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20 November 2004

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miche;;e

what a beautiful creature!

Patia

Stingrays give me the creeps. Why, oh why, does everybody else like them?

Kate S.

I am the most guilty of anthropomorphising. I can't help it. My common sense is overridden by my sensibility that we are all the same, from the same ingredients, we vibrate in harmony, just slightly off in our individual DNA or hertz cycles; my smile finds their smile, as with the chimp, the porpoise, and now this beautiful sea creature.

What a gorgeous being! Thank you for sharing the smile.

Dave

"Surely it is also sensible to not fear anthropomorphizing to the extent that we cannot recognize kinship when it smiles at us from the other side of the glass." I agree. In fact, I don't see that there is really anything wrong with anthropomorphizing so long as it doesn't veer off into belittling sentimentality. We need to retain a basic sense of respect for other beings, I feel. Respect includes both empathy and diffidence, verging on awe.

Obviously, for life scientists whose business it is to reach objective conclusions based on the best evidence and the simplest interpretations thereof, via Ockham's razor, need to avoid imaginative leaps as much as possible. But imagination still plays a role in all interpretations, and it is, after all, simplest to assume that most vertebrate species do have emotions and varying kinds of problem-solving abilities. That doesn't mean assuming that they are "just like us" - unless one assumes that humans are the only creatures with "consciousness," as many scientists (and philosophers) unfortunately still do. Behaviorism's continued allegiance to an extreme mechanistic view of animals is, I think, bigoted and unscientific.

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