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Old 10-24-2017, 11:54 PM   #1
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Default Fatphobic abuse because I had the audacity to make a science-based comment.

I commented on a meme a celebrity posted that featured a cow and its baby with a caption above it saying that it was proud to have a calf/be a mother (or something along those lines). I basically stated that, while cows/animals do indeed feel some emotions ó or feel them to an extent ó pride isnít one of them because their brains are not wired that way, they did not evolve that way. I claimed that the poster of the meme was anthropomorphizing the cow which, as far as I know, is correct.

I got my fair share of mean-spirited and immensely unkind replies but one person took it to a whole Ďnother level by visiting my own profile and calling me a ďfat c*ntĒ and wished that I choked to death on some meat. These comments were left on random photos she chose. She also took the time to post a meme of a large man and stated he was my boyfriend. Itís a bit amusing because most of the men I have dated and fooled around with have been thin.

Honestly, I am trying to not let it bother me too much ó it says more about her than it does about me. In what I believe to be a cowardly fashion, she blocked me after making her comments.

Did I hit a nerve or was she just looking for someone to abuse?

How do you handle stuff like this, personally?

All I said was that cows/animals do not feel pride because they did not evolve that way and their brains are not wired for it. This is, unless I am mistaken, a scientific fact. To get so upset over a statement based in reality is irrational.
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Old 10-25-2017, 12:58 AM   #2
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Whether or not animals feel certain emotions isn't a fact. It is your opinion that they don't, based on what you have seen and opinions are not facts, not matter how strongly you believe them to be based on evidence. As a zoologist who studied animal behaviour in depth, I'm yet to find a single convincing paper that says animals can or can't feel specific emotions simply because emotions, in themselves, are not quantifiable, testable things. Can you prove that other people feel emotions? Of course not. No more than I can 'prove' to you that I feel emotions.

But aside from that... well, I hope you reported the person doing those things to the website owners because that is definitely harassment, going through somebodies profile and leaving offensive comments and swear words. People like that need to know that they can't get away with harassing others. You are absolutely right that it says more about her than it does about you that she reacted like that. There's obviously a lot of anger inside her that is unrelated to anything you said and she just exploded that anger on you as a 'reasonable' target, in her mind.

It's never nice to have something like this happen but you have to remember that she is lashing out and trying to cause pain to others because of her own issues, nothing to do with you.
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Old 10-25-2017, 01:16 AM   #3
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I am always willing to be corrected if wrong, but I’m not convinced “lesser” animals like cows experience pride because that involves the ego which, in turn, involves self-awareness. I doubt cows are aware of their own existence.

More complex creatures, like our great ape relatives, perhaps large fish like dolphins and MAYBE certain birds (crows can supposedly recognize themselves in mirrors) may feel emotions such as pride, but I’d limit it to great apes and possibly large fish.
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Old 10-25-2017, 03:45 AM   #4
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No comment on the matter of animals and emotions.

Every now and then I get bored and sometimes when I do I will troll a certain fat hater site. Iím never mean or nasty, I just pose questions in a manner that baits people to expose their lack of critical thinking when it comes to certain people. Often they donít address my question and go straight into personal attacks on me, as well as making flawed assumptions about me.

While that site is a concentration of fat haters who want and need their fat hating safe space it demonstrates to me how radical people can and will be even in the face of an attempted logical discussion.
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Old 10-25-2017, 05:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by FatBarbieDoll View Post
I am always willing to be corrected if wrong, but Iím not convinced ďlesserĒ animals like cows experience pride because that involves the ego which, in turn, involves self-awareness. I doubt cows are aware of their own existence.

More complex creatures, like our great ape relatives, perhaps large fish like dolphins and MAYBE certain birds (crows can supposedly recognize themselves in mirrors) may feel emotions such as pride, but Iíd limit it to great apes and possibly large fish.
That's fine and I'm not debating whether or not animals have certain emotions. I'm saying that that is your opinion, and not a fact. It can't be proven if animals do or don't have certain emotions because there is no way to quantify emotions. Therefore, neither opinion is a fact.
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Old 10-25-2017, 06:01 AM   #6
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I understand. I am a lover of science, so this stuff interests me.

I believe one way we can tell whether or not non-human animals possess certain emotions — or the extent to which they possess emotions, anyway — is to look at the physical brain and determine if the components that regulate emotions (in humans, at least) are much smaller or absent.

Reptiles are a good example of this, I think. They don’t, so far as we know, feel complex emotions.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by FatBarbieDoll View Post
I understand. I am a lover of science, so this stuff interests me.

I believe one way we can tell whether or not non-human animals possess certain emotions ó or the extent to which they possess emotions, anyway ó is to look at the physical brain and determine if the components that regulate emotions (in humans, at least) are much smaller or absent.

Reptiles are a good example of this, I think. They donít, so far as we know, feel complex emotions.
Like I said, I'm a zoologist so I studied this sort of stuff in a lot of depth so I love being able to talk about such things!

That's true that different animals have different brain structures to humans, including the limbic system (or analogous regions). But one thing you always have to keep in mind when researching anything is what specifically your results show as opposed to what are interpretations of that data. In this case, the fact is that some animals have a different brain structure in the limbic system. Interpretations of this can be lots of different things: Animals don't feel emotions; animals don't feel complex emotions; animals feel emotions differently to humans; animals 'hardware' differs from humans but the 'software'/emotions may be the same etc etc. All of those are theories/interpretations stemming from the data. As to what the 'correct' theory is? I don't think we have enough data to pick one. Certainly we haven't been able to test emotions in a way that allows us to say any of those theories are definitely correct. So interpretations will always be that, interpretations and opinions rather than facts. Which is why scientists argue amongst themselves so often!
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:34 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by FatBarbieDoll View Post
I commented on a meme a celebrity posted that featured a cow and its baby with a caption above it saying that it was proud to have a calf/be a mother (or something along those lines). I basically stated that, while cows/animals do indeed feel some emotions ó or feel them to an extent ó pride isnít one of them because their brains are not wired that way, they did not evolve that way.
Forgive me for ignoring the main topic--for the most part, people online are eager to make ad hominem attacks when you rile their emotions. Especially if you're dealing with certain types of animal rights activists/vegetarians/vegans (not most, of course...but every group has militants.)

Mostly, I want to agree with your stance, but not quite for the same reason. Pride is a relatively complex emotion that involves the cognitive recognition of one's achievements/accomplishments. I think that cognitive element is necessary to distinguish pride from other sorts of good feelings. And, at least as far as I know, we have no reason to think that a cow is capable of that level of cognition. So surely the cow feels some kind of good emotion or pleasure, but I certainly don't think we could call it pride. But like Loopy said, there are many different theories available.

Anyway, given her rather brutal comment about your choking to death on meat, I want to guess that this person is highly agitated by any suggestion that we shouldn't respect and treat animals similarly to people. Your comment, inadvertently, might have triggered a hostile reaction related to this line of thinking.
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Old 10-25-2017, 02:21 PM   #9
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Forgive me for ignoring the main topic--for the most part, people online are eager to make ad hominem attacks when you rile their emotions. Especially if you're dealing with certain types of animal rights activists/vegetarians/vegans (not most, of course...but every group has militants.)

Mostly, I want to agree with your stance, but not quite for the same reason. Pride is a relatively complex emotion that involves the cognitive recognition of one's achievements/accomplishments. I think that cognitive element is necessary to distinguish pride from other sorts of good feelings. And, at least as far as I know, we have no reason to think that a cow is capable of that level of cognition. So surely the cow feels some kind of good emotion or pleasure, but I certainly don't think we could call it pride. But like Loopy said, there are many different theories available.

Anyway, given her rather brutal comment about your choking to death on meat, I want to guess that this person is highly agitated by any suggestion that we shouldn't respect and treat animals similarly to people. Your comment, inadvertently, might have triggered a hostile reaction related to this line of thinking.
I completely agree with Loopy's observations on the cow pride/cognition issue. (The fact that she's a zoologist, and therefore far more knowledgeable than the rest of us in this area, doesn't hurt either.) We all have opinions, but there's no hard evidence one way or the other.

The person who attacked FatBarbieDoll was simply a contemptible jerk. I happen to be one of those animal rights/vegetarian types, and I was not at all offended by Barbie's post. She has no reason to feel any responsibility for the jerk's meanness and stupidity.
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Old 10-25-2017, 06:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by FatBarbieDoll View Post
I commented on a meme a celebrity posted that featured a cow and its baby with a caption above it saying that it was proud to have a calf/be a mother (or something along those lines). I basically stated that, while cows/animals do indeed feel some emotions — or feel them to an extent — pride isn’t one of them because their brains are not wired that way, they did not evolve that way. I claimed that the poster of the meme was anthropomorphizing the cow which, as far as I know, is correct.
That's absolutely right. Cows are not capable of thinking things like "I am now eating grass," or other thoughts that require a firm self-conception, and without a firm understanding of your own existence and identity, it's impossible to be proud of anything that you've done, or to be humbled, or to have any sort of impression of how your actions effect your larger place in the world. They may feel a wide range of emotions, of course, after a fashion, but pride is not an emotion per se.

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it says more about her than it does about me.
Right again.

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Did I hit a nerve or was she just looking for someone to abuse?
Possibly either or both. I don't know her, but I suspect her replies would have been more creative if she'd been planning them in advance. Then again, I might just be overestimating her.

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How do you handle stuff like this, personally?
You know, there was a time when internet comments really troubled me, but comments like this one, that don't specifically challenge anything you said? If I feel that something was left unsaid, I'll usually write it down in a notepad file on my own computer, or recount the incident to someone online, as you're doing now. However, depending on my mood, my reaction will usually either be a chuckle or two, or doing my best to think up all the ways they could have phrased their absurd reply better.

If you haven't seen the film yet, watch Cyrano De Bergerac with Jose Ferrer. The version I saw was in black and white, but Cyrano is a master of this second technique in the film's first scene. You can find this clip, as I write this, by googling the phrase "ode to a nose." It's the fourth result that comes up for me, and the first one that's a video.

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To get so upset over a statement based in reality is irrational.
Again, true. However, I find that irrational people rarely realize the danger of holding irrationality so close. It's a nasty little beast, which can easily be turned on its wielder, and, through the use of a little logic, irrationality can expose a person very quickly, as it did in the case of your cowardly friend.
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Old 10-25-2017, 06:41 PM   #11
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I completely agree with Loopy's observations on the cow pride/cognition issue. (The fact that she's a zoologist, and therefore far more knowledgeable than the rest of us in this area, doesn't hurt either.) We all have opinions, but there's no hard evidence one way or the other.
I stopped thinking by proxy a long time ago. These days, if I want data, I start reading what the experts in the field have to say, or following their work on the internet, and honestly, a lot of the remaining doubts that I've seen about the worth of the available evidence could also be used to doubt that Dinosaurs weren't intelligent. They seem to be based around the simple fact that the evidence we have is not observable, but is a conclusion drawn from scientific information. That's going to be the case, no matter how much scientific evidence you find, however, because emotions are not a scientific matter. You can't study happiness in a test tube or measure the lifespan of hatred. These things just aren't discernible through the purely scientistic method of thinking that many currently hold to. Instead, we can just ask what we do know about this issue.

We know that the brains of even larger mammals are missing many components that human brains possess, among them at least two centers usually used to process pain. We know from observation that larger mammals are not able to comprehend language. You can train a horse to stamp its feet in certain ways for certain purposes, but no matter how many of those purposes you train it to address, the horse will never be able to ask, by stamping, even the simplest of questions about itself or its role in life. It will never ask why it has to eat.

A cat can learn to play with a ball of yarn, but it can't learn to arrange the yarn into a mean-spirited caricature of the neighborhood dog. So, while animals do feel emotions after a fashion, including such emotions as fear, pain, sadness, happiness, excitement, anger and eager anticipation, they don't conceptualize the world as humans do, and therefore can't visualize such abstract notions as the worth of their own actions, or, by extension, experience the pride that sometimes derives from that.
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Old 10-25-2017, 06:49 PM   #12
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Whether or not animals feel certain emotions isn't a fact. It is your opinion that they don't, based on what you have seen and opinions are not facts, not matter how strongly you believe them to be based on evidence.
This is not correct terminology. An "opinion" refers only to a value judgment. A truth claim can be either a fact, a falsehood, or it can be uncertain.

I certainly agree that you can't identify emotions by science alone, however. That's right.
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