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Animal studies tend to show that the human experience is unique

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Maybe not what they intended. For example,

For nearly five decades, the mirror test, applied to chimpanzees, was thought to show that they were self-aware:

“In 1970 Gordon G. Gallup, Jr., of the University at Albany, S.U.N.Y., developed the “mirror test” to assess metacognition in chimpanzees. A chimp passes the test if it uses the mirror to inspect a mark that has been painted on its face. Although the majority of chimps pass, some do fail, causing certain scientists to consider the test unreliable.” – Robert O. Duncan, “What Are the Structural Differences in the Brain Between Animals That Are Self-aware and Other Vertebrates?” At Scientific American

But then in 2019, a fish, the cleaner wrasse, passed the mirror test:

When chimpanzees, dolphins, elephants, and magpies passed the test, researchers theorized that these animals, recognized as intelligent, were demonstrating a concept of “self.” Now they are not so sure. Is the cleaner wrasse, which grooms other fish for parasites, really self-aware? Are fish much smarter than we think?

Researchers have begun to question whether the mirror test truly identifies self-awareness.

Intelligence of some type can exist without apparent evidence of self-awareness. An amoeba is smarter than your computer for some purposes, as is a fruit fly but few think it likely that these life forms are self-aware as individuals. “

What do animal studies tell us about human consciousness?” at Mind Matters News

Chimpanzees, dogs, cats, etc., are surely self-aware in the sense that they perceive feelings as experienced by themselves as subjects and events as happening to themselves as subjects. But lacking the ability to reason, they can’t really go beyond that to develop ideas.

Many people assume that human consciousness arose accidentally many eons ago from animal consciousness and that therefore we can find glimmers of the same sort of consciousness in the minds of animals. But that approach isn’t producing the expected results.

See also: Animal minds: In search of the minimal self

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5 Replies to “Animal studies tend to show that the human experience is unique

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    Consciousness was clearly part of the original design for people. It is, how you say, “what MAKES us human”. I’m half way through Brian Fagan’s “Cro-Magnon”, and I find him to be a lost and confused little boy who cites odd little facts and then never quite ties them together. He is also FIRMLY convinced that Neanderthals were MUCH less intelligent (and less human) than later models.
    And he apparently DOESN’T KNOW that what is now the Mediterranean (“middle of the land”) Sea was a huge VALLEY during the various ice ages he discusses. A HUGE river must have run down the middle, formed from the Nile and the Rhone, and all of the other rivers that now empty into the Med. Surely if we could drain the Med, we’d find a WHOLE BUNCH of human (Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon) campsites documenting the move north through the CENTER instead of the Mid East or Spain.

  2. 2
    Eugene says:

    My take is that most (all?) animals are conscious and self-aware (if larger animals are certainly self-aware, then why not the smaller ones? Is there a body size limit to self-awareness?). They just cannot do math and cannot reason deep. We are placating ourselves thinking that animals are not (or less) conscious as we need to be able to keep killing them in large numbers. Obviously, killing animals does not seem to matter much in the “grand scheme of things”, but one could argue that killing humans in large numbers does not matter much either. It just “feels” bad. Discounting the bad feelings, all life forms, including us humans, are basically very cheap and disposable objects.
    …I understand this is not what most religions are commonly preaching, but ID is not a religion.

  3. 3
    BobRyan says:

    If there’s limited difference between humans and animals, then why do vets exist? There are no vets in nature.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    BobRyan:

    If there’s limited difference between humans and animals, then why do vets exist?

    Humans are animals and that limited difference is still a difference.

  5. 5
    Ed George says:

    BR

    If there’s limited difference between humans and animals, then why do vets exist? There are no vets in nature.

    My university had a vet college associated with it. What I found strange, and somewhat scary, was the number of students who went into medicine after not being accepted into the vet college or flunking out after being accepted.

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