The Skeptic Canary

The blog of Dr Tom Williamson, atheist, humanist, skeptic and Norwich City fan!

Why humans are more important than other animals

43 comments

In my previous post, I commented on Morrissey’s disgraceful comparison of the victims of the recent terror attacks in Norway to animals killed for consumption in fast food restaurants. I thought that the egregiousness of this comparison, and the concept that humans are more important than other animals was self evident. Apparently not. My comments provoked a hive of debate on Facebook (mainly with Hayley Stevens) and I’ve been asked to justify my belief that humans are more important that other animals by Hayley and Matt Holland. I’m not one to turn down such a monumental challenge so here is a long explanation, and for the sake of brevity, a short explanation.

baby-kitten

Which is more important?


The Long Explanation

Before I start, I should say that this is not going to be a critique of vegetarianism. There are many arguments for and against vegetarianism, I am simply going to concentrate on the importance of humans compared to other animals. When discussing ‘importance’, it’s essential to define the context. I know that in the context of the entire universe, pretty much all life is worthless. We are all organisms on a little planet that orbits a bog standard star set in one of many billions of galaxies. One day our sun will expand and that will be the end of us. But of course, you can’t judge worth in that context. Whatever criteria we imply to worth, we can’t get away from the fact the it is we human beings who are defining it.

And so I come to my first point: imagination. Humans have the power of imagination, and as far as I’m aware (please correct me if I’m wrong) animals do not. The power to visualize things that we do not directly experience is what caused humans to flourish in the first place. It is an incredible ability in the animal kingdom and it leads me to my second point, which is cognition. We humans, as well as possessing imaginations, are also self aware. We have the ability to question our own existence, and we have concepts such as ethics and compassion. Animals (certainly ‘lower’ animals such as insects) do not possess such concepts. The concept of free will is one that has taxed philosophers for millennia, but it is clear that we are not automatons like most animals are.

My third point is potential. When a human is born, it has the potential to go on and do so much more than any other animal can. It could grow up to make contributions to science, medicine, the arts etc, enriching not just it’s own life but the lives of all around them, human and non-human. Animals can make a difference, but not consciously and not on the same scale that humans can. In this respect, both humans and other animals have “worth”, but humans have much more worth than animals, making them more important.

So in summary, humans are more important than animals because of traits such as imagination, intelligence and technology. I’d love to hear any arguments to the contrary. Once again, I can’t stress enough that this is not a critique of vegetarianism.

The Short Explanation

We went to the fucking moon.

EDIT: Hayley Stevens has since written about this post on her blog by changing the contents of a previous post.

Written by Tom

July 28th, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Posted in skepticism

43 Responses to 'Why humans are more important than other animals'

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  1. Hi Tom

    From what I’ve read of your blog and from following you on twitter (admittedly only for a few days) I’m pretty sure I’d agree with you on a lot of things. On this matter though I couldn’t disagree more, I don’t see humanity as anymore important than other species. I don’t want to get in a heated debate or anything like that, but I’m happy to have an amiable discussion about this. (Also, I’m not endorsing Morrisey’s comments in any way, what happened was truly awful).

    I get the overall argument, that humanity is the only species that we know of that’s created mathematics and science (apart from camels – Terry Pratchett reference), and art, music etc. And that we have a great potential as a species. But an alternative view is that we have an immense potential for destruction. It could well be argued that we are the most destructive species the Earth has ever spawned and we have severely degraded the global biosphere. If multicellular life is rare in our Galaxy then this makes us even worse!

    Another argument is that you’re making an unfair comparison between species. You’re judging other species on uniquely human characteristics. A bit like saying Wayne Rooney is more important than Stephen Hawking because Hawking is crap at playing in the hole just behind Hernandez. If you change the frame of reference, you change the judgement of importance. I’m pretty sure an evolutionary biologist wrote something about this, where he had elephants ridiculing humanity because we hadn’t yet achieved full nasal-appendage dexterity. Are you not a bit guilty of the same thing here? You could well argue that our sentience, our imagination and our ability to wield tools is pretty superficial, and scratch just below the surface and we’re still driven by the same fundamental evolutionary laws as all other species, but that our intelligence has been the adaptation that has secured our competitive success.

    Dan S.

    29 Jul 11 at 8:24 pm

  2. Ah, I’ve just seen your short explanation too :-)

    In response to that, I say, we also spawned Justin Bieber and Cheryl Coal, even Darwin, Newton, going to the Moon and the invention of curry don’t make up for that

    Dan S.

    29 Jul 11 at 8:37 pm

  3. I have two conflicting perspectives on the debate.

    On an intellectual level I find it hard to argue that the pain of A and B if subjectively equivalent (as I assume pain felt by a child and pain felt by a kitten might be) can be justified away by any other concern than that directly relating to the moment of pain such as intensity and duration. Pain is pain, that two instances of the same pain might cause one person to faint later that day and another to incur an infection do not relate to the act of feeling pain at that time. I would consider the species in question to relate more to the effects of pain (a pain/death may prevent a Nobel winning scientist but not a kitten for example).

    On a naturalistic level, I am human. I find it completely understandable my species just so happens to prioritise the needs of my species. But, with such a view comes dark corruptions of said view, it seems reasonable to admit many past atrocities when removed from the intellectualising of the moral magnifying glass.

    I guess what I’m saying is I’m a kop out. In the grand scheme of things all value is essentially valueless, as you say, but part of this valueless nature means that only I and other humans, and not animals, can create value in any meaningful sense we would regard as a value judgement. Humans are more valuable because we rather groundlessly say they are. Is this such a contradiction? I’m not sure it matters, states of affairs taken as they are are vital for getting through life regardless of ‘real’ truth value.

    Time to cut the philosophy Warren!

    Warren

    29 Jul 11 at 9:15 pm

  4. Sorry to spam the comments section Tom, final one before I’m off to bed

    I can’t find the elephant account I mentioned above, but a similar point is made by a cartoon by Henry de la Beche called Awful Changes, in which Ichthyosaurs discuss a human fossil with the following commentary:

    “You will at once perceive,” continued Professor Ichthyosaurus, “that the skull before us belonged to some of the Lower order of animals the teeth are very insignificant the power of the jaw trifling, and altogether it seems wonderful how the creature could have procured food.”

    I know its pretty certain that Icthyosaurs weren’t capable of such thoughts and social interactions, and de la Beche was actually making a different point with his cartoon, but I think it nicely illustrates the second point I was trying to make about frames of reference

    Dan S.

    29 Jul 11 at 9:24 pm

  5. Thanks for this post, Tom.
    First off, I hope I didn’t give the impression that I was asking you to ‘justify’ what you had asserted, so much as lay out the ‘self-evident’ argument as far as you see it. I certainly didn’t mean to sound aggressive if that’s what you thought.
    It’s the ideas that we feel are obvious and don’t need explaining – the premises that we base the rest of our thinking and arguing on – that are sometimes the most worthwhile, and difficult, to explore. An argument on more morally complex issues (for example, in this area, animal experimentation or meat-eating) can often be muddied when people are coming to the conversation with even slightly different assumptions, even when they think everyone shares their own (and see them as common sense).
    I know you don’t want to steer into the difficult waters of vegetarianism etc, but I would say that I think this particular argument (bearing in mind the post which sparked this one) was more about comparing the suffering of animals to that of humans, rather than their uniqueness within the animal kingdom. That seems to be what annoyed you about what Morrissey said.
    I agree that any statement of this kind is needless and cruel. If my gran died and Morrissey came up to me and said “Well, two people got hit by a ten ton truck the other day – your gran’s death is nothing in comparison” that would be horrid. As far as I’m concerned, three miners that I don’t know are of very little consequence in comparison with my dear old granny. But that’s not to say that those people were of no intrinsic or subjective importance to themselves or to someone else. It’s just that I would care much less, and would think him an insensitive bastard, and only an idiot (like Morrissey apparently) would not understand that.
    I think that previous comments have probably said all I could say about your criteria for importance. I presume you don’t use these criteria to decide which people are more important than others? ;)
    I guess in the end the main point that I’d draw from your last two posts is not to say stupid and insensitive things, especially when emotional wounds are still open. I guess we’re guilty of that sometimes though. After the Oslo incident, people were posting about how sad they were about Amy Winehouse dying, and then other people were having a go at them for mourning her when all those people had just died, which was much more important. Then other people had a go at *those* people for being so worried about the people in Oslo when there was so much suffering in Somalia, which was much more important. And I was mainly complaining about the gout in my toe. I don’t know which of these is more important, I guess they all are from different standpoints, different definitions of what is important, and when, and how, and to whom. Apart from my toe, which is isn’t. I’ll try to shut up about that now.
    Apologies, this is a very muddled response. Not too experienced at writing – that’s writing I’m trying to do more blogging etc.
    Thanks again.

    ps I redesigned my blog (ie changed the template) the other day and have just noticed that now I’m using the same one as you. Doh! I’ll have to change it again now, otherwise we’ll clash :)

    Matt Holland

    30 Jul 11 at 12:51 pm

  6. oops, error. ‘three miners’ should read ‘two people’. changed example to amuse myself. apologies.

    Matt Holland

    30 Jul 11 at 2:36 pm

  7. Hi everyone. Firstly, thanks for keeping things civil! I was half-expecting some angry and emotional vegetarians. Obviously lots of point have been raised here, I’ll do the best I can to answer the key ones.

    Firstly, Dan raises the question of destructive potential. Yes, humans do have the potential for destruction, and that potential has certainly been realised throughout human existence. However, the topic is “importance”, not benevolence. Unsavoury though this may sound, I believe that something which is capable of immense destruction is more important than something which is not.

    Secondly, we have the issue of comparison with other species, and the concept of reference points. To be honest, I find this to be rather bizarre and a bit of a moot point. We are humans, so we consider the universe from the point of view of humanity. Why would we stop and consider the point of view of another species?

    As for Warren, I’m sorry but I can’t quite work out what you are trying to say. That’s probably my fault, could you expand on what you are saying about pain?

    Matt, don’t worry about asking questions, after all that’s what skepticism is all about! Also, you are totally right about examining core values, by questioning my core values I found that I tended to grow as a person, and I either became more confident in my believes or (after a long battle with cognitive dissonance) changed them, which was the case with my vegetarianism.

    I can see what you mean about comparing the worth of humans to other humans, but that’s another moral minefield which I didn’t intend to address in this post, I’d like to just keep it to comparing humans and other animals for now. Maybe another time!

    By the way, don’t worry about using this WP theme, it’s a very popular theme due to how clean and simple it is. I’m a web developer by trade these days, so if you’d like any help just give me a shout! :)

    Tom

    30 Jul 11 at 11:29 pm

  8. Hi Tom,

    So let me get this right. Humans are more important because of their sentience?

    Would you therefore happily kill and eat someone who is brain dead?

    Many of your suggested distinguishing features of humanity – intelligence; imagination etc. are not present in marginal cases such as young or mentally disabled humans, it appears that the only distinction is a prejudice based on species alone… that’s known as speciesism.

    All animals have inherent rights & we cannot assign them a lesser value because of a “lack of rationality, imagination, dreams” etc. while, in the same breath, assigning a higher value to infants & the mentally impaired solely on the grounds of being members of a specific species.

    Hayley Stevens

    31 Jul 11 at 8:46 am

  9. Hi Hayley,

    “Would you therefore happily kill and eat someone who is brain dead?”

    No, because I wouldn’t judge the situation just based on sentience. There are many reasons not to kill and eat people who are brain dead. They will almost certainly still mean a lot to their families, they might be cured one day, and the potential harm of eating other humans is well documented (kuru for example).

    “Many of your suggested distinguishing features of humanity – intelligence; imagination etc. are not present in marginal cases such as young or mentally disabled humans, it appears that the only distinction is a prejudice based on species alone… that’s known as speciesism.”

    You’ve missed out my point on potential. A human infant could go on to create a great artwork, fly to a distant planet or cure a disease. An infant chicken can not. Isn’t that a valid reason why humans are more important than other animals?

    As for speciesism the whole point of my post was to show objectively why humans are more important than other animals. I came up with three demonstrable points to support my case, whereas speciesism is a prejudice. I didn’t say “humans are more important than other animals, just because”.

    I’m not trying to be facetious, but why do you think all animals have inherent rights?

    Tom

    31 Jul 11 at 10:21 am

  10. Tom – I *really* don’t think that you can claim to judge importance objectively. It’s a value judgement by definition, surely. Just saying.

    Matt Holland

    31 Jul 11 at 11:47 am

  11. Yes, you’re right about myself dropping in the word ‘objectively’, in the correct sense of the word I was wrong to use it. What I was trying to convey (albeit not very well) is that I wasn’t trying to justify a prejudice of humans being more important than other animals, this is my conclusion after considering the evidence. Isn’t that the opposite of a prejudice?

    Also Matt, in my opinion you don’t have to worry about what you think, I’m aware that everyone has a different opinion and yours and mine are just as valid as anyone else’s, provided we can back up what we say properly. These civil discussions make a pleasant change from the “fuck you, you’re wrong” attitude I’ve experienced from some people in the past! :)

    Tom

    31 Jul 11 at 1:04 pm

  12. Tom

    I appreciate that you let the evidence lead you to your conclusion – I think that in the previous post you said it was self-evident, so that mustn’t have taken too much time ;)

    I do see where you’re coming from, but the fact is that you chose the criteria by which you would judge the relative importance, so you can’t just claim to be ‘following the evidence’.

    I could decide that I was going to measure the ‘quality’ of various comedians, using the criteria of (a) how many DVDs they have sold, and (b) the size of venues they can fill.

    The evidence will probably lead me to decide that Michael McIntyre is better than Stewart Lee (tired old example, I know). Others may disagree, but hey, I’ve got the evidence to back me up.

    Hope that makes some kind of sense as an example of what I’m getting at.

    I think it’s perfectly acceptable to just say ‘I believe that human life is more important than that of any other animal’, without having to justify it with a logical argument. I find it very unlikely that *anyone*, given a choice between saving a human or a dog from a burning building, would choose the dog (all things being equal). And no-one would ask them to justify that (apart from Morrissey, obviously).

    I do think that one can have a rational arguement around the ways in which we as humans use animals, but as you say that isn’t something you want to get into and I totally understand that :)

    By the way, to go back to the first point in your post, I certainly don’t think that humanity or indeed any of the many forms of life on Earth are any less valuable because they are small or indeed finite. Often it’s the smallest things that are the most valuable in life. At least that’s what my wife told me.

    Thanks for your kind words

    Matt

    Matt Holland

    31 Jul 11 at 2:19 pm

  13. http://www.life4seekers.co.uk/ourplaceinthisworld/humansspecial.html

    <<< this is maybe why the 'humans are special' thing freaks me out slightly.

    lol @ "Click here to download the soul"

    Matt Holland

    31 Jul 11 at 5:54 pm

  14. Hi Tom

    Thought I’d pop back in after spending a week in country hitting rocks with a hammer

    “I find this to be rather bizarre and a bit of a moot point. We are humans, so we consider the universe from the point of view of humanity. Why would we stop and consider the point of view of another species?”

    This isn’t quite the point I was trying to make, I probably wasn’t very clear above. I was pointing out that there’s a tendency to judge sentience as the peak of evolutionary achievement because we are the species who has achieved the greatest level of sentience (as far as we know). I think this needs to be recognised as quite a human bias and shouldn’t be unquestioningly accepted.

    To be honest, the idea that sentience is the most important evolutionary adaption and thus mankind is the most important species sounds like a religious idea to me.

    I think we should recognise that there are many different criteria for judging species importance, and that sentience is an arbitrary choice, but one that we may subjectively feel is more important because its the criteria we are best at. A bit like a shotput champion deciding he or she is the best athlete in the world because the shotput is the superior event, an arbitrary choice, but a subjectively biased one.

    “However, the topic is “importance”, not benevolence. Unsavoury though this may sound, I believe that something which is capable of immense destruction is more important than something which is not”.

    Does this not further demonstrate that intelligence/sentience is an arbitrary choice? It sounds as though you’re saying that intelligence, irrespective of what we do with it or what it achieves, is enough justification in itself. This does sound a bit on the religious side to me

    Dan S.

    7 Aug 11 at 10:36 am

  15. Hi all,

    I am approaching this after hearing Tom’s talk on ‘The Pod Delusion’ Podcast.

    Apologies if I repeat some of the points already made, but I don’t have time to read through the many responses to this topic. I would like to keep things as brief and to the point as possible, so will address the points Tom made in the Pod Delusion Podcast I heard as they appeared therein:

    “Is there something fundamentally wrong with the assertion ‘all animals are equal’?”

    This assertion is both meaningless and ridiculous. Are all animals equal in respect of their intellect? Of course not, but to argue that one species is “more important” than another because that species can “fly to the moon” etc., while others cannot, is no more an argument of humans’ “superiority” over other species than saying that Cuttlefish are “superior” to humans because they can change the colour of their skin. We do not need to ask or contemplate whether or not “all animals are equal”, we merely need to state that “all animals are DIFFERENT”.

    “Humans have imagination, self-awareness and cognitive abilities that other animals – certainly the vast majority of them – simply do not possess, although I believe the real kicker is our grasp of technology. Human beings have been to the moon. No other animal has come remotely close to this achievement”

    Even if we bipedal apes do have a level of imagination, self-awareness and cognitive ability that is above that of all other species (why is this relevant anyway, and isn’t it simply arrogant of anybody to simply assert this?), it still does not make us “more important”. It could just as well be argued that some animals (e.g. Gorillas) are “more important” than some human beings who have suffered massive and irreparable brain damage, and who are left with no emotions, no imagination, no self-awareness or any cognitive abilities whatsoever. To argue that humans are “more important” because of their particular abilities and achievements is speciesism in its purest, weakest and worst form. We may have evolved the large brains and the bodies (the ’equipment’) to enable those brains to “fly to the moon” and manufacture computers etc., yes, but it is quite possible that, having been blessed with the same ‘tools’, other species could be on a par with us now. Were such species alive today, would we still be drawing a line and calling ourselves “superior”? I’m guessing that some of us would. The line should not be drawn in this hypothetical situation, and it should not be drawn anywhere else.

    Surely what matters when we are discussing whether or not one animal is “more important” (such a vulgar phrase!) than another is whether or not they are capable of suffering. This is the bottom line, and this is what Morrissey’s recent comments were geared towards.

    The vast majority of folk would, I’d assume, consider themselves to be honest, kind, considerate and ethical people who try to do their bit to ensure that suffering on this planet is kept to a minimum. Many people have a non-human animal companion whom they love dearly and whom they consider part of their family, and most people would be repulsed by witnessing cruelty towards, or torture of, any other non-human (or human) animal, be it wild or domesticated, yet they suffer a kind of ‘moral schizophrenia’ when it comes to the suffering of the factory-farmed animals they choose to place on their dining table. What we eat should be considered an ethical issue that is on a par with any other ethical issue we are faced with – that is, of course, if we wish to consider ourselves as an ethical human being, but I digress.

    Are all animals capable of suffering to the same extent as other animals? Of course not. It is very doubtful that a snail is capable of feeling pain in the same way or intensity that, say, a pig, dog or human can. The important thing here is whether or not SOME animals can suffer, and those that are fully capable of suffering should be offered a level of protection that is above that of those that cannot suffer to the same extent. Having said that, I believe that every living thing has just as much ‘right’ to life as any other, a right to a life that is free from pain and suffering, and none should be considered ‘inferior’ to any other, or as expendable commodities to be used and abused in any way, for this train of thought and the treatment of all/any non-human animals in such ways leads to the assertion that bought us here in the first place – i.e. that “Humans are more important than other animals”.

    I would like to finish with a couple of quotes:

    “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?”

    “Create all the happiness you are able to create; remove all the misery you are able to remove.”

    Rob Anderson

    12 Aug 11 at 12:20 pm

  16. “Surely what matters when we are discussing whether or not one animal is “more important” (such a vulgar phrase!) than another is whether or not they are capable of suffering. This is the bottom line, and this is what Morrissey’s recent comments were geared towards. ”

    Why?

    Tom

    12 Aug 11 at 12:24 pm

  17. Why does suffering matter? Because this is the fundamental issue in the argument that says humans are more important than other animals.

    Take suffering out of the equation and you’re left with such spurious arguments as “Humans are more important than other animals because they have been to the moon”, or “Cuttlfish are more important than humans because they can change the colour of their skin”.

    Rob Anderson

    18 Aug 11 at 11:59 am

  18. But why would suffering be the only thing to consider?

    Tom

    18 Aug 11 at 12:39 pm

  19. I randomly stumbled on this, I know it’s from like 9 months ago, but anyway, I’m opposed to the article, and I wanted to also respond to something you said.

    “Secondly, we have the issue of comparison with other species, and the concept of reference points. To be honest, I find this to be rather bizarre and a bit of a moot point. We are humans, so we consider the universe from the point of view of humanity. Why would we stop and consider the point of view of another species?”

    The thing is, if you look at it this way, every species will consider itself more important than any other. Elephants consider them more important in their reference point, and we do the same in ours. If you have a point of view that is absolutely humanistic, then of course… why would you chose an animal over a human when it’s the human with which you can interact, have sex, and discuss the importance of humanity. Your logic is quite disturbing, because the way you’re putting it, each species will consider itself as the most important; therefore, there can’t really be an answer to your main question.

    If you consider things from a more holistic and omniscient sense, on the other hand, you would realize that we as humans are as important as animals. If we reached the moon, why does that make us more important that animals? If we are more intelligent, more creative, and hold potential.. how does that make us more important? The thing is, when you say we are more important, you have to answer this first: more important to what? More important to you and I? Well yes, as I explained previously, if you consider things from a human’s perspective, we will of course perceive humans to be more important, because we are humans. But don’t you think animals would consider animals more important than us, if they had the chance to?

    The thing is, when you look at the big picture, the only actual way that you could define whether humans or animals are more important is by considering our relationships with each other. You would have to way in that humans exploit the environment and ruin the lives of animals, but they also provide protection and care in other circumstances and therefore better the lives of animals. On the other side, animals are useful to humans and provide humans with food and companionship, while they cause danger and harm as well.

    Tascha

    21 Mar 12 at 6:15 am

  20. Basically we are more important than animals because of our ability to imagine, and unlimited potential? Potential to do what? Advance technology, pollute the planet? We have to go back to the beginning to understand why we are or are not important. I believe that We’re doing things that was never meant to be done to our planet. I’m not a tree higher or anything, but I don’t think the natural design of the Earth was for us to build sky scrapers. The natural purpose is to enable life. By design we follow the law of survival of the fittest. But everyone knows we have gone so far beyond our need As far as animal consumption and usage from everything from medicine to cosmetics. We have abused the unfair advantage that our sense of “imagination” has given us. In my culture we believe in Karma and it’s my belief that our children are born plagued with predisposed illnesses at an increasing rate due to our cruelty towards other living beings, be it superior or otherwise.

    Addi

    25 Jun 12 at 7:37 am

  21. Tom,

    Why are we measuring this in “Importance”? Why is this the only thing you see fit to argue about?
    Don’t you understand that animals see the world and feel the world the EXACT same way that we humans do? Just as we would fear suffering, pain and death and have a desire to live, LOVE and be happy, so do other creatures.

    You’re so engrossed in the idea of “Importance” and proving a point that I don’t think your considering right and wrong. Is it not wrong to kill an animal and make it suffer in the name of entertainment, fast-food and anything BUT survival?
    You seem numb and ignorant to the idea that ALL living creatures have a right to live and not suffer.
    If it’s wrong to do it to a human, please tell me – What makes it right to do it to animal that feels love and pain just as much as we do?

    As far as your reasons go, animals have no potential? Last time I checked, police dogs caught criminals and sniffed out bombs, guide dogs helped the blind, pidgeons sent messages in the war, and horse provided transport etc. These animals deserve respect.
    You also stated somewhere that if a human was killed, it’s family would miss them. Who says animals don’t miss other animals when they’re dead?
    I recently heard about of a calf that had been stillborn. The owners of the dead calf had buried it somewhere they thought the mother wouldn’t find it, but somehow the mother cow DID find her baby’s grave. She began to bellow in distress and stayed there faithfully day and night refusing to go and find food & water. Eventually the mother cow died too from lack of food.

    If animals rely souly on instincts, tell me – why did this cow let herself die in the love of her dead baby?

    Phebous

    12 Jul 12 at 6:05 am

  22. Might I add, this is not just against your opinion, I’m also expressing the importance (whether it be less than humans or not) of animals. Something too many people fail to realise.

    Phebous

    12 Jul 12 at 6:10 am

  23. WAY TO GO Phebous :)

    But to you Tim (aka bastard) Animals are FAR SUPERIOR, and I WOULD GLADLY SACRIFICE 10000 HUMAN LIVES TO SAVE A SINGLE ANIMAL, humanity can go to hell for all i care, children included, they are as evil as any other person.

    And if you really think all you said, then either you are RETARDED or BLIND OR BOTH to see the parasitic infection humankind is, OR YOU ARE LIKE THOSE PEOPLE.

    “humans do have the potential for destruction. However, the topic is “importance”, not benevolence. I believe that something which is capable of immense destruction is more important than something which is not.” ARE YOU FKCING KIDDING ME?!!! WHAT IS FUCKING WRONG WITH YOU, PSYCHO?!!!, you are nothing but a criminal, so animal abuse then is GOOD?! Experiments on animals too?, having fun killing animals or ignoring it totally? i should let an inocent animal die because he dont have the capacity of being a parasitic infection like humanity? (staring at Tom not surprised) Its typical, a PARASITE protecting his own kind, thats why he SUPPORTS the massacre of REAL innocent beings (not like those damn civilians or women or children, any idiot can defend them, society does XD) and the murder of the planet? it doesnt matter?

    BTW i agree not all humanity is a scum, IF ALL HUMANKIND DISSAPEARED there wouldn be any computers, videogames, music, or anything to have fun with, no books, no art, no nothing like that, and i know there are good people too, even children, and they have all my respect for standing up against you nazi criminals, and yes i would let all of you egocentric criminal animal haters die XD).

    But in general F@CK YOU humanity (btw im not hippy or emo or whatever shit, these persons are COWARDS who avoid or are afraid of standing up against the unfairness the humankind exhales.

    BTW yes im pissed because i DESPISE egocentric scumbags, and besides who said humanity had sapiense? If they had it the children wouldnt be such vandals and would respet the rules, the people would be capable of seeing the ENORMOUS gift animals are, they wouldnt detroy the planet, the humankind wouldnt be full of retarded or useless people, no justin bieber fans, no racism, no consumerism.

    “we have the issue of comparison with other species, and the concept of reference points. To be honest, I find this to be rather bizarre and a bit of a moot point. We are humans, so we consider the universe from the point of view of humanity. Why would we stop and consider the point of view of another species?” BECAUSE THEY ARE FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU ASSHOLE, they LOVE, they DEFEND other beings risking teir lives (even crappy humans), thing YOU NEVER EVER will.

    “do you think all animals have inherent rights?” Listen to yourself!!! You surely have Narcissistic personality disorder.

    “A human infant could go on to create a great artwork, fly to a distant planet or cure a disease. An infant chicken can not. Isn’t that a valid reason why humans are more important than other animals?” A human infant in most cases wont give a fck about you and even mess with you for no reason, an infant chicken LOVE their families, and they wont cause any harm to you, and animals even may love you (real love, not hypocrite human love), a kitten, a doggie, etc (even a bastard like you who dont deserve love).

    “why would suffering be the only thing to consider?” Ok, let someone grab grab some gasoline and burn your kids alive, torch your home and hunt your wife alive for fun and send you so some scientists expeiment on you and fill you with junk so some whore have her new makeup made, and infect you with a pesky disease so some unknown beings can be healthy. All of this made by some more intelligent and artistic beings than you (not necessarily aliens), and theres many more sht i didnt even read, people like you makes me sick and are one of the reasons why i hate humanity (one of the reasons).

    you dont care nor i care that you care

    20 Jul 12 at 6:24 am

  24. BTW insult me all you want, (or reply or send smiles or answer questions or ignore me or whatever) or even cowardly delete my “brutally honest” comment, but i got it, lets see WHY ANIMALS ARE FAR BETTER THAN HUMANS

    They really love, they sacrefice for you, they try to make you happy, they care about you, they respect you, they have more feelings than you in your whole life and more sincere, they know how to work in groups, no racism, no “power for the rich or the goverment and fck the poor”, they sacrifice themselves for you, they arent criminals, they dont have fun with your pain, they dont destroy the planet, no injustice, they are far more intelligence in their “ignorance”, than any human “sapiense” put togheter, they dont provoque hate, no war, they dont need a fear campaign to learn how to behave (children need it), among far many more stuff that you egocentric monster wont notice even if it crashed in your face thanks to your ego.

    The only good think humans can do is art (real music, videogames, good tv, books, paintings, documentaries), the rest are a miserable pile of waste of meat; except true good hearted people of course.

    Not only i would sacrifice 100000 perosns to save an animal, i could sacrifice myself or risk myself for them, for people, not even for a baby i wouldnt lift a finger, only if i was sure the person is a good hearted one i would save him/her as gladly as i would with an animal.

    i could post proofs of the superiority of animals, but i know you wont even listen so i wont waste my time, about my comments i really needed to vent up, now that i told you the kind of pest you are i feel better, feel free to do whatever you please with my comments, now that i vented up i dont need your cheap excuse of a superiority complex XD

    you dont care nor i care that you care

    20 Jul 12 at 6:55 am

  25. Ah yes, i could take out that baby to save that beautiful kitten in that photo of yours (i hope its not you cat, for his own welfare, and its obvious its not my baby XD)

    yeah yeah

    20 Jul 12 at 6:59 am

  26. Nope, my bad, its my crappy internet connection XD

    you dont care nor i care that you care

    20 Jul 12 at 7:02 am

  27. Why don’t we all agree that animals, humans and even plants are all equally important to the ecosystem of the world. Actually humans are not needed in nature – the world as a whole would function (and be better off) without the destructive force of humanity!

    But all things being equal, trees make the air that animals breath. Bees pollinate the trees, the intricate web of “survival of the fittest,” keeps species in check and helps create a healthy biodiversity.

    Humans have been destroying nature since the beginning of civilization, and tilt the balance ever closer to mass extinction of all living things.

    Actually I would argue that human beings are the LEAST important creatures on earth. But to be fair, all species have a role to play, or else they wouldn’t be here, and therefore all are equally important to the survival of planet earth.

    Brian

    28 Jul 12 at 1:55 pm

  28. Just because humans are capable of more does not mean we are more important. As far as I am concerned it wouldn’t matter if humans became extinct. Then the world would become beautiful again and animals would live in peace. And the cat is beautiful and the baby is a worthless selfish shitty brat

    Zachary Hume

    15 Aug 12 at 12:52 am

  29. Humans are more important! Just look at that sweet baby compared to the cat. Good grief IMO There is NO comparison.

    vicki

    4 Sep 12 at 2:00 am

  30. Okay, this has given me a slight impression that you’re clueless as to what a living creature is actually worth, any creature, is precious, special and is important. Let me just explain something: All the life on this Earth has evolved from bacteria that has come from space, all to what is is today. We humans may be much more advance than other animals, in terms of creation and thinking and yes, self-consciousness, but, these things don’t make our existence anymore special or make us have more worth than other animals.

    Animals have souls, emotions, they are aware and conscious, you don’t know how much of a heart animals have, animals have a whole lot of love and affection. Some people say animals don’t have feelings – yes they do. So many times, when a soldier has been killed, his dog has died of heart break literally hours or minutes after, animals think, feel and dogs dying when their owner has died, isn’t due to loyalty, not just loyalty anyway, it’s love. Humans aren’t the only species that love, just pointing that out so you don’t think that humans are the only caring species.

    Now, animals live their lives, may not seem very great to humans what animals do, and what they are, but remember, they have evolved differently, they’re different from us, we may be more advanced and have intelligence, but animals can be super intelligent too. It may be hard to believe, but we are animals too, we are species, and despite what we are and what we do, we are no more important than other species, they’re no more important than us, but we’re not greater or bigger. They have just as much worth, and deserve to be here just as much as us.

    Imagine this world without any animals at all, no other species, just humans, imagine how truly weird that would be. Animals are beautiful, amazing creatures and I’m so sick of humans pushing them down and being so self-indulgent. Can’t people stop and think logically for a minute? I don’t mean that in a nasty way, but oh my god, you know, animals deserve a whole lot more recognition for the truly amazing creatures they are than they’re getting. People who treat animals like family are seen by some people, as “social misfits” and some people have even called them “retards” well you know what? People who treat animals like family are selfless, loving, kind people, who are very bright and are certainly NOT retards or misfits, animals are our family, we are all here together so why make out like we’re the gods and rulers of the Earth? We didn’t build this Earth, we’re just life along with all the other life that has evolved on this planet, we’re more advanced than other animals, but they still have a load of potential and they hold courage too, and they express emotions to people.

    Unlike humans, animals love unconditionally, they won’t abandon you, they won’t go on murder rampages and be serial killers, they hunt, kill and eat, we humans have developed killing for fun and intense abuse to both each other and animals. I’ve owned two dogs now, and they have tought me how to love, they have shown me so much loyalty, they are family and you know what? I’m proud and willing to say that I treat animals as family, because I’d rather be an animal person, than some self-indulgent bitter people person who thinks they are the lord of the earth. Of course not all people are self-indulgent and I know some people are loving and kind, and I know some people devote their whole life to animals, and I will defend those people too, because yeah, you may think those people are “stupid” for devoting their life and career to animals, but I’ll happily admit this – animals deserve to be loved and treated like family. No matter what you think of this comment, I just hope you’ve read this and tried to understand what I’m saying.

    Animals are full of worth, life, importance. Do ask yourself; do animals go round mass-murdering? Do animals rape and abuse? Do animals cause other animals pain and suffering and make them hate themselves? Do animals kill other animals for fun and for sport? Do animals pollute the earth and make this world a bad place? Nope. I think your answer to these questions, is “NO” hopefully.

    I’m just saying this because humans can be very evil and in fact more selfish than other animals, in some ways.

    Thanks for reading the comment. I’m not trying to start a fight or offend you in any way. Just curious as to why you actually think humans are more important and have more worth than animals. I’ve read all of your post, but t me, it’s not really doing anything justice. But hey, your opinion is yours.

    Alisha

    6 Nov 12 at 12:43 am

  31. Well actually if you did a little more research you would know that animals can think react and dream. Also we are animals. And a dog would without hesitation lay down its life for its owner that sounds a lot better than the worthless trash on the street wasting their life or hurting the environment. Now I would say that even if we have been to the moon animals and insects have been to places we can only imagine and know things we can only dream about. And you know what without animal and insects every single human would die, but if humans suddenly died out it would be a lot better for the earth. Don’t speak your ignorance here or anywhere it does not want to be heard

    Lauren

    15 Nov 12 at 3:11 am

  32. hello Dr.Williamson …
    as i was googleng for more information for my presentation ” humans beings should be killed”, i found your article , and its pretty interesting , you surly proved that humans have extraordinary abilities
    and animals dont , however , the reason why we have such abilities is because we use animals or any living being as gas for our accomplishment in life , and the explanation-once you fully understand it – is really simple . there is no humans without animals ,as animals play such an important role in our existence , they keep the balance on the planet , and they do that by doing their infinite routine , which is , big animals eat smaller animals , smaller animals eat bugs , bugs help with the pollination process , and big animals help in making a more natural and better manure , and the outcome of this whole process is pretty useful for us , as you can see animals and other creatures help us survive and without their help we wouldnt be able to achieve whatever we are achieving right now. what am trying to say is humans are less important then animals , in fact , try erasing anything form planet earth and see how would it effect the life on the planet starting with water , obviously nothing will stay alive , try erasing dirt , rocks, mountains , or anything solid , and you will get earthquakes 24/7 , no soil for agriculture , or simply no roads to walk on , but try and erasing humans , global warming will be gone , pollution will be gone , killing and wars will be gone , and so on …..so no you cannot say that humans are more important , because we merely wouldnt exist if there was no animals .

    farah Q

    17 Dec 12 at 8:18 pm

  33. May I remind you that Humans are also the cruelest and most imperfect species on the planet.
    Animals are more loyal.
    Hatchiko a famous Akita inu waited at a train station for 10 years until he died in wait for his Master.
    A human would never do that.
    We also have poor judgment toward each other such as racism and bullying.
    Lets not forget to mention Abortion,Rape,Drugs,Murder,Kidnappe,Assualt,
    And
    The list just goes on and on and on.
    Plus people made my friend kill herself
    From bullying when we were 10.
    Animals because of this are way more innocent.
    And lets face it if a wild animal kills a person it doesn’t matter because we have plenty more to spare.
    We all have our time on this earth and when it ends it just ends don’t matter how old you are.
    Animals are also much more caring and they don’t care what you wear or what you look like.
    And I have so many more reasons aheheheeh

    StarProductions

    7 Jan 13 at 9:37 pm

  34. Too much self hate for their own race in this blog. P.S. Humans are more important.

    Ellen

    25 Jul 13 at 8:33 pm

  35. Dear friends,

    Its a good discussion (intentionally not using the words ‘argument’/’debate’ as in discussion we focus on what is right & what is wrong while in debate/argument we focus on who is right or who is wrong) that I can figure it out.

    In my opinion, in the absence of our inability to check all the facts with the underlying evidences which may or may not be in existence, it will be difficult & unfair as well to decide if who is more important. Coz, there’re many unique features which may make one more important than the other & vice versa. Rather, it is wise to think on what makes we human beings different than the other species.

    Needless to mention our intelligence coupled with thinking power makes us distinct from others. Nevertheless, its all opinion. So you may think it wrong/right. I believe, opinion is like wrist watches & everybody believes his/her watch is showing correct time.

    In a hurry, just saw this matter while searching something related and made me to participate in this discussion, so just leaving rather shortest reply.

    Thanks,
    Sincere Regards,
    Vivek (Mumbai, India)

    Vivek Kasat

    4 Sep 13 at 7:05 am

  36. OMG there are some very ignorant opinions here. Bottom line-all our “apparent” intelligence means absolutely nothing if humans cannot even get along. Going to the moon,painting a pretty picture,creating a machine etc. are nothing but mere distractions when we still murder and torture ours or other species for entertainment, religion etc. In our recorded history humans have improved nothing-the state of our environment easily proves that. When humans are killing the very thing that allowed our emergence and sustains us in every moment(the earth)proves we are the most ignorant species. The ignorance of the big picture and lack of intelligence in above replies is truly astonishing. Take the blinkers off you fools and wake up! ONE POINT THAT PROVES WE ARE NOT MOST IMPORTANT-REMOVING HUMANS WOULD HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON THE PLANET-CAN’T SAY THIS ABOUT ANY OTHER SPECIES. FACT

    neil

    26 Jan 14 at 3:04 am

  37. Evolution doesn’t work like that. There are no good rules or reasons why. It just comes down to who eats the most and makes the most babies. None of you are important. No one is special. You all suck. You all are expandable. In a few billion years the sun is going to roast us all. Babies, kittens, whatever can all go to he77. God would have wanted it that way.

    Jack Sheit

    30 Jan 14 at 1:39 am

  38. Your argument is invalid. Humans are not more important than animals. Take away animals, the world collapses. Take away humans, and the world actually gets better. So technically, humans are LESS important than animals. Oh, and just to clear things up, humans are in the animal kingdom.

    Unknown

    21 Mar 14 at 10:59 pm

  39. Why are humans supposedly ‘worth’ more than other animals? How do you know that other animals don’t have an imagination? That they don’t have intelligence? Or that they don’t have technology?
    Whats to say that they dont have more technology? Also what does it matter that we have technology? WE are talking about life forces and importance to the universe. Honestly other species are more important to the universe than humans. We pollute the air while animals like spiders keep bugs from overpopulating. I say that you are wrong in this debate if anyone has comments against it i probably wont answer back to them being that i may never be on this website again.

  40. I agree with the anonymous poster above me, save for maybe the “animals have technology” part, although I agree that many animals have respectable bioabilities. I actually just wanted to point out that to say that humans are more important than animals because we can go to the moon or create meaningful art is on some level the same as saying a physicist’s life is more valuable than a midfunctioning autistic child’s is because he has a more powerful mind, or that a monkey is better than a fish because it can climb a tree. Bees, birds and insects as well as many other underappreciated species are in many ways more important than humans in that they make the world go round and we seem to be hellbent on destroying it. If you think about it, one of the most objective perspectives on the topic is that humans are an infestation and that endangered wildlife and other animals are more valuable because there’s more of us than there are of them (the economist’s perspective kinda). I prefer to stay on the side of egalitarianism and say we’re all equally important ^^
    These things have probably already been brought up though, I didn’t read all the way through cause I’m watching walking dead.

    Sage

    11 Apr 14 at 5:16 am

  41. No matter if some one searches for his required thing, thus he/she wishes to be available that
    in detail, thus that thing is maintained over here.

    www.it-bijou.com

    13 Apr 14 at 12:55 am

  42. Humans have imagination. Okay, so our ability to invent bullshit that isn’t true is what rates us above a porcupine? Except that animals dream. You ever seen a dog running on it’s side while it sleeps, yeah.

    Here’s a counter argument: the bullshit we invent – Class, Credit Systems, War, The subjective value of shiny objects,&c. Do more damage to the planet than a porcupine pinching off a porcupine poop in the woods.

    Whose to say Viri don;’t all have wild dreams and ambitions, and even there own celebrity culture? Whose to say the genetic programming that makes an ant colony at ant-level has it’s own illusion of free-will and identity. Sorry, Skeptic, big picture reality we’re a goddamn biological cancer for the planet and we’re screwing the place up for everything else.

    We went to the “fucking moon”. Great. And there was fuck all there. We might as well have gone to Mars there’s fuck all there too. Our achievement would only of had merit if we’d all gone, and all stayed, and then at least the planet would be a swell place to live if your just a dumb animal that can’t come up with an advertising jungle; or stab a kid for his tennis-shoe status objects; or blogging and getting off on rousing the rabble, or anonymously posting about said rabble and rousing; or any of the other meaningless crap we come up with to cast ourselves as heroes in the mythology of our own goddamn self-importance.

    If you’re a nihilist, you know a skeptic with all the facts in front of them, then animals and humans have equal importance – FA.

    A Human Animal

    17 Apr 14 at 4:03 pm

  43. If human beings are no better than animals should get off of your electronic device, strip naked and scratch the dirt for worms to demonstrate that very fact. Meanwhile Tom, Me and Maddox, by no means superior to you or any other eukaryote, will enjoy our ignorance of our equality with animals.

    Jon

    8 Jul 14 at 12:11 am

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