Exposing the Big Game

Forget Hunters' Feeble Rationalizations and Trust Your Gut Feelings: Making Sport of Killing Is Not Healthy Human Behavior

Exposing the Big Game

The Psychology and Thrill of Trophy Hunting: Is it Criminal?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animal-emotions/201510/the-psychology-and-thrill-trophy-hunting-is-it-criminal

Trophy hunting is gratuitous violence that can justifiably be called murder.

Posted Oct 18, 2015

“Still, the need to hurt animals that some children feel doesn’t explain why some adults hunt and kill large, and often dangerous, animals that they have no intention of eating. I have searched the psychology literature and, while there’s a lot of conjecture about what it means, the fact that very little research exists to support any assumptions makes reaching anunderstanding of this behaviour very difficult.”  (Xanthe Mallett, 2015)

Kids ask the darndest questions

A few years ago a youngster told me a story about a murder in his neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado, my hometown. I hadn’t heard about it so I asked him for more information and he told me about a cougar who had been murdered because this magnificent cat was living down the block from him. I instantly said something like, “Animals can’t be murdered,” and he looked at me – stared me straight in the eyes – and innocently but forcefully asked, “Why not?” I realized that I wasn’t going to “win” this discussion nor get out of it easily or cleanly, and his mother was calling him home, so I said that’s the way it is for now in the legal system, and, not unexpectedly, he once again asked, “Why?”

I was at a loss to say more given the time constraints and given the fact that I really wanted to let him know that I thought animals could indeed be murdered.” But, that would have made his mother angry and we both would have missed dinner. So, I told him that he really had made an impression on me, I thanked him for asking “Why, why, why,” and that I’d continue to think about this, for I do believe that killing an animal is murder (please also see) when an animal is killed in the same manner for which it is declared that a human has been murdered. And, sanitizing the killing by calling it culling, dispatching, or euthanizing doesn’t really do the job.

I haven’t thought much about this conversation, although I have pondered many times why the word “murder” is reserved for human animals and categorically excludes nonhuman animals (animals). And, some recent events have led me to write this brief essay about why the use of the word “murder” should be broadened to include other animals and why, for example, “trophy hunting” is really “trophy murder.”

I’m sure many people will likely weigh in on this topic and many already have. There also are some interesting exchanges at debate.org where the question, “Is killing an animal murder?” was raised. As of today, 58% of the respondents voted “yes” and 42% voted “no.” In addition, “Americans are turning thumbs down on trophy hunting by a two-to-one margin. Sixty-four percent of U.S. voters polled told the Humane Society of the United States that they also oppose trophy hunting in the United States.”

Definitions of murder invariably exclude nonhumans.  However, I can’t see any good reason other than “that’s the way it is.” Reasons given include misleading claims that animals don’t feel pain, they aren’t smart, or they don’t display what philosophers call agency, loosely put as the ability to make free choices and to act independently and to adapt in different environments. Furthermore, “All jurisdictions require that the victim be a natural person; that is, a human being who was still alive before being murdered. In other words, under the law one cannot murder a corpse, a corporation, a non-human animal, or any other non-human organism such as a plant or bacterium.”

The comments for the above debate make for interesting reading. One noted, “I love animals and have several pets but no killing animals for food is not murder. Killing animals for food is not murder because they do not have the ability to speak or have complex thoughts. For example, lets say there is a tiger hat is hungry and one of you who think its murder to kill an animal in a cage. That tiger would not hesitate to eat you so I say why can’t we do the same.” Another reader wrote, “Cruelty to animals is wrong, but it is not murder. People kill animals for a wide variety of reasons. Some of these reasons may be seen as cruel by different people: for example, some feel that killing animals for food is cruel, while others see it as a necessary evil, and some (like those who enjoy hunting) even take pleasure in it. However, even cruelty to animals does not rise to the level of “murder” as such.”

And, we also read, “(Non human) Animals are also sentient, conscious beings who feel pain and emotion If killing animals isn’t murder (because they are not people, or intelligent, or capable to express their fear, etc…) we should apply the same logic to humans who are handicapped or mentally retarded. No human ceases to be an animal simply because they are intelligent, we are merely perpetuating a sort of speciesism if we exclude unintelligent or unresponsive humans.”

These and other comments raise many of the issues that are central to arguing for using the word “murder” when an animal is involved in situations when it used for humans, and that laws need to be changed to reflect this.

A few recent events have made many others and me revisit the selective and speciesist use of the word “murder.” A few weeks ago a dog was killed and skinned in my hometown and once again, someone asked me if this could be classified as murder. Animals in zoos also are killed rather often even if they are healthy and could live longer lives. Marius, an otherwise healthy young giraffe, was killed in the Copenhagen zoo in February 2014 because he didn’t fit into their breeding program. Zoo administrators said he was euthanized, but of course this wasn’t a mercy killing but what I call “zoothanasia.” And, I also noted it could well be called murder.

Is trophy hunting really trophy murder? Cecil the lion and the recent killing of the largest African elephant in almost thirty years

“As for trophy hunting, I think it is probably the kind of animal killing that most resembles murder – murder in the first degree. It is done with planning (premeditation) and without provocation or biological justification. The animals are entirely innocent creatures killed only for ego-gratification and fun. It’s time we began to see this practice as akin to murder.” Kirk Robinson (executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, comment on this essay)

Trophy hunting in the wild and in places where animals are bred and held captive for the purpose of being killed (canned hunting), also makes the news especially when a charismatic animal is slaughtered. Basically, trophy hunting is a gratuitously violent act that often results in dismemberment and taking the head as a “trophy.

This past summer the world learned about, and millions were outraged by, the killing of Cecil, a magnificent lion, by a Minnesota dentist under the guise that it served some conservation purpose. Cecil’s undoing was premeditated, he hadn’t done anything to deserve being killed, and the dentist paid a royal sum to be allowed to kill him. And, this week, we’ve learned that a magnificent elephant killed in Zimbabwe for fun was the biggest killed in Africa for almost 30 years (please also see).

There are many, far too many, examples of trophy hunting accompanied by pictures of happy hunters. Indeed, recreational sport hunting that doesn’t involve long-distance travel or huge sums of money can also be called murder. And, sport hunting is often glorified. Colorado has “hug a hunter” and “hug an angler” campaigns because Colorado Parks and Wildlife claim that hunting is a conservation tool (but please see). We read, “Coloradans are proud of the wildlife and natural beauty in Colorado. And we have hunters and anglers to thank for helping to support it. So if you love protecting Colorado and its natural beauty, go ahead and hug a hunter.” Of course, not all wildlife is valued.

Let’s get the discussion going and let’s begin by making it simple

The time has come to open the discussion about the limited use of the word “murder.” Detailed scientific research has more than amply shown that reasons for excluding animals that include their supposed lack of emotions, that they are not really sentient, and that they really don’t care what happens to them, for example, clearly don’t hold.

I’m sure there are people who are passionate on both sides of the ledger and we need to hear all voices. Attorney Steven Wise and his team, who have worked tirelessly for granting animals rights, have been focusing their attention on chimpanzees, so to begin, let’s just consider mammals. And, perhaps to get the discussion going, let’s only consider animals who are killed for trophy hunting, for sport and for fun, and exclude, for the moment, animals who are killed for our entertainment (dog- or cock-fighting), animals who are killed because they harmed, or supposedly harmed, a human(s), animals who wind up living in urban or suburban areas “dangerously” close to humans because we forced them out of their preferred and natural homes because of relentless development, animals who are killed for food or research, animals who are considered to be “pests,” animals who are “collected” “in the name of science.” We can also limit our early discussions to animals who clearly are sentient, which includes the vast majority of animals who are killed when there is no other reason to do it other than for fun.

I’m sure readers will have a category of animals they’d like to add to the list of candidates, and this is all part of the ongoing discussion. It’s difficult, for example, to exclude companion animals who are brutalized for no reason at all, so perhaps in early discussions we can also consider them as animals for whom the word “murder” applies.

Let me strongly emphasize that this early focus is not to say that other animals shouldn’t be granted legal rights nor that they can’t be murdered. However, we’ve got to begin somewhere, so let’s begin with the clearest cases in which an animal is killed for no other reason than someone thought it would be okay to kill them, perhaps for sport, perhaps for fun, perhaps because they like the high of the thrill, or perhaps because they enjoy killing the animals by “playing predator,” but surely not in any way that could be considered playing fair.

One of my friends suggested to me that perhaps the world isn’t ready for such a discussion, but surely there are crimes against animals that fall smack into the arena of crimes that are considered to be murder when there is a human victim(s). Trophy hunting is one clear case; it is voluntary and intentional and there is no reason to engage in it other than the hunter finds it to be a form of recreation or fun. It’s often not that challenging, and surely one doesn’t have to do it.

The psychology of trophy hunting: What drives people to thrill kill?

Hunting for ‘sport’ is basically another way to describe the thrill of killing.” Graham Collier, Psychology Today

The phrase “trophy hunting” – a form of thrill killing (for example, please see) is all about nonhumans, but gratuitous violence in the form of thrill killing also occurs in humans. When there are human victims it’s clearly considered to be aberrant and criminal behavior that rightfully is called murder. The bottom line is that anyone who thrill kills should be punished regardless of whom the victim is. And we also should keep in mind what psychologists call “the Link,” the close relationship between human-animal violence and human-human violence.

While I cannot find any formal studies of what drives trophy hunting specifically, many people have weighed in on questions of this sort. One essay called “Why we may never understand the reasons people hunt animals as ‘trophies‘” by criminologist Dr. Xanthe Mallett reports “Research shows increased levels of hostility and a need for power and control are associated with poor attitudes towards animals, among men in particular.”

Dr. Mallett also writes, “Another paper has linked personality traits of some people who hunt for sport to a different ‘triad’ of behaviours, known ominously as the ‘dark triad’. This includes narcissism (egotistical admiration of one’s own attributes, and a lack of compassion), Machiavellianism (being deceitful, cunning and manipulative) and psychopathy (lack of remorse or empathy, and prone to impulsive behaviour).”

Dr. Mallett ends her essay as follows: “And that [the lack of hard data] means we may never know why hunters are compelled to seek animal trophies for their walls. Indeed, we might be condemned just to watch and wonder about their motive and emotional capacity.” Surely, if people just want to “get out into nature” and rewild themselves, there are better and much less harmful ways to do it. Trophy hunting also violates the tenets of compassionate conservation, namely, first do no harm and all individuals matter (please seeand links therein).

What drives trophy hunting is a field rich in questions and ideas that should be of interest to many readers of Psychology Today and also practitioners.

Words count

The wide-ranging concern and condemnation of trophy hunting is not merely an animal rights or vegan perspective, but rather one grounded in concerns about respect and decency. Many people who eat and wear animals are outraged by Cecil’s demise and by the latest elephant to be killed for fun. Many of my friends say something like, “It just isn’t right,” and all the academic arguments in the world aren’t going to convince them that trophy hunting can be justified. And, hunters with whom I’ve spoken are appalled by canned and wild trophy hunting. There’s a lot going on here about which I hope to write later on.

Words count. The failure to use the word “murder” for nonhumans is due to a misleading extension of the “them” versus “us” way of thinking, one that is, or should be, long gone, and a view that ignores who other animals truly are – their cognitive and emotional lives and capacities — based on large amounts of detailed empirical research. While we surely are different from other animals, we also share many traits that make us all very similar to the magnificent animals who are routinely hunted as trophies. These shared traits are those that are used erroneously by some to separate “them” from us as if the differences are black and white, rather than shades of gray.

So, if legal systems change and recognize the fact that animals can be murdered, we can expect that crimes that count as murder will be punished accordingly, other than by shame. And, perhaps, someday I’ll be able to tell some inquisitive “annoying” kid that animals can indeed be murdered. And, I’ll also let him or her know that when people say they love animals and harm them, I always say I’m glad they don’t love me.

Note: For more on ways to stop the killing, please see Hope Ferdowsian’s “5 Ways to Stop the Killing.” The man who killed the elephant has now been identified.

Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears (with Jill Robinson), Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate ConservationWhy Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed, and Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and CoexistenceThe Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson) has recently been published. (marcbekoff.com; @MarcBekoff)

Shark charities flooded with donations after Trump says he hopes sharks die

 https://www.marketwatch.com/story/shark-charities-flooded-with-donations-after-trump-says-he-hopes-sharks-die-2018-01-23

Published: Jan 25, 2018 10:25 a.m. ET

Raising money to protect the feared sea creatures can be a challenge

Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection
Charities that help sharks have seen an uptick in donations since the publication of President Donald Trump’s anti-shark comments.

By

LESLIEALBRECHT

PERSONAL FINANCE REPORTER

President Donald Trump’s reported death wish for sharks has been a lifeline for charities that protect them.

Shark-related nonprofits have been receiving a steady stream of donations in the wake of Trump reportedly telling adult film actress Stormy Daniels, “I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.” Trump’s comments came to light in an In Touch Weekly interviewwith Daniels, who reportedly had a fling with Trump in 2006. Daniels said Trump was “obsessed” with sharks and “terrified” of them.

Since Trump’s strong anti-shark stance became public late last week, donations have poured in at the nonprofits Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, their leaders told MarketWatch.

“It’s actually more dangerous to play golf than it is to go swimming in the ocean with sharks.”

— Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

“We have been receiving donations in Trump’s name since the story was published,” said Cynthia Wilgren, chief executive officer and co-founder of Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, based in Chatham, Mass. Most of the money has come from first-time donors, she added. “It can certainly be a challenge to raise money for a species that most people fear,” Wilgren said.

Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Burbank, Calif. based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said his group had received “quite a few” donations from benefactors who specifically mentioned Trump’s comments.

How machine learning is teaching drones to see for themselves

He and his fellow conservationists consider Trump’s comments “ignorant,” Watson said, but they’ve had a positive effect. “Anything that focuses attention on the plight of sharks worldwide is valuable, so I guess in that way the president did good service,” Watson said.

His group sends boats across the world to catch poachers who illegally kill sea animals. Some 75 million sharks a year are killed, often when their fins are cut off and they are tossed back into the ocean, Watson said. When their fins are removed, sharks are unable to swim effectively, so they sink down to the bottom and die or get eaten by other predators. Sharks are also killed to make shark leather shoes and belts, and for shark liver oil, which is used as a dietary supplement and in beauty products such as lipstick, according to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

The popular image of sharks as super predators is unfair, Watson said. While hundreds of millions of people swim in oceans every year, sharks kill only about five people a year around the world, Watson said. “It’s actually more dangerous to play golf than it is to go swimming in the ocean with sharks,” Watson said. “Quite a few more die from lightning strikes and bee stings while playing golf than from sharks.”

Don’t miss: Trump may hate sharks, but these animals cause more deaths each year

Sharks are a critical part of ocean ecosystems and their fate is closely tied to the health of oceans as a whole. If they go extinct, humans wouldn’t be too far behind, Watson claimed.

The president’s hatred of sharks pre-dates his time in office, according to his Twitter history. Back in 2013 he said he’s not a fan of the animals. In November 2017, Trump drew the ire of conservationists after eating shark fin soup during a visit to Vietnam.

Shark charities and other nonprofits face an uncertain future under Trump’s new tax law. Some estimate that charities could see a $13 to $20 billion drop in donations because of changes in the tax code.

Are people and apes the only ones that can plan ahead? Quoth the raven ‘nevermore.’

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/07/13/are-people-and-apes-the-only-ones-that-can-plan-ahead-quoth-the-raven-nevermore/?utm_term=.9a114ac8681c

 July 13 at 2:00 PM
 Play Video 0:12
Watch ravens show off their reasoning abilities
Swedish scientist Mathias Osvath trained five ravens to use a stone as a tool to open a puzzle-like box to prove they have some of the same reasoning abilities as humans and apes. The raven’s reward: a juicy, meaty dog kibble inside the box. (Mathias Osvath)

For centuries, we told ourselves that we are special — that what separates humans from animals is our ability to reason.

But that belief has been increasingly undermined given evidence showing apes also have the intelligence to use tools, solve complex problems and even plan for the future.

Now the latest indignity: Ravens can do it, too.

On a rural research farm in Sweden, working with birds he raised from hatchlings, cognitive zoologist Mathias Osvath recently taught five ravens how to use a tool to open a puzzle-like box containing a treat. He then put his birds through a battery of tests in which they had to choose the tool, despite the temptation of a more immediate goody with the box nowhere in sight.

The birds didn’t bite. Only when the box was brought back did they use the tool they had been saving to secure the better reward — demonstrating self-control, advanced reasoning and planning.

“It’s not just the fact they have these skills independently. But to use them together to make these complex decisions, that’s what makes it so amazing,” said Osvath, in Lund, Sweden.

He compared his subjects’ calculations to the sophisticated decisions that humans make daily.

“Say you’re planning a trip to London, and you know how often it rains there. So you bring an umbrella, even though it’s not raining now where you are. That’s what we are talking about here, planning based on past experience,” Osvath said.

His study — published Thursday in the journal Science — is the latest in a growing body of work from cognitive zoologists that is tearing down assumptions about the limits of animals’ ability to reason.

Some of the more recent work has built on a 2006 study by researchers in Leipzig, Germany, who used puzzle tests such as Osvath’s raven experiment to show that apes could use tools and do planning. But scientists working with birds have long suspected some winged creatures could match the intellect of apes, particularly the wickedly smart ravens, crows and jays — members of the corvid family.

Several studies tried to measure and document those birds’ cognitive skills, mainly by focusing on their obsession with hiding food. Some found that ravens hid their food more quickly if they thought they were being watched. In other tests, scrub jays even moved their hidden food to a second spot once they realized they were being watched, in an apparent effort to ward off potential thieves.

Corvid scientists contended such behavior proved some birds have a cognitive awareness of what others might know or intend, as well as the ability to plan for future consequences. Critics shot down such conclusions, saying the birds’ reaction could be simple, instinctive responses to visual cues.

“It was a big argument, because it was difficult for some to imagine that birds could do these things, too,” said Thomas Bugnyar, a cognitive professor at the University of Vienna who has studied ravens for 20 years but was not involved in Osvath’s research. “People kept looking for holes or possible alternative explanations.”

Stepping squarely into the fray, the Swede set out to design a study to definitively prove the birds’ advanced abilities to reason.

Back in the mid-2000s, he had conducted some of the very studies hailed as proof of planning in apes. One of his most widely publicized (and amusing) reports, in fact, documented how a male chimpanzee at a Swedish zoo would leisurely collect stones and hide them in strategic places during early-morning hours just so that he could later hurl them at gawking visitors.

Osvath now hoped to do the same for ravens.

To conduct his experiment, he raised a group of ravens for five years. He witnessed their intelligence up close — playing games with them, watching as they developed complicated relationships with his graduate students. (One male raven particularly loved pecking his least favorite students on the head.)

Osvath had to modify the tool-based experiments he and others had conducted on apes, given birds’ lack of opposable thumbs. Instead of the sticks or drinking straws used with apes, the ravens got small rocks as tools to open the boxy contraption. For their reward, he provided a juicy, meaty dog kibble that they seemed to love.

In the end, the ravens matched the primates in every respect. On tests in which they had to barter for their reward by trading a specific token, the birds outscored the apes and even outperformed 4-year-old humans.

In an accompanying perspective, two University of Cambridge cognitive scientists called Osvath’s study “compelling evidence.” They wrote, “These results suggest that planning for the future is not uniquely human and evolved independently in distantly related species to address common problems.”

Based on past experiences, Osvath expects some people may be upset by his new study.

“When it comes to what animals can do compared to humans, there are those who cling to cognition as uniquely human,” he said in a phone interview, as his ravens squawked audibly in the background. “I think it has to do with religion, with this argument over whether animals have a soul or free will, and whether we are unique in the world.”

This obsession with human uniqueness, however, misses the entire goal of research into how animals think.

On that central question, he and others working with corvids believe their work poses major new questions given how birds and mammals went their separate ways on the evolutionary road some 300 million years ago. So did corvids and apes arrive at their sophisticated intelligence in totally different ways or based on similar factors and principles?

For evolutionary biologists, that and related questions loom large, with ramifications for everything from how intelligent life formed on Earth to whether extraterrestrial life might look or think like us.

“These are the real questions we should be asking about nature,” Osvath said. “Instead of just focusing on ourselves as humans, we should see ourselves as part of this world. If this study changes even one or two people’s minds about that, I will be happy.”

Read more:

Chimpanzees are animals. But are they ‘persons’?

How do dogs’ genes affect their behavior? Your pet can help scientists find out. 

Another point for elephant intelligence: They know when their bodies are in the way

How Nutritious Is Human Flesh?

By Charles Choi | April 5, 2017
Ancient cannibalism may not have been as nutritious as previously thought, a new calorie-counting study finds, which means ancient cannibalism may have been more complex than often thought.

Nowadays cannibalism is associated with fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter or by desperate souls as a last resort, such as the Donner Party or the survivors of the Andes flight disaster. But studies suggest cannibalism was practiced since prehistory, and even performed by extinct human lineages. For instance, at Neanderthal sites, researchers discovered unmistakable signs of butchery on human bones and found scraps of human remains in fossilized excrement.

Archaeologist James Cole at the University of Brighton in England investigated cannibalism to learn how extinct human lineages might have behaved or thought. He found prior research that suggested occurrences of Stone Age cannibalism were frequently interpreted as “nutritional” in nature, but they didn’t indicate just how nourishing man-eating actually was. As such, he sought to elucidate the nutritional value of cannibalism.

“Having some time to reflect on it, it was quite a weird thing to think about how calorific I am as a person,” Cole admitted.

Part by Part

Cole calculated calorie values of the fat and protein in each human body part, based on data on four adult human males collected by four different past studies.

“Those studies were interested in the construction of the human body, in what elements we were made up of,” he said.

Based on these past data, Cole estimated that there were roughly 1,300 calories per kilogram of modern human muscle. Although Cole would ideally have included data from women and juveniles, he could not find any published scientific reports on their chemical compositions, and collecting such data himself “was outside the ethical (and legal) scope of this study,” he wrote online Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

Cole noted these calorie estimates might not pertain to extinct human lineages—Neanderthals, for example, were beefier than modern humans. As such, Cole stressed that his estimates should be taken as minimum values. He also cautioned that he only had data from a few people, and “given the nature of this study, it was not possible to conduct analyses on cooked human flesh.”

Given these caveats, all in all, when compared to animal species whose remains were also unearthed at sites of Stone Age cannibalism, the nutritional value of human flesh is broadly similar to beasts of a similar weight and size, such as an ibex. However, snacking on humans pales in comparison to meals comprised of larger animals. For instance, mammoths are estimated to have supplied about 2,000 calories per kilogram of muscle; woolly rhinos, 1,750; the extinct oxen known as aurochs, 2,040; bears, 4,000; and boars, 4,000.

Cannibalism: It’s Complicated

“I went in with the preconception that we humans would’ve been very nutritionally viable animals, but compared with other animals humans ate, we aren’t terribly nutritious at all,” Cole said. “That makes me think that if, say, six of us are not as nutritious as a single horse or bison, it doesn’t really make sense to cannibalize people simply for their nutritional value.”

This suggests that the motivations for cannibalism in ancient human lineages “may have been as complex as they potentially are for our own,” Cole said. In addition to nutritional value or psychosis, modern humans have historically engaged in cannibalism during warfare, and for rituals such as “eating a recently deceased member of your family to carry them as part of you as you continue your life,” Cole said.

“We can’t limit our understanding of ancient cannibalism to just that one interpretation of nutrition, since it implies a lack of complexity on the part of those groups,” Cole said. “We should embrace complexity.”

Duh…Apes might be able to tell what you’re thinking

Updated 11:02 AM ET, Fri October 7, 2016

One of the things that defines humans most is our ability to read others’ minds — that is, to make inferences about what others are thinking. To build or maintain relationships, we offer gifts and services — not arbitrarily, but with the recipient’s desires in mind. When we communicate, we do our best to take into account what our partners already know and to provide information we know will be new and comprehensible. And sometimes we deceive others by making them believe something that is not true, or we help them by correcting such false beliefs.

All these very human behaviors rely on an ability psychologists call theory of mind: We are able to think about others’ thoughts and emotions. We form ideas about what beliefs and feelings are held in the minds of others — and recognize that they can be different from our own. Theory of mind is at the heart of everything social that makes us human. Without it, we’d have a much harder time interpreting — and probably predicting — others’ behavior.
For a long time, many researchers have believed that a major reason human beings alone exhibit unique forms of communication, cooperation and culture is that we’re the only animals to have a complete theory of mind. But is this ability really unique to humans?
In a new study published in Science, my colleagues and I tried to answer this question using a novel approach. Previous work has generally suggested that people think about others’ perspectives in very different ways than other animals do. Our new findings suggest, however, that great apes may actually be a bit more similar to us than we previously thought.

Apes get some parts of what others are thinking

Decades of research with our closest relatives — chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans — have revealed that great apes do possess many aspects of theory of mind. For one, they can identify the goals and intentions behind others’ actions. They’re also able to recognize which features of the environment others can see or know about.
Where apes have consistently failed, though, is on tasks designed to assess their understanding of others’ false beliefs. They don’t seem to know when someone has an idea about the world that conflicts with reality.
Picture me rummaging through the couch because I falsely believe the TV remote is in there. “Duuuude,” my (human) roommate says, noticing my false belief, “the remote is on the table!” He’s able to imagine the way I’m misconstruing reality, and then set me straight with the correct information.
To investigate false belief understanding in great apes, comparative psychologist Fumihiro Kano and I turned to a technique that hadn’t been used before with apes in this context: eye-tracking. Our international team of researchers enrolled over 40 bonobos, chimpanzees and orangutans at Zoo Leipzig in Germany and Kumamoto Sanctuary in Japan in our novel, noninvasive experiment.
Researchers use juice to attract the apes to the spot where they can watch the videos.<img alt=”Researchers use juice to attract the apes to the spot where they can watch the videos.” class=”media__image” src=”http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/161006150420-great-apes-mind-2-large-169.jpg”>

Watching what they watched

We showed the apes videos of a human actor engaging in social conflicts with a costumed ape-like character (King Kong). Embedded within these interactions was important information about the human actor’s belief. For example, in one scene the human actor was trying to search for a stone that he saw King Kong hide within one of two boxes. However, while the actor was away, King Kong moved the stone to another location and then removed it completely; when the actor returned, he falsely believed the stone was still in its original location.
The big question was: Where would the apes expect the actor to search? Would they anticipate that the actor would search for the stone in the last place where he saw it, even though the apes themselves knew it was no longer there?
While the apes were watching the videos, a special camera faced them, recording their gaze patterns and mapping them onto the video. This eye-tracker let us see exactly where on the videos the apes were looking as they watched the scenarios play out.

Swan killers attack animal rights activist

Photo   Jim Robertson

Photo Jim Robertson

http://www.nltimes.nl/2016/03/21/swan-killers-attack-animal-rights-activist/
“Swan protector Saskia van Rooy was attacked by hunters in Stolwijk on
Saturday, she said to Dutch newspaper AD.
“According to Van Rooy, she was filming dead geese when two men were
suddenly behind her. “Dressed in army suits and camouflage nets over
their heads, they yelled at me”, she said to the newspaper. One swung
the butt of a rifle towards here face, but she managed to duck in
time.”

Remember trying to walk home from school?

https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/8521237-remember-trying-to-walk-home-from-school

by Susie Duncan Sexton

description A Yale professor, who spoke of teaching the -ISMS (racism, ageism, sexism), said that never did he have more dissension or hatefulness issuing from students than when he attempted to teach SPECIESISM.

He believed the collective guilt of having already eaten meat for a lifetime and laughing at animals and never stopping to face the reality of all the abuse other species suffer at the hands of humans is the primary reason humans become so stubbornly heinous. Yet, some of us become compassionate and wish to change. We are the true brave hearts. The others are cowards playing with murderous weapons. Nothing but cowards.

description

And as usual they – those who want to make an ugly point of their God(?)-given “dominion” over, well, everything, it seems – are once again taking their vileness and coarseness and ignorance out on the innocent – even stepping it up. Pretty odd stuff – sociopathic and psychopathic and bizarre. A bully is a bully is a bully.

Those types are as nuts toward humans as they are animals, in spite of any insincere attempts (on their part) at denial of such. Often…usually always…the swaggering grows due to gang-like behavior. Humans trying to impress other humans and to be accepted in some nightmarish club or other. Just unbelievable to observe.

description

But so goes history….ethnic cleansings, world wars, crusades, feeding ____ to lions, gladiator contests, rodeos, bull-fights, turtle tossing, quail shooting, and ………………… and all manner of kinky, mean, smug, creepy, stupid stuff.

Remember trying to walk home from school? And the little cliques that lay in wait? Well, those kids never change. And they seldom seem to pay for their nasty behavior. They manage to raise their little fists and display their Wal-Mart weapons in photo ops because maybe they really always wanted to be movie stars or quarterbacks or cowboys or roller derby dolls or something?

description

And they should have been disciplined by parents (who often maneuvered their way on to school boards) or teachers (who often wish to be popular with the meanest kids so that their work day goes smoother!).

C’mon 99% can relate to the horrors of the public school system then and now. Same old same old. And look where we all are today…putting up with the ugly fireworks I just described and whatever else the entitled want to impose on the rest of us.

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Secrets of an Old Typewriter  Stories from a Smart and Sassy Small Town Girl by Susie Duncan Sexton

More Secrets of an Old Typewriter  Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels by Susie Duncan Sexton

Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter and its follow-up Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels – print and ebook versions of both are available on Amazon (click the title).

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