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Excerpt from Endgame

Fish Feel Pain (p. 218)

From chapter "Why Civilization is Killing the World, Part"

Why civilization is killing the world, take three. British scientists have at last discovered that fish do indeed feel pain.

Whether they admit it or not, everyone who has ever gone fishing knows this is the case. But for years an intense (and intensely stupid) debate has been carried on in all seriousness in scientific and fishing circles. In order to end the debate once and for all, scientists jabbed fish in the face with hot probes, and provided “mechanical” and “chemical stimuli” to the fish’s faces as well. Sure enough, the fish “seemed” to feel pain.

Just to be certain, the scientists then injected bee venom or acetic acid into fish’s lips. In the words of one researcher, “Anomalous behaviours were exhibited by trout subjected to bee venom and acetic acid.” As a former beekeeper, I can attest to how much it hurts to have bee venom injected into one’s lip, and how directly that leads to “anomalous behavior,” in my case jumping up and down and cursing.

But evidently the (intensely stupid) debate isn’t over. Dr. Bruno Broughton, fisheries biologist for the United Kingdom’s National Angling Alliance, fired a scientific salvo back, dismissing this research by saying one cannot “draw conclusions about the ability of fish to feel pain, a psychological experience for which they literally do not have the brains.”

This is of course a repetition of a line we’ve heard too many times, the equivalent of the National Science Foundation spokesman saying there’s no causal connection between firing airguns at 240 db and whales beaching themselves, the equivalent of the National Academy of Sciences saying that salmon don’t need water.

In order to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves.

From birth on we the civilized are systematically lied to, until in time we systematically lie to ourselves. We insulate ourselves from the pain of others (and from our own pain). We pretend it does not exist. Factory farmed chickens (and carrots) feel no pain. Dammed rivers feel no pain, no claustrophobia. Children made weak and stupid by pesticides feel no pain, no loss. Children with grotesque birth defects from depleted uranium feel no pain. But oh, I forgot, there has been no causal connection shown between the activities of those in power and any of these.

Nor has there been a causal connection shown between the systematic elimination of all wild creatures and the pain, terror, and despair these creatures must feel. But oh, I forgot, these creatures do not have the brains to feel any of these things: only humans feel these things. Only humans in power feel any of these things. Only humans highest on the hierarchy feel these things. Only humans highest on the hierarchy really exist.

And so it goes.

This is what science teaches us (You will pull the vacuum-packed frog from its plastic shroud, or alternatively, you will scramble the brains of this live frog, make it as insensate as I am making you, as insensate as my elders made me). It’s what economics teaches us (Money has value. Nonhuman life does not, except insofar as it can be somehow converted to cash. Among humans, because the rich have more money than the poor, and thus the capacity to make more money than the poor, the lives of the rich have more value than those of the poor.)

This is what the military puts in place and the police enforce.

This is what is killing the world.