15 May 2003

Fighting the forces of ignorance...

We crustacean neurobiologists are frequently asked the question, "Do lobsters feel pain?" (Usually the context seems to be, "Am I a bad person for tossing them live into a pot of boiling water?") The question is being revived in Australia, according to this article in The Age, spurred on by recent research that suggests fish may feel pain (which is sure to be hotly debated for some time yet).

It's not that I don't think the question of invertebrate pain is unimportant -- on the contrary. But I was utterly gobsmacked by this sentence in the story:

"Aquatic scientists have now begun examining lobster tails for evidence of nerve tissue."


We've known the answer to that question for well over a century. There's been about a zillion papers on the neural tissue in the lobster tail (I've had a hand in writing a couple).

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. All I can say is: Nobody better be getting a grant for that research!


I've handed in my final marks for my classes this afternoon. Have started to receive the usual contacts from students who just missed making a particular grade. Their transcripts don't show percentages. Two students with different letter grades (e.g., a C at 79% and a B at 80%) can actually be closer in performance than two students with the same letter grade (80% and 89.4% are both B students).

I always feel crummy for them. The disappointment that I know I'm inevitably handing over to some students always tempers what an otherwise happy day of completion.

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