first_img You may have seen a few articles going around suggesting that dogs can “speak” to humans. It’s based on a study that found that people were a bit more accurate than guessing at what their dogs’ barks and growls mean. That’s cool! For sure, it’s clear evidence of interspecies communication, but that’s also not exactly special.We understand that cats hiss when they’re upset. There’s something innate that most of us just get. Animals puff themselves way up to intimidate one another all the time. The number of hisses, yowls, and grunts we totally understand from the animals around us is huge. Evolution supports having an array of basic emotions you can communicate to any other creature you find. It lets you reliably ward off predators or mark territory. While most animals can fight, it’s not usually a good idea. Fighting, in the animal kingdom as in the real world, puts all parties at huge risk for injury and loss. And when you’re alone in the natural world, you really don’t want to risk, much less have an injury. For many, it could be a death sentence.What this study does is demonstrate that we can understand very, very basic concepts from creatures that we have selectively bred for at least ten thousand years. Most of these vocalizations we could understand in wolves or other canids. The study also mentions that dog owners are a bit better at recognizing what different sounds mean than their counterparts. And that has to be one of the most obvious observations of all time.Now, I won’t attack the study itself. Science only works when we challenge even obvious things because we could always get surprising results. All studies, when properly designed and reproducible, can contribute to the net growth of human knowledge. What I object to is how others at the Daily Mail, for instance, have blown up the study for clicks and claim it says things when it doesn’t. Blowing study results out of proportion is a perennial problem in science communication, and it regularly confuses the public about things as basic as nutrition. It leads to a fundamental mistrust of science and the scientific method and just makes us all look bad.So think before you share something, and when we, as science communicators, make mistakes, call us out. Stay on target Driver Finds Dog With Throat Cut, Mouth Duct-Taped in OhioWatch: Dog Rescued After Collapsing From Heatstroke During Hike last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *