The Final Word
By Jeff Girod
Turns out the brainiacs of the sea may not be so smart after all. That’s according to Paul Manger, a neuroethologist at a university in South Africa.
Long touted for their ability to communicate, use tools and dominate ankle tattoos by drunken sorority girls, Manger says dolphins may be more stupid than goldfish, chickens and even mealworms!
“We put them on a pedestal for no reason and projected a lot of our desires and wishes on them,” said the dolphin-hating Manger. “The idea of the exceptionally intelligent dolphin is a myth.”
And to think I wasted all those years eating dolphin-safe tuna.
One of the most transcendent moments of my life was sitting on a surfboard off the coast of Huntington Beach next to dolphins. At the time, I felt like we experienced a universal connection, staring across the white caps, waiting for the next waves to roll in. But what if while I was having deep thoughts about God and nature and eternity and grace, the dolphins were thinking . . . Well, probably they weren’t thinking anything, because dolphins are apparently dumber than mealworms.
What if everything we’ve ever thought about the animal kingdom is wrong? What if giraffes are afraid of heights? What if owls aren’t wise? What if lions are giant wusses? And what if the circle of life is actually a rhombus, and humans are the real jackasses for laughing like hyenas at the dolphin show?
Maybe we should’ve spent more time at Sea World’s porpoise show. Do porpoises even get a show? I’m not sure I even know what a porpoise is. Is a porpoise the same as a sea cow? Whatever. It probably still makes me smarter than a dolphin.
Remember how environmentalists told us to cut up plastic ringlets that held six-packs together, how they could float out to sea and get caught on the snouts of dolphins? That should have been a red flag. Raccoons and bears have snouts, too, and they burrow in garbage constantly. How hard can it be to get a ringlet off of your snout?
People see what they want to see. Someone tells you a dolphin is smarter than a spelling bee champion? OK, sure. Who are you to argue? Dolphins are cute and exotic looking, a little shiny alien with flippers and a permanent “go get ‘em!” smile. Plus dolphins live at the beach and everyone loves the beach.
It’s the same reason we love Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They seem different than us, with their own shiny alien snouts. So we overlook Angie’s unsightly homemade tattoos, the PDA, Brad’s longhaired phases or how he totally dumped his former wife, Jen, like a wet dirty sock.
(Not to mention Brangelina’s box office stinkers: The Tourist, Salt, Killing Them Softly, Tree of Life. The only audience who saw those rotted tomatoes was their 19 adopted kids.)
Truth be told, a more talented and successful Hollywood couple is probably William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman. But Macy and Huffman look like your sun blotched livery grandparents. And worse, they’re boring. So we project what we expect on who we think deserves it.
If someone said cows were cocker-spaniel smart, we’d call bullshit, because cows are fat and stupid looking. They smell. They stand all day in their own cow crap. They’re covered in flies. It’s disgusting.
It makes it a lot easier to bite into a cheeseburger because every time I eat a cow, in some small way I feel like I’m helping to make the world a smarter place.
Neuroethologist Paul Manger is right—and not just about dolphins. We put things on pedestals for no reason. We project our desires and wishes on them, because myths are better.
It’s why we still think Tom Brady is a good quarterback—even though he’s lost every Super Bowl when he didn’t secretly videotape all of the other team’s plays beforehand. It’s why we think Miley Cyrus is interesting, wrestling isn’t fake and any Kardashian should exist.
We’d rather live in a world where dolphins are splashy little know-it-all’s and I’m OK with it.
I love cheeseburgers and Brangelina.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org