Paul Watson Asks us to Redefine Intelligence

Cetologists observe, document, and decipher evidence that points to a profound intelligence dwelling in the oceans. It is an intelligence that predates our own evolution as intelligent primates by millions of years. – Paul Watson

I had a life-changing experience while kayaking in Hawaii this past winter with friends when we were visited by a whale. There is no doubt that this majestic being was coherent, aware of us, and enjoying our company as much as we were enjoying his.

We put our snorkeling masks on and jumped in the water and could easily see the whale gently make eye contact with each of us. With one thrust of his tail, he could have left in an instant but he stayed with us for over an hour.

A mammal with a brain bigger than ours and complex migration songs that change every year, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of thoughts could be going through his mind. So I did a little research…

The recent piece by Dawn Agnos on UPLIFT about a conversation with a horse shows that emotional intelligence and empathy are a language that many animals understand. It was only recently that terms like emotional intelligence emerged and it is interesting to consider that there are many different kinds of intelligence. 

Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd makes a good argument in a recent Facebook post that perhaps humans concept of intelligence is anthropocentric and lacking in breadth.

Does brain size matter?

Watson starts early in his essay with the bold assertion that, “Biological science is provoking us to shatter our image of human superiority.” Though indigenous wisdom has always considered humans a part of the circle of life rather than above it, that sentiment has almost been completely destroyed by generations of colonial indoctrination. The very roots of colonial indoctrination not only conclude that humans are superior to all other life forms, it also considers some humans as superior to others.

The very roots of colonial indoctrination not only conclude that humans are superior to all other life forms, it also considers some humans as superior to others.

Social Darwinism, a myth, was an effort to use science to validate the behavior of employing superior weaponry to oppress other humans. Though we owe much respect to western science we must also understand the cultural and religious backdrop from which this discipline emerged. We must also be willing to explore the assumptions within science if we are to evolve it.

Rupert Sheldrake attempted to do this during a TED Talk entitled, The Science Delusion and his presentation were banned. This is not to say that Sheldrake is right and all of the science is wrong, that is too simplistic.

It is merely an opportunity to open a dialogue about assumptions within science that the scientific community may or may not be willing to consider. I mention it in the context of considering the humble notion that humans may not possess the highest form of intelligence on the planet.

If for no other reason than amusement, just open your mind and consider…

It is fascinating to reflect on mammals like us who have been on the planet a whole lot longer than us who also have larger brains than us. We, humans, pride ourselves on technology, on creating tools, gadgets, and machines.

Of course, it is easy to consider that intelligence is based on technology. Then there is the idea of emotional intelligence which acknowledges a form of intelligence which is internal, can not be easily measured empirically but plays a major role in the success of an individual.

Intuition, compassion, empathy are usually considered feelings, but these are skills, non-physical tools that we can use to ascend the social ladder. Meditation could also be considered a non-physical tool that changes our biology, reduces stress and opens the mind. We may be at the very beginning of understanding that tools do not need to be physical or easily measurable by traditional science in order to be valuable.

We willingly accept the idea of intelligence in a life-form only if the intelligence displayed is on the same evolutionary wavelength as our own. The technology automatically indicates intelligence.

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