Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Epidemics and the moral behaviour of animals

Charlie supported his favourite team on the weekend. We won't talk about how it ended, but
at least Charlie had a good time!
In observance of WorldRabies Day (Sept 28th in case you missed it), we’ve enrolled in Coursera’s MOOC on epidemics to learn more about the spread and detection of epidemics.

The eight-week, entirely online course is free to anyone, and would be particularly useful for vets, vet students and nurses as well as pet owners who want to learn more about infectious diseases.

The worst thing we can do in a real infectious disease outbreak is panic. It is often said that during outbreaks healthcare services like hospitals are flooded by the “worried well”. The best way to control panic is to be informed…you might say it’s a social duty of sorts (and if you want to read more, Nobel Prize Laureate Peter Doherty has written a well-informed book on pandemics - check here).

If you want more info on the course click here.

Jessie, also a mad keen Swannies fan, dressed up for the occasion too.
Meantime I revisited this TED talk by Frans de Waal on whether human morality is actually evolved. We often claim moral superiority, but are we really better than animals when it comes to morality, empathy and compassion? 

Another set of questions this video raises is the ethics of keeping and experimenting on animals for the purposes of testing their morality? And is it scientifically sound – i.e. is something a captive chimpanzee does in a lab indicative of the behaviour of wild chimpanzees?

Check out the video here.