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Food for thought

This is a discussion on Food for thought within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; "If animals believed in the devil, then this devil would for sure have the shape of a human". I do ...

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    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    Food for thought

    "If animals believed in the devil, then this devil would for sure have the shape of a human". I do not remember who said that.

    And a clever image.
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    It’s 2014 and I still use printf() for debugging.


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    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    A touch of misanthropy is healthy sometimes.

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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    If animals believed in the devil, then this devil would for sure have the shape of a human.
    O_o

    Sounds more like a quote from the classic "Twilight Zone" television series.

    *shrug*

    Anyway, I tend to think such thoughts would probably be more towards Cordyceps.

    O_o

    Which, come to think of it, has been payed with in "Twilight Zone", "Outer Limits", "The X Files", "Fringe", and others I've not yet watched.

    Soma (I'm a bit of geek you see.)

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    Well obviously, given the choice of spending a day in a large pool of water with the
    photographer or the shark,I would clearly choose the shark, and it would
    teach me its peaceful ways, and I would emerge a transformed person.

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    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    @Soma, no, no˛! It was from a person, I hope it had nothing to do with this trash.

    @gemera, you should teach yourself how to treat the shark first .

    Well, one different thing from the shark to the human, is that shark harms other living creatures on earth, only when its hungry!
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    Are you sure that's true?

    If it is, it wouldn't be particularly typical of the natural world where animals can fight each other over territory, mates, food, and their place in a pecking order to the point of injury or death.
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    There is only one real difference between humans and other animals: human actions tend to have a much larger effect.

    Many species kill for any number of reasons. Male lions usually kill existing cubs when they take over a pride. Rape among dolphins is more like a rule than an exception. While most predators only kill their prey when hungry, some (like housecats) kill out of instinct or perhaps just for fun. When distressed or frustrated, most animals are known to lash out, causing damage to other animals, their surroundings, and even themselves. Many animals are known to die when deprived of species-typical activities, even if otherwise healthy.

    The actions of a single human can be quite far-reaching. Think of the poor entrepreneur, who cannot afford the hazardous chemical waste treatment, and instead dumps a barrel of heavy-metal laden liquid into a small creek, contaminating dozens of square kilometers of creek and surrounding land -- especially if there is a marsh downstream. Heavy metals are a deadly poison. (In fact, uranium dust is far more toxic chemically than most realize: the amount ingested that is chemically fatal to a human, produces less than a quarter of the dose that is considered similarly fatal. With uranium dust, the radiation is basically irrelevant, because it is the chemical effects that cause human and animal suffering and tissue and DNA damage; the levels at which radiation effects start to be statistically meaningful, the chemical effects are already deadly.)

    Just like humans, most animals don't care about others' death and suffering, unless the dead was part of their immediate life. There are exceptions, of course.

    Just like humans, many social animals need company to remain sane and healthy.

    Recent research suggests that it was the wolf/dog that tamed humans, not vice versa. (Because humans and wolves don't get along, and probably never have, it is more likely that there was a change in wolf behaviour that started the development that ends up with dogs, rather than humans taking wolves and breeding them until they got dogs. Although, the Russian long-term research does show it does not take many generations with selective breeding to turn foxes human-friendly.)

    It is even possible that agriculture is not a human invention in any true sense. It could be the natural reaction the living environment has for the excessively large impact individual animals have; a way of turning an excessive-impact omnivore into an eusocial animal in a few thousand generations.

    If you think that's ridiculous, just consider ants. The ant population is estimated at one quadrillion or 1,000,000,000,000,000 individual ants, some 180,000 ants per human. Many cultivate fungi as a food source; for certain species like the leafcutter ants, the fungi they cultivate themselves is their only food source. So, this path of evolution has probably already happened at least once.. It would also explain the (oft ridiculed) findings that general human intelligence seems to be declining.
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    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    You are both correct, but I think you can get my point. Humans seem to want more and more, no matter what!
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    Humans seem to want more and more, no matter what!
    O_o

    So?

    *shrug*

    Humans exhaust the environment? Every other creature exhausts the environment.

    I certainly don't get your point. What is your point?

    Soma

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    If I were std10093, I'd say humans have the capability to maintain a high diversity, highly comfortable environment for up to about 8 billion humans (ballpark estimate; goes higher the better technologies we have), but we choose not to. By definition, as a species, we are insane.

    All other animals are driven by instinct or self-interest.

    Humans, as a highly social, almost eusocial animals, are not: our actions are driven by social constructs, purely nonphysical things like ideas, culture, memes, advertising, religion -- and they have very little to nothing to do with self-interest.

    The saddest part is that all humans, except for those few that suffer for mental ailments, are capable of "enlightened self-interest".

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    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    What is this srug? You write it very often. It should be something like an emotion I guess..

    Well, Nomimal has a point at has he said.

    My point is that all the creatures, except humans are balanced(in how much territory, dominance, power, food resources they own), even by driven by themselves or nature (ecosystem) makes this happen. However, humans are way off track and way off the balanced idea.

    You see, as Ancient Greeks said:
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    Pan Metron Ariston
    "παν μετρον αριστον" from Greek
    which means that balanced is the optimal (pretty much, this is the meaning).
    Code - functions and small libraries I use


    It’s 2014 and I still use printf() for debugging.


    "Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. " —Harold Abelson

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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    My point is that all the creatures, except humans are balanced(in how much territory, dominance, power, food resources they own), even by driven by themselves or nature (ecosystem) makes this happen.
    O_o

    That was your point?

    Well, you are right about the ecosystem self-balancing for most species, and you are right that humans have evolved to change our environment to such purpose that we have no checks to balance our existence, but you are wrong about animals themselves driving towards balance.

    Most other animals, non-human, are checked, and so balanced, by the ecosystem; most animals have natural predators, limited access to food, or competition for resources that balances the resources a given species consumes, but there is no natural difference between humans and animals when such checks aren't available.

    We aren't the only species who lives without such checks. Find yourself stories of the horrendous hare population, plagues of frogs, or other cases where a species has found itself without checks due to migration or injection. The animals aren't "driven [to balance] by themselves"; having no natural predators and seemingly limitless food within the new ecosystem such species, even the hares, have decimated other species to the point of near-extinction.

    The behavior you attribute to a uniqueness of humans is simply because we are very much still animals.

    Soma

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    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    True, but this is the important:

    Well, you are right about the ecosystem self-balancing for most species, and you are right that humans have evolved to change our environment to such purpose that we have no checks to balance our existence
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    It’s 2014 and I still use printf() for debugging.


    "Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. " —Harold Abelson

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    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    It's like you stopped reading Soma's post right there.

    I want to know what happens after we accept that we're the salt of the earth.

    We don't really act differently from the rest of the animal kingdom. The major difference is the higher order thinking that we are capable of doing and have to fight to apply in a very old body. A body that is increasingly unfit in modern times that requires incredible maintenance. One that still uses the fight or flight response in reaction to every stressor in our lives, capable of causing all sorts of health problems if not deliberately managed. When's your body going to get to the next order of physical function that might make us more self-sufficient? Couldn't that solve a ton of problems?

    Or do we hate ourselves so much that other species have more right to the Earth than we do? Pretend we don't exist. I don't think animals really understand too much about the environment. Complain about the problems humans are causing, but at least we know they are there, and have the potential to solve them. What's an animal going to do? In response to a changing habitat, groups will probably just move to another hospitable area with their niche. The whole Earth is our habitat now. We can't be that kind of animal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post
    Well, [std10093 is] right about the ecosystem self-balancing for most species, and [std10093 is] right that humans have evolved to change our environment to such purpose that we have no checks to balance our existence, but [std10093 is] wrong about animals themselves driving towards balance.
    I agree. The self-balancing phenomenon is actually an emergent property of the ecology. I find it extremely fascinating. Based on closed environment tests, the ecology is capable of self-balancing only after it exceeds some critical mass limit, as the closed environments we've constructed thus far always crash, sooner or later.

    Indeed, for Earth there seem to be repeated die-off cycles. This could be a coincidence, or it might indicate that all biosystems tend to crash at some point. The regularity might indicate the period is dependent on the biosphere size, and perhaps complexity.

    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post
    there is no natural difference between humans and animals when such checks aren't available.
    Except that humans are, as far as we know, the first species that could plan for the long-term future, and install those checks voluntarily. We just choose not to.

    Well, I guess you could say it's "natural" to choose not to limit ourselves... I'm just saying that we differ from other animals in that we can choose, whereas other species are unable to make such species-wide decisions.

    Quote Originally Posted by whiteflags View Post
    Or do we hate ourselves so much that other species have more right to the Earth than we do?
    In case you or someone else read my post as hate towards humans as a species, let me say I'm just disappointed in major human cultures, and the choices they promote. I personally love humans, especially the smiling ones. I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing a genuine human smile.

    Yet, the questions remain: Are humans more important than the rest of the biosphere? Is there a balance that can be struck; say, preserving a medically irreplaceable plant species, but causing misery or death to one billionth of the human population? Is human reproduction more important than the rest of the biosphere? Is human comfort more important than the rest of the biosphere? Why? Are we, as a species, unsatisfiable in our appetites, or is that just a current cultural fad?

    We certainly don't think the deaths of other humans outside our personal lives matter, or we'd taken care of redistributing the food we produce, so nobody would ever die of hunger. We certainly produce enough food to feed every single human already. We even charge for the right to reproduce life-saving medicines via patents and other intellectual property, letting people die if they cannot pay. It appears we hold our social values, ideas and culture and religion and memes and so on, as more important than anything physical. Why?

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