Pawing over the evidence


Oh dear: this looks bad. No posts in over a month then another animal story follows the last. Mebbie it’s that the world is so mad currently, soothing sanctuary is delivered through pondering and wonder-ing?

We came across a peer-review journal: this is how it describes itself. Learning & Behavior  publishes experimental and theoretical contributions and critical reviews concerning fundamental processes of learning and behavior in nonhuman and human animals. Topics covered include sensation, perception, conditioning, learning, attention, memory, motivation, emotion, development, social behavior, and comparative investigations.

In yesterday’s Telegraph, Henry Bodkin opened his piece on research published in said journal by telling us that dogs were no smarter than goats. Well, look no further than the last post, below, to finish that sentence.

And yet in fairness, the character of a dog is wildly different: maybe intelligence is a flawed method of assessing animals’ merits?

Afterall, walk into a room to find a dog. It will greet you with over-eager enthusiasm and say ‘Halllooooooooo. Where’s the ball; throw the ball; throw the ball; where’s the ball?

Enter a room to find a cat (doubtless in slumber). If the energy can be mustered, it might creak open an eyelid and if it deems you sufficiently worthy of addressing, might say “I trust you realize that I am the Platonic Form Cat. My self-evident perfection is the mold for all who crave such feline iridescence yet a glimpse of me must lay waste to their puny ambition.”

This marked difference between two domesticated species tells all one need know that character traits of living creatures is a more complex matter. How the brain works can be replicated by artificial intelligence. But the mind – or consciousness, or the faculty by which we know we’re alive – is life: on which rests the mysterious wonder-ings immutably resistant to capture.

Would that the consequence of all the research – this latest from University of Exeter – sought to flourish human imagination and capacity to understand animals’ inalienable right to live to the fullest degree.

Women know what it means to be diminished through others’ ignorance and – by implication of which – fear.

Shouldn’t walls that imprison possibility be torn down?