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  1. I don't think we are in disagreement here; we're using different definitions for the same word. Medical research is not necessary for the survival of the species, certainly. Homo sapiens have been around for over a million years without the aid of medical research. Which is what you suggest, and I agree with this. Survival of individuals can often depend on medical research though (eg. cancer research, research on insulin, degenerative neurological disorders, etc.). Usually this research requires living test subjects. That's what I was suggesting. I'm happy to respond to this! Pigs can with the proper nutrition and care live on average to be 15-20 years old. In the wild they tend to live on average 4-5 years, mostly due to predators. The most significant predation wild pigs face is from humans. Most hunters will aim for a clean death. A good shot to the heart and pigs will die near instantly, or within a few minutes. Hunters aim for a good kill because they don't want to destroy the meat with shot, and they don't want the prey to escape. Still, a shot (or arrow) can hit far from target and merely wound the pig, in which case tracking it can mean that its death is drawn out for hours, or it's merely crippled. I don't know the stats for the portion of hunters who effectively kill within minutes or end up taking hours. Most of these kills would entail some trauma, though I suppose there are also cases of very effective kills where the pig dies before its brain has a chance to register events. With enough blood loss or pain, shock takes over. We do not know how much shock dulls the trauma of the experience in pigs and other animals. We know it can be pretty effective for humans. The predators of pigs are alligators, bobcats, coyotes, and mountains lions, etc. These animals aim to kill the pig quickly - not out of concern for the pig, of course, but to reduce the energy expenditure. Alligators will quickly drown the pig, and this usually is over in a few minutes. Animals that use their teeth will try to snap the pig's neck. It's not common for the pig to actually be alive while it's consumed. But it does happen, of course. One can expect that if the pig is not killed before consumption, shock will ameliorate some of the trauma. But there's not much data regarding this that I'm aware of. If there is not enough to eat, then a pig will starve to death, often over several days. So yes, death through predation has every indication that it often is traumatic. Death from lack of predation also can entail a traumatic death. However, it's also worth considering death due to factory farming. Since the 1950s pigs have been selectively bred to larger size. Unfortunately, accompanying this has, weirdly enough, been a genetic predisposition to stress (incidentally this same problem affects chicken and turkey). Pigs will become very stressed in triggering circumstances, even to the point where they undergo heart failure. The magnitude of this is extensive. A New York Times article in 2003 noted the the pork industry lost 90 millions dollars a year from this issue alone. Pigs would get so stressed out that they would have a heart attack. This is very uncommon for pigs in nature, even in the act predation. Unstimulating environments are noted to increase the stress of pigs. As does the prodding of electric rods that are used on them. It hasn't been mentioned here, but filming within factory farms is often illegal. When people have successfully filmed within farms, serious abuse against animals has commonly been observed (beatings, torture beyond even what has legally been deemed acceptable to the job - electric rods rammed into the vagina and anus, etc). This will also trigger stress levels. Another stressor is when the pigs are herded for slaughter. Pigs are not stupid. They will smell the blood of other pigs, and hear the screams and detect that something is wrong. They will exhibit signs of stress. A lot pigs will experience cardiac arrest in this circumstance. With all this in consideration, I don't know if one can say that nature provides a crueler death than factory farming. They both are pretty bad. The major difference is, as others have pointed out, that factory farming involves the infliction of trauma for the duration of a pig's life. Life in its natural habitat can involve trauma, but it allows for many events that are not traumatic (free roaming, socialization, the lack of hormone-induced disablities, less prevalence of disease, etc.). Edit: It's a minor point, but it's an assumption in your post that I found amusing. I'm not a guy. Please don't think I'm bothered by it, I just found it interesting that this was the gender interpreted from my post.
  2. Yes, I think the issue of medical research is a very interesting one. It's extensive enough a topic (and outside of the issue of eating meat) that it probably deserves a thread of its own. But since you brought it up, I will address it briefly here. I have in this entire discussion mentioned that factory farming is not necessary for human survival, and I've further recognized that practicalities of life have limited any idealist approach to treating all organisms as equal (eg the benefits of predation by the wolves of Yellowstone). Even among humans we are not valued equally, or treated equally. We can not all be given the same comforts as Jeff Bezos, even though it is an appropriate ideal to strive towards that all people be given every advantage possible. And there are many more limitations to the comforts we can provide other animals. I don't think there is an easy answer to this. Unlike factory farming, medical research is a necessity for survival. We haven't yet developed methods to decouple scientific advancements in this area from animal test subjects. If you don't do the research, organisms will suffer. If you do the research, organisms will suffer. Either way, you are forced into prioritizing the well being of one group over the other. Even among humans, this devaluation takes place. In China, allegedly the Uighers are having their organs harvested. In less extreme cases, within the bounds of modern laws, psychological experiments (for example) that can be distressing are performed on those who need the money. Do these experiments devalue non-human animals, or human animals due to their religion or financial status? Perhaps. I don't have a real answer to this dilemma, since it's not like there's an easy plant-based alternative. I would say that however the research is done, prioritizing the comfort of the test subjects (human or otherwise) should receive the utmost consideration. And of course if the opportunity to decouple the research from the need for a test subject arrives, it should absolutely be taken. Fortunately, factory farming is not a necessity and is removed from this dilemma. Oh yes, I don't question that. Might makes right, effectively. However, the ability to reason, and have empathy, can and has tempered this maxim. Cultures abuse their dominance often, but sometimes they have the empathy to recognize that it is morally undesirable to exploit those they dominate. Which gives me some optimism. Certainly there is not direct evidence. It does require inference (as is common with a lot of science). One can for instance observe behaviors associated with elevated stress, and identify the frequency of this behavior exhibited in a given situation. Piglets, in their first weeks of life, will have their tails and needle teeth removed without anesthetics. There's certainly evidence that pigs feel pain, so this causes them distress. Male pigs have their testicles removed without anesthetics, also causing them pain. At this this point 9 out of 15 pigs will die. This is not seen in nature. The pigs are then forced into thick wire cage stacks. Waste from the higher stacks falls onto the lower stacks. Movement is restricted. The pigs are then forced into cramped pens when they have grown sufficiently. Toxic gases and humid conditions in the cramped quarters causes about 30 to 70 percent of the pigs to have respiratory problems, and 4 to 6 percent to die. This is also not observed in nature. Disease is also rampant in these confines - also not seen in nature. Furthermore, growth hormones promote numerous physiological defects and deformities that cause organ failures, arthritis, and orthopedic problems - which is again not observed in their non-factor farming counterparts. Stress indicators from these abnormalities can be observed. One can also observe that pigs are roaming, social animals. This behavior of course is greatly restricted in factory farming. From all the stress indicators, it is reasonable to infer that factory farming induces significant suffering. One can try to argue that being subjected to the health effects of growth hormones, toxic chemicals that damage the respiratory system, open wounds and disease, the severe inhibition of instinctual behaviors, breeding to the point of prolapse organs, etc., makes for less suffering, but substantial circumstantial evidence suggests this is unlikely. One can always go with the unlikely conclusion (for instance, perhaps our current trend of greenhouse emissions will cause the average global temperature to go down in a decade), but this seems like an unreasonable approach. If you do have any research that suggests that factory farming is mentally beneficial to animals, I would be interested in reading it. I can point you out to studies that indicate the harm if you'd like. Sure, I'm aware of this. We both have observed this. You have different values. We certainly agree there. I simply pointed out that your values are not based on anything more substantial than opinion - just like my values, or anyone's values. The end result of course is different. Your values are more permissive to inflict harm. I'm not saying this as an insult - you acknowledge in this very quote your willingness to eat factory farmed food in good conscience, and we've both acknowledged that factory farming involves the suffering of other animals. Well, yes, of course. As you pointed out, we have different values. You probably are aware that I find the free disregard of the welfare of others to be offensive, too. I don't take pleasure in the fact that my values are offensive to you. I don't see any benefit in that. Why be satisfied that another is made discontent? I do not wish discontentment on anyone. But I do think that people with different values can engage in a rational discussion, because I do not consider this topic to be a zero sum game. Any change or compromise in another person's perception that inclines towards elevating the welfare of others is something that I think is worthwhile.
  3. And I likewise sent a DM expressing that I enjoy polishgenius' posts (that applies to you, too, larrytheimp). We're all people who want to make a confusing world a better place. Anyway, back to your regular progamming!
  4. @larrytheimp, @polishgenius Honestly, I think the discussion of whether the comparisons were appropriate isn't going to find a point of agreement and we should move on. I hope you both understand that I do not aim to antagonize, but feel like I was holding to the integrity of my argument. You can agree or disagree with my reasoning, and that's fine; and I, likewise, will hold to my thoughts regarding your reasoning. But I suggest we proceed with the original discussion, since we have reached a dead end on this particular detour. I have the best wishes and good will to both of you from my end, but I will not respond further on the issue of whether the comparisons were appropriate.
  5. The problem wasn't dehumanization. The problem was devaluation. That dehumanization is an acceptable term for devaluation is precisely the problem. Because, as you point out, you are operating on the idea without any evidence at all that humans are superior and that this cannot be questioned. And then you are using the vox populi fallacy and an invocation of emotion to support your assertion. I'm perfectly happy to carry on the discussion this way. I recognize that this is an emotional issue, and it can be difficult for people to engage in this discussion rationally. I feel like an appropriate compromise would be to carry on discussions that don't accept the premise of human superiority in spoilers, and those discussions that don't address the issue to just be regular comments. That way those who think that the value of non-human animals are objectively inferior to humans can carry on with their values unquestioned. I think even with that premise, productive discussions are possible (forms of eating that we should gravitate towards that alleviate environmental damage and the health pandemic for humans, etc.).
  6. I'm open to suggests on how to tactfully approach this point. Your comment functions on the premise that it is an objective fact of the universe that humans are better than other animals, that their suffering has more value than the suffering of other animals, and even questioning this point is obscene. You are asserting that in a fundamental way human suffering should always have primary consideration, and everything else is secondary and that this should not in any way be questioned. I'm pointing out that this is the very pattern of thinking that permits a culture to impose suffering on others. And furthermore, that human superiority is not a fundamental truth of the universe, but an opinion - a value system that I think is flawed. I feel that it is a perfectly reasonable thing to discuss. I don't think it in any way diminishes the suffering other people have endured. I think the Holocaust and other ignoble points where suffering was imposed on vast numbers were completely awful, and deserve recognition as such. I'm simply extending that point to that which other animals are experiencing now. If you can provide compelling evidence that human suffering is objectively more valuable than the suffering of other animals, then that would of course change the nature of the discussion. But I suspect you cannot offer anything other than outrage at my audacity, because it is not a scientific fact that the suffering of other animals holds less value than the suffering of humans, it's a convenient value to hold that allows one to in good conscience cause suffering to other animals for one's own pleasure. I would suggest that your position is not factually based on any scientific evidence, but is a commonly held cultural opinion, and that disallowing contrasting opinions is the precise opposite of a well-reasoned approach to a discussion. But again, I'm open to suggests on how to approach the issue at hand.
  7. Every time? Just out of curiosity, what if you knew that the person in this scenario is considered severely disobedient by social conventions (such as Jeffrey Dahmer)? Would you still go for saving the human who tortures and eats people over the cow who has harmed no one? This has no real bearing to the conversation, I'm just curious. But to give a serious answer to your question, I do think that a goal of more intelligent organisms would ideally be to mitigate or remove suffering from all individuals. We strive to do that for ourselves. We offer ourselves ways to reduce hunger, opportunities to provide happiness. We search for methods to improve our political systems so that as many can benefit as can be achieved. It's a process that we are always working towards, but not one with easy solutions. And just as there are no easy solutions for ourselves, I do not think there are easy solutions to helping non-human organisms. For instance, a while back I was reading about the wolves of Yellowstone National Park. They had been driven nearly extinct in that area, which allowed the deer to overfeed and it significantly reduced the variety of life that could inhabit the area. When wolves were reintroduced to the area, after a surprising short period, more varieties of life began to appear again, and very quickly the area settled into its previous state of diversity. There are a few things to consider in this scenario, from my perspective. When deer are eaten they suffer. When wolves don't eat they suffer, and the deer themselves will still eventually suffer from the harsh death that accompanies old age or illness (eg breaking a leg and being unable to access food or water and slowly dying). Additionally, because of resource limitations, if there are too many deer, other organisms are denied food and a properly habitable environment, which causes suffering. So I don't think there is an easy answer to this due to practical considerations. Do I think we should throw up our hands, give up and say let nature do its thing? No. We do not accept that answer for ourselves. We try to improve the world for ourselves. We should in fact aim to improve the world for all (which, if some day we achieve sufficient enlightenment, I hope we do). The answer to your question is: I don't think we have a good enough understanding of the various biomes to intervene in good intention. Disruption could have catastrophic results (as we see with disruption due to global warming). That being said, factory farming is a form of intervention already, and it is not a necessity. People do not need access to this quantity of meat in order to survive. It is a system that caters to taste, and additionally is incredibly wasteful and inefficient. Disrupting the factory farming system is merely disrupting a system that is already extremely pernicious in just about every category. Other animals are not humans, as you say. It would be pointless to try to give them voting rights, for instance. But they are vulnerable to us, and they are capable of suffering. There are human beings who have severe mental deficiencies who cannot effectively function in society. We don't torture and kill them. We aim to protect them and offer them comfort. And I think that is a goal we should have for all organisms we practically can. It may not be immediately achievable, but certainly it is something worth working towards. Edit: @DireWolfSpirit It looks like we happened upon the same point. Well said! (Much more succinctly, at least.)
  8. I'm also curious about this position. Can you expound further? Lab meat would eliminate the problem of inflicting inhumane conditions on other animals, drastically reduce environmentally hazardous effluents and greenhouse emissions, allow land dedicated to livestock feed to be used as carbon sinks, and reduce water usage. Presumably lab meat could also be engineered to be healthier - less cholesterol and so forth. Why would this be a problem? And as brutal as natural deaths are, factory farming lives are far, far worse. I appreciate the clarification, but I guess I still cannot agree with this assessment. One cannot sustain the amount of food consumption (and waste) seen today without scientific intervention. In the early 1900s food scarcity was a problem, one that wasn't overcome until the Haber-Bosch method of using high pressure chemistry to convert atmospheric nitrogen into fixed nitrogen in the form of synthetic fertilizers. And then later the development of Norman Borlaug's semi-dwarf wheat. Certainly the meat people regularly consume would not be available without these developments. If an apocalypse occurred, most of the human population would starve to death, because scientific intervention is necessary to sustain our population. Modern food habits require an advancement above and beyond the typical homo sapien diet. And certainly the amount of meat produced from factory farming is entirely dependent on scientific intervention. And in regards to the point on the perceived moral superiority of veganism, I think there are ways to go about a discussion of differences, but there are always individuals in a group that immediately opt for the truncheon unfortunately. But yes, the choice of not contributing to the suffering of other animals will unavoidably be viewed by those opposed to suffering as a morally better choice than contributing to the suffering of other animals. Here's something that we can probably agree on. Lynching homosexuals is morally wrong. When you and I choose not to lynch someone for their sexual orientation, we both think we are making a morally superior choice to someone who chooses to lynch another for their sexual orientation. You may object to this comparison. How dare I compare the suffering of a human to mere animals? And that's precisely the disconnect. Vegans do not devalue the suffering of animals. You have a different mindset. As you stated, your money is worth more to you than the suffering of another individual because you devalue their suffering. You devalue it to such an extent that it probably strikes you as absurd to make the comparison that I have made. But I see this as a pattern of human behavior. Most atrocities have been committed based on devaluing those who a group is subjugating. "Of course the suffering of Jews can be disregarded - they are inferior to us." "Of course slavery is acceptable - they are inferior to us." "Of course women should not be able to vote - they are inferior to us." "Of course homosexuals should be persecuted - they are inferior to us." "Of course the suffering of other animals should not matter more to me than my money - they are inferior to us." I'm sure you will consider this case special, that it has to be different. And that too is the mentality of those who oppress others. So yes, if one does not have that mindset and observes someone choosing to harm another individual for no better reason than their own pleasure, it is not possible to consider their behavior moral.
  9. In the context that you pulled that quote, it was a neutral statement. It was intended to observe that the governmental institution China is not a purely compulsory entity; nor is the institution of the Catholic church a purely voluntary entity. This was addressing the content in the post I quoted. Responding to another poster, I did mention the community building qualities of the Catholic church, and that can be viewed as positive or negative depending on your outlook. I agree with you that this is a characteristic of all religions (and secular ideologies) that is not unique to Catholicism. My perspective on this matter is largely influenced by Sapiens, which I found persuasive in several aspects. It expresses its thesis far better than I could. First, let me say that I'm very sorry to hear about this person you are close to experiencing that kind of trauma. I wish the both of you the very best. I would also like to say that from my perspective this is a friendly discussion, and I have no intention of upsetting you if you feel emotionally invested in this topic and feel distress at contrasting opinions. That said, I will proceed with my response. I do not think that anecdotes are particularly helpful in making generalized statements. I'm not going to divulge whether I have any personal connection to abuse to amplify the credibility of my statements (this is not a criticism of you, this is simply my personal preference), because I do not think it does amplify credibility. I will point out that the longitudinal response to abuse is multifaceted. It depends on the age of the victim, whether the incident of abuse was transient or chronic, and for sexual abuse and otherwise the severity of the event(s). Individuals will respond differently to a given trauma. Some will recover quickly to severe trauma, and some will express long term maladaptive behaviors to comparatively less substantial trauma. We cannot measure the consequence of trauma in how much a person "suffers". There are no units of pain. We can simply observe a pattern of associated behaviors (future somatic effects, alcoholism, propensity for revictimization, likelihood to perpetrate event on others, later financial and family stability, etc.). And of course, with regard to the topic of abuse, we have so far limited the perspective to an anthropocentric point of view, which I do not agree with. At any rate, things are less clear cut than I think you make them out to be. But again, I do not believe that we are going to agree with each other on this issue, and so I probably will not respond to you further on the subject of childhood abuse in the Catholic church (other topics in this thread may be worth discussing though, and we may find agreement there).
  10. Absolutely. It's rarely helpful to view things in black and white. A good perspective of the merits of religion as nexus for community building (despite the problems of religions) is Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harrari.
  11. I think you would be surprised at how many people voluntarily support China. And how many people are pressured by cultural or family reasons to support the Catholic Church. As has been pointed out by others in this thread, many institutes have allowed child abuse to occur. The magnitude has been different, but this is only because the Catholic church happens to be larger in scope. But I think we are talking past each other in some respects. I think you believe that child abuse is a uniquely awful expression of suffering and since this is one of the major forms in which abuses of power took place under the Catholic church bailiwick, the church is uniquely awful. I do not share the belief that child abuse is uniquely awful. I think it's bad, but also that there are many forms of suffering which deserve equivalent consideration. It's a subjective thing of course, and so we probably won't come to an agreement in this discussion. I understand that. I believe that's part of large institutions that permit power abuse. I don't think it's unique to the Catholic church. Once again, please note that our definitions of abuse differ. I'm allowing for different manifestations of abuse, and not accepting the opinion that child abuse is the worst sort.
  12. Yes, like cultured meat I think changing attitudes with regards to even insect consumption is possible. A single generation is probably optimistic, but over several decades it is something that could occur - and may occur. However, at that point the number of animals who have been subjected to a barbaric life and death will likely reach the trillions, which is mind boggling. In addition to extinction events due to environmental damage, from a non-anthropocentric point of view, that would put our interval of time as the single most tragic period of all of Earth's history.
  13. Yes, there are quite a few institutes such as this. It seems to be a habit of organized communities. Sexual abuse is one manifestation of an abuse of power. I do believe that if you have enough powerful individuals, some will assuredly abuse that power and use the established structure to their advantage. I do think that has been a pattern of human behavior. I'm a little puzzled why you think I'm suggesting that one should excuse the Catholic church? It's perfectly understandable why one would be outraged by the church and want to hold it accountable. I've never suggested otherwise.
  14. Insect consumption is an interesting approach. From my understanding there's not much data on how insects experience pain (as Starkess observed, that is a potential consideration for simpler organisms). I think from that perspective the cultured meat is a more conservative approach to humane sustenance. And the propagation of that form of consumption would pose a challenge. It's largely associated as a disgusting food, and people would be reluctant to try to alter that mentality.
  15. Good article! I am aware of the structure of the religion that promotes abuse. Allow me to observe that currently China is committing genocide and it has nothing to do with Catholicism. While it's hard to compare atrocities, as bad as the situation with the Catholic church, many would consider the situation in China worse. The point being that while the Catholic church is a source of abuse, it is not the reason for abuse to occur, and the church's absence would not remove abuses committed by people in any way. The abuses would just be expressed in another form. This isn't a hard assertion that can be proven, of course. But I think observing social structures and human behaviors substantiates the claim.
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