Psychology Today: Sentient Reptiles Experience Mammalian Emotions - FaunaClassifieds
 Sponsors   Breeders | Dealers |  Importers/Exporters | Caging | Feed | Supplies | Services | Events 
  Inside FaunaClassifieds  Product Reviews |  Classifieds!   | Photo Gallery   | Banner Advertising 
  Do you want to be able to bump and highlight your classified ads? Click here!

Go Back   FaunaClassifieds > Reptile & Amphibian - General Discussion Forums > Herps In The News


Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-02-2019, 10:05 PM   #1
Psychology Today: Sentient Reptiles Experience Mammalian Emotions
Old 11-03-2019, 11:44 AM   #2
Socratic Monologue

Here's the link to the journal article:

The four listed authors each are employed by "Animal Welfare" sorts of organizations. The word "welfare" appears 48 times in the article; "emotion" appears only 41 times. Hmm.

The article makes it all the way to the third paragraph before the authors swing into talk of the illegal animal trade. Unless a person has an agenda, the legal aspect is irrelevant to determining whether animals experience psychological states.

Picking citations randomly, I notice references to scientifically irrelevant papers:
"The Morality of the Reptile "Pet" Trade" is one that caught my eye ( I'm certainly not badmouthing ethics papers -- my MA and PhD are in ethics -- but they don't have a place here.

There are many cognitive leaps at work here. The title of the Psychology Today article is a statement of alleged fact: "Sentient Reptiles Experience Mammalian Emotions", whereas the referenced paper is "A Review of the Scientific Literature for Evidence of Reptile Sentience". A concluded fact is not equivalent to a lit review.

Continuing the cognitive leaps: in the lit review, "We found 37 studies that assumed reptiles to be capable of the following emotions and states; anxiety, stress, distress, excitement, fear, frustration, pain, and suffering" (emphasis mine). Sure, I assume all sorts of things for purposes of simplifying my life; I 'assume' the thermostat thinks it is too cold in here when it turns on the furnace, but I don't believe the thermostat has mental states. I 'assume' that wasps hate me and are actively hunting me so I steer clear of them, but really they are just on territorial autopilot; they don't feel hatred.

Reading on, they found (only) "four articles that explored and found evidence for the capacity of reptiles to feel pleasure, emotion, and anxiety." I scanned the references and couldn't pick out which those might me, so I can't comment on this evidence. Those four articles might be interesting, but since only four of the articles in all of "four journal databases (ScienceDirect, BioOne, Ingenta Connect, and MDPI) and one open-access journal (PlosOne)" found this, that's a bit tentative.

Full disclaimer: I think that caring properly for captive animals is important and should be promoted, and I also think that at least all vertebrate animals are sentient and feel pain and should not be caused to suffer. I just don't think this article (the Psy Today one, or the one in the journal "Animals") helps.
Old 11-03-2019, 07:30 PM   #3
Thanks for the synopsis, John. I suspected the study was crap from the title alone, because mammalian emotions are hard enough to quantify, let alone presume that emotional states of reptiles are the same. I haven't had time to read the paper yet but that is irritating. It's like that terrible study that came out last year talking about snake housing. Every image in their paper was taken by PETA and their sample size was absolute crap, no experimental design or anything.

It's disappointing these papers get published. It's not even science, it's just anthromorphication fluff.
Old 11-04-2019, 08:13 AM   #4
Socratic Monologue
Originally Posted by snowgyre View Post
I suspected the study was crap from the title alone, because mammalian emotions are hard enough to quantify, let alone presume that emotional states of reptiles are the same.
Yup, this is what set off my BS detector, too.

Luckily in this case it is pretty easy to show the weak reasoning and bias of the journal article, and clickbaity inaccuracy of the magazine article. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of scientific knowledge (which I don't have) to uncover this stuff.

It is fair to say that in most cases a person ought to go to the original journal article to confirm the claims of a magazine or news article; even where there isn't some intentional hoodwinking going on, I don't think that most journalists can interpret scientific journal articles very well (no criticism there -- good journalists are crucial to a well-functioning society; I just think scientific research has gotten too rarified to simplify readily).

Join now to reply to this thread or open new ones for your questions & comments! is the largest online community about Reptile & Amphibians, Snakes, Lizards and number one classifieds service with thousands of ads to look for. Registration is open to everyone and FREE. Click Here to Register!


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Smell you later! Chemosignals communicate human emotions RSS_news Herps In The News 0 12-29-2012 12:00 PM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:32 PM.

Fauna Top Sites

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Page generated in 0.05685592 seconds with 12 queries
Content copyrighted 2002-2018, FaunaClassifieds, LLC