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It's Official Now: Animal and Human Consciousness the Same!

ok so some of have reason to say "you finally figured it out, eh?"

well apparently the sensible scientists have. they've even put it in writing!

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Scientists Proclaim Animal and Human Consciousness the Same

Scientists Proclaim Animal and Human Consciousness the Same

We declare the following:  The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.

To many pet parents and animal lovers, the conference only confirms what they already believed through their own observations and interactions with animals – albeit, not with the credibility of scientific research.

Stephen Hawking — considered the greatest mind in physics since Albert Einstein — was the guest of honor at the signing ceremony.  The declaration was authored by Philip Low and edited by Jaak Panksepp, Diana Reiss, David Edelman, Bruno Van Swinderen, Philip Low and Christof Koch, all well-respected neuroscientists.  The signing was memorialized by 60 Minutes.

Joseph Dial, former Executive Director of the Mind Science Foundation, explains why this declaration is historic and groundbreaking:

What is Consciousness?

There is an important distinction between intelligence and consciousness.  Intelligence is measured by the “capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.”  So, is it fair to say humans are more intelligent than animals?  Animals certainly have a capacity for learning.  They cannot create an atomic bomb; maybe that should define them as smart?

The dictionary defines consciousness as “aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.”   Take a good, hard look at your pet; for that matter, watch a zoo elephant or a deer in the woods.  They are always aware of their own existence.  They feel pain and other sensations.  Your dog may get annoyed with you if you tease him with a treat for too long before tossing it his way.  A deer caught in your headlights feels fear before deciding to take flight.  Elephants mourn their family members just like humans.

What This Means for the Future

For millennia, humans have held onto their hubris regarding the belief in human superiority.  Perhaps The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness will inspire a different attitude and further research into the minds of all non-human creatures.

Starting with animal rights through to veganism, changing the minds of those who believe humans are “top dog” will be a challenge.  Notable scientists formally recognizing animal consciousness on a level with humans should make for some interesting conversations.

http://www.care2.com/causes/scientists-proclaim-animal-and-human-co...

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also here is marc bekoff's blog on this:

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Scientists Finally Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Beings

Didn't we already know this? Yes we did

Every now and again I receive an email message I ignore after reading the subject line. I know I'm not alone in following this rule of thumb, but today I broke down and opened a message the subject line of which read "Scientists Declare: Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious". I honestly thought it was a joke, likely from one of my favorite newspapers, The Onion. However, it wasn't.

My colleague Michael Mountain published a summary of a recent meeting held in Cambridge, England at which "Science leaders have reached a critical consensus: Humans are not the only conscious beings; other animals, specifically mammals and birds, are indeed conscious, too." At this gathering, called The Francis Crick Memorial Conference, a number of scientists presented evidence that led to this self-obvious conclusion. It's difficult to believe that those who have shared their homes with companion animals didn't already know this. And, of course, many renowned and award-winning field researchers had reached the s... (see also).

Michael Mountain was as incredulous as I and many others about something we already knew. It's interesting to note that of the 15 notables who spoke at this conference only one has actually done studies of wild animals. It would have been nice to hear from researchers who have conducted long-term studies of wild animals, including great apes, other nonhuman primates, social carnivores, cetaceans, rodents, and birds, for example, to add to the database. Be that as it may, I applaud their not so surprising conclusion and now I hope it will be used to protect animals from being treated abusively and inhumanely. 

Some might say we didn't really know that other animals were conscious but this is an incredibly naive view given what we know about the neurobiology and cognitive and emotional lives of other animals. Indeed, it was appeals to these very data that led to the conclusions of this group of scientists. But did we really need a group of internationally recognized scientists to tell us that the data are really okay?  Yes and no, but let's thank them for doing this. 

I agree with Michael Mountain that "It’s a really important statement that will be used as evidence by those who are pushing for scientists to develop a more humane relationship with animals. It’s harder, for example, to justify experiments on nonhumans when you know that they are conscious beings and not just biological machines. Some of the conclusions reached in this declaration are the product of scientists who, to this day, still conduct experiments on animals in captivity, including dolphins, who are among the most intelligent species on Earth. Their own declaration will now be used as evidence that it’s time to stop using these animals in captivity and start finding new ways of making a living."

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness

The scientists went as far as to write up what's called The Cambridge Decalration on Consciousness that basically declares that this prominent international group of scientists agree that "Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates." They could also have included fish, for whom the evidence supporting sentience and consciousness is also compelling (see also).  

So, what are we going to do with what we know (and have known)?

It's fair to ask what are these scientists and others going to do now that they agree that consciousness is widespread in the animal kingdom. We know, for example, that mice, rats, and chickens display empathy but this knowledge hasn't been factored into the Federal Animal Welfare....

I'm frankly astounded that these data and many other findings about animal cognition and animal emotions have been ignored by those who decide on regulations about the use and abuse of other animals. However, the Treaty of Lisbon, passed by member states of the European Union that went into force on December 1, 2009, recognizes that "In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."

Let's applaud The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness and The Treaty of Lisbon and work hard to get animals the protection from invasive research and other forms of abuse, in many cases horrifically inhumane, they deserve.

Some recent essays I've written point out that there still are some people who feel comfortable killing individuals who they call "unneeded" or "surplus" animals and at least one animal welfarist, Oxford University's Marian Dawkins, continued as of a few months ago to claim we still don't know if other animals are conscious and that we should "remain skeptical and agnostic [about consciousness] ... Militantly agnostic if necessary, because this keeps alive the possibility that a large number of species have some sort of conscious experiences ... For all we know, many animals, not just the clever ones and not just the overtly emotional ones, also have conscious experiences."

Perhaps what I call "Dawkins' Dangerous Idea" will now finally be shelved given the conclusions of the Cambridge gathering. I frankly don't see how anyone who has worked closely with any of a wide array of animals or who lives with a companion animal(s) could remain uncertain and agnostic about whether they are conscious. 

It's said that repetition is boring conversation but there's now a wealth of scientific data that makes skepticism, and surely agnosticism, to be anti-science and harmful to animals. Now, at last, the prestigious Cambridge group shows this to be so. Bravo for them! So, let's all work together to use this information to stop the abuse of millions upon millions of conscious animals in the name of science, education, food, amusement and entertainment, and clothing. We really owe it to them to use what we know on their behalf and to factor compassion and empathy into our treatment of these amazing beings.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201208/scientis...

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now let's see some action!

in friendship,

prad

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Brilliant stuff, Prad. What a momentous event.

Check out the documentary video I just posted on debunking the myth of human superiority... goes quite well with this. 

http://www.30bananasaday.com/forum/topics/end-human-superiority-wat...

thx rb!

i didn't have time to watch all of it right now, but what i saw was really good!

i've posted it here in the humans unique? thread:

http://www.30bananasaday.com/xn/detail/2684079:Comment:2788765

in friendship,

prad

Prad,

Wow this should hopefully put animal testing and testers out of business.

Lets add the zoo's etc.

Great find.

I agree so now what are these creeps excuses.

A good idea is to start sending it out to people who need to know this stuff.

Something like this

It's Official Now: Animal and Human Consciousness the Same!
a landmark move verifying the obvious.
http://www.30bananasaday.com/forum/topics/it-s-official-now-animal-...

Take Care,

well it should, bigG.

however, the claws of business and personal interests dig deep. they can require much force to be pried out. after all, we still have slavery, subjugation of women, racism, domestic abuse etc. the reason is because some people are afraid to do the dirty work that is necessary to keep the place clean.

in friendship,

prad

Prad,

Do you believe they are afraid to do the dirty work out of losing there jobs, friends, families?

By the way been posting on facebook on places like Humane society etc.

Thanks for putting this together.

Take Care,

Do you believe they are afraid to do the dirty work out of losing there jobs, friends, families?

sometimes that is the case. sometimes they just don't want to be inconvenienced.

for instance, even on 30bad we've had people who try to justify their corpse-eating spouses' actions by saying stuff like "it's just food" or "we respect each other's choices". some people know their family/friends are robbers/murderers (of even humans!) and will try to justify their 'support' of the person even though they say they abhor the action ... whatever all that means.

i don't think it's one person's "job" to change another person. however, it is our job not to look the other way and pretend that these crimes against sentient beings (of any species) really don't count, just because we stand to gain in the short term by doing so.

call a spade a spade!

in friendship,

prad

sharks have brains like ours.
http://www.care2.com/causes/sharks-have-brains-like-ours.html

After five shark fatalities in the past year, the Western Australian government announced a plan to hunt and kill great white sharks, an endangered species, in September. Conservationists have harshly criticized the new “shark mitigation plan to protect beach goers” which provides $6.85 million in funding for the tracking, catching and “if necessary,” killing of sharks identified as being close proximity to beach goers.

There are other ways to prevent shark attacks besides killing them. New research about the neurology of sharks published in a special edition of the journal Brain, Behaviour and Evolution on the nervous systems of cartilaginous fishes could be key to developing “repellents” to keep them away from marine areas used by humans.

From dissecting the brains of more than 150 sharks, University of Western Australia shark researcher Kara Yopak discovered that their brains have a number of features like that of humans. As Yopak says to AFP, great white sharks actually have “quite large parts of the brain associated with their visual input, with implications for them being much more receptive to repellents targeting visual markers.”

Currently, most of the repellents send off a strong electronic signal that targets the electrosensitive pores sharks have on their heads for picking up the currents created by prey. But such technologies have been shown to be only partially effective in deterring great white sharks. As Yopak says,

A shark may recognise a poisonous sea-snake’s markings and swim away, for example, and we can use this information to cue a response. It’s about understanding how their neurobiology affects their (behaviour).

Yopak, who is part of a team of scientists at the university’s Oceans Institute, also found that sharks’ brains are of the same relative size as those of mammals or birds, thereby confuting the notion that they are “tiny-brained eating machines.”

Based on her research, simply putting certain patterns on surfers’ wetsuits and surfboards could possibly repel sharks.

As Kopak writes in a preface (pdf) to the journal:

To the general public, the term ‘shark’ is often synonymous with mystery, fear, and morbid fascination. To an evolutionary neuroscientist, however, sharks and their relatives (skates, rays, elephant sharks, and chimaerids) represent a key a stage in the evolution of gnathostomes, with the appearance of the first fully formed neural ‘bauplan’ that is present in all extant jawed vertebrates.

That is, studying how the shark nervous system has evolved, as well as how sharks and their relatives “receive and process information from their environment” and the implications of these “evolutionary adaptations in sensorimotor function” for their nervous systems, can teach us something not only about their neurology but our own.

The Western Australian government’s shark mitigation plan also included funds for trial shark enclosure, a shark tagging program, more jet skis for rescuers and more helicopter patrols of beaches — and more research funds. Clearly it would be a positive step for the latter to be used to support research like Yopak’s. Her discovery about the similarities between sharks’ brains and ours makes it all the more important to find other ways for all of us to share the ocean and, to the extent possible, co-exist.

If sharks’ neurology resembles ours, hunting and killing them seems even more cruel and unnecessary.


in friendship,
prad

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