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Old 19 January 2013, 10:02 PM
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Icon07 Do Crabs Feel Pain? Maybe and Maybe We Should Rethink Eating Them

Do lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans feel pain? We certainly act as if they don’t, cramming them in tanks with their claws wired shut, tossing them as if they were a football. And then there’s the cooking itself — most chefs, professional and amateur, cook lobsters and crabs alive, usually by dumping them in boiling water. Along with the melted butter, that’s the appeal of crustaceans — there’s no fresher food. We may feel a frisson of guilt, or maybe just discomfort, when we hear the creatures rattling around the inside of the pot as the water boils. But that feeling usually dissolves for lobster lovers by the time we crack open a claw and dig out the succulent meat. We wouldn’t dream of doing the same thing to a live chicken or pig, which are dead well before the cooking process begins, but those vaguely insect-looking crustaceans are different. They don’t even feel pain. Right?

Actually, they just might.

http://science.time.com/2013/01/18/d...k-eating-them/
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Old 19 January 2013, 10:10 PM
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Whenever my dad made lobster, he would take a knife and stab it into the lobster's head because he said it was more humane. I don't know how true that was, though.
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Old 19 January 2013, 10:41 PM
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I can't think of a quicker way to reliably kill a lobster than dumping it in boiling water anyway.

I doubt sticking a knife in its head will do it. For one thing they don't really have a brain in the same sense we do, their nervous system is much more distributed (the first ganglion does seem to get labelled "brain" on anatomical diagrams), and the brain they do have is small so you wouldn't hit it with a knife unless you knew exactly where you were aiming. Plus it's behind armour plating, and you'd have to use a fair amount of force to get the knife in, unless you went between the plates, which isn't where the brain is.
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Old 19 January 2013, 11:00 PM
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I don't know if crustaceans feel pain. But I think it's ridiculous that the meat eating public seems to only care about the pain of animals when it's right in their face. Most cows, pigs, and chickens suffer a great deal between birth and the slaughterhouse but this suffering is invisible to the consumer so they can pretend it doesn't happen.

If you don't prioritize animal welfare in this way, fine. But it's silly to worry about lobsters and not cows.
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Old 19 January 2013, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
I can't think of a quicker way to reliably kill a lobster than dumping it in boiling water anyway.

I doubt sticking a knife in its head will do it. For one thing they don't really have a brain in the same sense we do, their nervous system is much more distributed (the first ganglion does seem to get labelled "brain" on anatomical diagrams), and the brain they do have is small so you wouldn't hit it with a knife unless you knew exactly where you were aiming. Plus it's behind armour plating, and you'd have to use a fair amount of force to get the knife in, unless you went between the plates, which isn't where the brain is.
Not only is the brain on a lobster pretty small compared to its body size, their nervous system isn't as centralized as that of a vertebrate, so you'd have to stab it in multiple places in order to kill it.

Also, lobsters are typically boiled live because of freshness issues- once the animal is dead the flesh goes bad much faster than beef or chicken will. That leaves only two real options: kill it and cook it immediately, or freeze it, and frozen lobsters aren't as tasty as fresh ones.

And as has already been pointed out, being concerned with the suffering of a lobster despite chickens, pigs, and cattle frequently being made to suffer a lot more is hypocritical.
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Old 19 January 2013, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
I can't think of a quicker way to reliably kill a lobster than dumping it in boiling water anyway.
When I was a wee lad, my family caught some crabs while vacationing. We got a pot of water boiling and my brother threw the largest one into the roiling water. It turned red immediately, but it frantically clambered toward the edge of the pot trying to get out and my brother used a wooden spoon to beat it back into the boiling water. That was the only one we cooked,. After that, we released all the others at the beach where the motel was. This experience convinced all of us that crustaceans feel pain and that they do not die immediately upon being tossed into the boiling water.
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Old 20 January 2013, 12:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
I can't think of a quicker way to reliably kill a lobster than dumping it in boiling water anyway.
Well, there's this device, which electrocutes them to death.
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Old 20 January 2013, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post

And as has already been pointed out, being concerned with the suffering of a lobster despite chickens, pigs, and cattle frequently being made to suffer a lot more is hypocritical.
And why is it not possible to be concerned about both?
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Old 20 January 2013, 12:23 AM
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The research discussed in the article doesn't have anything to do with whether they "feel pain," in my opinion. I would say it shows they can learn by operant conditioning. We already knew they could sense and react to aversive stimuli (as pretty much any animal does), this shows they can learn from it.
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Old 20 January 2013, 01:02 AM
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Aversive stimuli is scientificese for "pain". If they can learn from it, they must, therefore, be able to feel it.
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Old 20 January 2013, 01:43 AM
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When I was a freshman in high school, in my science class we were divided into groups of four and given a live crayfish. The assignment was to basically harass the poor thing for 45 minutes. We were supposed to poke at it, shine a light on it, put it in warm water, put it in cold water, etc and record its reactions. Which my lab partners did with great gusto. I felt bad for the thing so all I did was pet it. What was the result? It kept trying to escape my lab partners by skittering directly over to me at every opportunity. It let me pick it up and then proceeded to wrap itself around my wrist bracelet style. It tried to pinch my partners.

Unfortunately for me, once I befriend an animal I can no longer eat it. So no crayfish and by extension lobsters for me. This is why I can never visit a farm.

Crabs I can eat. One chased me at the beach once so I can dig in with no guilt.
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Old 20 January 2013, 01:59 AM
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I don't eat lobsters or seafood. This is one of the reasons.
I do eat meat and eggs, yes. But I make the effort to purchase them from places that treat their stock well. Rowe farms is one such place, although I will not buy eggs from them yet as they have not yet completely converted to cage-free chickens. The eggs I just bought are organic - the hens have space and are allowed to roam around the barn at will and have unlimited access to food and water, and are not pre-treated with antibiotics. Also their diet is organic (it explains it all on the inside of the carton). I do not eat things like veal that cannot be produced in an ethical manner. And I do not eat much pork.
However, I have the luxury of an organic foods store almost walking distance from where I work. If I am willing to pay more, (and I am), I can get fair trade and organic food.
I am not deluding myself about the lives of animals raised for food. But we can make more conscientious choices to improve the quality of those lives.

ETA: fair warning, it spreads into other areas of your life. Now I don't use things with parabens, mineral oil, or sodium lauryl sulfate and use handmade natural soap and am planning to try canning tomatoes this summer to get away from the BPA in the can linings. But it's been a gradual thing.
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  #13  
Old 20 January 2013, 02:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe View Post
And why is it not possible to be concerned about both?
The "we wouldn't dream of doing it to a live chicken or pig" line with no mention of what actually is done to them indicates a lack of concern (or knowledge, which for a journalist is roughly as bad).
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  #14  
Old 20 January 2013, 04:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurquoiseGirl View Post
Aversive stimuli is scientificese for "pain". If they can learn from it, they must, therefore, be able to feel it.
Obviously they have a nociceptive sensory system, as the article says. The question is whether they "feel" pain in a way somewhat analogous to the way we do, of it is just another stimulus processed by a non-sentient nervous system. There's no reason that has to be the case for them to learn from it.
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Old 20 January 2013, 02:31 PM
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If it was being processed as "just another stimulus" why would they avoid it? They experience a variety of stimuli all the time.
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  #16  
Old 20 January 2013, 04:47 PM
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If a sensation doesn't provoke a reaction, is it really a stimulus?

With an octopus, it's pretty well certain that the animal is able to learn, remember, and extrapolate based on its experiences. With a lobster or crab, it's harder to tell- quite a bit more of what they do seems to be just hardwired instinct.
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Old 20 January 2013, 05:03 PM
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So why would they choose to go to the other cave, the unknown, in reaction to the stimulus unless it was something negative? The shock resulted in aversive behaviour - avoidance of the shock despite the fact that the environment was a desirable one for the crab. Aversion to the stimulus seems to indicate that it was undesirable if not painful, given the fact that the control group did not do the same thing.
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