BREAKING: If we could talk to the animals!


Consciousness, soul on ice:
How do you feel about being an "animal?" Early in his acclaimed book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Professor Harari keeps dropping that particular A-bomb right on our fine-feathered heads.

We pondered one part of the following passage in Saturday's post. Today, we'll focus on that one type of name-calling:
HARARI (pages 3-4): There were humans long before there was history. Animals much like modern humans first appeared about 2.5 million years ago. But for countless generations they did not stand out from the myriad other organisms with which they shared their habitats.

On a hike in East Africa 2 million years ago, you might well have encountered a familiar cast of human characters: anxious mothers cuddling their babies and clutches of carefree children playing in the mud; temperamental youths chafing against the dictates of society and weary elders who just wanted to be left in peace; chest-thumping machos trying to impress the local beauty and wise old matriarchs who had already seen it all. These archaic humans loved, played, formed close friendships and competed for status and power—but so did chimpanzees, baboons and elephants. There was nothing special about them. Nobody, least of all humans themselves, had any inkling that their descendants would one day walk on the moon, split the atom, fathom the genetic code and write history books. The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were insignificant animals with no more impact on their environment than gorillas, fireflies or jellyfish.
"Animals much like modern humans" first appeared a long time ago. Before too long, the cheeky professor is explicitly calling us modern humans "animals," with all ambiguity gone:
HARARI (page 5): Homo sapiens long preferred to view itself as set apart from animals, an orphan bereft of family, lacking siblings or cousins, and most importantly, without parents. But that’s just not the case. Like it or not, we are members of a large and particularly noisy family called the great apes. Our closest living relatives include chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.
"Like it or not," we're "animals" too. Or so says Professor Harari.

Many people understand that we are technically "animals." By that, we mean that these people will agree to this point when asked. But to what extent does this fact truly inform our world view?

As Harari says, we humans, at least in the western world, have tended to view ourselves "as set apart from animals." We possess a soul and the animals don't. Or we alone possess consciousness. Or maybe it's our rational faculty which plainly sets us apart.

After all, aren't we humans "the rational animal," as Aristotle is said to have said?

We're perusing that passage from Harari's book on a lazy, rainy day in which we're still recovering from the joys, and yet from the rigors, of a week of competitive Shopkins. But to what extent does some rational faculty truly set us apart? Are we possibly "seeing ourselves from afar" when we praise this part of our game?

In his latest piece at Slate,
William Saletan works very hard to construct the latest Others. We humans have done this through the annals of time, as we prepare for our tribally-driven wars.

We met Will once long ago; he seems like the nicest guy out there. That said, we thought he was working a bit too hard today, torturing underwhelming groups of statistics to construct an Us and a Them.

We humans seem inclined to do this in much the same way we're inclined to breathe. Does our "rationality" drive such ruminations, or is it some "animal" instinct?

Does rationality lead us to pummel statistics? Could it be something more primal?


  1. Somerby fails to specify his objections to Saletan’s piece. He offers no rebuttal of any of its contentions. Nor does he choose to grapple with the concerns of Ed Stetzer, an evangelical Christian who critiques the support for Trump amongst his fellow evangelicals. Somerby’s vague complaint, that the article creates “Others” in some “tribally” pleasing way, fails to engage with either Saletan or Stetzer. Heaven forbid an opinion writer should offer an opinion that many would say is factually based.

    And how in the Sam Hill does the article illustrate irrational thought, or that man is just another unenlightened baboon?

    1. You “quickly skimmed” the article? Well, surely that does it justice. If cited by Somerby, why read it or think about it? It can be summarily rejected just because Somerby says so. He did not specifically cite or rebut a single sentence in Saletan’s article. Nor did he, or you, deal with Stetzer, an evangelical Christian who expresses great concerns about his fellow evangelicals. That deserves a hearing. Finally, the article isn’t about “Trump supporters” generally.

    2. "summarily rejected"? What a stupid phrase. Don't use it again.

    3. @6:42
      When you can’t win the argument, or even offer a plausible rebuttal, attack the person’s word choice. Winning, @6:42!!!!!!

    4. I can and will win the argument. Just write better.

    5. Do you know what “grapple” means? If you do, then why don’t you respond to the point being made, rather than complain about the word choice? Obviously, you can’t, otherwise you would.

      On the other hand, “sucks cocks” is an example of a refined, elegant prose style that just screams ‘intellect’, in the same sense that a temperamental three year old’s quivering lip, sputtering red faced incoherent guttural sounds and stomping out the door in a huff smells of vast desperation in lieu of the ability to produce an actual rebuttal that rises above the mental capacity of a baboon to formulate.

    6. Okay, let me lay it down for you oh ye of stylo malade. TV and Internet, fast food and banal culture has ruined you. Ruined your ability to reason or even do basic research. Ruined your ability to even read. Too much American Ninja I guess.

      “How in the Sam Hill does the article illustrate irrational thought”? He gives you a clue by saying it’s because the writer is “torturing underwhelming groups of statistics to construct an Us and a Them.”. Did you miss that?

      Would you like to stop there and go and research the statistics so you can understand how in the Sam Hill? (another stupid cliche)

      The answers to your muddled fears are tabernacled in the stats.

      The writer draws a distinction that suggests these evangelicals are some sort of cult, impulsed by Trump, to an extraordinary expression of their ethics. That they have all of a sudden “surrendered moral judgment and social responsibility.”

      You can click through to the statistics and you see that that is not really the case. They are just doin’ what they always been doin’. Ain’t nuttin’ un-usy here.

      The writer says of evangelicals “Eighty-one percent of them voted for him in 2016.”

      Ok - click through to the stats and you see that evangelicals voted basically in the same number for Republican candidates since they started recording these stats.

      He says "It’s higher than the percentage of WEPs who voted for George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney". So scary.

      Then you click through to the stats and see that 81% of evangelicals supported Trump in 2016 but 78% supported Romney! And 78% supported Bush! So yes, "It’s higher than the percentage of WEPs who voted for George W. Bush or Mitt Romney". By 3 points. Hehe.

      That’s how you are being played. That's all he is trying to point out.

      Shall I go further? I can go further or you can try to do it on your own. You may not be able though. Lead paint?

      He talks about how scary it is that the scary evangelicals voted “20 percentage points higher than Trump’s vote share among any other religious group.” but those gaps existed in pretty much the same numbers for Romney, McCain and Bush before. So nothing's that different as you can see when you click through and look at the statistics.

      So yes the writer is right with one small distinction. He says "the wide gap between WEPs and other faith communities in support for Trump persists to this day.” A wide gap “persists to this day” but it has “persisted” for the last two decades and probably longer! It has nothing to do with Trump. It’s they way they always vote and think.

      This is how you are being played. I think that's all he's trying to point out to you. I guess you're too dumb or lazy or something to figure it out yourself.

      Do you want more? There's more. There's a lot more.

      He links to a study that says “With the unique exception of white evangelical Protestants, majorities of all other major religious groups have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.” But there is no data to show if this is an outlier. Ie. that these evangelicals were not a “unique exception” under previous Republican candidates.

      There’s a lot more junk in there.

      The writer claims he’s learned from these stats that “the ‘Christian right,’ as represented by Trump apologists, has betrayed Christianity.”

      But the stats show that they betrayed Christianity under George W. Bush by supported him as he committed by far the worst crime of the century.

      That’s how you are being played. The Sam Hill is over yonder in dem dere stats youngin’!

    7. "grapple" - quit using the word pal.

    8. @8:05
      Brilliant. Except Somerby said almost none of that. Why are you doing his work for him? How do you know this is what his objections would be? You don’t, because he doesn’t state them. Glad Somerby has mind reading supporters. It makes it easy for him.

    9. Hey, if I wanted to find out Anonymous 8:05’s opinion, I would have read Anonymous 8:05’s blog. As it is, I read Somerby’s blog and got no actual critique or discussion of Saletan.

    10. Haha.

      "Why are you doing his work for him?"

      I'm doing your work for you indolent dumb fuck. You asked "how in the Sam Hill does the article illustrate irrational thought?" and I showed you even though it was obvious. Or as you would say 'patently obvious'. Fucking illiterate retard.

    11. AnonymousNovember 26, 2018 at 8:05 PM

      Sparky, say what? Your issue with those statistics do not betray the theme of the article. Trump's stances on immigration, women, minorities, Muslims, transgenders, presidential decorum, etc are different, often dramatically so, than Bush McCain or Romney, and yet his support among WEP is not only higher, but increasing.

      That said, even in light of his WEP support increasing, his overall support is historically low and decreasing - Gallup has Trump approval/disapproval down at 38/60% oof!

    12. So we really should look out for those scary Weps! Isn't it scary? It's the theme of the article how scary and unusual the weps are!!

      Go back to bed child.

    13. AnonymousNovember 26, 2018 at 10:07 PM

      Again, your point is not relevant to the article.

      Not scary, low-integrity, a worthy story regardless of your assessment.

      Democratics do not need more WEP voters, but we all gain an advantage when they do not vote against their own values and interests.

      HRC and Obama's timeline on gay marriage pretty much aligns with the general public.

    14. "William Saletan works very hard to construct the latest Others."

      He's done a good job on you. Look at you trying to claim that WEP voters are low integrity based on statistics that show they are politically exactly the same as they have been for decades. and he brings on the person who conducted the studies he uses as evidence and that person refutes his claim of low integrity!

      If only They had as much integrity as you do!

      Truly, you are one dumb bunny.

    15. AnonymousNovember 27, 2018 at 8:22 AM

      Again, the point soars way over your head. Your comment is embarrassingly bad, and wrong.

  2. Since Harari describes religion as one of Homo sapiens’ most successful fictions, it is odd that Somerby should be criticizing Saletan for piercing its veil and attempting to peer behind the curtain, so to speak. I rather imagine Harari would approve of Saletan’s efforts.

  3. Funny how it never dawns on the likes of Saletan that Democrats have made themselves so toxic to evangelicals that I think many of them feel they no choice but to back the Republican, no matter how morally compromised the person might be.

    1. Funny how it never dawns on the likes of you that many evangelicals are morally compromised themselves, having long ago abandoned Christianity for power and Mammon worship.

    2. @6:15PM Ah the old 'shut up and take it as we eradicate you from the public square or your unchristian' canard.

    3. Once you realize the "religion" of Evangelicals is bigotry, it starts to make sense.

  4. Take a look at the breakdown of voting by religious preference:

    Notice that all groups, except non-Catholic Christians, heavily favored Democrats in the midterms. Amongst non-catholic Christians, Reps got 54% to Dems 44%. But when you drill down to evangelicals or “born again”, it’s more like 75% support for Reps. That is the group that is the subject of Saletan’s piece. It’s clear that many Christians, including a majority of Catholics, support Democrats, but Saletan is looking specifically at evangelicals. Their support for Trump is almost definitional.

    The statistics don’t actually seem that “underwhelming.”, as Somerby describes them. They are what they are.

    1. Wow - you can't read either. Are you the same guy? I don't know what definitional means but the stats are underwhelming because their support for Trump is almost exactly the same as their support for Romney and Bush. It has nothing to do with Trump. It's normal. The numbers and disparities are completely consistent across the last 4 elections (the only time such polls have been taken) - as you can see from your "drilling down" of the "breakdown".

      Wow! What is the matter with you people?

    2. “You people?” I’m not in any group. I just wish that Somerby could analyze and discuss Saletan’s point, rather than doing his usual unexamined dismissal.

      And this is precisely the point. Why do evangelicals support Republicans, including Trump? And why are there evangelicals, like Stetzer, who are concerned when they continue to support Trump, who is rather more contemptible than previous Republicans? It’s a valid question to ask, and it is one being asked by religious people, including evangelicals. It isn’t about condemning anyone. You seem to resent even bringing it up, and can’t have a good faith discussion. I am not condemning Republicans, or evangelicals, or anyone, but you are determined to see it that way. And because Somerby is so judgmental and refuses to discuss anything, his commenters also cannot discuss anything, because people like you come along with your name calling and your bad faith. Thanks, Bob!!!!!

    3. Your in the group of intellectually stifled dumb fucks who can't read themselves basic statistics.

      "The statistics don’t actually seem that “underwhelming"!


    4. Commenters can't discuss anything because of me? That also makes no sense. Your posts are simply babble.

      Let me break some more bad news. Just a distinction. You're programmed to think Trump is more contemptable than others but none more contemptable than George W. Bush who committed by far the worst crime of our lifetimes.

    5. AnonymousNovember 26, 2018 at 9:59 PM

      Nixon, Reagan, the Bushes, Trump - they are all in the same basket. Notably, Trump is our current president.

    6. Ie Trump is not more contemptible than previous Republicans as the moral moron above claimed.

    7. 6:53 drilled all the way down to the top level. What a genius. It's no wonder we get pummeled by reality show clowns.

    8. Trump is a standard issue Reagan Republican. Evangelicals have supported Republicans since LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act.

  5. To Anonymous 8:05:
    Here’s a point that was made by Stetzer, in Saletan’s piece: Trump was far more virulently anti-immigrant than most of the other Republican candidates, and much more so than GW Bush. He is also demonstrably more morally and ethically odious than his predecessors. He is less religious than any of his predecessors, at least in their public stances. Stetzer laments that this did not erode evangelical support for him, and this is what leads to an analysis of evangelical support specifically for Trump. The stances they valued, family values, faithfulness to one’s wife, honesty, all went out the window with Trump, yet they still massively supported him.

    1. How is he demonstrably more morally and ethically odious than his predecessors? That is completely false and nothing of the sort was said in that article. Why don't you just quote the guy? Trump, despite being a total cocksucking charlatan, has not come anywhere close to committing the crime of George Bush.

      And these people are supporting the Republican president in exactly the same way they always have. There's nothing proven to establish your claim that their support is based on family values and faithfulness. The article itself quotes the guy that actually did studies boss, the guy who did the studies and he says it is not these values but their partisanship that accounts for that support.

      Now listen, you are a dumb fuck. You cannot read. You have established it time and time and time and time again.

      You need to go to the kitchen and get yourself a 7-Up. Get a cold compress for your head and affix it. Drink the 7-up and contemplate the matrix. Contemplate how you've been fooled. How everything is around you is a lie, an orchestrated dance of deceit and deception designed to make you think you have agency when in reality its designed to suck your brain dry which it quite obviously has.

    2. This article is a real piece of work - how do we know that enthusiasm for Trump’s hard line on immigration is about fear of immigrants? From a study from 2014!

    3. AnonymousNovember 26, 2018 at 10:40 PM

      AnonymousNovember 26, 2018 at 11:18 PM

      These comments are misrepresentations of the article. Either the commenter did not read the entire article or is being disingenuous.

  6. George W Bush was an evangelical.

  7. Duh. Saletan is a repulsive liberal hack, and mouth-breathing idiot to boot.

  8. "Humans" and "Animals":
    All the things about "humans" that we regard as "good" are common to us and all other "animals"
    All the things about "humans" that we regard as "bad" are unique to them and do not exist among other "animals"
    And the quote from Dr. Hariri "Our closest living relatives include chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans" is not quite right. Our closest living relatives (however much you Christians might deplore their sexual morality) are the *bonobos*.

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