The pigs are going meta!
Sen. Joni Ernst released a list of dubious government spending Tuesday, questioning why federal taxpayers had to foot the bill for studies that trained pigs to play a video game or dolphins to use an underwater touchpad to try to tap out their thoughts.
But don't you understand?
How we will talk to animals like Disney princesses if we don't prove that pigs and dolphins are people too?
In the pig experiment, funded in part by the Agriculture Department, hogs were taught to push a joystick with their snout to move a cursor on the screen. The four "micro pigs," as the Purdue University researchers dubbed them, performed significantly better than random chance, suggesting they were cognizant of what they were doing.
Candace Croney, director of Purdue's Center for Animal Welfare Science, did the research years ago but updated it in 2021.
"While our pigs were nowhere near as competent as monkeys and chimpanzees, what's really cool is that they could do the task to any degree," Ms. Croney said in a Purdue press release detailing her work. "And that they were actually able to overcome the major conceptual hurdle of understanding that their manipulation of the joystick was having an effect elsewhere, and that controlling that effect is what elicited a reward is the thing that I find really remarkable."
I'm really glad my tax money is going to help bored pigs play video games. I might not be able to afford food, gas, or my hospital bills, but now I can sleep easy at night!
Pigs are dumber than monkeys but smarter than other animals. Who knew?
As for the dolphins:
The National Science Foundation, meanwhile, ponied up federal cash for the dolphin experiment.
Researchers built an 8-foot iPad-like system for underwater and then prodded dolphins to interact with it. The researchers were trying to gauge dolphins' capacity for communication.
They said one younger dolphin showed particular aptitude with a whack-a-mole type game in which he tracked moving fish on the screen.
"It has always been hard to keep up with dolphins, they are so smart; a fully interactive and programmable system will help us follow them in any direction they take us," Marcelo Magnasco said in a press release announcing the effort at Rockefeller University in New York.
Homelessness and crime are skyrocketing, drugs are killing entire towns, and no one can afford cars or houses.
I'm glad the dolphins get their own custom iPads though. Good for them. It was about time.
The government also gave $650,000 from the Agriculture Department to a company so it can try to grow mealworms on a large scale (they REALLY want you to eat the bugs).
Tens of billions of dollars are wasted on useless animal research projects each year, according to Justin Goodman of the White Coat Waste Project.
This all comes as President Biden wants to spend a record $6.9 trillion this year. Even though he's going to raise taxes to do it, there would still be a $1.9 TRILLION deficit for this year alone with that plan.
And as for the pigs, well, let's just say that teaching them video games might be a little more dangerous than we thought...