Comments (4)
  1. Jane Easton (reply)

    April 16, 2012 at 09:34

    Good topic! I have read that pro-animal scientists often stifle their findings, so concerned are they about being labelled ‘anthropomorphic’. There is such a vast body of recorded observations about sentient behaviour in animals – including altruism, aesthetic appreciation, humour etc. Scientific observation doesn’t have to include huge numbers to form a hypothesis at the very least? like Marc Bekoff’s work on this – he’s an ethologist, specialising in wild and domestic dogs but has a lot to say about other animals too.

    • Diana (reply)

      April 16, 2012 at 13:15

      Yes! I’m a fan of Marc Bekoff. I find it amazing that when animals, especially vertebrates, are found to have complex cognitive faculties e.g. empathy, play behaviour their is this surprise portrayed in the media.
      As for “pro-animal” scientists stifling their findings, one’s findings can always be described in a conservative way. I have heard also of pro-animal scientists stifling negative findings, showing that animals, especially primates, cannot do something that primatologists thought they could do.

  2. veganelder (reply)

    April 22, 2012 at 12:04

    You write: “Anthropomorphism can be benign but as we will see it can also cut both ways- acting to increase empathy and compassion or facilitate animal use in ways that cause suffering.”

    Could you elaborate a bit as to what you mean by the facilitating suffering thought?


    • Diana (reply)

      April 22, 2012 at 15:30

      Thanks for your comment veganelder. Hal Herzog has a great anecdote about anthropomorphism gone wrong in “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat”. He talks about a couple who go white water rafting with their tiny shivering dog and how the raft gets flipped and the dog rides on the man’s head to shore. The idea that a dog would enjoy white water rafting is anthropomorphism. In zoos sometimes naturally solitary animals are kept in groups because humans think they need “friends” to be psychologically healthy while normally social animals, like elephants, are sometimes kept alone sometimes through the rationalization that human contact is enough for them. Diana Goodrich of Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW describes seeing chimpanzees in a basement with no enrichment but a television. I know from working with chimpanzees in the past that they have no interest in television whatsoever unless they are watching a film of themselves or chimpanzees they know. I have some other ideas but don’t want to give them away just yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *