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Jooblue Poodersoo (F, 42)
Albuquerque, US
Immortal since Dec 12, 2007
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    Are we even the superior species on earth?
    Lately I've been wondering if we're really the most superior species on earth, as we have assumed in modern times.
    There are new studies coming out showing that chimps have better memories and bonobos are more peaceful and other species have their own forms of communication and bats may be able to hear in color.
    Why do we assume we're the best? Is it because we have opposable thumbs? Is it because we've created?
    Sometimes I wonder if we're not just the big dumb bully on the block—beating everyone up and claiming our superiority by might.

    Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link

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    sjef     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    Uhm.. Yes we are. There's no question about it, we are the superior species. (On land anyway).
    It's because we say we are, and have actually thought about it. Should another species develop the level of intelligence and capacity for abstract thought necessary to formulate an opinion to the contrary, then we could just beat them up anyway. :)
    Michael Garrett     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    I don't know what counts as superior, but we are dominant. We are dominant because of our willingness to exercise violence to attain our position. Not only violence against other species, but on our own kind as well.
    josh     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    Michael, I don't share your view on this one. We are not dominant simply because of "our willingness to exercise violence to attain our position". There are many species of animals, specifically primates, that also exercise violence against one another - always to attain position.

    We are, however, the only species who takes far more from nature than we ever give back.
    ronny     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    How can we take from nature if we are nature?
    sjef     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    Pretty much you get a few bulldozers, chainsaws, drilling platforms and whatnot, you know, just basic mining & deforestation equipment. You use that to lay waste to your environments natural resources for a few hundred years, destroying a multitude of species habitats while expanding your own in the process. It's pretty basic.
    Michael Garrett     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    Perhaps Josh, but non do it quite so well and on the grand scale that we do.
    We are a species that can take positive steps to preserve and protect our environment. Of course taking those steps require a willingness to do so.
    joushlol     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    I guess you would have to define your terms. What do you mean by superior? You could make a case against our superiority, but as a species is the ability to network and pass on knowledge and ideas beyond spoken word and demonstration is my far our most advanced skill.

    You can talk all day about how mankind could be doing better as a whole, but you have to be careful not to make out animals as noble. they can't tell the difference between responsibility and pure instinct. We, on the other hand, have a responsibility to be able to tell the difference. I think that puts us in a completely different league than what we are trying to compare ourselves with.

    I think humility is the best position to take in any circumstance.
    sjef     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    You raise a good point regarding responsibility. It's responsibility that comes with the power we hold over our planet, which has most certainly been abused through ignorance, greed and a general lack of morals.
    As far as taking a humble position goes, I would agree to a certain extent, but it shouldn't be at a cost to your pride in being human. Yeah some of us are fools & assholes, but we still rule.
    First Dark     Mon, Dec 17, 2007  Permanent link
    Humanity as a whole is potentially superior to all other animals on this planet insofar as it has the greatest capacity to think and act. I stress the word "potentially" because humans have abused this capacity and now stand inferior to all other life forms. There is no other creature on Earth which has proved itself more savage and regressive than the human.

    Since the dawn of civilization, most humans have decided to live in this world, not as caretakers and progressive intellectuals, but as barbaric megalomaniacs with little or no concern for the natural environment; spreading around the planet like a virus, infecting everything it can touch. Those who have attempted to reverse this flow of aggressive exploitation have been outcast, silenced, and/or exterminated. There have been a few waves of progress, but ultimately most of our species remains exactly the same; greedy, self-centered, irrational, and devoid of long-term thinking.

    I am an optimist, however. Technologies such as the Internet now allow the caretakers, intellectuals, and progressive individuals to connect with each other, share ideas, and take action. Space Collective strikes me as a perfect example of what gives me hope that we still have the opportunity to reverse the mistakes of those who came before us (and many who still surround us).

    But time is certainly running out.

    I kind of went on a ranting tangent there, so I'd like to get back to the point I was going to make.

    Personally, I feel that this "superiority" should be judged within the context of the current state of the world. Whichever life forms have the most positive, sustaining effect on the planet are the most superior (perhaps some sort of plant or bacteria? or maybe a human-killing virus?) while inferiority belongs to those who are causing the most destruction (of course, humans have a monopoly on this side of the spectrum).
    john     Wed, Dec 19, 2007  Permanent link
    I guess you would have to define your terms. What do you mean by superior?


    the problem as i see it is that we resort immediately to concepts of good and bad or positive or negative effects. morality can't be used as a measurement, because it is largely subjective. if we want to arrive at any kind of definite answer we need to use something that can't be argued endlessly by way of opinion. yeah. easier said than done.

    first off, we need to decide whether we are going to include capabilities granted to humans through the things we create (tools and so on) as evidence of our superiority. if not, it becomes a whole new question altogether, but i would tend to say an irrelevant one. so for the purposes of this argument, technology will be included as a characteristic of humanity.

    by my way of thinking, what we must do is identify the core and observable aims of essentially every species on earth, and then establish which species satisfy them all and to the greatest and most comprehensive extent.

    the first instinctive aim of all life is to breed, no living thing exists without this urge. as humans, we have developed systems to satisfy this urge that surpass anything any other animal has achieved. pornography, prostitution and the like coupled with artificial insemination, adoption, surrogate mothers and so on have created an environment where humans no longer need even attract a mate to have sex, or be physically capable of having a child in order to have one anyway.

    the second imperative is obviously food and water, or to use a more general term, sustenance. again, humans have produced an undeniably advanced (at least in comparison to other species) system of producing and transporting sustenance. even in the most primitive of human conditions, simple water pumps, farming etc outstrip the means established by other animals.

    shelter, arguably the third common goal of the majority of living things, has to go hands down to humanity. our vast cities dwarf most physical features of the planet itself.

    using this system of logic, humans do seem to be the superior species on the planet, but if you are still unsatisfied by that humans do indeed meet all the needs of life most effectively, one can simply point to humanity's deep interest in creation as evidence. it makes sense that any creature will not fashion a tool, write a book, or experiment with art, if it starving or in need of shelter. essentially, all acts of creation exist when the immediate need to satisfy basic living impulses is satisfied. that no other animal has created to the extent that mankind has created is proof that mankind has sated the basic urges like no other species has.

    yeah, humanity: for a hard-earned thirst.

    however, this theory only works as a kind of snapshot thing. as has been pointed out endlessly, our way of life is in no way sustainable, so if the ability to survive as a species over great lengths of time where to be included, we most certainly fall short.

    the prize would then go to trees or some such.
    connor     Mon, Nov 10, 2008  Permanent link
    This is a pretty good presentation on this subject, offering a bit of a different point of view: