Your mouth might water at the thought of freshly-cooked lobster, but have you ever taken a moment to think carefully about the cooking process? A lot of the time, fresh lobster involves dumping the creatures into boiling water alive, and humans have been cooking lobsters in this manner for hundreds of years.
It seems barbaric at first glance, but there's actually a good reason behind the practice. Vibrio bacteria thrive on decaying shellfish, and it's the leading factor behind several forms of food poisoning. By boiling lobsters alive, we virtually eliminate the risk of harvesting these bacteria; hence it reduces the chance that food poisoning will impact you after eating lobster.
That aside, this form of cooking still seems extreme. After all, we don't boil other creatures alive before eating them.
Most scientists don't think that lobsters' neurological systems are advanced enough to register pain. Then again, no one knows for sure; it's entirely possible that they feel every bit of the scorching-hot bath.
It's a gray area that rides the fine line of ethics, and researchers admit that further research is needed to know for sure whether lobsters can feel pain. Unfortunately, cooks may continue bypassing the precautionary principle until a definite answer materializes.