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Author Topic: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!  (Read 29053 times)

Sirus

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #135 on: February 25, 2012, 01:46:11 am »

Eh, fine. There's no way they have very much though, at least not compared to a human (or any multicellular creature, really).
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Ancre

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #136 on: February 25, 2012, 03:03:59 am »

Thank you for the research and the links Chaoswizkid ! I haven't been able to access everything, but that's okay, I think I've got enough.

I find interesting in particular the video where a dolphin teaches what is essentially a useless dance move to other dolphins. If it is true (I won't make a definitive judgment on one internet video) then they have a way of communicating that is not limited to concrete descriptions and instinctive behavior.

It's a shame we don't know more about it. It's an interesting subject to study. And I still think that if they have a way of communication, a language, then we should learn it and talk to them ! That's my reaction to "we've met another intelligent specie" whether they're aliens or dolphins.

But as to treat them as "people" and, you know, the bill of rights thing, that's silly. Even if they happened to indeed be as smart as humans, they're still not humans, and not integrated into human society, and, as far as I'm aware, they have no desire to do so. Protection ? Fine. Rights ? They will never use them, and they will never be able to do so.

Still, I can't wait to see the day where Flipper the dolphin is considered racist and full of misguided intentions just like Tintin in Congo is :p
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Max White

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #137 on: February 25, 2012, 03:43:12 am »

Eh, fine. There's no way they have very much though, at least not compared to a human (or any multicellular creature, really).
The argument you should be making is if we could the processing ability of a single cell, shouldn't we count the entire human body as a unit? White blood cells, for example, follow chemical trails of pathogens, but are not directed by cerebral activity, thus a human has significantly more potential than just what the brain can produce.

Sirus

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #138 on: February 25, 2012, 03:48:44 am »

Honestly, the only reason I posted in this thread was the cannibalism thing, and now that it's permanently stuck on my subscribe list I feel like I have to chip in every once in a while. I don't really care about processing power of all humans vs all bacteria :/

I haven't even said anything about the thread's supposed topic!
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Max White

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #139 on: February 25, 2012, 04:08:32 am »

My heart, it bleeds for you. Having to put up with a thread that you do not have a vested interest in, yet replied to, showing up in your subscribe list. We should all stop posting in this thread just for you! Would you like me to get you a cool drink while we are at it? Maybe a foot massage?

Sirus

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #140 on: February 25, 2012, 04:20:42 am »

Your tone is not appreciated. I'm sure you've regretted posting in threads too. But whatever, I'll leave you to your fascinating discussions of brainless microorganisms.
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Max White

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #141 on: February 25, 2012, 04:38:03 am »

Never, not once in my lifetime have I suffered the problem you are dealing with.

I don't use the subscribed threads list, I just remember what I am interested in.

Chaoswizkid

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #142 on: February 25, 2012, 04:56:23 pm »

If an animal can do something that humans can but many other animals can't, it doesn't imply at all that it's as intelligent as humans. Self-awareness is but a tiny fraction of what makes a human mind.

I don't think anyone's saying that because dolphins are self-aware, they are as intelligent as humans. Other factors have to come into play here, otherwise the research on dolphins would have stopped. Self-awareness is just a key component to determine if an animal is a candidate for having similar intelligence.

Complexity of social organization means the degree of specialization of individual members within society. Specialization is what got us from caves to skyscrapers. And it's virtually non-existent in dolphins.

And how much specialization can animals have without opposable thumbs? I think you're thinking of humans who farm, who build, who lead, who think, etc., and they specialize in those. In dolphins, they are all striving to survive, so they all hunt. There are scouts that report to their pod when they discover large amounts of food, and there is of course a leader in a pod. They can't build things, so that's out. However, you find in lots of animals that they have a dominant member of a group, and hunters. I think the largest distinction here is that humans are able to specialize in roles such as building and provide services in exchange for goods, whereas for other animals that doesn't really make sense since they can't build anything.

Also, I looked at ants, and I don't think they are such a valid case due to being born into castes. They might be social, they might break up into groups, but they aren't all born the same, and I'm not sure to what extent they 'socialize'. Dolphins, on the other hand, are known to play games just for fun, such as a game of 'catch' where they use a loop of seaweed and toss it to each other.

As for chess, those articles of yours seem to be suggesting that dolphins are *more* intelligent than humans, in which case your average dolphin shouldn't just hold his own against your average human, he should pwn Kasparov. I somehow doubt that would happen, but feel free to prove me wrong.

What part about them strikes you as supposing dolphins are more intelligent?



The mirror test is miserable. A large portion of HUMANITY fails the mirror test, uncoached - turns out it's cultural!

I don't think a large portion of humanity looks in a mirror for the first time, moves, and concludes it's looking at another member of its own species as opposed to itself, unless you're considering children (which might). Source?

The mirror test is miserable. A large portion of HUMANITY fails the mirror test, uncoached - turns out it's cultural!
It rests on several assumptions that have nothing to do with intelligence:
a) That an animal can recognize itself in a mirror. (This is the only part related to intelligence)
b) The animal cares about a dot on its head.
c) The animal wants to remove the dot.
d) The animal thinks it should remove the dot.
e) The animal thinks its okay to remove the dot.
f) A host of other unfounded assumptions having nothing to do with intelligence

What? That's certainly not true for the mirror test involving elephants. Elephants don't remove what's on them, nor is the test in any way designed for them to be removed. An elephant sees it has some tape or something on itself, then rubs its trunk on its own body to feel the tape as opposed to concluding it's looking at another elephant with some tape on it. Nothing to do with taking it off.


A much better use of the mirror test is the COACHED mirror test - can an animal be trained to recognize itself in the mirror and point out a dot somewhere on its body, that it can't otherwise see? This is the only way to consistently get humans to pass the mirror test, after all. And, unsurprisingly enough, a great number of animals pass the test once they realize what it is we want them to do.

Where are these coached mirror test results for animals? A google search couldn't turn up much for some reason.


I'm sorry, the "mirror test", as stands, is about as meaningful as the rat-based "heroin test" that proved people would destroy their lives due to heroin given the chance. Or the LSD tests where they stuck someone in a bare room in a hostile environment and determined the large number of negative responses meant all responses always were negative. Or the numerous studies that assumed that every person in the world is exactly like a USA psychology undergrad.

It's bullshit, and people using bullshit extrapolations from crappy tests and studies infuriates me.

You're complaining about one test as opposed to the numerous different types of tests, such as the television test, that have been used on dolphins. It's as if you're discrediting the entire thing because a mirror test was performed.
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Solifuge

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #143 on: February 25, 2012, 07:27:43 pm »

TL;DR: Just take a look at this spot on the Bonobo Kanzi, and his discussion and interactions with this reporter... or his attempt to act as mediator and translator between another Bonobo and a person.


The "Personhood" of animals it's something I've studied and discussed frequently as a budding proto-scientist, since it's something that relates strongly to my studies (Anthropology is the study of what it is to be a person, while Biology is the study of life from a fundamental level on up). Bear with me... I've done a fair bit of homework on this.

The word "person" literally describes human beings, as separate from animals and other things in the world. It's a very old, very basic word that has been used to apply to "Us vs. Them" for as long as history records. We've stripped the word "person" from the physically deformed or mentally handicapped, from "inferior races of human", from foreign cultures we couldn't communicate or relate to, and more. However, when our understanding of these people grew, and we came to understand that these others had comparable feelings, cultures, desires, and senses of individuality as we did, we revised our definition to include them.

What is a person? We use it to describe other beings we communicate and interact with, on both shallow and deep levels, who exhibit "personality", who have an understanding and appreciation of culture and cultural experiences, and so on. Persons dance, speak languages, make music, show kindness toward others even when they don't stand to benefit, express anger and violence toward others, etc.

Now, over many years we've been learning that a great many animals exhibit signs of those same things. They care for others (even members of unrelated species) at the expense of their own well-being, they communicate with each other, and can even relate complex or abstract concepts when given a complete enough language. We've been finding evidence of individuality, culture, self-awareness, linguistic ability, and more among many animal species.

Considering an animal in the light of "Personhood" can be difficult; for some, it runs contrary to their religious beliefs. For others, admitting animal personality/personhood would come with admitting responsibility for exploiting, disregarding, and making use of animals as material things. Still, we shouldn't let these things prevent us from accepting the very real, very hard evidence that's before us, and we really do need to consider what that means for how we relate to other lifeforms on our planet.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 07:46:52 pm by Solifuge »
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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #144 on: February 25, 2012, 07:51:51 pm »

Your tone is not appreciated. I'm sure you've regretted posting in threads too. But whatever, I'll leave you to your fascinating discussions of brainless microorganisms.

Bacteria have nuclei, RIGHTS FOR BACTERIUM EVERYWHERE!!! THIS IS BLATANT RACISM AGAINST OUR SINGLE CELLED FRIENDS!!!

Solifuge

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #145 on: February 25, 2012, 08:36:18 pm »

And then there are people who, rather than letting information give them cause to reconsider their worldview, seek refuge in audacity and start harping on completely ridiculous things. Oh man, people... capable of such heights of greatness, and such depths of pettiness.
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GamesTweets

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #147 on: February 25, 2012, 10:14:39 pm »

Quote
I don't think a large portion of humanity looks in a mirror for the first time, moves, and concludes it's looking at another member of its own species as opposed to itself, unless you're considering children (which might). Source?
Ethology and Human Development. Rowman & Littlefield.
Much like the chimpanzees in the initial test, a human must learn both to understand the meaning of the mirror, and the appropriate response for noticing a spot once the mirror image has been determined to represent themselves. This is not an instant process, and the way the test is usually executed is very prone to false failures. Most human, barring training, will fail the mirror test - of course, most humans are thoroughly trained.

Even if we ARE properly exposed, there's definitely social issues involved that may or may not be present. For example, in Asendorpf, J. B., Warkentin, V., & Baudonniere, P.-M. (1996). Self-Awareness and Other Awareness II: Mirror Self-Recognition, Social Contigency Awareness, and Synchronic Imitation. Developmental Psychology, a study was conducted that showed children were failing not because they were unable to recognize themselves in the mirror, but because they didn't realize the spot was abnormal, nor that they should respond to it. They didn't actually care about the spot.

Only when they were coached before hand that spots should be cleaned (through doll play), did the children behave "as expected" by the test (in other words, by responding to it at all).

An animal who is self aware but simply holds no curiosity on this front fails the test.

Though to be honest, the initial mirror test Gallup did was actually pretty well set, and they learned quite a bit from it. I have nothing against the people who set it up, especially since the conclusions they drew didn't extrapolate without evidence much beyond the confines of the test environment.

Quote
What? That's certainly not true for the mirror test involving elephants. Elephants don't remove what's on them, nor is the test in any way designed for them to be removed. An elephant sees it has some tape or something on itself, then rubs its trunk on its own body to feel the tape as opposed to concluding it's looking at another elephant with some tape on it. Nothing to do with taking it off.
This... isn't actually any sort of refutation. The point was that the animal must have some impetus, beyond self awareness, to respond to the dot, or tape, at all.

Take the pigeon example: Long considered a "failure" of the mirror test, until it was demonstrated that the test simply wasn't set up right - the pigeons weren't failing because they couldn't recognise themselves in the mirror, but rather because those other assumptions I listed didn't hold up. Once they were modified, the animals passed.

Quote
Where are these coached mirror test results for animals? A google search couldn't turn up much for some reason.
Look up mirror test, pigeons, for the primary example.

Quote
You're complaining about one test as opposed to the numerous different types of tests, such as the television test, that have been used on dolphins. It's as if you're discrediting the entire thing because a mirror test was performed.
No, not really - just the researchers who implement their tests poorly and misrepresent the scope and impact of the results, and the reporters who take that and run away with it. I said, overall all, evidence of dolphin intelligence remains remarkably high.
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Solifuge

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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #148 on: February 25, 2012, 10:30:22 pm »

Chimpanzees are not of the same mind as Gorillas are, nor Bonobos, nor Humans. Every lifeform is different, and a fair comparison of our capabilities can't be made. Besides, so much of what makes us human is the culture we've all created over thousands of years, (mathematics, language, and tools), not Nature.

For your consideration:

http://speakingofresearch.com/2011/08/15/project-nim-the-untold-story/

I agree with his first conclusion, that the chimpanzee Nim was quite possibly mimicking what he was seeing, rather than communicating. I would, however, disagree with his broad and unsubstantiated conclusion: that because one chimpanzee didn't learn language, that not only all chimpanzees, but all Apes lack a "Theory of Mind", or an ability to empathize or understand anything beyond their immediate wants and needs. When you consider Nim's conditions, he was never set up for language learning during his formative years. If you'd like to see what happens to humans who aren't exposed to language during their early development, consider the case of Dr. Itard's work with the "Feral Child" Victor. Without at least some exposure to language and socialization in our formative years, we just can't learn to use or comprehend language.

Luckily, we've come a long way since research done in the 70's. Consider Bonobos like Kanzi, Gorillas like Koko, and of course the natural Dolphin proto-language we've just begun to crack in the last few months.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 10:36:08 pm by Solifuge »
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Re: Dolphins as Non-Human Persons; or Viva la Cetalucean!
« Reply #149 on: February 25, 2012, 10:49:49 pm »

Kanzi is amazing. He picked up language on his own and managed to vocalise his feelings- he got a keeper to perform the haka for him. All but Kanzi interpreted it as an aggressive display, but Kanzi indicated he wished to see the haka alone in a different room so as to not aggravate the other bonobos.
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