Echolocating while swooping through the dark night – being a bat can have its advantages. But can we learn anything from thinking about what it is like to be a bat, a dolphin, or a dog?
Many of us struggle to consider the world from someone else’s point of view and complicating things by adding animals into the task may seem like an unnecessary process. If human-to-human mind is tricky, why bring human-to-animal mind into the equation. We could of course see it as a long continuous line, where we explore the world and even the universe by changing perspectives. Shifting the focus from you own perspective or point of view may give you new insights into issues and problems. Ultimately, it may change the way you look and search for a solution.
“Seeing” the world from an animal’s point of view, is just an extreme form of shifting the focus. Admittedly, we can never see the world the world from someone else’s perspective but we may gain important insight by trying.
What is the world like for a dog that uses his nose?
Examining the world from a dog’s point of view could lead to the idea of a world with different concept of time. Smells tend to linger and a dog explores the world by relying on mainly his nose and vision, whereas we tend to rely on our vision and hearing. A dog can trace what has been walking along the street a long time after it has disappeared and a dog can identify smell somewhere between 1.000 and 10.000 times better than we can.
Our auditory and visual system is mostly hierarchical but it is possible that when we recognise smells the activity is heterarchical. This means that a dog is trying to complete a pattern and form a picture of what has walked along the street before him or of something that is walking towards him. While humans mostly rely on breaking patterns down to form a view of the world. This insight could be helpful when solving problems or looking for new inventions.
The Necker cube challenges the idea that we see the world as it actually is. We see one or the other of the two cubes, but there is no cube, only a drawing with twelve lines.You can see some great animation with a “flying dog” by Mark Newbold if you click here.
We have adapted to a word where objects are solid and we start early in life to construct a view of the world as consisting of solid objects. Developmental psychologist Elizabeth Spelke says baby quickly learn to act according to rules such as objects cannot go through solid boundaries. So imagine that you grew up on a planet where the environment is fluid, like Uranus or Neptune. Our understanding of animal language is limited and maybe we are approaching the subject form a less successful angle. Our language is based upon assembling sounds or phonemes into larger units. Maybe in a world underwater sounds are combined in a different way. Insights and ideas from the world underwater or fluid worlds could also be useful when we are designing amplifier and sound systems.
We often notice different aspects when we put things in a new environment. Just like we see different sized dots depending upon the surrounding dots.
Look at the dots in the centre – they are the same size.
Taking risks with the thinking and exploring wild ideas is the first step towards a good idea. An idea may feel ridiculous but it may either be brilliant or lead to new insights that can be worked and improved upon. Expanding your views leads to an increase in possibilities. You can search for ideas from unexpected angles.
Photo: “Time Time” by prozac1