Scientists push new paradigm of animal consciousness

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Double Retired
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19 Apr 2024, 12:53 pm

"Scientists push new paradigm of animal consciousness, saying even insects may be sentient"

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Bees play by rolling wooden balls — apparently for fun. The cleaner wrasse fish appears to recognize its own visage in an underwater mirror. Octopuses seem to react to anesthetic drugs and will avoid settings where they likely experienced past pain.

All three of these discoveries came in the last five years — indications that the more scientists test animals, the more they find that many species may have inner lives and be sentient. A surprising range of creatures have shown evidence of conscious thought or experience, including insects, fish and some crustaceans.

That has prompted a group of top researchers on animal cognition to publish a new pronouncement that they hope will transform how scientists and society view — and care — for animals.

Nearly 40 researchers signed “The New York Declaration on Animal Consciousness,” which was first presented at a conference at New York University on Friday morning. It marks a pivotal moment, as a flood of research on animal cognition collides with debates over how various species ought to be treated.

The declaration says there is “strong scientific support” that birds and mammals have conscious experience, and a “realistic possibility” of consciousness for all vertebrates — including reptiles, amphibians and fish. That possibility extends to many creatures without backbones, it adds, such as insects, decapod crustaceans (including crabs and lobsters) and cephalopod mollusks, like squid, octopus and cuttlefish.

“When there is a realistic possibility of conscious experience in an animal, it is irresponsible to ignore that possibility in decisions affecting that animal,” the declaration says. “We should consider welfare risks and use the evidence to inform our responses to these risks.”


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funeralxempire
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19 Apr 2024, 1:51 pm

I feel like no s**t should be the default response. Most people who've interacted with animals have probably concluded they possess their own inner lives and consciousness.


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bee33
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19 Apr 2024, 2:20 pm

Fascinating stuff.



autisticelders
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20 Apr 2024, 8:19 am

this has been the claim for all living things, plants of all sorts as well. lots of papers about it now for many years.


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MagicMeerkat
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23 Apr 2024, 5:11 pm

The real question is do humans experience empathy


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