What if Humans Aren’t the Most Intelligent Creatures on the Planet?

BY Jacob Devaney
What if Humans Aren’t the Most Intelligent Creatures on the Planet?
Paul Watson Asks us to Redefine Intelligence

Cetologists observe, document, and decipher evidence that points to a profound intelligence dwelling in the oceans. It is an intelligence that predates our own evolution as intelligent primates by millions of years. – Paul Watson

I had a life-changing experience while kayaking in Hawaii this past winter with friends when we were visited by a whale. There is no doubt that this majestic being was coherent, aware of us, and enjoying our company as much as we were enjoying his. We put our snorkeling masks on and jumped in the water and could easily see the whale gently make eye contact with each of us. With one thrust of his tail he could have left in an instant but he stayed with us for over an hour.  A mammal with a brain bigger than ours and complex migration songs that change every year, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of thoughts could be going through his mind. So I did a little research…

The recent piece by  Dawn Agnos on UPLIFT about a conversation with a horse shows that emotional intelligence and empathy are a language that many animals understand. It was only recently that terms like emotional intelligence emerged and it is interesting to consider that there are many different kinds of intelligence.  Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd makes a good argument in a recent Facebook post that perhaps humans concept of intelligence is anthropocentric and lacking in breadth.

Does brain size matter?Does brain size matter?

Watson starts early in his essay with the bold assertion that, “Biological science is provoking us to shatter our image of human superiority.” Though indigenous wisdom has always considered humans a part of the circle of life rather than above it, that sentiment has almost been completely destroyed by generations of colonial indoctrination. The very roots of colonial indoctrination not only conclude that humans are superior to all other life forms, it also considers some humans as superior to others.

Social Darwinism, a myth, was an effort to use science to validate the behavior of employing superior weaponry to oppress other humans. Though we owe much respect to western science we must also understand the cultural and religious backdrop from which this discipline emerged. We must also be willing to explore the assumptions within science if we are to evolve it.
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Rupert Sheldrake attempted to do this during a TED Talk entitled, The Science Delusion and his presentation was banned. This is not to say that Sheldrake is right and all of science is wrong, that is too simplistic. It is merely an opportunity to open a dialogue about assumptions within science that the scientific community may or may not be willing to consider. I mention it in the context of considering the humble notion that humans may not posses the highest form of intelligence on the planet. If for no other reason than amusement, just open your mind and consider…

It is fascinating to reflect on mammals like us who have been on the planet a whole lot longer than us who also have larger brains than us. We humans pride ourselves on technology, on creating tools, gadgets and machines. Of course it is easy to consider that intelligence is based on technology. Then there is the idea of emotional intelligence which acknowledges a form of intelligence which is internal, can not be easily measured empirically but plays a major role in the success of an individual. Intuition, compassion, empathy are usually considered feelings, but these are skills, non-physical tools that we can use to ascend the social ladder. Meditation could also be considered a non-physical tool that changes our biology, reduces stress and opens the mind. We may be at the very beginning of understanding that tools do not need to be physical or easily measurable by traditional science in order to be valuable.

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

Again it is important to recognize how this attitude has not only been applied to animals, but also to indigenous people historically. How we define intelligence is restricted to our definition of intelligence. Are we willing to broaden our definition of intelligence?

Intelligence can also be measured by the ability to live 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 an 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 it 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 gets very in-depth and cites the research which compares cranial capacity, and brain complexity between humans and sea mammals. At the very least this information is humbling. Paul Watson has given us a lot to think about, but probably the greatest gift in his essay can be summarized 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 merely a philosopher, he puts his words and beliefs into action. For 35 years, Captain Paul Watson has been at the helm of the world’s most active marine non-profit organization – the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I highly recommend reading the entire essay which is available here.

To even consider that we are not superior to other species is delightfully humbling. It can restore a child-like sense of awe for life which also inspires a desire to preserve our environment. Our tools are wonderful, our science is also wonderful, but it should be used to celebrate and elevate all of life.  We must consider that the unconscious, disrespectful use of our tools and science can create unimaginable destruction for ourselves and other species. A healthy future includes humans who are aware of this and who live within the bounds of their ecosystem. We have the ability to create worlds or destroy ourselves. How do you want to live your life?

BY Jacob Devaney
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Gary Youree
Gary Youree
3 years ago

Humanity may belong to the currently highest evolutionary group, social mammals, but it is only due to the fluke of appendages, evolved to climb, that resulted in our perceived hierarchy among social animals.
We truly have the cart before the horse; much of what we call progress, when we involve the entire species, the progress of one portion results in the regress on another – there is no net gain.
When we look at all our technological progress when if we subtract what we have stolen from the future, due to the imposed and unnatural system of survival, capitalism, we have a net regress – not progress.

My guess is that those species within this universe(s) that survive their host planet evolve more along the line of cetaceans; perhaps reaching the end stage of intellectual evolution, psychokinesis or mind over matter – making interstellar journeys by quantum entanglement instead of crude physical technologies.

If you look at the brains of dolphins for example you can read and see the additional lobe and how the evolution of intelligence is rooted in the empathy regions of the brain.

This speaks volumes about the hierarchy of parasites we allow to “rule” us a humans – leadership is not their interest.

The hierarchy of any species moving forwards in complexity must draw from those with the attributes which gave rise and selection and survival to their species.
Our hierarchy from over 3 million years ago when we were barely human to 500k years ago when we were anatomically identical to modern man – then up to some >500 years ago when the age of ownership can to be … this is when the status quo from a hierarchy of those born with an inherent moral code was lost to those who took advantage of their lack of an inherent moral code.

Psychopaths; parasites with no interest in leadership of our species. Their imposed system of survival, capitalism, is producing retro-complexity within our species.
This will lead to extinction.

Voltairesaid
Voltairesaid
3 years ago

“How we define intelligence is restricted to our definition of intelligence.” This is a sentence without meaning.

last1sleft
last1sleft
4 years ago

no consciousness _ being aware of self- the true needs of self within
the world it exists- does not promote greed. if you are truly aware of
your needs and the needs ofd all arounf you- greed need not exist within
such a reality- hence the world we live in filled with those
unconscious to their conditioned psychology and biology – leading to the
multitude of negative effects on all that come in to contact with such
beings.

Glena Sims Wright
Glena Sims Wright
4 years ago

Science is continually changing as it progresses. The real life described by Paul Watson has always been the true one. Intelligence, consumerism, hate, killing, war, the health care INDUSTRY, and more all brought to you by Highly Intelligent humans who believe in money ( an illusion), who also lack humility and compassion.

John Andrew Schmanek
John Andrew Schmanek
5 years ago

So this whole article is an advert for the SSCS.

I think some viruses might be the dominant species. But humans still have it over on the Dolphins, sorry. When they get cages and make us jump through hoops give me a call.

Michael Powell
Michael Powell
5 years ago

Thank you for the article. As you summerize, it is humbling to consider that we might not be the apex of life. Another delight is your posit’s cascade effect. Changes the whole ball game, the block, the city, the nation, the world view. Much for reflection. Personally I have long cuncurred with the cetaceans that the nomadic is the only viable long-term behaviour.

Rigel54
Rigel54
5 years ago

OMG! This bit gives itself away pretty quickly as a non-science piece. “Colonial indoctrination?” Worship of the word “indigenous?” “Social Darwinsim?” Really? Much of the volume of the porpoise brain is dedicated to process of sound, so you can drop volume or relative volume based comparisons right away. I don’t doubt the definition of intelligence can be further refined, but this post seems more emotional than scientific.

Brenda Miller Georgiadis
Brenda Miller Georgiadis
5 years ago

How about the question of consciousness vs intelligence? It seems a conscious species would look down the road or see the bigger picture of their actions. Would a conscious species be driven by greed? It would appear our ability to create technology is at the expense of a healthy ecology. Are we conscious or just intelligent? But how intelligent is it to ruin our own environment? Thank goodness we are intelligent since we will have to use all our technology to create an environment to live in after we’ve ruined the one we have.

David Bastyr
David Bastyr
5 years ago

A well written article on intelligence and the perceptual constructs that limit our willingness to perceive a world of the prismatic qualities or branches which intelligence holds within all sentient life forms. And I must say, those were great quotes by Paul Watson. So thanks for the insightful read Jacob, well done! It’s ironic because I asked these two primary questions stated and examined in this article during the past several days in regard to the translation of what intelligence actually is and I came upon that primal question— How do you want to live your life?

promgazenergo
promgazenergo
6 years ago

kotelnaya-ustanovka http://promgazenergo.su/

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