HOUSE ANTS ARE SUPERIOR TO US
The common house ant, as a species, is essentially free from the influence of human behavior, and thus is superior to us. We need a little more humility in our dealings with ants.
You are probably thinking, “Who me? Show me an ant, and we’ll see who is superior!”. This, my friend, is a myth. There is no such thing as just one ant. “Just one ant” is a fiction that the ants would have us believe. The others are in the garden, in the basement, in the walls, somewhere, lurking, just waiting for your to say, “Aha! An ant!”, arrogantly squash him, and go about your business.
That one ant is a military scout. Follow him around for a while; try to discover his mission. Hours later, he will still know where he is going, but you will not. No amount of trial by water or grim interrogation will help.
Whether or not the scout is destroyed, you will next see an advancing column of ants. That is, it will appear to be an advancing column of ants. If you establish a checkpoint at some convenient location, and count the ants passing, say, to the left and to the right, you will find that the numbers are about equal – 50% left, and 50% right. It is left as an exercise for the allegedly “superior” strategist, the human, to determine whether the ants are coming or going. It will be a further exercise to determine which way is, in fact, “coming” and which way is “going”.
Despite their apparent lack of purpose and organization, ants get the job done. They find things. A scrap of food, an apple core, one morning you will wake up and the ants will have found it. Hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of ants, all in one place, like your wastebasket.
By this time, the outwitted human observer, an unwilling landlord, will only partially recognize the true intelligence of the enemy. Reasoning that the entire legion is now captured, the human will clear the surrounding area. In fact, having seen precisely where they have all gone to (or, would it be, where they have all come to?) one assumes that all the ants are already there.
Go off to work, then, comfortable in your superiority. But that evening, a closer examination will reveal that the ants can, and do, reestablish their trails. If a checkpoint is designated… you’re right: 50% coming, and 50% going. The deception is complete.
Spray behind the baseboard, plaster up the holes in the wall… it’s hopeless. The ants will not leave unless and until they choose to.
It’s clear that, in all respects of importance to ants, they are, as a class, essentially free from the influence of human behavior. Further, they influence humans by deception, by strategy, and by sheer force of numbers. The conclusion that they are superior is inescapable.
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