Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Intelligence, Basic Instinct, and Kumatoes
In one scenario researchers were trying to find out if mammals recognized themselves in a mirror. Adult dolphins and chimpanzees easily recognized themselves and turned their heads from side to side got up close to the mirror so they could see their own features. A human child doesn't recognize themselves until about 18 months of age. At that age a human child recognizes a red dot on their cheek as something new and quickly reaches for the dot to scratch it off.
A group of four dolphins were seen in the water hunting for food together. One dolphin purposefully stirred up the muddy bottom so fish would jump into the mouths of the other three dolphin. This type of behavior was repeated over and over again. Groups of mammals work in concert for the benefit of the group. If we see someone walking towards a door with a heavy package we instinctively hurry to open the door for them.
In another scenario researchers placed one monkey in a cage and another monkey outside the cage. Both monkeys were strangers. The researchers gave the monkey on the outside some fresh fruit. The monkey on the inside was given nothing. The monkey on the outside unlocked the cage to share the fruit with the monkey who was a stranger in the cage. If we discover our neighbors need help we offer to help them.
I wonder which is dominant, human intelligence or basic instincts. When the Native Americans learned the pilgrims were starving at Thanksgiving they shared their food with the pilgrims. Later Native Americans were driven off their land so the pilgrims could claim that same land as their own. Did the pilgrims forget who had helped them when they were starving. Does a distorted form of intelligence make us choose self serving goals over the basic instinct of helping others?
At the market this past weekend someone needed help and asked for it. Gary said he'd help them. I confess my first thought was all the work we had to do packing up our displays. It isn't always easy for me to practice my basic instinct of helping those in need. As I left the market a farmer came over and gave me a package of kumatoes to try. I'd had selfish thoughts and then someone else was selflessly sharing with me. Each day I can learn from others and I am reminded to try to do better.