Tags: Afghanistan, Chuck Hagel, Commander in Chief, Department of Defense, House of Representatives, Pentagon, President Obama, Secretary of Defense, Senate, State Department, U.S. Congress, Washington Post
Afghani’s who served as interpreters for US forces in Afghanistan knowingly exposed themselves to risk by doing so. They now face dramatically increased risk as the US presence winds down. The Taliban have a long-established record of making examples of those who have cooperated with US forces.
After all, the Taliban have assassinated Afghanis who have cooperated with outside humanitarian groups, or even with the Afghani government. They will surely attack those who helped US forces.
Realizing the danger to themselves and their families, some Afghan interpreters have applied for visas to the US.
The State Department has denied visas to most, even though the visas have already been allocated by the US Congress. According to articles (here, here, here, and here) in the Washington Post, “the State Department says there is no serious threat against [the interpreters'] lives.”
This should remind you of the judges in civil courts who refuse to grant restraining orders, pooh-poohing the fears of those who are begging for protection from a spouse or ex-boyfriend. Those judges are the enablers of the events you later read about when the newspaper reports the murder of the person who asked for the restraining order. The judges are never the ones who suffer for their bad judgement.
In exactly the same way, the State Department employees whose magical source of infallible knowledge tells them that “there is no serious threat” are not the ones who will pay the price of being wrong.
Denying these visas is both cruel and unjust, and extremely harmful to US efforts in all future conflicts.
These brave interpreters accepted a huge risk in helping us. Their help saved many US lives, and were essential to anything we achieved over there. We owe them gratitude and protection. If we do not shield them, no one will be foolish enough to help us in any similar situation.
Chuck Hagel, as the Secretary of Defense, would be well advised to urge the State Department to reverse the decisions made by its incompetent employees.
President Obama, as Commander in Chief, should issue an Executive Order establishing a policy to admit those who have exposed themselves to local hostility by helping us.
Congressional committees in both the Senate and the House should ask the State Department why it has taken actions that are completely contrary to US interests, to fairness, and to the expressed desires of Congress.
The State Department should identify the incompetent employees who are making decisions that are so unjust and so contrary to US interest, and revisit their decisions. Those employees should be moved them to more suitable positions, where they will have no discretion over matters like these.
Decisions on this matter need to be made by people who have hearts and brains. Those currently making the decisions have neither.
Tags: animal, attention, Brain, compassion, consciousness, cruelty, distraction, dreaming, dreams, ethics, Evolution, feeling, fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging, joy, kindness, meditation, mental, neuroimaging, pain, pleasure, Rebecca Saxe, sadness, sensation, Single-photon Emission Computed Tomography, SPECT
The previous post suggested a framework for thinking about the phenomenon of consciousness. The same framework can suggest measurements to test hypotheses about the mechanisms of consciousness, and tell us the values of the parameters in those mechanisms.
The suggested framework asserts that consciousness is closely related to attention. Specifically, consciousness occurs when a multitude of processors in the brain are all paying attention to the same set of inputs to the brain. Typically, some of those inputs are the result of the processing of signals from sensory nerves by smaller numbers of pre-processors; the pre-processing is therefore unconscious. (For example, in vision, one of the pre-processors identifies edges.) Other inputs are signals from the brain itself about other signals from the brain itself. These meta-signals are called ‘thoughts’. Depending upon the identities and number of processors that are paying attention to a thought, it will or will not be a conscious thought. The special feature of consciousness is that the relevant multitude of processors are all paying attention to all of the momentary subjects of consciousness at the same time.
We do not yet know the identities and number of the processors whose simultaneous attention is needed for making a signal a subject of conscious attention. We don’t even know whether the relevant processors are always the same, or vary with the subjects of consciousness. Techniques that image the location of increased activity in the brain could test the suggested framework, and if it proves useful, they could identify the relevant processors.
Some of the needed data may already be available, and just need to be re-analyzed to answer these new questions.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows which regions of the brain receive increased blood flow when a person receives a particular stimulus. (Many interesting fMRI scans can be viewed here , but most of the pictures of fMRI reached via that URL are copyrighted, and so cannot be re-used. )
Daniel G. Amen has developed a large collection of single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans of brains of people performing mental tasks. Regardless of what you think of the utility of these images for diagnosing ADD and related conditions, this collection could be a treasure trove for scientific research on the locations of increased brain activity during various mental tasks. Each measurement takes roughly 10 minutes, so the technique may not be able to capture what happens while the brain shifts its attention from one subject to another. Also the spatial resolution of SPECT is not as good as that of fMRI. But the large size of the database makes the SPECT data a potentially valuable supplement to other kinds of data.
Rebecca Saxe, at MIT, has developed techniques for non-invasively localizing the changing distribution of activity in the human brain when a person is shown stimuli and then responds to questions. The techniques were developed and then applied to provide data on the scientifically, socially and legally important topic of how we infer what other people are thinking. Her techniques would also be useful for providing data on attention. A non-technical video presentation of her work can be viewed by visiting http://scicolloq.gsfc.nasa.gov/GSFCWeb_Fall2012.html , then clicking on the line ”Nov. 2 Rebecca Saxe Massachusetts Institute of Technology How We Think about Other People’s Thoughts V”, and then clicking on the ‘V’ (for ‘video’) at the far right.
A new technique, multi-photon microscopy, is being developed to nondestructively image in 3D the top millimeter or so of the living brain, with much better spatial resolution than the other techniques, but without being able to image as deep as the other techniques. (See. for example, Ke Wang, Nicholas G. Gorton, Chris Xu, “Going Deep: Brain Imaging with Multi-Photon Microscopy”, Optics and Photonics News, volume 24, number 11, pp.32-39, November 2013.)
Typical questions about consciousness that might be answered by techniques that image the changing pattern of activity in the brain are:
- When conscious attention is trained on more than one subject, are the signals about the ever-changing status of those diverse subjects multiplexed onto a single serial communications channel? Or do they travel via parallel communication channels? Which processor receives the information? If the information arrives multiplexed onto a serial communication channel, how is it de-multiplexed and distributed amongst the processors that can do something with the information on a particular subject?
- Since conscious attention can be trained on more than one subject, there must be special processors in the brain that decide (1) when a new subject should be admitted to conscious attention (“That car has suddenly come very close to us!”), (2) whether a current subject of conscious attention must be relegated to unconscious attention to make room for the new subject, or simply because it no longer merits conscious attention, and (3) when a subject of conscious attention suddenly merits undivided attention. Where are those special processors? What auxiliary signals do they use in arriving at their decisions? What neural pathways are activated to carry the current information about a particular subject into conscious attention, or to transfer that information to a processor that receives only unconscious attention?
- Meditation (more accurately, of mindfulness) seems to have many benefits. Why? Is it restorative for the brain to not have to divide its attention amongst multiple subjects for a while? Is the relief due to the temporary suspension of the metabolic and processing burdens needed for managing and monitoring more than one subject of conscious attention?
- You are talking with someone, but become momentarily distracted by your own thoughts, and don’t consciously hear something that was said. You soon realize that you missed something important, but you are reluctant to admit that you hadn’t paid attention. If you recognize the problem soon enough, sometimes you can recall what you hadn’t consciously heard. How does your brain identify the relevant unconscious processor, and bring its contents into conscious attention?
Tags: animal, Brain, compassion, consciousness, cruelty, dreaming, dreams, ethics, Evolution, feeling, joy, kindness, mental, pain, pleasure, sadness, sensation
Imagine placing your hands near the sensor of an automatic faucet, or getting up from a self-flushing toilet, or approaching at night a building whose front light is turned on and off by a motion sensor.
The faucet turns on, the toilet flushes, the building’s front light turns on.
In each case, a signal was sent from a sensor to an operating device. But the recipient of the signal operated automatically, without being conscious of the signal, nor of its own response. It detected the signal, but did not feel it. It did not tingle, or wince, or become happy or sad. It sensed the signal, but had no sensation – a seemingly paradoxical statement that is actually meaningful and accurate, because of the vagueness of human language. (The vagueness is often useful and efficient, but that is another story.) It was aware of the signal in a limited sense, but was not aware of the signal in the vivid way that a person would be aware of a pin prick, for example.
Now imagine that you are pricked by a pin. The signal from nerves in your skin travels to your brain. One result is an automatic reflex: you draw back, unless you consciously over-rule that reflex. But another result is your vivid awareness of the pin prick. You feel it. It produces a sensation, at nearly the same time as your reflex. You are conscious of it.
Conscious awareness seems to activate many of your brain systems at the same time: emotions, your model of how the world works, memories, your expectations of what happens next. Apparently, a message was broadcast to a large part of your brain. That seems to be what is distinctive about conscious sensation, or a conscious thought (viewed as a signal from within your own brain). It is likely that conscious awareness of something is synonymous with “all or most of brain knows about it, and is paying attention to it”.
That is a testable hypothesis. Brain imaging, such as functional MRI (fMRI) could test it.
If conscious awareness of something is indeed synonymous with “all or most of brain knows about it, and is paying attention to it”, that would explain why we can be aware of – conscious of – only a limited number of items at the same time. Any one conscious item requires the attention of much of the brain. Each item occupies many resources, and there are only a limited number of them available.
That the limiting number of items is roughly seven for most individuals is an accident of our evolved wet-ware. We can handle more simultaneous factors by building artificial intelligent systems.
If this view of the nature of consciousness is correct, then consciousness has a cultural analog. In a family, a business, a village, a nation, a scientific or other cultural community, the analog of an object of conscious awareness is anything that becomes part of the general culture of that group of people.
It is clarifying to consider the sensations of pain and of pleasure. What does it mean to feel pain or pleasure?
Among the sensations, pain and pleasure were probably the first to evolve. These two sensations are the most helpful ones for helping an individual to survive long enough to produce descendents. Darwin noted the evolutionary utility of experiencing pleasure from satisfying hunger, and the evolutionary utility of the unpleasantness of feeling hunger. (See p.64 of The Autobiography of Charles Darwin and Selected Letters, edited by Frances Darwin, reprinted 1958 by Dover Publications.)
To be useful, pain or pleasure must activate most or all of the systems in the brain to avoid something or some situation, or to seek more of it. We must react and act in manifold ways to avoid the threat or to seek the reward. An ever-varying mix of the systems in our brain must work in a coordinated fashion. So the signals that elicit the sensations of pain and of pleasure must be broadcast to much of the brain.
This is unlike the distribution of most of the signals from the nerves to the brain. Most signals affect only a few systems in the brain. It is not a coincidence that they also do not register in our consciousness: they are not felt by us, they do not produce sensations.
There is an evolutionary benefit to widely broadcasting to the brain only certain types of signals. Signals about things to avoid and things to seek are among them. So are any signals that require a versatile, coordinated response by many systems in the brain.
There is an evolutionary benefit to not widely broadcasting any signals that do not require a versatile, coordinated response by many systems in the brain.
Our brains seem to interpret any widely broadcast signal as a sensation, as a feeling, and as consciously perceived.
There was a clear evolutionary advantage to developing neurochemical mechanisms that activate, respectively, a general avoidance of a thing or situation, or a general seeking for more of it, that is, for developing mechanisms for feeling pain and pleasure, that is, for experiencing them consciously.
[By the way, the mechanisms that produce an urge for avoidance seem to be distinct from those that urge us to seek a situation, because some stimuli can elicit both urges at the same time. Examples are hot peppers, strong drink, a horror movie, thrill seeking. ('Strong drink' is oddly named, since it for the weak.)]
The other sensations probably evolved as outgrowths of those two fundamental sensations. So the neurochemical mechanisms that produce the sensations of pain and of pleasure are the root of basic consciousness.
If a sensation is tagged by a location on the body, we feel pain or pleasure that we associate with a finger, or with our tongue, a tooth, our genitals, our gut.
Once the mechanisms for basic consciousness are available, higher consciousness can evolve or be built in, by adding mechanisms for the mental mirroring of other individual animals (and of artificial intelligences, if needed), then of groups of them, and, eventually, also of inanimate objects, as explained in an earlier post. Before a biologically evolved or built species develops mechanisms for mirroring, its abilities increase by relatively small steps. But once it has developed mechanisms for mirroring, the increases in its capabilities can compound, and, like compound interest, grow exponentially.
Great versatility is conferred by activating many systems in the brain, that then act together in coordinated ways that adapt to the changing incoming signals. . Obtaining that evolutionary advantage required developing felt sensations (feelings), and, more generally, consciousness. Feelings motivate action by assigning values to outcomes: avoid => bad, seek => good. After much extension (caused by the development of mental mirroring) of the scope of application of sensations and consciousness, the development of values as felt motivators led to our sense of right and wrong, of good and evil, of morality, of fairness, and hence of justice, and enlarged our emotional lives.
Two comments about consciousness:
1 – The concepts of cruelty and of kindness pertain to our actions toward the members of any species whose individuals feel, experiencing pain and pleasure. The species can be biological, or it can be artificial. Plants do not feel. It seems certain that paramecia and amoeba do not feel. But the frantic wriggling of a worm suggests that it feels pain, and is not merely manifesting a reflex. If so, it has basic consciousness, despite not having much of a brain. As for the scurrying cockroach, the spider, the spider’s prey, we do not know yet. More certainly, pain seems to be felt by the wriggling fish impaled by a hook in its mouth, or with its body grasped by the bill of a heron. We need to invent a way to tell, because feeling pain and/or pleasure confers moral status, as vegetarians know.
2 – There is an common confusion about consciousness. We are often said to be unconscious while we sleep. That may be true during non-REM sleep, but it is not true during a dream. A dream amounts to being conscious – aware – of certain internal signals, and to attempting to make sense of those signals, while not being conscious of most, or all, of the signals from our environment.
Tags: debt limit, dysfunctional government, Federal government shut down, John Boehner, Ohio, partisan, Republican, Speaker of the House, U.S. House of Representatives, unfair
The Speaker of the House of Representatives determines which bills are brought to a vote.
The Speaker is therefore supposed to serve the entire House, not just his own party.
In that respect, the Speaker’s responsibility is like that of the President: to act in the interest of the whole country.
John Boehner does not so act.
The present crisis would have been averted if Boehner had brought to vote a bill that had substantial support, and which would have resolved the present stalemate in a prudent, pragmatic fashion.
He refused to do, and lied about his reason. He claimed that the bill didn’t have enough votes to pass, while knowing knew full well that the Democrats together with 18 to 21 Republicans were willing to vote for the bill, and would have been enough to assure the bill’s passage.
He carefully did not state his real reasons:
(1) Despite serving the country’s interest, that manner of passage would have emphasized the Democrats constructive role, and also the fissure between the doctrinaire wing of the Republicans and the pragmatic (and more patriotic) Republicans, who wanted the government be useful,
(2) Boehner’s own vow – not sanctioned by the Constitution, nor by any principle of useful government – to not bring to a vote any bill that would not pass by Republican votes alone,
(3) bringing those bills to a vote would aggravate the pee party, which might challenge him in the next Republican primaries.
His choices reveal his priorities.
Boehner’s priorities are, starting with his highest:
1. John Boehner’s political future.
2. The Republican Party.
3. The United States.
John Boehner doesn’t have a statesmanlike bone in his body.
At the next election, remember: Ohio and the United States would both be better off without him.
Tags: Anna Galland, Auschwitz, Carrie Olson, chemical warfare, CREDO Action, CREDO Mobile, Eli Pariser, Joan Blades, Jordan Krueger, Justin Ruben, Matt Lockshin, MoveOn, MoveOn.org, Syria, the Holocaust, Wes Boyd, Working Assets
CREDO Action (an arm of the company CREDO Mobile) , Move On, and like-minded organizations oppose punishing al-Assad’s regime for using chemical weapons.
A previous post has argued that physically punishing the al-Assad regime for this act is essential for preventing a huge amount of cruel, indiscriminate future slaughter.
In the 1940s there occurred a choice that is exactly analogous to the present one.
The question was whether or not to bomb the railroad lines that transported victims to the concentration camps.
Although that question was not posed to the public, if it had been, the exact analog of the position presently taken by CREDO Action and Move On would have been to oppose bombing the railroad lines.
CREDO Action, MoveOn, your position is morally indefensible.
Tags: fair and open competition, gay bashing, gay rights, homophobia, Kathy Lally, Olympics, Philip Kennicott, Russia, Sochi, sports, Washington Post, Will Englund, Winter Olympics
There is a justified uproar about the choice of Sochi as the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sochi is under Russian law, which is hysterically fearful of homosexuality, as if it were contagious. Homosexuals are widely persecuted in Russia, and of course the police do not protect them. See here, here, and here.
It is unlikely that any athlete who is known to be gay or lesbian will be allowed to compete, so the competition will not be free and open. The winners will not necessarily be the best athletes. They will merely be the best among those who were allowed to compete.
Even if an athlete’s homosexuality were not publicaly known, if they went to Sochi they would be vulnerable to being ejected if their mental configuration were discovered while they were there, and would be likely to suffer physical abuse as well as mistreatment by any officials they encountered, for example, in the airport.
The same applies to spectators, and to the judges at the events.
Since the Sochi Olympics cannot be fair to the pool of athletes, nor to the pool of potential spectators, many urge a boycott.
Any boycotting should include the advertisers, who pay enormous sums to advertise during broadcasts of the Games, and should also include the broadcasters themselves. Hence the following pledge:
- to not go to Sochi to watch the Winter Olympics of 2014;
- to not watch any part of the Winter Olympics of 2014 on television or on the internet, nor to acquire videos of it;
- to avoid the products and services of any entity that advertises at the 2014 Winter Olympics, or that broadcasts the contests there. To do so, I will consult a list of the advertisers and broadcasters that will have been compiled by human rights organizations.
If you wish to make this pledge, please leave a comment to that effect.
Since comments to this blog can be submitted only by Word Press bloggers, please encourage human rights organizations world wide to co-sponsor this pledge, and to host it on their own web sites.
Tags: al-Assad, Assad, biological warfare, British Parliament, chemical warfare, civilians, Geneva Convention, non-combattants, nuclear terrorism, Syria, terrorism, torture, treatment of captured soldiers
If we do not physically punish the al-Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons:
=> All treaties on the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, on the use of torture, on terrorism, on the treatment of civilians, and on the treatment of captured enemy soldiers, become meaningless.
=> The U.S. and others should immediately begin stockpiling chemical and biological weapons, and radioactive contaminants, and methods for delivering them, because others will do so.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. We must physically punish the al-Assad regime.
As for the vote in the British Parliament, those who voted against action have learned nothing from Chamberlain’s mistake in Munich.
Tags: Chesapeake, Chincoteague, Climate Change, Colonial Beach, Cuccinelli, Dahlgren, Drought, evidence-based policy, fires, flood damage, flooding, Global Warming, Hampton, Jamestown, Newport News, Norfolk, property values, Quantico, Smith Island, storm damage, Suffolk, Terry McAuliffe, Virginia, Virginia Beach, Wallops, Washington Post, Williamsburg, Yorktown
The drumbeat of news items carries a message that we can no longer avoid hearing. Rising sea levels, vanishing ice, wild fires, extreme storms. The climate is changing with unnatural speed. Human activity is warming our planet. For recent examples, see here and here .
Tidewater Virginia will suffer greatly: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, and Hampton. So will many other parts of Virginia.
This is pertinent because Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli are competing to be the next Governor of Virginia.
Creepy Cuccinelli’s record on climate change is not based on evidence. He believes only what he wants to hear. He believes only what it is politically convenient for him to hear. He is James Inhofe east.
If he had been interested in evidence, he would not have tried to bully and discredit Michael Mann, a climate scientist who was then at the University of Virginia.
If Cuccinelli had been interested in evidence, he would not – Putin like – have tried to intimidate the scientific community.
If Cuccinelli had been interested in evidence, he would have protected the freedom of academic inquiry, instead of trying to squelch it.
(These attempts by Cuccinelli to earn political brownie points earned him the adjective ‘Creepy’ in front of his name.)
The data now confirm what climate scientists had calculated: global warming will cause sea levels to rise, thereby flooding some coastal areas year round, and also increasing hurricane damage to nearby areas that aren’t permanently flooded.
In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, everyone’s insurance will go up.
In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, everyone’s property values will go down.
In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, the interest rates on new mortgages will rise, to cover the increased risk to the lender.
In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, more houses and commercial buildings will be flooded by storms, and more will be wrecked.
More farmland will be ruined. More cars will be ruined.
In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, more people and animals will die or be injured by storms.
The same is true for Chesapeake and for Suffolk.
The same is true for Chincoteague and for Wallops, for Smith Island and for all of the islands that extend north east of it. If the ponies on Chincoteague could vote, they would be well advised to vote against Cuccinelli.
The same is true for all of Accomack and Northampton, and westward across the bay to Gloucester, Lancaster, and Northumberland.
Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown are on low ground in Virginia’s Tidewater. They are vulnerable to damage by storms. Irreplaceable historical sites and objects may be irretrievably lost.
Rivers swollen by a low-moving hurricane could flood Westmoreland, including Stratford Hall Plantation, and also the birthplace of George Washington. They could innundate Colonial Beach, Dahlgren, and Quantico. Flooding can reach well inland.
Flooding isn’t global warming’s only threat to lives and livelihoods in Virginia. The increase in fires is now obvious. In fact, for the second year in a row, the Federal budget for fighting wildfires hasn’t been sufficient. Extreme drought is also more likely. So agriculture everywhere in Virginia will be under stress.
Much of that will happen now no matter what, because we have waited so long to temper global warming.
But it will be much worse if there is further delay.
If Ken Cuccinelli becomes Governor, further delay is guaranteed.
Ken Cuccinelli is willfully blind to the effects of global warming.
He has backed himself into a political corner.
He would lose face if he admitted that global warming is real and poses real threats.
Rather than pay the political price of that admission, Cuccinelli would prefer to have Tidewater Virginia end up looking like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Of the two candidates for Governor of Virginia, only Terry McAuliffe would have Virginia prepare to mitigate the damage that will undoubtedly be caused by climate change.
Maybe that is why the Virginia Association of Realtors endorsed Terry McAuliffe rather than Cuccinelli. Tempering the effects of global warming would reduce the damage to property values from flooding.
You cannot boost Virginia’s economy in the long term by increasing the vulnerability of homes, businesses and agricultural land to destruction by flooding. (Also, the Editors of the Washington Post found that Cuccinelli’s plans for boosting the economy were based on fuzzy math.)
If you live in Virginia, voting for Cuccinelli would be voting against your own future. Your lives and health and health are at stake. So are those of your children, pets and livestock. So is the value of your property – your house, land, business, and car. And so are the historic sites at which we refresh our knowledge of who we are.
More than coastal Virginia is threatened by global warming. Agriculture is threatened everywhere in the state.
Anyone wanting to protect their future should ask Cuccinelli about his past and present views on climate change, and about his attempts to bully Michael Mann and the climate science community.
Tags: Angel dust, crack cocaine, drug seller, drug-fueled crime, Julio Blanco Garcia, Justin Jouvenal, killing, murder, PCP, stabbing, Vanessa Pham, Washington Post
Yet another innocent was horrifically murdered by someone under the influence of PCP.
In this particular case, we have an unusual amount of detail about what was going through the murderer’s mind at the time. He has admitted guilt, and has told us. (See Justin Juvanal’s article in the Washington Post.)
But he apparently hasn’t been asked one of the most important questions in situations like these: Where did the killer get the drugs? Who sold them to him?
Given the killer’s present state of remorse, he would probably answer truthfully.
If we knew who sold him the drugs, the drug seller could be be taken out of circulation.
Surely the drug seller should be charged as an accessory to the crime. The drug seller was a knowing enabler. In this case and in so many like it, if the killer had not been able to obtain PCP or crack cocaine, the killing would not have occurred.
In all such cases, the murderer’s willingness to identify the seller should play a huge role when sentencing the murderer.
Tags: abuse, Animal Emotion, animals, cruelty, Daniel Bergner, ethical, ethics, gloom, humane, joy, sadness, treatment of animals
Daniel Bergner described in the Washington Post what he witnessed while watching a community of rhesus monkeys at the Yerkes Primate Research Center (operated by Emory University): “A trio of monkey children sprinted toward a tube, disappeared inside it, burst from the other end and raced around for another run-through, beserk with joy.”
Many an affectionate dog owner has seen a puppy joyously discovering the novelty of snow, and ecstatically wriggling around on it. Dogs also become excited and joyful at the prospect of a walk. You can sense their enjoyment while they are playing ‘fetch’ with their human families.
Animals can experience joy.
Animals that can experience joy can also experience its opposite. You have probably seen the resigned behavior of a dog who realizes that it is about to visit the veterinarian, or the unhappiness of a bath-hating dog who is facing an imminent bath. Animals generate mental scenarios about their near future, and have emotions in response to those scenarios.
Joy, gloom, sadness – these are the signs of higher level mental activities. They are not immediate, automatic sensory responses, like hunger, or the pain of a physical injury.
How we treat animals should be based on the emotional as well as on the physical impact of what we do.