A gorilla never forgets

by Greg Mayer

Three gorilla brothers, Kesho, Alf, and Evindi, were recently reunited at Longleat Safari Park, after Kesho had been separated as part of a breeding program. As reported in an article in The Sun (entitled “Gorillas in the Missed”!), and visible in a slideshow at the BBC, the reunion has gone quite well.

Gorilla brothers Alf (left, age 9) and Kesho (right, age 13) get reacquainted. Photo by BNPS, from The Sun.

There had been some concern whether they would remember each other, but keeper Mark Tye said

The moment they met, you could see the recognition in their eyes. It’s like they’ve never been apart.

while Ian Redmond of the Ape Alliance noted

What you’re seeing is exactly what you think you’re seeing. Two intelligent social mammals, who were separate, are pleased to see each other again and play together. It is gorilla joy, being reunited with someone you used to have good times with and now you can again, so it’s gorilla happiness.

While we normally emphasize cats, owls, and bears here at WEIT, these gorillas help illustrate a larger point concerning the evolution of complex social behavior and what Darwin called the moral sense. It has always seemed very odd to me that many people, including such respected and successful biologists as Francis Collins and Francisco Ayala, maintain that there is a gulf between animal and human behavior, which some (though not all) would fill with miracles. Even a passing acquaintance with the behavior of a phylogenetically diverse group of vertebrates (say, a toad, a turtle, and a cat, for starters) presents a prima facie case for the continuity of development of social, behavioral, and even moral complexity in animals, and I find the inability to see this as puzzling. Apes and other primates add yet another step in this continuity (see also this recent post by Jerry), and the evident richness of the cognitive world of these gorillas adds to our appreciation that while we do, indeed, differ from gorillas, they too have come a long way from our fishy forebears, and are relatively not that far behind.

54 Comments

  1. MNb
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    “the inability to see this as puzzling”
    Blinkers.
    Nothing but religiously inspired blinkers.
    The wearers must and will feel special.

  2. wordpressreport
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on WordPress Report.

  3. Jim Teacher
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Isn’t there a fear in the scientific community that we may be “anthropomorphizing” such observed behaviors, though?

    Great to see…

    • Woody Tanaka
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      “Isn’t there a fear in the scientific community that we may be “anthropomorphizing” such observed behaviors, though?”

      IF so, it’s idiocy. I’m all for not doing that when it is inappropriate. But where a behavior appears to be joy, in a context where joy is appropriate, in a species which should be capable of feeling joy, then concluding that it is not joy is simply dumb.

      • Occam
        Posted August 17, 2012 at 3:09 am | Permalink

        From the marvelous “Meeting a Gorilla” by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine:

        “It’s so bloody hard not to anthropomorphise. But these impressions keep on crowding in on you because they spark so much instant recognition, however illusory that recognition may be. It’s the only way of conveying what it was like.

        I began to feel how patronising it was of us to presume to judge their intelligence, as if ours was any kind of standard by which to measure. I tried to imagine instead how he saw us, but of course that’s almost impossible to do, because the assumptions you end up making as you try to bridge the imaginative gap are, of course, your own, and the most misleading assumptions are the ones you don’t even know you’re making. I pictured him lying there easily in his own world, tolerating my presence in it, but, I think, possibly sending me signals to which I did not know how to respond. And then I pictured myself beside him, festooned with the apparatus of my intelligence — my Gore-Tex cagoule, my pen and paper, my autofocus matrix-metering Nikon F4, and my inability to comprehend any of the life we had left behind us in the forest. But somewhere in the genetic history that we each carry with us in every cell of our body was a deep connection with this creature, as inaccessible to us now as last year’s dreams, but, like last year’s dreams, always invisibly and unfathomably present.

        There are many members of our own species who live in and with the forest and know it and understand it. We don’t listen to them. What is there to suggest we would listen to anything an ape could tell us? Or that he would be able to tell us of his life in a language that hasn’t been born of that life? I thought, maybe it is not that they have yet to gain a language, it is that we have lost one.”

  4. Sastra
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    When you think about it, one of the strange things about the theist inability to see human similarity to animals is that they often view people who are cognitively impaired but capable of affection as especially pure — and especially indicative of God’s grace manifest. In other words, when they compare the social, behavioral, and moral complexity of people with very low and very high IQ, they don’t consider the geniuses to be someone closer to God or more God-like than the mentally handicapped. If anything, it’s the other way around. A smile on the face of someone institutionalized with severe Down’s syndrome isn’t placed low on the divinity scale compared to the smile of someone who isn’t — which I think it would be if they were being consistent.

  5. Filipe
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Pretty cool but not surprising. Even sheep remember sheep they haven’t seen for quite some time.

  6. tabby23
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    From the article:
    “Even a passing acquaintance with the behavior of a phylogenetically diverse group of vertebrates … presents a prima facie case for the continuity of development of social, behavioral, and even moral complexity in animals, and I find the inability to see this as puzzling. Apes and other primates add yet another step in this continuity … and the evident richness of the cognitive world of these gorillas adds to our appreciation that while we do, indeed, differ from gorillas, they too have come a long way from our fishy forebears, and are relatively not that far behind.”

    While I do agree that gorillas, humans and other social mammals exhibit more social complexity than say, a trout, I think it’s erroneous to imply that:
    a) More complexity (of any kind) is necessarily “better” or “more evolved” than another species or ancestor
    b) That humans embody some kind of moral/social apex, evolutionarily.

    As I’m sure the author is aware, evolution is a random process culminating in an amenable solution to an environmental problem – not necessarily the best/most efficient solution. Evolutionary processes do not result in perfection. I know the author wasn’t making that claim outright, but an implication remains that gorillas are better than “their fishy forebears” but not as good as humans at social interaction. I think they’re just differently adapted to the environment they find themselves in.

    I only say it to remind the author that skeptics or less informed people don’t usually have an amazing grasp on what evolution entails, and it’s dangerous to imply an iterative process towards perfection (not in the least because it furthers the belief of a driving agent).

    Anyway, I otherwise enjoyed the article, and yay for gorilla reunions!

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      In reply to

      a) Never said that complexity is ‘better’. In certain situations, greater complexity will be favored by natural selection, meaning that organisms with the complexity will reproduce at greater rates than those without; they are better at reproducing, but this is just one of many possible senses of better. Not sure what you mean by “more evolved”, but it’s certainly the case that, so long as any evolutionary changes have occurred, a descendant has undergone more changes than it’s ancestor, and in that sense is “more evolved”.

      b) Never said that either. The most derived forms of sociality are most common in insects (bees, etc.).

      Most importantly, evolution is NOT random. That’s a specious canard against evolution that’s been invoked at least since John Herschel dismissed natural selection as “the law of higgledy-piggledy”. Natural selection is non-randomness; without this non-random factor, adaptation would be miraculous. Evolution has important random and non-random components, and it’s necessary not to lose sight of either.

      Evolution is not an iterative process toward some externally defined perfection. But it is a step-wise process to wherever it has gone (which may be more, or less, complex in particular lineages), and gorillas and humans have cognitive abilities and social behaviors that fish don’t, and they have arrived at that state over a long and contingent history, which we can, imperfectly, trace through phylogenetic estimation of cladogenesis and ancestral character states.

      And, Double yay for gorilla reunions!

      GCM

      • The whole truth
        Posted August 17, 2012 at 12:44 am | Permalink

        “…and gorillas and humans have cognitive abilities and social behaviors that fish don’t…”

        How do you know that?

        And are you saying that the “cognitive abilities and social behaviors” of gorillas and humans are better, superior, more advanced, more evolved, and/or more complex that those of all fish that have ever lived?

        • Occam
          Posted August 17, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          How about “different” ?

      • Susan
        Posted August 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        “In certain situations, greater complexity will be favored by natural selection, meaning that organisms with the complexity will reproduce at greater rates than those without; they are better at reproducing, but this is just one of many possible senses of bette”

        Gorillas reproduce at greater rates than frogs? They are better at reproducing?

        Also, can you define complexity? I agree with tabby’s original observation.

  7. Scott near Berkeley
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    The slideshow is great!

    You know what I especially enjoy in the pictures? Their ears. One profile shot of the big fella shows the ear on the side of his head, and it is wonderfully similar to ears found on us Homo Sapiens.

  8. Patrick Webb
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    The size difference between the two!

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Kinda makes you wonder if they’ve been on different dietary regimens/freedoms.

      • Marella
        Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        The bigger one is four years older.

        • Hempenstein
          Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          Yep, but the piece in the Sun (that I read after commenting) suggests that Kesho put on 200lbs while away, which they said was 3yrs.

        • Woody Tanaka
          Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          Probably the equal to, say, a 10 year old and 15 year old in human males. One before and the other right after the big growth spurt. But, of course, gorillas are even more sexually dimorphic, so the difference should be even greater, as the adult male is that much bigger post-puberty (if that’s what it is called in gorillas.)

        • gravelinspector
          Posted August 17, 2012 at 3:27 am | Permalink

          Four years older AND has been breeding. Which is going to get into a positive feedback of testosterone leading to dominance leading to breeding leading to more testosterone.
          Same happens in a lot of animals. Humans are unusual in not having much sexual dimorphism and not having much influence of male-dominance on breeding success.
          If humans had a more gorilla-like sexual physiology (as compared to a bonobo-like sexual physiology), then Darwin’s concept of “sexual selection” would have been greeted as a no-brainer, instead of a moderately shocking and immodest trangression of Victorian social mores

  9. Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Wonderfully said. I too am often puzzled to hear people I respect speak on the huge differences between humans and other animals, especially when it comes to things like emotion and familial relationships. It seems so amazingly unscientific to raise our species on a pedestal, where all ‘below’ are unthinking, unfeeling, beasts.

  10. Posted August 16, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I don’t know how anyone can deny animals’ feelings.

    The other night, I had to kill a copperhead in front of my townhome. I really didn’t want to and did try to get it to go away.

    When I finally came out with a shovel it was very obvious the snake was frightened. It was under a car at the curb, not defensive. I don’t know how anyone could deny it. I felt terrible about killing it but I have a young child and a dog (and many neighbors) that could have been injured if it stuck around. I’ll always remember how it looked before it died.

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      If this situation happens again you could ask someone to come move it, a local herpetologist for example.

      • Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

        Sadly, didn’t have time. It was evening and I was worried the snake would hide somewhere. In hindsight maybe I could have gotten it into a container, but I didn’t see any way to do that then. I did try to move it with a stick, but it squirmed away.

        • Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

          Understandable, and moving it yourself in the dark would have been pretty risky.

    • normw
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      You sound like the kind of person I would like in my neighbourhood.

  11. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    One thing that does, I think, set us somewhat apart from other animals is our ability to think in the subjunctive. When we grieve for missing loved ones, we’re not just thinking about the good times we had together; we’re also thinking about the good times we might have had but now won’t. This sense of lost possibilities adds an especially poignant edge to our emotions.

    For this reason I remain skeptical of claims that other animals, even our closest relatives, feel things in the same way as we do, since (as far as we know) they lack the vivid imagination of counterfactuals that characterizes our thinking.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      “. . .;we’re also thinking about the good times we might have had but now won’t.”

      Is there enough good evidence that no other animals are capable of this that we can be confident in claiming it is accurate? It seems that the more investigations into other animals intelligence we make the more we find capabilities that where previously thought to only be possible for humans.

      The more we look the more relatedness in brain function we find as well. As always seems to be the case, it appears that differences in various cognitive abilities are a matter of degree instead of has or doesn’t have.

      We just don’t know yet, but the current state of our knowledge does not yet seem to preclude the possibility that some other animal(s) may be capable of subjunctive thinking. And it may be that there is no novel cognitive ability that humans have evolved, it may just be that certain cognitive abilities in humans are enhanced compared to other species. Not enough data yet.

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      I can’t imagine one could prove that, one way or the other.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        One can look at our ability to formulate and carry out complex, long-range plans, compared to the evident absence of such planning in other animals. I think we can safely infer from this that they lack the ability to conceive of such plans or imagine their consequences.

        No gorilla is going to say (or think) “But we might have climbed Mount Everest together!” or “What a great Olympic athlete he might have been if he hadn’t been injured!” These are nuances of emotion that only humans can experience.

        • Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          Depends how long term of a plan you require for that, I suppose. See: http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0310-hance_chimps.html#

        • Woody Tanaka
          Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          “These are nuances of emotion that only humans can experience.”

          Oh, what a load of garbage. You can’t have any clue what subjective thoughts are in an animal’s head. It’s nothing but ego that you think that you can.

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

            Of course we can. We can be quite confident, for instance, that they’re not thinking about quantum mechanics, or about trying out for the Olympics in 2016, or any number of other abstractions that are clearly beyond their ability to conceive.

            • Occam
              Posted August 17, 2012 at 2:51 am | Permalink

              The very fact that no gorillas that we know of are trying out for the 2016 Olympics (or any Olympics at all) speaks highly of their intellectual capacities.

            • Woody Tanaka
              Posted August 17, 2012 at 8:29 am | Permalink

              You are giving us things which aren’t in the gorilla’s head. I said we cannot know what is. These are two different things.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted August 17, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

                At no point have I claimed to know what is in the gorilla’s head. My whole argument has been that there are classes of thoughts and emotions in our heads that are unique to us, i.e. that are not in the gorilla’s head.

        • Squareshot
          Posted August 18, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          An inability to formulate and carry out complex, long-range plans does not preclude an awareness of the future. Pavlovian conditioning shows a physiological response to an anticipated event; basic observation makes it pretty clear that anticipation is not limited to physiology.
          I don’t think there’s an easy inference that animals aren’t grieving for an emptiness that extends beyond the present. Not because they had plans the following week, but nevertheless, their expectations of the future- as they understand it- must be reconciled with changes presented to them in the present. That they grieve at all seems to necessarily imply that they share our emotional attachment to what “should have been.” Well, that’s MY inference, anyway.

    • eric
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Greg, there are many stories of dogs who continue to wait for their masters days, weeks, even years after they have died.

      It is pretty clear that they are thinking about could-bes, not just have-beens. Even if you consider their acts to be low-grade magical thinking (if I follow the same ritual I always do, my friend will appear), that still requires thinking about the future.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted August 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Yes, there are many such stories, but I don’t concede that they clearly imply might-have-been thinking on the part of the dog. Pavlov’s dogs could be said to be thinking about the future in some trivial sense when they salivate in response to a dinner bell, but that’s a far cry from thinking about potential alternative futures that will now never come to pass. There’s no evidence that dogs waiting patiently for a departed master have any such notion in their heads.

        • darrelle
          Posted August 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          Well, there is some evidence. The behaviors that they exhibit that inspire people to ask the question in the first place. It is not definitive evidence, and it is not sufficient evidence to support any conclusions, but it is evidence. There also is no definitive or sufficient evidence to conclude with any certainty that they do not.

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

            I think it’s a stretch to call that evidence. Our instinct is to anthropomorphize; we tend to see agency in everything from the weather to the origin and diversity of life. Our intuitions on such things are notoriously unreliable; that’s why we have science. So that fact that we’re prone to detect human-like feelings behind animal behavior tells us more, I think, about our thought process than about theirs.

            Also, it seems to me that the null hypothesis here is that human brains, being larger and more complex than animal brains, must experience larger and more complex thoughts and emotions. The burden of proof is on those who claim otherwise, that the added complexity of the human brain somehow makes no difference to our emotional lives.

            • Woody Tanaka
              Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

              “I think it’s a stretch to call that evidence. ”

              Nonsense. It is doing exactly what one would expect it to do if it were experiencing those emotions.

              “Also, it seems to me that the null hypothesis here is that human brains, being larger and more complex than animal brains, must experience larger and more complex thoughts and emotions.”

              Thoughts, yes. Emotions, no. Humans have oversized brains, yes, but it’s not like the difference is attributable to those portions responsible for emotions, as much as with social expression and general intelligence.

              “The burden of proof is on those who claim otherwise”

              Nonsense. The difficulty, if not impossibility, of demonstrating any subjective emotion means that the burden of proof is on whoever makes any statement, even one that posits that animals don’t feel emotions or that humans’ emotions are superior.

            • The whole truth
              Posted August 17, 2012 at 2:32 am | Permalink

              “…human brains, being larger and more complex than animal brains…”

              Please state how you know that human brains are “more complex” than animal brains, especially in relation to emotions. And define “more complex”.

              Mice have the same brain to body mass ratio as humans (higher if the humans are overweight). Elephants have a lower brain to body mass ratio than humans but they obviously have strong emotions, memories, etc. Fish in the Mormyridae family have a higher brain to body mass ration than humans. Shrews have the highest brain to body mass ratio of any known animal (and it’s higher than humans). Blue whales have the largest brain of all known living things.

              “We can be quite confident, for instance, that they’re not thinking about quantum mechanics, or about trying out for the Olympics in 2016, or any number of other abstractions that are clearly beyond their ability to conceive.”

              Can you understand any or every sound a dolphin makes? If not, why not? Can you tell what a dog thinks and feels when its owner is gone all day? If not, why not? Can you tell whether a lion, an octopus, an elephant, a shark, a bower bird, or a gorilla is thinking about what it wants or plans to do tomorrow or next month or next year? If not, why not? Shouldn’t it be easy to figure out by a human with a “larger and more complex” brain?

              “So that fact that we’re prone to detect human-like feelings behind animal behavior tells us more, I think, about our thought process than about theirs.”

              You, and a lot of other people, apparently think that animals must act just like humans if we’re to consider that they think or feel emotions like humans do. You might want to look at humans more closely and you’ll see that many humans don’t think or feel emotions like other humans do, and many humans who do feel emotions don’t express their emotions in a way that others would notice. In other words, outward behavior (even in humans) isn’t necessarily representative of inner thinking or emotions.

              I accept that some humans see characteristics/abilities in some animals that the animals don’t necessarily have but many humans don’t see characteristics/abilities in animals that the animals do (or may) have. I don’t accept that just because some people think about quantum mechanics or about trying out for the Olympics in 2016 that it somehow makes humans more complex, or more emotional, or more evolved, or superior, or anything of the sort. And most people are not thinking about quantum mechanics or trying out for the 2016 Olympics. Most people are thinking about what’s for dinner or their favorite sitcom or some other simple thing.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted August 17, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

                You’re attributing to me a lot of things that I never said. I made no claim that human emotion is superior to animal emotion, merely that it’s likely to be different in important ways, because our brains are different from theirs.

                And by the way, encephalization is conventionally measured in terms of EQ, not raw brain-to-body-mass ratio. By this measure, humans are considerably more encephalized than shrews, elephants, fish, etc. I take this, along with our more complex behavior, as sufficient evidence that our brains are more complex than theirs.

            • darrelle
              Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

              “I think it’s a stretch to call that evidence.”

              Trained observers observing animals behaving in certain ways in certain circumstances that are similar to the ways that humans often behave in those same certain circumstances is not good enough evidence for you to concede that it is within the realm of possibility that those animals may experience emotions in ways similar to humans?

              How about if we add the well documented evidences from good studies that show that many different types of creatures from jumping spiders, to birds, to cetaceans all are, to some degree, capable of modeling the future? How about the evidences from good studies that many creatures, particularly other primates, do experience emotions?

              Still a stretch to suppose that it is within the realm of possibility that a gorilla or chimpanzee is capable of thinking about the goods times it will no longer have with a companion who has died or been taken away? If so I think you are being unreasonable in this matter.

              My intent with my comments has not been to argue that gorilla’s do have such cognitive abilities. My argument is merely that the level of sureness that you are communicating in your comments is not warranted by the current state of our knowledge. A null hypothesis is all well and good, but hypotheses are not all equally probable or reasonable. In the case you presented, though it is far from confirmed that gorillas have such cognitive abilities, there is evidence that the major underlying capabilities are there, there is no slam dunk evidence to suggest that they do not, and we are just now in the midst of a major advance in our abilities to study these questions.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted August 17, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

                Fair enough, but I think the point stands that anyone claiming that gorillas feel the same emotions as us is implicitly claiming that the rapid evolution of our brain since we diverged from gorillas has had no effect on our emotional life. While logically possible, I think that would be remarkable if true.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted August 17, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

                And by the way, the “stretch” remark was about dogs, not gorillas.

              • whyevolutionistrue
                Posted August 18, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

                @Gregory Kusnick: Thanks for your comments here; there are many unanswered questions about animal cognition. I do just want to point out that the rate of evolution of human brain size is not especially rapid, but rather ordinary; see the previous WEIT discussion here. The question of average rate is different from the as yet unresolved debate as to whether the rate has varied in the last few hundred thousand years; the latter involves more complex statistical considerations than the question of the average rate.

                GCM

        • Woody Tanaka
          Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          “There’s no evidence that dogs waiting patiently for a departed master have any such notion in their heads.”

          Yes, there is: the fact that the dogs waited. The plain fact is that we have little to no idea what the subjective experience of the world is for anything but humans, but it does not seem to me that human emotions are particularly complex or something that could not arise is other animals, even something like a dog, let alone a chimp.

          The only thing they’re missing is the faculty of speech, so there aren’t dogs and chimps babbling on and on about how especially special their special species are and how their species’ especially special emotions are the especially specialist of the all.

  12. emmageraln
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on emmageraln.

  13. The whole truth
    Posted August 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Gregory Kusnick said:

    “You’re attributing to me a lot of things that I never said. I made no claim that human emotion is superior to animal emotion, merely that it’s likely to be different in important ways, because our brains are different from theirs.”

    You’re playing games. There’s a very strong implication in your words that humans are always superior in thinking, emotions, behavior, etc. If you were merely trying to make a case that animal brains are “different” from human brains, and that animal thinking, emotions, and behavior are “different” but not inferior, you would not be using words like “more” (especially in regard to things that you don’t know or are subjective) and you would be willing to admit that the thinking, emotions, and/or behavior of some animals is or could be equal to or “more complex” than that of humans.

    “And by the way, encephalization is conventionally measured in terms of EQ, not raw brain-to-body-mass ratio. By this measure, humans are considerably more encephalized than shrews, elephants, fish, etc. I take this, along with our more complex behavior, as sufficient evidence that our brains are more complex than theirs.”

    Yeah, well, most humans “conventionally” are dumber than rocks and eat boogers and believe that a magic sky daddy is watching over them (so much for being “more encephalized” and “more complex”). Unless and until you or some other human can show with certainty what all animals think, remember, and feel, and that it’s ‘less complex’ than what humans think, remember, and feel, you’re just guessing and you’re coming across like a creationist who arrogantly believes that humans are exceptional in a superior way.

    And when it comes to “more complex behavior”, humans are easy to figure out compared to many if not all animals. There are many “complex” things regarding the behavior of many animals that humans haven’t even begun to figure out and that humans cannot match.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted August 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Clearly you’ve mistaken me for someone else. There’s nothing creationist or human-chauvinistic about my argument, which hinges on the evolved differences between humans and other animals.

      But feel free to launch another rant at whatever strawman you think you see here.

      • The whole truth
        Posted August 18, 2012 at 12:18 am | Permalink

        I’m just going by your words. Such as:

        “By this measure, humans are considerably more encephalized than shrews, elephants, fish, etc. I take this, along with our more complex behavior, as sufficient evidence that our brains are more complex than theirs.”

        more, more, more

        considerably more

        More doesn’t just mean “different”. You might as well have used the word ‘superior’, because you certainly implied it.

        And can you please describe exactly how you measure “more complex” in regard to humans versus animals, without sounding “human-chauvinistic”?

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted August 20, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          More does not mean better either. It just means numerically greater. Centipedes have considerably more legs than we do. Does that make me a centipede chauvinist?

          If you want to know how complexity is measured, look it up.

  14. marksolock
    Posted August 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.


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