Beliefs that make us less humane and less human

One thing that interests me are myths and misconceptions. They often lower our intelligence by tempting us not to think, urging us instead to accept the authority of something we once read, or the proclamation of someone older and presumably wiser than we are. Unfortunately, the word, whether written or spoken, is not always correct and is frequently colored with misunderstanding and sometimes deliberate untruths. Sometimes people believe strange or ignorant things because they want to, perhaps because to understand and accept the truth topple their whole world-view or just make them look stupid. But I think in most cases, people believe myths and misconceptions because that is what their parents or others in authority have told them, or they just haven’t bothered to look beyond the end of their noses.

Myths and misconceptions are especially prevalent in the public’s beliefs about space and astronomy. Many students quite literally have conceptions of the heavens and our place in the universe no more advanced than those prevalent in the middle ages. Many students do not realize that the stars appear to move across the sky at night, and many think that the Sun stands directly overhead at noon (which is never true in the US, Canada, Europe or anywhere for that matter except the equatorial regions). I’ll have to write a blog or maybe a book someday on that topic.

But we also have myths and misconceptions on many other topics, not the least of which has to do with animals. We hear stories of animal abuse and neglect all the time. Frequently here in Colorado it has to do with horses or other ranch animals, but certainly there are plenty of sad stories about domestic animals such as dogs and cats, as well as exotics that some moron has brought into the country. Just today I read a story online about a father and son accused of abusing, starving and otherwise neglecting some 35 animals: horses, sheep, cows and a goat. All were emaciated, and some were said to be diseased and in such sad shape that these still living creatures were literally “in various stages of decomposition.”

Having read this article in horror and disgust, I read some of the comments left by other readers. Frankly, most were also horrified and disgusted, but there also were those who had the attitude that “animals are just animals,” so why be concerned about it? The comment that most annoyed me, however, was the one that implied that people who care about animals do not care about children and infants. Here is my reply:

Anyone who says that animal lovers don’t care about infants and children simply doesn’t know their head from a hole in the ground (to put it civilly). That sentiment is absolutely not true. People have this idea, fostered by cultural traditions and mythology, that animals are somehow less aware of pain and suffering, just because they are not as highly evolved as humans or were "created" in a lower state than humans. That’s just the smelly stuff on Ken Buck’s boots. Anyone who has spent any conscious moment caring for animals knows that they do, indeed, feel and they do suffer.

People love animals for exactly the same reasons they love infants and children, and animal lovers in general are just as concerned for the welfare of humans as animals. I know many who love and care for animals, myself included, and that is the way they all think. I resent the accusation that they feel otherwise. All living creatures (including those raised for food) deserve good and humane treatment. And that includes humans as well. There are extremists on both sides of the fence, but that is true in just about everything these days, and stupidity abounds. Extremists should not be your model for the mainstream. Don’t let personal prejudices tempt you to condemn people who are caring and considerate of all life, just because of personal misconceptions.

What many animal lovers do say is that animals deserve to be treated well just as much as humans do, and with that I heartily agree. Accuse me of that, if you want, but to say or imply that I or other animal lovers would put up with baby murderers or pedophiles is both offensive and ignorant.

I think people need to start thinking for themselves, and stop just hocking up old loogies of misconceptions from what they have read or heard. Find out what your prejudices and investigate them. Sometimes they may be founded in truth, but other they are not. Animals feel, animals suffer. And people who care about animals also care about children and infants just as much.


About Starman

Cosmic Awareness Facilitator. Astronomy, space, physics, science, planets, cosmology, reason, logic, clouds, sky phenomena, the environment, dogs and other animals, and other interesting stuff.
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