10 Questions Science Can't Answer (Yet): A Guide to the by Michael Hanlon

By Michael Hanlon

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Extra resources for 10 Questions Science Can't Answer (Yet): A Guide to the Scientific Wilderness

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But there was a big problem. We all know we have internal, mental lives, because we experience them. Denying their existence because they cannot be meaningfully studied is like denying the existence of the Andromeda galaxy because no one has been there and probably never will. ). That fact alone would take a huge amount of explaining. Today you is fido a zombie? 27 would be hard pressed to find someone taking a hard-line behaviourist view of animal or human consciousness. But what does it mean to be self-aware and, indeed, conscious of anything?

In a review published in Science3 in 2004, the question of corvid (crows, jays, rooks, magpies, ravens and jackdaws) intelligence was discussed. In fact, despite the pejorative term ‘birdbrain’, the smartness of these species has been known about for some time. In one of Aesop’s fables, a crow, unable to drink from a pitcher of water because the sur- 34 10 questions science can’t answer yet face was too low for its beak to reach, started dropping stones into the pail, displacing water until it was within reach.

28 10 questions science can’t answer yet We cannot know what it is like to be a bat, a bird or a whale. But that is not to say we cannot study and discover some useful things about animal awareness. In 1970, the psychologist Gordon Gallup developed the ‘mirror test’ to determine whether animals were self-aware. In essence, the test uses a mirror to see whether an animal can recognize its own image as being one of itself. Plenty of animals are fascinated by mirrors, but to see whether they know the creature in the glass is themselves, the Gallup test involves marking the animal with a dye or paint mark (which it cannot see except in the mirror) and seeing whether the animal behaves in a way that indicates that it realizes that the reflected body, with the mark, is its own.

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