Do humans, as observers, occupy a special place when observing Earth?

Yeah, like I said, take it too far and it’s really easy to end up in woo.

I don’t so much agree with it (although I agree with elements of the assertion) as I saw it as perhaps of interest to EastUmqua given the OP and subsequent posts.

I found a great app called Merlin Bird ID. It has a running graph of sounds it hears from your phone, and it compares the structure of the sound to files on birds and gives a photo id of the bird. It’s also interesting because you can say words and look at the sound structure of the word. What’s really interesting is to compare words to bird calls. The bird-call sound image is more complicated (visually) than words spoken by humans (try repeating a word and look at it’s structure). But when we look for evidence of language, we often discount bird calls - we say that bird calls are just instinct. I’ve always wondered how an organism’s brain can evolve instincts with such complicated patterns, like bird calls, and insects like termites building complex cities. I would more than welcome a Neurobiologist’s input on this…

Thank you for the suggestion. I will read this book.

Actually, the earth is a special place, simply because humans are here. The word “special” is meaningless without a species that’s capable of appreciating specialness.

I think the cyanobacteria beat us to it long ago.

– of course humans think humans are special. Doesn’t mean that we’re special to anybody/thing/whatever that isn’t human.

All sorts of species adapt their environment to suit them. Any creature that makes a nest does that. Black walnut trees all over my property are doing their best to adapt their environment to suit them, by killing off competing species via an exudate from their roots. Etcetera.

What does communication have to do with your OP’s question about observing, please?

Much more complicated vocalizations means that they could have a very large vocabulary. But the relevant question is not how large of a vocabulary they could have, but how much they do have. As well as all of the complexities of language that come from how those vocabulary terms fit together. If I were to say to a woman “You me mating sexy beautiful want hey babe”, then she would probably understand what I meant, but she would also think very poorly of my language skills.

I am certain that peregrine falcons, cockroaches, black tipped reef sharks, and leaf tailed geckos also observe the world from a special place

I think that we are inadvertently or accidentally unusual (but not necessarily special). I regard the whole kit and caboodle (that is the universe and all the stuff in it) as a giant accidental and aimless chemistry and physics experiment.

So the fact that the chemistry experiment has produced something that can observe the experiment is really cool.

That is only MHO of course, and not based on anything, so I’m probably totally out to lunch.

Don’t a lot of female birds judge the complexities and quality of their potential mates’ songs when choosing a mate?

Yes, I think humans are doing something different with language; but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as different as most humans seem to think.

(I suspect the thing we’re doing that’s actually different is having conversations like this; but I don’t know for sure that nobody else is having them also.)

If you’re not interested in the premise of this thread, why are you commenting on it?

I am interested in the premise of the thread, as stated in the OP. Which is why I asked the question.

Fair enough. Humans tend to think we’re the only species to have ever: used tools, been self aware, modified our environment, had language (although recent research on this isn’t conclusive), etc. I think the ability to communicate observations is relevant to my OP.

My pick-up line was plenty complex: I used eight different words, without ever repeating myself. And I could have gone on much further, had I been so inclined. But no matter how long I made it, I don’t think I would have impressed very many female humans, because humans are impressed by a level of structure that isn’t (so far as we can tell) present in birdsong at all.

That’s what’s so interesting about visualizing bird calls. It has been my observation (I definitely could be wrong here) that scientists observe bird calls (and whale songs) with a bias; they already know that only humans have complex languages.

This human doesn’t think any of those things.

And I’m asking for you to explain how it’s relevant.

If you would be more specific about your question, especially what you don’t understand about how the post is relevant, I’ll try to explain why “the ability to communicate observations” is relevant to the OP. This thread is in IMHO - I would be interested in your opinion, especially why you think the ability to communicate observations isn’t relevant.

Not to get too ontological on you…

What does “special” mean, anyway? Does it have any objective meaning? Is there a particle of “special” somewhere out there waiting for us to observe it?

Of course not. “Special” is a human invention, a fiction. We invented “special”, and it means whatever we say it means. We’re the most special thing in the universe, because without us, nothing in the universe is special - it just is.

Sorta like this then:

The punch line being that animals communicate as much as they do about the things that matter to them that are within their capability set. For most animals, “Hey Baby”, and “Oh shit, I see a predator!” are about as far as it gets. It takes more brains, lots more brains, to do those behaviors and also discuss philosophy or physics.