Do Animals Think?

Humans like to talk about stupid stuff, imagining that they are more intelligent than turnips. One conversation I heard recently is “do animals think?”Having spent much of my life observing nature, I am always amazed by questions like that.

Ten years ago, I was living in Cupertino, CA next to Memorial Park, where they held Shakespeare in the Park on summer nights. One of my kids loved Shakespeare, and we went to the shows almost every night.

The neighborhood seagulls had killed every baby duck except for one that summer, and that one was under attack. He was swimming next to one of his parents, and the seagull was repeatedly diving out of the sky. The duckling and parent simply ducked under the water on each bombing run. This went on for about 15 minutes.

Then, the seagull did something different. Instead of retreating back to the sky – he landed on a nearby rock. A soon as the duckling surfaced – the seagull picked him off. His strategy was to drive the ducks closer to the rock and lull them into carelessness. As soon as he had a sure bet, he went in for the kill.

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124 Responses to Do Animals Think?

  1. Eric Barnes says:

    Pretty interesting. 🙂 Almost as smart as Ravens…

    http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2007/04/09/just-how-smart-are-ravens/

    • omanuel says:

      Thanks for the post on intelligence of ravens.

      False intellectual pride has prevented “scientists” from accepting that the Sun is the Creator, Destroyer and Sustainer of every atom, life and world in the Solar System:

      Click to access Solar_Energy.pdf

      The volume of the Solar System is now greater than that of ten billion, billion Earths.

      V(Solar System) > 10^19 V(Earth)

      • omanuel says:

        An ordinary green blade of grass or a green leaf on any plant has a greater conscious awareness of the source of energy that sustains life than do any of the 97% consensus “scientists” who falsely claim:

        1. Gaseous plant food (CO2) is a dangerous pollutant in air, and

        2. Changes in Earth’s climate are independent of the Sun.

  2. au1corsair says:

    There is something going on in those fuzzy little skulls. We humans are not smart enough to figure out what that something is.

    I thought I was going to flunk my psychology class when I insisted that mainstream psychology was wrong insisting that animals had “no feelings.”

    National Geographic to the rescue!

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/animal-minds/virginia-morell-text

    My first-hand observations of domestic and wild animals may count for little, but I’m not alone reporting behaviors indicating something resembling reasoning. Being out-smarted by a cat!

  3. geran says:

    A true “climate science” study would indicate Shakespeare kills ducks.

    But, more funding may be needed….

  4. phodges says:

    So, seagulls are better strategic thinkers than our foreign policy establishment?

  5. dmmcmah says:

    That is an interesting account. Years ago I saw a documentary showing wolves in Canada hunt down an animal. They did so with a carefully implemented ambush that could only be described as planned. So not only was it animal thinking but a group cooperating.

    • Keitho says:

      The same with lions which I have seen push Impala towards a stop group downwind. Or Orca’s making waves to push seals off of ice floes. Of course animals think, but some think a lot more than others.

  6. there is no substitute for victory says:

    If animals had reasoning capabilities the ducks would have moved to a safer neighborhood. Nor did seagulls erect the thousands of dock pilings or miles of rock and concrete riprap that they are prone to sit on while waiting for Gaia to furnish them with a meal.

    Large flocks of migrating Seagulls show up here 400 miles from the Gulf to feast on the worms in cow pastures that have been driven out into the open by Spring downpours. I’m sorry but that doesn’t make a seagull a climate scientist, a weather man, or an Astrometry professor.

    • Tom Bakert says:

      Predators tend to be more intelligent than prey.

    • … but that doesn’t make a seagull a climate scientist …

      True, but it makes climate scientists as smart as seagulls when they show up in unlikely places to feast on easy money.

      … they are prone to sit on while waiting for Gaia to furnish them with a meal.

      Really, what’s the difference?

  7. Quiet Desperation says:

    Bah. Neural nets.

  8. Mark Luhman says:

    I had a friend that threw jalapeño peppers to Sea Gulls whom word eat them and then the seagulls show a great deal of discuss, I never thought to ask did he ever have a seagulls take a second pepper.

    • mjc says:

      Birds don’t have the capsaicin receptors, so the heat of the pepper wouldn’t matter to them. That’s how hot peppers are diistributed in the wild…by birds.

  9. Mark Luhman says:

    Sorry, disgust not discuss.

  10. Mark Luhman says:

    Although they may have had some nasty comment throw back at him. It may have been fortunate my friend could not understand Seagull.

  11. Alan Poirier says:

    Birds are considerably smarter than a lot of people I know, but nowhere near as smart as a my cat who faked being asleep and let a crow who was tormenting her get just a little too close. 🙂

    • Gail Combs says:

      My cat would do a little hop, a little hop, each time the blue jay dive bombed her and after several attacks by the blue jay she would suddenly give a giant leap and be ABOVE the jay and have him for dinner.

      I had planted wild and domestic strawberries under my blue berries as ground cover. Since the soil was mostly composed cow manure, the strawberry plants were huge. It was bird heaven until my cats figured out it was a great place to nap before a bird snack. After that we never had a problem with the birds getting all the fruit.

      • Gail Combs says:

        More on cats.

        My ex said on his family’s farm a barn cat would stake out an occupied mouse hole. A while later a second cat would come by and sit down and the first would leave. They would continue with continuous coverage of the hole with different cats standing watch until one of them got the mouse. (The farm had a dozen cats or more.)

      • Tony B says:

        Friends put a bell on their cat’s collar to give the birds a warning and a chance of escape. Cat worked out that it could stalk on three legs using one of its forelegs over the bell to stifle the noise.

        • philjourdan says:

          We have several cats. One, when she was a kitten, use to torment one of the older ones. She was just being playful, but he was too old for that, so he took to chasing her whenever she came around. So to eat in the morning, she would jump up on a fence, over to a gas cylinder, and then walk through the slats to the deck.

          One day when I went outside to feed them, I noticed the old Tom sitting on the gas cylinder. I spoke to him, he turned his head to look at me, and went back to looking at the fence. Sure enough, within a couple of minutes, the other cat had jumped up onto the fence to come to eat. he lit out after her!

          Tell me that was not reasoning!

  12. Mat Helm says:

    Everything with more than one lobe can reason. But is “thinking” thinking if it doesn’t become a learned skill. In other words, will it take the seagull the same amount of time the next time. Or did it even reason that out. Could it have just been tired.

    But none of it matters because like a child, they don’t realize their own mortality so there’s no reason to learn much of anything. So they don’t…

    Sounds like a progressive don’t it…

    btw, If humans ever achieve immortality, how long do you think it’ll take for their IQ to drop to the level of a…. say a seagull?

    • It does sound like a progressive. You claiming that you know things which you don’t have any way of knowing.

      • Mat Helm says:

        No more so than yourself. Except that the math bears out what I’m saying. Your trying to overlay your own feelings doesn’t make it so. And quite frankly, feelings are the bases of all progressive thinking.

        If you believe your dog or cat truly loves you the way a human would, stop feeding it. Then get back to me.

        “I think, therefore I am” simply means you are aware of your own mortality. If we for instance were not aware of our limited time, we would be at the same level as animals. We would build nothing beyond our immediate needs. It’s that knowledge alone that pushes us to greater things.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Mat,
          Attributing emotions to animals and anthropomorphism are two entirely different things.

          For example horses will be come anxious and even need ulcer medication. This is true of show horses and race horses. I have seen a mare and foal, separated for several years, when re-united go back to the classic mare/foal positioning when running in the field. I have had a school horse I bonded with ignore a carrot and whinny when I returned to the stable several years later and ask “Where’s Dutchy”

          Anyone training horses has to learn to get inside their head. If the animal is ‘misbehaving’ why?
          1. It does not understand what you want.
          2. It hurts.
          3. It is frightened.
          4. It thinks it is the dominant member of the ‘herd’ (You and it)
          5. It is anxious because it is not with its buddies and is therefore not paying attention. This is different from #3.

          If you do not think the animal has emotions. If you do not think they are capable of figuring stuff out, you will not get far as a trainer. You will also fail if you practice anthropomorphism and you are a heck of a lot more likely to get hurt. (This is a major problem with horses and little girls.)

        • Mat Helm says:

          Gail,
          Hmmm… no “reply” link below your post..

          Perhaps I should have said defining, or comparing. Either way I agree with everything you said, although I lack your knowledge of horses, I believe what you say.

          People may read my post and think I’m not an animal luver (note I only use the word “love” when I mean love), but nothing could be farther from the truth. The only thing I don’t feel bad about killing are yellow jackets. I even hate cutting a tree down. While I killed many many chickens while spending my summers on my Gandpa’s farm (always under orders), I’ve never liked to hunt, but could if needed. I had the smartest collie ever growing up that I could talk about all day, and how we were the same age when she died (14). But the point is that assigning your reasoning and emotions to an animals will only lead to your devaluing fellow humans. As can be seen in some of the reply’s here, or at your local planned parenthood….

          Not to mention that once animals are elevated to the same level as humans, someone’s going to figure out that plants react to stimuli as well. And don’t forget all the insects…

        • try not feeding the kids for a few hours, and see what happens.

        • Mat Helm says:

          Tony,
          You get charged with a felony….. Same as with the dog…. Which is my point, felony is meaningless as far as protecting humans….

        • Why are you trying to change the subject?

        • Mat Helm says:

          Did I? Tangents can be unavoidable at times….

        • Gail Combs says:

          Mat, I am all for Animal Welfare but I hate Animal Rights. Animals have NO RIGHTS they are property. PEOPLE HAVE RIGHTS.

          So yes, I can see where you are coming from.

          The devaluing of Human Rights and ability to reason by equating animals with humans.

        • Mat Helm says:

          Gail,
          I don’t think I could have said that any better….

        • Mat Helm says:

          Tony,
          Speaking of tangents. Do you think they’ll ever get a google+ share button here? It’s a pain to cut n paste pics n links from your post…

        • I’m not sure how to do that. if someone would send me instructions, i would be happy to.

        • Mat Helm says:

          I know zero about this site, but I’m pretty sure it’s not something you personally can do..

    • Alan Poirier says:

      Animals do think. Crows are actually very good problem solvers. Here’s a neat video of a crow understanding the basic law of displacement in a liquid.

  13. Toppelton Geardom says:

    • Frans de Waal. (1996). Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals. Harvard University Press.

    • Christopher Boehm. (2012) Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame. Basic Books.

    Susan Hurley, Matthew Nudds (2006) Rational Animals? Oxford University Press

    “But all moral problems can be illustrated by one misquotation: ‘Greater love hath no man than a mother cat dying to defend her kittens.’ Once you understand the problem facing that cat and how she solved it, you will then be ready to examine yourself and learn how high up the moral ladder you are capable of climbing.” ~Robert Heinlein

    • Mat Helm says:

      Except that when the kitten dies anyways, that same mother cat will eat it. It’s called evolution, as all the cats born without the genetic trait to protect their things are no longer with us because they didn’t continue their genetic line… There’s nothing moral about it…

      “There are no saints in the animal kingdom, just lunch and dinner.”

      Billy Bob Thornton
      Fargo the TV series

      • Gail Combs says:

        One naturalist watching a wolf pack reported a ‘bully’ wolf pup. The pup would intentionally hurt the other pups when playing. The Alpha male disciplined the pup several times for the behavior but the pup continued to hurt the other puppies. Finally the Alpha male snapped the neck of the pup, left it lying there and moved the pack to another location.

        • Mat Helm says:

          And this naturalist didn’t notice that the pack leader did this to all the males fighting in the pack? Spending summers on Grandpa’s farm, there were always 2 to 4 cats living in the hay barn. As a city boy, I had to be told not to feed or play with them. Not that they would play. They survived on the rats and what not. If one of their kittens died, they ate it. And unlike my own cat, they never meowed.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Matt, I have no idea what that naturalist observed. I was not there. I do know a tom cat will kill kittens if given a chance, especially the males even if they are his. However I have seen male and female and pups co-exist with no problem.

          This summer was interesting because I had a ‘visiting buck goat’ who was always getting loose from a neighbor. He bred some of my does around Christmas and my buck bred the rest a bit later. The kids were born around July and my buck who is with the herd had no problem with the bucklings no matter who the father was. He also doesn’t have a problem with the yearling bucks who are mature. They will fight among themselves but never with Papa. However I did have one doe who ended up in a horse stall with her little new born buckling for about two weeks. When I returned them to the herd the Buck killed the buckling within hours.

        • Mat Helm says:

          Pack animals are a whole different think I think, and even more so. Even good tame breeds of domestic dogs will kill most anything if they get with a pack.

        • Mat Helm says:

          Wow… super typo’s.. let’s try that again..

          Pack animals are a whole different thing I think, and wolfs even more so. Even good tame breeds of domestic dogs will kill most anything if they get with a pack.

  14. Blame Christianity for the whole animals-have-no-soul hoax. They needed to say that to explain why Jesus wasn’t crucified for the sins of animals. You can blame them also for the whole animals-have-no-mind hoax because they used that to explain why they have no sins in the first place.

    • Mat Helm says:

      Kind of mixing and matching things there aren’t you. I’m no expert, but I don’t believe the bible comments on the subject of animals not having souls. Nor dose it comment on their ability to think. But like children not knowing the difference between right and wrong, animals cannot sin, so none to die for.

      “Christian” I believe means to be Christ like. So to blame them for the whatever wrong doings of specific religions is misguided at best. And just because hoaxster’s use something for there own gain dose not make that something a hoax.

      Much like the whole of your religion…

      • Ahem, for any persons commenting on the Bible without actually having read it … Numbers 22.

        By the way, I’ve had a number of cats and dogs, and nearly every one of them has demonstrated that they not only know their name, but they know that it is their name, used specifically to refer to them and no one else. I’m sure this phenomenon was also well known to civilizations throughout history. The notion that animals cannot think or cannot reason seems to me a very recent invention of atheists and agnostics. But especially atheists. What their motivation is for such idiocy, I couldn’t say.

        Also, if anyone has spent significant time observing and testing the behavior of ants, it is very obvious that they not only have sophisticated rules and norms that they observe, but also that they teach these through the use of an advanced language. I have read of research that shows the same thing about bees, though perhaps to a lesser extent than ants. Moreover, wasps are very adept at determining whether my actions are in preparation for attacking them. If not (or if they think not), I can work right alongside their nest, unprotected, and as long as I don’t touch them or shake their nest, they never, ever sting me. They may bother me, perhaps to obtain information, but they don’t sting. Conversely, if I touch one of them by accident, they will all immediately attack.

        When you consider how much time man has had to make observations such as these … one has to be willfully ignorant to maintain the idea that animals don’t think, plan, and reason. None of this has anything to do with the cause of sin, by the way. Sin happened because man was given free will to choose to disobey God, and he did so. Animals do commit evil today, but that is not willful but rather a result of the world’s corruption. In other words, they don’t have free will to choose evil over good. Many animals will be saved because they inherit no liability for their evil works. (Others appear to have been created just to give us trouble, and they will have no place in the life to come.) But animals require no sacrifice to be saved. Their state of corruption is merely to remind us of the spiritual problem that we have, so that we might not fail to address it.

        All of this is not hard to deduce from a careful and prayerful study of the Bible. So there is the basic Christian perspective on animals, as I understand it. It’s a good bet that this was all well understood by the First Century Church.

    • dms says:

      You should probably read up a bit more on Christian (at least Catholic) thought on the nature of “the soul” as it relates to humans and other living things. Start with St. Thomas Aquinas. That being said, it is certain that the human soul and animal soul are different. As for the “sins” of animals, yes, there are none. Some humans, too, have no sin and yet all humans have souls and minds. So, your reasoning is flawed.

  15. Gail Combs says:

    Animals are capable of limited reasoning, emotions and learning. They are also fascinating to watch as they try to reason their way through a problem. (Who needs TV?)

    I had a yearling colt open his stall, turn right, open the stall door for his sister,a weanling foal. Houdini then turned left walk passed his stall, grab an electric fence handle in his mouth and pull up to disconnect it. He would then back up and lay the electric wire out straight and to the side. He did the same with the next three, thereby letting himself and his sister out of the stalls and fenced in stable yard and into the pasture with no danger of tangling their legs in a hot electric wire. Darnedest thing I have ever seen. He would do it every morning after spending a cozy night in a nice warm stall.

    My sheep and goats (I keep them separate) will run the maze of interlocking paddocks and aisle ways I have, turning left and right to get to their new grazing paddock with no problem. My goats and sheep will crowd me if I have a feed bucket but will not come near or run if I have a rope in my hand. I had a blond (palamino) pony mare who never did learn to walk along the fence until she got to the open gate even with the rest of the horses giving her a lead. Every day I would have to walk out and get her and lead her back to the barn yard. (She was the dumbest thing on four feet with a mane and tail I have ever met. I think she was the origin of all those dumb blond jokes.)

    My old mare, a very smooth gaited Saddlebred, was giving a friend a lesson in riding bareback. The friend slide off and landed on her back in the dust. That mare had hissy fits whinnying and nudging the girl with her nose until she got back on her feet. It was the first time a rider ever fell of the mare. I would do dismounts at the trot and canter but I always landed on my feet.

    I was with two of my haflinger mares when one stepped on me making me yelp. The second mare attacked the first mare and beat the crap out of her.
    ……………

    The reason you hear conversations like “do animals think?” is because the progressives are mostly raised in cities with no animals except other progressives and we all know progressives do not think, they emote.

    • If animals are “capable of limited reasoning, emotions and learning” – that makes them more intelligent than 40% of Americans.

      • Gail Combs says:

        At times I think my sheep are. At least they are capable of learning from experience unlike many who vote based on the garbage tossed at them on the news instead of their own experience.

        If you drive through town and see a lot of vacant stores, empty houses and for sale signs on commercial buildings. If your friends and family have lost their jobs, are you going to believe the snake oil salesmen on TV telling you the economy is in fine shape? Or are you going to believe your lying eyes, and perhaps question what you are being told and dig a bit on the internet?

        • Jason Calley says:

          “If your friends and family have lost their jobs, are you going to believe the snake oil salesmen on TV telling you the economy is in fine shape?”

          Hey Gail! I think one of the problems is that we humans have a wiring flaw. (Well, OK, we have more than one wiring flaw…) Here it is. We have been using speech long enough that we do not automatically believe what we hear. The most gullible humans, the ones who believed everything they were told, died off long ago. Not so with what we see. It is only in the last 100 years or so that we have been able to see moving images of things that never happened to us. What we see on TV and in the movies goes straight through the part of the brain that says, “This is real. This is happening to me.” We see a video of a plane crash with wreckage strewn around and part of our old wiring says, “I saw this. I was there.”

          Did you see the Lord of the Rings movies? You know they are not real, right? Did you get a real tear or a real ump in the throat when the Balrog got Gandalf? I did. Why is that? Why did my emotions respond as if it were real, even when I KNEW it was not? What if I were the kind of person who judged everything by emotions instead of my head? What if, (G_d forbid!) I were a “Progressive”?

          We OUGHT to believe our own eyes over what the TV shows us, but somehow the TV gets equal billing — and people who get more of their experiences from TV than from their own eyes may very well fall for the lies.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Jason, Interesting theory. It very well may be true.

          I had heard the army uses ‘video games’ for training and found soldiers don’t hesitate to kill like they did in previous wars. During WWI soldiers NOT firing was a major headache for commanders.

          That video training and ex-army in our police forces might explain the increase in kills without thinking we seem to be seeing in the police.

        • philjourdan says:

          Soldiers in WWI were conscripts. It is all volunteer now. And they are better trained. I think it is less to do with video games, than with professionalism.

        • Mat Helm says:

          Gail,
          That maybe part of it. But I’ve always thought it had more to do with department do everything possible to recruit college grads instead of those who want to be police officers. Here they “pre-hire” college pukes 6 months before a new class starts. Pay them full salary to sit around. All the while string along ex military MP’s until the very last second to see if they can first fill the class.

        • philjourdan says:

          So what you are saying is that to refer to the mindless masses as “sheeple” is insulting to the sheep?

      • tom0mason says:

        For city dwelling types that are comfortable, have sex, and are well fed, the requirement to think is low on the list. Thinking offers no advantage. That is why lefties are mostly city types.

      • Alan Poirier says:

        True enough. Animals, just like people, come in a range of abilities. Dobermans, for example, are very smart dogs. I had a number of them over the years. One, in particular, was very smart. I used to leave dog biscuits in a bowl for them and the two older Dobes would wander over and take a biscuit and go off to enjoy. When I introduced a new pup to our clan, this one looked at the two bigger Dobes and then at the biscuits and then picked up the whole bowl and walked off with it. I laughed so hard at the look of bewilderment on my two older Dobes.

        • philjourdan says:

          Sorry for the OT Steven, but I do love these pet stories!

        • Gail Combs says:

          Phil,

          Then you would have loved my quarter horse.

          We were on base when I bought her and trained her. The guys on three day passes would come down to the stables (GIRLS!!!) and someone would always asked to ride a horse. I would get the knowing grins and a nudge and bring out my english trained quarter horse. We would get the guy up on this pony mare turn her away from the gate and turn him lose. The guy would invariably kick her and she would take off to the end of the ring at a dead run, do a sliding stop, a 180 and dump them in a deep pile of sand. Then with her tail flagging prance back to the gate. To add insult to injury one of the little 6 year olds would then get on the mare and ride her with no trouble.

          I was riding the same mare out over a field that had been prepped as a landing field. My friend and I had galloped to the end turned and were leisurely walking back with me in the rear. A guy with a jeep from the motor pool crept up behind my mare and blasted his horn. She planted both hind feet in his radiator and then just kept on walking. I always wondered how the guy explained the hoof prints in that radiator.

        • philjourdan says:

          Serves him right! 😆

      • And 97% of climate scientists

    • au1corsair says:

      You also gave examples of individuality in non-human animals. I don’t know when enough quantity “proves” that animals are not cookie-cutter clones with no individuality what so ever has been achieved. I do know that physical limitations prevents horses from flying and deep sea diving.

      Many “progressives” deny that animals have emotions–and a few will argue that animals do not feel physical pain. I wonder if Bill Clinton would claim to feel your mares’ pain?

      “Progressives” spend a lot of time in denial. They deny that animals have emotions, or can solve problems through thinking. Progressives deny that solar activity has any effect on climate. In recent history “progressives” denied that women and “minorities” were fully human. They deny that “models” are artificial and subject to “garbage in/garbage out.” They deny any flaws in their abstracts of reality, and then deny that their predictions don’t match observed climate variations.

      When the facts don’t fit the paradigm be progressive and denounce the facts and those “liars” who use facts because the paradigm is never wrong.

      • Gail Combs says:

        au1corsair says:
        “….You also gave examples of individuality in non-human animals. I don’t know when enough quantity “proves” that animals are not cookie-cutter clones with no individuality what so ever has been achieved….”

        There is very much a genetic component to the personality in animals. Humans have taken advantage of that and bred race horses who want to run, Quarter horses who like to herd and have ‘cow sense’ and ‘shepherd’ dogs who will herd anything including ants. However you see the same in humans.

        That said all my animals are individuals and none have the same personality though I can see certain traits run through families.

        This can be a problem for people who adopt children especially if they already have children of their own. The learn by sound vs learn by sight for example. I learn by sight and would be horribly out of place in a musical linguistic orientated family.

  16. omanuel says:

    I personally suspect that every atom and life in the solar system has been endowed with an awareness by Max Planck’s creative Matrix (Creator and Sustainer) of its temport existence in the physical world as an entity.

    As most scientists know the existence of “hard” physical matter is an illusion, but you still can’t drive through a rock wall.

  17. philjourdan says:

    Given the choice between a duck and seagull, I pick the duck! Nasty birds (that bike riders probably do not mind as much). Where is a pellet gun when you need one.

    And yes, animals think and reason. Not to the degree humans do, but every fauna that is capable of behavior modification due to external stimuli is capable of thinking.

  18. Jason Calley says:

    One of the problems with the “do animals think” question is that different people demand that “thinking” be defined in some specific way — and defining exactly what “thinking” is, is not an easy task, especially when we don’t really even know how we, ourselves, think. The best way (in my opinion) to define something nebulous like “thinking” is to point to some examples and then say “whatever thinking is, it is the factor that all these examples have in common.” You can’t see “thinking”, only the actions taken by someone who thinks, so “thinking” has to be inferred. Someone stops at a crosswalk and waits for the signal to change. Someone takes their shoes and socks off before wading a stream. Someone shakes a tree so that the fruit will fall on the ground. If you define “thinking” by pointing to examples of actions that indicate thinking, then, of course animals think. I don’t understand how it is even debatable. Same thing with emotions or “feelings”.

    The more interesting question is “how close to human thought are animal thoughts?” and “how close to human emotions are animal emotions?” Just my opinion based on what I have seen, but my personal answer is that there is a relatively large gap on the thinking, but maybe no gap at all on the feelings.

  19. skeohane says:

    It appears to me that the ’emotional’ response was adapted, or was the surviving evolutionary response, by creatures to respond to a situation without thinking, and provided the highest survival rate. If you believe that animals can’t think, try showing a dog a number of treats, put them in your pocket and feed them one by one to the dog. See if it loses interest be fore they are all gone, it knows exactly how many there are.

  20. wulliejohn says:

    More evidence.
    http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=81636
    And they do not believe that windmills will save the planet.
    Also, watch rooks and crows in stormy weather – they enjoy the wind and play games in / with it.
    So who are the mugs

  21. nielszoo says:

    They absolutely think. Do they think like people do? They all have their own way of solving problems and dealing with success and failure. The ability to think is most important when dealing with “out of the ordinary” situations, otherwise it’s more likely instinct or a learned response from repetition.

    My wife and I adopt what can best be termed “special needs” animals. We have a large house that I describe as a “barn that we happen to live in” and a couple of acres. We take animals out of rescue that have very little chance of being adopted by most families. I’d guess we are pushing a hundred or so through our household in the last 25 years. We’ve had over a dozen blind dogs, half blind cats, a couple of deaf pot bellied pigs, various and sundry chronic ailments requiring daily treatments that the “average” pet owner wouldn’t want to deal with in time or expense. We’ve also got a couple that were severely abused, a pig and a mule. Watching them adapt and learn is no different a process for them as for a human. They understand, on some level, what is good for them and who and what to trust. Their responses are in line with the pack or herd or pride mentalities and must be viewed through that lens. The “disneyfication” of animals by the eco-loons is something that drives me nuts. They are animals, their thought processes are not human, but it is thought.

    Do I know that empirically? No, but I’ve got a couple of dozen living reasons to believe that far more goes on in those heads than instinct alone counts for.

    • Mat Helm says:

      This adoption thing you speak of. Can I ask how you solved the human orphan issue where you’re from? I can only assume there are none and you therefore no longer need the word for it’s original purpose…..

      • Gail Combs says:

        Matt,

        Thanks to government red tape adopting or fostering a human child can easily land you in jail or at least with major legal expenses. Had a couple of friends go through major difficulties with the US government on the issue. We could have adopted but chose instead to work with children in a manner that keeps us out of the government’s line of sight. And that is a very sad thing to have to say.

      • Are you in a really cranky mood today, Mat?

        I would understand. I have days like that …

      • nielszoo says:

        Really? That’s your take-away from my comment? Any response I could make would be (rightly) censored.

    • Gail Combs says:

      H/t to you Niel.

      I also can not stand the Bambi Syndrone. It is a good way to get killed.

      • Lynn Clark says:

        The most extreme example of this that I’ve seen is “grizzly man” Timothy Treadwell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_Man). Watching the documentary was difficult, with the sure knowledge that it wouldn’t end well. The really sad part was that shortly before the end, Treadwell convinced an innocent (ignorant?) young woman to accompany him back to his campsite in grizzly bear country.

      • nielszoo says:

        … and morons with that disorder usually manage to get wild animals euthanized as well… for being wild animals. We owe it to the domesticated animals to care for them and we owe the wild ones some respect.

      • Most of my neighbors are not stupid or lazy. There are exceptions. I’ve seen people leave unsecured trash by their driveway for next day pickup. Overnight, in the mountains, with predictable results. I’ve known people who fed bears around their houses.

        The bears have to consume a huge amount of calories every day of the season before hibernation. They are smart and learn quickly where to get nutritious food. When they don’t find it there, they look in similar places. They break into cars, garages and houses.

        There are about 1,600 black bears in Colorado and the state has a two strike policy. A bear identified in a first incident must be tagged. A tagged bear caught second time must be killed. The rangers hate doing it, especially if they suspect or know that stupid people caused it. I’ve heard that sometimes they cheat. They use tracking “research” tags on the first incident instead of “first time offender”. It gives them a chance to try to save the bear if caught second time.

        Truly aggressive animals are a problem. Everyone with children understands. There is less hunting and predators are not afraid of people. Wildlife is used to being observed by nature lovers. Some deer don’t step out of the road anymore as drivers stop and watch them graze on the shoulder. Bambi learned. I know a case where a mountain lion was feeding on a fresh kill in the middle of the road and didn’t move when cars approached. It had learned there was no danger. I know cases where a female lion came day after day to feed on a deer carcass with the cubs. In front of large living room window with nature lovers gathered inside watching them. The mother and cubs learned.

        There will be more casualties on both sides in the years to come. Human stupidity and nature don’t blend well.

      • Shazaam says:

        Bambi is getting smarter too. The deer around here have learned to wait to cross the road. Selection plays a part. Those to stupid to wait are removed from the breeding pool. Examples also play a part. If the doe teaches the fawns to cross the road when there are no cars in sight, they survive.

        I had to put-up an electric fence to keep the deer out of the “salad bar” (garden). I chose to run a ground wire and use a high power charger. Now, they stay well away from the white stakes even if there is no power to them. Useful for a couple young trees just planted. Pain is an effective learning tool. I actually felt sorry for the deer after I got zapped when well grounded…. Not sorry enough to remove the charger tho.

        They’ve been no problem this year. I planted an acre or so of buckwheat for bee pasturage in August, and the deer are feasting. Those deer should be nice and plump at “harvest” time…. Plus the groundhog blood from some lead-based pest control might make them nervous about that “salad bar”….

      • Shazaam says:

        Then there are the people who just may be too stupid to breed!

        Just too funny!!!

  22. au1corsair says:

    So, how many of us humans are rocket scientists? Many humans do not have the abstract thinking ability to play with ballistics. A few even have the quaint notion that numbers create things!

    Non-human animals are not human rocket scientists–but neither are most humans. Does that divide humans into “real humans” and “sub-humans?” Take, for example, hand use preference. Back in the “dark ages” people who preferred to use their left hands for writing were ill-used. One of my friends “cannot drive a stick shift” because he has to use his right hand to switch gears–I suggested that a right-hand drive automobile with the stick shift on the left would fix his problem. How many of you would be unable to write ever again if you lost the use of your right hand?

    Non-human animals are non human (tautological, I know) and few think in totally human terms. When was the last time you sniffed a fire hydrant to get the news about your fellow beings? A warehouse I work at uses bird calls (predator warnings, if the recording producer got it correct) to keep birds out of storage. Some humans find those bird calls distressing. The sea gull flocks steer clear of that one storage site–but are all over the place elsewhere.

    Something is going on in those non-human skulls. We humans have enough difficulty understanding humans from slightly different cultures. It is one cornerstone of the foundation of racism–that some human cultures (or races) are different and therefore inferior.

    Within the same culture some humans primarily learn through visual means, some primarily through hearing. Reading literature is harder for those who primarily learn through hearing and learning music Is more difficult for visual learners. There is enough mental variation in humans to form a “scientific basis” for repression of inferiors.
    http://www.mindtools.com/mnemlsty.html

    Can animals think? Yes. Does every human think?

    • Jason Calley says:

      au1corsair, you make some good points! Does every human think? I would say that yes, every normal human (one who is not broken, in a drug stupor, etc.) thinks — but not every human engages in abstract logic. Thinking goes on automatically — but reasoning is hard work and requires years of study. Almost anyone can wiggle their fingers, but how many can play the piano?

  23. omanuel says:

    The basis logic of false intellectual pride (arrogance) is this: “They (animals) can not think or they would be able to communicate with me, . . . the most intelligent species in the whole world!”

    After the UN was formed in 1945, the false pride in “scientists” was used to align post-modern science against the other common enemies of totalitarian rulers like Stalin: The Perennial Philosophy or Common Universal Truths of Religions, Science and Spiritual Programs like Astrology that had correctly conveyed mankind’s place in the universe.

    For example, the scientist who first realized that light energy is quantized – Nobel Lauraete Max Planck – implied in 1944 that a divine force generates physical and spiritual aspects of life and matter:

    “There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together … We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind.”

    I will post a link to Max Plank’s quote.

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