Adventures & Insights

One man's adventures in the physical and intellectual worlds…

Science: Actually Discovering New Things Or Just Stating The Obvious In New Ways?

I am a big supporter of Scientists. With their medical breakthroughs and their tireless efforts to find new sources of energy and improve our lives, I’ve always been proud of Scientists and wondered why they’re paid only a fraction of the salaries of sportspeople. New discoveries and hypotheses intrigue me; because I’m a guy who likes to learn stuff. I even chose Science for my practice run through university, where I learned that it is incredibly hard if you haven’t prepared throughout high school. Sometimes, however, I read articles that boggle my mind – but not because they’re super complicated and require Einsteinian intellect to comprehend.

Last week I read an article about dolphins. It was interesting and made me really think. If you’d like to read it, here’s a link. Don’t worry, I’ll give you the lowdown if you’re not too fussed on reading it. Basically, at this year’s annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) scientists, philosophers and animal rights activists all came to the conclusion that dolphins are so smart that they deserve their own bill of rights. They declared that the combination of intelligence, communicative ability, societal sophistication and individual personality means that cetaceans are essentially “non-human persons”. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

I should let you all know that Science and I have a somewhat turbulent relationship. The loss of Pluto as an official planet in 2006 was hard for me to take. But we’re here today about the dolphins.

So, after years and years of study, Science wants in essence to treat dolphins in a very similar fashion as human beings. Seemingly the most important aspect of this declaration is that the killing of a dolphin is tantamount to human murder. Which is fair enough I suppose, I’m not a big fan of killing anything (although that statement makes me somewhat of a hypocrite due to my omnivorous nature. But back to the dolphins!)and I can get behind that. I know I am prone to overthinking though and this article triggered a bit of a neural meltdown as my thinking buttons were pushed left, right and centre! First of all I wondered – what about the other animals? I mean, if we’re going to be drafting “non-human civil rights” for dolphins, we’d better have a bit of a look at other species as well do I need to draw your attention to the simians laughing at us over there?

If the basis of the argument lies in society, communication and problem solving abilities, wolves should have a say in things as well. I could go on about how many other intelligent species meet these criteria, including emotional capacity (our dear friends the elephants could tell us so many things!), but I’d be writing for days. Instead, I’ll say one last thing that this article brought to mind. Human beings study other creatures in so many ways – quite a few of which have been (and continue to be) quite inhumane. What I really wonder is: would dolphins, or any other species, WANT to be given rights similar to our own if they had the choice? Especially if we can’t seem to respect those rights? In this debate, I’d be inclined to consider myself a “non-dolphin” cetacean.

6 responses to “Science: Actually Discovering New Things Or Just Stating The Obvious In New Ways?

  1. Renee Schuls-Jacobson February 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Beautiful post, Christian! I hope we are getting closer to realizing everything on this planet has its own unique dignity. I declare it is dolphin day!

  2. therosebandit February 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    We can’t even respect our rights as human beings how are we to honor and respect that of the Dolphins??…I am just pretty sure…while I welcome new discoveries as well as the learning of new hypothesis, new discoveries and advancements…this seems a little silly to me. I am on board with you friend…”non-dolphin” cetaceans unite! 🙂

    • Christian Emmett February 29, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Absolutely! I think that science is great on the whole, but every now and then there are articles like this that make me question the point of the research and the argument. We really need to look at our own species before we start trying to “assimilate” others.

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