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Humans are not smarter than animals, just "different"

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by qubit, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. MT Alex

    MT Alex

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    Very well put. This point, coupled with the fact that is very chic in today's society to be anti-humanist, is the only reason this thread has gotten any traction whatsoever.
     
  2. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    That is why I used the red fox for that example. What they are doing is done with computer-like precision. Yes, they may have evolutionary hardware we don't have but they also have a brain that can understand that hardware and know what to do with it to survive.

    You're trying to define intelligence by a metric that only humans have demonstrated (mathematical concepts) which I would call bias. If you want to compare intelligence across species, you have to establish and use a lowest common denominator. As said previously, evolutionary biologists agree that the best measure is the size of the cortex compared to the body mass and by that metric, we are not alone in intelligence.

    Case in point: look at what it took to get humans where they are today, specifically, diet. The reason why our brains got so big is because we became omnivores and to be omnivores, we had to become the predator. The same happened to the orca (they are carnivorous predators that hunt a wide variety of prey but each pod specializes in a few). If you compare orca behavior to human behavior, the only difference is humans use tools. They behave just like nomadic human tribes did. We could likely teach an orca how to hunt an animal they usually don't hunt and they'll likely teach their entire pod and pass it on from one generation to the next because it is useful to them. The reason why we don't know for sure is because serious research on animal intelligence has just begun recently. At this point, saying humans are "the only animal with true intelligence" is no different than subscribing to intelligent design (bias, lots of it, with no empirical evidence to prove it).
     
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  3. lilhasselhoffer

    lilhasselhoffer

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    I'm not entirely sure where to begin here. Let's say tomorrow a species not of this Earth lands in a space craft. Their first task will be to go about determining which species dominates the planet, and if any exist which are capable of responding back to their advances. Disregarding the cities, because there are multiple species co-habitating the structures; they begin by abducting an example of every species. Stacking them up;
    1) Humans do not have the greatest amount of brain, that distinction belongs to Sperm whales.
    2) Humans are not the only species with spindle cells.
    3) Humans do not have the most complex brain structure.
    4) Humans are not the only social animal which can communicate with one another.
    5) No species currently on the planet has a written language except humans.

    So, the brains aren't largely special for humans, when compared to our contemporary "intelligent" species. The only thing we've got going for us is a written language, which isn't exactly great. Moving forward, adaptations are compared;
    1) Cheetahs have the fastest burst running speed of any animals.
    2) Whales are the largest mammals.
    3) The amount of insects outstrips all other animals by several fold.
    4) There are animals with better sensory perception than humans, no matter what the sense.

    If our observer was polled at this point the dominant species for this planet would either be whales or insects. Both of these choices have complex interactions with one another, are well adapted, and have some of the finest evolutionary artillery on the planet. Upon opening a dialog, they get nowhere. Whale song analysis allows them to talk the same language, but no complex data can be shared and interpreted. Insects confronted with stimuli respond with mechanical precision, but no higher level thought and reasoning. The aliens continue moving down the list, making sure that their attempts to communicate are simple and can be responded to. Dozens more candidates fail.

    Passing by the canines, felines, dolphins, and bears we finally reach humanity. They don't have particularly well developed senses. The brains aren't truly unique in any way, though the ratio of components is different than most. These soft squishy things have a written language that has been discerned, so a simple logical problem is given to them. They manage a reasonable response. In order to make sure this was not a fluke 10 more are staged. The human passes nine without issue, demonstrating some promise. An octopus, comparatively, passed almost eight of these tests.


    We've got two contestants for an intelligent species on this planet, humans and octopi. All other species demonstrated amazing adaptation, but no skills beyond what their evolutionary hardware would indicate as possible.

    A series of mathematical operators are shown to each potential candidate, starting from easiest to most complex process. The octopi samples manage basic addition and subtraction, but no greater ability. A segment of the human population demonstrates addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and rudimentary algebra. No other being has demonstrated all of these skills, so it is determined that these D students (because really, what is humanity but the species that sank most of its evolutionary energies into evolving the brain) are actually intelligent enough to sustain a conversation. No other animal on the planet can sustain a conversation, despite having immensely better faculties.


    This is how scientists are proposing how we might make first contact on other world. It stands to reason that other intelligent life would set the same parameters for determining which species were intelligent enough to converse with. Like it or not, math is the easiest way to determine intelligence. 2000 years ago the smartest beings on the planet could use math to calculate the seasons and movement of objects in the night sky. From that day until now, we've been doing the same thing with greater and greater precision. Those foxes, dogs, whales, etc... haven't appreciably changed what they are doing or why they are doing it. Evolution and selective breeding has honed them into good survivors, but that isn't true intelligence.

    I might believe that my pets know to follow my commands. I might be able to determine that a fox is good at roughly calculating ballistic flight trajectories. As an intelligent animal I can build a rocket, calculate the thrust it will generate, determine its ballistic trajectory, and use that to get myself safely off this ball of dirt. All of this is a possibility because of intelligence, derived from an understanding of math. No other known creature on this planet can do that. That octopus is amazing for being able to open a jar, but the greater feat is the technology and infrastructure required to make the jar and keep the octopus alive. In its most blunt form, good adaptation and faculties do not imply intelligent animals. Intelligence is a function of going beyond the raw capabilities of your hardware, and being capable of doing more than you should be able to. We fly without wings, swim without scales, travel vast distances with pinpoint accuracy, and our hardware doesn't offer any way to do this beyond an applied intelligence.
     
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  4. MT Alex

    MT Alex

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    Concise, well thought out responses will have little effect upon Ford when he gets into one of these ruts. I have witnessed it too many times over at the site that will remain unnamed. Best to move on.
     
  5. james888

    james888

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    @lifehasslehoffer
    That reminded me of close encounters of the third kind. Honeslty that movie is relevant to this discussion.
     
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  6. thebluebumblebee

    thebluebumblebee

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    So, is education a big circle? Is there a point in education where you start getting stupider?

    If animals have "cognitive faculties that are superior to human beings", why haven't they figured out how to dominate us? (no, an isolated incident of an animal killing a human is not dominating)
     
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  7. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Earth's surface is 70% water. Orca dominates the ocean shores; sperm whales (another mammal with a giant brain) dominates the deep oceans.


    It's likely as difficult for an alien species to communicate with whales as it would be to communicate with humans. Just look at how fantastic we are at communicating with animals; the only ones we have any success with are those that have been domesticated. Science has proven that domesticated animals, especially dogs, are excellent at reading human emotion ("Left Gaze Bias"). There's no reason, whatsoever, to believe aliens would find humans easier to communicate with than other animal species. Hell, look how many problems we have communicating with each other even inside the same language.


    That's a massive assumption with no imperial evidence to support it. Case in point: try to have a conversation with someone who speaks a different language than you. I guarantee you it won't be sustainable for long until one part learns the other's. The same can be said of all human interactions with animals. A dog may listen for commands or try to evoke a response from a human but that's hardly a conversation because it's very one-sided.

    They weren't using math, they were noticing a pattern and sought to explain why it recurs. FYI, the IQ test uses pattern recognition to score human intelligence, not math. To use math, you need a lot training in regards to what the symbols 0-9 means. You may also require background on operations and formula. All these things must be taught. Pattern recognition is a natural thing all animals can do to some extent.


    Only because you have access to information from many scientists before you. If you weren't subjected to all that prior information, you'd be more clueless than that fox. The only thing that makes humans truly unique is we store vast amounts of information and we pass it on to future generations. If you remove that, we're only slightly better (mentally, not physically) than the apes swinging in the trees.


    We dominate them in our environment and they dominate us in theirs. Get in a fight with a shark without a harpoon, you're going to lose. Get in a fight with a tiger without a dagger, you're going to lose. A rabid dog gets in a fight with a human with a loaded gun, the dog is going to lose. I go back to my first response to lilhasselhoffer in this post: we absolutely do not dominate the ocean.
     
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  8. thebluebumblebee

    thebluebumblebee

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    No matter the environment, WE adapt, WE dominate. If the environment doesn't work for us, WE change the environment. (shark cage) Antelope run away from cheetahs every time. They don't say, "Hey, we out number them 100 to one. Everyone get a stick."

    Ford, you are confusing ability with intelligence. An otter may have the ability to use a rock to get food, but think about all the things that we do with a hammer. We even make music with hammers.

    If we don't dominate the oceans, then how did we hunt whales to the point of extinction? As impressive as whales are, I've been on an aircraft carrier on the ocean and there is nothing in nature to compare. (although I had to laugh as some dolphins passed us like we were sitting still)

    You may have just defined intelligence. The ability to recognize, keep, expand on, and pass on what we have learned.
     
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  9. lilhasselhoffer

    lilhasselhoffer

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    You know, there appears to be nothing that I can say that you don't have some sort of reason to contest. We begin the conversation with the supposition that "humans aren't smarter than animals," and you wind up with Orca versus human in the water is going to be Orca wins. Congratulations, you've proven that evolution works; at no point have you said why an Orca is intelligent, or even driven by a discernable intelligence.

    Math is not as limited as you seem to suppose. Let's just forget that computers use base 2 for storage. Let's forget that hexidecimal code exists. Let's forget that that Babylonians didn't have a base 10 system. Name me one other animal on the entire face of this planet that has explicitly expressed the concept of PI, and my argument can be swept under the rug. The problem is that no animal can do this without math.

    Let's also try some math. Give me the value of y in these two equations:
    y=(2*3)^2
    y=2*3^2
    Assuming that you haven't forgotten PEMDAS, you'll note the first is 36, and the second is 18. What about giving me the next number in these series, without ever knowing the mathematical operators:
    1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, ...
    1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, ...
    Being able to recognize numerical pattern and operators doesn't give you crap if you can't figure out why you are doing it. I'm betting that the number strings are familiar to you, and there was no problem seeing the mathematical patterns they represent.


    IQ is not a test for intelligence. It is a moving average set so that the average cognitive faculties of humanity can be compared. By these low standards, a tree has a measurable IQ. I don't believe either of us could argue that a tree have cognitive faculties.

    Assuming that no records of any previous human before me were kept, we still beat out animals. 2000 years ago the printed word was a rarity. Apprenticeships taught you a skill, and you taught your apprentice what you'd learned. Despite having no printed records humanity managed to improve upon materials, develop chemistry (though it was couched in alchemy at the time), and a way to store their accumulating knowledge.


    My last point is going to be language. Your example here is crap. My native tongue is French, your native tongue is Japanese, but we both speak a second language. That second language is English. We can communicate with it, despite your ignorance of French and my ignorance of Japanese. Mathematics is something that will have to be mastered to traverse the great void of space. The extra terrestrials may not even be capable of audible speech, but binary signaling is an easy and effective way of communicating numerical values. If we can't begin to understand that then any hope for humanity's future is already lost. Our closest version of communicating, via a lingua franca, with other members of the animal kingdom is sign language with other great apes. Given that we are basically their cousins, this seems like the only animal which may also display genuine intelligence. It's a pity that they have not ever communicated any great ideas via sign language, simply base desires and what might charitably be called canned responses to identifiable factors.



    All of this said, I cannot continue to argue the point. You have a preconceived notion, which is incapable of being changed by argument. Continuing as such would be me wasting my time and yours. I believe that evolution and selective breeding have produced many interesting adaptations which appear to mimic intelligence, but I would note that humans have evolved to see patterns that do not exist. I would like to believe my dog is an intelligent animal, but I've yet to see any proof of it. I don't believe the differentiation between a beautifully crafted evolved response, and a genuinely intelligent response, has yet been proven in other members of the animal kingdom. Differentiation between the two is difficult, which may well be where our irreconcilable philosophical differences lie.
     
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  10. DayKnight

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    No. YOU have to try harder to convince us with your number one and the definitive point.
     
  11. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Whales don't have gills. They have to surface to breath. That's when whalers get them. How little we know about the deep oceans is demonstrated by the theory and how long it to get proof of the existence of giant squids. Unlike whales, they never surface; like whales, they disappear into the deep for extended periods of time and we have no idea what they are doing when they do.


    That's bookkeeping. :roll: Seriously, look how much humanity's collective knowledge declined during the Dark Ages. I don't think it is what makes us intelligent but it is certainly what makes us unique.


    Humans and orcas are social; orcas and humans are predators; orcas exhibit behaviors we'd call "human" in situations of duress (e.g. if you take a calf from its mother, the mother will try to free, or least stay close to, the calf where virtually all other animals would flee); orcas plot against their prey (e.g. if a seal is on an ice burg, they'll systemically destroy the ice berg until they reach the seal) and work in groups to hunt, like humans; they try to fool predators like humans (e.g. a pod they took calves from when they tried again, the mothers and calves dove underwater and took a different branch in a river while the males stayed on the surface and went down another branch; the whalers only caught the ruse because they had aircraft monitoring them and saw it happen); and this is only from the little we know about them--often observed, candidly, in nature.


    "Smarter" is a bad word and it always will be because it lacks specificity. I simply have a problem with people dismissing (especially arrogantly so) the intelligence of animals. They may not be on par with humans or even close to humans for the most part but the majority of them don't qualify as being the opposite of "smart:" stupid. Evolution has a way of dealing with them.


    I was referring to being alone without tools and no prior knowledge (think "George of the Jungle"). As I said repeatedly, humans are exceptional in the amount of information we pass from one generation to the next through teaching and learning. I am in no way dismissing the same thing may happen with other animal species because it may. The only thing definitive is the volume and broadness of information.


    *sigh* Research the Choctaw code talkers. The allied forces used an old language the Germans/Japanese couldn't even recognize. It was more effective at sending secret messages than any kind of "math" solution because it wasn't decryptable--it was simply alien. If you don't have one of those Native Americans explaining to you how the language works, you'll never figure it out. We have the same problem communicating with animal species. We teach them some of our language but they don't teach us theirs; thus, they can understand us to some extent but we don't understand them beyond observing behaviors. I'm pretty sure trainers are familiar with the phrase dolphins and orcas use for "fish" but that's about as far as it goes.

    When's the last time you tried to sign Einstein's theory of relativity? Bare in mind that human sign language is alien to apes yet, they learned it and use it. Speaking of apes, I learned how best to open a banana from them. :p
     
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  12. james888

    james888

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  13. Chevalr1c

    Chevalr1c

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    I did not. The Orient kept developing, partly using knowledge that the Occident (and Orient, too of course) had developed during the Classical period or before that. I hope you do realise that or base 10 mathematical system is Oriental? Our numberical symbols are Oriental, too, although I do not know whether our basic mathematical operators (+ - / * ( ) ) are all being eastern as well.
     
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  14. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Yeah, the Dark Ages hit Europe. Had the east stopped working on mathematical concepts or it was destroyed there too, we probably wouldn't have had a lot of technology we do today.


    I didn't know that whalers and whales have a symbiotic relationship in some scenarios. It makes me sad for their prey; that's so unfair getting double-teamed. :(
     
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  15. james888

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    I watched the full pbs documentary on this. You got it wrong. The orca's love the tongue. The orca's would help bring the whale in for the whalers. The whalers would let the orca's eat the tongue, and the orca's would leave the rest for the whalers. The sad part is that at some point people decided to hurt the orca's that were helping them. Since then relations have not been as good. They remembered.
     
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  16. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Ha! The tongue? I would have never guessed that.

    Orcas remembering doesn't surprise me. It'll probably be generations before they trust again.
     
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  17. DannibusX

    DannibusX

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    All of you arguing overwhether animals are smarter than humans.

    I can't wait for the day when the whales begin to beach themselves with weapons and the great whale uprising begins. They've been practicing for years, to lull us into a false sense of security and will bring ever increasing amounts of victims to try and "help" them back into th ocean. Who's the dumbass then? Us.
     
  18. RejZoR

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    I wish my dog could speak. She's very smart and only thing really holding it back is the lack of ability to speak. But she developed ways of telling us what she wants with her behavior, on her own, without any training what so ever. And i've seen similar behavior with other animals, so yeah, i believe they are very smart, in a way we helped them become smarter, but at the same time we are holding them back...
     
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  19. Frick

    Frick Fishfaced Nincompoop

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  20. larrymoencurly

    larrymoencurly

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    When my childhood dog was caught doing that, it got a lecture from my mother while she cleaned up the mess. The dog didn't completely stop getting into the trash from then on, but when it did it would look guilty, even my mother came home from shopping, before she knew what happened to the trash. This dog would also show no interest in its mirror image, after sniffing the nose initially.
     

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