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Your inner fish? Did fish really show self-awareness?


Yes, if you believe the mirror test proves it:

The bluestreak cleaner wrasse has passed the famous mirror test for self-recognition (originally intended for primate apes and monkeys).

According to a recent paper (open access), three out of four fish tested by researchers from Osaka City University in Japan were able to learn to identify the object in a mirror as their own images. But what does that mean?

When chimpanzees, dolphins, elephants, and magpies passed the test1, 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? More.

But what if the whole question is founded on a mistake about the nature of the mirror test?

Overall, it’s a curious outcome for the mirror test. Those who felt reassured by close kinship with chimpanzees reacted quite differently when offered close kinship with fish.

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See also: How is human language different from animal signals? What do we need from language that we cannot get from signals alone? (Michael Egnor)

Why only human beings speak: Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly. (Michael Egnor)


Animal minds: In search of the minimal self

Martin_r, Very interesting video. Thanks PeterA
If self-awareness means simply the ability to distinguish between self and not-self, all living entities are self-aware. That's part of the problem with tests like the mirror test. What is it really measuring? The capacity to use a mirror to identify a spot on one's body does not mean "self-aware" in the human sense. It could be covered by a specifically developed form of the basic self vs. not-self distinction. If most fish are not capable of that, the cleaner wrasse is not necessarily smarter than they are; it may have developed in a way that makes this form of learning possible (but other forms not possible). See also Animal minds: In search of the minimal self News
Eugene@1 i totally agree with you, i am also quite sure that most if not all living things are self-aware. In biology, we see it over and over.... Darwin's church leaders are trying to convince us about the 'facts', but, all these 'facts' are disproven, one by one... Talking about fishes, have a look at this video, this small puffer fish devastates the evolution theory in 3 minutes, you have to watch the whole video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B91tozyQs9M martin_r
Why would that be a surprise? I am inclined to think that most if not all living creates are self-aware. Few may be intelligent enough (whatever intelligence means), but intelligence is very likely orthogonal to self-awareness. Eugene

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