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Are Dolphins People?

The line between species is pretty clear. Dolphins most recent common ancestor with us is a long way down the line. But the question of whether Dolphins are, in a rather philosophically scientific way, people is a lot more complicated. Now, of course, the ethics are confusing. What do we value about the buy canadian levitra online non-human world? What makes intelligence more important than other attributes? Should all non-humans be treated equally well (or poorly)? Etc. But if the question is one of intelligence, then science has already started to answer those questions.

Lori Marino at Emory University is taking a scientific approach to determining how human dolphis are. She's simply running them through an MRI and measuring the complexity of their brains. The result, unsurprisingly, is that dolphins are extremely smart. Their brains, according to Emory, are more complex than any other non-human brain, beating out Chimpanzees for the title.

Of course, we might not have needed MRIs to tell us this. Dolphins have the largest non-human brain to body-size ratio and levitra pharmacy the same folds that make our brains so useful. And, just behaviorally, they've been shown to teach eachother, have regionally specific "languages" and appear to have a defined concept of buy no rx viagra self.

The question is, can science answer a question that has, thus far, been philosophical. Can we determine whether dolphins are, in effect, an alien species with a mysterious technology and culture just as we are to them. And, if so, is it possible to we like it viagra rx stop the "harvesting" that might, in fact, be murder.

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Yes and no
written by Barney Sperlin, January 04, 2010
"an alien species with a mysterious technology and culture". Without any evidence we would have to say that there is no mysterious technology there, but with regional languages the buying viagra in the united kingdom evidence may be there for oral cultures.
"Harvesting"? We would have to decide if eating animals is "OK". As a vegetarian my bias is "NO" but I'm in the minority. And if you enjoy eating animals, why does it bother you that the meat comes from an animal whose intelligence is next to that of humans? If someone could show that pigs are smarter than dogs would you stop eating hot dogs and start eating dog meat??
written by Andrew, January 04, 2010
Ironically, people can quite demonstrably show that pigs are smarter than dogs. Cuteness and convenience tend to be the predominating factors that determine what animals we fawn over and which ones we slaughter.

The dolphin person question is an interesting one, though. Lacking opposable thumbs (or any other way to precisely interact with their physical environment), I think it's fairly easy to assume that dolphins have no technology; but culture is another issue entirely. It seems pretty obvious to me that until we better understand the physiology of intellect, killing even semi-intelligent animals is a bad idea (I'm a vegetarian, too, but my moral imperative is much more directed towards sustainability than animal suffering; there's at least as much human suffering in the world that I feel is just as pressing...)
Dolphins and Dogs
written by hank, January 04, 2010
The only reason dog soup sounds so terrible while bacon sounds so delicious is our personal interactions with and professional levitra the cuddliness of dogs. It's entirely irrational. Imposing rationality on environmental ethics is always tremendously problematic because we end up realizing how really horrible we are.

As for dolphins not having technology, I don't know about that. I mean, they don't have opposable thumbs, but they have lower jaws.

And lower jaws are great for carrying around tools to help dig up sea beds, or gathering specific items to eat simultaneously so that together they taste better. Both of those things are technology and dolphins do them.

It's certainly true that there are lots of humans that need help because they are enslaved and murdered...but I also think some animals deserve the same protection.
written by Juliana Johnson, January 04, 2010
I think it's not a matter of eating intelligent animals so much as preventing dolphin bycatch. Making dolphins seem similar to humans would hopefully add social pressure to cut back on the number of dolphins killed. It's a good idea, but it doesn't seem to be helping other human-related charismatic species such as chimps. (It helps a little, but not enough.)

Dolphins do use tools, such as sea sponges which they hold in their mouths, this is technology in the broad sense of canadian cialis scam the viagra online pharmacy usa term. Males also kill calves so they can mate with their mothers. This might be for genetic reasons similar to lions, but the evidence points toward mating for pleasure since males also fornicate with sea turtles where there is clearly no evolutionary advantage.
written by Jess @ Openly Balanced, January 04, 2010
It will be very interesting if we start addressing the issue of sentience and species-identification on our own planet.

As far as the 'alien' comparison, it seems to be that at least in the cultural dialogue behind science fiction, what we value about our non-human counterparts is their role as the dominant species on their planet, typically with some degree of comparable or superior technology. As a non-dominant species, I don't know if we would be able treat dolphins as 'aliens,' even if science proves that their brains, language, culture, and sentience deserve that measure of respect.
wishful thinking
written by Jay Tee, January 05, 2010
"Are researchers becoming hopelessly unscientific and engaging in wishful thinking? The real story at 11:00."
Dolphins fornicating with sea turtles!
written by Phil, January 06, 2010
I wasn't aware that dolphins were such degraded animals. I have now lost all my respect I had for these creatures.

Perhaps we can persuade the Japanese or Chinese to hydrochlorothiazide viagra incorporate more dolphin meat into their diets.
written by Paul Johnson, January 06, 2010
We have such a myopically anthropocenrtic world view it's cripling.
When we say intelligent what we really mean is 'human like' since all our
evaluations are done in comparison to what we percieve as intelligence..
i.e human inteligence..

If intelligence is defined as the ability to respond appropriately to any given situation than it doesn't take much of a geographical or historical overview to see that we are one of the least inteligence species ever to have existed..

linguistics and tool use are signs of linguistics and tool use. that's all..
not shitting in your your own food is a sign of inteligence... oh we failed again..

and what is it with the need to prove that something is inteligent.. ie human like..
before we can begrudgingly give it the 'right' not to be eaten.. ??
that says much more about us than them...

basic rules for a wholesome life..
1. assume that all life is sacred
2. do as little harm as possible
3. take only what you need
4. give back what you can
5. try to disolve the click now buy generic cialis online ego

are dolphins iteligent..? and does this mean we can stop killing them..?
how about what kind of where buy levitra species needs to ask such a question..?
Are you serious?
written by Twoods, January 06, 2010
I think I just got dumber from reading all of these emails. SOrry to burst your self enflated ego (tistical) bubbles. Worry about healthcare "reform" and donate to a worthy save the dolphins charity.
written by Me, January 07, 2010
When I reviewed psych texts for an beginners' college course almost 30 years ago, the one I chose used simple ideas and common experience to convey the information. I still recall my delight in reading the difference between the human and other animals.
The authors checked off one after another behavior that other high order animals, particularly mammals, did at least as well a humans. Their point at the end was that only a human is " to make a date for next Friday night."

It is now believed that dolphins are able to conceptualize at the levels of time, place, and 'self versus other' -- what we've called, in the past, "person." Why and enter site generic cialis next day delivery how can we discriminate between the beings of dolphins and treat them as lower order animals? Even if demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt, remember the cultures which have a past that or still do condone slavery and brutual treatments: Ancient Hebrews through some factions of Muslims.

It seems evolution of human (religious) thought is what keeps us from recognizing the standing of many animals, not technology.
What science can or cannot answer is a philosophical question
written by Darrin, January 07, 2010
The question "can science answer the question which has thus far been philosophical" is itself a philosophical question. Philosophy lays the foundation for science (i.e. law of indian generic levitra non-contradiction in particular) and the notion that science is somehow separate from philosophy is falacious.
written by drew, January 07, 2010
what i want to know is why doesn't hank green write more often. it is his insight that keeps me coming back to ecogeek...
written by jacqui, March 30, 2012
It's not a matter of intelligence, the ability to use tools, eating dogs instead of pigs, or religion.

The real issue is about balance and purpose, and it appears that we humans have forgotten what our purpose is. Each and every living thing on this planet (animal, vegetable and mineral) has a purpose for being here. Humans have been using domestic dogs for more than 15,000 years as security, initially for themselves, then for their livestock, i.e. pigs, sheep and cattle, and tens of thousands of years before religion.

In the animal world it's natural for predatory animals to hunt and buy viagra online using paypal kill for food. The difference is, wild animals only kill what they need to survive, thereby sustaining their resources. In the case of dolphins, they use their brains and the tools they have devised without the need to resource more sophisticated tools because what they use serves the purpose well.

We do not need to hunt and kill wildlife. We already have more than enough farmed animals in the world that we have to build stock piles and dispose of unwanted meat in landfills. Plus, there's a difference in how livestock are slaughtered and the manner in which dolphins are killed. They are tortured during a hunt that lasts for hours, even days, and then bludgeoned to death while their babies look on, helpless.

While dolphins brains are on a par with humans in terms of size, formation and intellect, they're purpose is not to prove to us or any other species, that they are in fact probably the more intelligent. It is only humans that has this sense of urgency to seek and possess more and more of buy tramadol without prescription everything, and for what. In the final analysis, what is it for? In the name of greed, we kill, not just other animals but also other humans. We steal, not just material things from each other but life itself.

As humans, we already have so much more in terms of ability and look there discount cialis online capability than any other 'intelligent' animal but we have forgotten why. We are merely stewards of this world and our purpose is to protect the balance of life of all species and promote the health of this planet for future generations.

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