What is it that truly separates us from animals, and in particular, fish? “The ability to smoke cigarettes,” you certainly just said aloud without a moment’s hesitation, because cigarettes would quickly be extinguished underwater if fish even tried it. But what else? Is it our capacity for language? Our facility at creating reality television programs? Sideburns?
Except for one species of fish that can grow sideburns, yes, it is all of these things. Moreover, it is our cognizance—our awareness of ourselves and the world around us, as well as our place in it—that makes us fundamentally different from fish.
So why shouldn’t a fish have to suffer through this waking nightmare of consciousness, too? That’s the question one scientist asked himself before painstakingly teaching a very special fish that it is, in fact, a fish.