AR Philosophy > Morality of AR > Speciesism - Index

Sunday, July 12, 2009, 5:44 AM

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No difference between human and insect

By: Maneka Gandhi

As I learn more about the beings of this planet , I realize there is no difference between the human and the insect. The only difference is perhaps our destructiveness. Here is another example of our similarity. While countries waste time on making laws on ridiculous issues like abortion and homosexuality, the rest of the animal world takes these issues as natural. University of Oslo's Natural History Museum in Norway has put up a first-ever museum display 'Against Nature?,' which presents 51 species of animals exhibiting homosexuality.

Homosexuality is defined as sex between two or more members of the same sex in the same species. Dragonflies, spiders, crabs, shellfish, gutworms, bats, whales and dolphins far from being unnatural, homosexuality is a normal part of the animal world. 'Homosexuality' and 'heterosexuality' are terms defined by human societies. These boundaries are invisible in the animal kingdom. Homosexual and bisexual animals, range from mountain gorillas to cats, dogs and guinea pigs. The animal kingdom rejoices in all kinds of lifestyles. Studies of animal homosexuality are centuries old. In 1896, French entomologist Henri Gadeau de Kerville published a drawing of two male scarab beetles copulating.

In the early 1900s, investigators described homosexual behavior in baboons, salmon, garter snakes and gentoo penguins. In 1914 Gilbert Hamilton reported in the Journal of Animal Behavior that same-sex behavior in Japanese macaques and baboons occurred largely as a way of making peace with would-be foes. He wrote 'homosexual alliances between mature and immature males insure the assistance of an adult defender in the event of an attack. 'How similar to the 'insurance' bonding of humans in jail ! In 1999 Bruce Bagemihl, a biologist at the University of Wisconsin , published a book.

Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. Bagemihl found that homosexuality had been documented in 1,500 species. T he earliest mention of animal homosexuality probably came 2,300 years ago when Aristotle described two female hyenas cavorting with each other. Not only does homosexual behavior exist in nearly every species (as demonstrated by thousands of studies beginning with Konrad Lorenz, the father of modern zoology) but as one goes up the evolutionary ladder from insects to humans, homosexual activity increases in frequency .Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan are inseparable. They entwine their necks, vocalize to each other, they have sex.

Last survivor of 'unsinkable' Titanic dies at 97 05.31.09 When offered female companionship, they have adamantly refused . The females aren't interested in them, either. At one time, the two were so desperate to incubate an egg together that they put a rock in their nest and sat on it, keeping it warm with their abdomens. Finally, the keeper gave them a fertile egg to hatch. A chick, Tango, was born. They raised Tango, keeping her warm and feeding her until she could go out into the world on her own. A pair of gay vultures at the Jerusalem Zoo have shown the world just how caring gay adoptive parents can be. Israeli zoologist Shmuel Yidov slipped a day-old vulture chick into their nest.

The two fathers reared the baby. They shaded him , brought him water from a pond, fed him, stopped him falling from the nest. Biology professor Joan Roughgarden at Stanford University , in her book 'Evolution's Rainbow' says, mating isn't only about multiplying. Like humans, animals have sex just for fun or love or to cement their social bonds. Some female grizzly bears form partnerships, travel together, defend each other, raise cubs together and putting off hibernation in an attempt to stay together longer.

Scientists have found homosexual behavior throughout the animal world. Same sex pairs of animals kiss and caress each other with obvious tenderness. Male pairs and female pairs form long-lasting pair-bonds and even fight off potential opposite sex partners when they appear. Members of the pair show distress at being separated from their partners and joy when reunited. Even when they lose their same sex partner, white-fronted Amazon parrots will not revert. So will gay Long-eared hedgehogs, Stellar's sea eagles and barn owls,. Swans are the symbols of eternal romantic love. But one fifth of the couples are all male or all female. Male couples mate with a female just to have a baby. Once she lays the egg, they chase her away, hatch the egg, and raise a family on their own. Sometimes they steal the eggs and become model parents.

Male flamingoes and other birds will have one-night stands with females to produce eggs, then chase off the mother and rear the offspring with another male. 12% of roseate tern couples are female-female pairs who fertilize their eggs through a quick fling with males, and then remain faithful to each other for years. Five percent of geese and duck couples do the same. Single females will lay eggs in a homosexual pair's nest. In a colony of black-headed gulls, every tenth pair is lesbian. 15 percent of female western gulls are gay.

They woo each other with gifts of food and form bonds that last for years. They build joint nests. Occasionally, one or both females will mate with males, but they always raise their young together. Two percent of male ostriches ignore females and court males with a dance that involves running toward the chosen partner, skidding to a stop in front of him, pirouetting, crouching, rocking, fluffing feathers, puffing their throats and twisting their necks like a corkscrew. Male giraffes spend most of their time in bachelor groups, where they entwine necks and rub against each other for hours at a time. These 'necking' sessions often culminate in mounting. Homosexuality is common among young male dolphin calves.

According to researchers, since male-male cooperation is extremely important for adult survival, the homosexual behavior of the young calves could be aimed at establishing lifelong bonds. Male walruses, often form homosexual pair bonds and have sex with each other outside of the breeding season, but will revert to a heterosexual pattern during the normal breeding season..

Male big horn sheep live in 'homosexual societies.' If a male sheep chooses to not have gay sex, he becomes a social outcast ! The male and female bighorn sheep unite during the rutting season, but the rest of the year the males stick together. The more social the species, the more likely it is to engage in homosexual activity, the exhibition argues. 'Many social animals have complex social systems where individuals seek out allies for help and protection. Sex is an important way of strengthening the alliance.' In fact, advanced animal communities, which require communal bonds in order to function are more likely to have homosexuality intermixed with heterosexuality. Japanese Macaque society revolves around females, who dominate the group. Males come and go. To help maintain the necessary social networks, female macaques are lesbian.

These friendly copulations, form the bedrock of macaque society, preventing unnecessary violence and aggression. In fact females will choose to mate with another female, as opposed to a male, 92.5% of the time. Bonobos, dwarf chimpanzees, engage in sexual behavior to ease social tensions and avoid conflict. For instance, if two bonobos approach a box thrown into their enclosure, they will mount each other before playing with the box.

Such situations lead to squabbles in most other species. But bonobos use sex to diffuse tension. In Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape, primatologist Frans de Waal writes that he has observed hundreds of such incidents, suggesting that these homosexual acts may be a general peacekeeping strategy. 'The more homosexuality, the more peaceful the species,' asserts Petter Bckman of the University of Oslo's Museum of Natural History Other animals mount animals of the same sex but their motivation may differ.

Dogs usually do so to express dominance. Domesticated cattle mount each other as stress relieving behaviour. Male lions often band together with their brothers to lead the pride. To ensure loyalty, they strengthen the bonds by having sex with each other. A statement in the exhibition says, ' One thing is clear -- homosexuality is found throughout the animal kingdom, it is not against nature.'

Real difference between a man and any animal

By: Maneka Gandhi

Article published on 7/6/2009 11:52:37 PM IST

What is the real difference between a man and any animal or insect? Let this article explain to you; A book called Elephants on Acid, Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boise is a collection of experiments which the writer finds weird. While most of them are very sad ' killing hundreds of dogs to see whether any dog can live with two heads, two of the experiments should open your eyes to the nature of the human being.

What causes the human to be either good or evil? What causes man to become aggressive, rude, antisocial and cruel? It is not chemical imbalance. Or vitamin deficiency. Scientists show that all it needs is to place the person in the right situation. According to Philip Zimbardo 'Any deed that any human being has ever done, however horrible, is possible for any of us to do ' under the right or wrong situational pressures'

Are you capable of killing someone on the command of a stranger. Of course not, you say. But experiments done at Yale University in the early 1960s show that anyone can and will do terrible things especially if they believe that the order is in the interests of 'science' or that someone else is going to take responsibility for their act.

The researcher Stanley Milgram, wanted to find out whether Americans would kill thousands of people in the way Germans had killed Jews. So he set up an experiment in which randomly chosen ordinary people, postal workers, teachers, salesman, factory hands, were asked to commit acts of cruelty by an authority figure. No one would force them. They could leave when they wanted. Only verbal commands like 'please go on ' please continue with the experiment'' would be given. They would not be paid or pushed in any way. The ad asked for volunteers in an experiment to study 'memory and learning'.

The volunteer was met by an actor playing the role of a white coated 'researcher' and another who pretended to be the 'learner'.

The volunteer was told that the experiment was designed to examine the effect of punishment on learning. As teacher, he would read out words to the learner and then ask him to repeat them. Each time the learner gave a wrong answer, the teacher had to press a button on a machine to give him an electric shock. The shocks would increase in intensity. The researcher pretended to strap the learner into an electric chair and the supposedly nervous learner told the researcher that he had a heart condition. The teacher was taken into another room where he could not see the learner again and given the voltage switch.

The first few times the learner got the words right but as he made mistakes, the teacher pressed the switch. When he passed the 75 volt level, the learner started moaning. At 120 the learner shouted and by 150 volts he started screaming. (All this was actually being done from a tape recorder.) The teachers, in most cases, began to sweat and tremble and all of them looked at the researcher for guidance. All he would ask was for them to go on for the sake of the experiment.

Milgram had forecast that no one would proceed beyond this point. But none of the volunteers backed off. They kept pressing the switch as the voltage got higher and higher and the agonized screams got louder and louder' all the way up to 450 volts when the screams fell silent as the learner was either unconscious or dead.

Milgram conceded 'I would say , on the basis of having observed a thousand people in the experiment that if a system of death camps were set up in the United States of the sort we had seen in Nazi Germany one would be able to find sufficient personnel for those camps in any American town.'

Milgram tried out hundreds of variations of the experiment and found that as long as the volunteer did not see or hear from the victim, he was totally obedient no matter what the cruelty level was. Even if he saw and heard the pain, it was still 65%. And when he had to physically press the victim's hand on a metal plate to give him a shock, 30% still did it. Women were just as pliable as men.

This experiment has been duplicated hundreds of times in different countries. The result is always the same.

Another experiment done by Charles Sheridan and Richard King used a puppy in a box. The researcher was told to shock the puppy if it stood in the wrong place ' as it was being trained. In fact there was no right place. The volunteers kept shocking the puppy till it howled and jumped up and down and then collapsed. The volunteers cried, they hyperventilated, they screamed - but all of them kept shocking the puppy till it died. Another researcher did an experiment in 'obedience' involving 'normal' people who were told that they were part of blood pressure experiments. Live white rats were put on their hands and they were told to decapitate them. The men swore, the women cried. But since they had been 'ordered '75% of the volunteers decapitated the rats while they were squirming in their palms by stabbing and sawing away at them.

Contrast this with a study done in Chicago . Researchers locked rhesus monkeys into cages. To get food they had to pull a chain. But if the monkey pulled the chain, his neighbour got an electric shock. After seeing the agony of their neighbours, all the monkeys refused to pull the chain. Some went hungry for as long as 12 days before they died, instead of inflicting pain on one of their own kind. Whenever this experiment has been repeated ' from apes to rats and cockroaches, all of them have reacted like this. They would rather die than cause wanton pain.

Do we deserve the Earth? Are we superior in any way?

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