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Humans are not smarter than animals, just "different"

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#26
You could bring in the fact of the size of the cerebral cortex to explain the advancement in the human being. But its a fairly large and clear gap between humans and animals. Evolution does not clear this up entirely. Even Darwin said that. Maybe a higher being at work here?
 

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#27
I'm just going to leave this here...
Are Whales Smarter Than We Are?
TL;DR, we don't know.

This little guy (tree shrew) has a bigger brain/body mass than humans do:
 
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#28
I'd argue the reason why we get to this point and no other animals did (that's a pretty major assumption by the way) is because we're the only ones that always walk upright (freeing our hands) and have opposable thumbs (to manipulate objects). If humans never happened, what's the odds of some other animal evolving these advantages and reaching this point in millions of years? I'd say pretty good. We got lucky but according to our genetic makeup, the luck almost ran out many times.

Then again, Chaser demonstrated the fundamental reasoning all computer technology works on: binary; yes or no: if object might be Darwin, yes; if object is known not to be Darwin, no.
I do agree, with your first paragraph especially. I don't think anyone truly knows how and why we evolved our intelligence the way we did, but it seems a pretty reasonable premise and I've heard scientists on documentaries put forward these ideas. Who's to say that if we weren't here that chimps and apes wouldn't evolve our level of intelligence and perhaps more in a couple of million years? Yeah, I'll buy that. :)

As far as Chaser goes, yes that was reasoning all right. Also, think about the reputation that foxes have for being wiley? You gotta have reasoning skills for that - and some devious ones, too. ;)
 
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#29
Can we really be categorized as smarter than animals considering how much self destructive we are?
 

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#30
As several people in this thread have stated, without a definition of the term “smarter” the whole premise of the thread lacks any sort of objectivity from a scientific standpoint. That, however, has never stopped us from discussing things based on our own views and opinions and is unlikely to do so anytime soon. :D

Do animals make decisions? Absolutely. Animals make decisions constantly. Whether those decisions are based on instinct, or some form of learned behavior, could be up for discussion, but that must be taken in a case-by-case basis and is the same with humans.

I worked for many years training dogs, and a great deal of it involved behavioral modification.
The one thing that dogs lack, that humans do not, is the ability to chain together logical associations (or assumptions) based upon previous experiences (memory). Here is something I ran into with dog owners on a somewhat regular basis when helping them modify their dog's behavior.

A) Fido gets into the trash and makes a mess when the owner is gone.
B) The owner comes home and finds the mess.
C) The owner reprimands the dog for making a mess.
D) Dog slinks away after being scolded, so owner assumes Fido “knew he did something wrong.”

This is completely false. Fido does not, and never will, make the association that A caused C, and therefore resulted in his response in D. All Fido knows is that if garbage is on the floor when his owner gets home he will get reprimanded. Many owners argued (and had completely convinced themselves) that Fido knew he did wrong due to his resultant actions. The simple way to prove them wrong was to ask them to call Fido over to the garbage and knock it over in front of him. Fido would ALWAYS slink away knowing he would be reprimanded for the spilled garbage even though, in this case, he was not the cause of it. All Fido knows is that B results in C, and he never makes the logical leap of association that A was the catalyst in the event which resulted in the scolding.

One, of course, can train the dog to stay out of the garbage by reprimanding it when caught in the act (or by setting a trap in the garbage to dissuade the behavior), but that is by no means the same as thinking the dog actually is associating its behavior with the outcome in a chain of events.

Is this sort of logical associative chaining of events exclusive to humans? I have no idea, but it is rather thought provoking and can easily be tested with your favorite domesticated furball.

As for humans being self destructive, all animals have the capacity to kill each other. Usually it involves a territorial dispute, but there have been cases of seemingly random, or wanton, killings with animals too. Due to our ability to use tools we’ve just become a lot more efficient at it.
 
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#31
There was this experiment, I couldn't find a link for the life of me, the experiment was about young (human) kids and birds (crows, I think) and the food dispenser that they encounter for the first time.
Food dispenser had a button and a simple mechanism that was visible (open box that shows the lever in the insides of the machine).
With mechanism visible birds and kids all knew how to get food from the dispenser.
With new set of kids and birds, they closed the box, and the machine became just a food storage with a button on it.
Birds were clueless and kids had no problems getting food.
This shows that imagination is the key - explaining things with "magic", accepting it and acting upon it while willing to experiment - the key human traits in this case. Birds failed when there was no clear insight to function of a button.
Essentially we have brains that tend to push on even when we don't understand some of it, because everything not understood can be explained using remarkable concept of "magic" that only humans have.
 
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#32
All animals possess a certain level of intelligence, but all breeds of animals not are as intelligent as all the other breeds of animals.

For example, here is a simple test for people that own a cat and a dog. Get a treat for the dog and show it to him or her. Leave the room with the treat leaving the animal in the room. Leave the treat in the other room and go back to the dog. Generally, the dog will realize you had the treat when you left, and didn't have it when you came back, so they will go to where you went and look for the treat. Now do the same thing with a cat. When you come back without the treat, the cat normally will just assume the treat is just simply gone, and will not know enough to go look for it like the dog.

As several people in this thread have stated, without a definition of the term “smarter” the whole premise of the thread lacks any sort of objectivity from a scientific standpoint. That, however, has never stopped us from discussing things based on our own views and opinions and is unlikely to do so anytime soon. :D

Do animals make decisions? Absolutely. Animals make decisions constantly. Whether those decisions are based on instinct, or some form of learned behavior, could be up for discussion, but that must be taken in a case-by-case basis and is the same with humans.

I worked for many years training dogs, and a great deal of it involved behavioral modification.
The one thing that dogs lack, that humans do not, is the ability to chain together logical associations (or assumptions) based upon previous experiences (memory). Here is something I ran into with dog owners on a somewhat regular basis when helping them modify their dog's behavior.

A) Fido gets into the trash and makes a mess when the owner is gone.
B) The owner comes home and finds the mess.
C) The owner reprimands the dog for making a mess.
D) Dog slinks away after being scolded, so owner assumes Fido “knew he did something wrong.”

This is completely false. Fido does not, and never will, make the association that A caused C, and therefore resulted in his response in D. All Fido knows is that if garbage is on the floor when his owner gets home he will get reprimanded. Many owners argued (and had completely convinced themselves) that Fido knew he did wrong due to his resultant actions. The simple way to prove them wrong was to ask them to call Fido over to the garbage and knock it over in front of him. Fido would ALWAYS slink away knowing he would be reprimanded for the spilled garbage even though, in this case, he was not the cause of it. All Fido knows is that B results in C, and he never makes the logical leap of association that A was the catalyst in the event which resulted in the scolding.

One, of course, can train the dog to stay out of the garbage by reprimanding it when caught in the act (or by setting a trap in the garbage to dissuade the behavior), but that is by no means the same as thinking the dog actually is associating its behavior with the outcome in a chain of events.

Is this sort of logical associative chaining of events exclusive to humans? I have no idea, but it is rather thought provoking and can easily be tested with your favorite domesticated furball.

As for humans being self destructive, all animals have the capacity to kill each other. Usually it involves a territorial dispute, but there have been cases of seemingly random, or wanton, killings with animals too. Due to our ability to use tools we’ve just become a lot more efficient at it.
I can not agree with you Kreij, and it's because of this. My last dog, a pit/boxer mix named Nikita, most certainly understood how A resulted in C. When Nikita was still young, one day I left a half a pizza on the counter top as I walked over to my neighbor's house. When I returned, the pizza was gone and the cardboard it was sitting on was in the middle of the floor. Well I went to Nikita's ass with that piece of cardboard. Granted, your not going to hurt a 95lb pit/boxer mix with a 16" piece of cardboard, but I definitely got my point across. Nikita was less than 2 years old when that happened. She lived to be 14 years old. From that day forward, it didn't matter what it was, if it was not on the floor or in her dish, she knew it was not hers. I could leave a juicy steak on the coffee table at her nose level, and she would not even pay it any attention. But once it was on the floor, it was hers', and she knew it.

God I miss her.

 
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Kreij

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#33
I can not agree with you Kreij, and it's because of this. My last dog, a pit/boxer mix named Nikita, most certainly understood how A resulted in C. When Nikita was still young, one day I left a half a pizza on the counter top as I walked over to my neighbor's house. When I returned, the pizza was gone and the cardboard it was sitting on was in the middle of the floor. Well I went to Nikita's ass with that piece of cardboard. Granted, your not going to hurt a 95lb pit/boxer mix with a 16" piece of cardboard, but I definitely got my point across. Nikita was less than 2 years old when that happened. She lived to be 14 years old. From that day forward, it didn't matter what it was, if it was not on the floor or in her dish, she knew it was not hers. I could leave a juicy steak on the coffee table at her nose level, and she would not even pay it any attention. But once it was on the floor, it was hers', and she knew it.
I still think that your assessment of what Nikita "understood" may be a bit anthropomorphic. Did Nikita realize that what she did was wrong, or did you just teach her that what was on the counter/table was off limits (which could have been accomplished without the dog ever having taken the food)?
Since there is no way to test the theory anymore it is a moot point, but it's always interesting to ponder.

God I miss her.
I've lost many dogs over the years and they were all unique in their own way. I miss mine as well.
 
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#34
I don't think animals are as smart as humans, however, I do believe they are not just dumb creatures with no feelings and incapable of any degree of reasoning like some people like to think of them.

Videos pop up all the time showing people beating the crap out of animals at slaughterhouses because the were taught these creatures can't feel anything and it's OK to abuse something that will end up as a hamburger or tri tip....

Chefs have always said crustaceans don't feel pain and think that justifies cutting them in half while still alive, try and raise even the most tiny shrimp or crab in an aquarium and watch how they interact with each other and even recognize feeding time and how to avoid messing with other fish in the aquarium to avoid harm, then tell me these creatures are incapable of complex behavior. Sure they won't build a fusion reactor out of sand and coral anytime soon, but that doesn't imply these creatures are just moving decorations in your aquarium, not smart but certainly able to feel pain or recognize danger.

Like others have mentioned, whoever's had a dog as part of their family can attest to witnessing emotion beyond sheer instinct in these loyal creatures, after sharing many years with my old dog, a boxer, I could tell if he was sad, happy, curious, or had done something bad just by looking at him for a second, my ex wife always said I was crazy for saying I could tell how my dog felt just by seeing his face, she said to her he always looked the same.

This dog could tell he was looking at his own reflection in a mirror, and was so smart that every time I started packing to go study abroad he would try and grab my clothes from me to keep me from leaving, he never did that while I was just folding my laundry or anything, one time I found he put his favorite blanket in one of my suitcases while I didn't notice and the last couple of times I even had to force him out the suitcase as he would jump into it as soon as I opened it to pack my things, I think he wanted to follow me even if that meant traveling in one of my suitcases! :laugh:

When I moved to America I had to leave my dog with my parents and he passed away while staying with them, I brought my ex with me and after many years of enduring her crazy behavior and rampant paranoia I divorced her, and she kept the house I worked so hard for, I should've brought my dog with me instead of her, he would have never asked me to give him my house :laugh:

Anyway, yes I agree animals are just different from us but that doesn't make them just stupid creatures with no capacity for complex behavior.
 
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#35
-Virtually all social animals have a spoken language. They don't write because they don't have opposable thumbs. We know, for example, that specific rooster calls invoke specific responses from the hens. The hens will also distrust the rooster if he "cried wolf" too many times. We also know that wolves have a long range howl for finding each other when separated and if you mimic that sound, they'll howl back so you know where to find the pack. We also know that orcas from different pods can't communicate with each other (assumed their languages are incompatible--kind of like the Native American tribes); it can cause miscommunication and violence towards the minority pod. Orcas also have a long range call they do like wolves when one of their pod is missing.
- I think a lot of the larger mammals could understand complex concepts. The problem is making them care enough to bother.
-The keyword there is "millennia." Without centuries of past experience, neither of the above (writing and complex concepts) would have occurred. If Newton didn't establish the fundamentals of physics, what's the odds of Einstein being interested in such things? Pretty remote.

Orcas are very intelligent animals and I think we vastly underestimate them. They are hugely limited by their environment and apendages though.
As far as I know (unless I misunderstood the linguistics lectures I had), language is giving humans the ability to communicate beyond the usual signals like "predator!", "Mating time", etc.; making it possible to construct more complex meaning and making us able to talk about contra-factual things (e.g. when hypothesising) and we know concepts like past and future. As far as we know, most animal species can not communicate or reason about things that are existing in the "here and now" timeframe. Plus, have you ever noticed a chimp or dog pass on the skill humans thought them, to another member of their species? I didn't, nor do I know anyone else who did. Animals have (sometimes very elaborate) sets of signs available to them, but it is AFAIK not officially recognised as language. Maybe further research into crows and certain dolphins (Orcas are dolphins) may bring more nuance in this, but for now there is no proof (by my knowledge) that those animals can use their sets of signs the way we do. Especially since animals don't seem to care enough to bother, as you already stated.

You're going to have to define what "reason anywhere near like a human" means, beyond the poor grammar. :laugh: Are you implying emotion? I'd argue that too.

I'd argue that Chaser reasoned and that your argument is null and void. I would concede that you probably couldn't teach the concept of the decimal system to Chaser but since when did quantifying anything really matter to anyone except humans (and even then only because we trade--a distinctly human thing as far as I know)?

But there's the point! Whales and elephants do live as long as humans do (if not substantially longer)! There's so little research into them beyond acknowledgement that they are indeed very intelligent. Case in point: elephants deliberately avoid mice but no one can definitively answer the "why?" Could it be that they respect the life that the mouse represents? That they don't want to take a life if they don't need to? Orcas exhibit similar behaviors in captivity. They're friendly giants, unless provoked or mentally...in a bad place (vengeful, frustrated, etc.). Even domesticated dogs and cats behave similarly.
There are certain people (living in certain very remote and isolated tribes) who are unaware of the decimal system, and as such have no words for them in their native language. So your comment about trade is one I could agree with (although there probably have been more reasons than that for humans to start counting and do maths).

As several people in this thread have stated, without a definition of the term “smarter” the whole premise of the thread lacks any sort of objectivity from a scientific standpoint. That, however, has never stopped us from discussing things based on our own views and opinions and is unlikely to do so anytime soon. :D

Do animals make decisions? Absolutely. Animals make decisions constantly. Whether those decisions are based on instinct, or some form of learned behavior, could be up for discussion, but that must be taken in a case-by-case basis and is the same with humans.

I worked for many years training dogs, and a great deal of it involved behavioral modification.
The one thing that dogs lack, that humans do not, is the ability to chain together logical associations (or assumptions) based upon previous experiences (memory). Here is something I ran into with dog owners on a somewhat regular basis when helping them modify their dog's behavior.

A) Fido gets into the trash and makes a mess when the owner is gone.
B) The owner comes home and finds the mess.
C) The owner reprimands the dog for making a mess.
D) Dog slinks away after being scolded, so owner assumes Fido “knew he did something wrong.”

This is completely false. Fido does not, and never will, make the association that A caused C, and therefore resulted in his response in D. All Fido knows is that if garbage is on the floor when his owner gets home he will get reprimanded. Many owners argued (and had completely convinced themselves) that Fido knew he did wrong due to his resultant actions. The simple way to prove them wrong was to ask them to call Fido over to the garbage and knock it over in front of him. Fido would ALWAYS slink away knowing he would be reprimanded for the spilled garbage even though, in this case, he was not the cause of it. All Fido knows is that B results in C, and he never makes the logical leap of association that A was the catalyst in the event which resulted in the scolding.

One, of course, can train the dog to stay out of the garbage by reprimanding it when caught in the act (or by setting a trap in the garbage to dissuade the behavior), but that is by no means the same as thinking the dog actually is associating its behavior with the outcome in a chain of events.

Is this sort of logical associative chaining of events exclusive to humans? I have no idea, but it is rather thought provoking and can easily be tested with your favorite domesticated furball.

As for humans being self destructive, all animals have the capacity to kill each other. Usually it involves a territorial dispute, but there have been cases of seemingly random, or wanton, killings with animals too. Due to our ability to use tools we’ve just become a lot more efficient at it.
^ :toast: ^
 

qubit

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#36
As several people in this thread have stated, without a definition of the term “smarter” the whole premise of the thread lacks any sort of objectivity from a scientific standpoint. That, however, has never stopped us from discussing things based on our own views and opinions and is unlikely to do so anytime soon. :D

Do animals make decisions? Absolutely. Animals make decisions constantly. Whether those decisions are based on instinct, or some form of learned behavior, could be up for discussion, but that must be taken in a case-by-case basis and is the same with humans.

I worked for many years training dogs, and a great deal of it involved behavioral modification.
The one thing that dogs lack, that humans do not, is the ability to chain together logical associations (or assumptions) based upon previous experiences (memory). Here is something I ran into with dog owners on a somewhat regular basis when helping them modify their dog's behavior.

A) Fido gets into the trash and makes a mess when the owner is gone.
B) The owner comes home and finds the mess.
C) The owner reprimands the dog for making a mess.
D) Dog slinks away after being scolded, so owner assumes Fido “knew he did something wrong.”

This is completely false. Fido does not, and never will, make the association that A caused C, and therefore resulted in his response in D. All Fido knows is that if garbage is on the floor when his owner gets home he will get reprimanded. Many owners argued (and had completely convinced themselves) that Fido knew he did wrong due to his resultant actions. The simple way to prove them wrong was to ask them to call Fido over to the garbage and knock it over in front of him. Fido would ALWAYS slink away knowing he would be reprimanded for the spilled garbage even though, in this case, he was not the cause of it. All Fido knows is that B results in C, and he never makes the logical leap of association that A was the catalyst in the event which resulted in the scolding.

One, of course, can train the dog to stay out of the garbage by reprimanding it when caught in the act (or by setting a trap in the garbage to dissuade the behavior), but that is by no means the same as thinking the dog actually is associating its behavior with the outcome in a chain of events.

Is this sort of logical associative chaining of events exclusive to humans? I have no idea, but it is rather thought provoking and can easily be tested with your favorite domesticated furball.

As for humans being self destructive, all animals have the capacity to kill each other. Usually it involves a territorial dispute, but there have been cases of seemingly random, or wanton, killings with animals too. Due to our ability to use tools we’ve just become a lot more efficient at it.
I generally agree with your ABCD example, but I'm not 100% sure due to my own experiences. My mum is excellent with animals, got the magic touch with them and she explained the same thing to me about animals not making the association from A to D.

We used to have a dog and various cats and when one of them would do something naughty while we were out (pee/poop on the floor, tear apart the loo paper (a kitty favourite)) when we came back, the little buggers sure acted guilty! This was even before we knew what they'd done to get upset about it.

Typically, the dog would sort of hang his head be some what quiet and look all submissive instead of jumping around like a deranged thing happy to see us when we returned.

The guilty cat (whichever one it was) would slink away, giving us sideways glances as he went. It was all too cute for words of course, lol. We never went balistic with them either, like some people tend to do and generally just let them get over their guilty faces.

So, do they understand A to D? My experiences suggest so, but this was also no controlled study, so I won't state it definitively.

I know exactly where you're coming from. We lost our (slightly psycho) ginger kitty way back in '89 at the age of 13 and I still miss him a lot, to this day. I didn't feel so strongly about all the others, although I loved them dearly too and do miss them as well. I could sort of accept their passing better, I guess.

I don't think animals are as smart as humans, however, I do believe they are not just dumb creatures with no feelings and incapable of any degree of reasoning like some people like to think of them.

Videos pop up all the time showing people beating the crap out of animals at slaughterhouses because the were taught these creatures can't feel anything and it's OK to abuse something that will end up as a hamburger or tri tip....

Chefs have always said crustaceans don't feel pain and think that justifies cutting them in half while still alive, try and raise even the most tiny shrimp or crab in an aquarium and watch how they interact with each other and even recognize feeding time and how to avoid messing with other fish in the aquarium to avoid harm, then tell me these creatures are incapable of complex behavior. Sure they won't build a fusion reactor out of sand and coral anytime soon, but that doesn't imply these creatures are just moving decorations in your aquarium, not smart but certainly able to feel pain or recognize danger.

Like others have mentioned, whoever's had a dog as part of their family can attest to witnessing emotion beyond sheer instinct in these loyal creatures, after sharing many years with my old dog, a boxer, I could tell if he was sad, happy, curious, or had done something bad just by looking at him for a second, my ex wife always said I was crazy for saying I could tell how my dog felt just by seeing his face, she said to her he always looked the same.

This dog could tell he was looking at his own reflection in a mirror, and was so smart that every time I started packing to go study abroad he would try and grab my clothes from me to keep me from leaving, he never did that while I was just folding my laundry or anything, one time I found he put his favorite blanket in one of my suitcases while I didn't notice and the last couple of times I even had to force him out the suitcase as he would jump into it as soon as I opened it to pack my things, I think he wanted to follow me even if that meant traveling in one of my suitcases! :laugh:

When I moved to America I had to leave my dog with my parents and he passed away while staying with them, I brought my ex with me and after many years of enduring her crazy behavior and rampant paranoia I divorced her, and she kept the house I worked so hard for, I should've brought my dog with me instead of her, he would have never asked me to give him my house :laugh:

Anyway, yes I agree animals are just different from us but that doesn't make them just stupid creatures with no capacity for complex behavior.
So.Flipping.Well.Said!

Animals have emotions equally as strong as ours (maybe more in some cases) and the full range of them, too - along with the associated complex behaviour. That people use this pathetic excuse to be cruel to animals is despicable and shouldn't go unpunished. One can tell at a glance that animals have emotions and feelings, without having to conduct any kind of scientific study or living with them.
 
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#37
I still think that your assessment of what Nikita "understood" may be a bit anthropomorphic. Did Nikita realize that what she did was wrong, or did you just teach her that what was on the counter/table was off limits (which could have been accomplished without the dog ever having taken the food)?
Since there is no way to test the theory anymore it is a moot point, but it's always interesting to ponder.
I did have 14 years with her. That was but one example. I do feel she understood to some degree, not to the degree a human understands, but more than most canines. She was very easy to train and once trained, the training stayed with her though out her life. She was very intelligent for a canine, a lot more than I see in most dogs. She was one of those dogs that you feel like you could talk to and she would understand to some degree.
 

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#38
Most zoologists I believe, hold the opinion that the whale family at least may be as smart as humans. They have a highly evolved and complex language, large brains, and social skills that rival our own, but because they lack thumbs and feet, and because we don't entirely understand their various languages, it is hard to know for sure at this point. Beyond that though, I would have to agree with qubit that most members of the animal kingdom don't come close to us in intelligence. But let me leave you with this: who invented the definition of intelligence? The animals that see themselves at the top of the pyramid....humans.
 

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#39
This is completely false. Fido does not, and never will, make the association that A caused C, and therefore resulted in his response in D. All Fido knows is that if garbage is on the floor when his owner gets home he will get reprimanded. Many owners argued (and had completely convinced themselves) that Fido knew he did wrong due to his resultant actions. The simple way to prove them wrong was to ask them to call Fido over to the garbage and knock it over in front of him. Fido would ALWAYS slink away knowing he would be reprimanded for the spilled garbage even though, in this case, he was not the cause of it. All Fido knows is that B results in C, and he never makes the logical leap of association that A was the catalyst in the event which resulted in the scolding.
Bare in mind that dogs rate moderate on the intelligence spectrum in the first place. Just because dogs don't make the "A caused C" connection doesn't mean there isn't an animal species out there that does. One thing we do know is that dogs are often better at reading human emotions than even humans are. That's a remarkable thing.


Plus, have you ever noticed a chimp or dog pass on the skill humans thought them, to another member of their species?
The first problem with that is differentiating what is learned from genetic memory. Bear cubs, for example, have to know how to fish to survive. The question is, do they learn it from their mothers or is it passed through genetic code? I'd wager the mothers teach it to their offspring. The mothers even show them where the best fishing spots are too. Of course, humans pass on a lot more information to our offspring than animals do but regardless, I believe there is substantial evidence they (especially mammals) teach vital life lessons to their offspring.

Animals have (sometimes very elaborate) sets of signs available to them, but it is AFAIK not officially recognised as language.
Language is simply expressing thoughts or feelings to others. We know animals convey feelings of being threatened, for example. What we don't know is if they communicate thoughts that aren't related to survival.
 
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#40
The first problem with that is differentiating what is learned from genetic memory. Bear cubs, for example, have to know how to fish to survive. The question is, do they learn it from their mothers or is it passed through genetic code? I'd wager the mothers teach it to their offspring. The mothers even show them where the best fishing spots are too. Of course, humans pass on a lot more information to our offspring than animals do but regardless, I believe there is substantial evidence they animals (especially mammals) teach vital life lessons to their offspring.
Read please, I was writing specifically about stuff humans taught them. What you write about is all obvious stuff.

Language is simply expressing thoughts or feelings to others. We know animals convey feelings of being threatened, for example. What we don't know is if they communicate thoughts that aren't related to survival.
See this article on language: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language. I know it is but Wikipedia, but still it sums things up nicely enough.
 

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#41
Read please, I was writing specifically about stuff humans taught them. What you write about is all obvious stuff.
Humans don't teach animals things that are useful to them so they don't pass it on and I wouldn't expect them to. It would be an interesting, long term experiment to try though.


See this article on language: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language. I know it is but Wikipedia, but still it sums things up nicely enough.
This is the most appropriate article at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_language

The one you linked to is specific to humans.
 
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#42
So we're not smarter and more intelligent than animals? Oh really? Let's list a few advantages humans have, then:

- Spoken and written language. This is really the defining difference between humans and animals
Um... no. Thank You.
 

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#44
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#45
I think most people are arguing for a genuine intelligence, when there is none. Other animals are not as smart as humans, but not because of some of these arguments. Let's take a look at them.

Language:
All animals have means by which they communicate. Those that are not sociable have warnings (think rattlesnake), those that are sociable have complex ways to signal one another. Let's look at an ant. Arguably, the common ant is stupid. It communicates via pheremones and other chemical indicators, which in the broadest sense is a language. Moving upward, dogs are pack animals. They can communicate information via a multitude of sounds, and can also leave chemical indications. Greater apes, man included, have taken one step forward. They can communicate with sounds, gestures, and chemicals. Developing a written language is a rather substantial leap forward, but let's be realistic. Language does not denote any great intelligence.

Learned Behaviors:
I'm not even sure why this is an argument. Learning behaviors is simple, and something we've been able to demonstrate in single celled organisms. A painful or, barring the faculties to sense pain, damaging sensation will cause an organism not to repeat the action. Think about a paramecium utilizing its tail to move to more suitable locations to feed. Dogs might be interesting on an emotional level, but they're pack animals. We like to endow them with intelligence, but their behaviors are learned. Doing X causes Y, which causes an undesirable stimulus. Learned behaviors aren't a particularly good sign of intelligence.



What does denote intelligence? There's one word that denotes intelligence, MATH. It isn't sexy, glamorous, or even anything that will draw rooms full of people. Math is the only thing that denotes intelligence. What I'm proposing sounds foolish, and you can counter it with real world examples, no? Try me.

S) But it has been proven that crows can count.
A) Crows can do simple single digit addition and subtraction. They have the concept of nothing and plurality, but there is a limitation to how many operations they can perform.
S) But computers do math faster than humans. Doesn't that mean computers are smarter than humans?
A) Not currently. A computer can process a mathematical operation extremely quickly, but it doesn't have any ability to comprehend what it has done. A human being can understand what the value of PI represents, and a computer can give it to you. Whenever computers begin to show understanding of why they are doing math, rather than a flat answer to a question, we'll be knocked off the top of the intelligence ladder. Until then, it's good to be king.
S) Insects and other animals have shown understanding of mathematical concepts well in advance of humanity. For example, the hexagonal pattern of bee hives is the most effective repeating geometrical storage shape possible.
A) Another one word answer; evolution. Animals that spend less energy on the containers, and more on getting the resources, survive better. Every single natural animal adaptation is brought on by the pressures of evolution. Let's say you start without a pattern. You waste 30% of your energy building the storage structure, while the guy using squares only waster 27%. That 3% increase in available energy allows you to reproduce more frequently, and your offspring will do what you did. The same is true for one clever little offspring that uses hexagons, who only expends 21% of their energy of construction. Eventually, the hexagon is the only pattern that appears, because they require the least energy to produce. Millenia later a human observes the hexagon, manages to prove mathematically that the hexagon is the most efficient storage pattern, and it looks like you're intelligent. This argument for intelligence might work, assuming that you believe in intelligent design rather than evolution.

Barring all of this, you can ask one question to determine if animals are intelligent or not. Assuming that an asteroid is headed for the Earth, who has even the remotest chance of saving the planet? An entire stadium full of dolphins, orcas, dogs, and octopi aren't going to be able to do anything. Humanity, utilizing their intelligence via the application of math and science, have a remote chance of saving life on our planet. It isn't a particularly good bet, but I'd put my money on NASA before I'd put it with any other member of the animal kingdom.
 

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#46
Comprehending math isn't math, it's reasoning. If you place one apple next to another, reasoning dictates that there are now two. If someone or something takes one way, one can reason that there is no only one left. Mammals especially can reason so by your metric, that makes them more intelligent than computers. But no, that isn't right: computers are only as intelligent as the code it was given to process. Computers, thus, can be as intelligent as the individual that programmed it. They have hardware limitations just like humans do. AIs are already under development and likely in use on black projects. The amount of sheer data computers can handle makes humans look stupid and slow. Virtually all advancements in the last 30 years were derived from computers in one way or another. But I'm getting off topic...

Animals can't do anything against an asteroid and, truth be told, humans aren't going to fare much better. Let's look at an Earthly example instead: many babies that have quit breathing have been saved by dogs and some even by cats. They weren't trained to do that. You could call it instincts; I'd call it intelligence.

You use math as an example...explain this one:
Yes, it's evolutionary but I'd love to see a human try to do that unassisted.


I think the thread title has it right. Humans are good at some things (using tools to make better tools, for example) but we absolute suck at a lot of other things (e.g. like Peregrine Falcon diving and attacking much larger birds in mid-flight--amazing reaction times).
 
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#47
-Virtually all social animals have a spoken language. They don't write because they don't have opposable thumbs.

Orcas are very intelligent animals and I think we vastly underestimate them. They are hugely limited by their environment and apendages though.
There are many species of monkeys and gorillas that have opposable thumbs that do not write, i think it has to do more with the way the brain is developed rather than appendages in their case.

I read the article, and it's pretty weak. "Animals are smart because they can 'communicate' by smell, and can yell across canopies in the jungle" ... uh ok - I don't think that qualifies.
 

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#48
There are many species of monkeys and gorillas that have opposable thumbs that do not write, i think it has to do more with the way the brain is developed rather than appendages in their case.
Great Apes have opposable thumbs but aren't particularly intelligent. Old world monkeys, however, would be perfect for an experiment involving writing and observing if they attempt to pass that skill on to offspring.
 
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#49
Comprehending math isn't math, it's reasoning. If you place one apple next to another, reasoning dictates that there are now two. If someone or something takes one way, one can reason that there is no only one left. Mammals especially can reason so by your metric, that makes them more intelligent than computers. But no, that isn't right: computers are only as intelligent as the code it was given to process. Computers, thus, can be as intelligent as the individual that programmed it. They have hardware limitations just like humans do. AIs are already under development and likely in use on black projects. The amount of sheer data computers can handle makes humans look stupid and slow. Virtually all advancements in the last 30 years were derived from computers in one way or another. But I'm getting off topic...

Animals can't do anything against an asteroid and, truth be told, humans aren't going to fare much better. Let's look at an Earthly example instead: many babies that have quit breathing have been saved by dogs and some even by cats. They weren't trained to do that. You could call it instincts; I'd call it intelligence.

You use math as an example...explain this one:
Yes, it's evolutionary but I'd love to see a human try to do that unassisted.


I think the thread title has it right. Humans are good at some things (using tools to make better tools, for example) but we absolute suck at a lot of other things (e.g. like Peregrine Falcon diving and attacking much larger birds in mid-flight--amazing reaction times).
You are conflating intelligence with a skill set. That is not comparing like things.


My explanation for the fox is simple. Environmental pressures have made it evolutionarily favorable to have acute hearing. Magnetic detection isn't anything new either, as birds have independently evolved the same faculties. If conflating natural abilities to intelligence were a viable comparison, the most intelligent thing on the planet would be a water bear (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tardigrade). The Tardigrade can survive in vacuum, without water, and enough radiation to make us humans a steaming pile of mush.


There is no reasoning involved in number crunching, as you astutely pointed out. This is why computers are not intelligent. A point that I thought I made clear when I stated "...A computer can process a mathematical operation extremely quickly, but it doesn't have any ability to comprehend what it has done...." It is not a point that is likely to be valid forever, but conjecturing about what AI will be is avarice.

Simple math was also covered. For brevity; parrot sees 6 people enter a room, 5 leave, they know 1 remains. Crow sees 7 people enter a barn, 6 people leave, they act as though everyone is gone. I cannot find the study for crows, but the same logic applies. The ability to count to 6 is an interesting quirk, but only having simple addition and subtraction available for 6 entities isn't stretching beyond the realm of a party trick.


We have been programed to see our traits in the world around us. People love cats, because they share body proportions with our young. People like dogs, because they are pack animals which were bred to suit our needs. People project personalities and intelligence into animals because seeing those features in other beings is how we make sense of our world. While I may think my dog is intelligent and loving (and which dog owner can really say otherwise?), that doesn't bestow any actual intelligence. The understanding of math, which is applied via science and technology, is what makes humans intelligent. I'd like to think that we aren't the only ones with this faculty, but there is no information which contradicts this.

If you can prove that animals are genuinely intelligent, then please do so. PETA has been trying to make this point for years, but doesn't have a shred of evidence. It is highly doubtful that you can find something that they haven't tried, though being proven wrong would make me a happier person. I have to say that evolution has produced some amazing things; it has not produced an abundance of intelligent animals. Humanity, for all intents and purposes, is the only animal with true intelligence.



Edit:
You want to contest human intelligence, I'll provide you a few examples for which I have no explanation. Rick-rolling, What the Fox Say?, and Michael Jackson. Where you draw the arbitrary line for intelligence seems to be where this discussion is breaking down. No matter where I draw the line, these examples (and more than a few others) exist as an exception to the rule. Like Octopi, there's a lot of gray area between intelligence and idiocy. Perhaps one day all of humanity will be on one side of the line. I fear which it may be...
 
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#50
I like to say skills are different sets of intelligences. Take a A+ math major vs a super star soccer player, I would say they are both intelligent in their own way. The math major is super smart in math, while the soccer player is super smart kinesthetically. There is also the average guy who can do both but not as well, but has a broader skill set. Then there are those lucky few who excel at everything and are both an A+ math major super soccer star who not only a quality skill set but a broad skill set. Those are only two kinds of skill examples. There is also the quiet guy in the back who is emotional genius who might be a poet or something. Then there is the socialite social genius who has a, you guessed it, a strong social skill set.

I think people get too caught up in reasoning and comprehension as the only intelligence and that is what I think the article in the OP was about. My first post was a devils advocate because we don't have solid evidence that dogs don't think about stuff such as "what's beyond the stars" but are physically unable to build something so they can look. It is highly unlikely that a dog does such things. There are really intelligent species out there like orca's that might really be limited by there physical unableness to build tools like we can.

I do believe we humans are the most intelligent because we have the broadest and most quality skill set in all the animal kingdom. We would not be the dominant species otherwise.