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Anthropomorphism & science August 03, 2004 11:40 PM

Anthropomorphism n. the act or practice of attributing human form or qualities to gods, animals or things. This is of course, from the human perspective. I could get into may different subjects with this, like, did "God" create us in his image, or did we create "God" in our image? I believe the latter. Also, the taboo about "giving" animals emotions, such as saying "Oh, he looks so happy sitting there in the sun!" about a cat, is based on our assumption that animals CANNOT feel happiness of any sort. Has anyone swapped bodies with a cat lately? I believe the reason it is so taboo for science to acknowledge unique animal qualities, specifically higher emotions like compassion and altruism, is because we as humans have such inflated egos, that we refuse to admit that a mere animal could possibly share qualities that we assume are all ours. Scientists working with animals in research do not give their subjects names because to do so would be ascribing a human characteristic to a non human. They assign letter number combinations like M-34 or F-2. COME ON!!!! Dian Fossey gave her gorrillas names like Uncle Bert and who can forget Digit??? It was also not recommended that women be given field research, because they put too much emotion into the work.  [ send green star]
 
Anthro & science cont'd August 04, 2004 12:01 AM

The problem lies in the scientific method of relying on the most basic explanation for results. So, instinct becomes the scapegoat. The mother wolf only protects her pups because she wants to ensure the continuation of her line. It is absolutely impossible that she LOVES her children, no no only humans can LOVE their children. That doesn't explain why the uncle, who has no young of his own, cares for and protects the pups. What I find funny is that we aren't so careful when it comes to negative traits. Murder for instance. The maneless lions of Tsavo have been immortalized in "The Ghost and the Darkness" and are considered savages, that they kill for the sport. Oh the horror!! Imagine a species killing another species for FUN?! We can dish it out but we can't take it. When humans are the victims, everyone's perception is turned on it's head! There's no possibility that the people building the railroad in Africa consumed the local populations of large game for food, cutting into the lions' diet, causing the lions to attack humans. Nope, not possible.  [ send green star]
 
 August 04, 2004 12:30 AM

I'm with you on the "God in our image" thing...and my cats look very happy when they are sitting in the sun. Why else would they seek out a sunbeam and lie in it, on their backs, arm and legs stretched out, until their bellies are just blazing with heat. What gets me is that people refuse to even acknowledge gender, all animals are "it". I think a lot of the refusal to ascribe emotions is that a lot of people might be required to treat their animals nicer, which would, finally, lead to official Animal Rights, better cruelty prosecution, and so on... So much easier to keep them as dumb creatures, no emotions, no intelligence, not even pain receptors...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Re: animals experiencing emotions... August 04, 2004 12:54 AM

...and rocks, for that matter: Please consider acquiring (at your local library or otherwise) & reading the following wonderful book: Walking on the Wind: Cherokee Teachings for Healing Through Harmony and Balance by Michael Tlanusta Garrett (Bear & Company, 1998) And another interesting book related to this subject is: Diet for a New America by John Robbins (Stillpoint, c1987) ISBN: 0913299553 ISBN: 0913299545 (pbk.) _____________________________________________________ Happy Earth rotations!!! copyright 2001 Remotely Possible! DK (a division of Inner Starlight™)  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
you can all August 04, 2004 3:43 AM

blame descartes - he came up with cartesian dualism (us and them) they are objects to be studied.... or francis bacon - knowledge is power - he saw it as power over the non-human world. or the judeao-christians who came up with monotheism as separate from the earth and took away all they protection offered by pagan spirits to the things (creatures, objects?) they inhabited might be wrong on that last one. don't know much about paganism. anyway. why do you want animals to have 'human' characteristics? why can't humans have 'animal' characteristics?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
New to this group..:>) August 04, 2004 7:52 AM

I have to agree.....I would much rather live and walk my journey having animal characteristics, than human. I have human, simply because I AM human....however; as I watch my sweet furkid,(or any animal for that matter)I almost envy their innocence and unconditional way of loving. But to envy would put me right back with the human race-wouldn't it? So I try to "mimmic" their acceptance-if that makes any sense at all...? We as humans are such an egotistical race, that we'll see the animals' demise before we wake up and smell the proverbial coffee.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Humans are animals........... August 04, 2004 9:53 AM

We are primates along with the other Great Apes, Monkeys and Prosimians. We are Homo sapien sapiens. We have animal characteristics because we are also animals....human animals. Logically we share characteristics with other animals, like our most closely related primate the Chimpanzee. To think that Chimpanzees are used in research angers me to no end! We share around 98.8%; I forgot the exact percentage, with Chimpanzees. For a researcher to ignore that fact is criminal and immoral!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
There is no August 04, 2004 11:33 AM

literal giving of emotions or characteristics, each animal's way of being is strictly his or her own. Like I said, to say that emotions are assigned to a particular animal is to assume that they have none of their own and that the things they do and the way they act only RESEMBLE our actions and emotions. Who knows? A giraffe or a tree frog may have an emotion that is totally alien to us. We have the most powerful brains, but that does not mean that we are all knowing lords of earth, and that there's nothing we haven't experienced. Keep in mind that this is all speculation, I am just bringing it up as food for thought. It is the close relationship between us and chimps that keeps them in labs. We want the thing most closely resembling a human without going and testing on a human. Our shared traits are both their salvation and doom.  [ send green star]
 
Jenny August 04, 2004 11:43 AM

What you said may be more important that you know. If we could get down off our high horses and see ourselves as we truly are, we might actually make some progress. It sounds a lot more frightening to say that we are doing all these horrible things to relatives of ours than to brutes that were given to us as commodities. We need to see ouselves as a part of the animal kingdom, not above and beyond it. I think that modern religion plays a large role in that misconception.  [ send green star]
 
 August 04, 2004 8:57 PM

I do have to agree that Modern Religion is most likely what makes many think the way they do.....That we are above the animal kingdom. We are simply another integral part. I tend to wonder tho-is not the dolphin brain very similar to ours? I think they use more of their brain than we do-creating the thought that we may have either lost, or never even gained some of the knowledge-use they have. Their ancestors came from land....I saw a documentary once of a human baby born under water-umbilical cord cut....and "swam" happily for 3 hours without ever needing a breath. It was never shown again. We are so much like our animal friends-if only man would realize this..and observe US-maybe something would be truely learned-and this horrible testing will stop.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
testing August 06, 2004 2:45 AM

much of the testing on animals is unnecessary, since it can be done more reliably on a computer model; don't ask me why so many researchers still prefer to mess with animal subjects, even if cruelty were not an issue. Computer illiterate? I will never forget biology class, when we were expected to dissect a cow's eye. I love biology, but to take a pretty basic anatomy and physiology course I am expected to pay $50 for a cat carcass which I have to carry around and cut on for the whole semester. I have four cats at home I love dearly, and there is simply no reason to still have such archaic requirements. If I were in medical or veterinary school I could see a reason for hands-on training, but the cow's eye was junior high and the cat, college. Children are being punished in school for refusing to participate and asking for available computer simulations (a PETA offering, by the way) And FYI, we also have over 98% in common with MOUSE DNA (no, I'm not making this up...)  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
testing August 06, 2004 2:45 AM

much of the testing on animals is unnecessary, since it can be done more reliably on a computer model; don't ask me why so many researchers still prefer to mess with animal subjects, even if cruelty were not an issue. Computer illiterate? I will never forget biology class, when we were expected to dissect a cow's eye. I love biology, but to take a pretty basic anatomy and physiology course I am expected to pay $50 for a cat carcass which I have to carry around and cut on for the whole semester. I have four cats at home I love dearly, and there is simply no reason to still have such archaic requirements. If I were in medical or veterinary school I could see a reason for hands-on training, but the cow's eye was junior high and the cat, college. Children are being punished in school for refusing to participate and asking for available computer simulations (a PETA offering, by the way) And FYI, we also have over 98% in common with MOUSE DNA (no, I'm not making this up...)  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
oops August 06, 2004 2:48 AM

boy, I'm really giving you my opinion...for those who didn't read it the first time, I guess..;) BTW, congrats on the swelling of group member numbers!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
and while I have the mike... August 06, 2004 3:08 AM

I'm not sure if it is so much a matter of ascribing "human emotion" to non-humans. My emotions are all I know and I happen to be human. That does not mean that I discount the existance of "non-human" emotions, like someone said, emotions that we are not able to fathom. So, for me, since I cannot ask my cat, on her back in the sunbeam, or a snake, on a rock in a sunbeam, if they are "happy", I just assume that since that is where they put themselves, even if getting there is difficult, that it must be pleasant for them, which, for me, would make them happy, or whatever they call it in their language. My cat may be watching me, saying to her brother: "Look at that stupid human, keeps poking at that plastic thing when she could be petting us!" Or she is sitting there with the answers to every question in the universe, if I could only learn her language, stupid human...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Thanks! August 06, 2004 7:11 PM

to be honest I'm shocked!! And also VERY pleased, I love talking about the subject, even if it is only about my cats (they're the only animals I come in contact with daily). It's also a great opportunity for me to learn a thing or two.  [ send green star]
 
hey alison August 06, 2004 8:15 PM

why are you shocked? did you get some unexpectedly 'deep' answers? groovy group btw.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Science August 09, 2004 2:42 AM

I'm very much into science, and I think animals have feelings! Emotions are only chemicals (according to science), after all. According to scientists, endorphins cause happiness etc. Animals get these too, surely? Else why would my pet rats sleep together, groom each other and fetch food for each other? That can't be just a reflexive action!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Science August 09, 2004 2:42 AM

I'm very much into science, and I think animals have feelings! Emotions are only chemicals (according to science), after all. According to scientists, endorphins cause happiness etc. Animals get these too, surely? Else why would my pet rats sleep together, groom each other and fetch food for each other? That can't be just a reflexive action!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Shocked August 12, 2004 3:21 PM

at how fast the group reached over fifty members. :-)  [ send green star]
 
 August 16, 2004 11:17 AM

Hi Everyone :) We are actually 99.4% chimp. To me it's much more logical to think of humans as having animal traits, not animals having human traits. We are so anthropocentric! And animals do tell us when they are experiencing "happiness" or "sadness" or anything like that. Not using words, but using body language, sounds, just plain old looks! If you look into the eyes of a chimp being experimented on, you can see the pain and suffering. As a human, I can verbally tell you that I'm Happy - but why do you believe me? I can lie. You believe me because you can relate to me. I am the same species and you assume that because when you're hit it hurts, it will probably hurt me too. Then when you see me cry out in pain, your theory is somewhat satisfied. So when a chimpanzee screams, why isn't it logical to assume he/she is also experiencing what we call pain. "Pain" is simply a word that humans assigned to a sensation. There are different degress of pain, but we try to avoid it at all costs because we know it's not nice, we don't like to experience it, so why would someone else? I reccommend reading Jane Goodall's books. Any of them really - In "Through a Window" p 16 she says: "It is not easy to study emotions even when the subjects are human. I know how I feel if I am sad or happy or angry, and if a friend tells me that he is feeling sad, happy or angry, I assume that his feelings are similar to mine. But of course, I cannot know. As we try to come to grips with the emotions of beings progressively more different from ourselves the task, obviously, becomes increasingly difficult. If we ascribt human emotions to non-human animals we are accused of being anthropomorphic - a cardinal sin in ethology. But is it so terrible? If we test the effect of drugs on chimpanzees because they are biologically so similar to ourselves, if we accept that there are dramatic similarities in chimpanzee and human brain and nervous systems, is it not logical to assume that there will be similarities also in at least the more basic feelings, emotions, moods of the two species?" I agree completely with Jane. It's so wonderful to know there is a community of people out there who are intelligent enough to see past our anthropocentric culture and realize we need to be more compassionate, more caring, more "humane" (another word made up by us that makes me laugh).  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
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