Friday, April 9, 2010

And the Winner Is . . .

Apes! (After us, of course.)

Not long ago a piece in a blog I read regularly asserted that goats were smart animals. Well, I always thought these cloven-footed beasts and their cousins the sheep were among the most stupid of animals. But naturally, being the completely anal person I am when it comes to verification of facts,* I naturally had to go look up information on the intelligence of animals. So I googled "what is the smartest animal" Here are the results from the first half dozen sites that came up. I list them in rough order from smartest on down, along with the position various sites put them in. Speaking of verifying facts, it's not surprise that the sources did not agree. Some of the lists listed more than ten animals and one mentioned only five. Here's what's notable, I think. Only three animals appeared on all six lists. Sure didn't know about those cephalopods. Biggest surprise: sheep! But no goats.

Humans (1)
Primates (1) (1) (1) (1)  // Chimps (1) (2)  // Orangutan (3)
Elephants (2) (5) (4)  (3) (4) (3)
Dolphins (3) (2) (2) (2) (3) (2)
Rats (4) (13) (10)
Monkeys (4) (5)
Crows (6) (6) (5) (6)
Parrots (7) (7) (4) (4)
Sheep (8) (15)
Octopus/Squid (9) (12) (9) (5)
Whales (10) (3) (2) (2) 
Dogs (8) (15) (8) (5)
Cats (9) (5) (9) (5)
Squirrels (11) (7) (7)
Pigs (10) (6) (10)
Pigeons (14) (8)

*One of my less lovable traits according to my dear wife, this compulsion to have things stated correctly. Indeed, life has taught me that the vast majority of people really don't give a rat's ass--if those intelligent rats will forgive the expression--about what the actual facts are. It used to, but no longer does, amaze me that people much prefer their prejudices, cherished misinformation, and delusions to the actual facts. And few will expend the time that's necessary to get their facts straight. This is not a good thing at all, because all discussion about virtually anything has to begin with agreement on what facts are. Admittedly, sometimes facts are disputed, but at the minimum there has to be some attempt to verify them. But I digress.
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