Would it be possible to operationalize this study?:
Compare (brain mass/body mass) to a ranking of sensory acuity & number of sensory systems (hearing, UV sight, electromagnetic, sonar, etc.) across a range of vertebrate organisms.
Then: could the historical ecological impact of these organisms be compared?
The hypothesis here is that vertebrates with a high brain mass to sensory acuity ratio will be particularly destructive organisms because, though they have the mental capacity to significantly alter their environments, they cannot adequately perceive the deleterious effects of their actions.
Maybe there will be important intervening variables, like population growth and other alienating factors.
Take humans for instance. We have relatively large brain masses with which to process sensory information, but our mechanisms of sensory input reception (hearing, sight, olfactory, touch) are relatively poor. You’d think this would have some consequences. In a sense, all humans are “disabled,” even more so at certain times in our lives.
I know that in environmental studies, it’s well understood that if people can’t see an environmental hazard, they generally don’t register it as a hazard. That’s because sight is more or less humans’ best sense, although it’s pretty poor compared to the sight of other animals.
The corollaries are interesting too.
Consider the importance of religion in human societies, even in those societies where religion has been recognized and condemned as alienation. Isn’t religion fundamentally the abandonment of our weaker organs–our senses, and even the tool for maximizing senses, scientific method–substituting instead an exagerrated reliance on two of our more competitive organic assets–our brains and their capacity to construct fantasms, and our communicative capacity? Those who rely heavily on religion rely on the abandonment of senses when they understand the world.
This would point to how religion reinforces alienation, substituting in the place of sensory and scientific processing, the ritualized, fantastic social constructions that inevitably justify grievious social relations. Though the religious brain is processing a social construct without sensory input, the substitutive processing feels as compelling and gratifyingly emotional as the sensory processing does. But because religion reinforces human insensitivity to the effects that human actions wreak on the world, it therefore has the capacity to effect and sustain tremendous abominations.