“From his previous research, Dr. Hare has argued that dogs evolved their extraordinary social intelligence once their ancestors began lingering around early human settlements. As he and his wife, Vanessa Woods, explain in their new book, “The Genius of Dogs,” natural selection favored the dogs that did a better job of figuring out the intentions of humans.”
Abracadabra. Dogs figured it out. Never mind that domesticated dogs have been found buried with human beings long before humans were living in settlements. The question begs: if dogs are FIGURING OUT the intentions of humans, how can an “extraordinary social intelligence” be isolated to only one area of cognitive capacity? For example a savant is not figuring out whatever it is that they are particularly good at, they just know. It’s not possible to be able to figure out the intentions of another, to have a high intellectual capacity in this regard, and then not be able to figure out many things across the entire spectrum of problems to be solved. If social intelligence is a cognitive capacity, then dogs should test more intelligently than wolves on a broader basis, not less. Human beings who learn a language that doesn’t have the necessary words to articulate a theory of mind, do not develop a theory of mind for the behavior of others. They construct a narrative as a chronological history without invoking the intentions of the parties involved in the story.
Furthermore, if you believe in intention, then you have to believe in deception. If you believe in intentional altruism in animals, then you have to believe in murder.
“One hypothesis has already emerged from Dognition’s users, Dr. Hare said. A surprising link turned up between empathy in dogs and deception. The dogs that are most bonded to their owners turn out to be most likely to observe their owner in order to steal food. “I would not have thought to test for that relationship at Duke, but with Dognition we can see it,” said Dr. Hare.”
Empathy begets deception? Such self-defeating logic loops should serve as a red flag in the interpretation.
OR, one could study the actions of animals without projecting thoughts (such as intention) whatsoever. In this light (behavior as a function of emotional attraction), an action one might at first think of as being deceptive, takes on a new meaning consistent with everything else the animal does.