What’s really the problem with “humanizing” animals “too much”

Slate published some yuck from Ruth Graham, lecturing us one and all about how dogs are dogs and people are people and no, Sully doesn’t mourn President Bush  and scientists who study animal emotion think yada yada.  There was a lot of eye rolling, but also people who want us to get over our foolishness about ascribing human emotions to animals because it’s not “factually right”. 

We don’t really know what’s “factually right” when it comes to animal intelligence or emotions. We have some science, it’s contested, and don’t @ me: scientists bring their own biases to this work, too.  That doesn’t mean science is worthless, it just means it happens in cultures and contexts like every other form of knowledge production. 

Here’s the bottom line: If we recognized animals as having emotional lives and intelligence we would have less rationale to treat them as horribly as we do.  *That’s* the vested interest.