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The Spectrum of Behavior

Behavior is like the spectrum of light (behaviorspectrum)

The conundrum of the behavioral sciences is that they are not exact sciences in the same sense as physics or mathematics. Behavior is like the spectrum of light: it is as difficult to say when yellow turns into orange as when one behavior turns into another. It is a continuum of quantity, perceptible throughout its duration, describable only when quantity turns into quality.

Friendly, insecure, pacifying, submissive and fearful behaviors are a continuum of quantity, as are content, self-confident, assertive, dominant and aggressive behaviors. The distinction between any two behaviors is a matter of function; the borderline separating one category from the other is a matter of observational skill, contextual parameters, and convention; the way we understand it all is a matter of definition.

Our brain likes to tidy up its stored information in small boxes, but once in a while, I like to turn them upside down. It’s good mental exercise.

Featured image: Behavior is like the spectrum of light: it is as difficult to say when yellow turns into orange as when one behavior turns into another. © Illustration by Roger Abrantes with drawings from Alice Rasmussen.

Learn more in our course Agonistic BehaviorAgonistic Behavior is all forms of aggression, threat, fear, pacifying behavior, fight or flight, arising from confrontations between individuals of the same species. This course gives you the scientific definitions and facts.

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Open-minded skepticism

open-minded skepticism knowledge (Baby1)

“Keep an open-minded skepticism,” I recommend my students in their pursuit of knowledge. “Open-mindedness and critical reasoning are your map and compass on your journey to knowledge, but without desire, as without a canteen, you won’t get anywhere,” I say to them.

Featured image: Be open-minded and healthily skeptical.

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

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I Do Enjoy Being Kind to Other Animals

I-Do-Enjoy-Being-Kind

(First published April 13, 2014, edited February 26, 2018)

 

I do enjoy being kind to animals, other than humans—and I don’t need a rational justification as to why that’s right for me. I respect them for what they are and interact with them on equal terms. I don’t believe to be right to subjugate them to my will, to control them, to change them.

Yes, I do enjoy being kind to animals. It serves me well and fulfills my life with a sense of harmony. I can’t make anyone choose harmony or define it in a particular way, even though I can illustrate how bullying does not lead to stability. Therefore, I cannot argue with people who believe it right to bully others (including non-human animals). Neither can I argue with people who think it acceptable to hurt others to achieve their goals because such means are objectionable to me. Nor, can I discuss with people who deny or affirm a particular matter of fact as a means of justifying their moral conduct, because my mind rejects invalid, unsound arguments.

Morality and science are two separate disciplines. I may not like the conclusions and implications of some scientific studies, and I may even find their application immoral; yet, my job as a scientist is to report my findings objectively. Stating a fact does not oblige me to adopt any particular moral stance. Science does influence my perceptions but does not constrain the way I feel about a fact. Ultimately, my moral decision is independent of scientific fact.

G. E. Moore coined the term naturalistic fallacy in 1903 in “Principia Ethica.” In 1739, David Hume described, in “A Treatise of Human Nature,” the ‘is-ought problem,’ also called ‘Hume’s Law’ or ‘Hume’s Guillotine.’ The ‘is-ought fallacy’ consists of deriving an ‘ought’ conclusion from an ‘is’ premise. We cannot deduct ‘ought’ from ‘is.’

As an ethologist, I’m not concerned with what ought to be, only with what is. Echoing Satoshi Kanazawa, if I conclude something that is not supported by evidence, I commit a logical fallacy, which I must correct, and that’s my problem, but if my conclusion offends your beliefs, then that’s your problem.

With time, the rational principles that govern my mind and the ethical ones that regulate my conduct may or may not prove to be the fittest. Meanwhile, as a result of genetic pre-programming, social conditioning, and evolutionary biology, I do enjoy being kind to animals. I respect them for what they are and interact with them on equal terms—and I don’t need a rational justification as to why that’s right for me.

Featured image: I do enjoy being kind to other animals, respecting them for what they are and interacting with them on equal terms.

Featured Course of the Week

Animal Welfare Animal welfare is an objective science studying the needs of animals, an interaction between natural science, ethics, and law. This course is a must for everyone working with animals. Learn how to assess your pet's quality of life.

Featured Price: € 98.00 € 49.00

 

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

ATMWCourse

I’m a Citizen of the World

I’m a Citizen of the World (ChildDogCatwide)

I’m a citizen of the World,” I say when asked where I come from—and I am, in mind and heart.

Diogenes, in about 412 BC, was probably the first to use the expression and express the very same sentiment. Socrates (469-399 BC) concurred: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” Kaniyan Poongundran, the Tamil poet, wrote (at least 2000 years ago), “To us all towns are one, all men our kin.” Thomas Paine (English-American philosopher, 1737 – 1809), said, “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion.” Albert Einstein (1879-1955) thought of himself as a world citizen, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

I’m a citizen of the world. I’ve traveled over most of our beautiful planet, seen mountains above the clouds with perennial snow tops, and oceans reaching far beyond the eye can see. I’ve lived in temperatures from 40º C below zero to 40º C above. I’ve eaten all kinds of food prepared by humans and spent many a day and night enjoying the company of people with the most exceptional cultures and habits.

What’s my favorite place? I don’t have one. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve discovered new pieces in the amazing puzzle of life. Everywhere I’ve been, from the most glamorous cities to the poorest war-torn areas, I’ve met kind and gentle people. I’ve shared water with the Maasai in the African desert and rice with the Chhetris in the Nepalese mountains. With all of them, I felt a strong kinship: no country, no culture, no language, no divide—we were family, we were humans, we were sentient living beings. Yes, I’m a citizen of the world.

Life is great!

Featured image: Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve discovered new pieces in the amazing puzzle of life.