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Excerpt from A Language Older Than Words

Pursuit of Data (p. 23)

From chapter "Coyotes, Kittens, and Conversations"

How about this? Scientists raised dogs in complete isolation for their first eight months, then reported that the dogs were frightened of nearly everything. Shocking, but there’s more. The scientists stated that when the dogs were placed on electrified grids, they froze and made no attempt to escape. The scientists held flaming matches under the dogs’ noses, and “jabbed them with dissecting needles.” Still the dogs froze. The scientists pursued the dogs with electrically charged toy cars, which delivered 1,500 volts to the animals on contact. The scientists reported that the dogs. raised in isolation, did not seem to understand the source of their pain.

What does a person do with this kind of information? How do you grapple with the knowledge that, in the pursuit of data—and ultimately in an attempt to make ourselves “lords and possessors of nature” members of our culture will give electric shocks to kittens and will mercilessly torture dogs? It seems impossible to form an adequate response.