Human Exceptionalism

No, Dolphins Don’t “Talk” Like Humans

https://youtube.com/watch?v=X_aGoFqU5fQ

Science” is often really ideology these days, particularly in the attempt by some to convey onto animals characteristics that are distinctly human, in order to, in my view, destroy human exceptionalism.

Here’s a small example.  LiveScience has an article up headlined “Dolpins ‘Talk’ Like Humans, New Study Suggests.” Now what do you think that means?  The most obvious conclusion is that scientists have found that dolphins communicate with language, that is, that they talk to each other just like humans do.

Ah, but that is not what the study found.  Rather, scientists learned that certain tissues are used to make dolphin sounds that work similarly to vocal cords.  From the story:

Rather than vocal cords, the dolphins likely use tissue vibrations in their nasal cavities to produce their “whistles,” which aren’t true whistles after all. The researchers suggest structures in the nasal cavity, called phonic lips, are responsible for the sound.

Okay, that’s interesting.  But then, making my case even stronger, the story notes that, contrary to the headline, dolphins aren’t talking like us:

The dolphins aren’t actually talking, though. “It does not mean that they talk like humans, only that they communicate with sound made in the same way,” Madsen told LiveScience.

Big difference.

Okay, then why the headline that strongly implies the exact opposite?  The truthful head would be how dolphins “vocalize” like us, not “talk” like us.  And no, the quotes around the word “talk” doesn’t excuse what appears to be an attempt to give a significant anthropomorphic meaning to the story.  Indeed, that’s why it made the front page of The Drudge Report.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More
Religion

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More
Culture

Max Boot’s Dishonesty

Before yesterday, my primary criticism of the Washington Post’s Max Boot was political in nature. As I wrote in a recent book review, I found it regrettable that Boot’s opposition to the president had not prevented him from “succumbing reactively to Trump’s cult of personality, or from making Trump the ... Read More
Elections

A Brief History of Election Meddling

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the second in a series of excerpts. ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before ... Read More
World

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More