Inside the minds of animals – Bryan B Rasmussen


Your dog loves to curl up on the couch,
but so do you, so you shoo him off
and settle in for a cozy evening. After all, you’re the human around here. You’re an intelligent being,
not a simple creature of instinct. You can plan and dream, and oh- Did your dog just outsmart you
and feel happy about it? Or was he just following his instincts? Is there even a difference? What is he thinking? Well, it depends on
what we mean by “thinking” and the criteria we use to evaluate it. Aristotle and Descartes both use
the criteria of instinct and intelligence to divide animals from humans. Aristotle believed
that humans possess reason, while animals could only follow brute
instincts for survival and reproduction. Almost 2000 years later, Descartes suggested
a more extreme version of that idea, arguing that animals following instincts
were indistinguishable from robots responding mechanically
to stimuli in their environments. But the consensus against animal
intelligence began to unravel with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Darwin hypothesized that intelligence
could evolve from simpler instincts. He had observed earthworms making choices
about how to drag oddly shaped leaves into their boroughs, and was struck that a human might employ
similar means to solve a similar problem. And if, as he thought, humans
are descended from simpler creatures, then perhaps our minds lie
at the far end of a continuum, differing from theirs in degree,
but not in kind. Recent experiments showing that many
species can solve complex problems confirm Darwin’s initial hypothesis. Elephants use objects to reach
inaccessible places. Crows make their own tools, and can use water displacement
to get a reward. Octopuses can open jars
after watching others do so, and can even remember
the process months later. Such tasks involve considering
aspects of a problem separately from the immediate situation,
and retaining the strategy for later use. Still, while animals
can solve complex problems, how do we know what, or even that,
they are thinking? Behaviorists, such as Pavlov
and Thorndike, argue that animals that appear to think are usually only responding
to reward or punishment. This was the case with Clever Hans, a horse with the amazing ability
to tap out answers to math problems. But it turns out Hans
wasn’t especially good at math, but at reading his unwitting
trainer’s subtle nonverbal cues for when to stop tapping. So Hans couldn’t count,
but does that mean he wasn’t thinking? After all, he could interpret
nuanced social messages, a quality he shared with many other
non-human animals. Elephants recognize each other
after years apart, and even seem to mourn their dead. Bees communicate
using a special waggle dance to indicate the location and quality
of a food source to other bees. Chimpanzees engage
in complex deception schemes, suggesting not only do they think,
but they understand that others do, too. And then there is Alex the Grey Parrot, who could use human language to distinguish the colors
and shapes of absent objects, and even understand abstract concepts,
like bigger and smaller. That sounds a lot like intelligence, and not just the work
of mindless machines. But while a non-human animal can solve
problems and even communicate, for humans, thinking
also involves consciousness, the ability to reflect on our actions,
not simply to perform them. So far, none of our studies tell us
if having the intelligence to outsmart us means that our dog
can also feel good about doing so. What we really want to know is
what is it like to be a dog, or an octopus, or a crow? Philosophers of mind call this
The Hard Problem, because while you and I can report
what it feels like to be a human, nobody speaks horse. Even a talking parrot, like Alex, couldn’t tell us how he feels
about the colors he could name. And what if consciousness
comes in different forms? Would we even recognize
the consciousness of bees? For that matter, how can we know for sure
that other people have consciouness? Perhaps they’re just
well-functioning zombies. Regardless, animal minds continue to test
the limits of our understanding and how we frame them may reveal more
about our minds than theirs.

100 thoughts on “Inside the minds of animals – Bryan B Rasmussen

  1. This lesson took a turn for the worse when consciousness entered the picture. Consciousness should not be identified with the ability to reflect, and the hard problem of consciousness is not about knowing what it is like to be a bat, though that is a hard problem that involves phenomenal consciousness.

  2. All this time I'm also thinking about how animal thinks. It's not just a mere instinct​ for them but in my observation, they are possessing inteligence!

  3. Wonderful video! (as usual) I wonder where we end up in the relation between human- and nonhuman-animals. Let's hope we dare to question our previous conceptions/thinkings and keep on learning and evolving 🙂

  4. Animals do in fact reflect on their actions…. when my dog was a puppy she used to use the bathroom in the house she knew what she did was wrong so we always knew when she did use the bathroom inside because of the way she acted after she did it …. and my aunts dog would do something bad while she was gone then once my aunt came back she (the dog) would put her self in timeout because she knows what she did was wrong

  5. What i think is that instinct is how u feel in the moment and what action u are gonna take for that to change or be the same . Human has it as well as other animal creaters. If u suppress a human that human is gonna have to think think and think in order to find a way to be free and comfortable again . Same for animals. That think think and think i talked about before can be called deppression aswell because depression is simply not being able to find a way out of a situation which will make u overthink . I feel we all the same tbh.

  6. *Them*: Octopuses can open jars after watching someone do it.

    *Me*: OCTOPUSES IS NOT A WORD!!! ITS OCTOPI!!!!! (I’m a Grammar nerd)

  7. No… i cant understand anyone…

    i can Only growl and Roar like a leopard seal but i know how to use a phone and computer and understand human language from lettere of de alphabet… meaning i cant comunicate With a human nor can i understand wat one is saying With deir mouth… so i can Only comunicate With my own kind from sounds we make

  8. WE DON'T KNOW WHAT CONSCIOUSNESS IS FOR ANIMALS. They might not even have consciousness at all, or culture, or anything we have, but something different. An entirely different concept our simple human brains cannot comprehend.

  9. Humans and animals are not that different at all. If you spend enough time with them, we feel what they feel and you'll be sure they can feel what you feel as well. Animals DO NOT need mathematics to survive and it's ridiculous to judge them for this ability. Animals have intelligence. It differs from species to species. I feel weird dividing this world into just two parts [animals and humans] when there are SO many species out there. Moving away from this question, why can't we live as the residents of the same planet or galaxy? Wasn't dividing ourselves one of the most common and silliest mistakes we created in the past?

  10. It is terrifying to me that I can never know for sure the people around me are real humans and have thoughts and emotions like me. And you can never know for sure that I am a real human with emotions. The only person you know for sure is a real human is yourself. That is really terrifying.

  11. You are confusing it, not just animals respond to rewards and punishments. (maybe it's called motives or believes from environment in their pack )
    It's not in the category of intelligence (put one animal with different pack of animals and it will start behaving the same way.

    There's too many similarities between humans and some of the animals you mentioned. Both humans and animals have conscience both feel love/protect etc some don't have a conscious maybe?

    What separates humans from animals is intelligence only. Animals feel pain just as much as humans. That's what makes humans confuse it with intelligence like they are not beings. They are creatures and don't deserves to be treated this way.. They cry just like humans you can see their tears they get depressed and they feel pain as much as humans. Not that everyone should become a vegetarian but unfortunately every scientific experiment is on animals to better lives of humans and treat them and that is a sad truth. Maybe it's the circle of life I don't know. But it's great that you are human enough to question.

    ?? ? ? Sorry I had to say it.
    Some animals like horses/ dogs become best friends with humans and they understand each others language. You know like being a part family. What I heard seems so like(excuse my language) some religious sects that don't have pets in their homes just for religious reasons. Because biology and the study of animals in first/third world countries know better than this.

  12. Dear author of this clip: I was wondering if you'd allow me to create a french version, for publishing on a french article on dog morality / intelligence / emotions.

    Thank you very much.

    Charles G. Couturier

  13. Animals don't think how it feels like to be a human may be
    but we do
    I think that's where we become different

  14. The theory is called conscious zombie and its miss represented here… Its meant to highlight the notion that consciousness is not necessary

  15. 1. why is there a subscriber count above the poster now? do you want a prize for doing good at your job? Screw you. also you know never to look at the comments I'm not apologizing 2. 0:57 That seems more interesting then Darwinian theory, we already know Darwinian theory, is this for homeschoolers? it's mandated knowledge and it got disproven 5 years go now. Go do something ORIGINAL.

  16. ted-ed is definitely addressing to brainwashed zombies since all that mainstream junk info. is programmed to ignorants, systematically. the fact that animals have a degree of intelligence according to their needs, found on humans aswell, that doesn't prove " an evolution theory", it just proves an intelligence pattern matrix used by the same creator to create humans and animals on the same timeline and with similar characteristics for the same planet.

  17. Consheyeness is the ability to process information from the environment and to perform tasks

    Every non human animal can talk to each other and can understand humans but we can't understand them and what makes animals and human different can be uncertain right now
    I have think about this but could not get the answer

  18. This is a challenging question to all atheists. Why do only humans possess unique brain among all species, why nature favoured only one species to evolve itself (if it is so )to such an amazing level. There are an earthshattering amount of species living in the world, why humans so unique?!!

  19. I like to imagine that animals vs humans is a matter of how we perceive time. . Animals view it 2 dimensionally. They only experience whats immedietly happening while the body retains past experiences. Whereas i beleive simple life forms and animals are seperated by only experiencing the present with no retention of the past. Whereas humans experience time three dimensionally. Our bodies and simpler sections of the brain still retain the past. But we can also perceive the future. A cell feels success when it eats and then continues to exist. A dog feels good when he eats and can later recall it being good and what it looled and smelled like. A human can enjoy a meal and then think about where the next meal will come from. And what he has to do tomorow. In order to ensure future happiness. I beleive this is what makes us different. We can percieve the consept of the future. All of an animals actions have an immediate reason that will effect what is currently happening. Humans do things in the present that affect the future but have no immediate benefit. A dog would play but in would never hit the gym. He only perceives the fun of play. Not the goal of gains.

  20. I think my cat shows conscious thought all the time, I can tell how she feels when she flicks her tail. And she always shows facial expressions, I think she has even more conscious thought than my dog because she’s always observing things. But sometimes I cry and so my dog comes to me and cuddles me to make me feel better. I never taught him what crying is, or how to make me feel better. He wants to make me feel better and he consciously thought that after years of observing that human crying is not a good sign, he felt that cuddling me would be the way to do it.

  21. If you don't know how to tell what animals feel then maybe it's not their intelligence that should be questioned.

  22. the question is wrongly asked. It shouldn't be if or what or how they think, but can animals suffer?

  23. Animals have to have feelings.
    My bigger dog faked haveing a hitt paw beside he though we where going to abandon him (we weren't) and my smallest dog is terribly afraid of heights

  24. I mean… just think of how different a sighted hearing person's conciousness is different than a deaf or blind person. … how can we understand that? A blind person doesnt even understand the concept of a photograph.!! (3D objects in a 2D setting.) The animal mind must surely be far different…

  25. that intro is just quire road

    4:40 p.s. upon reading descarte's meditations I also feel for that solipsistic belief that not because I am aware that I am conscious does not guarantee that others who possess the likeness of me physically are also conscious, not only is that a faulty analogical fallacy but it also proves nothing about what we know about other entities, anything beyond that which we are certain of are questionable.

  26. Yes! Consciousness is very complex and omnipresent!
    I love the last question about all humxns having consciousness bc I believe there are several forms of life, including w: in the "humxn" populace… Hybrids, etc. And consciousness on several levels simultaneously

  27. Have u seen any other animal building there own homes with air conditioning, TV and furnishings and so on?
    Have u seen other animals fighting for rights making laws, marrying and so on?
    We are a billion times different than other animals. Why do even consider us human and them as animals in the first place. For those who thinks there is a lesson.

  28. many mammals, are like babies who cant talk.. So, do babies have intelligence or rather conciouness like it has been defined here?

  29. its hard to wrap my head around the fact that animals can do almost anything, but they can manage to sit in cages for hours at a time and be content. humans couldnt do nearly that much with the bad habits we have developed.

  30. Thought is just needs and wants and how to get what you need or want right? So they just have less need or wants that we have

  31. And zombies have only one need and one want so they don't have to think to much the more you need and want the more you think about things

  32. I have a conure that had leaned to open and unlock his door. First I used clips but after a while he started to bull them to his side and open them. He lifts bird doors over his head but the one that got me most was I started using twist ties. I noticed that whenever I twisted the tie he would sit right bye watching me. And after a few times he learned how to twist the other way and got out

  33. When I was 15 my dad was telling me off about something and I recall telling him he doesn't even exist. That he was just an entity functioning automatically in my session. I got slapped and sent to sleep.

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