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Research challenges the myth among anglers that fish can't feel pain from barbed hooks.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-braithwaite8oct08,0,7423086.story

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Dutch Angua
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As far as I was told, people knew fish could sense pain, but only on a reflex level. You know, when you step into glass, your body already reacts before you realize you're in pain?
They weren't sure if the pain ever reaches consciousness in fish. (Seeing that fish don't have a cerebral cortex, the place for consciousness in all vertebrates)

I'd give then the benefit of the doubt, anyway.

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Dreams of Thinking Machines
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Hell, why couldn't our sun be conscious? I mean it's filled with electrical impulses, and we really can't prove that deep down it isn't organized in some meaningful way, right? [dunce]

I'm pretty sure that certain language-trained apes have something like human thought. However, the idea that fish have conscious thoughts just seems absurd.
Pigeons, rats, and even hives of bees have demonstrated far more intellectual prowess then any behavioral studies of fish have shown me(except possibly sharks, I have not read about them yet).

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Horse Chestnut
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DofM, I'm confused why you are comparing the ability to feel a painful sensation and suffer discomfort to "human thought". We are not talking about intellectual rationalization or the ability to use language. We are talking about sensations and emotional responses.

I don't think it is any stretch to believe that, considering the evidence mentioned in the article, that a fish can feel "pain", and suffer from the sensation.

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Cervus
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Don't most animals have the capacity for pain, or at least the appropriate nerve response? They'd never learn to avoid predators and toxic substances or environments otherwise. AFAIK, pain isn't necessarily related to consciousness. If the body has nerve receptors that receive a stimulus, an instinct would cause the animal to associate pain with certain stimuli, making it something to be avoided.

If fish and lower chordates didn't feel pain (at the most basic level), there'd be no evolutionary need for stingers, poison, or the electric shocks of eels and other critters. Those are used to capture food, but also used to fight off conspecifics and attackers. Now, the perception of pain by the brain is different in various taxa. A fish wriggles and wants to get away because instinctive nerve impulses are telling it that a predator is holding it. The fish's body recognizes this sensation as something to avoid, and from our perspective we call this pain - because that's what our response is to a similar stimulus. Pain hurts. Pain is what tells us something is wrong with our body. Without it, there would be no natural selection. Animals that experience pain from a stimulus and learn to avoid that stimulus in the future will live to breed. Animals that can't feel pain, even at the most basic nerve impulse level, won't be around much longer. If you can't feel a predator eating you, you won't have the impulse to flee or fight back. But I don't think that fish feel pain on the same sentient level as mammals or birds do.

I didn't like this part of the article, though:

quote:
When a sharp object pierces the human body, specialized nerve endings called nociceptors alert us to the damage. Incredibly, no one ever seems to have asked before whether fish have nociceptors around their mouths.
Sorry, guys, but that question's been speculated since at least the 1960's.

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"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Dreams of Thinking Machines
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quote:
Originally posted by Horse Chestnut:
DofM, I'm confused why you are comparing the ability to feel a painful sensation and suffer discomfort to "human thought". We are not talking about intellectual rationalization or the ability to use language. We are talking about sensations and emotional responses.

I don't think it is any stretch to believe that, considering the evidence mentioned in the article, that a fish can feel "pain", and suffer from the sensation.

...Well, to me, the article is talking about more than just emotional and sensational response. My impression is that the author was trying communicate the philosophical implications of animal minds as pertaining to suffering/emotions. I guess I should go over some of my own thoughts regarding the study and animal minds in general.

First off, how could an emotion or suffering exist without rationalization or mental representation? Each time you feel pain are you suffering? My own well-informed belief is that emotions and suffering are products of a concious mind. Of course fish can "feel" pain, but there is no evidence to suggests that they are doing anything more than reflexive responses. And my previous post's point about language training is this: if language-trained apes are actually understanding language then we can objectively determine with a great deal of certainty that at least a few animals can experiences pain in a meaningful way. It may be true that many animals feel a meaningful form of suffering like humans, but I believe that we should establish that some human-like animals (apes) can suffer before we try to apply this standard to birds, rats, or fish.

Beyond that, how would we know if a fish or any other animals had a meaningful sense of pain? We wouldn't. One of the problems is that pain, suffering, and emotions are not clearly and universally defined terms and it is difficult, or even impossible, to determine what pain actually feels like for another animal.

You're right in thinking that it isn't a stretch to say that fish experience the sensation of pain. However, it is a stretch to say that they suffer or feel emotions in a meaningful way when there is no evidence to support this.

The following may not make sense but perhaps it will illustrate the problem I'm seeing:
If I were to say that water was intelligent because it used its innate knowledge of physics to find the most efficent way down a hill would water be intelligent? No, just because water follows the path of least resistants does not mean that it is intelligent. Accordingly, just because a fish responds to painful stimuli doesn't mean that it suffers. This study has demonstrated what many already assumed to be true; fish respond to painful stimuli and they release hormones that change their behavior.
I'm sure an educated angler would accept that a fish has pain receptors. I doubt that angler would state that a fish experiences pain like a human does.
I don't disagree with the experimental data, but I do find the author's psychological/philosophical musings as a bit odd and misplaced.

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Obi Wan: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes!"
Anakin: "Um, isn't your last statement an absolute?"

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Mistletoey Chloe
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How do we know that other human beings have a meaningful sense of pain?

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Doug4.7
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Fish have emotions?

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And now for something completely different...

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Dutch Angua
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quote:
How do we know that other human beings have a meaningful sense of pain?
We don't. Neither can you prove the existence of complex emotions. That does not mean they don't exist.

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AmISalmon
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quote:
Originally posted by Doug4.7:
Fish have emotions?

They have emoticons [fish]

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geminilee
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It seems to me that fish definitely feel pain, as evidence by their reactions to painful stimuli. The suggestion that they experience it differently than we do is more properly philosophy than science, as are such questions as "do you see red the same as I do?". There is no meaningfull way to falsify the notion, since you can not experience their perceptions and any evidence that they feel pain (reaction to noxious stimuli, chemicals associated with pain in humans being produced by fish exposed to noxious stimuli) is brushed off by saying that since they can not think about it, they do not experience it "like we do". I really think that all of this is an attempt to justify causing them pain for pure sport.

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Cervus
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quote:
Originally posted by geminilee:
I really think that all of this is an attempt to justify causing them pain for pure sport.

My family fishes for sport, income, and food. I don't see how human fishing, whether it be for dinner or sport catch-and-release, is more "painful" or "cruel" to the fish than a predator eating it alive.

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"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Dreams of Thinking Machines
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quote:
Originally posted by geminilee:
It seems to me that fish definitely feel pain, as evidence by their reactions to painful stimuli. The suggestion that they experience it differently than we do is more properly philosophy than science, as are such questions as "do you see red the same as I do?". There is no meaningfull way to falsify the notion, since you can not experience their perceptions and any evidence that they feel pain (reaction to noxious stimuli, chemicals associated with pain in humans being produced by fish exposed to noxious stimuli) is brushed off by saying that since they can not think about it, they do not experience it "like we do". I really think that all of this is an attempt to justify causing them pain for pure sport.

There is no evidence to suggest that they experience pain. They react to pain, but this doesn't mean they experience it. Brain dead people having their organs removed are often anesthetized because they react to being cut open even though it is impossible for them to feel pain (quite horrifying to nurses). If the brain dead person is not anesthetized they still release "pain chemicals" and react to (sometimes thrashing) in response to painful stimuli, they do not experience pain though.

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Anakin: "Um, isn't your last statement an absolute?"

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Troodon
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quote:
Originally posted by Cervus:
quote:
Originally posted by geminilee:
I really think that all of this is an attempt to justify causing them pain for pure sport.

My family fishes for sport, income, and food. I don't see how human fishing, whether it be for dinner or sport catch-and-release, is more "painful" or "cruel" to the fish than a predator eating it alive.
I had a discussion on this topic with a friend, and my view is that while both humans and other animals cause animals to suffer, humans are primarily responsible for their own actions. Eventually we may want to initiate a series of planned extinctions of carnivores and take over managing the biosphere in such a way that predation and perhaps even death itself will no longer be neccessary. Until then though, we can at least cause as little suffering as possible ourselves.

Regarding fish in particular, while they obviously react to injury and stress, I doubt that they can feel pain the way humans do, although I'm not certian.

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rogue
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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
Eventually we may want to initiate a series of planned extinctions of carnivores and take over managing the biosphere in such a way that predation and perhaps even death itself will no longer be neccessary. Until then though, we can at least cause as little suffering as possible ourselves.

I really see this comment as the height of hubris. Why do *we* have the right to decide which species live and die based on *our* (*your*) view of morality?

Does our sentience require more of us than other predators? That is a debate for philosophers. I cannot see how it requires that we make wholesale changes to entire species (or even populations.) Humanity's history of making such changes has not been good.
-Rogue

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Cervus
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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
Eventually we may want to initiate a series of planned extinctions of carnivores and take over managing the biosphere in such a way that predation and perhaps even death itself will no longer be neccessary.

Um...yeah. Okay. Great idea you've got there. [fish]

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"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Doug4.7
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quote:
Originally posted by Cervus:
quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
Eventually we may want to initiate a series of planned extinctions of carnivores and take over managing the biosphere in such a way that predation and perhaps even death itself will no longer be neccessary.

Um...yeah. Okay. Great idea you've got there. [fish]
And the lamb shall lie down with the lion....but the lamb won't get much sleep...

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Xia
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quote:
Originally posted by dreams of thinking machines:

I'm pretty sure that certain language-trained apes have something like human thought. However, the idea that fish have conscious thoughts just seems absurd.
Pigeons, rats, and even hives of bees have demonstrated far more intellectual prowess then any behavioral studies of fish have shown me(except possibly sharks, I have not read about them yet).

I think rats experience emotions... Having owned pet rats and observed them closely. They are very intelligent and form attachments with people and other rats, exhibit depression (such as if a cagemate dies) and etc...

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Dutch Angua
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quote:
The suggestion that they experience it differently than we do is more properly philosophy than science, as are such questions as "do you see red the same as I do?". There is no meaningfull way to falsify the notion, since you can not experience their perceptions and any evidence that they feel pain (reaction to noxious stimuli, chemicals associated with pain in humans being produced by fish exposed to noxious stimuli) is brushed off by saying that since they can not think about it, they do not experience it "like we do".
This about sums it up for me.

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Troodon
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quote:
Originally posted by rogue:
quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
Eventually we may want to initiate a series of planned extinctions of carnivores and take over managing the biosphere in such a way that predation and perhaps even death itself will no longer be neccessary. Until then though, we can at least cause as little suffering as possible ourselves.

I really see this comment as the height of hubris. Why do *we* have the right to decide which species live and die based on *our* (*your*) view of morality?

Does our sentience require more of us than other predators? That is a debate for philosophers. I cannot see how it requires that we make wholesale changes to entire species (or even populations.) Humanity's history of making such changes has not been good.
-Rogue

IMO there are two seperate issues - "Can we?" and "Should we?". For now, the answer to the first is "No." and so the answer to the second has no practical significance. I agree that it would be hubris to think that we could restructure the biosphere given our modern-day science and technology. However, one day I hope that the answer to the first question will be "Yes." and I think then it will be our duty to intervene to stop animal suffering. I am certian that some animals can experience suffering in almost the same way that humans do, and once we are able to, we should help them because if we were in their place we would want help.

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Cervus
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Troodon, while I appreciate your desire to alleviate animal suffering, I'm flabbergasted at your notion that "a series of planned extinctions of carnivores" so that "predation and perhaps death itself will no longer be necessary" is the answer. I hate to sound insulting, but...do you really have any idea how ecosystems work? I've re-read your quote to see if I'm misunderstanding you, and I hope I am, because otherwise your proposal is just baffling.

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"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Troodon
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I think that I understand how ecosystems work. Obviously eliminating predators would require major changes to the way animals reproduce, but I think the principle is pretty simple. Take the typical "wolves and deer" situation. If you remove the wolves as well as all the other predators, parasites, and diseases that cause deer mortality, the deer population will keep growing until the environment is exhausted and the rate of starvation is equal to the birth rate. However if at the same time as you remove the wolves you also fit all the deer with a "future-tech" implant that controls their fertility, then you can keep the rate of reproduction low enough that starvation does not become a problem and births occur at the same rate as deaths from accidents and old age.

In short, you don't need predators as long as you can make sure that the average doe has exactly two fawns. If you go really high-tech and make immortal animals, that's fine too as long as they can't reproduce.

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Cervus
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But why on earth would anyone want to do that? I'm still not understanding why you think eliminating all predators, disease, parasites, and death would be a good thing.

--------------------
"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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It would be a good thing for the same reason that eliminating all predators, disease, parasites, and death of humans would be a good thing.

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Fools! You've over-estimated me!

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Finite Fourier Alchemy
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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
In short, you don't need predators as long as you can make sure that the average doe has exactly two fawns. If you go really high-tech and make immortal animals, that's fine too as long as they can't reproduce.

Well, you certainly don't need deer if they're not feeding anything. And deer can get agressive with mating, just like any other animal. Oh god, mating! Animals can't consent to sex! Those deer are *raping* each other!! Better kill them off too.

Also, you are totally my favorite comic book villain right now.

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Cervus
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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
It would be a good thing for the same reason that eliminating all predators, disease, parasites, and death of humans would be a good thing.

I never figured you to be so naïve.

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"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Horse Chestnut
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I know! We could feed all the predators Soylent Green. Then they wouldn't have to eat the deer, and everyone's happy.

[Big Grin]

What?

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