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They think, therefore they are

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Sorry Rene, turns out animals aren’t mindless machines after all. It comes as a surprise that it took so long but science has finally, officially declared that non-human animals are conscious beings. I talk about the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness over at the mighty Scavenger.

Here’s a taste:

[I]t comes as something of a surprise to learn of a declaration made last month at a conference of some of the world’s leading brain researchers. According to its website, the first annual Francis Crick Memorial Conference, “focussing on ‘Consciousness in Humans and Non-Human Animals”, aims to provide a purely data-driven perspective on the neural correlates of consciousness.”

The statement, known as The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness, was signed by some of the world’s leading neuroscientists, including Diana Reiss and Christof Koch, in the presence of Stephen Hawking no less, and its conclusion has many in the science world talking:

“The weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

As this Psychology Today blogger notes, the idea that animals have some sort of thought process and are aware of their surroundings isn’t really news to many of us, which brings up two pertinent questions: 1) Why has it taken so long for science to officially recognise the consciousness of other species? And 2) What is the significance of this declaration?

Read the rest here.

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Written by Ruby

August 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Posted in Animal Rights, Science

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