Monday, September 14, 2009

“[H]umans are the only sentient animal currently on Earth.”

Merriam-Webster:
sen·tient
1 : responsive to or conscious of sense impressions
2 : aware
3 : finely sensitive in perception or feeling
Now, a comment by University of California, Los Angeles Associate Professor of Psychology, Aaron Blaisdell — September 14th, 2009, on TimesUnion.com:
Pat wrote: “We view sentient animals as morally relevant beings who are not means to human ends.” So do the scientists who conduct animal research. The weight of evidence, however, is that humans are the only sentient animal currently on Earth (Area 51 and UFO sightings aside). For an excellent contemporary article that exhaustively deals with this issue see “Darwin’s mistake: Explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds” by Penn, Holyoak, and Povinelli (Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2008, Vol. 31). And despite the evidence that non-human animals are not sentient, we scientists who conduct animal research do feel compassion for our research subjects and take every effort to minimize their discomfort and to ensure their health and well being (including psychological well being) in the laboratory environment. This is likely an easier task when a domesticated species like rats and pigeons–which are now adapted to human environments (as are dogs–is used, but nevertheless holds true with all species of animal used in research, from fruit fly to sea slugs to chimpanzee–to humans.

Wow. Maybe the post was from some other Aaron Blaisdell posing as a scientist or someone else posing as Blaisdell. Given UCLA Associate Professor Blaisdell's own work and his affiliation with the article's subject, I suspect it is him. His students should sue UCLA for failing to provide them with informed instructors.

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