What Are Animals Thinking? (PBS)

Edited to add (11/8/12): This is worth watching for the research on pigeon navigation, bee “swarm intelligence” and other interesting insights. I was disappointed, however, with the anthropocentric note on which the program ended. The last segment was about behavioral research on monkeys, and the conclusions articulated by the researcher were framed in why this research is important to us, as a species … what it says about us. I don’t have issues with extrapolating relevant information for all purposes. But, given how profound some recent studies are — that is, they’re challenging long-held scientific notions about animals — I would have hoped the program stressed how the conclusions were important from the standpoint of valuing animals and their capabilities inherently, not just for what they bring to us. That’s my brief review.

I haven’t yet seen the program, so I can’t speak to the actual content. But I appreciate any exploration into the subject matter of animal cognition and emotion. This Nova episode airs tonight on PBS, with David Pogue:

Watch What Are Animals Thinking? Preview on PBS. See more from NOVA scienceNOW.

And … two related, short videos from a bookstore talk with biologist Jonathan Balcombe, on the subject of animal emotion (1) and the individuality in fish (2):

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for the reminder of this program. The pigeon “puzzle” continues to be just that: a puzzle. I clearly saw how they placed a radar on one of the pigeon”s head. Also, a bit distateful was how some of the bees were painted on with colors to distinguish them from one another for the sake of science and research. The program seemed to be more about the research than about the inherent ability that animals actually have to use swarm behaviour for their own survival as opposed to how much humans are actually puzzled by it and want to explain it back to us.

    • says

      I agree, Maria. I don’t know if you saw the addendum I posted above, earlier this evening, but I had some of the same feelings. I thought the studies were so compelling, it would have pointed to some great insight about inherent value, as opposed to the usual … what animals do for us. I know some of the studies did speak for themselves in this regard. Thanks for the comment!

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