View Single Post
Old 11-10-2013, 10:28 PM
kdt26417's Avatar
kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
Official Greeter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Yelm, Washington
Posts: 14,744
Default Part 2 of 3

So now that we've talked about humans per se, let's talk about humans and all remaining animals -- and plants, yes plants:

From FinchJ on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 11:19:57 AM PDT:
"Not sure how anyone who chooses 'all animals' expects to eat anything at all considering the deaths of insects and other 'multicellular, eukaryotic organisms' is pretty much guaranteed when harvesting plants for food. Multicellular organisms abound on the surface, inside, and outside everything we cultivate for food. They die when we eat them.
Of course, why stop at animals and not continue on to fungi? After all, many types of fungi operate with a level of 'intelligence' that is astonishing. Mycorrhizal fungi have the ability to transport water, nutrients, hormones, and other types of resources/messages vast distances (kilometers) between different species of plants.
What about their right to life?
Where to draw the line is always going to be arbitrary given the practicality of feeding ourselves. I would like to say we should extend this to cetaceans, elephants, apes, and monkeys.
However, I think a better idea would be to change the way we interact with the entire planet. I think we should recognize the importance of all species while coming to terms with the reality that we have to eat something and that even if we decide to only eat plants, there are many other organisms (including animals) that will die in the process.
We should do our best to restore ecosystem services, increase biodiversity, and design better systems of human settlement that account for complexity rather than the current industrial paradigm that simplifies, excludes, and destroys."
First of all, level of intelligence isn't the end-all be-all of our ethical considerations about how this or that animal ought to be treated. And that's in addition to my (wait for it) official admission that we can't possibly *know* how "smart" *any* animal (or plant!) really is.

That said, let's not abandon all objectivity if measuring intelligence is the question at hand. We can't *know* but we can still *guess* based on observation and (sadly subjective) interpretation of the apparent information. Example: It's absolutely cool and amazing that (at least one) gorilla has proven that she can comprehend at least 2,000 human words. But see Wikipedia: "The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 250,000 distinct words, not including many technical, scientific, and slang terms." And see: "A 1995 study shows that junior-high students would be able to recognize the meanings of about 10,000-12,000 words, while for college students this number grows up to about 12,000-17,000 and for elderly adults up to about 17,000-21,000 or more."

Okay, so maybe the "problem" here is that we're measuring Koko by *human* words instead of *gorilla* words. Fair enough. I don't know the nature of gorillas' communication systems, nor how sophisticated said systems really are. Perhaps it says enough that one animal is able to learn *another animal's* communication system to such a significant degree. Guess the jury's out as regards how smart gorillas *really* are.

And, then there's those all-important opposable thumbs that so augment whatever intellectual prowess humans possess. So you could argue that cities and spaceships and symphonies and heart transplants don't count as true measurements of human intelligence compared to animal intelligence. But let's be fair here: We can at least be reasonably convinced that humans are pretty damned smart as a whole. Smarter than the other apes? I don't know. I do admittedly however suspect that the answer is, "Probably." Maybe not even by *that* much, but probably by some moderate margin.

Dolphins? I have no idea. It's very possible that they're at least as smart as humans; after all they don't even have hands let alone opposable thumbs. And God knows that they demonstrate all kinds of intelligence in many, many ways.

For that matter, I think cats and dogs (and pigs; definitely elephants -- probably horses and maybe cows too) are also pretty freakin' smart. Anecdote of the day: My cat Rainee (a Russian blue with a dash of Siamese) has been increasingly impressing me lately with her displays of, well, cleverness to say the least.

Now Rainee looooves food (as do I) and is three pounds overweight (eliciting the vet's disapproval of course). So I'm poking around for ways to tap into her intelligence and get her on board with the idea of "dieting habits." Sometimes I think she actually gets what I mean when I say, "Now try to wait awhile after you eat this." Can't tell for sure.

But check this out. Last night she "pinged" me for some "nightcap" food. I acquiesced. And *she* refrained from eating it. Never once ever saw her turn down cat food or cat treats of any kind! She cleans her dish. But not this time.

Instead, she goes and does some more of her "begging rituals" for me to get her some more food. What? She's getting picky now? Well, okay ... So I got her a little more food of a different kind and added it to the dish. And again -- she barely touches it, and then starts begging for more food again! WTF? Well, I had three kinds of cat food/treats in my room so I now added the third kind (some diet kibble). And Rainee rinsed and repeated! Well I had to apologize to her, "Sorry sweetie, that's all the kinds I've got here; there's one more kind out in the kitchen but our other two humans have turned in and I don't want to disturb their repose."

In maybe about a minute (or less), she seemed to "get" what I was getting at, and stopped begging. But she left that damn dish untouched and richly supplied with food. Unprecedented! Then she left (presumably to sleep on the couch).

Thoroughly puzzled, I turned in. And, as usual, I slept late -- later than Rainee ever does. And when I'm asleep (or almost asleep), I'm definitely too lazy to get up. Which means on all previous occasions, Rainee's hankerings to eat as soon as *she* gets up go unheeded, even with her cute/friendly attempts to nudge me out of bed.

Aha! She didn't *have* to "nudge me out of bed" this morning. She just waltzed in while I was fast asleep (never heard her coming or going), consumed that whole dish of waiting food from the night before, and waltzed back out.

To put it simply: Holy shit! This overeating cat *delayed her own gratification* from dark to sun-up, and then proceeded to *remember* her plan from the night before, and follow through on it. LOLOL, WTH??? My cat has learned how to be a squirrel with no squirrel training. My beloved "hinge lady" suggested to me that perhaps Rainee trained herself by watching the squirrels from her windowside view? Well I assume that was meant as a joke, but the point is ... *How smart really is this cat? She knows too much.*

We'll see if she repeats that little trick tonight/tomorrow. But I'm thoroughly impressed just from knowing she did it once. They say Russian blues are considered a particularly clever breed, but my God!
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"

Last edited by kdt26417; 11-11-2013 at 09:10 AM.
Reply With Quote