Monday, February 05, 2007

What makes us different?

I pulled this from Philosophy Now

"Elephants Pause for Reflection"
What’s a girl to do when she discovers a large white cross on her forehead? In the case of Happy, an Asian elephant at the Bronx Zoo in New York, she raises her trunk and touches the cross on her mirror-image thereby passing a standard test known as the ‘mark test’. Happy’s response was on a par with those made when human children or great apes are presented with the test.

Happy, with her companions Patty and Maxine, were shown a very large mirror, and it was observed that after initial exploratory behaviour sniffing the mirror and looking behind it, the elephants took an increasing interest in their reflections. This led to each peering into its own mouth. There was no evidence of an elephant mistaking their reflection for that of another.

This self-recognizing trait is thought to relate to empathetic tendencies and the ability to distinguish oneself from others. The study was carried out by scientists from the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre, Emory University, and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York."

Even though I don't cling to any religion in particular, this is where I think Hinduism and Buddhism gets it right. All life is sacred. Seldom do we hear people admitting that the animals of this planet can "think" or even dream or imagine, but I got to say... I have had some animals that exhibit if not similar then most definitely some type of behaviour that would be considered unexpected from what I was taught was an animal and is simply unaware of itself. For example, We once had a Saint Bernard. Excellent dog! He was like a Giant throw rug in the fact that he always wanted to lay by your feet keeping them warm. Of course most of us animal lovers that have pets always like to personify them, and according to dog trainers like Cesar Milan this is not always a good idea. However, more than on a few occasions we would wake up to hear soft muffled barking, and what sounded like something ruffing up the carpet. After further investigation we would find this big dog lying on his side sleeping but appearing to be acting out a scene as though he was dreaming. It's instances like this that lead me to believe that animals are more than just animals... sure they probably live more "instinctively" than we do, but that does not mean they are not "aware" of themselves or are not capable of cognitive thinking. Of course it's easier to take a big bite of that juicy cheeseburger if we don't consider that cow to be anything more than just an animal, but hell we have to simply admit we are carnivores. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not going to turn vegetation because "Wilbur" might actually be a thinking animal, I'm still going to eat my bacon in the morning....

This brings me to stem cell research.. yea i know kinda stretching here, but here is my honest opinion on that.... Do you eat eggs? If so, then we should be allowed to do stem cell research because your eating an embryo that has not yet divided. If you don't eat eggs, ok then you can be against stem cell research otherwise shut the hell up and lets move forward instead of being held back by religious zealots that think themselves God's gift to the planet... Oh shit that's right... the bible says they are. damn!

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