Is It True That Dogs Are Better Than Cats Essay Example
Are dogs smarter than cats? Or are cats smarter than dogs? Well, according to Sarah Gibbons, science holds the answer. In her article, “Are Dogs smarter than cats? Science has the answer” she compares the cognitive functions of dogs and cats. These comparisons come from highly skilled researchers, who are able to come to conclusions on an animal’s intelligence based on the number of neurons present in each animal’s brains. This article is highly effective in conveying its argument using the Toulmin model, which is a method of argumentation. The author uses a clear claim, a variety of compelling evidence, appeals to needs and values of the audience, as well presents and clarifies a significant warrant and multiple assumptions, which each act as a form of supporting her claim of dogs having a higher intelligence than cats.
The claim of this article discusses the common disagreement between two significant groups of animal lovers in our society. Dog lovers and cat lovers. This disagreement, as mentioned, is whether dogs or cats are smarter. The author of this article, Sarah Gibbens, uses claims of value and fact to prove the belief dog lovers have that dogs are indeed smarter than cats. The author uses the Toulmin model in effectively asserting that something is true by making a claim of fact when she claims that dogs are smarter than cats. As she says, “Dogs, it turns out, have about twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortexes than what cats have, which suggests they could be about twice as intelligent” (Gibbons). A variety of facts and expert opinion are also used to further her claim. The author also makes a claim of value, as she goes on to say, “In each of the dogs' brains, despite varying in size, researchers found about 500 million neurons, more than double the 250 million found in the cat's brain” (Gibbens). The author is attempting to further prove the belief that dogs being smarter than cats is true and not a myth. In order to prove this point, the author uses a variety of strong and valid evidence through the use of the Toulmin Model.
This article is based on a lot of research and expert opinion that poses as facts to back up the claim of fact and policy that the author makes. One bit of research that is given compares the brains of cats and dogs to other animals. “Based on the number of neurons found, they speculated that dogs have roughly the same intelligence as raccoons and lions, while domestic cats have comparable intelligence to bears” (Gibbens). This research backs up the argument of dogs being smarter than cats directly which makes it a strong piece of evidence to support the claim presented. Another bit of research that acts as a fact in regard to comparing the numbers of neurons in different species states, “...humans have by far the highest number of neurons in our cerebral cortexes—as many as 16 billion per person. Among our closest cousins, orangutans and gorillas have about eight to nine billion neurons, while chimpanzees have about six to seven billion neurons” (Gibbens). This is also a relevant piece of research as it gives us some more information on neurons and the difference in how many occur across a species in different brain sizes. Therefore, this fact acts to help the reader understand the number of present neurons in dogs versus cats brains and how this is significant. Expert opinion is also widely used in this article to provide clear and well-researched evidence that supports the articles claim. Gibbens states that “A team of researchers from six different universities in the U.S., Brazil, Denmark, and South Africa contributed to the research” (Gibbens).
These are the experts that contributed their opinion based on their research to this article. Gibbens provides an expert opinion that explains how they compared the number of neurons between dogs and cats. As she says, “One of the study's authors is noted neurologist Suzana Herculano-Houzel” This author describes the process, "You take the brain and turn it into a soup," she said, matter-of-factly, as the first step to finding these neurons. From there, she said, you end up with a number of suspended nuclei from neuron cells that allow the researchers to estimate the number of neurons present” (Gibbens). This researcher then goes into detail explaining that neurons are basic units if processing, which is helpful to guide the reader in their understanding of neurons and why they compare this in dog’s and cats brains to give us the answer of their intelligence. Herculano-Houzel states, “...the more units you find in the brain, the more cognitively capable the animal is” (Gibbens). This is how they were able to come up with a comparison of the number of neurons between dog’s and cat’s brains. These experts came to the conclusion that dogs brains are more cognitively developed since they have more neurons present than cats brains do. Now having this evidence that dogs are more cognitively developed than cats, we can look at what needs and values are produced in proving this argument using the Toulmin Model.
The needs and values of an argument bring about the audience’s wants and honor their values as well. Gibbons has a few indirect needs and values present in her article. When evaluating her article I saw a value of ego is made known in its value of the respect for researchers, as well as others. Self-esteem becomes important to the researchers in that their research is being trusted and provided to us in this article to help back up Sarah Gibbens’ claim. The value for the self-esteem of others is also displayed as this article recognizes dog owners and boosts their self-esteem. Moreover, by telling them they have picked a good choice in what pets they choose, as dogs are proved to be smarter than cats. It gives them a boost in their ego as dog lovers and owners. The value of security is also displayed in this article. Due to a dog’s high cognitive functioning, they are able to properly keep us safe and protect us. This gives us the value of safety in our homes when we own a dog. The last need that I saw displayed in this article was self-actualization. As it is the need for development. In this article, this value is made known in how we accept the facts presented. Cat owners may need to consider that dogs could be smarter than cats as it is proven clearly in this article with sufficient and valuable facts of research and expert opinion. In talking about what cat owners may need to contemplate, the author considers a belief that some people may have as she provides clarification to this warrant.
Warrants are something that a person would have to believe in order to find this article interesting and believable. The warrant for this article is that someone would have to believe that dogs and cats have cognitive functions in having the ability to think and understand. Gibbons clears up this warrant by providing factual evidence from researchers that "Neurons are the basic information processing units” (Gibbons). Throughout this article, it is stated by researchers that neurons are present in all living animals and humans' brains. This is how researchers measure intelligence in animals, by the number of neurons they possess. Gibbons uses the information gained by researchers effectively in her article in addressing and clarifying the warrant present using the Toulmin Model.
Qualifiers act to limit or modify a claim. In this case, the qualifiers that exsist take action to limit a claim that has been made by other people with the assumption. As some people may believe brain size correlates with the number of neurons present in the brain. However, Gibbons includes research on this topic as well. She refers to a scientist named Sarah Benson-Amram at the University of Wyoming’s Animal Behavior and Cognition lab, to discuss the research on this topic. “She said she and her colleagues have found some support that large brain size in carnivorous animals leads to better problem solving. But she said there's little evidence to say larger brain size universally leads to higher intelligence” (Gibbens). There is a qualifier present in this statement as the researcher uses words like “some” and “little” to let us know that this claim has not been fully researched and looked into. Gibbons included this in her article to clear up all aspects and further assumptions of her claim.
Overall, The Toulmin model was used to its full effect in this article in proving that dogs are more intelligent and therefore, smarter than cats according to the number of neurons present in each of their brains. Gibbons uses the Toulmin Model well to back up this claim using evidence that supports and authorizes it. The needs and values that are displayed in her article provide the audience with the assurance that their needs are being met and their values are being honored. Her use of clarifying the warrant that is present in this article leads to broadening the audience by appealing to all sides of the argument. She clarifies this assumption, as well as others about brain size in correlation with the number of neurons present in a brain, perfectly. All in all, Gibbons uses the Toulmin model most efficiently to guide the audience in believing that dogs, in fact, have more advanced cognitive abilities in comparison to cats.