RE: animals and humans (was "Evolution wars")

From: Adrian Teo (
Date: Thu Dec 26 2002 - 20:52:03 EST

  • Next message: John Burgeson: "RE: animals and humans (was "Evolution wars")"

    Hello and Merry Christmas to you John,

            You wrote:

            Adrian wrote: "It is extremely tempting to ascribe human emotions and
            thoughts to animals who behave like us, and as scientists, we have to
            extra careful and critical."

            While I agree, it is also very tempting to apply "nothing
    buttery" to the
            question and claim victory for "scientific objectivity,"

            AT: You seem to want to support two contradictory positions
    here. Can't have it both ways. We need a set of criteria to prevent
    falling on either the side of radical skepticism or anthropomorphism.
    At the very least, one needs positive experimental evidence of higher
    cognitive abilities in animals, beyond mere naturalistic
    observations. To my knowledge, the most ambitious projects with such
    an aim are the sign language research on primates. And what we have
    after decades of research is that these animals are highly mechanical
    in their expressive language, and they do much better with receptive
    language. The discontinuity between modern humans and any other
    species is so striking that it would take an incredible leap of faith
    to sustain an argument for psychological continuity.



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