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Oh, not this again. Um, yes: “What is consciousness?”


File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Well, what is the number 29? What is the rat’s rear end? (Understood from a human perspective.)

One keeps wanting to ask:

1. What is the question you really want the answer to?
2. Would you accept an answer that challenges your basic beliefs?

If not, why bother?

Well the Economist: has decided to blunder in:

Subsequent mirror studies have looked at bonobos, gorillas, orang-utans, gibbons, many other monkeys, elephants, dogs, dolphins and various birds. Bonobos, orang-utans, elephants, dolphins and magpies react in ways that might be interpreted as self-recognition. Gorillas, gibbons, monkeys, dogs and pigeons do not.

Although some psychologists question the value of the mirror test (dogs, for example, rely heavily on smell rather than vision for individual identification, so may simply be uninterested in images of themselves), it does suggest the capacity for self-recognition has emerged independently in animals with differently organised brains. If the phenomenon’s neural correlates could be identified in those brains—admittedly a hard task—then comparative studies might be possible. That would be valuable, as it is difficult to do good science when only one example is available. More here if you want.

Note: What if only one example is available? Should we then abandon science?

If Earth were the only planet that has life but doesn’t somehow conform to the expectations of alien life researchers, what then?

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (the human mind)

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