Did you know that people who talk to their pets are super intelligent?
Certainly, there is something comforting about coming home after hard day's slog to a loving pet.
Animals; they just understand you in a way that humans never could, don't they? Well no, frankly, they don't, but they do happen to be excellent listeners, particularly if you feed them titbits of food to keep them by your side as you prattle on endlessly about the various shortcomings of Julie from human resources.
"She just doesn't know how to speak to people politely" you fume, absent mindedly stroking your pet with a restraint that belies your inner fury. "I mean, we're not in high school anymore" you remind your canine companion needlessly, "Why can't she treat me like an adult?". A rhetorical question, of course.
It is, of course, a vain and pointless pursuit, to prescribe human emotions to animals, who operate via a different set of rules in which instinct plays a considerably larger role. Yet prescribe away we inevitably do, like a particularly unscrupulous doctor blithely handing out medication with gay abandon.
"Do you want a snack?" you pointlessly ask your pet cat; as if the concept of a "snack" even exists in their feline lexicon, as if they are ever going to turn their nose up at some delicious cat food presented so charmingly in a ceramic ramekin.
Of course, when they inevitably gobble up said "snack", we crow our pleasure "Look! She likes the snack!".
Otherwise, we might use our pet as some sort of particularly stoic therapist, who says nothing and takes no notes, but listens to the slings and arrows of our social mores with what we imagine is a sympathetic expression.
If any of these scenarios are familiar to you, then I have some excellent news to share with you, as it is, in actuality, a sign of human intelligence. Anthropomorphism might have been traditionally dismissed as a sign of instability or stupidity, but as Nicholas Epley, a behavorial science professor at the University of Chicago explains, the opposite is actually true;
"Historically, anthropomorphising has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet.
"No other species has this tendency."
In a more melancholic twist, though, Anthropomorphism can also be a sign of loneliness; Quartz reports that the trigger develops in strength over time as we become more lonely.
If you recognise yourself in these descriptions though, have no fear, as Epley frames Anthropomorphism in kind terms;
For centuries, our willingness to recognise minds in non-humans has been seen as a kind of stupidity, a childlike tendency toward anthropomorphism and superstition that educated and clear-thinking adults have outgrown.
"I think this view is both mistaken and unfortunate.
"Recognising the mind of another human being involves the same psychological processes as recognising a mind in other animals, a god, or even a gadget.
"It is a reflection of our brain’s greatest ability rather than a sign of our stupidity."
Now there's something to tell the dog when you get home today.