Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More Is not Necessarily Better

I have heard people say that humans are more important than animals because of traits such as imagination, intelligence and, (the ability to create/employ) technology.

This allegedly makes animals inferior.

To this I say, “Ha, ha.  It is to laugh.”

Let’s start with imagination.  First, we will establish a definition: imagination = the power to visualize things that we do not directly experience.

First of all, let’s begin with the fact that a great many humans seem to suffer from a major imagination deficit.   Imagination is a quality that varies significantly from person to person.  Some people can imagine whole other worlds and write stories about them.  Some can’t imagine a world in which all humans have the same needs and rights.

So it is with animals.  Some seem very pedestrian in their ideation of the world they live in.  Some are brilliant – anticipating events and solving problems with no previous experience of the situation in which the problem occurs.

Take the crow – a tame one, raised in an aviary – who encounters for the first time in his life, a string tied to a perch in its enclosure. 

The crow looks down the string and sees a bit of meat tied to the end.  With scant hesitation the crow starts pulling up the string, a few inches at a time, stepping on what he has pulled up to keep it from slipping back down, while he keeps pulling the string up until he can reach the meat.  He has worked out (visualized) how to get the meat in a way that he has never seen done.  

So falls the concept of imagination as the sole province of humans.

The example also takes down the idea of the animal as unintelligent.
One of the things people used to point to as an example of the inferiority of animal intelligence is the ability to use language.  This too has fallen apart under close scrutiny.  Scientific studies have proved the ability of dogs, (and other species) to understand not only tone of voice and body language but the meaning of words.  See previous post.

In 2011, a study documented Chaser, a Border Collie, who can recall the names of 1,022 different toys. Even crazier, she knows the difference between “pick up” and “put.” She understands that “pick up” means to grab something with her mouth and “put” means she needs to touch something with her paw or her nose.
It’s the same with technology.  A crow may not look at the moon and start working out how to get there, but he can look at a piece of kibble floating in a vertical tube of water and work out how to raise the water level by dropping pebbles into the tube, thereby raising the water level and the kibble, and enjoying the fruits of his labor. 
In this, I think that the crow not only meets, but exceeds the human in intelligence.  

Humans invent technology and then insist that they can’t live without it.  Whether it be indoor plumbing or the smartphone.  Humans insist that they are necessary for life, despite the fact that for most of their history they did, in fact, live without them.  

What?  Indoor plumbing has led to a saving of human lives?  Yes, it undoubtedly has.  So has modern agriculture, and antibiotics.  And where has that gotten us?  It’s gotten us to a planet burdened by 7.5 billion people, growing at a rate of around 1.13% per year.  And that’s way too many. 

We are even responsible for the overpopulation of crows, who, in 2010 thrived on the 3.5 million tons of garbage that we produced every day. That figure is expected to rise to more than 6 million tons per day by 2025. 

So where do these people who assert human superiority over animals get off?  A human’s death is more important than an animal’s?

Don’t make me laugh!  The earth would be well rid of well over half of the human population.  And no, I don’t want to choose which half.  And it wouldn’t matter if I did, because the planet is setting up to bitch-slap the human race like it’s never been bitch-slapped before.  Global warming will be the ultimate smack-down for my species.  And that’s ironic because we are responsible for it – every man, woman and tablet-hugging child.

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