Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

The species intelligence test

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-08

I propose a test for whether a species deserves civil rights:

Have members of the species found farts or fart jokes amusing, or have been observed playing fart/poop practical jokes on their fellows for no other good reason than amusement?

Who cares if an animal finds farts funny in a natural environment or after exposure to humans?

And yes… I’m being serious… I think it could actually be a pretty good test.

Apart from the emotional intelligence… all you need is a bum.

And what an essay topic for psych, ethics, and law students!  The pros and cons involved are quite subtle.

¿crepo ergo sum?

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8 Responses to “The species intelligence test”

  1. LOL. My dog always found farts surprising, but not funny. I know some chimps throw poo, but I think that’s a dominance thing, not because they find it amusing. Although I like to think of them having a quiet cackle.

  2. Dave Bath said

    Was your dog surprised by his own, or the farts of others?

    Chimps and gorillas taught sign language *spontaneously* use whatever sign they’ve been taught for the brown stuff in exactly the same way we do, as an expression of annoyance: “You are poo!”, “Pooey John!”, etc. Throwing the actual stuff might not always be asserting dominance (I’ve seen no reference to signing non-humans saying “I poo on you”), but annoyance and hope the annoyance will stop.

    I don’t think non-human anthropoids in laboratories are taught signs for the horizontal mambo, but I /do/ wonder whether they’d use it in a non-literal context.

  3. Dave Bath said

    This in Nature (2009-09-12) announces the discovery that a single gene, FOXP2, seems to be the difference between chimp and homo speech capabilities. Both humans with a rare severe language disorder and chimps have different FOXP2 genes from normal humans, with a mere two amino acids different in the protein, changes the expressions rates of a number of other genes (61 up, 51 down) between the two species. There are resulting changes in the brain, but FOXP2 differences also create differences in the physical means of producing speech, the soft tissue structure and development required for speech. Doubtless I’ll write a full post on this in the future.

  4. Jayjee said


    Sometimes, I think that the DNA of a great majority of the XY branch of the species only allows them to mature to age 14. And there they stay. Even when they are 90, they are still really still 14. :)

  5. Jayjee said

    Even though I bought it ages ago, I still haven’t got round to reading it, but Stephen Pinker’s latest potboiler, The Stuff of Thought has a lot on scatological humour and even more on swearing and profanity in general.

  6. Dave Bath said

    Re Jayjee@4

    I don’t think I ever made it to 14. (My daughter says I enjoy playing with my grandson and his duplo way too much).

  7. Jayjee said

    As long as you are not sitting on her head and farting like my brothers and I used to do to our little sister! :)

  8. Dave, my dog was mainly surprised by his own farts, and always sniffed his rear end with this quizzical expression as if to say, “Who did that? Surely not ME?”

    My son finds farts funny and he’s only one. He did one today and found it HILARIOUS.

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