Thursday, January 29, 2015

Higgs Comments on Pro-anthropomorphism Piece in the New York Times

Other animals get many of the same mental and physical ailments that afflict us humans. This should be no surprise from an evolutionary perspective.

Higgs Comments on Pro-anthropomorphism Piece in the New York Times

Higgs here. My human and I both enjoyed this piece in Sunday’s New York Times by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers. The authors tell of animals that suffer everything from breast cancer to depression to self-harm. I myself suffered from allergies but have received excellent treatment from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
IMHO this is the best paragraph in the whole piece:

My medical education included stern warnings against the tantalizing pull to anthropomorphize. In those days, noticing pain or sadness on the face of an animal was criticized as projection, fantasy, or sloppy sentimentality. But scientific advancements of the past two decades suggest that we should adopt an updated perspective. Seeing too much of ourselves in other animals might not be the problem we think it is. Underappreciating our own animal natures may be the greater limitation.

Right on humans! This might be considered evolutionary medicine. Don’t feel bad that it took you so long to figure it out. Cats, too, have trouble accepting our place in that bushy tree of life, since we possesses so many extraordinary qualities. (Some cats continue to doubt that we share a common ancestor with dogs.) But Darwin was right. We’re all animals and there’s much we can learn from one another. Thanks for letting me express my views - Higgs.

About this blog
Faye Flam - writer
In pursuit of her stories, writer Faye Flam has weathered storms in Greenland, gotten frost nip at the South Pole, and floated weightless aboard NASA’s zero-g plane. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology and started her writing career with the Economist. She later took on the particle physics and cosmology beat at Science Magazine before coming to the Inquirer in 1995. Her previous science column, “Carnal Knowledge,” ran from 2005 to 2008. Her new column and blog, Planet of the Apes, explores the topic of evolution and runs here and in the Inquirer’s health section each Monday. Email Faye at Reach Planet of the at

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