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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » More evidence that Dolphins are super smart and should be treated better (Page 1)

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Author Topic: More evidence that Dolphins are super smart and should be treated better
Lyrhawn
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This has been a crusade of mine for awhile. I posted a thread awhile back that asked if it was murder to kill a dolphin.

More evidence comes out all the time that shows dolphins are possibly the smartest species on the planet after humans. Just recently there was an article saying that dolphins can not only self-identify, identify each other as individuals, but they cal also associate names with individuals as well. This, and other things, make dolphin communication probably more advanced than any species on earth except for humans.

Thus I continue my quiet crusade to make killing a dolphin illegal outside the bounds of the Endangered Species Act, and with appropriate punishments to match the severity of the crime.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Are dolphins commonly killed?
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Lyrhawn
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Have you been to Asia lately?
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Sa'eed
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Relevant documentary.
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Parsimony
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What ever happened with that dolphin serial killer story from last fall in the Gulf of Mexico?
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
... a thread awhile back that asked if it was murder to kill a dolphin.

A fun blast from the past, I'd say [Wink]
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Tittles
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www.theonion.com/articles/dolphins-evolve-opposable-thumbs,284/
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AchillesHeel
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How smart does something have to be before we can teach it to not aggressively attempt to mate with humans?
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Tittles
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Smarter then humans, sometimes.

Don't be hypocritical now.

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brojack17
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Would this mean Sea World is involved in the slave trade and their dolphins are indentured servants?


BTW, I totally agree with you. These appear to be sentient beings, and therefore, should have rights as such.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
... a thread awhile back that asked if it was murder to kill a dolphin.

A fun blast from the past, I'd say [Wink]
Man, writing Chinese translations after every post was way hard.
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Dan_Frank
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Expanding the definitions of sentience, language, or tools to include dolphins seems pretty silly to me.

Lyr, are you of the belief that dolphins are actually fully reasoning creatures with the capacity to learn anything, and they simply haven't had the opportunity? Or are they still markedly subhuman, or what?

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Expanding the definitions of sentience, language, or tools to include dolphins seems pretty silly to me.
I think the actual question is, do they need to be expanded-that is, how far if at all are dolphins from these definitions now-and if so, how much?
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Jake
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Expanding the definitions of sentience, language, or tools to include dolphins seems pretty silly to me.

Why's that? [Edit - or more accurately, why do you think that it would be necessary to expand the definition of these terms to accurately apply them to dolphins]

quote:
Lyr, are you of the belief that dolphins are actually fully reasoning creatures
What does it mean to be "fully reasoning"?

quote:
with the capacity to learn anything
I don't think that humans can be said to have the capacity to learn anything. Do you really think that we can?

[ March 08, 2013, 03:55 PM: Message edited by: Jake ]

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AchillesHeel
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Only eight hundred years ago the idea of human flight was more ridiculous than well... anything. We can learn more than we know we can, and we can do some crazy things with that knowledge.

We are friggin' amazing.

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Lyrhawn
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I think Rakeesh is spot on. They clearly use language, they clearly are sentient, they clearly use tools. You don't have to expand your definition of any of those things to include dolphins. I don't think they're on our level, but I think they're smart enough and advanced enough to be afforded many of the protections we afford to humans. Something doesn't need to be as smart as humans to be off-limits to the sorts of things we morally justify for lesser beings, it just needs to hit a certain level, and as far as I'm concerned, dolphins have hit that level and should be protected as humans are in terms of rules against killing and abuse.
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Samprimary
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dolphins are obviously sentient. they obviously use tools. I don't see how anyone is, uh, confused by that. You don't need to expand definitions to show that they fit the categories of 'sentient creature' and 'tool-using creature'

Language is 'non-obvious' territory. They definitely use specific noise signals to communicate with each other, and we know by now that Chomsky's evolutionary discontinuity position was wrong and that language spectrum can be inferred in some nonhuman primates and that specific breeds like bonobos can learn to engage in what may well turn out to be true language use, using language symbols referentially, having discrete units, and all. But I suspect that the actual proof that they use language is, at present, nil.

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Lyrhawn
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We know that dolphins have different dialects depending on geographic region, which suggests they are learned and differentiated, rather than something they are innately born with. That's a characteristic of a language over an instinctive noise response.

They can also be taught to associate words and symbols with other objects and things in captive habitats to ask for things they want, which suggests that, even if they don't speak Dolphin English, they can be taught language.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Jake:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Expanding the definitions of sentience, language, or tools to include dolphins seems pretty silly to me.

Why's that? [Edit - or more accurately, why do you think that it would be necessary to expand the definition of these terms to accurately apply them to dolphins]

quote:
Lyr, are you of the belief that dolphins are actually fully reasoning creatures
What does it mean to be "fully reasoning"?

See below, pretty much.

quote:
Originally posted by Jake:
quote:
with the capacity to learn anything
I don't think that humans can be said to have the capacity to learn anything. Do you really think that we can?
Yeah, I do. I think that's pretty much a prerequisite for sentience. Note that I'm not speaking to how difficult an individual of a species might find learning something to be.
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scifibum
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I think you're using "sentience" wrong, Dan.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Something doesn't need to be as smart as humans to be off-limits to the sorts of things we morally justify for lesser beings, it just needs to hit a certain level, and as far as I'm concerned, dolphins have hit that level and should be protected as humans are in terms of rules against killing and abuse.

Can you better explain what the "level" is?
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Rakeesh
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But we can't learn anything. It's conceivable that someday, our dim distant successors might learn be able, once progress has put the 'shoulders of giants' high enough to stand on, anything. But it can probably be agreed that it won't be in our lifetimes that humans figure out, say, cold fusion or faster than light travel or communications. But clearly someday we might have a shot.

So my question is: are dolphins to be excluded simply because they've further to go?

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I think you're using "sentience" wrong, Dan.

That's possible. Feel free to rephrase the earlier sentence to: I think that's a prerequisite for (us to impart the special meaning and significance that we impart to "sentience").

quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
But we can't learn anything. It's conceivable that someday, our dim distant successors might learn be able, once progress has put the 'shoulders of giants' high enough to stand on, anything. But it can probably be agreed that it won't be in our lifetimes that humans figure out, say, cold fusion or faster than light travel or communications. But clearly someday we might have a shot.

So my question is: are dolphins to be excluded simply because they've further to go?

I don't get it. Do we actually think that dolphins are creating knowledge and learning the way humans do?
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I think you're using "sentience" wrong, Dan.

That's possible. Feel free to rephrase the earlier sentence to: I think that's a prerequisite for (us to impart the special meaning and significance that we impart to "sentience").

Sentience means the ability to feel/experience things, or experience consciousness. I don't think you're using it right, even if I try to make the adjustment you suggested.

Which leaves me wondering what you DO mean.

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stilesbn
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
But we can't learn anything. It's conceivable that someday, our dim distant successors might learn be able, once progress has put the 'shoulders of giants' high enough to stand on, anything. But it can probably be agreed that it won't be in our lifetimes that humans figure out, say, cold fusion or faster than light travel or communications. But clearly someday we might have a shot.

So my question is: are dolphins to be excluded simply because they've further to go?

I think you are conflating learning with discovering. If future humans time traveled back to today and taught us how to do cold fusion we as a species have the capacity to learn it even if we haven't discovered it yet.

Is it clearly evident that dolphins could? Why haven't we started dolphin schools to teach them our knowledge?

So should dolphins be excluded simply because they've further to go? Well if you mean they have further to evolve then yes. Doesn't every species theoretically have the potential to evolve into a sentient being in the loooooong run? We exclude the rest of them.

If you mean that you think that they currently have the same potential to learn as we do but they haven't because they are handicapped on the discovery level because they have no opposable thumbs. Well I don't see the evidence of that.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Have you read the uplift series from David Brin?
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stilesbn
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
Have you read the uplift series from David Brin?

Nope.
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stilesbn
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Of course, going back to the OP, I guess I'm not really opposed to making killing dolphins illegal. We might disagree on the severity of the crime, but what those punishments would be hasn't been addressed.
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Marlozhan
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Perhaps it is worth noting the difference between killing an individual member of a species, and killing an entire species, a.k.a extinction.

We have laws that make it illegal to kill endangered species, because we consider it wrong to make a species extinct. Yet, we don't consider it wrong to kill members of that species, as long as there are enough of them left alive afterwards.

So, what distinction makes it wrong to kill whole species, but not individuals of that species?

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stilesbn
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quote:
Originally posted by Marlozhan:
Perhaps it is worth noting the difference between killing an individual member of a species, and killing an entire species, a.k.a extinction.

We have laws that make it illegal to kill endangered species, because we consider it wrong to make a species extinct. Yet, we don't consider it wrong to kill members of that species, as long as there are enough of them left alive afterwards.

So, what distinction makes it wrong to kill whole species, but not individuals of that species?

Well killing a whole species throws a wrench in the whole food chain thing and possibly could have a lot of consequences that might even affect humans. Killing individuals of that species doesn't have that repercussion. And then there's the whole idea of we'll never see the beauty of that kind of life form again.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Wiki on Uplift:

quote:
In the Uplift universe an intergalactic civilization called the Five Galaxies, comprising a multitude of sentient races, has existed for billions of years. This civilization is perpetuated by the act of Uplift, in which a "patron" species genetically modifies a Pre-sapient "client" species until it is sapient. The client species is typically indentured to its patron species for 100,000 years. A patron species gains considerable status, and patrons and clients often unite into powerful clans. Patron status can be lost due to extermination, or gross crimes against the galactic civilization.

It is generally accepted in this universe that the process of Uplift was initiated at least one billion years ago by a species known only as the Progenitors. Humanity is therefore a rare anomaly – a species with no apparent patron race. Whether humanity truly evolved independently, or whether it was criminally abandoned by an unknown patron early in its uplift, is a topic of fierce debate. Most of humanity believes itself to be a wolfling species that emerged into sapiency solely through natural evolution, without genetic manipulation of a patron species. This belief is considered heresy and ridiculous by most of the galactic civilization and has made most of the galactic powers enemies of EarthClan. The fact that Humanity had already uplifted two species (chimpanzees and bottlenose dolphins) when it encountered the galactic civilization gave Humanity patron status, which is one of the few lucky turns it has had in its difficult position as pariah in the galactic civilization. This saved humanity from the likely fate of becoming client to another race through forced adoption or being exterminated for the environmental damage done to the Earth and its native species.

Some of the main characters are dolphins...a good read.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I think you're using "sentience" wrong, Dan.

That's possible. Feel free to rephrase the earlier sentence to: I think that's a prerequisite for (us to impart the special meaning and significance that we impart to "sentience").

Sentience means the ability to feel/experience things, or experience consciousness. I don't think you're using it right, even if I try to make the adjustment you suggested.

Which leaves me wondering what you DO mean.

Would you prefer sapient?

The problem with your definition is that the concept of "feeling" or "experiencing" things, of having consciousness, is itself unclear.

I mean, is the ability to experience something predicated simply on events happening to it? If so, do lampshades have experiences?

Or does it have to be able to react? So then... ants, cows, dolphins, etc. all can react in various ways.

What about the bits of code that make up an enemy in a video game? He experiences stuff and reacts to it. Dynamically, even. You can pit bots against bots in some games and have each game turn out differently. Are they sentient?

quote:
Originally posted by stilesbn:
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
But we can't learn anything. It's conceivable that someday, our dim distant successors might learn be able, once progress has put the 'shoulders of giants' high enough to stand on, anything. But it can probably be agreed that it won't be in our lifetimes that humans figure out, say, cold fusion or faster than light travel or communications. But clearly someday we might have a shot.

So my question is: are dolphins to be excluded simply because they've further to go?

I think you are conflating learning with discovering. If future humans time traveled back to today and taught us how to do cold fusion we as a species have the capacity to learn it even if we haven't discovered it yet.

Is it clearly evident that dolphins could? Why haven't we started dolphin schools to teach them our knowledge?

So should dolphins be excluded simply because they've further to go? Well if you mean they have further to evolve then yes. Doesn't every species theoretically have the potential to evolve into a sentient being in the loooooong run? We exclude the rest of them.

If you mean that you think that they currently have the same potential to learn as we do but they haven't because they are handicapped on the discovery level because they have no opposable thumbs. Well I don't see the evidence of that.

Right.

Look at OSC's Memory of Earth series, too. The diggers and the angels are sentient/sapient/intelligent/whatever life. It appears that they have universal intelligences and they can effectively learn anything. They may have different priorities, and physical limitations, but there's no reason a digger couldn't learn how a combustion engine works, even if he was physically incapable of making one.

Are dolphins like that?

Or, put another way: If you went back in time to any point in human history and found some homo sapiens, you could teach them... well, anything. It'd take work to overcome the language barrier, and getting them up to the level of modern civilization would take a while... maybe more than one or two lifetimes, even. But there's no reason they couldn't learn it bit by bit.

Dolphins can't. As far as I know. Unless the contention of Rakeesh/Lyr/etc. is that the only problem is the language barrier and lack of hands? What's the basis for such an idea?

It seems pretty preposterous. I'd echo stilesbn: where are the dolphin schools? Why aren't we making communication with this sentient species our top priority? Why aren't they?

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Lyrhawn
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Has anyone ever tried to teach them something like that?

Every study I've seen shows they are quite capable of learning, but at some point you hit a language barrier because there are only so many ways to share information. Various studies show they are great at mimicking and memorization, which makes them as smart as any college freshman I've ever taught. Further studies show they are adept problem solvers when given a task and tools to complete it, which to me is another sign of advanced intelligence. Every new study on dolphins that comes out shows they exhibit more and more signs we solely associate to humanity.

And while I don't have a specific checklist of criteria for what puts a species above the level we were discussing earlier, I know it when I see it. And I suspect that if such a list was ever actually compiled, at any given moment you'd be able to find many human beings who wouldn't meet that criteria, which I think heavily complicates things.

Regardless, it's not my contention that if we sent a dolphin to MIT, he'd become a nuclear physicist.

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Ginol_Enam
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I imagine communication between species, whether we're talking dolphins or something else, will have to advance to the point where the non-human species requests equality before humanity will either wake up to their sentience or sapience or whatever or kill them all from fear.

Closer to the specific question above, humans will need to better recognize dolphins as individuals before an individual dolphin's life is sacred enough to protect by law.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Closer to the specific question above, humans will need to better recognize dolphins as individuals before an individual dolphin's life is sacred enough to protect by law.
So the burden is on humans to expand their horizons?
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scifibum
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quote:
What about the bits of code that make up an enemy in a video game? He experiences stuff and reacts to it. Dynamically, even. You can pit bots against bots in some games and have each game turn out differently. Are they sentient?
Siiiiiigh dude. Really?

Extremely similar gross anatomy based on the same microbiology and reactions and behaviors that appear to be qualitatively similar to our own.

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scifibum
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In other words, this is an open question when it comes to ants. It is not an open question when it comes to mammals.
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Thesifer
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It's time to start implanting the Dolphins with glia, see if they can take over the world. Probably do a better job at it than us humans.
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Mr. Y
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Let's go beyond the question of intelligence for a minute and suppose that killing a dolphin was equal to killing a human. I'd expect there to be different gradations of the crime.

When I take my my scuba gear and a huge knife and go looking for a dolphin to kill, that would be murder 1.

If I accidentally killed a dolphin due to my unsophisticated fishing techniques, it could be argued that it was manslaughter.

And so on...

Important note: Not trying to be facetious. And I have no real knowledge of the US legal system.

More important note: Dolphins should not be killed.

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Ginol_Enam
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Closer to the specific question above, humans will need to better recognize dolphins as individuals before an individual dolphin's life is sacred enough to protect by law.
So the burden is on humans to expand their horizons?
I'm not saying that's how it should be. I'm just saying that's how it is.
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Lyrhawn
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I'm not saying I necessarily disagree, but I'm making that argument. I think a lot of it is just ignorance. People still call dolphins fish. But every new bit of science that comes out says they are intelligent self-aware individuals.

Right now we have laws that protect animals because we think there's value in protecting a species as a whole, but not individual members of that species. But I think the science is in to prove that dolphins are a species where each individual dolphin is worthy of extended protection.

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Or, put another way: If you went back in time to any point in human history and found some homo sapiens, you could teach them... well, anything. It'd take work to overcome the language barrier, and getting them up to the level of modern civilization would take a while... maybe more than one or two lifetimes, even. But there's no reason they couldn't learn it bit by bit.

Not if they were learning-disabled.

Maybe animals with limited language and tool use should have the same moral status as learning-disabled human beings. That would make a lot of sense.

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Lyrhawn
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India gives Dolphins unprecedented protections

Says dolphins should be treated as "non-human persons" due to their high intelligence.

Good.

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Jeff C.
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Dolphins also rape people. In rape caves. And then the victims drown because the caves are deep underwater.

Help stop these vicious and sex-obsessed species from conquering the world and raping all of humanity.

Kill the dolphins. It's the only way to stop them once and for all.

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Godric 2.0
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I don't know what dolphins say about us, but apparently prairie dogs are calling us fat. They should be exterminated. Or at least taught some manners.
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RivalOfTheRose
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There is a Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episode where dolphins take over the earth, and make humans live in the sea.
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Lyrhawn
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"They've got nets!"

*slap*

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Lyrhawn
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Ted Talk on decoding dolphin language

Some pretty interesting stuff, whether you're a fan of dolphins or not.

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Tuukka
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Dolphins are also among the few species that are guilty of sexual harassment of female dolphins, and even what you could consider dolphin-rape.

If we grant dolphins some kind of human rights, shouldn't we also extend our judicial system to them? For example a dolphin who sexually harasses, or rapes, another dolphin, should be criminally prosecuted in a trial. Just like humans.

Also if a dolphin is guilty of vandalism, like breaking a fishing net, it should be held responsible for it, and it should pay fines just like any human. There are many ways dolphins can earn money (They should be taxed for it of course), and paying back for broken property like fishing nets shouldn't be too difficult.

We should probably create specific prisons for violent dolphin offenders. Greanted, trials could be difficult to execute at the moment, because out limited understanding of dolphin language. But this is probably only a temporary problem, and will be solved in the future.

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Ron Lambert
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The dolphins could rightly claim that they, along with all of nature, "are subject to futility" and "groan and travail" because of the fall of man. Just as the lion is not morally responsible for what he does with his fangs and claws, so the dolphins are not responsible for whatever abuses of their intelligence they commit. Romans 8:19 (NKJV) says: "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God." So it is for us that all creation waits to be restored to its original perfection.
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