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"What is the difference between a realist and a dreamer? The realist thinks that someday a UFO will come down and hover over the UN building, and that the aliens will come out of the UFO and offer to share their technology and solve all our world's problems.

The dreamer thinks maybe we can get our act together and do it ourselves."

Russian joke [It's a joke?] cited in William K. Hartmann, A Traveler's Guide to Mars.

25 May 2004

A Choice or a Child?

Please see my current blog (at for this post. It's filed under the same name and date in the Archives.

The material here is being stolen by a cheesy marketer as filler for a linkfarm.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really nice post.

The only thing I can disagree with is your statement that no animal species has mastered grammar. If you look into some of the ape language studies... most notably Kanzi the bonobo and possibly Washoe the chimp, you will see that they both understood grammatical differences. Kanzi knew that "put the tomato on the elephant" was different than "put the elephant on the tomato".. even when he was given seemingly nonsensical directions, Kanzi understood what was expected.

Also, I believe Alex the gray parrot is being taught some grammar and is an amazing example of all animals know. Just because they can't prove it to us doesn't mean the behavior or mental capacity is lacking... it may just mean that we don't know how to test for it yet.

Anyway, kudos on a great blog entry. I'm pro-choice myself. Once the fetus could unequivocal by proven to be sentient, I wouldn't abort (I'm vegan and it'd be awfully hypocritical to abort a sentient human being... as I don't even believe in exploiting other non-human sentient beings)... but I don't think my ideals should dictate public policy.


10/13/2005 8:45 AM  
Blogger quixote said...

It's true that with human help, some chimps and grey parrots have shown a grasp of grammar. The distinction observed so far is that none have invented grammar on their own, as far as we can tell. Bees, black weasels (I think it was weasels?), crows, whales, etc., etc., have some very complex ways of speaking to each other, but none seem to have grammar. Of course, we may find out that they do use grammar, once we understand them better. It wouldn't be the first time that facts are eclipsed by our inability to understand them. Either way, though, it just underlines the point that it's *very* difficult to draw the line between Us and Them.

10/16/2005 4:34 PM  
Blogger That Girl said...

Im so glad I found you again in PZ's comments! I had you on my blogroll and the evil IT people deleted everything while I was on maternity leave.
Try putting in "Acid Test" in google and see what you come up with.
Great post!
I have to say that as a big fan of the English language the thought that grammar may be the only thing that seperates us from animals is truly enough to make me cry.
I found it especially ironic that people believe that no severely mutated children are ever born. Ah, to live in their magical world!

2/02/2006 6:17 AM  
Blogger quixote said...

Hi Girl!

Glad to see you back. And it sounds like congratulations are in order! (Hope all is going well, and that you're back to getting some sleep by now?)

I tend not to Google myself or people I know. Something about it gives me the heebie jeebies. It just doesn't seem right to see all that, (kind of like having a window into your own stomach). However, you made me curious, so I checked. Gawd. How depressing. The first 50 hits were some bible thing. How depressing and inappropriate. I should change the name I guess, but I'm not good at names (as you might have guessed from me calling the blog "Acid Test"). Should I have a "name this blog" contest? Suggestions? Pharyngula (brilliant name!) is taken already.

2/03/2006 8:21 PM  

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