Can we compare animal minds with human minds? Can we really use the word ‘mind’, with its complete definition, in relation to animals?
When it comes to relationships and affection, beyond human relationships, it is clear that humans are very close to their working animals and pets. Cats have become stars on Internet and videos of relationships between humans and animals never cease to amaze us. They send vibrations of warmth coursing through our bodies.
In the research and scientific areas technicians have taken animal – human relationships to another level, comparing them to see mainly where they are similar. They are also inclined to use vocabulary like ‘animal minds‘ in comparing the species of animal and humans. The question is, is there a comparison, as so many would have us believe?
The Explanation is designed to answer the question: How would you bring peace and prosperity to Earth? The ‘you’ in that question is SOLELY addressed to ‘man’ in the generic sense. Those two-legged creatures that can read this post like you and me.
In this context, there’s one point I’d like to bring to your attention: How higher education deals with animal research and how some journalists and authors can pick up on this.
They use vocabulary that raises animals to the human level:
Animal minds, language, intelligence…
They probably end up getting more headlines because of the spectacular nature of their discoveries. Readers should be attentive to such vocabulary and be able to distinguish the worlds apart reality between a so-called animal mind and a human mind.
Here’s an example of just part of a review via PLOS Biology: Beautiful Minds—For How Long?
…it is not entirely clear what the authors mean when they claim that cetacean (dolphins) temporal lobes house a structure similar to the language center of the human brain. Nothing is known about temporal lobe function in cetaceans, and the cetacean temporal lobe has little in common anatomically or cytoarchitecturally with the primate temporal lobe.
Bearzi and Stanford imply that intelligence is exceedingly rare in the animal kingdom… only a handful have possessed a high degree of intellect…
More importantly, I would argue very seriously for the perspective that intelligence is ubiquitous in the animal kingdom.
For these reasons it is highly effective in conveying the idea that cetacean and primate minds and cultures are at stake as we continue to devastate the planet. The full gravity of how we are impacting these beings is felt in a way that has more authenticity and poignancy than is typically conveyed. The question is how long these beautiful minds will continue to persist.
I’m not implying that these researchers think that animal minds are on the same level as humans or saying that animals don’t have a certain intelligence, they certainly do. What I am saying is that readers need to be aware of the use and abuse of such vocabulary, particularly in journals eager to grab public attention and ready to use ‘power words’ to meet their objectives. Power words are great for grabbing attention and instilling an idea in your mind. They latch on to your imagination.
The Explanation has a chapter in the book Inventory of the Universe, entitled Animal-Human Comparison where I delve into this subject and show that while animals walk off with all the Olympic medals, man walks off with all the Nobel prizes.
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