Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Talking Dogs (it could happen)

I'm reading new book called The Link. It seems that in the 19th century, after Darwin published Origin of the Species and after people came to accept the ideas, a secondary discussion cropped up: How and why are humans better than all other animals? Many people expected a quick answer.

The first explanation put forth by the humans-are-so-fabulous crowd was that only humans use tools, but we know that chimps, birds and other animals also use tools. Our tools are much more advanced, but is that really what makes the difference?

Many animals communicate using sounds, but our language is much better. And here is where many scientists agree: not only is the human language ability better, it is unique in its ability to expand. Once we learned to talk, we just kept talking until our brains got very big. None of us, individually, needs to be very smart--as a group we just get smarter and smarter, and this allows many of us to just talk and talk with no actual intelligence at all.

Here's Bingo, taking in a deep breath of air that must contain something pretty good, maybe some hint of dog butt or squirrel feces. Unfortunately, the larynx of a dog is not physically equipped to talk, no matter how much bionic brain power the dog might have. Then why do I get the feeling he's going to say something any day now?

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