A Case For Animal Cognition


Some say that animals are less intelligent only according to anthropocentric definitions. I would like to clarify, that even by anthropocentric definitions, we still may not be the most intelligent. This post discusses this topic in depth, criticizing this assumption that I believe stems from dogma, similar to the assumption that Earth is the center of the universe. We may have the strongest sociological intelligence of all animals, although individually we may not be very intelligent in which chimps could potentially be superior due to pharmacological/physiological reasons, and specifically physiological reasons that directly relate to the precise factor that allows for strong sociological development: domestication. Here, domestication essentially refers to selecting for specific social traits such as non-aggression, submission, and communication.

My argument is that a chimp and a human can look at a room and the chimp could more quickly figure out the details of this room, probably memorize it, and also understand the details and properties of the room in more depth than the human unless you had multiple humans who spent massive amounts of time in these rooms to come to the same conclusions, and then teach the human in the room these conclusions. Humans are more geared towards social learning and dogma, which is in some sense indirect learning while chimps are more geared towards interpreting physical reality directly.

To clarify, my current position on this topic is actually agnosticism due to lack of scientific evidence. The case made here involves theory for why we should remain agnostic and also consider the possibility that chimps could be as intelligent as us, when removing many environmental factors.


My personal definition of intelligence, which you may correct me on, is the ability to understand past, present, and future. Past intelligence is memory, present intelligence is short-term memory, perception, and attention, and finally, future is prediction and manipulation of the present to reach goals. 

First, it is known that humans have the highest number of neurons of any animal on earth, besides long-finned pilot whales. I would suggest that this does not inherently mean that the mental architecture to solve problems and do other mental tasks is increased, but that it may be a response to educating humans, which might also have biological adaptions centered around it. Another major possibility is that language requires a lot more neuronal usage, to essentially form symbols about perceptions and concepts. Language seems very inefficient, being comprised of so many parts, meanings, connections to the senses, and so on. This study found that the brain size to neuron count did not effectively correlate to intelligence level among non-human primates, and instead, overall brain size did. Social network size correlated to neocortex size in apes. Humans do have the largest brain of the apes. 

It is known that children undergo neurogenesis, perhaps as a consequence of learning. This makes sense because children must be open to learning because their entire environment is unknown, so children must be curious and open to learning. This paper shows the case both for, and against, the hypothesis that learning increases neurogenesis in adults. If learning increases the demand for neurogenesis or even the demand to build new adaptive mental architectures that are environmentally dependent, it is clear that human society is an environment with a lot of learning-pressure, and it would make less sense for animals to have as much mental growth in the lack of stimulation. This makes sense, as cases such as Genie, the wild child, miss critical learning phases due to a lack of stimulation that society provides, resulting in more animalistic traits.

Let’s look at what we consider to be results of human intelligence. One is sharing of knowledge, via language, and more importantly written language. Another is technological progress. Are these truly results of cognitive superiority alone, or even at all?

Information sharing typically requires language. Dolphins appear to have fully developed languages, similar to humans but possibly unique or less developed to some degree. This is not yet known. Chimpanzees do not appear to have any fully developed oral language. Chimpanzees and other apes have been taught language before. The apes tend to not ask questions, something which I will explain further in this post.

Technological progress requires both hands and dexterity, traits I believe that are irrelevant to intelligence. Dolphins cannot feasibly produce significant technology or written language without hands. If you can think of a solution to this problem we should teach the dolphins and see if the project develops into anything.

When you compare human intelligence and chimp intelligence by measuring the metric of technological progress or shared knowledge, it is an illogical comparison. Because you are basically allowing the human access to the work of billions of humans and giving them millions of years of progressing thought all combined and escalated while the chimp is expected to compete individually and by only its own personal tool-creating abilities.

As far as we know, chimps could outperform humans in tool creation, but progress never develops because information sharing is heavily limited. We should also consider the fraction of human history that included written language and advanced technology that surpasses the chimp’s level of technology. Stone tool are thought to have emerged 2.6 million years ago in Ethiopia at the hands of our ancestors, which is only about 1/2 of the time that human ancestors have existed have been around, 6 million years. Humans in their current state have existed for 300,000 years approximately which coincides with Chomsky’s claim for when oral language first arose in the human species. Oral language in humans would be superior, which may be an aspect that evolved from socialization and domestication. This is explained in depth further down.

If I claim that intelligence wasn’t the primary trait that makes humans effective at tool creation and knowledge sharing, then what is? I think what makes humans special is that they submit to dogma easily and this makes sharing knowledge much easier because there is a lack of skepticism and distrust to slow it down. They submit to authority, popularity fallacies, and other things. This doesn’t necessarily equate to a metric of intelligence. Consider how you were taught to brush your teeth, but probably not taught accurate science for why such a behavior is beneficial. Likely, you were told an oversimplified form of the truth, such as your teeth will fall out if you do not brush your teeth. While possible, this isn’t exactly true. Humans will accept this statement dogmatically, trusting their dominants, their parents. Chimps appear to imitate each other, but it is uncertain whether they do so dogmatically, or due to functional reasoning. One of the videos below gives evidence toward the functional reasoning side of things.

This concept will explained shortly, in the later sections.


My claim is not that IQ doesn’t measure intelligence. It’s that IQ measures more than just intelligence. Probably even measuring many of the things it’s correlated to. It’s possible that access to knowledge is a factor in IQ, so thus wealth is an aspect of IQ skill development, simply because the environments, experiences, and opportunities associated with wealth facilitate IQ training and creativity development. This is likely related to the Flynn Effect, in which IQ scores of the general population tend to increase over time. Most of the explanations provided in this Wikipedia, schooling and test familiarity, more stimulating environments, nutrition, all may explain differences in IQ scoring of chimps vs humans. In some sense, it may be argued that IQ scores are correlated to the progress of environmental advancement. Chimps might be stimulated and trained for IQ tests, but there are many factors in society that are not accounted for in these lab-based environments that study the chimps.

Koko the gorilla has scored between 70-95 on a human scale for IQ, and according to the research on the Flynn effect, humans during the early 1900s scored around 30 points lower than humans of today, putting them lower than Koko as well. I have heard criticism of Koko’s IQ based on the test having large amounts of motor function tasks due to the test being developed for children.

Another factor is that creative people take risks, which causes them to face negative consequences more frequently, and when they have less wealth to depend and fall back on, the risks are actually greater, even when it is the same risky choice. This is dis-incentivizing creative development and pattern recognition which is basically dis-incentivizing exploration, curiosity, and learning.

It could be that security for exploration is what leads to success. If you’ve read my theory on the development of pattern recognition, it explores the concept of pattern-recognition and its development from risk-taking. Perhaps risky decisions aren’t universally risky, but instead, some environments protect against the consequences of risk.

Question: Does an environment that facilitates security in exploration and it’s consequences correlate to IQ?

The reason pattern recognition is not a form of general intelligence is that it is the result of combining memory with risk-taking and novelty-seeking. It develops the same way that detail-oriented cognition would develop, except that the memory for details of singular repeating experiences is replaced with a memory for the details in non-repeating, novel, experiences. The details that repeat are essentially patterns of details between novel stimuli. This is explained in further detail in the section below titled Creativity, as well as my write-up that goes in much more depth about this topic, Exploring Darkness: Theory Of Creativity.

It is fairly obvious that having more experiences would facilitate an expansion of knowledge based on having experiences. Those who are stuck in an intellectual void because the risks are too great and they lack support if an error occurs, or those who fear consequences of taking risks, are disadvantaged in experience-dependent cognition.

The problem here is that this pattern-recognition factor is heavily environmentally dependent, so the correlations we associate with IQ and environmentally-dependent factors should be investigated, as these do not explain inherent cognitive capacity, and are a product of IQ training. There would be genetic predisposition to risk-taking and novelty-seeking, as well as the tendency to switch into pattern-seeking cognition as well. Perhaps, security-seeking cognition is the opposition here. This may in fact provide some degree of genetic intelligence basis, as well as optimized neurotransmission genes in relevance to traits measured on IQ tests.

Motivation is another conflicting factor as well. Having motivation to get snacks for doing IQ tests is likely not going to produce the same results as having motivation to impress peers with one’s ability to succeed on IQ tests.

Catell-Horn-Carroll Theory

We can focus on the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of intelligence. Of the broad abilities quoted below, I suspect chimps have potentially superior fluid reasoning, short-term memory, long-term memory, reaction time, processing speed, and visual processing.


The broad abilities are:

▪ Comprehension-Knowledge (Gc): includes the breadth and depth of a person’s acquired knowledge, the ability to communicate one’s knowledge, and the ability to reason using previously learned experiences or procedures.

▪ Fluid reasoning (Gf): includes the broad ability to reason, form concepts, and solve problems using unfamiliar information or novel procedures.

▪ Quantitative knowledge (Gq): is the ability to comprehend quantitative concepts and relationships and to manipulate numerical symbols.[5]

▪ Reading & Writing Ability (Grw): includes basic reading and writing skills.

▪ Short-Term Memory (Gsm): is the ability to apprehend and hold information in immediate awareness and then use it within a few seconds.

▪ Long-Term Storage and Retrieval (Glr): is the ability to store information and fluently retrieve it later in the process of thinking.

▪ Visual Processing (Gv): is the ability to perceive, analyze, synthesize, and think with visual patterns, including the ability to store and recall visual representations.

▪ Auditory Processing (Ga): is the ability to analyze, synthesize, and discriminate auditory stimuli, including the ability to process and discriminate speech sounds that may be presented under distorted conditions.

▪ Processing Speed (Gs): is the ability to perform automatic cognitive tasks, particularly when measured under pressure to maintain focused attention.

A tenth ability, Decision/Reaction Time/Speed (Gt), is considered part of the theory, but is not currently assessed by any major intellectual ability test, although it can be assessed with a supplemental measure such as a continuous performance test.

▪ Decision/Reaction Time/Speed (Gt): reflects the immediacy with which an individual can react to stimuli or a task (typically measured in seconds or fractions of seconds; not to be confused with Gs, which typically is measured in intervals of 2–3 minutes).


Cognitive Experiments

Chimpanzees out perform humans on working memory tests. They underperform on other tests which I’ll get to soon. Working memory is the ability to process simultaneous information. Chimps have more working memory meaning they could add more numbers in their head and keep track of more variables and process deeper concepts without resorting to abstraction and symbols.

Chimpanzees have superior working memory compared with humans.


This working memory test shows that chimps have superior short-term memory compared with humans. This is one measure of intelligence for the CHC intelligence theory. It also supports the idea that chimps could have superior reaction time and processing speed.

In another cognitive test, there is a puzzle box that spits out food as a prize. There were three steps or so to complete before getting the prize. Both the human and the chimp were taught by instruction. Showing both can learn by social means. Later, the puzzle box is turned transparent. So you can visibly see the mechanics. The human children still followed the steps, irrationally and unnecessarily, because they are more predisposed to follow instructions than they are to puzzle solve. The chimps immediately skipped the unnecessary steps and just went for the prize.

Chimpanzee is less dogmatic than a human child.

This puzzle-box shows visual processing, and possibly fluid reasoning is at least superior to human children, but there is no reason to conclude where the superiority ends, unless we form tests like this that compare human adults and chimps. This study shows that working memory is strongly correlated to fluid intelligence. Working memory has been associated to reasoning ability very strongly as well. Most importantly, this study actually shows that g (of general intelligence) strongly predicts working memory capacity.

This becomes increasingly problematic as the motivation to solve these puzzles for food is likely limited and the human’s ego might motivate their problem solving skills far beyond the chimp’s concerns for food. It also isn’t apparent that chimps compare each other’s intelligence, as humans do. So it seems unlikely to provoke a chimpanzee into solving increasingly difficult problems to prove their intelligence.



Humans spend their time in an intellectually stimulating society, one which pressures cognition and the development of higher intelligence. It is a society that is dependent on the medium of language for this pressure to exist. Language is seen among non-human species, those of which are less intelligent than chimpanzees. This shows that it isn’t necessarily true to say that the development of language in humans is based on general cognition, something which is evidenced also by regions of the brain dedicated towards processing language and symbols. These regions are Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Though these regions seem to be somewhat involved in other tasks beyond language as well, they seem to mostly cause language related deficits when damaged.

This study shows chimpanzees performing significantly better than untrained university students on the working memory task.

This study shows chimpanzees performing slightly worse than humans at the working memory task after the university students were trained at the task.

Ayumu is the chimpanzee and T.E. and J.S. are the university students.

working memory

We can see that before training, the humans scored a rate of 4/10 on average, while after training the humans scored 9.5/10 on average. The chimpanzee scored 8/10 on average so the difference is approximately 1.5/10.

This study shows that academic performance is linked to working memory function more than IQ, and this is highly relevant since these studies are comparing university students to chimpanzees. 

Here is a more general study discussing working memory and training-induced plasticity.

The study comparing university students who are trained and chimpanzees who are trained, fails to recognize other environmental variables that would impact cognitive development and prime short term memory and humans learn how to learn effectively and practice learning since childhood. If training is a factor, you’d expect that a stimulating environment such as human society is going to lead to more cognitive functioning than the environments that the chimps live in, presumably something closer to solitary confinement or something only slightly better. For example, we recommend for those undergoing age-related cognitive decline to engage in mentally stimulating activity as a treatment option. It is obvious that a child’s environment is extremely novel since the world itself is new to them, and thus cognitively demanding, especially the human-environment. As we age, exposure to these novelties and stimulating environments would decline, and so it makes sense that age-related decline exists. This may not account for all age-related cognitive decline, but it certainly must play a large role. This stimulating environment factor also explains the Flynn effect as well, as our technology continues to increase and provide more stimulating environments.

You’d have to really compare the conditions to make an effective scientific case for comparable chimpanzee and human intelligence. In essence, all studies attempting to compare human and chimpanzee intelligence have too many variables that are neglected that could lead to differences in cognitive function. At the very least we have seen chimpanzees outperforming untrained humans and that is without other forms of cognitive priming that occur in human society. Furthermore, this may be an untestable hypothesis, as the language differences may be non-correctable, and as demonstrated, language development is not a product of general intelligences, but rather a specialized regions are associated to language processing. 


In human society, a physician essentially dogmatically trusts construction workers. A person cannot master and understand every topic that affects their reality. We trust our institutions, and rightfully so, because it has been mostly successful, except the obvious cases of political and financial corruption that takes place. This dogmatic trust, I would posit is the trait of agreeableness in the Big Five Personality assessment. A child who is too naïve to form reasonably educated judgments will dogmatically trust it’s guardian, and this dynamic allows us to compartmentalize and diversify our intelligence like an ant-colony that assigns roles to each type of ant sub-type.

Chimps likely doubt each other’s judgment and favor their own. This is critical to the difference in chimp society and human society. Adults might see through this puzzle but the more complex reality in adulthood would have them still following unnecessary instructions. The followers and most obedient of our species may be following the instructions of the puzzle-box, metaphorically. Laws that don’t protect people but are followed dogmatically are an example of this. The benefit is that we can more easily learn from our parents or teachers, but the downside is that we are less critical of what we learn, and seem to assume dogmatic conclusions.

Wolf and dog comparison.

Wolves outperform dogs on certain intelligence tests similarly to how chimps outperform humans on certain intelligence tests. Here’s where it gets interesting though. Chimps and wolves fail on pointing tests. Which basically tests social attention and obedience and submission. Pointing also indicates empathy and seeing from another’s perspective. Perhaps even having consideration for the perspective of another, is a result of submissive tendencies. Pointing at an object requires us to concern ourselves with another creature’s focus of attention and share it.

Networking of Intelligence

Humans primarily network their intelligence via the medium of language. Language is arguably not necessarily based on intelligence. The most clear example of this is with William’s syndrome, where the individual’s often face significant cognitive difficulties while their language abilities remain in tact. This is used to make a case that language is not necessarily connected to intelligence.


Knowledge-Sharing and Knowledge-Acquisition

To give an example of the benefit that knowledge-sharing has towards developing creativity, consider a hypothetical where an individual human is capable of acquiring 10 bits of information from their environment, using their senses and also their cognition to process and manipulate the information to form synthesized information. Now consider this example: a chimp might be capable of acquiring 30 bits of information from their environment, due to better senses, and having an increased capacity to process information. If the human socializes their learnings among 10 others, they will likely acquire more than 30 bits of information, while the chimp is still limited to 30. There would almost certainly be an overlap of knowledge within the humans, so it wouldn’t be that 3 humans summate a total of 30 bits, we must account for overlap here. Now consider that creativity is just the utility that expansive knowledge has, and that the level of creativity is determined by the quantity of information bits. So a chimp is still limited to 30 bits, a knowledge capacity which is essentially limited to their senses and individual cognition.


Ants being more advanced than chimps.

Ants are a species worth mentioning here as well. Ants are a species that has achieved what chimps still have not: agriculture. And they have done it before humans have. This means that ants are more technologically advanced compared to chimps. But does this mean ants are more intelligent than chimps? No. 

The same way muscles aren’t an aspect of intelligence and lead to survival benefits, certain metrics could increase our ability to build knowledge incidentally but have no relation to our actual intelligence. It could even be argued that the reduction of intelligence in humans makes it easier to trick them into believing less logical and less factual information, allowing for huge collections of information at a faster pace and with less accuracy.

Information sharing is more important than information accuracy and specificity. Information sharing is required for us to have books and learn from books. Most of our technology is dependent on information stored on books, to which inventors made use of the information.

Humans essentially outsource their intelligence to google, Mom and dad, the government, their peers, books, and technology. Outsourcing our intelligence is a wise choice that is actually superior to simply relying on only our own intelligence, but we must not mistake the intellectual power of others/technology as our own.

Another thing to consider is cases of savantism. Where brain damage to humans leads to extraordinary boosts of certain metrics of intelligence. This means that there are areas of our brain that actively suppress these abilities. It’s known we can increase musical ability via brain damage. It is known that an area of the frontal lobe suppresses critical thinking and logic, and that damaging this region is known to increase critical thinking and logic.

Here are a bunch of savants, and their stories.

Consider that computers do not start off illogical. In other words, we do not train computers to become more logical. They start off logical and we would probably have to create software that allows for illogical thinking. Fallacious thinking seem to use biases to change the definitions across contexts of a concept. So I could change the meaning of context in a misleading way. The evolutionary benefit of fallacies is that we can manipulate each other. We can lie to get more food. We can submit to religious ideas. We can assume a group agrees on an idea when the idea each person agrees to is actually significantly different in concept.

This leads us to,

Creativity and Abstraction

Creativity itself, is not an aspect of intelligence, but may manifest from general intelligence.

From my theory of creativity:



Familiarity involves information or environments you know are safe or unsafe already. The familiar can be trekked safely. The unknown is undetermined to be safe or unsafe as of yet. The more risky zones of reality have more potential for discovery than familiarity, because familiarity cannot lead to discovery, by definition, because it is the already-discovered. Novelty is the basis of discovery. Venturing into the unknown risks death, which poses evolutionary-survival problems. There is genetic benefit for advancing society, via exploration of environments and ideas and technologies, but we need most of society to fear change and the unknown. Fearing the unknown provides more evolutionary benefit than does craving the unknown, but craving the unknown is still useful, or even necessary. These traits operate on a gradient, rather than binary, trait/non-trait status.

. . .

Exposure to the familiar leads to relatively detail-oriented cognition. Exploring is the concept of finding new observations, thoughts, and knowledge. It is a behavioral result of novelty-seeking. Imagine that you are taking a path to some destination, A. You can take the same path every time for efficiency. Due to repeated exposure, you will slowly memorize the lesser noticed details of this path (detail-oriented thinking). With this scenario, the path becomes learned and environmental consciousness slowly fades out for automated/habituated navigation. While in this automatic mode, consciousness may rest or act leisurely and freely, essentially only giving attention to the critically important aspects of the task. This is why we dissociate when driving our commutes often times. 

Exposure to the novel leads to pattern-oriented cognition. Now imagine that you took a novel path to reach destination A each time instead. You could not stay in this automated/habituated state because you have not yet determined how to navigate it mindlessly. Your consciousness would need to focus on being present and aware of the novel path, in order to learn and form automations. You would not have exposure to the details of the same path each time, by definition, as you are exploring novel paths. Though, novel paths are not entirely novel in every minute detail, that would be unrealistic. You would tend to find repeating details among novel paths, and the repetition of these details would form into a different kind of memory. This other form of memory would be generalized into patterns or archetypes of paths, rather than specific paths in their defining detail, because you are not repeating specific paths. By not reinforcing the memory of the details that essentially distinguish paths from each other, you would find the memory for the details would be poor, while memory of overlapping details among paths is reinforced. This is the basis for pattern recognition, and explains why it should emerge from novelty-seeking. This means that pattern recognition is not necessarily a special inherent physiological trait, but moreso a byproduct of exploration, driven by novelty-seeking. This exploration is of any medium: problem-solving, thinking, talking, driving; generalized exploration.


Abstraction may reduce specificity and decrease awareness of the contradicting information between concepts.

Let’s say, you go to a bar with a friend, and both of you agree that the experience is amazing. But the experience you both agree upon is not the same experience. Making it illogical to agree upon. You may enjoy the music and the people while your friend may enjoy the food and the alcohol. And somehow you are both convinced that you agree on some mutual fact. Reducing our awareness of this level of logic, benefits group-think, and benefits openness. This is an aspect I think is critical to the concept of domestication and submission.

This can be abstracted into:

Two people have experience A.

Experience A is comprised of x and y.

Person 1 enjoys x but dislikes y. Person 2 enjoys y but dislikes x. 

Person 1 and person 2 both concede that experience A is enjoyable. 

Experience A does not exist in reality, but x and y both exist in reality. 

Person 1 and person 2 do not concede on reality but do concede on an abstract nonexistence. 

This demonstrates that abstraction facilitates agreement. Agreeability would lead to sociability which aides in the development of language and information sharing. Information sharing is shown to surpass the ability of intelligence, very obviously, in the case of feral children, who’s intelligence does not take them further than books and information sharing, and information sharing does not even facilitate accuracy of judgment, and in fact reduces accuracy as a trade-off for communication and agreeableness.

A reduction of specificity would make sharing information easier as well, since information is being reduced into more abstracted forms. This is not necessarily beneficial to individual cognition, because it leads to misuse of logic and contradictions as shown in the example above. It is beneficial to communication because less information is required to communicate, and information sharing is more useful to our species and societal growth than is individual correctness.




From the concept of taking novel paths presented earlier, we could  imagine that this were talking about thoughts instead of driving paths, and imagine that your thoughts are so tangential that you would end up discovering patterns between thoughts that result in epiphanies, which reinforce the habit of thought-exploration.

‘Use it or lose it’ is a really good metaphor here for the pruning hypothesis for schizophrenia.

Eventually, this lack of details would force one into a world of abstractions, due to the lack of memory for details that distinguish differences between concepts and objects. The worldview here may be logical, but too far reduced to relate to the general population. I would argue that the general population is more schizophrenic than chimpanzees, which is the argument made in my animal cognition post.

There must be an interconnectedness of neurons that begins to occur as more and more patterns are found, and thus more relatedness between concepts. I think the executive function issues in schizophrenia may be partially due to recalling lots of irrelevant information and over-consuming working memory limitations, since one concept may insight many other related concepts and their details might insight more connections and epiphanies. This may cause the common language problems of schizophrenia. The type of errors that schizophrenics make with language also exemplify the core issue of patterns and abstractions. Commonly rhyming, excessive metaphor, using words too synonymously, and other errors that usually involve a problem with concepts being too synonymous or having patterns with each other. As if the individual does not recognize the details that are contradicting.


The full post on abstraction is here.

A disturbing implication of this is that it may be that our sense of empathy and theory of mind is very often falsely rationalized, and in some sense, delusional. 


Dog Infant

Essentially this begins as the dynamic between parent and child, but evolves into social hierarchies as well. Like child to mother, like dog to master, and like human to government/central authority, domestication breeds a form of social dependency and ever diminishing independence, creating a hive-mind like the ants, with their central authority, their queen.

Human offspring have the longest childhood phase, which may promote learning, exploration, curiosity, and openness to experience for a longer period of time. Childhood is a time of dependency, but also guardianship is granted to the child. They may learn with the protection of the adult. In this sense, humans take care of their children all throughout school. You should read my theory on creativity, which makes a very strong case that it is mostly a byproduct of risk-taking and novelty-seeking, which are, in essence, the same thing labeled from different perspectives. To seek novelty, is to seek learning, and it is risky to seek the unknown, unless of course you have a protector, an adult. This is another trait that may benefit humans and not be a result of intelligence itself, but rather a mechanism of our biology that facilitates more growth. Here is a theory about the psychology of our long childhood phase.

One trait increased by domestication would be submissive tendency. This sounds like a simple and obvious concept, but what does this mean, on a more technical level? Submissive tendency could be explained by a few different major characteristics. An individual submits to a dominator. An amount of trust is given to the dominator. When a dog is submissive to its owner, it is like the relationship an individual has with their mother.

Submissiveness may not always be based on fear or instinctual tendencies, at least not so simply. As explored in the previous section, the reduction of specificity causes us agree upon what is not actually agreement. So it may be possible to form a bias towards guardians and even peers, enough to give offenders the benefit of the doubt? Consider a dog who scratches at the backyard door to be let out. If you do not let the dog out, the submissive tendency might be that it rationalizes your actions, and assumes itself doesn’t know enough to make judgments. A position of naivety, and dogmatic trust, or faith, in the dominator. Maybe the feral dog, would assume you are a horrible person more quickly. But I don’t think it’s this either, I think it can be much more rational but foreign to our empathy. It also makes sense that, if you continue to increase your knowledge base, that your judgment should theoretically improve, and if a submissive understands that the dominator is older, the submissive may assume that the dominator is more knowledgeable and thus has better judgment. Whether one is dominant may be determined by expression of confidence and security, whereas those who are naive, are in a state of exploring the unknown, and the risk of being wrong is much more prominent, which should be expressed in the confidence of one’s voice and behavior. Fearlessness may show that an individual can predict and knows the outcomes of events, leading to a lack of fear. Humans also learn to feign confidence to control people in politics, not that this is of major relevance to this theory, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Domestication essentially breeds for permanent child-phase creatures. The physiological differences in domesticated animals also reflect this. Hairlessness sometimes, floppy ears, and other pre-puberty physiological traits exist in domesticated animals. And they retain the mother-assigning behavior. Humans likely assign society as their adult mothers. Government could be our mothers. We are submitting, trusting without rationality, assuming everyone’s interest is in their child’s best interest. Because mothers actually do favor their child’s existence so normally, this trust is good.

A dog assigns its owner as a dominator. This doesn’t mean a dog realizes our power capacity, though they might, rather it is more that they assign a parental/guardian role to their owners. The submission trait may also assume self-weakness on some level. Fragility. Fear is likely how it manifests. Fear when not in the presence of the guardian.

The monkey in this footage is exposed to a novel and unfamiliar environment/stimuli, causing fear of the unknown, which is treated by the presence of a guardian, allowing more risk-taking.

A wolf may have an entire philosophy of behavior that respects individuality and self-dominance, while the submissive is respecting ones own ignorance and basically assigning other beings as “mother”. Wolves are still social and their pack leaders are mothers, to some degree. The feral human may appear as the common trope of a libertarian with a shot-gun, demanding you leave their property, and expect more self-sustainability from individuals, rather than the more domesticated form of hive-mind or co-dependency. The domesticated essentially are permanently reliant on authority figures, in the work place for example. The benefit of becoming dominating and individualistic, is that you can solve problems yourself, and survive without being helped by groups or authorities as much.

Domination traits lead to social independency, while submission traits lead to social dependency.

Feral animals go through a childhood phase where they are submissive and more exploratory and risk-taking, expecting the parent to protect them. It is probably the phase that allows for more conscious progress of the species’ culture and behavior. It also allows the young to receive knowledge from a dominator. In a way, it is the humble-naïve phase of life.

If you consider this trait as intelligence, I cannot agree. Intelligence is only about accuracy/quality of information finding. We have a system that allows for quantity of information, in the form of written books and libraries of information, which eventually becomes more practically beneficial than quality of information, and even allows for better critical analysis and competition for higher quality information.

I would consider intelligence more about quality but do admit that quantity will eventually lead to quality findings. The notion that anything leading to positive impact on our socialized-knowledge base is inherently ‘intelligent’, is absurd. Then we must classify hands and dexterity among traits of ‘intelligence’.


Feral-ness could be seen as the trait opposite of domesticated-ness. Feral animals go through a childhood phase where they are submissive and more exploratory and risk-taking, expecting the parent to protect them. It is probably the phase that allows for more conscious progress of the species’ culture and behavior. It also allows the young to receive knowledge from a dominator. In a way it is the humble and naïve phase.

The traits of submission and dominance between parent and child would be that the dominator acts as a guardian, which protects the child. The child can act exploratory while the guardian can worry about the safety of the child. The child is born into a novel universe, and exploration of the novel is inherently risky, so the child creature would be more predisposed to risk-taking, then as familiarity of an environment sets in, after learning your environment, you also learn the potential for risks that emerge from the unknown. This makes you less risk-taking eventually and you stay in the familiar zones as comfort sets in. Creativity is about exploring the unknown to find novel information and discoveries. 

Domestication may prolong or even permanently extend such a childhood phase. Maybe our species benefits heavily from risk-taking. Maybe we will go extinct with our self-caused mass extinction because of our risk-taking. Play is a behavior that is retained in domesticated animals as well. Usually play behavior doesn’t last into adulthood. Play is beneficial to the species’ information base. Experimentation is important for expanding our knowledge base, but this is mostly trial-and-error, and any animal with the capacity to suffer from consequences may be able to learn via trial-and-error methods.

Domestication tends to reduce adrenal functioning. This plays critical roles in turning adult-like for animals. Most animal children play and exhibit intense curiosity. This tends to fade as puberty hits and more violent and survival tendencies kick in. Domestication can reduce violence and maintain a mother-seeking behavior.

Adrenal changes study on chickens.

Adrenal changes study on foxes.

Humans may have lost the working memory test against chimps for this very reason. The studies in humans show that working memory is decreased with decreased adrenals. This supports the link between domestication, working memory, and adrenal processing. The post could end here, but that’s no fun. Understanding the implications and theory behind it is much more fun than simply concluding the truth. So on we go, for understanding and knowledge.

The domesticated submit to leaders and crave social security. They crave validation, which leads to desiring permission from authority. And the difference in adrenals leads to physical changes as well. In foxes and dogs it leads to floppy ears for example. Less adrenal functioning also would mean less aggressive fight or flight responses. Probably more “where’s mommy” reactions. This could translate to calling the cops, kids tattle-telling, trust in authority, granting authority permission of control and decision making.

When a highly feral member of a species exists, it may either result in social rejection, or prophet-level admiration, essentially becoming the mother of the species. See my blog post titled Dave The Gazelle to understand how this fits into this perspective.


It is possible that decreasing intellectual accuracy aides in abstraction, by reducing the details of concepts, we reach a point where we can agree on fundamentally opposite things, which was shown in the example of 2 people at a bar, earlier. This benefits sociability, but also concession and submission, especially when abstraction makes it harder to find one’s own contradictions, due to a lack of awareness in contradicting details. Those with less accuracy may become more submissive due to being inherently inferior at being accurate, as well as being more prone to error and other more dominant types having a superior ability to spot error.

It has been suggested that schizophrenics are hyper-domesticated individuals. In schizophrenia, physical evidence of abstraction might manifest as neuronal hyper-connectedness. The brain is known to shrink in this disorder, which may be due to pruning out the details and maintaining only abstraction, perhaps it aides in resolving cognitive dissonance, which is mediated by dynorphins. Shyness is an aspect of schizophrenia that may be (abstractly) equated with submission. The page that suggests schizophrenia is a domestication disorder, also suggests that adrenocortical function is hyper-functioning, which contradicts much of this theory. I would suggest that ADHD may actually also be more hyper-domestication.

Although, it could be that adrenal function increases the less safe one feels, and due to the stigma on schizophrenia, it may be very common for high amounts of stress to occur in these individuals. This could be mediated by opioid receptors, which have been implicated in social isolation. Being outcast from a social group may cause the increased adrenocortical function to some degree, while the domesticated animals perhaps feel more socially comfortable, and tend to get addicted to the opioid aspects of socializing like being hugged and petted.

ADHD a working-memory disorder is also treated by adrenal binding drugs sometimes. Perhaps this is a disorder of hyper-domestication, the inner child on overdrive. The treatment may induce more adult-like traits that associate with adrenal processing. Adrenocortical function has been seen to be blunted in children with ADHD. I could not find any research on palate size and ADHD, perhaps studies must be done. It could be that domestication leads to all sorts of off-shoot mental disorders that involve executive functioning. It is known that ADHD individuals have alterations in the D4 dopamine receptors, a receptor that is linked to novelty-seeking, impulsivity, delinquent tendencies (all of these presumably involve increased risk-taking), and is also linked to specific domestication factors in dogs. The study showed that dogs, when faced with an ‘unsolvable task’, will gaze towards humans, a sign of asking for help. It is known that a major difference between humans and chimps is that chimps do not ask questions with language. An interesting and relevant study on DRD4 genes. ADHD is a working memory disorder and involves D4 receptor changes, and implies that chimps may have the opposite adaption, and thus less domesticated, explaining both why they do not ask questions and why their working memory is superior to humans. This also gives evidence to my hypothesis that ADHD is hyper-domestication, and likely also implies bipolar is as well, since there is overlap with ADHD at this receptor and comorbidity. The impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors in these disorders may also overlap with evidence that domestication decreases fear. This also gives evidence to my exploration theory of creativity, as exploratory behavior is linked to domestication as well. Though, it states that we select for exploratory behavior.

One of the more interesting implications of this is that humans are, by large, the more schizophrenic/ADHD animal, at least when compared to chimps. And also that dogs are more schizophrenic/ADHD than wolves as well. 

Another post discussed whether autism was hypo-domestication. Autism is also linked to genes involved with high intelligence.

DMT Hypothesis

It was found that domesticated silver foxes had decreases in MAO A. This MAO A would typically breakdown DMT, so if it were decreased, there would be an increase in DMT and also serotonin. The serotonin receptor, 5HT1a, is shown to have higher binding in domesticated rats, something that was also shown in the silver foxes as well. In schizophrenics, increased binding to 5HT1a was found, showing that schizophrenics have this aspect of domestication. This study found a decrease in 5HT2a receptor density in the prefrontal cortex, while mRNA for 5HT2a was found to be unchanged, possibly implying that the 5HT2a is being activated by increased activity and downregulating in response. 5HT2a binding was found to be lower in autistic individuals. This study found that 5HT1a agonists increases social ability in rats. D2 receptors are implicated in schizophrenia and may increase defensive behavior. There is evidence that there is a divergence at 5HT2a receptors in chimps and humans.

DMT binds to 5HT2a receptors as an agonist, and this study suggests that 5HT2a and 5HT1a agonists might be able to increase HPA axis activity, specifically via corticosterone increases. In this book, it shows HPA axis activity is decreased as domestication increases. I would suggest that, when alone, these two receptors may increase activity of the HPA axis, but when combined with an MAOI, we may see an overall decrease in HPA axis activity and corticosterone levels. This study found that using SSRIs and the MAOI, St. John’s Wort, that corticosterone levels were decreased. The MAOI, moclobemide, that inhibits MAO A, was able to reverse stress-induced memory changes. Decreases in HPA axis activity were found after long-term treatment of moclobemide. Interestingly, LSD has been found to reduce fear-recognition acutely.

It could be that the complex mix of endogenous MAOIs and differing levels of production of MAO A/B are implicated in domestication, and that DMT has an effect of increasing abstraction, possibly via increasing openness to experience, which may be almost synonymous with the reduction in fear-recognition that is seen with LSD. These could explain the boost of creativity as well.

It could be that the more various and novel the experiences you have, the more abstracted your perceptions become, the more that your memories are centered around repeated stimuli from various sources.

If schizophrenia is not hyper-domestication, there is an alternate idea. The leaders of change in society may often be less domesticated humans. Maybe not by much, but enough to reject popular opinions and think more selfishly and arrogantly. Disorders with the symptom “grandiosity” would fit this archetype. Isaac Newton, Einstein, and many other changers of society had these traits. Schizophrenia, Schizotypal, bipolar disorder. It is also possible that being hyper-domesticated causes social dissonance and leads to a less social state as well. Leaders of the culture and hiveminds of society may actually be more schizophrenic.

^^^^ I no longer think this but instead I would argue that the hyper social individuals have a better ability to influence others and when combined with novelty seeking this leads to novel ideas/creations that change society. Though, I think there is possible evidence that bipolar types may be leaders or have leadership qualities.

Fascinating paper on Isaac Newton’s mental health ‘issues’.

The themes here go back to the ideas in my Dave The Gazelle post. Religion can abstract things so greatly that they create cults of people who seem to believe they all agree on things. The reality is that each person’s perception and belief probably goes much deeper in their own mind, but their domesticated speech will cause them to be vague enough that they all agree. I think fallacies may have an origin and even a beneficial role here.

What if social animals develop domestication by reducing and abstracting meanings? What if chimps exist so detail-oriented and precise that they are very skeptical of each other and they radicalize and become very self oriented, yet respecting each other’s differences by maintaining distance?

Humans often over-simplify human achievement to extend to themselves. They claim some amount of credit, simply for being human. They credit themselves as an abstract group, ‘humanity’, for the achievements of those such as Isaac Newton, in the same manner that sports fans feel an attachment to their favorite sports teams. This theme is common to religion, as mentioned previously. Even science evolves into a form of dogmatic and religious type thinking that is commonly termed scientism.

Consider moors law in relevance to this topic, which shows escalating exponential technological progress. We were once inferior to ourselves and more comparable to chimps. What if the beginning of technology is as complex as the beginning of biological life? It could be occurring almost by ‘chance’, or some form of luck, in the combination of traits necessary to spark the initial steps of collective knowledge or tool use. Both biology and technology seem to evolve. If another species starts on this technological progress and has social abilities to pass it on effectively, they could eventually reach our state.

Lastly, and most frighteningly, what if humans were domesticated by the elites? Once humanity realized the potential power that domesticating wolves had, the elites of humanity may have began human domestication. It was common for royalty to avoid mixing genetics with commoners, or any non-royal blood. Could this be that they were retaining more feral and domination genes? Also consider that, naturally, breeding being restricted by mate-selection based on class would naturally result in restricted gene pools that might perpetuate different adaptions that relate to historical traits that lead to them reaching their class status.

Human society is a computer. Our written language is our hard drive. Culture is our currently opened applications. We must not forget that individually, we sacrifice our intelligence, in order to make greater leaps by using humankind as a processor and an information sharing hub.


It is commonly said that all animals except humans tend to lack moral agency, either completely or having a significantly reduced capacity to think morally. Moral agency involves not only the cognition, but environmental context.

Most humans can barely use theory of mind on each other, let alone an animal. Humans believe animals are simple, but yet cannot understand why animals would make such ‘barbaric’ decisions that some do. Consider this: Rich people often cannot empathize with the poor, and assume that the poor simply make bad decisions. In reality, it is more complicated than this.

Look at the life differences between races, such as Caucasian and African American peoples. If each generation of a family tree allows for 3 options, regression, sustainment, and advancement, then consider the starting point of African Americans: they were once enslaved. Sustainment for an African American at this time in history would have meant staying enslaved. Staying the same for a Caucasian would have meant having a home and stable life to some degree. There is more pressure on African Americans to advance than Caucasians.

Many people do not factor in this level of environmental thinking and they end up judging those in a lower class situation as inferior or deserving of their position. We can barely empathize within differences among each other, in our human society, and if animals are considered to be even lower than the homeless, it would mean having even less empathy, usually.

Many claim that animals lack moral agency, which is the capacity for moral decision-making. They lack the kind of influence over their environment that would allow them to make decisions on a similar level as us. Imagine a homeless person who is taking the same moral actions as someone with a large degree of privilege and power. They have much more pressure towards sustainment. They will not be able to sacrifice to help others nearly as much as someone with a higher degree of security. This survival mindset would be even more pronounced in wild animals.

Videos of animals clearly having moral agency.

What if leopards think deeply about their decisions and impact on their ecosystem? It could be that the mentality of leopards is to maintain their prey population to prevent their own death. While they do kill animals, for a leopard, it is imperative to their survival. This is a different moral question for humans. Humans are able to thrive without consuming animals. So we cannot expect a leopard, an obligate carnivore, to avoid killing animals, because it is necessary to prevent their own death.

Likely leopards also play a critical role in their ecosystem, in which it would collapse if they were to go extinct. So their existence is necessary and moral on some level. For more on morality, check out my post Morality.

Hippo saving an impala from a crocodile.

A disturbing study on mice empathy found that inducing pain in peer mice causes a stronger reaction in the viewing mice than even the mice who suffers. Another study found that rats would save one of their own, even when provided an incentive not to do so. Any animal that can observe their own feelings being expressed in another, probably have some capacity to feel empathy for that other animal. There are brain regions that enhance the attention towards these things, as well as brain regions that help to communicate these things. For example, any animal that screams during pain, may likely have some capacity to empathize with pain. The screaming may also attempt to scare off the attacker, but this doesn’t appear to be common. A cat hissing, does seem much more likely to scare off a predator/rival.

Our own instincts can tell us whether an animal has empathy or is attempting to scare off predators and rivals. If the scream makes us cringe and worry, it is likely calling for help. If the scream sounds terrifying and makes you want to run away, then it is probably a threat or fear tactic.

. . .

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I haven’t read this book, but recently found it and it seems to be highly relevant to this topic.

If you go to a bar with a friend, you may agree that the experience is amazing. But the experience you both agree upon is not the same experience. Making it illogical to agree upon. You may enjoy the music and the people while your friend may enjoy the food and the alcohol. And somehow you are both convinced that you agree on some mutual fact. Reducing our awareness of this level of logic, benefits group think, and benefits openness.

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