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Animal minds: Insects have feelings?

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In “Do Bees Have Feelings?: Provocative experiments suggest that insects have something like an emotional life” (Scientific American, August 2, 2011), Jason Castro tells us,

Recently, studies by Geraldine Wright and her colleagues at Newcastle University in the UK have rekindled debate over these issues by showing that honeybees may experience something akin to moods.

Using simple behavioral tests, Wright’s research team showed that like other lab-tested brooders — which so far include us, monkeys, dogs, and starlings — stressed bees tend to see the glass as half empty. While this doesn’t (and can’t) prove that bees experience human-like emotions, it does give pause. We should take seriously the possibility that it feels like something to be an insect.

Didn’t any of these people ever notice before that wild bees very readily assume that anyone in their way is hostile? If that’s all they mean by feelings, yes of course.

There is no way of determining what it feels like to be an insect, as was demonstrated by Thomas Nagel in “What is it like to be a bat?” The weasel word is “like “.
Here bees demonstrate their love for Honda Accords:

Shame on you for thinking they have no feelings! Anyone who loves the Honda Accord …
See also, more seriously: Animal minds: Our dog’s world is not like ours

Humans project guilt feelings onto their dogs

and, of course, Oscar the Deathcat

Comments
Honey bees are very clever creatures and quick learners. Nevertheless, I don't believe they're conscious. There is a vast scientific literature on the neurological requirements for consciousness. I had a good look at it when I was doing my thesis on animal minds, which is available online here: http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/Anatomy.pdf The long and the short of it is: there's fairly solid evidence that at least some mammals are conscious. A decade ago, most neurologists would have been rather skeptical of consciousness in birds because their brains seemed to lack the kind of complex structures required to support consciousness, but in recent years there has been a re-evaluation, and some researchers now think birds' brains can support consciousness, after all (e.g. Seth A., Baars B. and Edelman D. 2005. "Criteria for consciousness in humans and other mammals." In Consciousness and Cognition, March 2005; 14(1):119-39.) It is doubtful whether any other animals are conscious, although reptiles and cephalopods just might be. As for fish: forget it. Insects? Extremely unlikely: their brains are just too small. That's what I've been told by researchers in the field. If anyone is interested in a quick summary of the evidence, they can check out pages 101-110 of my thesis at http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/Anatomy.pdf , or better yet, have a look at the following article: Rose, J. D. 2002. "The Neurobehavioural Nature of Fishes and the Question of Awareness and Pain." In Reviews in Fisheries Science, vol. 10, issue 1, pp. 1-38. http://www.animal-health-online.de/drms/rosefish.pdf or http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/Fishwelfare/Rose.pdf On bee smarts, please see pages 302 to 309 of my thesis at http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/Anatomy.pdf . They seem to be capable of grasping rules involving abstract concepts ("same" and "different"), which is pretty remarkable for an insect. I believe there are some mammals that can't do that.vjtorley
August 3, 2011
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Honeybees are cool: Evolution Vs. The Honey Bee - an Architectural Marvel - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4181791/bornagain77
August 3, 2011
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