Saturday, May 7, 2011

"They all look alike to me..."

We have all heard the phrase "They all look alike" when talking about other races, some people actually mean that for the most part, they have great difficulties telling people from the same backgrounds (different to themselves) apart from each other.

I was watching a clip recently that explained this phenomena... except they were talking about crows, not people.

It turns out that crows can recognise not just other crows by sight, but humans as well. While most people cannot tell crows apart at all. The reason for this, it is suggested, is that crows over their long standing history with humans have found reasons to tell humans apart and to know them by their faces. This is because one human may try to harm you, and another you might be able to approach. As such, it is important that crows can tell these people apart. Whereas for the majority of humans, crows are just crows. Even if you actually really like crows, if you don't know several individual crows you may have some difficulty telling them apart from each other. This is because like or dislike what you know about them, it has not been relevant to differentiate between them, for many people crows are only really considered collectively, if they see one crow do something, 'that is what crows do'.

When you hear a person say about another group of people 'they all look alike', It is saying a lot more about the speaker than it does about the people being spoken about. They may claim to 'like or dislike them', but it has clearly not been relevant to differentiate between them, or they would be able to. The speaker is telling you, "I have never found a reason to respect or identify that group as individuals, I consider them collectively. When I see one person do something, that is what I believe they all do".

If you know a pair of 'identical twins', at first they may seem identical, but as you get to them they become quite easily distinguished. Even though most people of the same race are not even close to identical to begin with, apparently to some people they are... just like crows are to most humans.

If they ever to get to know a few individuals, this seemingly strange racial 'sameness' will usually disappear.

Crow Paradox:


  1. Some of my best friends are crows ;)


  2. Interesting points, especially considering the other current disrespect (Bolt, Bunyip etc) of questioning aboriginality by colour charts.
    Unrelated, but ironic that what most people in Australia call crows are actually ravens.

  3. I think you mke a very interesting point, but I would urge you to change the example. To call someone a "crow" is no different to using the "n word". In the United States they have Jim Crow laws to hamper minority progress. Old Crow whisky is called that because it is inexpensive and mostly African-Americans drink it. Crowbars are caled that because the hardest and most dangerous construction jobs were done by Black people. t is ironic that you should use this slur in an item about what is a Black person. Ironic and sad.

    Please do not use the word. You should change "crow" to "sparrow" as your example. Even Kentucky Fried Chicken was sensitve enough to take an advert of the TV that was offensive to Black people.

    If they can do it, you can also. Until you are deliberately trying to offend.

  4. To Anonymous - May 8, 2011 11:27 PM

    Unless you are suggesting there is a better name for this particular bird, I have no idea what it is you are referring to... and if that is what you are suggesting, what is your preferred name for this bird?

    At no point did I call any people 'crows', or use 'crow' as any type of racial slur.

    The point of the article is that the psychology behind the comment about ANY group of people, is dehumanising and reflects a total disregard for the individuals within any group who are referred to in this way. As has been demonstrated to be true about the birds that I have always thought were named 'crows'.

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