In our last post we discussed how the new China-US trade agreement is expected to further increase China’s already enormous flesh consumption, as well as strengthening the already enormous US flesh industry. One of the readers commented that if China’s plans to reduce its flesh consumption by half in the following years would succeed, the trade agreement is not expected to have such a terrible effect.
But China doesn’t have plans to cut flesh consumption by half, it merely recommends its citizens to do so, and mainly for healthful reasons. The deceiving headlines referred to the publication of dietary guidelines, which didn’t even add new significant information. China’s health ministry has already recommended reducing flesh consumption to between 40g to 75g of flesh per person per day, a decade ago. But the Chinese have responded with a massive increase in their flesh consumption per capita which right now stands at about 170 grams a day. Almost 3 times more than the decade old recommendation.
The coming month and a half is crucial for probably tens of millions of animals worldwide, as negotiations regarding 3 important international trade agreements will be at a critical point. One of them is a trade deal between China and the US, whose most significant part is the reopening of the Chinese market to US cows’ flesh in return for the reopening of US market to chickens and ducks from China. Continue reading
In the last post we shortly discussed a new research regarding the sixth extinction episode . In this one we shortly discuss a newly published book by Peter Brannen about the 5 previous mass extinction episodes called “The Ends of the World”.
The book tells the story of the five biggest mass extinctions, and what can be learned from them about the current one. Obviously the target audience is not activists and supporters of the E.A.S movement , but it is very relevant for us. Continue reading
Headlines that Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than assumed, made quite some waves yesterday.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), mapped 27,600 species of birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles — nearly half of known terrestrial vertebrate species — and concluded the planet’s sixth mass extinction is even worse than previously thought. Continue reading
Last 4th of July we wrote about the millions of animals who are acoustically attacked by Americans commemorating the independence of their country with fireworks.
But of course the greatest attack on animals on United States’ Independence Day, is, as in any other day, consuming their bodies. And today it is on a very mass scale.
About 65% of Americans will attend a barbecue on the 4th of July to celebrate their country’s Independence and their species’ domination.
Two days ago a matador died during a bullfight in France. Many Activists have expressed their contentment from the incident. Even outside the AR community the atmosphere among many is that he got what he deserves.
But the suffering a matador is causing during bullfights is not greater than the suffering a non-vegan is responsible for when consuming animal based products (sure the matador is also non-vegan but that is not the reason for the death cheers), and more importantly it is not about what abusers deserve, in fact it shouldn’t be about the abusers at all. Continue reading
In honor of Mother’s Day this post is dedicated to cows in the dairy industry, who are of the poorest mothers on earth, and to their poor babies.
In one of their most cynical symbolizations, humans view cows as an emblem of motherhood. That is not thanks to an idealistic view of cows being devoted mothers to their claves, but a consequence of a materialistic view of cows being the main producers of milk to humans. Continue reading
Today is the World Day for Laboratory Animals. While it evolved over the years to the World Week for Laboratory Animals, unfortunately it is still largely used as another platform for the speciesist rhetoric which is quite characteristic of the anti-vivisection movement.
The anti-vivisection movement was not founded in order to convince the scientific community that animal experiments are scientifically invalid, but to stop cruelty to animals in laboratories, yet the opposition to vivisection is largely based on anthropocentric arguments. Continue reading
We complete this series of posts regarding violence with what is probably activists’ biggest blind spot, violence in nature.
For many animal rights activists nature represents perfection, a romantic and virtuous ideal we should aspire to, something that ought to be reverently preserved and never criticized. But the truth is that nature is where trillions of sentient beings suffer from hunger, thirst, diseases, parasites, injuries, extreme weathers, rape, infanticide, violent dominancy fights, the constant fear of being attacked, actually being attacked, and only rarely from caducity.
Probably the first natural cause of violence that comes to mind is predation.
Predation is literally as old as life itself. It goes back to the most ancient life forms – single cell organisms. As soon as there were living single cell organisms, one of their major functions was to acquire chemicals from their surroundings. As time went by, some organisms, by chance (mutation), started obtaining the organic molecules they require by devouring the cells around them, instead of gathering them from the surroundings. This turned out to be an efficient “strategy”. About 3.5 billion years later there are fangs, claws, talons, venoms, webs, beaks, sonars, infra-red vision, tentacles and etc.
But besides predation, there are many other suffering causes in nature. Continue reading
Unfortunately the worries we have expressed on a post from about a year and half ago, regarding NASA announcement that its space telescope Kepler spotted the most similar planet to Earth that has ever been discovered (Kepler-452b), got more relevant with the new discovery of 7 earth-sized planets.
So far scientists can’t make further observations regarding those planets such as the composition of their atmosphere, their temperatures and the surface pressure. Also, although they are much closer to earth than Kepler-452b (39 light years compared with 1,400 light years), it is still way too far. So despite that currently these planets are far from being relevant as a habitual option for humans, as the finding of a potential habitable planet gets closer and closer, the necessity for the destruction of this one must get clearer and clearer.
Please read our argumentative post about the discovery of Kepler-452b since it is relevant to the planets orbiting Trappist-1 (especially E,F and G) at least as much.
The following is the last part of our critical review of Steven Pinker’s theory of a historical decline in violence, in which we further address his claim of a decline in violence towards nonhuman animals, and the ways in which he struggles to “massage” reality to fit his grand theory.
Violence towards nonhuman animals was of course in the center of all of our reviews, however in the former post and in this one, we specifically address his specific relation to the issue. Continue reading
Unfortunately but unsurprisingly Pinker dedicates only a tiny part of his extensive book about violence to nonhuman animals. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, he decided to call this chapter Animal Rights and the Decline of Cruelty to Animals, that is despite that the book’s claim is for a decline in violence. Pinker knows there is no decline in violence towards animals, so he changed the term to a more conceivable one. Still wrong, but more defensible. Continue reading
Counter to the Inner Demons chapter, the topic of the former post, Pinker’s next one is called Better Angels, and in it he lists and details the traits that caused the allegedly violence decline. These are – empathy, self-control, moral sense and reason, and each has fundamental problems. Continue reading
In the former posts regarding the former chapters of The Better Angels of Our Nature we tried to show how wrong Pinker’s main argument is regarding the decline of violence mainly since in some cases his data is partial and since the most important figures are totally absent.
However, with the 8th chapter of the book called Inner Demons, where Pinker broadly details how naturally violent humans are, unfortunately we largely agree. We find it important, so we bring extracts from this chapter here, along with our remarks. Continue reading
The following is the third part of our critical review from an animalistic perspective of Steven Pinker’s theory of an historical decline in violence.
The strongest blow that the enlightenment ideas received, regards to their significant role in the horrors of the first half of the 20th century. As a great henchman, Pinker is particularly eager to prove that the enlightenment project didn’t fail despite the 20th century. Therefore he devoted a substantial part of his book to claim that the 20th century doesn’t stand out of the historical decline of violence he argues for.
As mentioned in the first part of this book review, most of Pinker’s critics focused on the 20th century, mentioning colonialism, post colonialism, western imperialism, the not so cold war, the arms race and etc. So we prefer to focus on different areas. If you are interested, we highly recommend the following critiques:
Steven Pinker on the alleged decline of violence by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
Or their long version: Reality Denial: Steven Pinker’s Apologetics for Western-Imperial Violence by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
Peace in Our Time by Elizabeth Kolbert
The Precious Steven Pinker by David Bentley Hart
However we do want to address 3 issues regarding these parts of the book: The role of personal responsibility during the atrocities, his choice to work with relative numbers and not absolute numbers, and his general conclusion regarding violence regardless of his statistical approach.
As part of our series about violence we made a critical review of Steven Pinker’s book – The Better Angels of Our Nature. For the previous post please click here.
Pinker argues that violence is biologically intrinsic, evolutionarily logical and historically habitual, so what according to him made it decline?
Pinker has a few explanations along the book. The first one is the old thesis of the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who also recognized that humans are naturally violent. Therefore the only way to avoid the natural state, which is according to Hobbes war of all against all, is by establishing an absolute sovereignty political figure he called the Leviathan. Continue reading
As opposed to the former thinkers in this series about violence, the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker doesn’t think humans are naturally peaceful and non-violent. Along his extensive book about violence The Better Angels of Our Nature he thoroughly specifies how violent humans are and how violent humans can be. With numerous statistical evidences, examples and explanations, from the murder rates of non-state societies, through ancient wars, to the earliest known writings which are still canonical cultural elements such as Greek mythology and the Bible (substantially fictional as they are, both probably reflect human life and the values of that era, at least to some extent), corporal punishments, heretics torture, modern wars and up to psycho-evolutionist analysis of violence and brain parts and function specification, Pinker doesn’t really leave room for doubt that humans are naturally violent.
However, another difference between him and the former mentioned thinkers, is that he persistently argues that despite humans’ natural tendency to violence, despite its abundance through history and despite public image (Pinker blames the modern media for that false perception) violence has declined over long stretches of time, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era of our species’ existence.
In the former posts of this series about violence we addressed The Seville Statement on Violence and the book The Nature of Human Aggression by the anthropologist Ashley Montagu who bases many of his claims on hunter-gatherers’ allegedly non-violent lifestyle.
Our last representative of the thinkers who argue that humans are not naturally violent is Paul Chappell, a captain in the U.S. army who writes and lectures about violence, war and peace.
The following post mainly regards his book Will War Ever End? as well as some of the claims he often argues in his lectures and articles.
Like the former thinkers, he argues that humans are not naturally violent without even mentioning (not to mention considering), humans’ daily and worst expression of violence.
And like the former thinkers he also argues about violence and human nature but refers only to wars as if they are the only expression of violence, and despite that they are not even the worst expression of violence.
One of Montagu’s theory’s main foundations is hunter-gatherer societies which he writes about:
“these people live, more or less clearly approximately the way our ancestors lived during a great part of human evolutionary history, and they afford us some insight into the basic questions of human nature and human culture.
If we are indeed innately violent, if we are really creatures driven by genes to murder our own kind, if we are indeed incapable of controlling the hostile forces within ourselves, we should see these characteristics demonstrated here in these people… and they are peaceful. And friendly. And cooperative. They share their food and their belonging with each other and with strangers. Their relationships with each other are close and loving. They care.”
Like many Rousseauistic romantic anthropologists, his observations of hunter-gatherers societies are extremely biased. Since similar false perceptions are sometimes heard by some animal activists, we find it important to examine these societies from a more critical viewpoint. Continue reading
Many Rousseauistic thinkers, such as the ones that signed the Seville Statement on Violence, which we covered in the opening post of this series regarding violence, base their arguments that humans are naturally nonviolent on the hunter-gatherers’ allegedly nonviolent life style. According to them this lifestyle was corrupted by civilization.
One of them is the eminent anthropologist Ashley Montagu, who wrote a very influential book called The Nature of Human Aggression, which in a way is an expansion and explication of the Seville Statement‘s main ideas. Montagu argues that humans are not naturally violent but are peaceful cooperative beings in a violent world dominated by an aggressive culture, and he focuses on pre-state societies (mainly hunter-gatherers) to prove that.
Since similar arguments can be heard from time to time by many environmentalists and more importantly by many animal rights activists, we find it important to address the issue specifically and expansively, through one of the most Rousseauistic modern thinkers.