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Sanyu Nagenda

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Is anyone else deeply confused by the "we're all animals" argument?

I, for one, do not see how the "survival of the fittest" and the "animal nature" arguments apply to our species as dominant theories.

Let's take a look at the most BASIC nature of animals vs. our species:

1. Do animals kill more than they need to eat and feed their kin? NO
2. Do animals kill unless they or their offspring are directly threatened? NO
3. Do animals destroy their natural habitat? NO

1. Does our species kill more than it needs for each of us to eat and feed one another? YES
2. Does our species kill even if not directly threatened? YES
3. Does our species destroy our natural habitat? YES

I understand that people like to paint us all as "beasts of convenience;" AKA we're beasts when it's convenient and we're an intelligent species when it's convenient, but I just feel it is necessary to point out the contradictions.

As far as "survival of the fittest" goes, how are we defining fittest? The most brutal? The most selfish? The most oblivious? The most powerful?

The people who I see thriving in today's society are the same people who are dooming society to failure. Does that make them fit in a basic instinct sort of way? Sure. I mean, they could be the last person on Earth if that's their goal and if they can do away with everyone else.

However, somehow I thought the "fittest" people within a social creative species would be people who are contributors. In a social creative species that is aware of its physical mortality, wouldn't the most valued members of the species be people who PROLONG the species' existence?

Or are we an alienated destructive species as opposed to a social creative one? Considering awareness and choice are deciding factors of our species' existence, why would we choose to be alienated and destructive? Particularly when it is apparent that so many people fear being hurt, being alone and dying?

Seems to me that our species suffers from an unhealthy but conscious self-loathing...but that form of self-reflection is a CHOICE!!

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    Jul 8 2011: The theory of evolution clearly demonstrates that we are animals. Better, we are one of the five great Apes (others are Gorillas, Orang-outang, Chimpanzees and Bonobos). Animals refers to the neatly defined kingdom Animalia which we are taxonomically part of. I don't know what animal means to you, but that is of no consequence in the way living beings are currently classified scientifically. I'm not sure what you mean by the word theories either because the ones theory that matters (the theory of evolution, clearly demonstrates we are animals). Don't let your emotions get the best of your rational judgement.

    Let's have another look at your basic arguments (none of which, by the way, constitutes a suitable definition of what an animal actually is):

    Do animals kill more than they need to eat and feed their kin? Yes.
    One example: Wilkinson G. S. (1984) Reciprocal food sharing in the vampire bat: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v308/n5955/abs/308181a0.html

    Do animals kill unless they or their offspring are directly threatened? Yes.
    There are countless examples of animals who live in societies and who protect all the children whether it be theirs or someone else's. Nature is littered with well documented examples of reciprocal altruism and we human beings are certainly no exception.

    Do animals destroy their natural habitat? Yes.
    But when they have, they have gone extinct. that's cause for worry to be honest.

    Survival of fittest can mean all sorts of things. Being the fittest doesn't mean being the most brutal or selfish or any of that. That's the archaic view that was borne out of the eugenics movement. Personally, I'm not a fan of the term, it's cause for confusion.

    You're not looking at the question scientifically. People don't actively desire to better the species (except eugenicists) and natural selection is at the gene's level, not the species level. Genes do not have foresight either. Natural selection acts on the present not the future...obviously.
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      Jul 8 2011: Before I respond about your take on my original question, let me just state something.

      This sentence, "Don't let your emotions get the best of your rational judgement," is laughable.

      What do you know about MY emotions? Are there a limited number of which you are the only disperser? How many am I allowed? And of my rational judgment, please do tell me more about that. We have known each other how long? And have had how many direct conversations?

      Now that I understand the grounds upon which you've set up the rest of your argument (presumption), let me get to that.

      What is your experience with animals outside of books? Your experience and knowing of animals in and from books is also of interest to me. I ask this because I need to understand what you mean by animal.

      Also, please translate the summary of that article. I read it 5 times and it's such a displeasing sentence to read it distracted me every time. What I mean by that is the words used to describe the subject are unattractive to each other in many places. Unattractive in that they repel the reader. Or at least this reader.

      You are right in pointing out that I wasn't being specific enough in my language about animals. I suppose I should have said, "Do animals kill needlessly or repeatedly without being threatened?" I suppose what I contest is the CHOICE that our species makes to be or liken ourselves to animals. Yet the majority of the animals that I know of have much less opportunity and ability to choose. So the question is why limit yourself to being like an animal when you are a you? That you know you are a you and that others are things distinguishes you from many of the limits of animals. (You as in the general you).
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        Jul 8 2011: Your reaction to the fact that we are classified as animals is an emotional one, not a rational one. You don't want to be identified with non-human animals which are in your view beneath you. I don't need to know you personally to see this, it's written all over your description. My definition of animals is the actual scientific definition of animals. In essence, this is the same definition behind the sentence "we're all animals". It would make no sense for humans to be classified in a kingdom of their own. Shall we classify Chimpanzees in another kingdom given how much more sophisticated they are compared to a Sloth?

        None of my arguments are actually set up on the presumption that you're not thinking about the issue rationally. They are quite independent. I'll be damned if I can find papers in Nature about your individual subjectivity.

        I'm pretty sure you get the gist of the article, but here it is in simple form (it's quite elegant once you get to grips with evolutionary biology, I actually enjoy reading this stuff): Vampire bats feed each other blood when necessary because they engage in reciprocal altruism (you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours). This kind of reciprocal altruism is fairly abundant in nature, particularly in social animals.
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          Jul 8 2011: I don't think animals are beneath me, but I am not an animal. I'm a beast and I'm made of flesh and blood just like animals; but I'm not an animal by the very fact that I think to call them (or us in your case) animals. What do you think animals call us? If we are equals. Perhaps "threat" or "smelly" or "tasty." Maybe even "Matthieu" or "Sanyu?" Yet we call them Crows, Spiders, Cheetahs. Do not confuse me, we are all of the atom, but I recognize the space between animals and myself.

          I also don't think everyone who likens themself to an animal in terms of choice making and nature means the same thing. And I would say that Chimpanzees and Sloths each have their own energy, purpose, intelligence, nature so they are different. We just call them what we call them. Our observations of their differences are very unlikely to encompass the whole meaning of their existences.

          So in referencing that article you are suggesting that they kill in excess to store blood in order to share and therefore they kill more than they and their kin need? What then is the use of the word necessary? Necessity is likened to need in my understanding. Our species has needs and wants.
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        Jul 8 2011: You're a Human of the species Sapiens of the genus Homo of the tribe of Homini of the family of Hominidae of the order of Primates of the class of Mammals of the phylum of Chordates of the kingdom of Animals of the domain of Eukaryotes. That's the way it is. Deal with it. Intelligence is not a measure of what constitutes an animal or not. Yes, we call animals crows, spiders and cheetahs...and humans, that's their species name.
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          Jul 8 2011: It is clear to me that you do not understand what I'm relaying to you.

          It is very difficult to communicate with you as you only allow for the conception of life within the confines of one conscious language. There are a million philosophies of life and they aren't all called the scientific method. That doesn't make them wrong, it just makes them different. I see what you understand and I recognize it and am glad that you are confident in your understanding. However, you are not speaking directly to me, you are speaking at me, and I see this conversation may get monotonous.

          Thank you for engaging in conversation with me and challenging me to make myself better understood. I appreciate your presence of mind within your existence.
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      Jul 8 2011: "Survival of fittest can mean all sorts of things. Being the fittest doesn't mean being the most brutal or selfish or any of that. That's the archaic view that was borne out of the eugenics movement."

      If survival of the fittest can mean /all sorts of things/, please specify what "any of that" means. Then I can begin to understand what you are attributing to the eugenics movement.

      "Personally, I'm not a fan of the term, it's cause for confusion."


      "You're not looking at the question scientifically. People don't actively desire to better the species (except eugenicists) and natural selection is at the gene's level, not the species level. "

      You're right, I'm not looking at the question scientifically. Scientific understanding is not necessary, though it is certainly useful, for perceiving things. If it was necessary than our species would not be here. Neither would animals, plants, etc. (Or is it just innate in them?). Understanding can be gained from many perspectives and clearly must be approached from diverse angles in order for a social and creative species to endure.

      I'm not sure what company you keep, but I know plenty of people who are trying to improve the quality of life ("better") for our species and other species' as well.
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        Jul 8 2011: I'm sorry but you're dealing with a scientific question to which there's a scientific answer. You're using scientific jargon such as theory and survival of the fittest.

        Survival of the fittest describes the success of individuals whose genes confer a selective advantage on other individuals. This can be a multitude of things such as a improvement in camouflage, a diversification of food supply, an enhanced defence against predators, an increased sexual attractiveness...and so on.

        The eugenics movement saw survival of the fittest as an imperative to keep only what was subjectively perceived as the very best of the human species. It made the error of seeing survival of the fittest as a motive and a goal rather than an occurrence of nature. It also made the error of thinking that species survival was central to survival of fittest (there is no evidence as far as I can tell, although I may be proven wrong, that selection applies to a whole species). Finally it made the error of thinking that the fittest were the physically fit. Eugenics is a disgusting distortion of science into a horrible ideology and it's a testimony of what happens when people don't understand science but have the conviction that they do.
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          Jul 8 2011: I am asking a question about scientific perception concerning our existence as a species within the Omniverse. I, being myself and not wholly scientific, am also using my own understanding of language to communicate. I admit I am likely leaving out much of what each scientific term encompasses, but I'm speaking about existence really. And my perception of existence does not only include the evolutionary understandings of our species as the right, the truth and the way. I am considering the purpose of the Omniverse before our conscious arrival into existence, I do not assume that purpose is a synonym for homo sapiens sapiens.

          I understand that you are defining survival of the fittest in the way it was originally transcribed. But it is applicable to the social, conscious and creative nature of our species and so it must evolve with us also. I have taken the word and used it to describe another dimension of the life philosophy "survival of the fittest." What I'm talking about has to do with choice, not just genetic coding.

          It seems we are not even having the same conversation.

          And I have no interest in eugenics.
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    Jul 8 2011: We don't chose to liken ourselves to animals, we are animals as revealed by the theory of evolution. All feelings of being a world apart comes from pre-Darwinian delusions of being a special creation separate from all other living things.
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      Jul 9 2011: Hi Matt.....Right you are "We don't choose to liken ourselves to animals" The way I see it we are "more than just animals". We,humans, are self aware, in a way that distinguishes us from our physical ancestors. I am driven both, by instinct and reason. Knee-jerk reactions versus conscious choice. Can you agree to that ?
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        Jul 9 2011: Helen,
        "The way I see it we are "more than just animals"." Are monkeys more animals then cats and cats more animals then mice? What about bacteria Vs insects? I think that it's not questioned that we have the highest cognitive capabilities on this planet but the phrase "dumb animal" is something that many should take a second thought about...
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        Jul 9 2011: Echoing Jimmy here again. why must the term "animal" be synonymous of limitation and constraint? Why do we ever talk about being "more than just animals" as though being animals was something beneath us. I think we attach too much importance to what makes us unique and not enough to what makes another animal unique.

        It might interest you to know that all apes are, by all intents and purposes, self-aware. Not that many animals actually are the straightforward automatons that you would suggests, riding entirely on instinctual behaviour without conscious thought. The fact that we manage to communicate with a few is testimony to this.

        Helen, I hope you can appreciate the sincerity of feelings coming from this Gorilla I think it blurs the lines a bit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqTUG8MPmGg
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          Jul 9 2011: Hi Matt and Jimmy...........Hey I did not use the phrase "Dumb animals", Jimmy, you did. I think that animals are intelligent and probably more than we give them credit for. Matt, convince me that the apes are self aware, I dare you. (:>) Anyhow both of you are much better looking than our ape cousins.
          Caveat.......don't malign cats.............I have a beautiful Maine Coone that is as smart as I am, for sure.
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        Jul 9 2011: Challenge accepted! From our friends at National Geographic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-pc_M2qI74
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          Jul 9 2011: Interesting video indeed. But what I couldn't help but notice is that all the chimps and orangutans were in cages. Clearly self-awareness and self-autonomy are two different things. Children included...I, should I ever have kids, will not be making them do anything like that in order to determine if they "know who they are."

          Further, my awareness of animal awareness is what will keep me from ever setting foot into a Zoo again. Seems cruel and disrespectful really (though certainly for some animals it's now the only sustainable option since our kind has gone ahead and destroyed their natural habitats). Should I feel the overwhelming need to discover an animal's nature and characteristics, I will have the decency to go to where they live in order to do so. (Or perhaps online. Though I'm still not exactly comfortable with the methods used in order to have such access).
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          Jul 9 2011: Watched the video....No surprise. Didn't I say that our cousins were intelligent ? Is that gorilla aware that he is mortal and does he ask why he is here and where he came from ? Do you think he spends much time feeling guilty ? By the way you are one of my favorite gorillas !! Really!!!
          Oh Yeah...When I visited Paris, I did get to see Rodin's, Le Penseur and he did not resemble an ape very much.
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          Jul 10 2011: I am a big fan of Koko..

          hard to spend time with Koko and not see her as aware, compassionate, affectionate, ..none of it anthropomorphising.

          Koko was attached to her old beaten up red swater and was as insistent as a child that she be allowed to wear it and not her new one..she loved to feed her doll baby and got upset when the bottle didn't have real milk, she got "pretend"..pretend the bottle has real milk. She loved and cared for her little kitten and grieved terribly when the kitten died.

          I don't know if gorillas have a pre-frotal cortex but koko definitely had a strong sense of other and strong sense of inter species stewardship and connection beyond her own kind.
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        Jul 9 2011: @Sanyu:They're in cages because we put them there! They're fully autonomous in nature. I kind of agree with you about the zoos though. It seems a little too basic for sophisticated animals such as apes. I think the problem with zoos is that we used to have them much before we realised how closely related we were to some of them and that their behaviour was much more complex than we could have foreseen. I think that applies to the term "animal" too in a way.

        @Helen: If you keep pushing the boundary of what makes something not an animal, of course you're eventually going to find something that applies only to humans. What of it? Is it really truly relevant? Is that difference really the difference between an animal and a non-animal or is that the difference between the human animal and non-human animals? Should we really have a category that is for humans only? Does it really make sense? At the end of the day, I think the only thing that matters is that we came from the same biological process and that we are classified as such. (I don't know about gorillas, but chimpanzees do feel guilt, compassion, jealousy and all kinds of complex emotions)

        Helen, have I got news for you! Le Penseur does resemble an Ape actually. Humans are classified as Apes. To be precise, we are one of the five Great Apes (Chimps, Gorillas, Orang-Outang, Bonobos and Man).
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          Jul 10 2011: Matt...I thought Le Penseur reminded me of somebody !!!!!!
          I think we are talking past each other...Scientifically I suppose there is no special classification for "humans"..."homo sapiens". but our belief systems (yours and mine) are totally opposed. You do not admit to any reality that science cannot prove or disprove, while I believe there is a reality beyond what my brain can take in and explain.
          I guess 'nuff said.
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          Jul 10 2011: Matthieu,Do you recall the story of the Gorilla..I think it was at os Angeles Zoo, who rescued the little 3 year old who fell into the moat and held it and guaded it until the keepers could come and get to the litt e boy?
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        Jul 10 2011: I'm aware that science has limitations on what it can tell us about reality. Moreover, I think our human minds are probably too limited to understand many of the subtleties of nature. In my former field of computer science, we have problems we call undecidable because precisely no clear-cut answer can be given for these problems even given all the time of the universe and beyond.

        I think the real difference between us is that I don't think there's a point in forming a precise opinion about the unknowable given that one is almost invariably going to come to the wrong conclusion. (when the possibilities are limitless, each single idea is dramatically unlikely).
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          Jul 10 2011: Matthieu/I agree with you 1000%..we cannot be definitive or need to be about what is unknowable..but we can try to figure out what it might be worth knowing more abot and keep going and keep learning more
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        Jul 10 2011: @Lindsay: Sure Lindsay. More importantly, we don't always know what the unknowable is, so it's worth trying to figure out things that we think of as unknowable even just because they might be knowable in the end. But I think that if a conversation about the unknowable always ends up being about God or the existence of a soul, it's not an honest pursuit of the unknowable. Our universe could be so many beautiful things and yet all you ever hear when people talk about the unknowable is God. This makes it kind of conversation often not worth having.

        I've never heard of the story of the Gorilla protecting the little boy, but that's a really nice story. It's often thought that Gorillas are more dangerous than Chimpanzees, mostly because of their size. In fact, Gorillas are much less violent than Chimpanzees. I remember hearing a scientist saying recently that he'd rather fall in a cage full of gorillas than a cage full of Chimpanzees. I don't know if it's scientifically relevant, but I find it interesting that the Ape that is closest to us is also the most violent one.
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          Jul 10 2011: I agree with you Matthieu that meaningful conversation is impossible when people are wedded to and speak only from ideology.

          I agree with you that it is very hard to engage an exploration of the importance of the uknowable in good science, in successful living without having that obfuscated, derailed, limited only to consideration of "divinity".

          The larger sense of the unknowable, as you were pointing to it, is key to creative thibking in all spehere of life. How do we get that idea across? That is a TED idea worth spreading.
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        Jul 10 2011: I'll have to think about that, seems like a tricky idea to convey to all.
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          Jul 10 2011: but such an important idea..such a key idea..we both have to work on it..I think we can do something to get that accross.

          Maybe "impossibility "i s more acessible, less counfounded with ther connotations?m? Allow for what seems impossibe at first? It could be as simple as semantics....
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          Jul 11 2011: How interesting you two should be speaking of this. When I have the idea "properly" formulated into words (in so much as it can be at the time), my next post will be about discussing the infinite possibilities between atheism and God-religions!
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          Jul 11 2011: Sanyu, you're welcome to join my conversation if you'd like http://www.ted.com/conversations/3938/proving_disproving_atheism.html
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          Jul 11 2011: Hey Jimmy,

          I would but I kind of want to formulate my own question based upon my own emerging ideas. Not to mention your thread is pretty long. That's a good thing, but I'm not trying to prove or disprove atheism. I'm trying to take the conversation out of a polarized arena (conversation based, not debate based).
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      Jul 10 2011: Matthieu, Matthieu, Matthieu suc ha sweeping and incorrect ( scientifically speaking) statement. The workings of thepre -frontal cortex and its existence are what make us uniquely human and give rise to our awareness of consciousness, awareness of others, stewardship for others, stewardship for the earth etc. The barin carries our evolutionary history with an still carries the vesutige sf the animal brain and in our cells,the only brain we all had as simpler organism.
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        Jul 10 2011: I read your sentence many times, not sure if you were saying that humans are unique in having a prefontral cortext (which is inaccurate: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/205/4409/929.short) or if they were unique in the way their prefontral cortext was more developed (which is irrelevant). Given your comments about Koko probably not having a prefrontal cortex, I'm guessing it's the former.

        Incidentally, the neocortex is only present in mammals but not other animals. Should we therefore separate the animal kingdom into two separate kingdoms?

        I still think you are all missing the bigger picture here. You've all associated the word "animal" with this sort of lack of intellectual sophistication, this primal imperative that superficially seems to be pervasive in the animal kingdom. Objectively however, there is no reason why the uniqueness of the human species should be of any consequence to its animal status. As Jimmy pointed out, some animals are more distinct from each other than humans are from some non-human animals. Why many insist on giving humans their own kingdom of life to me smacks of anthropocentrism.
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          Jul 10 2011: Perhaps it's that you don't quite understand how to communicate in a way that elicits productive conversation, Matthieu. Or perhaps you're not very good at getting your point across without losing people in the process. Even if you were irrevocably "right," how can I bring myself to care when it's so taxing to speak to you? Whether you are aware of how you "come off" or not, I can tell you one thing. A statement such as this,

          "I still think you are all missing the bigger picture here. You've all associated the word "animal" with this sort of lack of intellectual sophistication, this primal imperative that superficially seems to be pervasive in the animal kingdom."

          Is not doing you any favors. First of all, who is "you all?" Are you referring to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who made a response to this topic? And if so, how funny that in your opinion, you should be the only "right" or correct person in the "room." Lindsay did me the favor of elaborating on what the ego mechanism in our species is, scientifically speaking. From naked observation, it seems to me that that mechanism in you is overdeveloped.

          You actually don't know what ANY of us mean when we refer to the word "animal." And the main reason you don't know is because you've not bothered to ask. I asked you, remember? I'm not surprised you didn't bother to do the same.

          I absolutely respect animals as having their own consciousness, their own awareness, purpose, character, nature and relevance. I don't, however, assume that each expression of "intellectual sophistication" is the same or needs to be. I spoke in generalizations in my original question, that is of a certainty. Ultimately we are all unique, etc. But I was speaking to the perceived and developed "rules" of our natures in comparison; and not the adaptations, anomalies, evolutions or singularities.

          This topic thread is ultimately about why our species is self-destructive by CONTINUOUS CHOICE, not about animals being inferior.
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          Jul 10 2011: @ matthieu rechecking my assertion that the high deveopment f our pre frontal cortx is what makes us uniquely human.thanks matthieu..will back check my brain science

          (EDIT: Did check..I am correct..apes do have a pre-frontal cortes too but not so significantly develiped as in humans)

          Just to be clear nothing I have said makes any judgment about the relevant value amongst sentient beings in fact I believe we, as humans, are connected by that sentience even more than by our common biology. I live in the wilderness and have close up encounters and make observatuions that even science hasn't documented nearly every day. ( and just as an aside, speaking from judgment, characterization, defensivemess, anger etc. etc. is not effective speaking. or furitful thinking so I try to avoid that at all costs all the time)
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          Jul 10 2011: matthieu..my statement is correct..most mammals have no pre-frontal cortex..( although apes have a much lesser developed one)
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        Jul 10 2011: I'm afraid the real topic of this thread, which you say is the self-destructive tendencies of our species, has completely eluded me. I can kind of see it now, although I think the basic nature facts part of your question description unfortunately detracts from what was supposed to be the point. There are probably many things about that I could say on which we would agree. So is the real point of the conversation that we use our animality as an excuse for our destructive behaviour towards nature? That's a totally fair question to be honest, but at the risk of sounding like a dick one more time, I don't think it's immediately obvious that this is the topic question (many have answered the question like I have, although that could always be my fault, after all, I was first or second to post). It's also unfortunate that those scientific assertions you made about animals turn out not to be an accurate portrayal of nature (but I appreciate now that what you're trying to say is that non-human animals are in some kind of balance with nature which humans are not).

        Now to finally answer your question as it was supposed to be answered, it is indeed irresponsible of us human beings to blame our animality for our lack of care vis-a-vis the environment. This is where all of what I've said before might come into play actually. The problem might be that we all think of animal in a colloquial sense, so that when we say "well we're just animals" we think of our instinctual, primal side, getting the better of our sense of reason. But given what nature actually shows us animals to be like, we can only conclude that it is actually very human of us to show so little care for our environment. I think sadly we'll probably have to learn that our ways are unsustainable the hard way.

        Hopefully this answer is less obnoxious then my previous posts.
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          Jul 10 2011: Hello Matthieu, it's nice to finally speak with you!

          I agree that my generalizing did not help portray the nature of the conversation I was trying to facilitate. "That non-human animals are in some kind of balance with nature which humans are not" is exactly my point. The focus of my topic thread was also invariably about our species' access to choice. That we are flesh and blood beasts/animals is not what I'm contesting. What I'm saying is that the amount of consciousness our anatomy allows for should produce better results/creations/actions. There was, and in some rare places still are, an "Animal Kingdom." Now our species is the most influential creature-being on this planet.

          Not to sound like a cunt, but in no place on this website are there rules requiring that I make what I want to talk about "immediately obvious." Nor did I promise to do so at any point in my original topic/question. I'm here to be me. I can tell you that I, too, am not immediately obvious. The way our species socializes itself, clear communication is not nurtured or encouraged. It makes sense that each of us is going to have to make more effort to understand one another. With some it is easier than others. I try not to have expectations of what is going to come out of other people's mouths.

          "We" cannot only "conclude that it is actually very human of us to show so little care for our environment." If that's the conclusion you've come to, okay. I in no way feel like that. Though I think you're right that we're forcing ourselves to learn things the hard way. Talk about history repeating itself...

          In my opinion, what we're doing here is completely unlike any species before us. If that is not something that is clear, that is because we're doing a very poor job of recognizing it and taking on our responsibilities. Consciousness is a gift from existence and it's not to be squandered. Choice is a huge responsibility. It's something to be proud of, not something to shun or make excuses for.
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          Jul 10 2011: I share your concern Matthieu..we are doing a poor job as a culture..and consciousness,...our unique gift is not to be squandered.

          We should indeed use it wisely in all things. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you fro ringing the bell.
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    Jul 8 2011: Well Matthieu pretty much beaten me to what I was going to say so all I will to say is spend some time with animals and take time to observe them. Anyone with a cat that is allowed outside knows that they kill way more than they eat on average. Actually it's quite a problem with bird populations in some areas. I also can tell you from personal experience when dogs fight over territory they will kill each other if you don't break them up. And these are just the cute critters that were docile enough to be domesticated by us. I'm always amazed at how much we can learn by ourselves by paying attention to our other mammals.
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      Jul 8 2011: cat arguement is good never thought of that! so many birds and bugs, all for
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        Jul 8 2011: Cats were domesticated by our species, their behavior is influenced by us.
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          Jul 8 2011: Cats were domesticated precisely because they were useful at chasing unwanted critter. Don't get cause and effect mixed up. I'm pretty sure wild cats engage in this kind of behaviour too.
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        Jul 8 2011: Your attempting to instruct me on what to do is obnoxious, Matthieu.

        I didn't say that because we domesticated cats they kill birds.

        What I should have said more specifically (and I do appreciate you challenging me in this way) is that birds probably kill for fun because over time they have been influenced by the example of their "owners." Of course cats are adept at killing prey, but why and whether they do so is not a given. My cat is friends with a squirrel and it refuses to kill spiders, but it kills flies. Cats with "owners" (at least in the US) have preferences as a result of being domesticated and having the luxury of choice.
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      Jul 8 2011: Why didn't I think of cats! My cats are always killing mice just for sport (although one of my cats used to eat them back in the days...). I think everybody should watch David Attenborough's nature shows so they can get a true feel of what happens in nature.
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        Jul 8 2011: Don't beat yourself up. no one wants to think of their cats as vicious torturers of birds and mice, but they pretty much are.
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      Jul 8 2011: A threat to a dogs territory is perceived as a direct threat to a dogs life, depending on the dog.
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        Jul 8 2011: Well isn't most of our violence in response to a perceived threat. Military, gang, police all fall under this banner. Hell even perpetuators of spousal abuse "perceive" a threat to their ego which they see as an extension of themselves.

        I think you are making the mistake of reducing nature. Violence is completely natural, but so is altruism. Nature does not fit neatly into our contrived labels of good and bad.
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          Jul 8 2011: I don't think "our contrived labels of good and bad" is something that most people would agree on (the good and the bad, that is).

          What I'm implying is that you're not a dog, Sir. If you were a dog and you felt your territory was threatened and you attacked someone or something, I would certainly be more sympathetic.

          But you're typing on a computer and analyzing behavior and what /perceived threats/ might mean. So, in my understanding, you should know better than to allow your ego to get the best of you. Or at least you should learn to not allow your ego to get the best of you. I hardly think dogs speculate about whether it's the other dogs ego that is making them encroach on territory or whether it is some other aspect of the dogs character. As far as the dog is concerned, it's being attacked. Are there people that are that simple minded on this planet? Of course. Are they the wisest people on Earth? I doubt it. (They live in fear, after all).

          Perceived threats that can be analyzed and REFLECTED UPON are one thing. Basic instinct that occurs in a moment of not thinking is another. You can look at reports of reformed murders to see that even they come to realize the difference.

          I have no interest in keeping company with people who value their ego over their consciousness. And yes, I think ego and consciousness are decidedly different aspects of character. I'm invested in a conscious species that evolves, not devolves. It's largely my ability to perceive past, present and future that makes me invested in sustainability and non-violent conflict like debate.
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          Jul 9 2011: Sanyu re:ego

          Ego is actually connected very deeply to the reptilian brain, the primitive brain the" do I eat it, mate with it or run from it" part of our brain., that part of our brain that most vertebrates have in common with us.

          When we feel threatened and insecure we retreat back to the primitive animal brain bulding an operaing system over time called "ego" that is all about the brokenesss we have inside, our lifetime of inelegnat and ineffectual adaptions to things that made us feel vulnerable, unafe and insecure.

          We are not fully actualized as humans until we strip all that away and can allow our individual gifts of mind and intuition to unfold and more fully can take accountt f others without need, attachment, fantasy, judgment of desire. When we get there, as far as we know, we do take a clear departure from our fellow vertebrates becoming fully human, fully expressing what it means to be human.

          (although much of what we assciate with being "human" is also now documented in many species,,fish and lobsters "play", many birds and animals evidence patterns of greiving that grieving thatare well beyond anthrpomorphism, and there was just a news story about a gorilla showing comassin for another animal ( did it help a trapped bird????)
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          Jul 10 2011: I like how you've described ego, Lindsay! I must admit before this topic thread I didn't know that our species had a half and half brain, evolutionarily speaking. Not that I mind! It's just very interesting what knowledge and understandings develop intuitively (from observation) and what knowledge and understanding develops from attempted learning (from study).

          In a constantly expanding infinite omni-universe, it must be true that nothing is wasted. Even 0 is in harmony with infinity. How can anything go to waste in an infinite omni-universe? As it seems clear that everything is needed. Everything is spoken for within infinity. And we have barely even scratched the surface of our infinite potentialities and possibilities.

          It's all very exciting being conscious and being incarnate. I wish more of us would work to make it an uplifting experience, as opposed to one of down-putting or suffering. We, as a species, must really get beyond the self-doubt, self-loathing and self-depreciating habits we have built up over our history. If we each do not respect and love ourselves, we each are doomed to unhappy and lonely lives.

          As far as the new documentation of animals playing, etc.; I am not surprised at all. ALL beings are constantly expanding at an ever increasing rate, so long as they leave themselves the opportunity to stay alive by observing, interacting and adapting. Should we sustain our existence long enough on this planet, I don't doubt each variation of animal will develop an ability to communicate in a way that can be understood by other species. I really can't wait to lay a foundation in our own species' society that would allow for that kind of expansion to take place hundreds of years in the Earth's future.

          It's beautiful really. It's enough to give the omni-universe a kiss for! I kiss existence with words as often as I can remember to! Each of us with our own infinite potential within existence, and when combined, infinite potentialities together!
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          Jul 14 2011: Sanyu,

          We actually have 5 different brains each evolving at a different point in human history and its with its own assigned functions.
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        Jul 9 2011: Well you sort of lost me but to clarify some of my points:

        1 I never said people agree on what is good and evil. I just said that what ever you put under each label is part of the natural process.

        2 I'm not condoning violence of any kind. I too would shun the company of someone who is easily made aggressive.

        3 Yes there is less speculation in a dogs mind about perceived threats, but there is of course less on a dogs mind in most any subject. So yes a human is capable of paranoid leaps of logic that k9 would never make, but that is only because we have better neuron hardware making such leaps possible. Some animals are aggressive and territorial where others are lacks and have a good demeanor. People are pretty much the same.

        The main problem I having though is you are presenting, from what I can tell from your rebuttals, a metaphoric question with scientific language. You asked and answered 3 questions for animals then man. Your answers for man were correct, but scientifically for animals they were wrong.

        Its easy to romanticize animals as it is easy to elevate ourselves above them. I sense you are trying doing the former, but I am not sure and would like more clarification as I am not really sure. If you are going for a science angel I do recommend reading some Desmond Morris. Either "the naked ape" or "the human zoo." Some the info is dated since it was written in the 60s but its a look at humans from a zoologist perspective which might make you think this argument from a new angle.
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          Jul 9 2011: Hello Anthony,

          Thank you for your response! I shall answer in kind.

          1. You said "our contrived language of good and bad." In not knowing who "our" was referring to, I assumed you were referring to the species. So I suggested that the species isn't in agreement. What I should have done, and now will do, is ask you who "our" defines in your statement.

          2. Cheers!

          3. I think this just has to do with our different takes on the quality of humAn experience. I think to get at that it would require a whole different conversation, but essentially I wouldn't classify my ability to perceive in the way that I do (because of what I am) as "paranoid leaps of logic." (I think that's quite a funny, haha, thing to say though)!

          People and animals are diverse and particular based upon everything that allows their existence. I agree (in my own language).

          Speaking of my language, I suppose the truth of the matter is that I don't think only science has a right to "scientific language." Just as Old English doesn't have an exclusive right to the word "b!tch" and so and so on. Language is to be used in all the ways it makes sense to apply it. Science describes more than just scientific things because science describes things with meaning. The meaning predates the scientific words for them. It's not like they come into being the moment they are worded in scientific jargon. If existence or language was only scientific, and indeed it seems for some it is, then I would only use language (and live) in a scientific way.

          There's nothing wrong with science being fluid, for lack of a better word.

          I don't romanticize animals really (my parents are from places with gnarley animals), but what I've realized is that I'm not describing my perception of the nature of animal existence well enough with any of the language I'm using (scientific-based or not). I think getting at my meaning and doing that meaning justice will require deeper observation and an entirely new post on my part.
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          Jul 10 2011: @sanyu science being fluid.

          I'd go further than "there''s nothing wrong with science being fuid" and suggest that we need to rebuild our entire antiquted model of science into something that is can get beyond "what is illumined" into the illumination itself (ie causal agent). The fok that have made the most important disciveries in science , and Sephen Hawking of necessity, work froma much moreinutitive, pucture based, open inquiry model well beyond the limiting real of hypotheses which include a best guess at what the eanswer to the question might be. Darwin hiself wroked from such a model.
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        Jul 9 2011: Ok I think we are getting somewhere. First to clarify on "ours" I did mean it as it pertains to the species, or at least those humans who use these terms. For the most part I do believe for all our cultural diversity we do share many ideas of morality. Ethnic cleansing bad / Helping old ladies with bags good. That said since philosophers tend to be increasing exponentially there is no shortage of moral ambiguity in the world and I did not mean to ignore this fact.

        Secondly and more importantly if you are using science terms expect a science rebuttal. I don't believe science has a monopoly on truth but they have carved out their portion. We have to (esp on the internet) use the proper language to illicit the right response.
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          Jul 9 2011: We are definitely getting somewhere! I still do not think that we all generally agree on what is "good" and "bad," but for all that I do think ethnic cleansing is bad and helping old ladies with bags is nice. :o)

          I was expecting a scientific rebuttal, but I wasn't expecting to (nor will I) abandon my own position on the topic. I did open my take on things up for conversation after all! I have definitely learned things about life, myself and have bettered myself because of the conversations in this topic.

          Science has carved out its portion. Now I am using scientific language, in part, to carve out my own; or presenting a variation on some of the ground science has already covered in its own way and understanding.

          Do you really think we can agree on "proper language?" (smile).

          I think I illicited the best possible response I could have from you (and imagine all the possibilities). I have not found your or our conversation lacking. Clearly we have both made ourselves understood and come out better educated about people (and perhaps even existence) in the process. All things considered, this (you and I communicating and making ourselves understood to one another) is the right response.

          Cheers, Respect & Blessings!
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          Jul 10 2011: wonderfully and wisely said sanyu..you speak with clarity from a stromg center from a place of equanimity...I agree with you as well that is the rpcess of respectful engagement from which we grow and that `rocess..not consensus is the point ( although it can also uncover consensus or find a stream of common wisdon that cosnitutes consensus.)

          At Tom Atlees website for the Co-Intelligence Institute he has wonderful article called "decion Making without Decisions" that is exactly that. Co-Intelligence is exactly that..
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      Jul 9 2011: My cat would be repulsed by a mouse. I even have to buy a certain kind of food and treats or else he would turn up his nose and walk away.
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        Jul 10 2011: ahhh you have acculturated your maine coon away from his natural insitncts..they are fierce hunters..very bold, brave, smart...
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          Jul 10 2011: Probably so, Lindsay.........but I like him better that way. (:>)
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        Jul 10 2011: ahhh..since we are on a topic related to animals and evolution perhaps it is not too far off topic to note that maine coon cats share 100% gene identity with a kind of russian cat
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          Jul 10 2011: I understand that the ancestor of the Maine Coon was from Europe but I don't know the history. I can see why he would be an awesome predator. Butchie's personality is mild. He loves humans,anybody comes over, he will make himself available for petting. If we are up he seems to need human company and will always be touching you if not sitting on your lap. Gets along with our calico who weighs 7 pounds. and allows her to be alpha cat even though he weighs 20+.
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          Jul 11 2011: A 100%, really!? Didn't even think that humans shared that much DNA with each other... From what I've been told I'm unique... but maybe cats are different...
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        Jul 12 2011: jimmy re 100% gene match

        it's the same cat.. the mystery is how that's possible but it's the same cat.
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          Jul 13 2011: Hi Lindsay...............What I know about genetics would not fill up a gnat's navel. But I will take your word for it.
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    Jul 9 2011: We are in continuity with other animals and how we define other animals is quite arbitrary. What you stated is true we differ from other animals but remember that you are also grouping alot of animals to occupy a single term with relation to us. The differences between us and other animals are big but the differences between other animals are also very big.
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      Jul 9 2011: Well said and agreed. Animals are unique under their arbitrarily assigned titles as well. Thank you for your insight Budimir!
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    Jul 9 2011: Most of our observable behaviors are the derivatives of the outcomes and drives of our institutions.

    To me the statement, "survival of the fittest" is as meaningless and void of actual content as the slogan, "support our troops".
    Moreover, if you are a vicious person in our stratified economy you know that to act in any other way is to loose. I do not blame our nature, I blame the internalized system of twisted cultural vales that people consume. These are all interchangeable parts, not laws of nature. To understand the true nature of a thing, or more specifically us, we should start by looking at what our needs are. If you can develop potentials and meet needs you create the conditions for an already improved ethic that goes way beyond the silly notion of survival of the fittest.
    Every Taoist knows that a permanently victorious species destroys, not only itself, but all other life in its environment.

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      Jul 9 2011: Thank you for your insight Matt! Different take and something to ponder on!
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        Jul 9 2011: Thank you for the thread, good topic.

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      Jul 9 2011: and the survival of the fittest part of Drawin's theory is most likely the weakest part..or one that will be further explicated in time, most likely at the level of cells. I think we don't really yet understand what it is that triggers an adaptive change and why in time some with particular traits survive while others die out

      .I saw a documentary recently which showed the growth of the human embryo from conception to birth..developing one after another of traits that went out of our "finished" versions millions of years ago and yet the embryo as it grows seems to go througheach of these stages all over again.It also compared very very early human emryos withmany other animal species..astonishing similarities.We some how probably contain the entire history of evolution in our own bodies somehow and just don't know how to decipher it yet.

      Still looking for the documentary but here is alink to emryo comparisons for several different type of vertebrates that also illustrates the astonishing similarities.

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        Jul 9 2011: Yes, in fact, in The Origin of Species, more discussions took place not on innate competition but on mutual interdependence (collaboration).
        This does not mean one is either good or bad for such dichotomous statements are meaningless.
        A collaborative group of efficient Nazis is not a great form of collaboration. :-)

        And yes, atavism is very interesting.
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          Jul 9 2011: Just watched death by design..it s not the one with the embryo ( Have to find that one, now) but mind blowing and has implications for how we evolve. The basic science here is that the programmed death of cells is part of life, evoution , death and adaption. The organism as it develops from a single cell produces randomly many more cells that the organism needs and also prodces many more cell types than what make up the identifiable cell type range that defines a given type of organism..eg human, dog cat, worm. Most of the unecessary cells will be "told to die" and never become expressed in teh mature organism but if they don't seem like trouble, have no apparent harm, they may be allowed to grow and over time, might become a specific new organism . It implies that randomness may result in the variations we see over eons in living organisms.

          The one with the embryo.s that are indistinguishable from other life forms. and with the ancient elements no longer exprssed in maturaity ( gills and long tails for example) I will rty to find. Can anyone help???
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          Jul 9 2011: Agreed Matt that collaboration is not in and of itself a positive thing. In the human body though the kind of collaboration that goes on between cells is entirely about serving the good of the whole organism, except for aberrant and diseased cells that somehow by pass or supercede the cell monitors...

          A good biologic analogy for how we as a cultural organism might want to think about any ideology that does not serve life, especially a collaboration that undermines life
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        Jul 9 2011: Hello Lindsay, thank you for your insight! And wow, that's some cool information. Please do find the actual title and confirm. I would like to watch!
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          Jul 9 2011: Death By Design available as an instant watch @netflix!!!http://movies.netflix.com/WiPlayer?movieid=70033351&trkid=4454598

          I'm going to watch it again right now. believe it has a bearing on this conversation. and shows how spontaneous change ocurrs at the level of individual cells and that mutations are caused by random events. Fascinating.
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          Jul 9 2011: Here is a related one I stumbled on while looking for the embryo documentary..it is about a new discovery about the regulators that tell cells what to do,including to love or die. again the randomness of the process of mutation and evolution is key to understanding how cells work ( cells,of course contain the dna.


          You will love the Death By Design I think Sanyu as it emphasisez coordination and cooepration amongst cells as key to the survival of the organism A single cell in a petrie dish without the communication from the moderator cells will die. Every cell in our body depends for its survival on other cells. It is the communication from other cells continually instructing the cell to livet that tge cell is able to live.
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        Jul 9 2011: Excellent Lindsay. Thank you!

        Update: Thank you for all the links Lindsay! Existence is quite extraordinary, I can't wait to have a deeper look!
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      Jul 12 2011: well said matt.
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    Jul 8 2011: Hello, Sanyu.

    With respect, I'm not sure if you are referring to a particular talk. I don't know which one it may be. I know of some that may prove useful in such a discussion--Robert Sapolsky's in particular. It's quite informative and very, very funny.
    If I may offer, it has been discovered that animals:
    1. kill more than they need to eat and feed their kin (e.g., orcas sporting with seal pups, any cat leaving a dead mouse)
    2. kill even when they or their offspring are not directly threatened (e.g., a king cobra that crept into a lion's den and killed every single cub while the mother was hunting and did not eat a single carcass; cannibalism practiced by chimps; and the killers of Sapolsky's socially clueless male baboon)
    3. destroy their natural habitat (e.g., red tides, crown-of-thorns starfish, locusts, just for starters)

    Stephen Jay Gould is a good one to read about natural history. "Survival of the fittest" must be one of the most hackneyed, misinterpreted, and misused terms in history. At its core, all "fittest" means is whatever the environment at the time dictates for whatever species is being studied. In this loosest sense, the ability to collaborate can easily be deemed "fittest," if the environment requires collaboration for survival. In fact, Lynn Margulis has shown how collaboration can be as essential as competition in the natural history of life, perhaps even more essential. To stretch further and begin to see that all life is in essence constellations of bacteria rather wipes the entire slate of "man vs. animal" clean. Imagine--we are not only an animal but just an accretion of the simplest form of life, and that, in turn, is a self-organized coagulation of stardust. If you want a really fun musical trip into some of this, check out http://www.symphonyofscience.com/videos.html - "We are all connected." Also, you might really get a kick out of Steven Pinker's take on whether we as a species have become more or less violent over the centuries.
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      Jul 8 2011: Thank you Claudette! I'll be sure to check out the music and Steven Pinker!
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    Jul 8 2011: I heard a recent radio-news report of dolphins attacking porpoises for no discernible reason.
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      Jul 8 2011: And I've heard of a report of chimps "hunting" other small mammals just for fun. Not even to eat (even though they're omnivores). Just for the fun of attacking.
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        Jul 8 2011: I'm sure they'll isolate the gene and promote it in soldiers while removing it from citizens..
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        Jul 10 2011: Jane Goodal wrote about that, I believe ,and I have seen other refeernces..usually as deviant behavior in the same way we have deviant behavoir aong humans.
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          Jul 13 2011: I guess the deviant would be exemplefied in the pet chimp who tore off his owner's face.
          Icannot remember but I think this occured somewhere in the Norteast.
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    Jul 13 2011: For some reason, re reading this conversation, I have remembered a documentary I saw recently on learning ( my apologies cannot recall the title). It has stayed with me as very disturbing.

    An ape and a young child were given the same puzzle task both being shown the series of moves to solve t e puzzle and get the prize ( a sweet). The ape treated the series of tasks as a "whole process" performing the task fluidly with no hestitation. The child broke it into steps apprently attempting to memorize each step and the sequence of steps

    What the ape did is what Valentin Tomberg callls "concentration without effort"

    They were each then shown the puzzle again with the box transparent revealing,with close observation, that two of the steps in the sequence ttey hadvbeen shown were not necessary to rleasing the sweet. The ape saw it right away and just skipped that step..the child continued the learned sequence.I don't recall the details of the protocol or its replication

    .What was troubling to me about it was the implication that how we teach childen , how we prepare them for the world, for school, diminishes or suppresses natural intelligence. That is well documented by Piaget & others and was the life's work of my friend Seymour Papert but as far as I know that work didn't involve any comparisons with apes. Seeing this comparison gave a hard edge to their teachings and writings

    .I like to believe that whatever we lose throug h these processes of learning and acculturation forced on us before we have a right to choose what we learn and how we learn it, can at any point in our lives, be recovered, rediscovered and re ignited.

    To the heart of Sunyu's question, I believe that at any moment in our lives we can change our paradigm just by choosing to. Beause we have fallen blindly into a pattern ofl iving into the world that does not serve us, does not serve the wolrd, doesn't mean that we can't change. In every moment transformation is possible.
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      Jul 14 2011: I agree Lindsay! All we need in order to change our existence is the will to choose and the strength to persevere.

      Thoughts become things.

      Everything we use in our modern day society was a concept, idea or thought first (unless it already exists in the natural world formed before us). Yet when people talk about change others consider such things to be "impossible."

      Ask a historical ancestor (depending on the ancestor) about planes or robots and they'd tell you that you were smoking something unpleasant.

      Go even further back and ask an ancestor about the wheel or the table, they'd probably look at you crazy and go back to foraging.

      Hopefully one day Capitalism (and other detrimental manifested thought forms) seems just as crazy to our future descendants and some of our current manifestations would seem to our ancestors.
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    Jul 10 2011: Hi Lindsay...............I was just wondering..........Maybe you might want to invite Koko to meditate with you ? Please share your experience with me. :0)
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      Jul 12 2011: I would consider it a huge pirvelge to sit in silence with Koko. May turn out she has less of amonkey brian that many humans I have sat in meditation with.... Koko seems very cal, very centered..
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    Jul 9 2011: perhaps "adpation" is two way; perhaps it is possble that what we see in culture will de-evolve us , genetically, into something less that we were at at the beginning of this milennium.
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    Jul 8 2011: Interesting discussion going on.....

    .Well biologically speaking there is Inter & Intra species competition , "survival of the fittest" applies in both dimensions....

    Human species , is the first species and so far only one (if I am not wrong) to use technology in the their strive of "Survival of the Fittest".

    Human species is the only species to cross all natural barriers because of that now also intruding to space.....

    In our societal arena "Might is Right" is the rule of the game still !!! So societal survival seems to depend on HOW MIGHTY one is.......

    But good news is lot people are also around with empathy , compassion driven consciousness and global connectivity increasingly connecting them ..... hope rules of the game will change..
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      Jul 8 2011: Thank you for your insight Salim!
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      Jul 10 2011: I think we are learning now in most science that "survival of the fittest" is not the deal..that is not what has driven evolution, that is not what has driven mutation.
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        Jul 10 2011: Lindsay, mutation is the precursor of "Variation" then all the varieties goes for "Struggle for Existance" which leads to "Survival of the Fittest".
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          Jul 10 2011: that's not current thinking Salim..studies of cells suggests that mutations are random.
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          Jul 14 2011: Mathtieu & Salim

          A good background and epxlication of the origin of the term "survival of the fittest "to which you have pointed us Matthieu:


          The phrase "survival of the fittest" is not generally used by modern biologists as the term does not accurately convey the meaning of natural selection, the term biologists use and prefer. Natural selection refers to differential reproduction as a function of traits that have a genetic basis. "Survival of the fittest" is inaccurate for two important reasons. First, survival is merely a normal prerequisite to reproduction. Second, fitness has specialized meaning in biology different from how the word is used in popular culture. In population genetics, fitness refers to differential reproduction. "Fitness" does not refer to whether an individual is "physically fit" – bigger, faster or stronger – or "better" in any subjective sense. It refers to a difference in reproductive rate from one generation to the next"

          Thanks Matthieu..I learned something new...
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          Jul 14 2011: Haha, in that case our species is definitely becoming less fit! (Both in rearing and actual production).

          It's unfortunate how much Capitalism is built upon the socially conceptualized "survival of the fittest" model then...
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          Jul 14 2011: Sanyu,

          Spencer, who coined the term,was an economist!!!
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          Jul 14 2011: I see. Well that makes plenty of sense!
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        Jul 10 2011: An interesting point of history is that "survival of the fittest" was a term coined by Herbert Spencer, which Charles Darwin was encouraged to adopt by Alfred Russel Wallace. The idea was that the term "natural selection" was misleading to many of Darwin's contemporaries and Wallace was certain that "survival of the fittest" would be much less ambiguous. Obviously, history proved Wallace wrong.
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          Jul 10 2011: Matthieu,

          That would be an interesting exchange to read..any cites on that?

          "The marketing of Evolution"!!!

          And from what you have read of this exchnage Matthieu would you say the culture into which they were first intriducing this idea played a role in their chice of termionolgy? And if so, would you say those concrens are still valid today in our culture and if not, what do you think Darwin might say today?

          In the biopic I saw Darwin's dilemma was very clearly brought out..portrayed as deep angst, actually..but it dodn't go into much of what hi sown inner wrestlig was all about. I am very interested to know more of that.
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        Jul 10 2011: Charles Darwin had a difficult life. I think the death of his favourite daughter Annie deeply affected him all his life and to a certain extent forged his character. There's a beautiful movie that shows this (although at time it takes liberties in departing from reality) called "Creation" (Charles Darwin is played by the talented Paul Bettany and his wife by talented and beautiful Jennifer Connelly).

        I think there's a book of Darwin's correspondences with various naturalists although I'm not sure what it's called. I read the exchange in "The Extended Phenotype" (1986, chapter 10) by Richard Dawkins, which he uses as the opening to a chapter that critiques the expression as having lead to a great amount of misunderstandings.

        I just found this site: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/home I'll see if I can find the precise correspondence for you.

        I think that society did play a role insofar that The Theory of Evolution was an absolutely radical idea at the time and therefore the language around it had to really speak to the masses. The idea had so much less evidence to run on back 150 years ago than it does today, so it had to make itself as clear and convincing as it could. I don't think it requires it so much today as it's widely accepted and has greatly benefited from the advent of genetics.

        I'd be very careful about what you take from 'Darwin's Dilemma' as it's directed by an intelligent design advocate and features the opinions of notorious IDers such as Stephen Meyer. I have not seen it myself, I might watch it to give you my opinion (compared to "Expelled: No intelligence allowed", it is probably watchable).
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          Jul 12 2011: I loved that movie and it did make me much more interested to undersand his struggle about releasing.what he had come to understand. Even more interseing to me, how with such a highly developed awareness of belief system, s he was nevertheless able to see "over and beyond"..a remarkable personal skill .I will see what I can find on the "survival of the fittest" discussion. That would be interesting. Keep me in mind if you should turn up anything .
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        Jul 10 2011: Hi Lindsay, good to talk to you again.
        Yes mutations are random, it can happen at any time point in species. What I wanted to mean is that mutation creates variation and "Survival of the Fittest" is not the only driving force for mutation.

        Well in my earlier post for simplicity reason wrote in sequential manner i.e. MUTATION to "VARIATION" to "STRUGGLE FOR EXISTANCE" to "SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST", which gives the notion that mutation can't happen any other time, but you are right mutation can happen any time once that happens Variation comes.
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        Jul 14 2011: Nature selects who adapts better, no who is mighty, big or powerful.
        But human made society selects the Mighty & Powerful , rest need to obey them not adapt to them to survive.....
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    Jul 8 2011: I think Sea urchins is a very good example of a species not "adapting" to their natural environment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_urchin
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      Jul 10 2011: Good Link Jimmy..and worth considering what it means that some species have stayed unchnagedfrom the early early gbeginnings of life milions of years ago.

      I love Sea urchins..they grow in my cove. I have a big collection of them on a room length shelf in one of my bathrooms. I love them because they "got it right" the first time.Same with dragon flies. They are exactly now as they are in the fossil record hundreds of milions of years ago..no changes at all. My meadow is full of the most amazing colors and sizes of dragon flies. I adore them.

      To see a living creature in its exact form from the begionning is to be conected to early earth, to the beginnings of all life

      .I would think that understanding these ancient unchanged species ..why they haven't changed would unlock some interesting doors and insights on evolution and adaption.
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    Jul 8 2011: Hi Sanyu,
    I've checked the conversation and I'm just wondering if you still agree with your original explanation?
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      Jul 8 2011: Hi Jimmy,

      I've modified the questions a bit in various conversations in here, so no, I wouldn't say that I agree with the exact argument I put forward at the top of this dialogue. However, I have not strayed far from it either.
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    Jul 8 2011: Wow that's some deep thinking.... I would say that you are right. Although if I think about it. It's funny that if survival of the fittest is true we as humans of this society that does not conserve or reuse things as well. We aren't possibly going to survive as a whole..... Just my thought. Hopefully that makes sense.
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      Jul 8 2011: Thanks for your insight Sarah, it makes sense!
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        Jul 8 2011: Oh good. Sometimes when you write things out you aren't sure if it's just making sense to you. Basically it's odd that we are killing ourselves even though we are the ones capable of rationalizing more than other mammals that are mainly acting on the 4 F's of nature. Not that we don't but we have a bigger emotional reason for our actions. Okay that's also what I wanted to say lol.
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      Jul 8 2011: Yes we may not survive, which would be sad giving our potential and all our recent progress as a species in the last couple hundred years.
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      Jul 8 2011: Hey Jim!

      I appreciate your approach and you've certainly educated me on the nature of our neocortex! (Interesting stuff this meat we're made of). It is also good to have a reminder outside of myself that there is a lot of good going on (the best of our nature). I read the Los Angeles Times online and sometimes the comments section has me thinking otherwise!

      I will check out Steven Pinker's talk, thank you for linking it for me!
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        Jul 8 2011: Sanyu,
        Try not to get too influenced by the media... You'll find that it promotes negative thinking which leads to a negative world...
        And around it goes... We need to break that!
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          Jul 8 2011: Jimmy,

          It's not the media that influences my disparaging about our existence on this planet. It's the people who respond to the media.

          That all being said, I'm not very negative...in my opinion!
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      Jul 10 2011: Hey, I hadn;t seen this comment of yours Jim..I said the same thing in reply to Matthieu up above.
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    Jul 8 2011: .
    Interesting topic...

    My improvisational take on this is that, contrary to non-human animals, our brains have developed the capacity of thinking ahead. In the medium term, at least (not in the long term).

    This led to the development of systems of accumulation. Accumulating goods, food, wives, kids, etc.... Hoarding, to secure the future.

    This instinct lives on to this very day, and has slightly gotten out of hand with the invention of money and capitalism. Capitalism is the continuation of our primitive urge to accumulate, but simply with other means. We accumulate money, so we can buy goods, food and wives. And secure our future.

    But this is a story of our capacity to think only on medium time scales. Longterm thinking is not our strongest point. Else we'd have outlawed capitalism long ago, and we'd have had sustainable economic models by now.
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      Jul 8 2011: Thank you for your insight Laurens! I think our species should begin developing our longterm awareness.