Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reality... What a Concept

Have I gone in the wrong direction with my posts to this blog? I have tried to present socially-acceptable arguments to persuade people that all living things are intelligent, and it is our perception--or lack thereof--that causes us to imagine that they are not.

But is such constrained logic good enough? This is a highly emotional issue, after all. We have seemingly insurmountable cultural indoctrination to overcome if we are to expand our collective perceptions to embrace reality.

One of those problems is religion. Religion controls such a huge part of our society and shapes so much of the way we think--and that applies even to those who consider themselves outside of any religion. Now, I have to speak in generalities to keep this topic manageable, but religion doesn't make any allowance for considering animals to be different yet equal beings. The Christian Bible even contains a story of Jesus unnecessarily killing an entire herd of animals.

The scientific side of our society is another problem. In the name of learning and exploration, valid ideas are suppressed and valid observations denied in order to protect established dogma. Yes, I do believe it is correct to use the term, dogma. The concept of animals being "biological machines" lives on and is actively taught despite the fact that any reasonable attention paid to actual observations absolutely destroys the concept.

I have avoided writing about much of what I know to be true, because my experiences and my methods are not acceptable to either religion or science. But both of those are rigidly constructed to protect themselves from change, so maybe I've been too concerned about how my own experiences will be viewed by those with religious and scientific points of view.

After all, I knew in my heart that the Christian the Lion "Reunion Video" had the power to demonstrate the loving side of an animal to people. Some prefer it with the added emotional tug of the Whitney Houston song, others prefer it the way I first posted it back in 2002: silent, so that all attention can be focused on the very demonstrative body language, from the moment of first recognition that Christian's friends had returned after a year's absence, to the explosive joy of being in contact again. This is real, this actually happened.

And still some people argue that a lion can't feel love.

I can't be concerned anymore about those who refuse to see what's real.

Expect more personal, and maybe outrageous, articles here in the future.

Discussion, both pro and con, gratefully received via the comments box that accompanies each article.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

They All Look the Same... To Us

An article at the Live Science site tells us that French researchers have come to the conclusion that feral, untrained pigeons can recognize human faces.

This is based on an experiment in which two similar people behaved differently toward pigeons, after which the pigeons avoided the person who had been antagonistic, even when the people exchanged clothing, thus changing most of their physical appearance.

While I don't wish to denigrate the pigeons' intelligence, the description in the article leaves the findings open to other interpretations, such as perhaps the pigeons may recognize people by their smell rather than their looks. I'm just saying it's a possibility.

Which reminds me of another, oft-repeated experiment, in which scientists try to prove whether an animal is self-aware, by using the mirror test: can an animal use a mirror to detect an unusual mark that has been added to its face? Many animals "fail" this test, leading scientists to conclude that they don't have self-awareness. But many animals are more scent-oriented than vision-oriented, and a mirror has its own scent that is clearly not the animal's own. So it's not a matter of not being self aware, it's a matter of the mirror not providing the proper cues.

I contend that any animal that stealthily stalks its prey, or that hides from a predator, demonstrates self-awareness. But somehow that bit of logic escapes the researchers.

Back to the pigeons. I won't say that they can't recognize human faces. A bird's life requires well-developed abilities to see and process visual cues. But it hasn't been proved that they don't use some other means to recognize people. Smell is only one possibility. It's even possible they use some other cues that we don't know about. We are limited by our own senses and our own views of the world. I am reminded that it is only recently that people became aware that elephants use infrasound to communicate (sounds pitched so low that we can't hear them).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thought Provoking

One article that gets a lot of attention here is Are Insects Conscious?, so I thought I would highlight it again; click the link to go to the article.

And since I have a silly sense of humor, I thought I would add a little something you can hum for the rest of the day: Hymn to Cockroaches. There should be a little "Play" button there for you to play the song.