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Who's Special?

Recently I've been thinking about ideas that push the boundaries of what we - modern, 21st century Western-culture latte-drinking cell-phone-carrying TV-gossiping fashion-obsessed bipedal hairless apes - are willing to think of as "normal". I think there are some gaps between the world we think we live in, and the world we could actually be living in, even assuming it's still subject to constraints about what we believe to be historically, and physically, possible.

Here's an example - one day I started to ponder the following question: Could a species with intelligence comparable (or better) than humans have evolved at another point in earth's long history? That doesn't fit into the world view I'm talking about, but it certainly isn't a scentifically untenable hypothesis.

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