YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:56 pm UTC

That they do.

Anyways, I'm inclined to start caring about animal rights at the poultry level, and more so at the mammal level. When it comes to arthropods and fish and such, I really don't care. I'm pretty sure that any reaction to pain, for example, is purely reflexive and not processed in any emotional or even conscious level. Based on that, is even torturing a fish really immoral?
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Felstaff » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:57 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:the goldfish that could see would nudge and push the blind fish to the surface to eat. After a few years, the seeing fish died, and the blind fish wasn't able to eat. A few days later, it too died.

That has to be one of the saddest stories I've ever heard. :,-(
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Yakk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:09 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:That they do.

Anyways, I'm inclined to start caring about animal rights at the poultry level, and more so at the mammal level. When it comes to arthropods and fish and such, I really don't care. I'm pretty sure that any reaction to pain, for example, is purely reflexive and not processed in any emotional or even conscious level. Based on that, is even torturing a fish really immoral?

Base off my uninformed opinion, I'm pretty sure that any reaction to pain of anyone with a forum handle "sourmilk" is purely reflexive and not processed in any emotional or even conscious level. Based on that, is torturing someone with a forum handle "sourmilk" really immoral?

If you are pretty sure, and you aren't a comparative neurobiology who specializes in reptile and fish brains, you are wrong to be sure.

Look: reptiles and fish are more distantly related to us than mice, but that doesn't mean they are "merely reflexes" any more than a mouse is "merely reflexes". And the amount of certainty we have in these situations is so ridiculously low (even experts on the subject -- the brain architecture of non-mammals is not something that is a solved problem), that a layperson saying "I'm pretty sure" is being ridiculously ignorant.

In general, the more ignorant of something you are, the more certain you are of it, because you don't know enough to be able to understand how much you don't know. It is the paradox of expertise.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:54 am UTC

I've always heard that primates have the most reasoning capacity and emotional range, all mammals have emotions, and there isn't any indication that reptiles, birds, or fish experience anything resembling emotion. So it's not unreasonable for Sourmilk to think that and hardly necessary to dehumanize him.

According to this rather detailed Daily Mail article from March of last year, there is no consensus on whether or not fish have emotions and only limited evidence that they feel pain. So it's foolhardy to assume they either do or do not. We really don't know.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:02 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:That they do.

Anyways, I'm inclined to start caring about animal rights at the poultry level, and more so at the mammal level. When it comes to arthropods and fish and such, I really don't care. I'm pretty sure that any reaction to pain, for example, is purely reflexive and not processed in any emotional or even conscious level. Based on that, is even torturing a fish really immoral?

I'd rate most poultry and reptiles at virtually the same cognizance level. It isn't until you get to Crows and Parrots and the like that you need to worry about Avians having more complex brain functions than Reptiles.

Yakk wrote:In general, the more ignorant of something you are, the more certain you are of it, because you don't know enough to be able to understand how much you don't know. It is the paradox of expertise.

Which is curious, because he's the one stating an opinion in the form of a question, and you're the one stating it in the form of a fact.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Magnanimous » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:19 am UTC

I won't be impressed until they've trained a full goldfish-based marching band.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Dthen » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:59 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:According to this rather detailed Daily Mail article from March of last year, there is no consensus on whether or not fish have emotions and only limited evidence that they feel pain. So it's foolhardy to assume they either do or do not. We really don't know.


Um, no, we can most likely ignore it.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:34 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:I've always heard that primates have the most reasoning capacity and emotional range, all mammals have emotions, and there isn't any indication that reptiles, birds, or fish experience anything resembling emotion. So it's not unreasonable for Sourmilk to think that and hardly necessary to dehumanize him.

According to this rather detailed Daily Mail article from March of last year, there is no consensus on whether or not fish have emotions and only limited evidence that they feel pain. So it's foolhardy to assume they either do or do not. We really don't know.

You have never seen a bird who's mate has died then. Although, it's still subjective to the extent of "emotion" involved.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Bluggo » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:49 am UTC

Assuming for the sake of argument that fish or arthropods can feel something that is akin to our informal definition of human pain, the obvious question is: why should we even care about that?

There are a number of sociological, philosophical and religious arguments for why I should be try to minimize pain in other human beings, as well as in other hypothetical sapient beings.

But do they apply to fish and arthropods, really? And if they do, is there any reason why they should not apply to, I dunno, protozoa or bacteria?
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Shivahn » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:51 am UTC

Bluggo wrote:There are a number of sociological, philosophical and religious arguments for why I should be try to minimize pain in other human beings, as well as in other hypothetical sapient beings.

But do they apply to fish and arthropods, really? And if they do, is there any reason why they should not apply to, I dunno, protozoa or bacteria?


Um, some of them do? And still fall into that category while not applying to protozoans and bacteria? That's why people are upset by this.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:52 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I'm pretty sure that any reaction to pain, for example, is purely reflexive and not processed in any emotional or even conscious level. Based on that, is even torturing a fish really immoral?
Sure, based on your completely uninformed assumption about the neurology of animals you probably don't know a great deal about, we might be able to conclude that torturing a fish isn't immoral. Kind of like how it's not immoral to vivisect dogs and monkeys and apes if I similarly assume that their reactions to pain are purely reflexive.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Belial » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:13 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Anyways, I'm inclined to start caring about animal rights at the poultry level, and more so at the mammal level. When it comes to arthropods and fish and such, I really don't care.


Why are you assuming that the broad animal classifications (fish, mammal, bird) are hierarchical? That mammals are somehow more advanced than birds and reptiles?

Are you just assuming that since we are the "best" animal, that everything closer to us is better than everything in different categories?

Octopuses are way smarter than cows. Ravens and Parrots are probably about as smart as rats or dogs. It's not a pyramid organized by intelligence, it's a tree organized by who's good at staying alive.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby firechicago » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:19 pm UTC

A professor once told my class a (possibly apocryphal) story about Descartes. See, Descartes knew that animals had no souls, and therefore could not feel any pain, but he was fascinated at the fact that his dog produced an amazing facsimile of what a human in pain would do when he kept kicking it.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Vash » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:20 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:That they do.

Anyways, I'm inclined to start caring about animal rights at the poultry level, and more so at the mammal level. When it comes to arthropods and fish and such, I really don't care. I'm pretty sure that any reaction to pain, for example, is purely reflexive and not processed in any emotional or even conscious level. Based on that, is even torturing a fish really immoral?


Bees are pretty intelligent, for example, we can't be so certain.

I don't care about killing anything for food, though.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:21 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Why are you assuming that the broad animal classifications (fish, mammal, bird) are hierarchical? That mammals are somehow more advanced than birds and reptiles?

Well, in terms of nervous system development, there are hierarchies to be pointed to, and vertebrates have more complex nervous systems than inverts.
In terms of the differences between mammals, birds/reptiles, mammals almost always have more complex nervous systems, and the exceptions are just that. Exceptions. Yes, some species of octopus are probably more intelligent than a chihuahua, but all cephalopods are not more intelligent than all canines.

Bluggo wrote:But do they apply to fish and arthropods, really?

Who said anything about arthropods here? Comparing the nervous system of fish to arthopods is like comparing the nervous system of arthopods to porifera; it's such a jump in development that it's almost pointless to mention in terms of putting them in the same discussion.

Vash, Bee's are not intelligent.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:23 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Why are you assuming that the broad animal classifications (fish, mammal, bird) are hierarchical? That mammals are somehow more advanced than birds and reptiles?

Does that matter though? Why not work by "being more like us"? That doesn't even require some idea that humans are the pinnacle of creation. Just that our morality is in its essence about human beings, and that its concepts only apply to other things if they resemble human beings enough.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:24 pm UTC

Vash wrote:I don't care about killing anything for food, though.
Awesome. BBQ at Vash's house!
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Vash » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:06 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'd rate most poultry and reptiles at virtually the same cognizance level. It isn't until you get to Crows and Parrots and the like that you need to worry about Avians having more complex brain functions than Reptiles.


Not true, at all, actually. If you were to compare crows, parrots, ravens, and others to primates, and all birds to mammals, that may be more true. Even pigeons, for example, though, maybe be similarly intelligent to primates. They tend to be very literal, so testing their intelligence on abstract items can be more tricky.

Birds in general are very intelligent. Comparing birds to mammals is tricky business, though, as is comparing anything to anything, really. I do not know enough of the details to make reasonably solid comparisons, except to some degree for some birds and some mammals.

Reptiles are not a monophyletic group, btw.

As for intelligence, even iguanas, for example, are surprisingly intelligent.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:21 pm UTC

[Citation needed].
Everything I've read places pigeons significantly below the intelligence of rats, and,
Vash wrote:Comparing birds to mammals is tricky business, though, as is comparing anything to anything, really.

Comparing animal intelligence is something that is done frequently, and has a good deal of actual science supporting the comparisons being made. While it is certainly a multifaceted enterprise and requires the awknowledgement of varying degrees or types of intelligence, comparisons can be made. For example, a bird may have significantly stronger spatial recognition than a mammal; that doesn't mean that is in possession of strong problem solving skills, or has a longer memory.

Vash wrote:Even pigeons, for example, though, maybe be similarly intelligent to primates.

But this, this is almost unequivocally false. Even comparing the stupidest of the new world primates to the smartest pidgeon.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:30 pm UTC

firechicago wrote:A professor once told my class a (possibly apocryphal) story about Descartes. See, Descartes knew that animals had no souls, and therefore could not feel any pain, but he was fascinated at the fact that his dog produced an amazing facsimile of what a human in pain would do when he kept kicking it.

Oh my. That is a great example.
Even pain itself is subjective to individuals. We will go through a painful procedure, wisdom teeth removed or an operation, if it is going to be for the good. As it it will reduce pain in the future, or has some other benefit. But we do not like it when someone makes us feel pain for "no good reason". Is a little trick worth it? But I don't even think they use real fish in half those tricks. The other half they may do. :/
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Telchar » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:32 pm UTC

Vash wrote:Not true, at all, actually. If you were to compare crows, parrots, ravens, and others to primates, and all birds to mammals, that may be more true. Even pigeons, for example, though, maybe be similarly intelligent to primates. They tend to be very literal, so testing their intelligence on abstract items can be more tricky.

Birds in general are very intelligent. Comparing birds to mammals is tricky business, though, as is comparing anything to anything, really. I do not know enough of the details to make reasonably solid comparisons, except to some degree for some birds and some mammals.

Reptiles are not a monophyletic group, btw.

As for intelligence, even iguanas, for example, are surprisingly intelligent.


Source?

Speaking as someone who is keeping/has kept a vareity of varanids and tupanimbi I can tell you that there intelligence matches most cats (box training, sociability, facial recognition and playfulness). While some birds are smarter than most reptiles most brids are as intelligent as most reptiles.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:47 pm UTC

I don't buy that pigeons are that intelligent, but most corvids and some parrots are probably smarter than quite a few of them. So the point remains that comparing entire taxa is as stupid.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:49 pm UTC

No, the point remains that exceptions exist, but taxa comparisons are still valid.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:52 pm UTC

That mammals are somehow more advanced than birds and reptiles?


In general they are.

I thought I added the necessary qualifiers: given my knowledge of animal neurology, I believe that the decisions I've made are moral. If somebody has a counter-claim as to why they're not, I'd like to hear it.

And with the Descartes thing: my entire point was that a dog's reaction to pain is not the same as a fish's reaction to pain, even though they appear similar. This might be wrong, but a dog's nervous system is significantly more advanced than, say, an anchovy's
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Telchar » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:02 pm UTC

But you're equivocating advanced and feeling pain. Earthworms have super basic nervous systems but can still move. Do they feel pain? Dunno, but when they are squirming around while you stick pins in them it's difficult to watch.

Keep in mind pain is a product of evolution that tells a complex organsim not to do something. In theory, all organsims could put pain to good use.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Belial » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:17 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:No, the point remains that exceptions exist, but taxa comparisons are still valid.


Except we don't eat entire taxa, or train entire taxa, or experiment on entire taxa. So saying "this is a bird, and birds are stupid, therefore this is stupid" is, on top of being largely inaccurate, also an entirely pointless generalization when you could easily say something like "this is an emu, emus are dumb as hell, therefore..."
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:24 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
That mammals are somehow more advanced than birds and reptiles?
In general they are.
Define "advanced", please. Because all living animals have had the same amount of time to evolve their present characteristics.

Izawwlgood wrote:No, the point remains that exceptions exist, but taxa comparisons are still valid.
Exceptions exist, but mammals are basically bats that are mostly blind but have very good hearing.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:29 pm UTC

Both of you are making reverse exceptions. Saying 'birds have wings and fly with few exceptions like penguins, ostriches, and kiwi's' is what I'm saying. You're saying 'some species of octopus is really smart and therefor, we can't disregard mollusks as being as smart as mammals'.

Comparisons of averages across a taxa is fine, when you acknowledge the exceptions. Dismissing generalizations because of exceptions isn't.

EDIT: I didn't say that all birds are stupid, I acknowledged the exceptions and said 'most birds are less intelligent than most primates', and specifically pointed to pigeons as almost certainly being stupider than even the stupidest primate.
EDITEDIT: Mammals have larger cerebrums per body size than all other taxa. That means mammalian nervous systems are more adapted towards intelligence than non-mammalian nervous systems. This is a generalization, meaning there are very intelligent [other organisms] and very stupid mammals, but the trend holds true.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:54 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:[Citation needed]


Telchar wrote:Source?


I'm calling this on this entire thread. Personal observations don't count unless you are a biologist or neurologist who made them as part of a structured study.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:25 pm UTC


Keep in mind pain is a product of evolution that tells a complex organsim not to do something. In theory, all organsims could put pain to good use.



I wasn't talking about the ability to experience pain, or at least I didn't mean to. If we simply define pain as a negative motivator as a response to harmful stimulus, then every organism has pain. I'm talking about the ability to recognize what pain is and make some sort of decision regarding it, not a reflexive reaction to it. When a dog gets kicked, depending on the situation it might attack the kicker or piss itself. There is clearly processing of some sort going on.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:28 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:I'm calling this on this entire thread. Personal observations don't count unless you are a biologist or neurologist who made them as part of a structured study.

Does college or graduate level coursework in neurology, embryology, developmental biology, animal behavior, and evolutionary biology count? I have personally dissected at least three organisms from every taxa mentioned in this thread. I am currently working in a neurology lab.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby JBJ » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:58 pm UTC

This paper by Temple Grandin gives a very good summary of pain, fear, and distress in animals. Covers mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
Short version; All mammals have a sufficiently developed cortex to feel pain and will engage in behavior to avoid pain. Birds and reptiles have similar structures and show pain avoidance, but pain guarding behavior disappears when faced with environmental stress. A study on fish shows they have the same receptors for pain and also engage in pain avoiding behavior.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:04 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I have personally dissected at least three organisms from every taxa mentioned in this thread.
Meh, I think believing common but completely false myths about the intelligence of the animals we're discussing somewhat cancels out any hands-on knowledge you might have about how their organs look...

(Also, you've dissected at least three bats and three corvids and three primates?)
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:14 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:(Also, you've dissected at least three bats and three corvids and three primates?)

I forgot about the bats, so, I guess I have withdraw that claim. And in retrospect, I suppose only two Crows, as I was given tissue samples subsequent that, so didn't do further harvesting myself.

gmalivuk wrote:Meh, I think believing common but completely false myths about the intelligence of the animals we're discussing somewhat cancels out any hands-on knowledge you might have about how their organs look...

I'm not sure I agree, but aside from my initial mistaken belief about goldfish memory, was there anything in particular you felt was a completely false myth?

And as for their neurology, I think Class relationships are reasonable generalizations to make, as long as, as I said, you acknowledge the exceptions. For example, I am going to claim that mollusks, aside from certain cephalopods, have incredibly primitive intelligence compared to mammals. Is that a myth?
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:28 pm UTC

But would it be an advantageous thing to get those mollusks and dance them around in a puppet show while still alive?
Even with live worms, peoples sensibility could be tested to the limit if you decided to "torture" them. Or at the least use live worms as part of a show or trick.
One of the biggest problems with the fish trick is no one knows how it is done. So they assume it's a cruel or unkind thing. If the fish feel pain or not, there are those who do not like living creatures abused.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:37 pm UTC

Yeah, I'm not disagreeing that causing an organism undue pain is kind of shady, but what the discussion seems to have transitioned to is whether or not we can put mammals and fish/reptiles/birds on the same playing field when discussing pain. The article linked by JBJ seems to indicate that while all of the aforementioned classes feel pain and fear, they experience/react differently.

I'm not suggesting that because mammals generally have higher nervous functions that we are the only class worth worry about, but that comparing the classes is worth recognizing. The issue you have in terms of cruelty to other animals is likely tied to how well you can anthropomorphize that animal, and what your personal limits are. I don't care about pain caused to worms. I don't wholly care about pain caused to goldfish. I'm a little iffy about pain caused to reptiles, pretty iffy about pain caused to birds, and pretty uncomfortable with pain caused to mammals.

EDIT: I realize my claim earlier was that 'taxa comparisons are valid'. I need to redact that and change it to 'class comparisons are valid'.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby nowfocus » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:08 pm UTC

Stories like confirm my equation:
Let A be an animal rights story, and P(A) be the probability said story makes the news.
Lets normalize the amount of responsibility globally to 1, and define R as the responsibility the target audience has for said action. Then 1-R is the responsibility other people have. Let E be the amount of effort the target audience would have to undergo to eliminate personal responsibility.

Then, P(A|R,E) will be a decreasing function of R and E.

What's my point? That the actual damage to animal welfare is completely independent of this process. If we actually cared about animal welfare, rather than we'd publish stories where the target audience has a large personal responsibility, and would take a relatively small effort to change.

What do we get instead? Stories from far away that we can all get together and be outraged about without having to do a single damn thing.

A few hundred seals in Canada that might die cruelly at the end of a life in nature.
7 dogs in Michael Vicks mansion.
Some bulls in Spain.
6 goldfish in China.

I know its no ones fault here, it just frustrates me how news is about entertainment, not information.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby Vash » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:26 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Vash, Bee's are not intelligent.


Is that a conclusion you've come to from reading the research? There seem to be surprisingly advanced cognitive capacities.

The fact that you do not consider birds relatively even with mammals shows to me that you are drastically underinformed. I am not sure how you could have taken the classes you have and come out with that impression. I know not a single researcher in animal behavior who would compare birds, in general, more directly to "reptiles" (again, not a monophyletic group, and with large amounts of neurodiversity) than mammals. Clearly, birds have very different brains than mammals. They are generally highly intelligent, however.

A hundred and ten years ago, theories of cognitive capacity were based on comparative physiology. Many advances have been made in the interim.
Last edited by Vash on Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:31 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:30 pm UTC

Individual bees are almost certainly not intelligent. But bees don't really exist much as individuals, so that's potentially the wrong unit to be considering.
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Re: YET ANOTHER synchronised goldfish controversy

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:30 pm UTC

Vash wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Vash, Bee's are not intelligent.


Is that a conclusion you've come to from reading the research? There seem to be surprisingly advanced cognitive capacities.


such as?
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