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project delphis
April 5, 2001 11:20 PM   Subscribe

project delphis
an organization called earthtrust started project delphis in 1985 to determine how intelligent and self-conscious dolphins actually are. this is very cool.
posted by bwg (19 comments total)

 
Do you mean sentient or self-aware? 'Self-conscious' makes it seems like they're nervous or lacking in confidence or something. Here, dolphin, cheer up!
posted by tobyslater at 1:43 AM on April 6, 2001


Okay, so they have these dolphins watching TV and talking on the phone. That's fine, and I was right with them until they said
After witnessing first hand the "dolphin holocaust" aboard the tuna boats...
Now, I think that word has been a bit overused lately, and when a word is overused it tends to lose some of its meaning. I know 'holocaust' doesn't refer solely to the Holocaust, and I also think it's very sad when dolphins are killed on tuna boats. But lets save the word for people.
posted by u.n. owen at 1:56 AM on April 6, 2001


But lets save the word for people.

That's what they're seeking to prove and/or at least they believe that dolphins are equally as viably sentient as humans. Therefore, for one who advocates dolphins so, it would make sense to equate their declining numbers to something of a holocaust. Are you to tell Jane Goodall or Diane Fossey that the horrible atrocities witnessed throughout their studies upon gorillas and chimps by humans, does not amount to anything less than ignorant murder of equally as sentient beings? Ignorance being the the key word, as most clear thinking, non-Nazi sympathizers would describe the Jewish holocaust as an era created by ignorance and it's related propaganda breeding it. Not to say there's any particular propaganda against dolphins, but that the lack of popular concern still amounts to ignorance.
posted by crasspastor at 2:32 AM on April 6, 2001


> But lets save the word for people.

• a holocaust, lowercase and indefinite, is some great or total destruction, usually by fire. Etymologically, it means something like "all-burning" and has nothing specifically to do with people or other living things. If your downtown were to burn to the ground in a great conflagration, you could probably call it a holocaust even if no one died. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were twin holocausts. It's an old word that has nothing to do with Nazis and Jews and World War II.

• The Holocaust, capitalized and given the definite article, is the widely recognized name for the systematic slaughter of Jews by Nazis in World War II.

You can save the lowercase word for people if you like, but others can rightfully choose not to. It's not a trademark.

Whether holocaust is the best word for what is happening to dolphins is another question. The word implies fire and burning (think of caustic), even a sacrificial fire.

For what I believe happens to dolphins, I would use slaughter, the indiscriminate (not systematic) killing of great numbers of people or animals, with the obvious explicit connection to butchery, which is of course to uncaringly hack animals to death.
posted by pracowity at 3:53 AM on April 6, 2001


Yes perhaps slaughter would do more justice. Yet, taking into consideration the dynamics of language we can safely accept the word holocaust with or without capitalization.

Being that there are no underwater constructions built by dolphins, let alone threatened by fire, that they are underwater, we can take the conventionally understood meaning of "holocaust" from the intent the authors meant it as.

I was speaking of emotional bonds to the dolphins that would evoke language like "holocaust", and I was voicing my opinion that I understood and could overlook any linguistic flaws.
posted by crasspastor at 4:04 AM on April 6, 2001


I don't see the use in this, do we really want to give dolphins the technology to take over us in our workforce? I'm sure we all have kids and mortgages, no need for pushy dolphins taking up good parking spaces, getting your promotions and parking spaces.

Hmm, they're remaking Planet of the Apes, why not do a planet of the Dolphins, where they would hunt for animals and net humans by accident, raise the whole 'dolphin slaughter' issue.

I don't know how the heck 'holocaust' should be used, I remember, not knowing English, I've asked if it could be applied to the non-combatant soviet and Ukrainians civilians that were killed or put into camps, but I guess not.
posted by tiaka at 6:32 AM on April 6, 2001


For the sake of argument, let's assume that the researchers can demonstrate that dolphins have advanced communications/linguistics capabilities. What level of intelligence do they need to demonstrate before it becomes unethical to study them in captivity?

Put another way, if we can develop the ability to communicate with them, should we have to ask their permission before we study them?
posted by anapestic at 7:09 AM on April 6, 2001


I say -- smart enough to be in the military, smart enough to vote.

By the way, love that dolphin fish. Er, mahi-mahi. Good stuff. Yum.
posted by dhartung at 7:20 AM on April 6, 2001


> to determine how intelligent and self-conscious
> dolphins actually are.

Smart enough to still be a little embarrassed about that whole Flipper thing?
posted by pracowity at 7:57 AM on April 6, 2001


Put another way, if we can develop the ability to communicate with them, should we have to ask their permission before we study them?

excellent point, anapestic.

only humans are arrogant enough to assume that other life forms on this planet are incapable of higher intelligence.

besides, i know plenty of intelligent people that have the personality of a dead tree. at least dolphins are fun.
posted by bwg at 9:16 AM on April 6, 2001


I'll believe it when the dolphins all suddenly disappear, and I receive a strange present in the mail.

So long, and thanks for all the fish . . .
posted by OneBallJay at 10:53 AM on April 6, 2001


only humans are arrogant enough to assume that other life forms on this planet are incapable of higher intelligence.

Or, perhaps, we're just the only ones capable of higher intelligence.
posted by kindall at 12:14 PM on April 6, 2001


I wasn't trying to make any sort of animal rights point. I'm just intrigued by the nature of animal intelligence and its moral ramifications.

It strikes me that it's a lot easier for us to evaluate the intelligence of other primates because they have similar bodies and environments to ours. Dolphins are a different case altogether. Lacking opposable thumbs (or any limbs, really), it's not clear that any level of intelligence would allow them to develop a technology similar to ours. Similarly, because they're aquatic, it could be expected that their language and other forms of communication would evolve differently.

I suppose it's a valid point of view that since we're the ones with toasters and SUVs, it doesn't really matter how intelligent other species are. Survival of the fittest.

But it's not the only valid point of view. I think if I knew that there was another highly intelligent species on earth, I'd be more inclined to not mess with their habitat. And to not eat them.
posted by anapestic at 12:51 PM on April 6, 2001


I doubt dolphins are intelligent, I think if they were, they'd start showing some signs, but from what I've read not all that different from a dog or a cat, unless I've missed something. A link anyone?
posted by tiaka at 1:08 PM on April 6, 2001


Ah, of course! How could I forget to look this up in The Guide?

Entry: DOLPHINS

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending destruction of the planet Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind of the danger; but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for tidbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means shortly before the Vogons arrived.

The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the "Star Spangled Banner", but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.

posted by Aaaugh! at 1:58 PM on April 6, 2001


What a load of hyperbolic, verbose hooey, crasspastor.

Your site suffices for all of the above, not to mention the argument for birth control within certain genetic strains.
posted by OZ at 10:59 PM on April 6, 2001


You're an already obnoxious fuck OZ. Even after your two posts. Hey OZ? you hateful fuckhead. . .Email me from now on and we'll take it up without having to drag down all of Metafilter with your flaming clandestineness.

O god verbosity! Words being used by word using humans, what a travesty!

OZ said:
not to mention the argument for birth control within certain genetic strains.

Goddamned conservative, if not Nazi.

Somehow I feel that one of us would be better off being a dolphin.
posted by crasspastor at 3:00 AM on April 7, 2001


I concede the point, considering the pictures on said site. Maybe an earlier start would have been an incentive:
http://www.geocities.com/crasspastor/


Somehow I feel that one of us would be better off being a dolphin.
posted by crasspastor at 3:00 AM PST on April 7
posted by OZ at 8:24 AM on April 7, 2001


You two both need a spanking.
posted by rodii at 10:02 AM on April 7, 2001


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