The following are letters to the editor of US News and
World Report and show, in my opinion, that there IS hope.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR COVER STORY on the feelings and intelligence of
animals ["Animal Emotions," October 30]. The hard-logic arguments made
by Marc Bekoff and Jane Goodall are compelling. The contortions some
scientists go through to avoid attributing "higher" thoughts and
emotions to animals resemble the ways pre-Copernican astronomers tried
to defend a geocentric universe. In their exertions to remain "rigorous"
and "objective," they have forgotten two other fundamentals of hard
science: that the simplest explanations are preferred (Occam's razor)
and that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Clearly, we are
they, but they are not us. Humans are animals, vertebrates, mammals,
primates. Biochemically and behaviorally, everything we do has been done
by other animals for a lot longer. Logically, everyone accepts that. But
the implication is that we are not really different and not really
special. And a lot of people have trouble accepting that. In truth,
however, we are different: We alone have the capacity to exterminate
them and I hope the intelligence and self-control not to do it.
GREGORY D. L. MORRIS
I SUSPECT THAT THE SCIENTISTS WHO refuse to believe that
animals other than humans experience emotions are less concerned about
maintaining the "purity" of the scientific method than they are about
what they might otherwise have to think about as they eat meat, perform
experiments upon animals, or consider how similar human behavior is to
that of the "lesser" animals.
WHILE WE IN THE ANIMAL ADVOCACY movement have long known
that animals have feelings, the scientific community and other groups
have been reluctant to face this important issue. Could it be that if we
admit that animals feel emotions such as fear, loneliness, desperation,
and depression, we might be forced also to admit that we do not have the
right to subject them to the terror of factory farm, slaughterhouse,
laboratory, fur farm, and the other environments where animals are
manipulated, tortured, and killed?
WHEN WE SEE WHAT HUMANS continue to do to our animal
brethren endless cruelties in the way of abandonment, indifference,
experimentation, vivisection, etc., some of us ask, do we humans have
THEY CERTAINLY DO HAVE FEELINGS and, what's more, they
do not pretend or lie about them. When my dog was happy, she let me
know. When she was sad, I knew that, too. No lying about feelings. They
feel more purely than humans.
IT SADDENS ME THAT THIS IS NEWS IN the United States and
around the world. We are such an egocentric species.
PATRICIA ANN MULLEN
THE BOTTOM LINE IS NOT WHETHER animals can think, feel,
buy a house, drive an SUV, or play electronic video games. The bottom
line is: Do they suffer? The answer is yes. That alone should entitle
them to the same compassion and respect we give, or should give, to our
DEANNA TERRY PETERSON
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
I WAS PLEASED WITH YOUR STORIES, but I also would have
liked reports on other domestic and wild animals in addition to dogs and
cats. I had the privilege of observing the relationship of a wild piglet
and a company of soldiers during World War II. Cooks in our company
traded some canned meat to Pacific natives for a piglet. Soon the little
pig, with the unimaginative name of "Porky," became our company mascot,
going on marches on the road bordering the ocean. She always marched at
the head of the column next to our company commander. At dusk, Porky
would go from tent to tent, pausing and grunting at each tent, seemingly
saying goodnight before she returned to her spot at the mess tent. When
our unit, Company M, 161st Infantry Regiment, 25th Division, left
Guadalcanal to fight on and reclaim New Georgia, one man remained behind
with our equipment and company mascot. When we returned about three
months later, members of our unit asked, "Where's Porky?" The soldier
who remained behind explained, "After you guys left, she ran around as
if looking for you, squealing all of the time. Then one day she
disappeared into the jungle. I never saw her again."
H. SCOTT WILSON
Go on to I Could
Never Work Here!
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