Humans not smarter than animals In down and under , or all over in the world

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by arauca, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Those birds (homing pigeons) are not extinct as I said. What made you think they were extinct?
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You're using the wrong word. Empathy is "the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another" (, or "the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings " (World English dictionary)

    All social animals have a certain level of empathy. Herd-social animals like cattle have only a low level. They avoid knocking each other down and protect each other's children from predators. But pack-social animals like dogs, dolphins, humans and many other primates have a much higher level of empathy. This is necessary for the pack structure to function. (Solitary animals have no empathy at all except for their own young while they are being raised.)

    Humans, dogs and dolphins care about their pack-mates. Obviously this is programmed by evolution because in a pack-social species survival of the individual is impossible without survival of the pack. Nonetheless, this programming is expressed by a psychology that weeps for the misfortune of a pack-mate and assists him in satisfying his own needs, knowing that he will do the same for us, so the entire pack prospers.

    The down-side of pack-social programming is that the packs themselves see each other as rivals and may fight over scarce resources, or "make war" as our species calls it. Most herd-social animals seldom fight except in competition for mates.

    Humans are in the uncomfortable position of having invented technologies (starting 12,000 years ago with farming and animal husbandry) that are more productive and efficient for a large population than a small one. It works to our advantage to make peace with our neighbors and merge into a larger village. But this brings a lingering sense of discomfort because we're not programmed to accept such a large number of people, many of whom we don't even know very well, as "pack-mates."

    But the prize of an ever-more productive society drives us toward more technology and larger communities, until today we essentially live like herd animals, cooperating with complete strangers because we know it makes everybody more prosperous.

    This has all taken place over the span of just a few hundred generations, which is not long enough for instincts to evolve. So there is still a caveman inside each of us, happy with the comforts of civilization but not very happy with the constant need to interact with strangers. Occasionally he breaks loose and does something Paleolithic, and usually we manage to calm him down before he causes any serious harm. But once in a while an entire community goes Paleolithic (often at the urging of religious leaders, since religion is nothing more than an artifact of the Stone Age) and they make war on the people next door.

    But this is not due to lack of empathy. We still feel strong empathy for our family, friends and neighbors. We simply don't have the programming to feel it for strangers who speak a different language, have different customs, and pray to a different god--because our ancestors didn't need it.

    It is you who have no idea what empathy is. Check the dictionary. You are utterly wrong. Humans have such a talent for empathy that we have been able to extend it to much larger communities than a pack, even though this conflicts with our instinctive programming. We even feel empathy for other species, including dogs, cats and horses.

    We have not only transcended the limits of the external nature of the world, but we have also transcended the limits of the internal nature of our own genetic programming. The only other animal that has managed to do this is the dog, but to a large extent this is due to evolution, since in those same 12,000 years they have gone through about twenty thousand generations. They have evolved from pack-social to herd-social, from a strong alpha instinct to a weak one, from predator to scavenger, from serious to playful.

    We have done this too, but without the help of evolution. Just by sheer intelligence and will power. So give us a freakin' break, okay???

    Well sure. We (and some ancestral species) have spent millions of years transcending the limits of nature. First we invented flint blades to scrape the scraps of meat off of bones left by predators, increasing the protein in our diet so we could grow larger brains. Then we invented more sophisticated tools so we could become full-time hunters and get even more protein. Controlled fire, clothing, farming, animal husbandry, the building of cities, metallurgy, the wheel, written language,the exploitation of fossil fuels, electronics, and finally information technology... these subsequent technologies have elevated us beyond the limitations of our distant ancestors.

    So we get so worn out by having to be mature and on-duty, that in our off-hours we revert to childhood and have some stoopid fun. What's wrong with a little balance in life? Do you really want to live in a community where everybody is dead serious 24/7? I guarantee it would drive you bonkers.

    You're completely ignoring our biology. Humans have the longest maturation process of any mammal. Whales go from babies to adults in only two years, elephants in five. Humans take a decade and a half, just to reach the point where you might leave one on his own for twelve hours and hope he doesn't do anything dangerous. Our brains aren't fully developed until late adolescence, and the programming of those brains (including delayed gratification, understanding of mortality, etc.) doesn't peak until around age 30. This is why government bastards have to draft teenagers into the army; adults are too smart to try to resolve a disagreement by shooting at each other and leaving the world full of orphans and burned out villages. Well most adults anyway.

    Human children have the capacity for a lot more knowledge than the young of any other species. There's a limit to what their parents can teach, so we send them to school. Formal education is another one of the wonderful technologies we invented to make the world better.

    You forgot the most important one: non-human animals have no language. Those years of sitting in a classroom aren't going to do them much good because they can't learn by reading and listening.

    Only chimpanees and gorillas have been able to learn American Sign Language, and they can only master a vocabulary of about 1,000 words. Dolphins have large brains and may have language, but without hands their options are pretty limited.

    Parrots have hands (prehensile claws plus a very adept beak) and some species have learned about 200 words. Perhaps some day they will be partners in civilization.

    Unfortunately, sociopathy is easy to mask if one avoids building close relationships, which is not too dificult in a large city.

    He thought you were talking about the passenger pigeon.
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  5. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    That was my assumption too, but he said he was not talking about passenger pigeons, he was refering to homing pigeons that were used in world war II.
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  7. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Animals have individual talents that are superior to humans.
    We cannot remember, like a squirrel, the place of every buried nut.
    Some of us cannot even remember where we left our car keys.
  8. arauca Banned Banned

    Squirrels: Perhaps we human have to much stored information in our memory that it clothiers the retrial while the animal is mainly concerned with food storage
  9. leopold Valued Senior Member

    how about a link to this robot.
    i'm not talking about something that rides on a track.
    i'm talking about something that uses existing roads.
  10. leopold Valued Senior Member

    a mistake on my part, don't be getting all ballistic on me.
  11. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

    Thanks Russ.
    What limitations are there on the gases that can be detected, and in what concentrations?

    I was thinking that organic odors are more complex than the gases we usually detect, but I confess to talking through my hat on several counts. I don't actually know the complexity of the molecules detected by animal olfaction, and I have no idea at all about gas sensor technology.
  12. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    How do you not know about this??

    From the site:

    Welcome to the future.
  13. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    That's true.
    Squirrels can't do crossword puzzles for example.
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Many people have jobs that require this kind of memory. We're all different; some people have better short-term memory than others, and they may also have needed it in childhood so they got a lot of practice.

    There are just as many of us at the other end of the bell curve. I can remember my phone number in the Chicago suburbs in 1949 (that's not as hard at it appears since it only had four digits), but my short-term memory is useless.

    Fortunately, humans invented writing 5,000 years ago, so we don't need to remember everything. There's more than one way to solve a problem.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Tell me about it. My solution to that problem is that they are ALWAYS:
    • 1. In my left front pants pocket, OR
    • 2. On the dresser, OR
    • 3. In the ignition of the car, OR
    • 4. Sticking out of the door of my locking closet, which serves as my safe.
    NO EXCEPTIONS, EVER! It was not too hard to train myself to follow this procedure, since learning a procedure is long-term memory, at which I excel.

    I've seen the reports too. Just Google it. The prototypes have been tested exhaustively and are ready for us.

    Unfortunately we're not ready for them; the concept scares a lot of people. They're so scared that they're not swayed by the rather obvious fact that even if there are a few failures, robot cars will kill a lot FEWER people than drunk drivers, who take out roughly 10,000 of us every year in the USA alone.

    And of course the other problem is that at the beginning of the technology curve, it costs about $100K to build one. And I'm talking about a robot version of a Chevy, not a Mercedes-Benz. Pessimists in the auto industry think it will be 100 years before they are commonplace, but I'm betting on just one generation. Younger people would rather text than operate the controls in a vehicle, so they will love these things!

    I'm pretty sure it's illegal to shoot bullets at a passenger pigeon.

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  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    21,189 car
  16. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Frankly, I'm not clear on the full specs. The spec sheet just says sub-ppm. But here it is:
    An odor is merely a detection of a gas or multiple gases mixed together, so I see no technical difficulty in doing it. But dogs are really good at it and relatively cheap, so the limited marketability might stand in the way of development.
  17. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Whether it has been done to your satisfaction or not, few engineers have any illusions about just how difficult it is to build a driverless car because of how dynamic/unpredictable the pursuit is. It is more complicated than, say, a pilotless airplane.
  18. river

    Its a very strange thread , really

    I mean , what animal has the ability to ...create the Space Shuttle ?

    Or give any hint that it could ?

    I...don't understand the thread , really !!!!!!!
  19. laura89 Registered Member

    I always believe that animals have their own feelings, their own communicative ways....
  20. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    A species Intelligence is sometimes measured by how much time they spend in recreational activities. This leaves Humans in the Lead right after The Dolphins.

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  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Chimpanzees goof off a lot too. For the "true" chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, that might be quite violent and you wouldn't want to get caught up in it. But for the Bonobo chimpanee, Pan paniscus, their favorite recreational activity is an orgy in which the entire tribe participates, even the children.

    Well I guess you wouldn't want to get caught up in that either.

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  22. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Hmm, dolphins also are notoriously horny creatures.
  23. dlorde Registered Member

    One of the problems in a thread like this is that unless you clearly define your terms and boundaries at the outset, you tend to get a confusing mish-mash of claims and counter claims that are often talking past each other. Different species have different skills and abilities according to their environmental and evolutionary niches, so although there's little doubt that humans are the overall intellectual champions, we shouldn't expect other animals to match our particular range of skills, nor should we expect to match theirs.

    Without a clear definition of what 'smart' or 'intelligent' means in the discussion, it's easy to find yourself defining them with an anthropocentric bias as you go, so that they end up being defined as what humans are better at than other animals - which may be smugly satisfying, but rather defeats the object.

    The boundaries are important too - are we comparing the abilities of an individual, a group, or the entire species? for example, termites are pretty dumb individually, but a population of them can build a termite mound city that has sky-scrapers, air-conditioning, nurseries, farms, waste disposal systems, centralised control, specialised roles, etc. - is that smart? An individual human may struggle in many environments and do badly compared to individuals of other species because of lack of opportunity to apply intellectual abilities, but a group of humans cooperating in those environments may out-compete groups of other species.

    Do we include technology in the comparison, or just raw ability? If we include technology, is someone with a calculator smarter than someone without? is a group of Western tourists in the rainforest, with all their advanced technology, smarter than the indigenous hunters? We now have machines can beat the best humans at many tasks, so machines are smarter than they were 200 years ago, but are we?

    Regardless of all that, it's clear that there are some intellectual areas where humans are outperformed by other animals in specific skills, whether it is the spatial memory of squirrels for nuts or the 'photographic' memory capability of chimps (I can't post links yet, so search for 'chimps-outperform-humans-at-memory-task'), and it seems to me that the more we study other animals, the more we find we're not quite as different from them as we once thought. Our fortune is to have reached a tipping point of intellectual evolution, where the emergence of high-level abstraction & metaphor, etc., allowed the development of language & culture, and all their extraordinary products.

    It does seem a bit odd to me that there is such a need to describe the areas where humans outperform other animals; I know we're a pretty competitive lot, but there does seem to be some serious underlying insecurity...

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