Talk:Pain in animals

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WikiProject Animals (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon Pain in animals is within the scope of WikiProject Animals, an attempt to better organize information in articles related to animals and zoology. For more information, visit the project page.
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This was split off from Pain and Pain in fish and crustaceans.

Dissection of a frog[edit]

The frog was chloroformed before the dissection was taking place as the author of the photo said. So the frog didn't feel pain. The photo isn't suitable here. --Rotatoria (talk) 15:57, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

That's a little pedantic. It is still an illustration of a "live dissection", which is all the caption claims it to be. --Geronimo20 (talk) 16:59, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I disagree that it's pedantic. We should be precise and accurate in our choices of words. Please see the parallel discussion of this image at Talk:Vivisection. I'm going to fix it, as I did there. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:48, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict) It's not pedantic at all. If there was no pain, the picture doesn't belong in this article. Also, you must not label a clearly good-faith edit as "vandalism" in your edit summary, however strongly you feel about it. I have already removed the image again. Looie496 (talk) 19:50, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
(ec again!) Correction: I agree with Looie. This page is about pain, and the image is absolutely inappropriate. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:53, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Okay. I didn't mean to label your edit "vandalism" Rotatoria. I was doing the tedious patrol of articles I monitor for vandalism, and I guess it was vandalism fatigue. My apologies for that. --Geronimo20 (talk) 20:01, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Cool, thanks, much appreciated. Looie496 (talk) 20:07, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I posted the image originally, without reading the detail about chloroform. I completely concur with its removal. Anthony (talk) 06:34, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Descartes image[edit]

One editor has repeatedly been deleting the Descartes image from the lead of the page, in spite of the fact that both I and another editor have reverted the deletion. I don't see any alternative image being offered, nor do I really see a valid reason (in my opinion) for why the page would be better with no image. Thoughts? --Tryptofish (talk) 19:39, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Actually it does have an image. And I am quite sure there are plenty of qute expressive images which are known to show animals experiencing pain and other suffering. The only problem is to find a free one. And it will be exactly on topic. I will look for one. And you should too.
I have nothing against this great person, and being one, he had plenty of opinions, so that half of wikipedia articles could bear his visage.
My point is this image contribute nothing to understanding of the subject. I believe there is some guideline to this end abourt relevance of images. Kaligelos (talk) 22:51, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
I was referring to no image in the lead, and we generally do try to have lead images. The relevance is that Descartes is mentioned, with multiple sources, at the beginning of the lead. It's true that an alternative would be to have an animal image, of which Wikipedia has no shortage, but there would potentially be issues of WP:NPOV were the image to be an inflammatory one. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:58, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
As far as I understand, the concept of NPOV is related to opinions of wikipedians creeping into an article. If there is a known image which arguably illustrates pain as argied in its source, I don't see now it is a violation of NPOV, especially since the article lede clearly ways that existence of pain in animals is a majority view today.
Now back to searching images. Surprizingly, I failed to find anything relevant in commons (may be I am not good at search there). I will look at flicker under cc-sa licenses. Kaligelos (talk) 23:19, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm reasonably OK with the shark compromise, although there ought to be an image of better photographic quality. (We probably would not have had this discussion at all, if the first edit had been to replace Descartes with the shark; it was the deletion of the image with nothing in its place that caught my attention.) --Tryptofish (talk) 23:37, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

pain sensation vs suffering[edit]

This article does not descrive and maintain clear distinctions between sensing pain and suffering from pain. (I guess the reason lies in the English language and cultural perception the words "pain" and "suffering" are synonyms.) After all, there is a concept of masochism (although I have never read about masochistic animals). That animals can feel pain and try to avoid has been known beyond any doubt even in times of Descartes (I fixed the article text to this end), the true controversy is about whether animals suffer. The second rerefence ("The Ethics of research involving animals") has a reasonably good treatment of this issue, and I would like to ask a person better versed in English to summarize it from there (and from other sources with possibly different POV). Kaligelos (talk) 00:10, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Descartes thought that animal organisms are unconscious machine because they have no soul, that they can 'sense' or 'feel' things and react to them but only like we would say that a thermostat can sense heat and react to it. According to the most current definition of pain nowadays, pain is "physical pain" and it is always a conscious experience. Another current use of the word pain is as a synonym of suffering, as indicated at the article suffering. Pain in animals can be an article that is both about physical pain and suffering, in my opinion, but care should be taken, when required, to be clear on the meanings of the terms. --Robert Daoust (talk) 02:46, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Balance for invertebrates[edit]

Dear All, I am very new to writing for Wikipedia, so please be gentle with me. I'm concerned this article Pain in Animals is rather unbalanced and that a lot of (recent) scientific literature indicates the possibility of invertebrates having the capacity to experience pain. Some sections of the article appear to be mis-leading. For example, saying that fruit flies are one exception to invertebrates not having nociceptors is completely at odds with the paper by Smith and Lewin, 2009 J Comp Physiol A (2009) 195:1089–1106. My feeling is that the section on comparing 'fish and crustaceans' should be extended to 'vertebrates and invertebrates'. I am willing to do this, but afraid that the major re-write I envisage would be 'vandalism'. How should I proceed? DrChrissy (talk) 11:59, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

With relatively small or uncontroversial edits, I find WP:BRD is most efficient. Just do it, and if someone objects, revert to the earlier version and discuss. With more substantial edits, in my experience, it's more efficient to compose the new/replacement material on a subpage in my user space and copy it to the article talk page for discussion when it's ready.
Create a subpage entitled "Pain in animals" by clicking User:DrChrissy/Pain in animals.
If you want help with formatting citations or anything, ask here or on the talk page of any of the editors on this page. A good grasp of the policy Identifying reliable sources and the guideline Identifying reliable sources (medicine) will give you an idea of what will float and what will sink like a stone.
Aside from the occasional misunderstanding, this is a pretty friendly page. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 12:50, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Two things are important: (1) Write in a way that reflects the relative weight of views throughout the reputable literature; (2) Any statement that may be controversial should be attributed to a specific source that says it, e. g., "Larkin and Vrednik argue that there is no scientific basis for saying that invertebrates do not experience pain.<ref>Larkin and Vrednik</ref>", not "There is no scientific basis for saying that invertebrates do not experience pain.<ref>Larkin and Vrednik</ref>". Looie496 (talk) 17:14, 20 April 2011 (UTC)


If you define pain as an endogenous negative reinforcement to prevent the animal from destroying itself - which must be inherent in all living organisms to some extent - then clearly, without any shred of doubt, yes, animals, even plants, feel pain. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lekjjkonon999 (talkcontribs) 01:57, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes, it depends on your definition. The IASP says pain is a conscious experience, and involves suffering. Therefore, for a creature to experience pain, per that definition, it must be capable of consciousness and suffering. Determining which animals possess these faculties is the challenge. I agree, if we equate pain with avoidance learning, there is no problem. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 02:35, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Sub-sections on this page[edit]

Dear All, I would like to revisit a concern that has been raised before by Tryptofish and possibly others, namely, the inclusion of the 'Laboratory animals' subsection on the page Pain in animals. First, the article is a little misleading in that it indicates all studies in the UK performed under a Home Office license involve pain. I can understand people misunderstanding this because of the three labels of severity, however, this is for suffering, not pain. Studies where a foreign substance is administered are also regulated. For example, scientists might make a food distasteful with quinine. This does not cause pain, but the animals do not like it so it is presumed to cause suffering. Second, I do not see why there should be a section on pain in laboratory animals without similar articles on Pain in farm animals, Pain in zoo animals, Pain in pet animals, etc. also being included. I believe the 'laboratory animals' article should be moved from this page.

Similarly, I am not sure why there are sub-sections only for fish and crustaceans on Pain in animals...this neglects a huge number of animals for which there is good encyclopedic information.

Perhaps even more fundamentally, shouldn't this page be titled 'Pain in non-human animals'? After all, humans are classified as part of the animal kingdom. DrChrissy (talk) 15:59, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

About laboratory animals, we used to have a standalone page on pain in lab animals, and I merged it, per the consensus at that time, into this page instead. The previous issue was that the standalone article tended to be an anti-research POV page, and I'd rather not go back to what we had before. I live in the US, so I don't know much about the UK. If this page is inaccurate about the UK regulations, please just go ahead and edit the page to correct it. As for other categories of animals, one can certainly add more sections to this page, with proper sourcing of course. The presence and absence of sections is mostly a reflection of what editors have and have not written to date. The non-human thing has been a perennial question on various pages. I think I remember an acrimonious argument about it on the animal rights talk page about a year ago. It ends up being a no-win edit war, in my experience. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:27, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Specialists currently believe that all vertebrates can feel pain[edit]

This line appears in the body of the text with no citation. The reading I've done in philosophy, neuroscience and pain science leaves me thinking most scientists and philosophers will concede a degree of consciousness and the ability to suffer to chimps, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans and gibbons, and maybe cetaceans. As there's no source, and as this is a crucial point, I've deleted it until a source that can speak for the scientific community as a whole can be found. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 11:49, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

I agree, good call. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:55, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

List of criteria indicating capacity for pain[edit]

I see that the seventh criterion 'High cognitive ability and sentience' has been added to the list of criteria suggesting the capacity for a species to experience pain. The reason why I omitted this from Rob Elwood's list is that some humans have a vary low cognitive ability and apparently reduced sentience, yet they clearly still experience pain. There is no strong reason about why animals need to have high cognitive ability to feel pain. That would mean mentally impaired humans feel less pain, but I doubt anyone would argue that this is the case. Having 'sentience' as a criterion is, I belive, a circular arguement. Sentience is the capacity to have positive and negative feelings, but surely pain is a negative feeling. I think the seventh added criterion should be removed. DrChrissy (talk) 11:39, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't have the Elwood paper to which the list is sourced, but I think we should only have a list that duplicates exactly a list in that source. We should neither add to nor subtract from the list that is in the Elwood paper. And if there isn't such a numbered list in the paper, then we shouldn't have the list at all. Otherwise, we are going against WP:NOR. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:20, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

Added sentence on invertebrates[edit]

Someone has added the sentence "Though evidence suggests that most invertebrates do not feel pain,..." to this article. Where is the evidence to substantiate this statement? For this statement to be true, 'Most' invertebrates would have to have been tested and they clearly haven't. This sentence should be removed. DrChrissy (talk) 11:46, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

In this edit I changed

Specialists currently believe that all vertebrates can feel pain,[citation needed] and that some invertebrates, such as decapod crustaceans (e.g.crabs and lobsters) and cephalopods (e.g. octopuses) might.[1][2][3]


Though evidence suggests that most invertebrates do not feel pain, some argue that decapod crustaceans (e.g.crabs and lobsters) and cephalopods (e.g. octopuses) may.[1][2][3]

  1. ^ a b "Do Invertebrates Feel Pain?", The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, The Parliament of Canada Web Site, accessed 11 June 2008.
  2. ^ a b Jane A. Smith (1991). "A Question of Pain in Invertebrates". ILAR Journal. 33 (1-2). 
  3. ^ a b Sherwin, C.M. (2001). Can invertebrates suffer? Or, how robust is argument-by-analogy? Animal Welfare, 10(supplement): 103-118
based on the cited sources. The Senate standing committee says

the balance of the evidence suggests that most invertebrates do not feel pain. The evidence is most robust for insects, and, for these animals, the consensus is that they do not feel pain.

and Smith (1991) says

The evidence seems to suggest that at least some of the cephalopods might have a nervous organization that would allow them to experience something like pain. It is unclear, however, whether cephalopods are able to "suffer" pain.


pain might seem less likely in the more "simple" invertebrates, than in the most "complex" invertebrates, such as the cephalopod mollusks (and, perhaps, decapod crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, not considered here)


the evidence for pain perception [in cephalopods] is equivocal


the evidence certainly does not preclude the possibility of pain in [cephalopods] and, moreover, suggests that pain is more likely in cephalopods than in the other invertebrates with less "complex" nervous organizations.

I think my version better represents the sources. (I can't access Sherwin, 2001.) The article should, however mention that, because of this uncertainty, invertebrates ought to be treated as though they can feel pain. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 13:09, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

But please look at the quality of the 'evidence' you are citing. The Smith et al. paper is twenty years old! We have discovered so much about invertebrates, pain and animal suffering since then. The Senate Committee paper was published in 2004 I think, and cites only 9 pieces of work - hardly fitting for such a complex issue. I can provide a copy of the Sherwin paper for you if you wish (is there a way of linking to this in a Wiki article when it is copyright material?), but this is related to suffering in general, rather than pain specifically.DrChrissy (talk) 13:48, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

I made the above correction because the existing wording did not reflect the cited sources. I did not add those sources. I corrected our text to match them. If more recent authoritative sources have revised this data, please feel free to make the changes. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 15:37, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

Citation requested[edit]

If the majority of scholarly sources say that the “gold standard” measure of pain in a human is that person's testimony, then please cite to one or two of them. Thank you. Bwrs (talk) 05:30, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

It strikes me that sentience is different from the other items in the list of criteria for determining whether an animal can feel pain or not. The other items in this list are scientifically-determinable; sentience is a prerequisite for feeling anything, but how are you going to measure it? Bwrs (talk) 20:12, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Laws and guidelines on inflicting pain on animals[edit]

Does this article need a section discussing the way different jurisdictions and professions address how the various classes of animal may be treated? For example, I vaguely recall some jurisdiction outlawing throwing a live crayfish into boiling water. Anyway, I just thought I'd moot the idea. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 06:37, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

I think this would be a good article, but could get rather complicated. It could cover different jurisdictions for animals used in science, farming, entertainment, companion animals, zoo animals. But, how would also we cope with all the diferent countries and the different animals? Here in the UK for example, we have legislation protecting a single species, the badger. By the way, I think the legislation you refer to regarding lobsters is from New Zealand. DrChrissy (talk) 15:23, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Just found this on the Lobster article: The boiling method is illegal in some places, such as in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where offenders face fines of up to €495.[24] DrChrissy (talk) 16:19, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
The only lobsters in New Zealand are spiny lobsters, and they are referred to as "crayfish" and not as lobsters. I don't think there is any legislation there specific to boiling crayfish, but this article is useful. --Epipelagic (talk) 21:12, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
There are already a lot of related pages, and I think most of them are in Category:Animal law or its subcategories. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:29, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. That's what I'm looking for. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 13:12, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Delete section on crustaceans[edit]

I propose that the small sub-section on crustaceans is deleted. Citation tags have correctly been placed on it, but even if these were added, I think the information is well covered in Pain in crustaceans. I feel all we need here is to direct the reader to this main page rather than give them very brief details on decapod crustaceans only. __DrChrissy (talk) 18:10, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

I agree, and I'm going to do that now. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:08, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Definition of pain[edit]

this revert is a violation of NPOV. Low quality, unrepresentive source was used. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:06, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

Please try and get a consensus here instead of continuing to edit war with further reverts. You haven't explained why you think a "violation of NPOV" has occurred, nor have you established why views expressed by Marian Dawkins are "low quality" and "unrepresentive". --Epipelagic (talk) 06:40, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

Did you read read the source and edit comments I added at all? That explained. (talk) 13:12, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

You have explained nothing, only expressed your bias. You have been hopping around using different IP addresses and making gross attacks on Marian Dawkins using unreliable sources. If you want to contribute seriously, start an account so other editors can communicate coherently with you, and read some of the basic guidelines such as wp:pov, wp:rs, wp:verify, wp:nor, wp:ew. --Epipelagic (talk) 21:46, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
1)I explained to other editors (such as --Anthonyhcole ) why I don't use an account. An argument is valid or not should be independent from who said it. Or the opinion is biased.
2)basic IT knowledge: a lots of ISPs change user IPs automatically. So does mine.
3)You apparently did not look into the source I added for this article before you jump into conclusions. Do you usually do research like that? My source is well-know and important, it is a good summary of many definitions. It also shows clearly why a simple agreed definition does not exist.
4) DrChrissy has been spamming [Marian Stamp Dawkins] work in many places without sufficient evidence of notability. She has conflict of interests.
5) All my edits (such as criticism to Marian Stamp Dawkins) are backed up by sources.
6)The source of Dawkins is from a book edited by an ethicist (arts major), not a scientist. It is not important scientifically. (talk)
  • See Talk:Marian Stamp Dawkins#Amazon reviews online --Epipelagic (talk) 01:11, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
    • IP hopper - you have stated publicly that I have a conflict of interest by reverting to include a book written by Marian Dawkins. Please explain coherently why you state there is a conflict of interest. You also accuse me of "spamming" this book. I am not spamming, simply reverting the article to how it was before your disruptive edits. For your information, I have written Chapters/sections in several of the books YOU have included in this article and others - if I was to be inserting these as references, you might have a case for conflict of interest or spamming. Thank-you for promoting my work.__00:01, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Why would you want me to explain which books? Are you trying to "out" me? If you are, you will be immediately blocked.__DrChrissy (talk) 17:45, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Because, if you can't point out which books, then your statements can be a lie. You have a tracking history of lying and defamation, as documented in the talk page of animal welfare. (talk) 22:12, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
For those following this thread, see Talk:Marian Stamp Dawkins - I have only a limited amount of energy to keep refuting these wild accusations posted on multiple articles.__DrChrissy (talk) 22:57, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
I always have determination to defend truth and good science. (talk) 23:37, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
How charming you are. --Epipelagic (talk) 01:20, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. I just responded to Epipelagic's defamation against me on Beeblebrox's talk page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:32, 2 January 2014 (UTC)


views from reliable sources are rejected without explain. (talk) 22:22, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

I've been watching this dispute and, because my hands are full elsewhere, I've avoided getting in, but I'd like now to point folks to some constructive ways to get these issues resolved.
  • To the IP editor: If you are concerned that Dr. Chrissy or anyone else has a conflict of interest, your best option is to stop discussing it here, and instead make use of WP:COIN. (That said, I've edited with Dr. Chrissy in the past, and I am very skeptical that this is anything other than a disagreement about how to write the content, so you may also want to consider dropping that issue, and just focusing on what you believe the page should or should not say.)
  • To Epipelagic and Dr. Chrissy: If you want someone uninvolved to settle the issue of whether or not that source should be cited, once and for all, you can go to WP:RSN, and ask for an outside opinion about whether citing it supports the content. My guess is that you'll get a "yes", and that should put a rest to it; continued unwillingness to accept that advice would justify either semi-protection of the page (at WP:RFPP), or an IP rangeblock (at WP:ANI; they can block a range of IP addresses). But if instead RSN yields concerns about the source, then you should be open to reconsidering.
And everyone: you'll get to a good outcome faster if you all stop commenting on one another's supposed motivations. Just focus on what this page should or should not say, according to policies and guidelines. No comments about other users. Thanks. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:33, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
@ Tryptofish – thank you for that. But I think you've missed the main thrust of what was going on here. It was not the status of that particular source. What was happening on this page (and other pages) was strictly secondary to the attacks the IP was making on the Marian Dawkins page, and you would need to examine what happened there before you can comment meaningfully on behaviour here. Dr. Chrissy's and my behaviour on this page needs to be seen as a response to those central attacks. You suggest we just focus on the issues, which would generally be correct. But it is pointless trying to do that with an IP who has no intention of hearing what is said. --Epipelagic (talk) 18:55, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
Can I add my support to the comments of Epipelagic. On numerous times I have avoided extremely uncivil behaviour and asked the IP hopper to take discussion about edits to the Talk page. This is usually ignored or comments made on the Talk page that are extremely uncivil. I appreciate this Talk page (or any other) might not be the most appropriate place to resolve these issues, but the IP hopper has on numerous occasions shown themselves unwilling to follow wikipedia policy.__DrChrissy (talk) 19:05, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
Don't brush me off that easily. I went and looked at the BLP page, and I still see the IP editor expressing concern that both of you have conflicts of interest. The IP editor still needs to resolve that at WP:COIN and accept what they hear there, without continuing to make those claims about the two of you. If you, from your perspectives, see this less as a sourcing issue and more as an issue of criticism of the author of the source, then you can take the criticism of Prof. Dawkins to WP:BLPN (and I think you would be well-advised to do so!), and you could still find out about the sourcing at WP:RSN. What you both ought to stop doing is letting the IP editor annoy you to the point where the issues on any article talk page remain personal. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:39, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
No intention to brush you off - thanks for the advice.__DrChrissy (talk) 19:58, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
Not trying to brush you off either, but I'm surprised you are encouraging more time wasting. The IP is already taking her issues to venues she can identify, and I suppose she can start up more threads on the additional venues you suggest. --Epipelagic (talk) 22:44, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
I already posted on COI and POV noticeboards yesterday. (talk) 22:13, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Thanks. I read the sections at COIN and NPOVN. It seems to me that uninvolved editors have reached a consensus that the IP editor is making incorrect accusations. I see no reason why Dr. Chrissy and Epipelagic could not go to WP:ANI and request what is called a rangeblock. However, I will also note the advice at COIN that Dr. Chrissy and Epipelagic are undermining their own case by needlessly raising issues about the IP editor, such as not having a registered account. You are just giving yourselves an un-needed black eye, because it looks to uninvolved editors like this is just a POV dispute, with both sides acting nasty to one another. I'm not time-wasting, just pointing out what does and what does not work. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:12, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

So it seems nothing can be done because we did things like asking the IP to stop IP hopping. If we hadn't tried relating to the IP on article talk pages we would have been told that nothing can be done because we hadn't discussed the matter. Already there has been a request to an admin for assistance, a request to RPP for page protection, a thread at the Teahouse, a thread on COIN and two threads on NPOVN. No useful intervention has resulted from any of these. The system is geared to maximise drama and minimise effective assistance to content builders. The only admin offering has been a regal side comment that these "accusations have been going on for a while and it's starting to sound a bit shrill". --Epipelagic (talk) 18:27, 3 January 2014 (UTC)
Just revert the IP's bad edits. Don't bother arguing with somebody who doesn't listen. If the IP edit wars as a result, a complaint to admins will get action. Looie496 (talk) 20:03, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

Edit war[edit]

There seems to be a bit of an edit war going on with this article. One editor has changed instances of "animals" to "non-human animals" and has had their edits reverted several times. Can a consensus be reached on this as things are going round in circles at the moment. Kev (talk) 21:16, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

To what extent Wikipedia should aim at scientific accuracy may be controversial. But to be told that using the term "nonhuman animals" rather than "animals" constitutes "vandalism" is both inaccurate and turns the normal usage of the term on its head. --Cassandra3001 (talk) 21:35, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

It isn't vandalism, it is "edit warring". Trying to force an edit into an article against the consensus of numerous other editors is futile. Could you instead make an effort to understand why so many other editors disagree with you here? Regards, Looie496 (talk) 21:53, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

In popular usage, apes are often called "monkeys". Thankfully, Wikipedia doesn't replicate the error. The comparative nature, significance and possible ethical implications of pain in human and nonhuman animals are legitimate subjects for investigation and debate. To claim or otherwise imply that humans are not animals, on the other hand, would be scientifically illiterate. IMO the accurate term is to be preferred.--Davidcpearce (talk) 15:16, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

David, I reverted your change to the title of this article which you renamed somewhat awkwardly as Pain in nonhuman animals. There is nothing wrong as such with doing that, but it does fly in the face of the widely accepted default position that the term "animal" refers to "nonhuman animals" unless it is stated otherwise. And there are other problems. There are a huge number of article with "animal" in the title, such as animal science, animal cognition, animal migration, animal rights, animal welfare, animal testing, animals in space, animal euthanasia, animal consciousness, homosexual behavior in animals, altruism in animals, animal sacrifice, social animal, rabies in animals, emotion in animals, personality in animals, begging in animals, epilepsy in animals, deception in animals, animal suicide, laughter in animals, animal love, alopecia in animals, actinomycosis in animals, animal coloration, animal locomotion, animals in Buddhism, cruelty to animals, tool use by animals, comfort behaviour in animals, self-anointing in animals, extrasensory perception in animals, animal painter, otitis externa in animals, organ replacement in animals, social facilitation in animals... to mention just some of them. In every title you presumably want to replace "animal" with "nonhuman animal". And then, in accordance with the wishes of Cassandra3001, every occurrence of the work "animal" should similarly be replaced within the text.
Might it be enough if, as a compromise, each of these articles stated in the lead that the scope of the article was confined to nonhumans? If you want to persist with your original position, the place to discuss it is not really on this particular talk page. The implications go way beyond this particular article, and you should transfer the discussion to a new section on Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Animals. To be consistent, you will need to persuade them to move WikiProject Animals to WikiProject Nonhuman Animals. --Epipelagic (talk) 22:15, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
Epipelagic, thanks for explaining. A global search-and-replace would be technically trivial to implement. But yes, you're right, it's the sort of change that could be done only by Wikipedia consensus.
As you've probably guessed, I wouldn't worry about such a pedantic-sounding point in this particular entry if there weren't far-reaching implications.
Whether the question is framed as "Pain in animals" or "Pain in nonhuman animals" will shape many readers' responses. This is a case where scientific accuracy really matters. --Davidcpearce (talk) 07:40, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Epipelagic is correct—referring to "nonhuman animals" is awkward and unnecessary. The solution is some kind of hatnote or statement in the lead about the scope of the article (is there a "pain in humans" article that could be linked?). When people talk about "animal welfare" or "pain in animals" they are not referring to humans. @Davidcpearce: Please read WP:TP to learn about indenting comments. I put two colons in front of your message and three in front of mine. Johnuniq (talk) 10:30, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
The figure of 40% or so of Americans who hold creationist views of human origins suggests "nonhuman animals" is controversial rather than redundant. Either way, scientific accuracy is preferable to stylistic elegance. --Davidcpearce (talk) 11:14, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Fine, so what is the proposal, bearing in mind that it would not be desirable for one or two articles to refer to "nonhuman animals" while many others don't? Johnuniq (talk) 11:44, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Multiple references to "nonhuman animals" and "non-human animals" already exist in Wikipedia. I hadn't realised that the title "Pain in nonhuman animals" would prove so contentious. Standardising usage across all Wikipedia is presumably the sort of change made only after extensive discussions in the community. In the meantime, using the correct expression in entries where scientific accuracy really matters strikes me as more urgent than standardization - although you're right, consistency would be nice too. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Davidcpearce (talkcontribs) 16:56, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
A unilateral global search-and-replace ('animals' -> 'nonhuman animals') is against fundamental Wikipedia policies: enforcing a marginal terminology and making blind substitutions of words violates MOS:QUOTE, WP:INTEGRITY and, above all, WP:RS/AC. Presenting the issue as some kind of Wikipedia community bias or stylistic preference is deeply misleading. --Omnipaedista (talk) 12:30, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Whether we conceive of sentient beings from other species as nonhuman animals or just "animals" has ethical implications beyond scientific accuracy. These ethical implications are one reason for the increasing currency of the term "nonhuman animals" over the older usage. A critic might respond that Wikipedia should express a neutral point of view. But no one who insists on the older and scientifically inaccurate "animals" when only nonhuman animals is intended should suppose that they are taking a neutral, non-ideological stand. Either way, Wikipedia isn't - or at least it shouldn't be - a compendium of popular errors but an authoritative resource. --Davidcpearce (talk) 13:00, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
While I personally sympathize with your goal, I will have to note that using Wikipedia as the medium to achieve such a goal is misguided. All editors must understand the fundamental importance of "Five pillars". See also WP:SOAPBOX and WP:ACTIVIST. --Omnipaedista (talk) 13:42, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

(outdent) David, you weaken your case if you use immoderate language such as you have above, referring to people who disagree with you as "scientifically inaccurate", lacking "a neutral, non-ideological stand", and producing "a compendium of popular errors". I find myself wondering at your own ideological stand and whether you are an emissary from Peta. There is nothing "scientifically inaccurate" about using the term "animals" in a context where it is clear that nonhuman animals are being referred to. That is just one of numerous conventions in the English language that make things simpler and more concise when there is little possibility of confusion. Are you seriously suggesting that that convention confuses you? You can of course persist with your immoderate language, with its implication that you have some sort of moral upper hand and the rest of us are relatively degenerate. Some of the people opposing your views that you have engaged here and elsewhere have written extensively about awareness and suffering in animals. You have no grounds for the insinuations you are making.

However, I would support a proposal that all general articles about nonhuman animals, such as Pain in animals, contain a sentence in the lead that makes it quite clear that the article is about nonhuman animals. As has already been pointed out to you in this thread and elsewhere, the talk page of a specific article is not the place to formulate a Wikipedia guideline on this matter. If you are serious about addressing the issue in a more formal way, I suggest again that you raise it at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Animals. The discussion in this thread has run its course. --Epipelagic (talk) 15:06, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Comment: a local consensus (such as one that may be reached by members of WikiProject Animals) has only limited validity since it cannot override community consensus on a wider scale (see WP:CONLIMITED). --Omnipaedista (talk) 16:21, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Sure. But a guideline on the use of the word "animal" established by WikiProject Animals is unlikely to overturned by the wider community. There are plenty of parallel examples, such as the guideline on the naming of ships established by WikiProject Ships. --Epipelagic (talk) 18:29, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
No disagreement here. --Omnipaedista (talk) 18:35, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
If I may quote Richard Dawkins, "let's not say animals, let's say non-human animals" : --Davidcpearce (talk) 19:08, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm a bit late to this discussion, but I agree with Epipelagic, Johnuniq, and Omnipaedista. David, you may of course quote anyone you want, but there are doubtless other quotes from other sources that would say otherwise. I think that "animals" appears to be the common usage in the preponderance of sources, and, as for Wikipedia getting out in front of the source material, well, there's also WP:RGW. I agree with Epipelagic's very reasonable idea of a clarifying sentence, at least for this page here. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:50, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Tryptofish, perhaps you might want to engage with _why_ Dawkins and others increasingly prefer the accurate term over the archaic pre-scientific usage? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Davidcpearce (talkcontribs) 11:21, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

(outdent) David, using the term "animals" is not "archaic pre-scientific usage". You made that up all by yourself. Dawkin was talking in a specific context involving creationists who think humans are not animals. I agree with Dawkin's stance in that context. Perhaps you live in one of those parts of the US overrun with creationists, so it seems like an important issue to you. But this is an encyclopedia for English speakers in general. Wikipedia articles should not be generally slanted to specifically address the confusions of creationists. That would lack balance and give far too much weight to creationists. Also, this page is  t h e   w r o n g   p l a c e  for a discussion like this. It would be more appropriate to discuss the matter at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Animals. --Epipelagic (talk) 12:20, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

Epipelagic, the term "animals" is not archaic or pre-scientific (!). What is archaic or pre-scientific is restrictive use of the term so as to exclude members of one notable species. If this were merely some pedantic point of scientific accuracy, then I seriously doubt we'd be having long discussions about it. In practice, the use and abuse of the term has become ideologically contested. --Davidcpearce (talk) 20:56, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
You might have had a point 200 years ago when there was a real ideological contest. You are behaving as though you think the battle between creationists and science still needs to be fought. Do not confuse the way editors here have displayed courtesy and patience with substantive discourse. Anyway, this has become entirely unproductive, so I'm out of here. --Epipelagic (talk) 21:25, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
Epipelagic, opinion polls suggest that around one in three Americans don't believe in evolution. So claims that the battle for scientific accuracy is won are premature. And even among the majority of the population that no longer accepts the inerrancy of the Bible, the Biblical notion that God has given one species dominion over "animals" endures. --Davidcpearce (talk) 21:49, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

NCBI info[edit]

@DrChrissy: What exactly is your concern with sourced info from NCBI website? So far I'm not seeing a valid reason for removal. Brandmeistertalk 21:27, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

I am not as concerned with the source as I am with the edit. The edit makes it sound like a statement of fact that animals can experience pain. Even the NCBI source indicates this is not universally accepted. The article prior to the edit was a balanced approach to developing the arguements, especially pain vs. nociception.__DrChrissy (talk) 21:39, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
We just cite what verifiable sources say. I propose retaining two sentences as directly sourced to a reliable source: "pain is experienced by many animal species" and "it is generally agreed that, in mammals, the sensation of pain requires a cortex". Right now the lead seems to be somewhat unbalanced. Brandmeistertalk 21:49, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
It is a matter of balance. I have no problem with quotes such as "It is stated that....animals feel pain" but that will be balanced by other quotes that they do (can) not. Of course we need to be balanced, but that should not be done with statements "of fact" that are clearly incorrect. Pain can not be measured.__DrChrissy (talk) 22:12, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

re. cortex: Fine to put the cortex quote in, but this must be balanced by arguments that because an animal does not have a cortex does not mean it can not experience pain.__DrChrissy (talk) 22:15, 14 February 2015 (UTC)


Dr. Chrissy, Why isn't 'non-human animal' redundant and essential to what argument? Best Regards,

  Bfpage |leave a message  23:17, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Hi. This is an argument which comes up time and time again because WP adopts the default approach that humans are not animals. Therefore, many editors when discussing what happens in non-human animals, feel it is sometimes necessary to remind readers that humans are also animals. I felt that in the section concerned, "non-human" was necessary to remind the reader of which organisms were being discussed. I have no doubt there will be other points of view as this is a huge disparity in WP. If you feel so inclined, please revert. I will not challenge this. All the best.__DrChrissy (talk) 23:27, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Thank you for your thoughtful, kind and diplomatic reply. I also adopt the default approach of not using the term 'non-human animals' but for the opposite reason - I always remember that we are animals and assume it when I edit. I've read the term 'non-human animals' in some animal-rights literature. Is that where you found it? A two-word phrase is not plagarism by any stretch, so that is not why I am asking. Best regards.
  Bfpage |leave a message  23:06, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Hi. I might have got myself all twisted up here. For the record, we all know that humans are animals. WP seems to have a default that this is not true and that there are "humans" and there are "animals". I completely disagree with this and when I am editing, like you, I assume we are animals. Perhaps I have been brain-washed by this WP default! I have been using the phrase "non-human animals" for years when it is necessary, but I have no idea where it came from - I read mainly animal welfare material rather than animal rights, so my useage is unlikely to have stemmed from the latter.__DrChrissy (talk) 23:26, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Damn! I really should have looked at the article first before that last comment. In these circumstances, the phrase "non-human animals" probably should be in there. This is because the section is trying to say "humans can easily communicate their perception of pain, but other animals (i.e. non-human animals) can not" It is trying to distinguish between the two.__DrChrissy (talk) 23:39, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

LOL! "Eccentric edit"[edit]

Epipelagic, I think this is a first one for me. It never has occurred to me to call anyone's edit 'eccentric.' I can't even consider this to be uncivil, it's too funny. Editing for brevity and clarity is a real and authentic goal of mine to improve the readability of articles. You don't actually revert everyone's edits to 'your' articles, do you? Best Regards,

  Bfpage |leave a message  20:31, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, editing for brevity and clarity is a great goal. From time to time some copy editors state that is their goal but then confuse that goal with removing nuance. This particularly applies to editors who are not really familiar with the field they are editing. You have been removing nuance from articles about topics you seem unfamiliar with. Unfortunately you seem to focus particularly on prominent areas such as the lead. You achieved your goal of brevity by changing "non-human animals" to "animals". But you cannot claim you achieved "clarity". That is why I characterised your edit as eccentric. Editors often come to articles like this complaining about this "animal" versus "non-human animal" issue. If you look above you will see it has been discussed extensively on this very talk page. --Epipelagic (talk) 22:47, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Let us agree[edit]

Can we at least agree to define the topic in the opening statement. I did a search on " a contentious issue." as an opening statement on all articles in wikipedia and it is usually related to a political topic. The contentiousness of the article topic is very important, but as an opening statement? It doesn't help define the subject. Doesn't the contentiousness get treated in greater detail in the rest of the article? I've read nothing about including 'nuance' in encyclopedic writing anywhere on Wikipedia. It would seem quite appropriate to include nuances in the writing of essays, though. Your eccentric fellow editor,

  Bfpage |leave a message  17:58, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
Agree. We can do better by coming up with a more informative opening sentence and if that statement is to be retained, it can go somewhere else in the lead. Brandmeistertalk 20:59, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
Oppose. The most casual exploration of this topic will confirm it is highly contentious and generates much heat. It has been that way for many years, and this fact is probably the single most salient observation that can be made about the topic. What do you think might be a "more informative opening sentence" Brandmeister? Most readers would not really need to be told what the article is about, and something like "Pain in animals is about pain in animals" would hardly be useful. --Epipelagic (talk) 07:01, 20 October 2015 (UTC)
This is a really tricky one. I agree that starting off with " a contentious issue" is certainly not the best/strongest way to start an article, but as soon as we make a definitive statement that non-human animals (in general) feel pain, we are sure to get people challenging this (take a look at the very recent edits on Pain in fish, Pain in crustaceans and Pain in invertebrates). What about borrowing the lead sentence from Pain and then adding the concern after, e.g.
"Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli; the experience of Pain in animals is a contentious/debated subject."
DrChrissy (talk) 14:54, 20 October 2015 (UTC)
Starting with a definition like "pain is a distressing feeling..." implies pain in animals is subjective. That then begs the question of what it would be for an animal to have a feeling, let alone a distressing one. So straight away we are immersed in a conundrum... how can we know an animal is in a state that conforms with this definition? How can we know whether such a definition in the context of animals is not empty? But what we can reasonably do is make it clear that we are starting with a widely accepted definition of what pain is in humans.
How about
"In humans pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. Whether animals apart from humans also experience pain is contentious".
This approach leads naturally to the arguments by analogy, using say behavioural accompaniments or the neural correlates of consciousness, that are typically used in this area by scientific researchers. It also gives perspective to the IP who is currently claiming elsewhere that analogies with humans must be dismissed on the grounds that they are anthropomorphic. However this particular definition of pain is geared for utility within the medical community. Humans can verbally report on their subjective experience of pain, but animals can not. Because of the current internal politics I think we should steer well clear of any suggestion that animal pain is a medical issue. --Epipelagic (talk) 21:15, 20 October 2015 (UTC)
@DrChrissy: I gather you have been instructed that you should be able to participate in the talk page discussion but you should not reply to stuff about humans. So I don't expect you to reply to the above. I'm not sure how the article can proceed with your participation. I will make the change I suggested above. If you make a further contribution to this article or talk page during the next two days, I will assume you are happy. If you don't I will assume you are unhappy. However that will be my assumption alone, and has nothing to do with you. --Epipelagic (talk) 23:30, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
Epi - I am looking into this. Please make whichever edits you wish. You and I seem to think along similar lines which is refreshing on here! If I am allowed to contribute, I will. If not, I will respect my ban and when it is hopefully lifted in a couple of months, get back and we can chat more if this is needed. Thanks for understanding.DrChrissy (talk) 23:42, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
User:Awilley has suggested on my Talk Page, "Pain is a distressing feeling, usually caused by intense or (potentially) damaging stimuli. Pain in animals has been a subject of contention, however, it is widely accepted by a broad spectrum of scientists and philosophers that non-human animals can feel pain." I like this.DrChrissy (talk) 12:01, 22 October 2015 (UTC)
I don't like this. First, as I discussed above, there is no general agreement that pain in animals is a distressing type of "feeling". If what is meant by a feeling is a subjective experience private to the animal, then that is not a workable or operational definition that lends itself to scientific investigation. It is a definition that can work for humans, and indeed is used in medical contexts, because humans have language capacities which allow them to report on their private experiences. But that does not apply to other animals. This is why I qualified the current lead sentence with the phrase: "In humans, ... ". Second, it is not appropriate to generalize across all animal groups that they "can feel pain". For example, oysters seem to lack the necessary coordination in neural processing, and sponges lack any kind of neurons at all. Third, while an increasing number of scientists seem open to the likelihood that some animal groups experience pain, I don't see that position being widely endorsed amongst academic philosophers. Influential figures like Dennett and Caruthers argue it is likely that animals lack the phenomenal consciousness necessary to experience pain. --Epipelagic (talk) 21:49, 22 October 2015 (UTC)
I take your points. To discuss this properly, it appears I would have to violate my topic ban. I suggest you go ahead and make the edits you wish, and if there is a need to discuss these in the future, we can return to it. I know your edits will be their usual extremely high standard.DrChrissy (talk) 22:36, 22 October 2015 (UTC)