2019, 06:27 PM
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Fortunately, (as far as we know), humans are the only species with a sophisticated enough sense of humor to understand the concept of a "cruel joke" both in its ironic, and un-ironic sense. To all other creatures, that's just life.
This reminds me of a debate I had with my ex. I argued that life for feral cats doesn't suck, because that's the only life they've ever known. Sure, life would suck for a homeless domestic cat, because they know how awesome it is to live in an air conditioned house and have humans feed them and give them daily massages.
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Old 07-31-2019, 06:29 PM
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Think not of capacity to suffer but of capacity to reason.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:49 AM
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Hunters know this. I laugh when people wish they could be a wolf, or a tiger, or a cheetah, etc. Every kill I've hung on a gambrel is riddled with ticks, pests, burrowing critters, and I've watched them fall off the animal as it cools. To me, it looks like the life of a woodland creature is nothing but terror, hunger, cold, and constant gnawing pain.

Don't get me started on the fools who wish they lived in medieval times, the old west, etc.

Last edited by pullin; 08-01-2019 at 04:50 AM.
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Old 08-01-2019, 05:50 AM
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Polar bears seem to do ok.
Life for apex predators is maybe a little less bad...until you get old, your health declines and you can no longer successfully hunt. And then you starve to death. Never mind that along the way you contend with all manner of parasites and pests and crummy environmental conditions, and you are forced to put up with them because you don't have access to insecticides, screen mesh, or HVAC.

You know that relief you feel when a few mosquitoes are harassing you at dusk, and you are finally able to come inside and close the door to escape them? What if there was no inside, and what if those few mosquitoes were shitloads and shitloads of biting flies?

2001: Bloodsucker flies torment lions

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Lions in Tanzania are being driven to an early grave by swarms of bloodthirsty flies.

The flies have been particularly prevalent in one of the world's most famous wildlife parks, the Ngorongoro Crater.

There, the blood-sucking insects are literally pestering the lions to death.

The big cats are so traumatized by the experience that they forget to eat, and spend all their time trying to hide, climbing up trees and crouching in long grass.

They are, as one conservation official put it, dying of trauma.

Sometimes you don't even need to wait until you're old - you just need some calamity along the way. Saw a video last year of a lion that had been kicked in the face by a zebra she had been trying to bring down; her jaw had been shattered/torn and was hanging half off of her face. She couldn't even drink water anymore, and was probably going to take a miserable day or two to die of dehydration (assuming she didn't get shredded by opportunistic hyenas).
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Old 08-01-2019, 06:23 AM
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On the plus side, the vast majority of life can't feel pain. Supposedly only vertebrates can feel physical pain, and supposedly only mammals and birds can feel emotional pain.
I'd take that with a large grain of salt. Octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish are all invertebrates but with highly developed nervous systems and ability to interact with each other and the world around them - I would be surprised if they couldn't feel pain.
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Old 08-01-2019, 06:31 AM
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Insects also have all kinds of fucked up ways to die.
A number of years ago I realized that insects all live inside a horror movie.

In addition to starvation, injury, and being eaten by someone else, they also have to contend with horrors like having another creature inject them with eggs and having the larva eat them from the inside out, fungus that takes over their mind and leads them to situations where they are likely to be eaten alive, or just grow mushrooms out of their bodies, and so on. Basically, every movie horror trope you've ever seen or heard of is reality to some insect or other.

On a related note, I recently learned that there are some arthropods that can lose their tails and survive, but it leaves them unable to ever shit again, the waste just piles up at the end of the line. But they keep eating and eating and it just piles up at the end of the line until it kills them.

Yeah, in comparison being human isn't too bad.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:57 AM
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A live as a pampered domestic animal isn't too bad. And being a stud horse would have its good moments, no doubt.

But, for most animals, it's grim most of the time. Nature is truly red in tooth and claw.
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Old 08-01-2019, 08:21 AM
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Life is the only thing you have and you should live it as long and wide as you can. If you can help other animals to do the same then please do.
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:00 AM
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A number of years ago I realized that insects all live inside a horror movie.

In addition to starvation, injury, and being eaten by someone else, they also have to contend with horrors like having another creature inject them with eggs and having the larva eat them from the inside out, fungus that takes over their mind and leads them to situations where they are likely to be eaten alive, or just grow mushrooms out of their bodies, and so on.
They also have to cope with BEING INSECTS.
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:35 AM
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Polar bears seem to do ok.
Just so they evolve the intellect to fix the environment.
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Old 08-01-2019, 12:28 PM
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To me, it looks like the life of a woodland creature is nothing but terror, hunger, cold, and constant gnawing pain.
They don't know they're going to die, never worry about buying auto insurance or becoming involuntarily celibate.

Unlike humans.
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They also have to cope with BEING INSECTS.
Like the Japanese beetles I removed from an ornamental planting this morning and squashed unmercifully. It was good while it lasted...

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Old 08-01-2019, 12:33 PM
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Sunspace was responding to a post that mentioned single-celled organisms and invertebrates, which lack any kind of faculties necessary to process pain. There might be subjective, nonphysical pain, but such a phenomenon is without physical evidence and likely non-falsifiable.

~Max
The claim that invertebrates "lack any kind of faculties necessary to process pain" is of course complete crap. Scientists may have said it, but scientists also said certain humans lack intellectual capacity when such claims suited their prejudices.

A study was done with crustaceans which indicated they experience a "key criteria" for pain and are not merely responding to stimuli. (Cite). Given that we already observe they behave as if in pain, and now we have this study, does parsimony require that we assume they do feel pain, or that we invent a separate process and assign it to them so that we can claim they don't?

A new organ was recently identified in humans.
(Cite). So claims that they "lack a structure" depend on the idea that we have perfectly understood everything.

Scientists studied mice in laboratories for decades without realizing they sing. (Cite). So much for the assumption we know everything about invertebrates, who are vastly more varied than one species of mouse and substantially less well studied.

People feel enormous guilt over their treatment of animals. I know this because I've talked to them about it. They get angry preemptively, they lie vigorously, they change the subject, they get defensive. This isn't controversial -- we all know what I'm talking about. People have a stake in animals not feeling pain.

So please regard claims that any particular animal "cannot" feel pain (or any other experience for that matter) as suspect, just as you would when a used car salesman assures you this creampuff was only driven on Sundays, or your teenager swears he will be home by 9:00pm, or a politician promises he has your interests at heart.
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Old 08-01-2019, 12:47 PM
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Meanwhile, humans with hydrocephaly have demonstrated remarkable cognitive function despite having the "necessary structure" (a brain) largely destroyed by the condition. (Cite). This casts doubt on those who assert someone "lacks a structure" to sense or behave in a particular way -- especially when observation shows the animal does appear to act in such a way.

Last edited by Sailboat; 08-01-2019 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 08-01-2019, 05:15 PM
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The claim that invertebrates "lack any kind of faculties necessary to process pain" is of course complete crap...

A study was done with crustaceans which indicated they experience a "key criteria" for pain and are not merely responding to stimuli. (Cite). Given that we already observe they behave as if in pain, and now we have this study, does parsimony require that we assume they do feel pain, or that we invent a separate process and assign it to them so that we can claim they don't?
I'll admit I was wrong to assume invertebrates cannot feel pain; however, a cursory read about pain in invertebrates suggests to me that the jury is out.

Your cite describes researchers letting shore crabs decide between two shelters, and they would shock the crab for entering one. Over ten trials, the crabs preferred the non-rigged shelter. They tried switching the appearance of the shelters which had the same result. They also tried flipping the crab's starting orientation, and surprisingly the crabs went to the opposite shelter, implying they associated by direction of movement rather than by visual cues. This all indicates learning (in response to pain), as opposed to a reflex.

The same team (Elwood is apparently a leading figure in the field of decapod crustacean pain) did another study three years later but this time they put an opaque partition between the two shelters after the crab picked one, so the crab could not visit both within one trial. Instead of avoiding the shelter associated with electric stimuli the crabs failed to discriminate (as predicted) against the shock-rigged shelter and simply stepped out once the stimuli began (Magee & Elwood, 2016).

There was an earlier attempt to give shore crabs morphine and see if it acts as an analgesic. The hypothesis was that crabs under the effect of an analgesic would not experience pain when they are shocked, and thus be more likely to enter the shock shelter than crabs without morphine. It turned out that morphine reduced the chances of the crabs moving to a shelter at all (Barr & Elwood, 2011).

Elwood attempted to make an argument in support of decapods experiencing pain in 2015, at the end of a paper showing that C. maenas had measurably increased stress markers when shocked. He concludes,
"Although these physiological responses are expected should an animal experience pain, they do not prove the feeling of pain in decapods because absolute proof is not possible for any animal. Nevertheless, coupled with the behavioural responses to a variety of aversive stimuli, they provide evidence of both short- and long-term changes similar to those changes found in cephalopods and vertebrates. That is, the criteria suggested to indicate pain in animals are fulfilled for decapods." (citations omitted; Elwood & Adams, 2015)
Apparently this prompted thirteen scientists - one animal psychologist, one brain researcher, and the rest who specialize in fish/fisheries/marine sciences - to publish a criticism of Elwood's collective work, advocating a different set of criteria for pain used in research on fish pain: "activtion of nociceptive pathways, followed by conscious higher level neural processing" (Stevens et al, 2016). They also presented some methodological criticisms. Some of these scientists are known for going against the grain, eg: Rose and Key think fish cannot experience pain because they don't lack a neurocortex.

Elwood defended his research by saying he never claimed that decapods definitively experienced pain. He points to research demonstrating the existence of nociceptors in other invertebrates, and suggest that an experiment provides support for the same in decapods. That experiment involved local application of benzocaine to glass prawn antennae, which were then stimulated to no effect (where the control group started rubbing their antennae), while swimming patterns remained normal (Barr et. al, 2008). He also says it is impossible to meet criteria of "conscious higher level neural processing" (crustaceans do not have brains in the vertebrate sense, but ganglia). Finally he defends his methodological shortcomings as being a product of the crab's anatomy - for example, he could not measure heart rate without drilling a hole in the shell and distorting results.

After reading the 2016 shelter experiment, I think Elwood is failing on his own criteria, at least for shore crabs. The only criteria actually met is the presence of stress markers and the avoidance of stimulus, but it has not been shown that shore crabs themselves actually learn in response to supposedly painful stimulus, as opposed to a mere reflex, nor that an analgesic prevents the response, which would be evidence that it is pain rather than reflex. Some of these factors are there in other crustaceans, though; but I am unconvinced. Perhaps most importantly, I could find very little - nothing actually - about the neurobiological mechanism. Does something report back to the central nervous system? I think that question is important here. Does the central nervous system then affect the response? Those stress markers provide some evidence, but without a mechanism it is unclear whether that is a case of causation or correlation.

Sneddon is apparently another leading figure in the field of animal pain, especially fish. Sneddon, Elwood, and others developed the definition and criteria of pain cited in the other papers (Sneddon et al, 2014). She also provides a nice overview of the field titled "Pain in aquatic animals", although that was written before the 2016 shore crab experiment (Sneddon, 2015).

All in all, the indications are that it is quite possible that crustaceans feel pain. But I am not convinced either way.

~Max

Barr, S., & Elwood, R. W. (2011). No evidence of morphine analgesia to noxious shock in the shore crab, Carcinus maenas. Behavioural Processes, 86(3), 340-344. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2011.02.002

Barr, S., Laming, P. R., Dick, J. T. A., & Elwood, R. W. (2008). Nociception or pain in a decapod crustacean? Animal Behavior, 75(3), 745-751. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.07.004

Elwood, R. W., & Adams, L. (2015). Electric shock causes physiological stress responses in shore crabs, consistent with prediction of pain. Biology Letters, 11(11), 20150800. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0800

Magee, B., & Elwood, R. W. (2016). No discrimination shock avoidance with sequential presentation of stimuli but shore crabs still reduce shock exposure. Biology Open, 5, 883-888. doi: 10.1242/bio.019216

Sneddon, L. U. (2015). Pain in aquatic animals. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218(7), 967-976. doi: 10.1242/jeb.088823

Sneddon, L. U., Elwood, R. W., Adamo, S. A., & Leach, M. C. (2014). Defining and assessing animal pain. Animal Behavior, 97, 201-212. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.09.007

Stevens, E.D., Arlinghaus, R., Browman, H. I., Cooke, S. J., Cowx, I. G., Diggles, B. K., ... Wynne, C. D. L. (2016). Stress is not pain. Comment on Elwood and Adams (2015) ‘Electric shock causes physiological stress responses in shore crabs, consistent with prediction of pain’. Biology Letters, 12(4), 20151006. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.1006
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:11 PM
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Life for apex predators is maybe a little less bad...until you get old, your health declines and you can no longer successfully hunt. And then you starve to death.
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Originally Posted by Grrr!
This reminds me of a debate I had with my ex. I argued that life for feral cats doesn't suck, because that's the only life they've ever known. Sure, life would suck for a homeless domestic cat, because they know how awesome it is to live in an air conditioned house and have humans feed them and give them daily massages.
I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.
D. H. Lawrence
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:11 AM
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I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.
D. H. Lawrence
What does this mean? Is it to imply that wild animals don't suffer?
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:33 AM
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I think it just means wild critters (to the extent they can be anthropomorphized) are life-hardened and realistic, and they tend not to bitch about their misfortunes in the way a soccer mom does when there's not quite enough caramel in her Frappuccino.

Last edited by Inigo Montoya; 08-08-2019 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:38 PM
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But how can we know that? How do we know that animals don't suffer emotional distress? How do we know they don't mourn their dead, miss the disappeared from the herd or flock?

We don't know either way and to assume we do is hubris.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:54 PM
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But how can we know that? How do we know that animals don't suffer emotional distress? How do we know they don't mourn their dead, miss the disappeared from the herd or flock?

We don't know either way and to assume we do is hubris.
Seems to me that we do know that animals can and do feel end exhibit such loss. Elephants come immediately to mind. Others like whales, dogs, gorillas, etc...
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:56 PM
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"Nature is cruel. We don't have to be."
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:36 PM
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I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.
D. H. Lawrence
But domestic animals have been Woke to the injustices of the world and turned into the whiniest of creatures. Lawrence never had a cat.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:18 PM
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For anyone not convinced that nature is an ongoing horror movie, I give you:

the zombie snail.

If you're the snail, well damn, sucks to be you. This parasite will take over your brain and body. It will compel you to climb out into broad daylight, and it will pulsate and thrust within your swollen eyestalks to make you look like a tasty maggot for any nearby birds. One of those birds will eat you, propagating the parasite's eggs in its droppings. Then your friends and family will eat those droppings, consigning themselves to the same fate as you.

More detail:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucochloridium_paradoxum
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:37 PM
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Machine Elf, you ninja'd me, I was going to mention the horror of the zombie snail! Freaked me right the hell out.

But... I don't think most animals feel the same sort of misery that we modern humans would if we lived outside 24/7 with no modern conveniences. I'm sure you could make them feel distress if you set yourself to it, but the normalities of outdoor life is just that, it's normal.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:43 PM
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I don't know if reptiles and insects enjoy their lives but is it obvious to me that mammals and birds do. Ever watch a fawn playing in a field, or your cat or dog playing when you aren't around? They are enjoying themselves. They don't know what is coming next. Might be a violent death, might be starvation, might be abandonment in old age, they don't know what their end will be.

And nether to you.
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Old 08-14-2019, 01:23 PM
Maastricht is offline
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Huh? Life is long, but dying because you’re getting eaten is a matter of seconds, minutes at most. Sounds like a reasonable deal.

Except for cattle in the meat industry and caterpillars infested by parasite wasps.
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Old 08-14-2019, 01:48 PM
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I'm guessing that even if animals have feelings resembling ours, their life is just all they know so it's not as distressing to them as you'd think.

I've also have the silly thought that hell is being reincarnated as some lower animal.
  #44  
Old 08-14-2019, 04:17 PM
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I'm not convinced that animals suffer the emotional trauma that people do, some animals sure, if you beat a dog every day it has some psychological impact.

Animals that are maimed or disfigured or dismembered in some way don't seem to harp on it like a human would.

I stumbled on a video on YouTube one day where a hunter, using a knife castrated a wild boar, which I guess makes them get fatter, and more palatable to eat. The boar sort of shrieked in pain but once it was over it stopped immediately and seemed fine, I don't think many human males would get over something that traumatic so fast. I think animals avoid something they've learned will cause them pain but they don't ruminate over past pain the way humans do and they don't have enough introspection to analyze what had happened to them. If they did they couldn't possibly survive in the wild very long .
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  #45  
Old 08-14-2019, 11:33 PM
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I'm just LOL'ing over here at the image of a scientist crawling around a beach somewhere and GIVING MORPHINE TO CRABS as one does.
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  #46  
Old 08-15-2019, 12:08 AM
Enola Gay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maastricht View Post
Huh? Life is long, but dying because you’re getting eaten is a matter of seconds, minutes at most. Sounds like a reasonable deal.

Except for cattle in the meat industry and caterpillars infested by parasite wasps.
You haven't seen my cat kill a mouse. It's an hours long process of total torture and terror.
  #47  
Old 08-15-2019, 07:32 AM
Machine Elf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enola Gay View Post
You haven't seen my cat kill a mouse. It's an hours long process of total torture and terror.
On a BBC Frozen Planet episode several years ago I watched footage of several killer whales cooperating to catch a seal. The seal was on top of a small chunk of ice, too far from shore to make a break for it. The whales formed a line and swam rapidly toward the ice chunk and then under it,creating a big wave that washed over it and dragged the seal into the water. The seal quickly scrambled to get back up onto the ice. A few more wave attacks, a few more recoveries by the seal. The ice breaks into a smaller piece, and now the seal is having a harder and harder time getting back aboard and keeping all of his parts away from the edges. Eventually the seal realizes he is screwed; he's getting tired, there is nothing he can do to escape this, and the whales will not relent. Eventually he stops fighting, and you can see him staring at the camera while a whale gently pops his mouth above the water, grabs the seal by the tail, and gingerly pulls him into the water.

This is apparently not an uncommon hunting strategy. In this video (this is not the one I saw), tourists on a boat watched as whales tried for two goddam hours to catch a seal using this method. Imagine the feeling of being in mortal peril for two hours.

Mother Nature is a stone cold bitch.
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