Author Topic: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?  (Read 203 times)

Davin

  • Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 6473
  • Gender: Male
  • (o°-°)=o o(o*-°)
    • DevPirates
HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« on: September 12, 2017, 05:54:30 PM »
I finished this a few days ago, but there was a funeral and a new dog so my time was a bit consumed.

The first half of the book I liked a lot. It was about 70% through that I thought, "OK, I get it, behaviorists have gotten it wrong. Fuck, dude, give it a rest for a chapter or two."

The animal cognition idea that consciousness and mental abilities are a matter of degree, is something that I had come to before reading this book, so it was mostly preaching to choir for me. But I still thought the cases and presentations of scientific data, anecdotes, and demonstrations were interesting.

It seemed to be a book mainly aimed at people on the fence or people who just haven't given it much thought. It might convince a few people opposed if they actually gave it a fair shake. Being on the author's side, I wasn't too interested in it argument after making it half way through, but the experiments, data, and anecdotes kept me in.

He did a great job expressing his argument and showing why it makes sense to take his approach as opposed to the approach of those like Skinner.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.


Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

BooksCatsEtc

  • Surprisingly OK
  • Global Moderator
  • The Cure for Boredom is Curiosity. There is No Cure For Curiosity.
  • *****
  • Posts: 8424
  • Gender: Female
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2017, 05:48:49 AM »
I'm so embarrassed -- I only just started reading this.  I know de Waal has gotten a lot of flack for "sentimentality" and anthropomorphism in his views on other animals, I wonder if this accounts for his vehemence on the subject here?
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Velma

  • Touched by His Noodly Appendage
  • *****
  • Posts: 2186
  • Gender: Female
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2017, 07:06:34 AM »
I'm so embarrassed -- I only just started reading this.  I know de Waal has gotten a lot of flack for "sentimentality" and anthropomorphism in his views on other animals, I wonder if this accounts for his vehemence on the subject here?
Don't feel bad. I've only made it two or three chapters in. I kept getting distracted by other books - so many other books.  :blush:
Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.~Carl Sagan

BooksCatsEtc

  • Surprisingly OK
  • Global Moderator
  • The Cure for Boredom is Curiosity. There is No Cure For Curiosity.
  • *****
  • Posts: 8424
  • Gender: Female
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2017, 12:05:47 PM »
I'm so embarrassed -- I only just started reading this.  I know de Waal has gotten a lot of flack for "sentimentality" and anthropomorphism in his views on other animals, I wonder if this accounts for his vehemence on the subject here?
Don't feel bad. I've only made it two or three chapters in. I kept getting distracted by other books - so many other books.  :blush:

Yep, exactly the problem I'm having.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Davin

  • Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 6473
  • Gender: Male
  • (o°-°)=o o(o*-°)
    • DevPirates
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 04:37:24 PM »
I know de Waal has gotten a lot of flack for "sentimentality" and anthropomorphism in his views on other animals, I wonder if this accounts for his vehemence on the subject here?
It seems like his frequent reminders about how the old methods are inadequate are the result of proponents of such sticking to preconceived conclusions instead of following the evidence all the while trying to make fools of people challenging their views.

Dealing with behaviorists is a lot like dealing with religious apologists, they move goal posts, deny any evidence that challenges their views, and they attack the people while avoiding the arguments. Not all of them, but that's also the same as religious apologists.

Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

BooksCatsEtc

  • Surprisingly OK
  • Global Moderator
  • The Cure for Boredom is Curiosity. There is No Cure For Curiosity.
  • *****
  • Posts: 8424
  • Gender: Female
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2017, 03:42:32 AM »
Well, I continue to be embarrassed.  I finally did get started on Smart Enough but I'm only halfway thru it.  Probably just as well, as I haven't gotten the October book yet. 

I'm not sure why I was so resistant to starting -- I'd been looking forward to reading it ever since I heard about it, and I've enjoyed every other book of de Waal's I've read.  Maybe that was it, too much anticipation caused a fear of being let down.  I should have just read it as soon as I got my hands on it.  Waiting ruins everything.

I've been particularly interested in de Waal's comments on what he calls "neo-creationists", scientists whose attachment to certain ideas, such as human exceptionalism, is more a matter of faith than research.  In fact I found one remark he quoted to be very close to Evangelical Xtians' presuppositionalism.  Well, there are flaws everywhere.

Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Velma

  • Touched by His Noodly Appendage
  • *****
  • Posts: 2186
  • Gender: Female
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2017, 05:02:49 AM »
I'm struggling also - stuck about halfway through. There's a bit of preachiness to it that doesn't set well with me. I will keep chipping away at it, however. I hate leaving a book unfinished.
Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.~Carl Sagan

BooksCatsEtc

  • Surprisingly OK
  • Global Moderator
  • The Cure for Boredom is Curiosity. There is No Cure For Curiosity.
  • *****
  • Posts: 8424
  • Gender: Female
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2017, 06:36:18 PM »
I'm struggling also - stuck about halfway through. There's a bit of preachiness to it that doesn't set well with me. I will keep chipping away at it, however. I hate leaving a book unfinished.

I enjoyed it once I finally got tucked in, but then I've never minded sermons.  Probably why I'm the only person I know who liked going to church as a kid.

I did have one other thought regarding the resistance of humans to accepting intelligence in other animals -- I'm sure a good part of it is our ego (when is that ever not a factor?) -- but there's also the ethical problem many of us will have over treatment of other animals if it's accepted that they're more than stimulus/response machines.  Mistreating a machine is no big deal, mistreating a thinking being is something else entirely. 

And eating another thinking being?  For me, at least, that's close to cannibalism.  I've been predicting that meat-eating is going to be the smoking of the 21st century and with ongoing research in animal cognition, I think it's a done deal.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Father Bruno

  • Deranged Psychopathic Twinkle Toes
  • Blessing Her Holy Hooves
  • *****
  • Posts: 4818
  • Gender: Male
  • Save water. Shower together!
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2017, 06:52:05 PM »
I'm so embarrassed -- I only just started reading this.  I know de Waal has gotten a lot of flack for "sentimentality" and anthropomorphism in his views on other animals, I wonder if this accounts for his vehemence on the subject here?
Don't feel bad. I've only made it two or three chapters in. I kept getting distracted by other books - so many other books.  :blush:

Yep, exactly the problem I'm having.

This is me, plus a friend I was visiting recently gave me a bunch of articles and links to read that I've been engrossed with, so I'm having trouble sticking with this...does anyone else feel horribly guilty when they don't finish a book once they started reading it?

 
Every taco is hand rolled with exotic Mexican spices by genuine Mayan Virgins.
Or. Carlos, depending on who's available.

I really, really hate anti-semantics.

BooksCatsEtc

  • Surprisingly OK
  • Global Moderator
  • The Cure for Boredom is Curiosity. There is No Cure For Curiosity.
  • *****
  • Posts: 8424
  • Gender: Female
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2017, 07:54:30 PM »
This is me, plus a friend I was visiting recently gave me a bunch of articles and links to read that I've been engrossed with, so I'm having trouble sticking with this...does anyone else feel horribly guilty when they don't finish a book once they started reading it?

Depends on the book -- in this case, yes, but I've gotten to the point where if a book is crap I'll toss it unfinished without a second thought.  I just don't have enough time left for uninteresting books.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Davin

  • Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 6473
  • Gender: Male
  • (o°-°)=o o(o*-°)
    • DevPirates
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2017, 04:33:03 PM »
I'm so embarrassed -- I only just started reading this.  I know de Waal has gotten a lot of flack for "sentimentality" and anthropomorphism in his views on other animals, I wonder if this accounts for his vehemence on the subject here?
Don't feel bad. I've only made it two or three chapters in. I kept getting distracted by other books - so many other books.  :blush:

Yep, exactly the problem I'm having.

This is me, plus a friend I was visiting recently gave me a bunch of articles and links to read that I've been engrossed with, so I'm having trouble sticking with this...does anyone else feel horribly guilty when they don't finish a book once they started reading it?
I have to finish reading every book I start. Even if I really don't enjoy it at all.

Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

BooksCatsEtc

  • Surprisingly OK
  • Global Moderator
  • The Cure for Boredom is Curiosity. There is No Cure For Curiosity.
  • *****
  • Posts: 8424
  • Gender: Female
Re: HAF Book Club: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2017, 04:59:42 AM »
Finally finished Smarter than Animals, and just in time for The Handmaid's Tale, which should arrive tomorrow.

As slow as I was starting (and finishing) I enjoyed it, esp. for the anecdotes about cognitive research on various animals.  Of course, I am definitely the choir that de Waal is preaching to.

Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver