More than one way to kill a lobster

Discuss

92 Responses to “More than one way to kill a lobster”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Or you could just not kill them and eat something that isn’t just trying to get on with its day.

    Lobsters are awesome creatures, leave them be.

    Just a thought.

  2. Michael Leddy says:

    I think David Foster Wallace had something to say about these questions.

  3. Coherent says:

    I want vat-grown food so much. I hate killing for food. But there’s just no other way right now. :( We need to figure out a better way. If only we could run on electricity directly or something.

    I think the best way to kill a lobster is the fastest. Probably freezing them and then boiling them is acceptable, since they’ll never figure out what’s happening to them until it’s already over.

  4. SamSam says:

    Cutting it up creates two lobster minds? Anyone else seeing parallels to the idea of multiple minds in one brain brought up in the Alien hand thread?

  5. Ito Kagehisa says:

    DirkSJ talks better than me. I’ll shut up.

    (Although I am wondering if DirkSJ is Dirk Troggson.)

    • DirkSJ says:

      I’m not that person. Also I don’t actually agree with my argument…I just felt the “boiling is torture” side was underrepresented by logical debaters and overrepresented by folks resorting to ad hominem arguments and guilt by association. So I figured I would help out.

      I couldn’t care a boiling rats ass if the lobster feels pain (and I’m of them opinion that it probably doesn’t). But I understand the argument of those that choose to play it ethically safe. Judging by your comment I guess I hit on what you were trying to say :).

  6. piminnowcheez says:

    Sigh. I always have to pipe up in these conversations.

    The David Foster Wallace piece is great writing, but frustrating for how close it comes to getting the science right without quite making it. Here, in particular, is where he goes astray:

    There happen to be two main criteria that most ethicists agree on for determining whether a living creature has the capacity to suffer and so has genuine interests that it may or may not be our moral duty to consider. One is how much of the neurological hardware required for pain-experience the animal comes equipped with—nociceptors, prostaglandins, neuronal opioid receptors, etc. The other criterion is whether the animal demonstrates behavior associated with pain. And it takes a lot of intellectual gymnastics and behaviorist hairsplitting not to see struggling, thrashing, and lid-clattering as just such pain-behavior.

    The important distinction here is that nociception and pain are two different things, and they are meant to elicit different sets of behaviors. Having nociceptors, prostaglandins, and opiod receptors is good evidence that an animal is capable of nociception, but it is no evidence at all about its capacity for pain. Nociception is for getting you away from a noxious stimulus. When you touch your hand to a hot burner and jerk it away, that was nociception. Pain is a cognitive and emotionally influenced subjective awareness of nociception, and it’s for modulating your memory of noxious stimuli and how you communicate that memory to others. When you yell, “fucking hell!” after you’ve burned your hand on the burner, that’s pain at work.

    It doesn’t take any mental gymastics at all to understand that because *we* associate our own pain with nociception-driven behaviors, it’s easy to confuse the two. But “behavior associated with pain” in non-human animals is often indistinguishable from behavior associated with nociception, and therefore tells us nothing at all about their subjective experience of pain. Under some kinds of light anaesthesia in which only the cerebral cortex is primarily affected, humans will react with withdrawal to painful stimuli with no experience of pain. What does tell us about an animal’s capacity for pain is their higher level neural hardware, and their ecology: would experiencing pain actually be adaptive for a given creature?

    Lobsters, I can tell you confidently, do not have the neural hardware for pain; their nervous systems are more primitive than many instects’. And it’s hard for me to think of any adaptive benefit they would derive from pain.

    For a good discussion of the science on this I recommend Rose’s discussion of anthropomorphism and pain in fish (warning, it’s a pdf link):

    http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao_oa/d075p139.pdf

    • nutbastard says:

      my attitude is that regardless of the animals ability to feel pain, it’s not going to feel it for long, and it’s certainly not going to remember it.

      i get cuts, scrapes and bruises all the time, and it’s not the initial incident that distresses me – it’s the lingering aches that do it.

      beyond that, when humans experience major bodily harm, they tend not to feel pain right away. i can tell you that the worst part about breaking my collar bone was not the instant it snapped, it was the 6 weeks of constant throbbing agony that followed.

      people talk all the time about painful death, but i just can’t get too riled up about it. if the lobster experiences searing pain for 10 seconds, then its death is much, much less painful than any of a thousand injuries i’ve sustained.

    • Anonymous says:

      One could also say lobsters do not see things, only receive light and respond accordingly. But what exactly do you gain by drawing this kind of distinction? Lobsters obviously do not experience the world on the level people do, but they plainly suffer and have stress of their own sort. All living things do in different degrees.

      Nociception may not be “pain” the way biologists define the term, but it doesn’t immediately follows that there’s no way to abuse a lobster the way a moral philosopher would define it.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      Antinous has a point, regardless of how crudely phrased; even if you are right this time around, the argument that “these lesser animals don’t feel pain” has been so frequently and horribly misused in the past that it won’t really hold water any more.

      I’m reminded of the guy who tattooed swastikas on his face, then complained that people always assume he’s a racist. Sometimes a symbol, or an argument, can be tainted – and once that’s happened, it doesn’t matter what you intend when you use it, you will still be associated with that taint. That’s human nature.

      When I hear someone claim that anyone or anything can’t feel pain, my gut feel will always be that the speaker is abusing that person or thing and trying to justify it… because that’s how the argument has been used for the last couple thousand years.

    • Michael Leddy says:

      DFW, “Consider the Lobster”: “Still, after all the abstract intellection, there remain the facts of the frantically clanking lid, the pathetic clinging to the edge of the pot. Standing at the stove, it is hard to deny in any meaningful way that this is a living creature experiencing pain and wishing to avoid/escape the painful experience. To my lay mind, the lobster’s behavior in the kettle appears to be the expression of a preference; and it may well be that an ability to form preferences is the decisive criterion for real suffering.” He goes on to offer examples, re: crowding, light, water-temperature.

      What do you think about the preferences argument?

      • piminnowcheez says:

        I think it only works for a non-intuitive, limited definition of “preferences.” In the section this comes from, in addition to “preferences,” he says that the lobsters “dislike” crowding. These are both examples of a no-no in behavioral science, anthropomorphism. That the lobsters gravitate to a range of temperatures or fight when crowded doesn’t allow us to say anything about what they “like” or “prefer,” only what they actually do under different environmental circumstances. Do Heliotropes and sunflowers express a preference when they turn toward the sun?

        This kind of argument always boils down to the essential attributional error that plagues behavioral science: we think that our conscience state of mind determines our behavior, thus someone else’s behavior is a clue to their state of mind. This works to a limited degree in intelligent, social animals who have a “theory of mind,” but this is really a special case. In general, behavior is generated by non-conscious processes and in *some* animals, modulated by conscious processes.

        On the other hand, I think that it’s fair to take these “preferences” into account when considering the well-being of an animal. My interest in the subject came from considering how best to care for fish in a laboratory environment. Whether or not they experience pain, they do exhibit behavioral and physiological markers of stress when their environment is compromised, and I consider alleviating that stress to the best of my abilities my ethical responsibility.

    • Andrea James says:

      @piminnowcheez: I think you’re being unfair to Wallace’s summary by using only his opening general framework. He goes on to summarize much of the ground covered in the Rose paper, and concludes that “it may well be that an ability to form preferences is the decisive criterion for real suffering.” Lobsters prefer darkness and certain water temperatures over others, and if they can distinguish water temperatures by a degree or two and move to the temp they prefer, it stands to reason that water a few hundred degrees hotter is considerably less preferable for them.

      • jere7my says:

        I can build a robot from a kit that demonstrates a “preference” for avoiding light. I don’t think anybody would say I’m morally obligated to keep it in the dark thereafter — just because it mimics a response we associate with cognition doesn’t mean it “cares,” in any meaningful way, whether it’s in the light or the dark.

        …Yet people would still feel empathy for the little robot, striving with its little robot wheels to avoid the brightness. That’s how strong our anthropomorphizing urge is — even if we know exactly how something works, we still want to give it volition, make it “like us.” That’s not a bad thing, but it’s something we should be aware of and compensate for when making reasoned choices.

        You can’t tell anything about what something “feels” by looking at its reflex responses — you have to set that aside and look at how it’s put together, lest you start feeling guilty about making the teakettle shriek. Lobsters don’t have the neural structure to “feel” or “think” or “care” about anything. They are less complicated than some computer programs — they only have about 100,000 neurons. If they do feel, it’s because they possess some “lobster soul” that is undetectable by science. I can’t disprove that, but I deem it unlikely. Contrast this with Antinous’s slaves, who would be found by any unbiased scientific examination to be nigh-indistinguishable from their owners.

        • Andrea James says:

          @jere7my: That is an excellent example, and I agree that reaction to light or temperature is in a certain way programmed into living things in the same way it is into a robot. I agree with you and piminnowcheez that there’s a danger of anthropomorphizing other life forms. I also agree that invertebrates and what-not don’t have awareness or preferences in the way that humans do. But I don’t believe we can say definitely that a lobster can’t feel anything bad. If it does feel something bad, it probably does not resemble what we would call pain. As Rose says about fish, they “are unlikely to have a capacity for awareness of pain or emotional feelings that meaningfully resemble our own.” That’s the scientific answer: it’s unlikely, based on as much as we can currently determine objectively. But since there’s no way to subjectively experience it ourselves or have it communicated to us by them, we can’t be absolutely certain. The pain/suffering controversy is actually a fairly minor part of my personal ethical rationale for not eating lobsters any more, but I do like to hear other points of view, as that’s my favorite way to clarify my own thinking. This has been an interesting thread!

  7. Beelzebuddy says:

    What, then, is the best and most humane way of dispatching one of these delicious crustaceans?

    The best way to kill a lobster is by strapping it to a pole, loading the pole in a harpoon gun, and launching it at your enemies.

    The most humane way to dispatch any crustacean is, of course, in fisticuffs with the eventual dining patron. Allow them to die with the dignity of a gentleman.

  8. Skep says:

    Well, back to separating the meat from the shell, the pressure vessel company has a video:

    http://www.avure.com/seafoodvideo/

    From the picture in BB post I thought that the high pressure somehow burst the shell and left a naked lobster, but it doesn’t work that way. The shell remains intact, but it is no longer “glued” to the meat and you can just slip the meat out of the shell. So, you still need a production line of people pulling lobsters appart, but they won’t have to use so much blade work and there will be vastly fewer injuries. Even more so for oysters.

  9. Lobster says:

    This is monstrous! I thought Boingboing was for WONDERFUL things!

    Beelzebuddy is correct, the best way to kill a lobster is to give it a fighting chance. It MUST be fisticuffs though! Neither boxing nor brawling will suffice.

  10. Clumpy says:

    Giant underwater cockroach. I’ll… have the soup.

    • bardfinn says:

      “Giant underwater cockroach …”

      My sympathies exactly. I’ll have the giant underwater spider.

      • Anonymous says:

        Jesus God! You think boiling an animal alive for TEN MINUTES is humane? There isn’t any food on earth worth such cruelty. What do you think entitles you to inflict that pain, just for a meal you’ll forget in an hour? Seriously, it’s people like you who make me hate people.

  11. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Lobsters, I can tell you confidently, do not have the neural hardware for pain; their nervous systems are more primitive than many insects’.

    That argument has been made many times about slaves and people of other races. And it’s been made with just as much sick and deluded confidence as you’re proudly displaying.

    • Jesse M. says:

      piminnowcheez:Lobsters, I can tell you confidently, do not have the neural hardware for pain; their nervous systems are more primitive than many insects’.

      Antinous: That argument has been made many times about slaves and people of other races. And it’s been made with just as much sick and deluded confidence as you’re proudly displaying.

      Antinous, this claim sounds pretty ridiculous on its face. Can you point to any historical examples of a scientifically-literate slaveowner saying that slaves lacked some specific neural structures necessary to feel pain, or that their brains were simpler than an insect’s?

      Also, is there any limit to nervous system complexity at which you would say “OK, I don’t think it’s plausible that entity feels pain so doing things that cause it to thrash around probably isn’t so bad”? For example, a nematode has a very simple nervous system consisting of only 302 neurons (by comparison a lobster has about 100,000 and a human something like 100 billion). I assume nematodes would react aversely to certain stimuli, would you take the same tone towards someone who said exposing them to such stimuli probably wasn’t really causing pain? And unless you are a vitalist you can probably agree that there’s nothing magical about biological neurons, so what if we designed a robot with an even smaller number of artificial neurons that was built to thrash around when it experienced some stimuli, say light shined on its photodiodes? If someone said “well, its ‘brain’ consists of only 50 logic gates, I don’t think we’re really doing them any harm by shining a light on it” would you vehemently disagree and compare the person to a slaveowner? If not, then perhaps you can see that one must ultimately rely on intuitions about what degree of neural complexity and structures are sufficient to make it plausible that an organism experiences something remotely comparable to mammalian pain, and there’s no reason to get high and mighty because someone else draws the boundary of “too simple/lacking appropriate structures” at a different place than you.

    • nutbastard says:

      “That argument has been made many times about slaves and people of other races.”

      Woah, way to go all hyperbole on us. The science of pain and nervous systems is fairly well established. Just as I can proclaim that shining hard IR light at someones eyes won’t disturb them because they lack the hardware to perceive it, if this fellow is indeed correct about lobster hardware then what’s so wrong about drawing that conclusion?

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        Unlike most people, I have a complete set of pain sensing nerves in my eyes. I found this out the worst possible way, after a knife-wielding surgeon confidently told me I wouldn’t feel a thing.

    • jasonq says:

      Hey, um…Antinous? Slaves were human beings. People, you know, beings with rights that were quite capable of demonstrating sentience and intelligence. Lobsters and most other animals? Yeah, uh, not so much.

      I’m all for humane treatment of food animals in both living conditions and slaughtering. I certainly don’t have any objection to (as you mention) severing a nerve or something to ease any possible suffering the lobster might suffer.

      But the fact that your interlocutor’s argument has been used illegitimately and to ill effect previously doesn’t automatically render it invalid.

  12. Xanthippas says:

    Yeah sorry, but I don’t think Ms. Basil knows exactly what she’s saying. Boiling is probably the most effective way of killing a lobster, but it certainly can’t be considered the most humane. Read David Foster Wallace, and while you’re at it read this by B.R. Myers too.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/09/hard-to-swallow/6123/1/

  13. Ito Kagehisa says:

    I eat (and enjoy eating) lobsters, but these articles about pressure killing them always puzzle me.

    The claim that the lobsters are killed “instantly” seems incompatible with the claim that the flesh is “completely undamaged”.

    Doesn’t a living lobster have oxygenated tissues? Don’t meat, shell, haemolymph, and oxygen have differing compressability? Is it actually possible to “instantly” achieve these kinds of pressures? If a bin of unpressurized lobsters were connected to a source of super-high-pressure fluid, the lobsters would be pulverized by the incoming jet, so they must be pressurized by a pump or a press of some sort – how can such a thing be instantaneous?

    It just doesn’t add up. Something’s not being described accurately in these press releases.

  14. jasonq says:

    It’s a bug. A giant bug. That happens to live in the ocean. No one seems to get upset over smooshing roaches or flies, but people get all misty-eyed when it comes to lobsters. What gives? Is it that they’re especially LARGE bugs?

    I say to hell with ‘em. Boil some water and get the drawn butter.

    • Brock Lawbster says:

      Seriously. Most of the people concerned about killing crustaceans wouldn’t think twice about bug bombing a million cockroaches.

      Get over yourselves. Carrots ‘scream’ when you pull them out of the dirt- you just can’t hear it so it doesn’t bother you. We, everything, on this earth is just a random collection of stardust and supernovae remnants. Some of those supernovae just happen to be delicious with butter.

    • Kosmoid says:

      “drawn butter”? Not if you’re vegan. Just sayin.’

      • Anonymous says:

        Apparently lobsters are vegetables now? Who knew? Next year’s garden is gonna be fantastic: rows of tomatoes, carrots, and lobsters as far as the eye can see!

    • Andrea James says:

      @jasonq: There are a number of ethical and moral stances taken by people who get upset over smooshing insects, where they avoid it as much as possible. Jainist ascetics are probably the best known in the West. And plenty of people make an ethical distinction between killing a lobster and a household pest, in the way one might distinguish killing a mink vs. killing a rat. I’m not aware of anyone needing to call an exterminator about a lobster infestation. It’s an interesting ethical and philosophical question worth considering, particularly because it lends itself to good jokes, like any great ethical issue.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not many people get upset over crushing a fly, but they may feel something is wrong if they see someone pull its limbs and wings off one by one. Lesser creatures may not have the same rights, but good people don’t make them suffer more than they need to.

    • Anonymous says:

      A lamb is also just an animal. But because it has fur it is somehow worse to kill a lamb than a lobster. Why? I eat them both and enjoy them equally well.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Apparently putting them into a freezer first sends them into a natural deep sleep and then you can drop them into a pot of boiling water to dispatch them and that’s apparently a totally painless way to kill them.

  16. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Woah, way to go all hyperbole on us.

    And the slave owners said that, too. In fact, every argument that you make will have been previously made to justify ignoring the suffering of others. Because you’re that guy.

  17. Coherent says:

    I think this discussion has boiled down to those who feel empathy and those who don’t.

    I’m on the empathy side. Golden Rule, guys: Do unto as you want to be done unto. So Lobsters need to have fast and final deaths, and never know they’re in danger until they’re already dead.

    I’m glad the “big mother shucker” is fast at least.

  18. JayByrd says:

    As a former Mainer, I would always hypnotize them (by standing them on their head and tickling their tail feelers) before plopping them into the boiling water.
    Or you might consider the “Old Sparky” route — rig up a pair of alligator clips to a wall plug, attach them to their antennae and throw the switch.

  19. piminnowcheez says:

    That argument has been made many times about slaves and people of other races. And it’s been made with just as much sick and deluded confidence as you’re proudly displaying.

    Wow, that’s really unfair. You really want to equate eugenecist arguments about race and intelligence with an informed (but of course, always imperfectly informed) claim about invertebrate nervous systems? Is there no state of the art in neuroscience that could be reached to allow confidence on this point in your eyes, or is it forever a mystery?

    Look, I don’t mind admitting that the subjective experience of another can never be 100% knowable. But neuroscientists do actually know, with reasonable confidence, some things about how brains work, and it seems silly to throw up our hands and act as if we don’t. I really don’t think “sick and deluded” were warranted.

  20. mdh says:

    Throwing them into a pot of steam (a little boiling water and a lot of space) kills them quite quickly. 18 minutes to cook, they’ve stopped moving by about the 10 minute mark.

    It’s a lot more humane than most of our meat gets treated.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Try that with your hand and get back to us on the humanity of being boiled alive for ten minutes before death.

      Apparently nobody here has ever read a decent cookbook. You flip the lobster over and use a sharp knife to sever the ventral nerve, which is the lobster equivalent of the spinal cord. Give them a minute or two to expire, then cook.

      • nutbastard says:

        I doubt that the lobster ‘moving’ is indicative of it being alive and experiencing pain – lots of creatures continue moving after death. Beyond that, if one were to boil ones hand for 10 minutes, shock would set in almost immediately, the nerves would be damaged to the point of no longer functioning, and you wouldn’t really feel it.

        I’ve been badly burned, broken bones, fallen 3 stories, crashed dirt bikes and ATVs, fallen on nails, had a crowbar through my foot, have had at least 6 concussions, and a dog ripped my eyebrow off when I was a kid. in not one of those major injuries did i experience pain until at least 15 minutes after the incident… and I’m a human with the capacity to understand pain and chronology and self.

        thanks for the tip, though – no sense in chancing it if you dont have to.

        • facetedjewel says:

          “I’ve been badly burned, broken bones, fallen 3 stories, crashed dirt bikes and ATVs, fallen on nails, had a crowbar through my foot, have had at least 6 concussions, and a dog ripped my eyebrow off when I was a kid.”

          Well hell, after reading that I stopped worrying about the lobster . . .dude!

      • Anonymous says:

        Wallace mentions this in his essay, and the article above mentions it as well: lobsters have a decentralized nervous system, and stabbing them in the “brain” can not assuredly be said to kill them.

        So…the cookbooks are wrong, maybe?

  21. piminnowcheez says:

    “these lesser animals don’t feel pain” has been so frequently and horribly misused in the past that it won’t really hold water any more. (Ito Kagehisa)

    every argument that you make will have been previously made to justify ignoring the suffering of others (Antinous)

    You both seem to be arguing that because previous scientific, or “scientific,” claims on the subject were shown to be false, that the question at hand can no longer be considered addressable by science. But you can see how problematic that attitude is applied generally, don’t you?

    You are also, whether you realize it or not, promoting your own hypothesis about pain without offering in evidence for its support; you’re conflating an empirical argument about how the world is with an ethical argument about how we should act. They’re two different questions.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are also, whether you realize it or not, promoting your own hypothesis about pain without offering in evidence for its support; you’re conflating an empirical argument about how the world is with an ethical argument about how we should act.

      If you think that deciding whether it’s ethical to harm an animal is determined by whether the negative stimulus is picked up by opioid or nociceptoid receptors, you have a very different definition of “empirical” than most people.

      Neurologists may define “pain” in terms of the former, but that is not necessarily relevent, any more than picking up and putting down a boulder isn’t truly work because physicists require force and distance.

      • piminnowcheez says:

        If you think that deciding whether it’s ethical to harm an animal is determined by whether the negative stimulus is picked up by opioid or nociceptoid receptors, you have a very different definition of “empirical” than most people.

        That’s exactly what I don’t think. I think that whether, or under what conditions, it’s ethical to harm an animal is a different question that what *constitutes* harm to an animal. Beliefs about the latter question will necessarily influence arguments about the first.

        • Anonymous says:

          That’s fair by itself, but then what precisely are you arguing? I don’t think anyone would question whether boiling a lobster harms it or not. Are you simply complaining about the use of the word “pain” in a colloquial rather than neurological manner?

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      I am not offering any hypotheses about pain; I prefer the lobsters I eat to be killed as quickly as possible, in the interests of avoiding any unnecessary suffering, but I freely admit that I have no way of knowing if a distributed nervous system can register anything that could accurately be called pain.

      I’m also not saying your argument is invalid. Read what I wrote. I’m saying that argument is unconvincing because I am a human being (despite the rumours) and I can’t arbitrarily decide to completely forget about all the abuses of that argument in the past.

      • piminnowcheez says:

        “I am not offering any hypotheses about pain”

        Fair enough; I thought that in your comment was the implied hypotheses that escape behavior = pain, but on rereading, it’s really not there. Apologies.

        Still, I think that an argument that past scientific errors disqualify an ethical question from further scientific input just doesn’t work. The argument that Antinous seems to promoting is that the possibility of ethical error based on scientific error (causing suffering because of a belief that an animal can’t suffer) requires us to give up on the scientific question of suffering altogether. I don’t want anything to suffer needlessly, but I think that the notion that we can’t make inferences about who can and can’t suffer is crazy. We have to make such inferences.

        • DirkSJ says:

          A primary component to their argument is saying that they don’t really know and that science doesn’t really know. As much data as you and others have there is no actual way to live in the lobster’s body and determine categorically if it feels pain or not. Even the definition of pain is somewhat subjective, especially in an ethical context.

          The references to prior invalid scientific arguments are perfectly acceptable when taken in the light they are meant: Back then, when those arguments were made, they were believed to be just as true as you believe yours are today. Though, as you say, that doesn’t mean yours are wrong and it doesn’t mean the question cannot be satisfactorily answered.

          When applied to an ethical debate, however, it is perfectly reasonable to assume the current argument is capable of being just as wrong as the prior. If the fact that the prior argument was wrong and certain actions were taken under the guise of being “scientifically proven ethical” is atrocious enough to your ethical sensibilities it’s logical to take the “safe” stance of assuming current thinking is also wrong and avoid the potentially unethical action.

          If you don’t then who knows but 15 years from now you will look on new scientific data and realize what a terrible and unethical person you were. Instead making the choice to assume they feel pain and seek to alleviate it in the best way you know how prevents this eventuality from being possible.

  22. lewis stoole says:

    f.u. do not kill lobsters. kill unicorns.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Steam them in Jamesons (or wine). Gets them drunk first and they go to sleep. Mmmmmm. Then take the liquid, reduce, and add cream for a lovely sauce.

  24. Moriarty says:

    I guess it’s just impossible to have any post about food, sea roaches included, that isn’t followed by several comments reminding everyone that veganism exists. Perhaps a standardized footnote (“some people don’t eat these, though”) would help?

  25. Antinous / Moderator says:

    You both seem to be arguing that because previous scientific, or “scientific,” claims on the subject were shown to be false, that the question at hand can no longer be considered addressable by science. But you can see how problematic that attitude is applied generally, don’t you?

    The only problem is you waving a paper around and using it as an excuse to boil animals alive. Science is never objective despite the indignant squeals of scientists and their groupies. You’re promoting the kind of science that has long been used to justify evil.

    • jere7my says:

      “Scientists and their groupies”? Really? Is this satire, Antinous, or did somebody poop on your pop tart this morning?

    • piminnowcheez says:

      The only problem is you waving a paper around and using it as an excuse to boil animals alive. Science is never objective despite the indignant squeals of scientists and their groupies. You’re promoting the kind of science that has long been used to justify evil.

      You’re not really offering good-faith debate, but I’ll keep trying. How about this:

      You can tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m going to assume you do not object to the boiling of living plants. You believe that there is a difference in the capacity for suffering between animals and plants that justifies the boiling of plants but not of animals. What is that belief based on? Again, I’ll make an assumption and you can tell me if I’m wrong, but that belief is probably based on some combination of two lines of reasoning:

      1.) When boiled, the plant does not thrash around or otherwise exhibit behaviors that you recognize as analagous to your own, when you experience pain. The animal does.

      2.) You believe that the capacity for suffering requires a nervous system and that since plants do not have them, plants do not suffer.

      In order for 1 to work, you must believe that behavior implies a conscious state of mind. I and other commenters have argued that this is not true. Do you disagree?

      In order for 2 to work, you must believe that while biological science can make inferences about consciousness from physical differences between plants and animals, it cannot make inferences about consciousness from physical differences between different nervous systems. Is this your belief?

      • Anonymous says:

        I would say that plants have some capacity for suffering, but less than things like lobsters, which have less than things like cows, which have less than things like people. Types of receptors influence those evaluations, but I’d have a tough time picking a single point where the suffering becomes real or unreal. The tree of life is continuous.

  26. LazarWolf says:

    I have no ethical qualms with lobster… but eating lobster out of the shell is one of the grossest food experiences I’ve ever had. It’s way too much like a dissection for me to enjoy, and the way they have those rubbery little claws inside their exoskeletons… eugh. Reminded me of some sort of creepy alien.

    That said, I do eat crab, fish (salmon especially) and squid on occasion. Other meats’ texture turns me off of it, and I like octopi too much to eat them.

  27. Kosmoid says:

    Woody in Annie Hall: “Talk to him, you speak shellfish.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHoprNCyl7o

  28. Wingo says:

    “I tell you, I’m a financial genius. I buy an $8 lobster, fatten him up to an $80 lobster, and eat the profits!”

  29. travtastic says:

    So why is it that although most boingboing threads contain the term ‘cognitive dissonance’ multiple times, there’s no menion of it by anyone here?

    A thread swimming, however, in references to ‘humanely killing’ animals for luxury dinners?

  30. Nicky G says:

    I will say one thing about this thread… It has SERIOUSLY fired me up to eat me some sea-bugs. I freaking LOVE lobster! Oh, and the moderator equating eating lobsters being akin to supporting human slavery and torture? Pretty weak. We all know that if the lobsters could boil us alive and eat us, they would.

  31. chriscombs says:

    What about freezing?

  32. ill lich says:

    “Delicious crustaceans?” I don’t see what’s so delicious about them, and I’m a born and bred New Englander. If they tasted so delicious, why do you slather them in butter? It just makes them taste like. . . butter.

  33. Anonymous says:

    “Hello. I live off poop and rotting fish carcasses. PUT ME IN YOUR MOUTH. But first, you have to crack me open and pluck my flesh off the inside of my skeleton.”

    Jesus, my gorge is rising just thinking about lobster.

    Bizarrely, I have no problem eating bacon even after I spent time with an adorable, friendly piglet who learned tricks faster than my dogs at a petting zoo. I really need to look closely at that.

  34. Kosmoid says:

    “Rock Lobster”
    Kate, Cindy, Fred, Ricky and Keith!

  35. nutbastard says:

    i remember having a bunch of crawdads that we’d caught in the river when we were little kids, and we made the mistake of naming them.

    my brother and i literally cried into our cups of butter.

    so i’d say the most humane way to kill a lobster is keep it anonymous.

  36. TEKNA2007 says:

    Behold the Avure 215L.

    http://img.directindustry.com/images_di/photo-g/high-pressure-food-processing-systems-414882.jpg

    If it springs a leak, don’t try to plug it with your hand.

  37. sando_art says:

    Stop being so shellfish everyone.

  38. voided says:

    dispatch = kill and harm
    better = slighty less worse, but still very bad

    If you do not believe me go ahead and subject yourself to your cherished “dispatch” process yourself and tell me just how much “better” it was for you. Boil yourself if you want, but stop boiling others to death for a completely unnecessary satisfaction for yourself.

  39. DarthVain says:

    It wasn’t so long ago that lobster wasn’t considered good for anything but as bait to catch tasty fish. It’s only in modern times that it has become popular.

    I know my Uncle that grew up in Cape Breaton always reminds me of this, when he says “I don’t eat bait”… Apparently when the world was young and just cooling he used to bait his fathers fishing hooks with lobster meat.

    As for all the vegans out there, look out for those vegan police, they are watching just waiting to take away you special powers!

  40. voided says:

    addendum: the way Boing Boing writers commonly try to soften the actual acts against animals (i.e. killing, harming) actually fits the output of your own torture euphemism generator pretty well.
    http://boingboing.net/2010/10/22/torture.html

  41. voided says:

    continued:
    Harming lobsters by boiling them alive? No no, I merely applied some aggressive sensory inquests.
    Causing suffering to cows by extreme confinement? No way, I just used some elevated stress strategies.
    Grinding up and killing billions of “unneeded” chicks? Not at all, you see it was simply an invasive body reconfiguration hearing.

    Words are powerful and can conceal injustice. The bottom line is, if you want to justify harming and killing others for your own pleasure then mere decency requires that you think of and describe your acts in that way. You are a person who wants to harm others for your own pleasure. Then you of course also need to defeat the very strong arguments against such slavery practices. Emerge yourself in the animal rights literature and see if you can find a way out of the conclusions.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Basil here: For the record, I do not eat lobster, or meat. So I am with you there. I was asked ‘the best way to kill a lobster’. I have been quoted to say that the main issue folks have with eating lobster is having to do the killing yourself (NBC Radio). If you’re going to be a carnivore, then own it.

    If one keeps the lobster very cool, it’s the equivalent of anesthetizing them and calming them. Then if you put them in the boiling water they are dead within seconds. That is ‘the best way’ to kill a lobster. It’s not my way, as I don’t kill them. I honestly have no idea how this quotation out of context showed up here, but I was very clear about my preferences, keeping the animal calm, and that all alternatives other than not eating them (the one I choose) just make the animal suffer more.

  43. Kosmoid says:

    The kosher police, vegetarian police, Jainist police and the vegan police are all on the case. Consequences will never be the same!

  44. Mr. Son says:

    *Watches the arguments go back and forth for a while*
    …Okaaaay. Staying out of that.

    I just want to say that, for a while now, I’ve found the concept of how lobsters are killed (in boiling water) supremely uncomfortable, and I’m glad I never liked sea food in the first place, thus avoiding that difficult question of whether I’d be willing to do something like that for the sake of a food I enjoyed (somehow, I suspect I would find myself unable to more than once. I find myself unable to kill garden snails and slugs after my first attempts at salting them or drowning them in soapy water turned out… Rather horrific).

    I’ll just stick with meats from animals able to be killed quite quickly and with a minimum of pain (arguments on whether lobsters can feel pain in any particularly significant way aside. They seem like they do, and that’s enough for me).

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      Garden slugs will cheerfully swim in beer until they drown, much like Homer Simpson. Then the racoons and possums eat them, and have wild drunken garden parties that do slightly less damage than the slugs themselves.

      Use cheap beer.

      • Mr. Son says:

        Thanks, I’ll give that a try. They’re really hard on our mint and herbs, and tossing them away into the bushes only got rid of them for a few days at most. >_<

        • Ito Kagehisa says:

          You’re quite welcome! It works for us. If you find the beer pans emptied and scattered yards away from the garden, it’s because drunken opossums have been wearing them as party hats.

  45. relawson says:

    yes! the ganglia are what is responsible for “twitching” on severed limbs!

    mua ha ha ha!!

  46. danegeld says:

    “in the old days, before the war, the characters are visiting Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fransisco. They become hungry, and enter a seafood restaurant. One of them orders lobster, and the chef drops the lobster into a pot of boiling water while the characters watch” …”Oh god, that’s awful. Did they really do that? It’s depraved! You mean a live lobster?” The gauges, however, did not respond. Formally a correct answer, but simulated.

  47. Kosmoid says:

    “That’s because lobsters, like most invertebrates, don’t have the same kind of brain we do.”

    Not watching Jersey Shore?

    • Larry7 says:

      What an irresponsible article! This is an incredibly cruel way to kill a lobster- or any animal really. In Australia it’s illegal to throw mudcrabs into boiling water (because it’s so incredibly cruel)- the best method is to put them in the FREEZER for an hour or more- they go to sleep and it’snot nearly as painful as boiling them alive.

      I can’t believe this `author’ so matter-of-factly declared boiling alive was such a convenient and nice thing to do. For shame!

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