Animal minds

Can bacteria be smart?

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File:Paenibacillus fig 1.tif
Paenibacillus vortex/Eshel Ben-Jacob

At Scientific American, Anna Kuchment tells us about “The Smartest Bacteria on Earth” (June 2011)

One species of soil microbe makes unusually wise communal decisions

The team identified this relative intelligence by comparing the P. vortex genome with that of 502 different bacterial species whose genomes were known and, based on that comparison, calculating what Ben-Jacob calls the bugs’ “social IQ score.” The researchers counted genes associated with social function, such as those allowing bacteria to communicate and process environmental information and to synthesize chemicals that are useful when competing with other organisms. P. vortex and two other Paenibacillus strains have more of those genes than any of the other 499 bacteria Ben-Jacob studied, including pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli, indicating a capacity for “exceptionally brilliant social skills.”

(You have to pay to read the article.)

Does this

a) violate Darwinist language laws

b) get a pass because it is all a metaphor, in the same way that the human mind is assumed to be a metaphor for the buzz of neurons?

c) warn us that the world is not the way Darwinists describe it? (and it’s okay with me to lose my job)

One Reply to “Can bacteria be smart?

  1. 1
    es58 says:

    so soon these bacteria might be examining US to see if they think WE were intelligently designed? I’m concerned what they might conclude. 🙂

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