April 27, 2007

CliffsNotes: Anthropomorphism Thread

CliffsNotes: Anthropomorphism Thread

I think half of the comments from the Anthropomorphism show’s thread, aside from the story-telling angle, still apply to this discussion. Is there anyway to repost them? Or compile another CliffsNotes-esque review?

rahbuhbuh, in a comment to Open Source, April 23, 2007.

Sure! Here’s a CliffsNotes-esque review of relevant comments from the anthropomorphism thread for our “new zoology” show.

The Turing Test posited that if one slipped a paper under a door and got an answer out that you thought is human, that whatever it was that sent that over was pretty close to intelligent. If we see personalities in dogs, why do scientists doubt them?

faithandreason, in a comment to Open Source, January 24, 2007.

Is it “anthropomorphizing” to assign familiar names to observable, um “parallel traits” to those that we observe in humans? Are humans the only “curious” animal? Records of animals of species that often mate for life seeming to express grief at the loss of a mate aren’t uncommon. How should we deal with this? The biggest problem with anthropomorphism may be similar to the problem of an Earth-centered solar system, ie it’s all about US… but we weren’t here FIRST.

herbert browne, in a comment to Open Source, January 20, 2007.

One epistomological definition of language is “intentional communication through symbols and sounds.” Using this definition it is clear that some animals have a laguage. For example: The chickadee can communicate the size and threat of a predator through series of cheeps. The more cheeps there are on the end of the call, the more dangerous the predator.

Tsarena, in a comment to Open Source, April 19, 2007.

I study primates for a living, but I don’t mean to restrict that comment only to monkeys and apes– I’m writing right now about whales, dolphins, elephants, etc., as well as primates. It strikes me that there’s a superb reason to use anthromorphism for conscious/sentient beings: NOT to draw conclusions based on assumptions, but rather to sharpen our questions and our hypotheses. I have spent a fair amount of time interacting with apes in captivity (bonobos, gorillas), and I think of anthropomorphism as a scientific tool when applied in combination with rigorous research design.

bjking, in a comment to Open Source, March 23, 2007.

One of the major dilemmas in biology is where to draw the line on anthropomorphic explanations. Perhaps some anthropomorphic interpretations are valid simply because we are made of the same ’stuff’ as every other living thing. As the creature in question gets closer to humanity (Ravens, Dogs, Chimps), it seems reasonable to assume that more anthropomorphic explanations are valid. So how much anthropomorphism is simply a recognition of our commonalities with the animal world.

Bobo, in a comment to Open Source, April 18, 2007.

To apply human characteristics to an observed animal is to assume the animal has similar motives. If you showed a miser who’d never seen a cat before a trick where you enchanted it by waving a gold string, the miser might think the cat was economically motivated. Having seen cats before, I might instead hypothesize that they compare strings to mouse tails, and this is unlike any emotion I have. For the sake of scientific integrity, the scientist must observe each animal with as objective an eye as possible, and build our understanding of the animal’s world on its own terms.

Daniel Finlay, in a comment to Open Source, December 25, 2006.

Unfortunately for animals, anthropomorphism is wired into us. That is partly why I think there needs to be a separation: we can’t help but subjugate by projecting personalities, empathies and other feelings that lead to all kinds and degrees of hypocrisy. These ‘feelings’ are not about them – they are about you. Animals don’t need or want your feelings.

Lumiere, in a comment to Open Source, March 2, 2007.

Related Content