Lori Marino and Debra Merskin, Intelligence, complexity, and individuality in sheep


Additional data, such as those surveyed by Marino & Merskin, are unlikely to change our perception of sheep. Arguably, the problem lies deeper than insufficient information. There are indeed cognitive deficits at the core of the problem, but they reside in Homo sapiens, not sheep. Judgmental biases that originated in the Pleistocene age have been over-extended in the modern world and result in unreasoning discriminative practices including speciesism. “Ism’s” run deep and the more an “other” looks and acts like us, the more respect we give it. Sheep do not prosper as “individual sentient beings” under such a heuristic.

Author Biography

Hank Davis, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Guelph, has written extensively on animal learning and cognition with an emphasis on numerical competence and the ability of various species to discriminate between individual humans. In Caveman Logic (2009), he explores the evolutionary roots of human irrationality.