We have all seen whales, at least most of us on TV. They are very majestic creatures who are most of the time aware of our company. Whales can usually notice us swimming around them. It has been seen many times how they gently make eye contact with people. Sometimes, they even decide to stay longer around us. This is very interesting. The whales are actually mammals who have a brain that is bigger than the one of human beings. They also have complex migration songs that are different every year. Has this sparked some interest in you to know what is going on inside their minds?
Well, keep reading. People have actually done research on this topic.
Are Humans the Most Intelligent Creatures on Earth? – Studies
There is a recent study by Dawn Agnos on UPLIFT where it is talked about a horse showing emotional intelligence and empathy. This is something many animals understand. Actually, recently, terms like emotional intelligence started to appear and it is interesting to know that there are many types of them. Paul Watson of Sea Shephers says that humans’ concept of intelligence in anthropocentric and lacking in breadth.
Does Brain Size Matter?
Watson begins his essay by saying that ‘Biological science is provoking us to shatter our image of human superiority.’ Even though indigenous wisdom was always a part of the circle of life and not above it. This has been destroyed by generations of colonial indoctrination. The roots of it actually state that humans are superior to all life forms and some humans are also superior to others.
In fact, Social Darwinism was a myth so that science could have been used to validate the behavior of employing superior weaponry to oppress other humans. Naturally, we respect western science a lot, however, we still need to understand the cultural and religious backdrop from where this discipline appeared. We also need to explore the assumptions if we want to evolve.
Rupert Sheldrake tried to do this during his TED talk by the name The Science Delusion and the presentation was banned. However, we do not want to say that he is right and science is wrong. Yet, this is still a chance to open a discussion about all the assumptions in science. One of those is the notion that humans are the most intelligent creatures on the planet.
It must be really interesting to think about all these mammals who have been on this planet longer than human beings. Some of them have bigger brains than we do. We like to be proud of all our technology, tools, gadgets and machines. However, there is more to intelligence than just technology. There is emotional intelligence as well. This is an internal intelligence which cannot be measured but it is important for an individual.
Intuition, compassion, empathy are usually feelings, however, they are skills as well. We can use these to climb the social ladder. Another non-physical tool is mediation, which can change our biology, reduce stress and open the mind. We are just at the cusp of understanding all these things.
Paul Watson’s Opinions
We willingly accept the idea of intelligence in a life-form only if the intelligence displayed is on the same evolutionary wavelength as our own. Technology automatically indicates intelligence. An absence of technology translates into an absence of intelligence.
Dolphins and whales do not display intelligence in a fashion recognizable to this conditioned perception of what intelligence is, and thus for the most part, we are blind to a broader definition of what intelligence can be.
Evolution molds our projection of intelligence. Humans evolved as tool-makers, obsessed with danger and group aggression. This makes it very difficult for us to comprehend intelligent non-manipulative beings whose evolutionary history featured ample food supplies and an absence of fear from external dangers. – Paul Watson.
It is of great importance to realize that this attitude has not been only applied to animals, but also to indigenous people. It is our problem as to how we define and limit our definition of intelligence. Are we actually prepared to alter it?
This is what Paul claims:
Intelligence can also be measured by the ability to love within the bounds of the laws of ecology- to live in harmony with one’s own ecology and to recognize the limitations placed on each species by the needs of the ecosystem. Is the species that dwells peacefully within its habitat with respect for the rights of other species the one that is inferior? Or is the species that wages a holy war against its habitat, destroying all species that irritate it? What can be said of a species that reproduces beyond the ability of its habitat to support it? What do we make of a species that destroys the diversity that sustains the ecosystem that nourishes it? How is a species to be judged that fouls its water and poisons its own food? On the other hand, how is a species that has lived harmoniously within the boundaries of its ecology to be judged? – Paul Watson.
Watson also compares cranial capacity and brain complexity between humans and sea mammals. He actually gives us a lot to think about. However, the best way to summarize his essay is by this quote:
It’s not enough to understand the natural world, the point is to defend and preserve it. – Edward Abbey.
Watson is not only a philosopher. He is a doer. He has actually been a part of the most active marine non-profit organization- the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Thus, you should definitely look up and read his essay.
It is very humbling indeed to think that we are not the most intelligent species. It can give you back the child awe and perhaps the wish to save our environment. Science it wonderful, however, we need to celebrate all aspects of life.