Are Dolphins Really Smart? The mammal behind the myth – Justin Gregg

 

Are Dolphins Really Smart? The mammal behind the myth - Justin Gregg

OUP
ISBN 978-0-19-968156-3

Skeptics’ interest in marine biology may often not extend much beyond imaginary sea monsters, but dolphins are of course iconic beings for New Wage enthusiasts. These creatures often seem to show signs of near-human intelligence, as do dolphins.

The book’s sub-title could be slightly expanded to include another interesting mammal, John C. Lilly, the dolphins’ chief land-based representative from the 1950s to the 80s. He it was who propounded an exciting set of ideas and claims about cetacean communication and consciousness that have helped to inspire many efforts to protect and conserve whales and dolphins.

To address the intriguing question of just how smart dolphins really are, Gregg guides our cognitive dinghies through the choppy waters of animal intelligence and the nature of natural language, navigating through neuroscience and skirting the reefs of philosophy of mind. In doing so, he provides an excellent case study of critical thinking that will warm the cockles of any skeptic, noting at the outset that,

“there are probably more weird ideas about dolphins swimming in cyberspace than there are dolphins swimming in the sea.”

Gregg’s odyssey teems with insights and updates. Dive in!

Paul Taylor