You are an animal. In fact, you are a monkey. You are a monkey that is part of the animal Kingdom, just like any other monkey. Just because you’re a Homo sapien does not make you ‘special’, despite what your mum tells you. I mean, if chimps can wear pants, ride bicycles and smoke cigars, what makes us think that we are so different from them? The truth is, they’re not the only thing that we do that chimps can do, and there are some things that they can do better.
I’m going to add a disclaimer here and say that the next paragraph is my opinion, nothing more!
Humans aren’t special at all; we aren’t on any ‘higher level’ than any other animal that has ever existed. We are just another continually changing iteration of a process that has been at work since life began: evolution.
Now, many people would have you think otherwise. Living in our society, in the concrete jungle, amongst people in ‘clothes’ and far away from the vast plains and dense forests from where we came, it is easy to forget that we are in fact ‘animals’. In my experience the majority of people with whom I have spoken about this topic believe that humans are removed from all other forms of life, in one way or another. We are special. But then there are also the crazy creationists and unfortunately named Scientologists who either vehemently deny any link to the animal Kingdom, or believe we are the ‘peak’ of evolution. Why do they think this? Well, one of the key beliefs that many people have held in removing Homo sapiens from other life and placing them on a more ‘meaningful’ level above all other animals is that humans (and only humans) have the ability to be self-aware. (If only they were so aware of their crazy stories). Not so!
Recent studies demonstrate (finally) that humans basking alone in the light of self-awareness is in fact a myth.
In 2001 it was found that dolphins are self-aware – a key step towards being able to ‘think about thinking’, (also called metacognitive reasoning). Elephants and great apes have also shown themselves to be self-aware. However, even more recently and more importantly, another study has shown that chimps can anticipate the consequences of their own actions! How did researchers find this out? They taught chimps to use a computer with a trackball to control a cursor. They then did a series of tests to see if the chimp knew exactly what it was doing, including confusing it with multiple cursors, delaying the response of the cursor and removing control of the cursor altogether. The chimps knew which was their cursor more than 90% of the time!
What this means is that another of the ‘divides’ between man and ape has been broken down. I, personally, welcome our return into the animal Kingdom, when it comes. If we make friends with orangutans we won’t need to worry about losing the endangered ‘rangas’. Also, they might teach us how to climb trees like a pro’.
So we have to ask ourselves again, what does makes us so special? In my opinion: nothing, and to say so detracts from the inherent complexity of all other life on earth. Schwing.
Do you see another inherently superior quality that we humans have? Disagree with me? Let me know in the comments below.