What do you think separates humans from other animals?

Azahul

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TestECull said:
Here's some proof for you:






Why are we the ones that did that? We're by no means the first creatures on this planet with opposable thumbs, not by several million years. We're not the only species on this planet physically capable of designing, building and operating that, nor are we the first.



You want more proof? Watch the Apollo 11 launch. There's your proof. Don't want to accept that? Look at the computer you're using to post this. Look at your car. Look out your window...fuck, look at the blooming window itself. EVERYTHING you see around you exists because of human creativity. Not animal creativity. Everything around you, everything from the Saturn V rocket I posted to the clothes on your back, all of it exists because humans are more creative than any other species on this planet. The proof is literally draped over your shoulders waiting for you to accept it.
Mate, that's nothing special. We aren't the only species in the world to make tools. The only ones to make tools of such complexity, sure, but at one point in our evolution we too used tools at the same basic level as other species. There's nothing stopping those same species developing to the same point as we have except time. Give them time, and I'm sure other simians will eventually reach the point where they can build rockets as well. Other species beyond that suffer from the issue of having bodies shaped in such a way that they can't effectively manipulate objects to the same extent that we do. That, there, is your reason why other animals haven't reached the same technological level as ourselves. In the whole of the history of life on this Earth, humans are arguably the most intelligent species to develop with the means to capitalise on that intelligence in the form of tools. That is the only difference between a human and any other animal.


All these signs of human progress that you're throwing at me, none of these big examples existed a century ago. Human history is a lot longer than a century. Homo Sapiens is supposedly, what, 250,000 years old? The smallest fraction of a percentage of our history has been spent with your proof. Go back more than ten thousand years (still less than 1% of our species' history), and we're only marginally more developed than our closest relatives amongst the apes. By your reasoning, it seems as if humans would have had nothing to differentiate themselves from animals then, but genetically speaking we're still the same species.


I'm not trying to argue that humans aren't intelligent. Clearly, we are one of the smartest species living on this planet (hard to tell if we're the smartest, since only a tiny fraction of the Earth's living creatures have had the ability to create tools, which seems to be how you judge intelligence). This doesn't make us any more than particularly smart beasts. We're lucky as a species that we hit a perfect storm, so to speak, of intelligence and the ability to capitalise upon it. But that doesn't change us in any way from being animals, and honestly, I can't see why we wouldn't want to be animals. All the things humans prize, loyalty, intelligence, strength, can be seen in most of the more advanced animals on this planet. All the things humans despise can likewise be seen. We're not different. We've just had a spot of luck when it came to our evolution.
 

Arakasi

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We do things that are unrelated to survival.
I know of no animals other than those manipulated by us that do the same.
 

Daverson

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I'm going to go with language. It's been theorized the Neanderthals were actually a lot smarter than us in terms of sheer mental power, but they didn't have as complex language centre or vocal chords (can't remember which).

To those who'd say "but birds sing and ants have pheromones", well, yes. But these aren't really a language, are they? Pheromones are pretty much equivalent to us seeing a colour. For example, a block of the colour red might be associated with socialism for you, but it's hardly the communist manifesto, is it? Bird song's a lot more precise in terms of a language, but most birds aren't smart enough to use it. Crows though, are theorized to have some sort of language, so we aren't as unique as you'd think when in that regard.
 

Batou667

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I read an interestig article recently that said the basic difference between how humans and animals think is sentience - and in that author's opinion, the reason we have sentience is becuase we have language. Without language, even an intelligent person would only be able to think in terms of their current physiological state and concepts such as past and future would be impossible. Words and language allow us to concretise abstract concepts.

I also think that a lot of the intelligence and human-like personality that people ascribe to their pets is just anthro-projection. Sure, animals display a range of behaviours and a corresponding range of emotions, but any deeper thought processes are in the eye of the beholder. Damn Disney has a lot to answer for.
 

Mycroft Holmes

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1) We are smarter than most of if not all other animals. Screw you dolphins you cant operate tools with flippers.

2) We are the only species of which the females have fully developed breasts at all times post puberty and not just after having given birth like other animals. Thank you sexual selection.
 

MassiveGeek

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Quite honestly I don't like this question. Physically, as proven, we're not different at all. It's our ability of cognitive thought(which we're not actually meant to value in the way we've been doing, not saying it's a bad thing though) that's really unique compared to most other species alive today.
Out culture and all that jazz is of course very different as well, but we still, really, have about the same basic principles as most other more complex societies.

Gah, I don't really give a damn to be frank. Humans are animals, not all animals are humans, all animals differ, all individuals differ, etc etc etc.
 

Mycroft Holmes

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Batou667 said:
I read an interestig article recently that said the basic difference between how humans and animals think is sentience - and in that author's opinion, the reason we have sentience is becuase we have language. Without language, even an intelligent person would only be able to think in terms of their current physiological state and concepts such as past and future would be impossible. Words and language allow us to concretise abstract concepts
Animals have language. Have you never heard of Koko? How about the dozens of other primates that we taught sign language to, who can and do use it to communicate to each other and their handlers.

Zenthunder said:
Animals live in the environment to the best of their ablilty we make the environment suit us
Beavers, ants, termites and hermit crabs disagree. Oh also correct me if I'm wrong but birds nests don't just magically form in nature for the specific purpose of making life easy for birds. Instead birds you know, collect resources from around and then build them, to you know modify their environments to be liveable for them. The them again being every bird that has ever existed.
 

Valkraye

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Not much these days. I've seen people say "intelligence" and "emotion", but my cat has an entire household wrapped around his little... paw? The point is, who is really intelligent here?
 

Batou667

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Mycroft Holmes said:
Animals have language. Have you never heard of Koko? How about the dozens of other primates that we taught sign language to, who can and do use it to communicate to each other and their handlers.
Yeah, I heard of Koko... I also heard that much of the supposed language taking place was just mimicry, ad the findings were blown out of proportion by an over-optomistic media.

But if there are animals out there who are capable of language, it's almost certainly primates.
 

House_Vet

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Batou667 said:
Mycroft Holmes said:
Animals have language. Have you never heard of Koko? How about the dozens of other primates that we taught sign language to, who can and do use it to communicate to each other and their handlers.
Yeah, I heard of Koko... I also heard that much of the supposed language taking place was just mimicry, ad the findings were blown out of proportion by an over-optomistic media.

But if there are animals out there who are capable of language, it's almost certainly primates.
Those and cetaceans. Whale song goes through trends - picked up, remixed and sent round the world - distinctly badass.

In a more general reply to the thread, I think there's less of a difference than we'd like to think. It comes down to opposable thumbs, a very useful larynx and a few million years of evolution. They mourn, they rejoice, whales have spindle neurons etc etc.
 

House_Vet

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Mycroft Holmes said:
2) We are the only species of which the females have fully developed breasts at all times post puberty and not just after having given birth like other animals. Thank you sexual selection.
Not really. They just remain relatively large without retaining the size the attained during a lactation. Sure, they can keep working if demand continues, but that's no different from a dairy cow...
 

Joccaren

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JesterRaiin said:
volX said:
Outside of this thread : If i may suggest, i'd like both of you, fellow Espcapists, to think about possibilities when discussing alien civilizations. Intelligent life evolving in complete different environment should be capable of producing different science, walk different paths.
They don't have to invest into rocketery and build spaceships, but instead harness the power of teleportation. They may be capable of traveling outside of what we consider time-space and distances may mean nothing for them. Concept of war could be completely "alien" to them and while we kill ourselves over some laughable matters, they could rush into galaxy to plant seeds of life wherever they can just because so. We're products of our history and it is violent, bloody, primitive story full of betrayals, murders - aliens aren't "obliged" to commit our crimes.
My point is : i may be wrong, but you both think about possible aliens as about ourselves, and there's no need to do so. :)

Also, if i may interest you in this masterpiece : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C5%82os_pana it's one of best studies (at least known to me) regarding possible contact between Mankind and alien civilization. Rather hard to comprehend, there's no action per se, but logic, conclussions makes it worth reading.
I am quite open to aliens being very alien, however it is easiest to refer to them as being similar to use, and in some cases they almost must be. For example, I highly doubt they will have gotten anywhere without some understanding of mathematics. It may not be the same as our understanding, but the basic principles of mathematics would still be somewhat observed. While it might be possible that they have a way of understanding the universe at a more fundamental level not involving mathematics, it is far more likely that they will follow the laws of mathematics in some form or other. Likewise, if sufficiently advanced they would hopefully be able to recognise things such as molecule models when put mathematically. These are a couple of principles that would be used in a first contact message to aliens if we ever find evidence of them, as mathematics transcends language, and molecular structures would be the same the whole universe across. Whilst there is the possibility that an alien would have a different understanding of things, however it is more likely that they would have a similar understanding of such concepts.

Anyway... this is getting off topic and so I'll stop now. (Semi off topic. Discussing differences of species is what this thread is sorta about, and aliens would be a different species...)
 

Moonlight Butterfly

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We think beyond primal urges I guess. I'm not sure if that makes us better though, at least animals are honest with themselves :p

At the risk of sounding like a crazy cat lady, all of the cat's I've owned seemed to have an individual personality. So I'm not to confident of the whole sentience argument. Some animals seem to be more self aware than others.
 

surg3n

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The core difference is intelligence. Humans don't have strength or speed, we needed something else to survive, and that something else is intelligence. Smart cavemen survived and prospered, stupid cavemen died. To say we don't have animal traits would be rediculous, that's why nobody says that - nobody is drawing a line between us and animals then proclaiming ourselves to be somehow better. We are animals, but we are also intelligent beings (most people), and it all stems from our intelligence and thought processes.
Humans are not very efficient creatures, but animals tend to all be efficient at their life - how often do you see an animal make a mistake, unless it's a domesticated retard pet. In the wild, you tend to never see animals trip up - annoy a tiger with a laser pointer, and it won't be LOL's all round, it'll be your liver all round :D. Evolution is the answer to so many questions about human and animal behaviour. The nature of man almost breaks the theory of evolution though, because our goals are so far removed from mere survival - we advance too quickly for evolution to cope, and that has a snowball effect on other animals but moreover it means that very little governs our own evolution, so we are pretty much at a standstill whereas other animals are still constantly evolving until we get our grubby mitts on them. I mean, our actions interfere with natural evolution - nobody knows what a chicken could have become if it wasn't so convenient and delicious. Personally I'd say that chickens have done more for the good of the planet than humans, maybe it's time to hand over the reins to our fowl overlords.

Humans... Too stupid to live, too clever to die.

Is that a paradox? - I hope so, don't think I've made one before - making a valid paradox is the next evolutionary goal after self awareness. If that is a paradox, then I am officially entitled to laugh at dwarves.
 

Cazza

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We can ask ourselves this question.

Ape to another ape: "What separates us from humans?"

So

How complex our languages are. Combine that with the technology we created so we can ask this question to people on the otherside of the world.