Intelligent people often feel like outcasts

What does intelligent mean here? In the middle of my reflections on examples of dolphins' ability to "cognize", it became clear to me that dolphins are as knowledgeable as one can be. There are so many examples of their conscious and smart actions (because they are conscious and smart) that one might as well collect examples of people acting consciously and smartly. That's just human nature. And it's the nature of dolphins too. Dolphins and humans have not had a common ancestor for tens of millions of years. But as strange as their life in the water may be to us, they often come to play when they see us, and we greet them and recognize very special personalities in their eyes. 'There's someone in there. It is not a human, but it is a somebody ”, writes Diana Reiss.75 When we speak of“ dolphins ”one has to consider that of the over eighty species of dolphins and whales, only about half a dozen - bottlenose dolphins, black dolphins, Spotted dolphins, killer whales, sperm whales and humpback whales - their behavior has been studied more closely, and even among them not in full. The sea is home to more than seventy toothed whale species (sperm whales, dolphins and porpoises) and about a dozen baleen whales (which fish tiny pieces of food with sieve-like horn plates instead of teeth) .76 Together they are referred to as “cetaceans” (which means so much in Greek as "sea monster" means). They are swimming mammals with breathing holes on the top of their heads. We hardly made their acquaintance. Scientific research into the intelligence of dolphins took about a decade from a bumpy start. In some ways, research has never recovered from the first known researcher to wrap dolphins in a mystical spell that they could never get rid of. On the other hand, dolphins deserve a little mysticism. 407 What does intelligent mean here? In the late 1950s and 1960s, neurophysiologist and brain researcher John C. Lilly introduced us to living beings whose gigantic brains made them superior to us. At least that was better than the idea of ​​whales having an inexplicable urge to devour humans. But Lilly was wrong too. He proclaimed that an animal with a brain as large as the sperm whale must have a "truly godlike" mind.77 Let's leave aside the question of what a "godlike" mind should look like and what a whale would do with such a mind . But Lilly wrongly assumed that the ability to think is directly related to the size of the brain. The brains of different animal species have different focuses. In the dog's brain, nerve and brain structures play an important role in the detection and analysis of smells, but in the brain of whales they are virtually non-existent. In contrast, the brain of a sperm whale consumes enormous resources for generating, collecting and analyzing sound. The brains of sperm whales are larger than those of blue whales, although blue whales are physically twice as big. What does a sperm whale do with its unique brain? It defines routes for long hikes and maintains an overview of the whereabouts of families and friends over decades and thousands of miles of travel. He is preparing for dives to a depth of more than a kilometer; the brain regulates the heartbeat and the distribution of blood and oxygen in the body when the whale stops breathing for up to two hours; and it coordinates the tracking mechanisms and muscle movements needed in hunting nightmarishly large squid in complete darkness. Whales do some things humans cannot, and they cannot do some things humans are capable of. This brain is far more interesting and useful for the tasks it has to perform than anything "truly God-like". "God-like" was just a grandiose plaster for "We don't know" anyway. It masked a major intellectual ailment in Lilly's own thinking. John Lilly was rightly despised by scientists. His persistent claim that he would crack dolphin communications - by teaching the animals English - proved false. But 408 The Song of the Whales his image of the superior dolphins stuck in the public's imagination, and so many are waiting for a sign that they are living on a higher plane. Perhaps we hope that someday someone will somehow deliver us from our own evils. It was not until the 1970s that Louis Herman's group began serious research into dolphin cognition. Herman proved that a Hawaiian bottlenose dolphin named Akeakamai could answer correctly if he was shown an arbitrary symbol (not shown) for "ball" followed by a symbol for "question". If there was no ball, the dolphin pressed a “No” button.78 This showed that a dolphin could develop the idea of ​​a ball and call up this knowledge if a symbol was presented to it that had been introduced for “ball”. It thus proved that dolphins, as had long been suspected, are highly intelligent. Whatever you mean by “intelligent”. Dolphins at the Mississippi State Institute for Marine Mammal Studies have been trained to keep their tanks clean by trading trash for fish. The dolphin lady Kelly noticed that she was getting fish of the same size, whether she brought a large sheet of paper or a small piece. She then hid every piece of paper that was blown into the pool under a weight at the bottom of the pool. When a trainer came by, she tore off a piece of paper and traded it for fish. Then she tore off another piece and got another fish. She had built an inflation rate into this waste management system, which ensured that she was always well supplied with fish.79 Spock, the dolphin, was caught in California with a similar trick. He had hidden a paper bag underwater behind a water pipe in the pool and bought fish with torn pieces of paper.80 One day a seagull flew into Kelly's pool. She grabbed the bird and waited for the trainers. Obviously, people were very fond of birds because they gave her several fish for it. That was a new insight for Kelly and gave her an idea. The next time she fed, she hid the last fish. After the humans left, she took the fish upstairs and attracted more seagulls to get more fish. Why 409 What does intelligent mean here? should she also wait for a piece of paper to fall into the pool by chance that she could trade in if she could get rich as a professional bird fisherman? She taught the trick to her cubs who taught it to other young dolphins, and so the dolphins soon began to attract seagulls full-time. In Marineland Canada, Ontario, a young killer whale came up with the idea that if he spread fish mash on the surface of his tank and then hid underwater, his life would be more interesting. As soon as a seagull landed, the whale shot up and caught the seagull - and sometimes ate it. He laid the trap many times. At some point his younger half-brother and three other whales followed suit.81 Knowledge, innovation, planning, culture. In 1979, Dr. Diana Reiss her work with Bottlenose Dolphin Lady Circe. If Circe showed the behavior Reiss expected, Circe got praise and fish. If she didn't, she was given "time out" during which Reiss stepped back from the edge of the pool or turned away to indicate to Circe that she had done the "wrong" job. (Time outs are now considered obsolete; they can frustrate intelligent animals.) Circe didn't like it when her mackerel still had the tail fins attached. She spat out the pieces with her tail fin and trained Reiss to cut them off. One day, after a few weeks of training, Reiss absently gave Circe a tail-fin piece. Circe waggled his head back and forth, as we would suggest a "No", spat out the fish, swam to the other side of the pool, stood up there and just looked at Reiss for a while. Then she came back. Circe, the dolphin, had given Reiss a human break. Surprised but skeptical, Reiss planned an experiment. Over the course of several weeks, Reiss deliberately gave Circe a tail-fin piece of fish six times. Circe gave her four more time outs. Otherwise, Circe never behaved like that. Circe not only had the difference between “reward” and “no reward; Time out »learned for their own behavior; she had recognized time off as a means of communicating “I didn't want that” and used it correctly with her human friend. Reiss also worked with a young male named Pan. 410 The Song of the Whales Pan learned to communicate using abstract symbols on a keyboard. (The symbols were never literal images; the symbol for "ball" could be a triangle. The positions of the individual keys were always reversed, so the dolphins had to learn the symbols to get what they wanted, not just the ones Pan didn't care about toys, he wanted fish. When Reiss removed the fish key from the keyboard, Pan found a fish that was left over from breakfast, swam to the keyboard, pressed an empty key with the fish and looked at Reis expectantly. Reiss understood exactly what he wanted; Pan had been very clear.82 Soon after the project began, the dolphins began mimicking the various whistling sounds that the computer associated with various objects. While playing with toys, Pan and his pelvic mate Delphi mimicked the sounds of the computer for "ball", "ring" and other objects. Dr. Reiss told me about it and then went on: “One day I gave Pan the signal to“ fetch ”. There was only one toy in the pool, a ball, although Delphi had it in his mouth. Pan swam to Delphi and I heard someone whistle for 'ball'. Delphi tossed the ball to Pan and they swam back to me together. " They had learned the human symbols and thus communicated with one another. Another dolphin, a male also called Delphi, played with its food, held the fish in its mouth, and then dropped it all over the pool. Diana Reiss taught Delphi the command to "swallow" and did not give him another fish until he had shown that the other had indeed disappeared. It still worked the following week, when Reiss was absent; her students fed Delphi and demanded proof that he had swallowed. When Reiss returned, Delphi's swallowing looked excessive. Did he have a sore throat? He swallowed a few more exaggeratedly, showed his empty mouth and got more fish. Suddenly, wrote Reiss, "Delphi's eyes became huge." He opened his mouth: Look! "He had all the fish in there." He must have kept her in his throat. "Before I could say anything in surprise, he shook his head from left to right, left to right." Fish flew in all directions. "Delphi was obviously having fun, and he wanted to play this prank on me, not one of my 411 What do you mean intelligent? Student." Delphi had thoroughly tricked and manipulated Reiss - and he enjoyed it. Just like Reiss, who says: "I laughed uproariously." 83 P Intelligent animals, definitely. But what does intelligence actually mean? Does it have something to do with knowledge, logic, flexibility? With curiosity, imagination? Planning, problem solving? Perhaps there are different forms of intelligence. Perhaps one person is more intelligent in maths, another with the violin, in dealing with people, in fishing, tinkering or storytelling. Can there really only be one intelligence among us humans and all other animal species? "Personally, I don't think it makes sense to classify different species on a linear intelligence scale," writes whale expert Peter Tyack. "There are hundreds of intelligence tests for humans alone, but we still find it difficult to define human intelligence." 84 Who was "more intelligent", Pablo Picasso or Henry Ford? Both brilliant - but in different ways. Perhaps our word “intelligence” only roughly covers different problem-solving potentials and learning talents. Talent is perhaps the strangest thing about our brains. Human thought was already there in the caves; human works still adorn their walls. Before agriculture and any technology that reflects our intelligence today, the ability to invent these things existed. Many human hunter-gatherer cultures have remained unchanged over millennia through all generations. These people survived from ancient times until well into modern times using the same few tools made of stone, wood or bone. In the 19th century, native cultures on the American continent, Africa, Australia and large parts of Asia only used ancient, Stone Age technologies; many did not know the wheel, had no tools with moving parts, no iron. Even today there are Stone Age cultures in a few remote retreats. All are completely human. And shortly before the industrial revolution, Mozart, Beethoven and the authors of the US constitution wrote with feathers and worked without lights or motors. Computers, shopping malls, airports, dishwashers, televisions - 412 The song of the whales - none of that existed in 1900. Smartphones don't make us human. They are made by people. And only recently. Though human brains have shrunk since life became predictable through agriculture and civilization, thousands of years later they somehow spawned the ballet Petrushka and the Lunar Module. People born in huts made from animal skins can learn to program software. Nobel laureate and physicist Max Delbrück was astonished at the apparent overcapacity of our Stone Age brains and commented: “A lot more was delivered than was ordered.” 85 And not just from us. Where does a dog's ability to sense and warn of the impending seizure of a human companion come from? Why do bonobos understand human spoken language as a small child, but are not physically able to form words? Why can free dolphins learn human arm signals; what makes them want to have sex in front of the mirror and do other things that an ocean dolphin would never be able to do? Why do these capacities exist? Where does intelligence come from? In part, it has to do with scale: large bodies have large brains, and large brains have extra computing power. The three largest brains on earth have whales, elephants, and primates. Life hasn't chosen a super-smart lineage, the culmination of which is humans (although we can still be the end of it all). The eight kilogram brain of the sperm whale is the largest that has ever existed. Bottlenose dolphins weigh several times the human body, so their brains are of course larger. The neocortex - the thinking part - is also larger in the dolphin brain than in us. Human brains are hardly bigger than the brain of a cow.86 This is where you learn to be humble. But as with all good things, size is not the only thing that matters. Peter Tyack reminds us: "The honey bee, whose brain weighs only a few milligrams, has a dance language that, in my opinion, is just as great an achievement in animal communication as anything one observes in wild sea animals, regardless of the size of their brain." 87 The bees mediate through 413 What does intelligent mean here? the dance of their fellows, where is food, how far away it is, how much it is and whether it is worth flying there. Hence a warning to the wise: intelligence is not an isolated thing, there is no formula for it. A large body needs a large brain just to manage its physical processes. Regardless of height, you need a brain above the average height of your weight class to be smart. Ravens, crows, and parrots - known to be clever - have a brain-to-body weight ratio similar to that of chimpanzees.Ravens can solve problems that chimpanzees with their much more powerful brains cannot; Because of their intelligent problem-solving strategies, they were granted “primate-like intelligence ”.88 In order to be able to compare the ratio of brain size to body weight, scientists developed the“ encephalization quotient ”(“ encephalization ”means“ brainization ”). An EQ value of 1 indicates that the ratio of brain size to body weight for this species is the average for mammals; the brain weighs as much as one would expect in an animal of this size. Elephants score 2, double what is expected. For many dolphins the values ​​are between 4 and 5; White-striped dolphins can boast 5.3. In comparison, the chimpanzee brain has only weak 2, 3, 889 dolphins' disproportionate brains are only surpassed by human brains. The human EQ is 7.6. We have the heaviest brains compared to height.90 (And judging by your reaction, humans are the most insecure animals with the biggest ego.) But just weighing the brain smells a bit like Frankenstein, and the EQ doesn't equal 1 : 1 the IQ; Greatness is not the same as intellect. A person's brain makes up two percent of their body mass. A shrew's small brain makes up up to ten percent of its body weight, and yet shrews are not mental heavyweights. Capuchin monkeys have a higher EQ than chimpanzees, but in warfare and alliance forging, hunting and politics, chimpanzees are superior to smaller monkeys.91 The EQ value is too coarse because brains are made up of components. In our brains there are ancient parts that we inherited from fish and newer parts that we only have in common with mammals. It's not just the total weight that counts. The weighting of the parts in terms of size is also important. Whales have a relatively large cerebellum (to handle or automate complex tasks like swimming, heart rate, and movement) while large areas are devoted to sound processing. As already mentioned, hardly anything is designed for smelling. The neocortex of a whale - where a large part of consciousness and thinking takes place - has a larger surface area in relation to the overall brain size than in humans.92 This is the hardware of consciousness, the wiring of thinking. We have seen what this enables a whale to do: They fill their days with complicated behaviors, athletic performances and maintain high-level contacts in large networked groups. But the human neocortex is twice as thick and has a much higher cell density. Don't let this go to your head. We are not finished yet. Now let's get to the core of the brain. Weight and size are only placeholders for what is really important: nerve cells. Neurons. But it is not just their number that is decisive, but their density - how they are organized, networked and connected to other components; how fast they transmit impulses. That is the information processing capacity of a brain. No weight or measure alone can describe the entire intellectual capacity. In a way, measuring a brain can be compared to measuring the fuse box in a house. A large fuse box suggests a large house because a large house needs more cables and the like. If you remove the fuse box, the lights stay off. But a house does not get light from the fuse box. You need the fuse box plus the entire electrical installation in the house. Where are the power cables laid? Where are the sockets, the residual current circuit breakers, the ceiling connections and lamps, the connection for the electric stove and the Internet? We perceive structures in the brain, but how these structures are wired determines how we connect to reality, what we can download and transmit and how brightly our light shines. 415 What does intelligent mean here? One generalization can be made, however: the sheer number and density of neurons in the cortex of a mammalian brain, and the equivalent in non-mammals, greatly affects the flexibility with which problems are solved and mental agility. As with any computer system, the number of processing units determines the computing power.93 The German neuroscientists Gerhard Roth and Ursula Dicke compared the largest brains in the world and came to the conclusion: “Humans have more cortical neurons than other mammals, if only a little more than whales and elephants. ”94 whales, with 6 to 10.5 billion, and elephants, with 11 billion, are hot on our cortical heels; Humans have around 11.5 to 16 billion neurons in the cortex of the brain, depending on who you ask. Our neurons are tightly packed and transmit signals very quickly.95 What about the amazing crows, ravens and parrots? Nobody counted them, but birds generally have much smaller cells than mammals. So, bird brains are tightly packed and have a ton of processing power and speed for their size. And when it comes to the transmission speed of signals, you can immediately see how extremely nimble birds are. The neurons in a person's brain are basically indistinguishable from those in the brain of killer whales, elephants, or mice - or flies. The synapses, the different types of nerve cells, connections, even the genes that generate these neurons, are identical across all animal species. The differences between the brains of different species are mainly of degree. Roth and Dicke conclude: "The outstanding intelligence of humans is the result of a combination and improvement of properties that can also be found in non-human primates ... and not the result of 'unique' abilities." 96