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June 04, 2019 - Psychology Today

Are You Guilty of "Isms?"

Are You Guilty of
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For better or worse, our species has evolved with a pervasive need to classify and judge.

I was recently invited to respond to an article that appeared in the journal Animal Sentience. It was about sheep, and it made a strong case that they were a lot smarter and more worthy of our respect than most of us assume. Essentially, the article asked, “If the evidence we present here doesn’t convince you that sheep are more than dim-witted stock animals, then what will?”

My response was, “Nothing will.” Our disrespect for sheep is not evidence-based and more information will not shift our viewpoint. It is rooted in speciesism and good luck shifting that kind of bias with facts. “Isms” run deep and they are often quite toxic. Sometimes they result in violence of some sort. Worse yet, most “isms” come from the natural history of our species, and so they’re difficult to dislodge.

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