Smart animals (Animals)

by dhw, Monday, September 19, 2016, 13:29 (454 days ago)

In yesterday's Sunday Times, there was a review of Frans de Waal's book ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE? - which David had already drawn attention to - and BEYOND WORDS What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina. Here are a few quotes from the review:

“…a feeling of triumphant relief, among many animal scientists, that the battle to dissolve the artificial dividing line that has long been drawn between humans and other animals over questions of thinking and feeling might now, definitively, have been won. We are different in degree, goes the new consensus, not in kind.”

“Only this month, a study in Russia announced that dolphins' clicks operate as a language….hundreds of different click sounds were already recognised…”

“A wolf jumps a fence, and then digs back in to release his comrades. A killer-whale mother pushes her calf onto a gently sloping beach, thus safely teaching it how to wriggle back into the sea. A herd of elephants frantically vocalises when played a record of a deceased mother's call. (The daughter continued to respond for days; the dismayed researchers never tried the experiment again.)”

“…it forces you to think about animals in a new way, demonstrating vividly how they have feelings, complex social relationships, personalities - how they are not “just like us”, but not alien either. As Safina puts it (cheesily), “beneath the skin, kin”.

“Behaviourists, in particular, insisted that animals were creatures of instinct or conditioned responses without significant mental or emotional lives. They invented categories of human uniqueness such as toolmaking, self-awareness or “theory of mind”…De Waal demolishes the pedestal on which we have placed humanity.”

“Self-awareness? Elephants will take advantage of a mirror to inspect inside their own mouths…Empathy? A chimpanzee offered a range of tools will choose the one that works best for another chimp who cannot reach offered food. Planning? The evening whooping calls of Sumatran orang-utans as they go to bed in their high nests predict their direction of travel the next day. They are agreeing a route.”

“But some readers, particularly those that live with animals, may feel that science is catching up with what was long obvious. Emotions, intentions, empathy and consciousness are not exclusive to humanity. What took you so long?”

My comment: It remains a source of amazement to me that anyone can believe that emotions, intentions, empathy and consciousness began with humans. How could communities of animals, birds, insects have survived without cooperating, without nurturing their young, without relationships, without taking decisions to cope with their environment, without actually knowing what they were doing? You would have to believe they were all automatons that had somehow been preprogrammed, and only humans suddenly came on the scene with minds of their own. Human hubris - and with all the tragic consequences associated with the term.

Smart animals

by David Turell @, Monday, September 19, 2016, 15:31 (454 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: My comment: It remains a source of amazement to me that anyone can believe that emotions, intentions, empathy and consciousness began with humans. How could communities of animals, birds, insects have survived without cooperating, without nurturing their young, without relationships, without taking decisions to cope with their environment, without actually knowing what they were doing? You would have to believe they were all automatons that had somehow been preprogrammed, and only humans suddenly came on the scene with minds of their own. Human hubris - and with all the tragic consequences associated with the term.

I have a different view in the area of emphasis. De Wall's presentation is true, of course, of animal emotion and cooperation, all of which preceded the appearance of humans. When humans appeared the gap in these characteristics as pertains to humans is huge. We are different in kind. Evolution is a continuum with a giant leap, which could not be expected based on the history of advances up to that point.

Smart animals; dolphin speak?

by David Turell @, Monday, September 19, 2016, 18:39 (453 days ago) @ David Turell

There are a group of folks, dhw included, who try to show that humans are only a little special. Therefore there is an article, with very questionable interpretations, that tell us dolphins have a language:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/dolphins-conversation-explained-words-senten...

"Dozens of dolphin communication patterns, including the animals' familiar whistles, clicks, and body postures, have been fascinating scientists for years. But one big question has remained frustratingly elusive: Do these highly intelligent mammals possess their own spoken language?

"This week, headlines have been swirling about a paper published in the St. Petersburg Polytechnical University Journal: Physics and Mathematics that seemed to offer tantalizing signs of dolphinese. Two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins were recorded exchanging a series of sounds that resembled “a conversation between two people.” The dolphins took turns producing the sounds and did not interrupt each other, according to study author Vyacheslav Ryabov,

***

"It is complete bull, and you can quote me,” says Richard Connor, a marine biologist at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and a researcher of dolphin social interactions for more than 30 years.
“The biggest problem,” says Connor, “is that now when people make real scientific discoveries on dolphin communication, the public, having been exposed to this nonsense, will not be impressed because they will think Russian researchers already showed that they have language.”

***

"scientists who have spent decades studying dolphin communication point instead to a poorly devised experiment.
“Dolphin clicks are highly directional, with the energy focused in front of the animal, much like a flashlight,” says Marc Lammers, an expert in dolphin acoustics and an associate research professor at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.
In Ryabov's study, the sounds produced by the dolphins were measured at about a 90-degree angle, which Lammers says is the very edge of the flashlight's beam. This in itself would have a dramatic effect on the data recorded, since this angle would produce a decreased amplitude and different waveforms and frequencies than if the sounds had been measured straight on.
“It's difficult to make a simple human analogy, but it might be somewhat similar to recording a conversation by people in the other room speaking into pillows,” says Lammers. “Probably not how you would try to learn a new language!”

***

"The Ryabov paper effectively ignores most of what is currently known about the properties of dolphin clicks, how to measure them correctly, and how they are used by animals in various contexts, and instead lays out the author's own ideas for how dolphin communication might work by weaving together some simple observations with various disconnected notions of acoustics, cognition, and language research,” says Lammers.

***

"To be clear, many researchers believe that dolphins are capable of complex communication. It's just that we've been searching for signs of something like language for decades, and the evidence is still lacking.

***

"We know dolphins are capable of understanding artificially created language, both acoustic and gestural, and abstract concepts,” says Herzing. “However, we simply do not have the data to suggest that they use words or labels in the wild.”
And the fact that the dolphins in Ryabov's experiment did not seem to interrupt each other? Herzing says we've known dolphins can exchange sound back and forth without overlap since 1979.

***

"Several researchers also expressed frustration at the way the story percolated through cyberspace without enough of a critical eye.
“This type of research and the resultant media coverage does an extreme disservice both to the animals, by anthropomorphizing their behavior, and other scientists, who have spent years painstakingly studying dolphin communication and who base their conclusions on well-designed methods and experimental techniques,” says King."

Comment: Good try, but most bone fide researchers are unimpressed. Do animals communicate. Of course. Is it anything like our level (?); no way!

Smart animals

by dhw, Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 16:29 (452 days ago) @ David Turell

I am once again telescoping several threads as they all deal with the same subject.

dhw: ...It remains a source of amazement to me that anyone can believe that emotions, intentions, empathy and consciousness began with humans
DAVID: I have a different view in the area of emphasis. De Wall's presentation is true, of course, of animal emotion and cooperation, all of which preceded the appearance of humans. When humans appeared the gap in these characteristics as pertains to humans is huge. We are different in kind. Evolution is a continuum with a giant leap, which could not be expected based on the history of advances up to that point.

So long as you agree that the animals from which we are descended (assuming you still believe in common descent) had emotions, intentions, empathy, consciousness long before we did, as far as I am concerned the question of degree versus kind is a non-issue. You have said you regard human specialness as proof of God's planning or intervention, but since you believe every innovation and natural wonder is proof of God's planning or intervention, why keep harping on about humans?

QUOTES (under “dolphins”): "To be clear, many researchers believe that dolphins are capable of complex communication. It's just that we've been searching for signs of something like language for decades, and the evidence is still lacking."
Herzing says we've known dolphins can exchange sound back and forth without overlap since 1979.”
David's comment: Good try, but most bone fide researchers are unimpressed. Do animals communicate. Of course. Is it anything like our level (?); no way!

Once more: if you define language as human language, then language is unique to humans. If you define language as means of communication (“animal language” is a perfectly acceptable term), then each species has its own language. It is well known that dolphins communicate through a variety of sounds. I doubt if anyone would assume that their language is on anything like our level. So what? They have devised a form of language that is sufficient for their needs. See above for the non-issue of degree (level) versus kind.

David's comment (under “tap dancing”): Stamp your foot to get attention? I don't understand what just-so story would explain why this instinct develops in evolution. Nothing demands this appear.

What “just-so” story are you thinking of? That God taught them how to tap dance? If we regard evolution as a process in which different organisms do things in their own particular way, and if we stop imagining that God has planned everything or that only humans know what they're doing, the whole higgledy-piggledy history of life on earth begins to make sense.

DAVID (under “tree communication”): This article describes how trees react to danger and communicate, and much more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3792036/Do-trees-brains.html
QUOTES: "There's increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other. More than that, trees can learn.”
"It sounds incredible, but when you discover how trees talk to each other, feel pain, nurture each other, even care for their close relatives and organise themselves into communities, it's hard to be sceptical
.
David's comment: I view these reactions as automatic and amazing. They require some biochemical planning, not as complex as speciation. I'm not sure if God helped or they learned to do it on their own.

Trees are cell communities, just like every other organism, but you view all manifestations of intelligence as being automatic unless they are performed by a cell community with a brain (although paradoxically you believe that consciousness can exist independently of the brain, as in NDEs). On the other hand, your last sentence seems to open the door to autonomous intelligence: how do you learn to do something on your own if you don't know what you're doing? Perhaps you will once again trot out something about God guiding them, which of course is the opposite of “on their own”.

dhw (under “Video”): But now you try to fudge the issue again by replacing guidance with “guidelines”. (Presumably something like: Thou shalt not do what thou canst not do.) Once more, “working things out for themselves” entails autonomous cellular intelligence. Either you agree that this is possible or you don't.

BBELLA: Might not the guidelines be Sheldrake's morphogenic field?

I thought we had all agreed that Sheldrake's morphogenic field preserves forms but does not explain innovation - it comprises what already exists, and is then added to by whatever is new. (That is why I objected to the term “morphogenetic”.)

DAVID: I've never changed my stance. An onboard inventive mechanism is possible, but it will always contain guidelines or guidance. No need to go round and round.

If you want us to stop going round and round, then please state once and for all whether you believe it is or is not possible that your God endowed organisms with autonomous intelligence enabling them to work out their own innovations without any divine preprogramming or divine dabbling, though staying within the bounds of what environmental conditions and their own capabilities allow.

Smart animals

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 19:28 (452 days ago) @ dhw

dhw:You have said you regard human specialness as proof of God's planning or intervention, but since you believe every innovation and natural wonder is proof of God's planning or intervention, why keep harping on about humans?

Because you keep denigrating the leap to humans, which is part of my conclusive evidence for me.


David's comment (under “tap dancing”): Stamp your foot to get attention? I don't understand what just-so story would explain why this instinct develops in evolution. Nothing demands this appear.

dhw: What “just-so” story are you thinking of? That God taught them how to tap dance? If we regard evolution as a process in which different organisms do things in their own particular way, and if we stop imagining that God has planned everything or that only humans know what they're doing, the whole higgledy-piggledy history of life on earth begins to make sense.

No, I'm referencing Darwinists invention of just-so stories to explain something which has no explanation.God gave them tap-dancing? Who knows? Perhaps a learned instinct. It is not a complex weaver nest issue.


DAVID (under “tree communication”): This article describes how trees react to danger and communicate, and much more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3792036/Do-trees-brains.html
QUOTES: "There's increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other. More than that, trees can learn.”
"It sounds incredible, but when you discover how trees talk to each other, feel pain, nurture each other, even care for their close relatives and organise themselves into communities, it's hard to be sceptical
.

David's comment: I view these reactions as automatic and amazing. They require some biochemical planning, not as complex as speciation. I'm not sure if God helped or they learned to do it on their own.

dhw: Trees are cell communities, just like every other organism, but you view all manifestations of intelligence as being automatic unless they are performed by a cell community with a brain (although paradoxically you believe that consciousness can exist independently of the brain, as in NDEs). On the other hand, your last sentence seems to open the door to autonomous intelligence: how do you learn to do something on your own if you don't know what you're doing? Perhaps you will once again trot out something about God guiding them, which of course is the opposite of “on their own”.

I honestly don't know but my inclination is that it is coded in their genome with God's help.


dhw: dhw (under “Video”): But now you try to fudge the issue again by replacing guidance with “guidelines”. (Presumably something like: Thou shalt not do what thou canst not do.) Once more, “working things out for themselves” entails autonomous cellular intelligence. Either you agree that this is possible or you don't.

I'm not fudging. I've always consistently thought of inventive mechanisms as having guidance or guidelines, which are one and the same to me.


BBELLA: Might not the guidelines be Sheldrake's morphogenic field?

dhw: I thought we had all agreed that Sheldrake's morphogenic field preserves forms but does not explain innovation - it comprises what already exists, and is then added to by whatever is new. (That is why I objected to the term “morphogenetic”.)

DAVID: I've never changed my stance. An onboard inventive mechanism is possible, but it will always contain guidelines or guidance. No need to go round and round.

dhw: If you want us to stop going round and round, then please state once and for all whether you believe it is or is not possible that your God endowed organisms with autonomous intelligence enabling them to work out their own innovations without any divine preprogramming or divine dabbling, though staying within the bounds of what environmental conditions and their own capabilities allow.

Only with guidance or guidelines. I have never insinuated anything different.

Smart animals

by dhw, Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 13:04 (452 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You have said you regard human specialness as proof of God's planning or intervention, but since you believe every innovation and natural wonder is proof of God's planning or intervention, why keep harping on about humans?
DAVID: Because you keep denigrating the leap to humans, which is part of my conclusive evidence for me.

I have never denied the vast gap between human capabilities and those of our fellow animals. However, I see it as the product of a natural progression through our enhanced consciousness, which has enabled us to develop on a massive scale attributes we have inherited from them: the need to eat, reproduce, educate, communicate, explore, protect ourselves etc. Every innovation and natural wonder is “conclusive evidence” for you, though you can't reconcile the need for your God to design each one either with your theory that his purpose was to produce humans or with the higgledy-piggledy history of life on Earth.

David's comment (under “tap dancing”): Stamp your foot to get attention? I don't understand what just-so story would explain why this instinct develops in evolution. Nothing demands this appear.
dhw: What “just-so” story are you thinking of? That God taught them how to tap dance? If we regard evolution as a process in which different organisms do things in their own particular way, and if we stop imagining that God has planned everything or that only humans know what they're doing, the whole higgledy-piggledy history of life on earth begins to make sense.
DAVID: No, I'm referencing Darwinists invention of just-so stories to explain something which has no explanation.God gave them tap-dancing? Who knows? Perhaps a learned instinct. It is not a complex weaver nest issue.

Please tell us the Darwinists' just-so story concerning tap-dancing. As far as I know, the Darwinist theory is that any form of behaviour which conveys some sort of advantage will survive. If tap-dancing gets you a mate, then that's just as good as a bunch of flowers or a love poem.

David's comment on “tree communication”: I view these reactions as automatic and amazing. They require some biochemical planning, not as complex as speciation. I'm not sure if God helped or they learned to do it on their own.

dhw: Trees are cell communities, just like every other organism, but you view all manifestations of intelligence as being automatic unless they are performed by a cell community with a brain (although paradoxically you believe that consciousness can exist independently of the brain, as in NDEs). On the other hand, your last sentence seems to open the door to autonomous intelligence: how do you learn to do something on your own if you don't know what you're doing?...

DAVID: I honestly don't know but my inclination is that it is coded in their genome with God's help.

I wish you would stick to this tentative inclination instead of categorically refusing to accept the possibility of autonomous cellular intelligence.

dhw (under “Video”): But now you try to fudge the issue again by replacing guidance with “guidelines”.

DAVID: I'm not fudging. I've always consistently thought of inventive mechanisms as having guidance or guidelines, which are one and the same to me.

An inventive mechanism already provided with your God's instructions (guidance/guidelines) telling organisms what to do, is the polar opposite of organisms having the ability to invent for themselves, on their own, of their own accord, autonomously, i.e. without instructions or guidance or guidelines. But you have categorically agreed that you ONLY believe in preprogramming and/or dabbling, and so there really is no point in your making statements like: “I couldn't agree more that God may have given organisms the ability to ‘work it out for themselves'.” Working it out for themselves does not mean being guided by God. That is fudging.

Smart animals

by David Turell @, Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 20:01 (451 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Every innovation and natural wonder is “conclusive evidence” for you, though you can't reconcile the need for your God to design each one either with your theory that his purpose was to produce humans or with the higgledy-piggledy history of life on Earth.

You did not accept my reconciliation of the h-p bush with a required balance of nature to provide food energy for all of life to continue, as a constant energy supply is a solid requirement for life to continue, allowing time for humans to evolve.

DAVID: No, I'm referencing Darwinists invention of just-so stories to explain something which has no explanation.God gave them tap-dancing? Who knows? Perhaps a learned instinct. It is not a complex weaver nest issue.

dhw: Please tell us the Darwinists' just-so story concerning tap-dancing. As far as I know, the Darwinist theory is that any form of behaviour which conveys some sort of advantage will survive. If tap-dancing gets you a mate, then that's just as good as a bunch of flowers or a love poem.

Good just-so story. Might be correct.


David's comment on “tree communication”: I view these reactions as automatic and amazing. They require some biochemical planning, not as complex as speciation. I'm not sure if God helped or they learned to do it on their own.

dhw: Trees are cell communities, just like every other organism, but you view all manifestations of intelligence as being automatic unless they are performed by a cell community with a brain (although paradoxically you believe that consciousness can exist independently of the brain, as in NDEs). On the other hand, your last sentence seems to open the door to autonomous intelligence: how do you learn to do something on your own if you don't know what you're doing?...

Same answer, onboard IM with guidelines.


DAVID: I honestly don't know but my inclination is that it is coded in their genome with God's help.

dhw: I wish you would stick to this tentative inclination instead of categorically refusing to accept the possibility of autonomous cellular intelligence.

I won't because I don't believe early life can invent intelligence by itself.


dhw (under “Video”): But now you try to fudge the issue again by replacing guidance with “guidelines”.

DAVID: I'm not fudging. I've always consistently thought of inventive mechanisms as having guidance or guidelines, which are one and the same to me.

dhw: so there really is no point in your making statements like: “I couldn't agree more that God may have given organisms the ability to ‘work it out for themselves'.” Working it out for themselves does not mean being guided by God. That is fudging.

I see nothing wrong with looking at it as activating a mechanism with guidlelines, the activation being triggered by the organism under their own volition. This is how 'they work it out for themselves'. They have the choice of triggering the mechanism or not.

Smart animals

by dhw, Thursday, September 22, 2016, 16:22 (450 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Every innovation and natural wonder is “conclusive evidence” for you, though you can't reconcile the need for your God to design each one either with your theory that his purpose was to produce humans or with the higgledy-piggledy history of life on Earth.
DAVID: You did not accept my reconciliation of the h-p bush with a required balance of nature to provide food energy for all of life to continue, as a constant energy supply is a solid requirement for life to continue, allowing time for humans to evolve.

We know that all forms of life require food to supply energy. That does not explain why God had to specially design them all so they could come and go until humans arrived.

DAVID: No, I'm referencing Darwinists invention of just-so stories to explain something which has no explanation.God gave them tap-dancing? Who knows? Perhaps a learned instinct. It is not a complex weaver nest issue.

dhw: Please tell us the Darwinists' just-so story concerning tap-dancing. As far as I know, the Darwinist theory is that any form of behaviour which conveys some sort of advantage will survive. If tap-dancing gets you a mate, then that's just as good as a bunch of flowers or a love poem.
DAVID: Good just-so story. Might be correct.

Certainly no more “just-so” than your God teaching weaverbirds to build a nest, or monarchs to migrate in order to provide a balance of nature allowing time for humans to evolve - though apparently they didn't “evolve” as such anyway, because God had to intervene in order to produce them.

David's comment on “tree communication”: I view these reactions as automatic and amazing. They require some biochemical planning, not as complex as speciation. I'm not sure if God helped or they learned to do it on their own.
dhw: Trees are cell communities, just like every other organism, but you view all manifestations of intelligence as being automatic unless they are performed by a cell community with a brain (although paradoxically you believe that consciousness can exist independently of the brain, as in NDEs). On the other hand, your last sentence seems to open the door to autonomous intelligence: how do you learn to do something on your own if you don't know what you're doing?...

DAVID: Same answer, onboard IM with guidelines.

They learned to do it on their own with God telling them how to do it because they couldn't do it on their own.

DAVID: I honestly don't know but my inclination is that it is coded in their genome with God's help.
dhw: I wish you would stick to this tentative inclination instead of categorically refusing to accept the possibility of autonomous cellular intelligence.

DAVID: I won't because I don't believe early life can invent intelligence by itself.

My hypothesis does not entail early life inventing intelligence. It entails the possibility of your God inventing intelligence, and intelligence working out means of communicating etc.

dhw: ...so there really is no point in your making statements like: “I couldn't agree more that God may have given organisms the ability to ‘work it out for themselves'.” Working it out for themselves does not mean being guided by God. That is fudging.
DAVID: I see nothing wrong with looking at it as activating a mechanism with guidlelines, the activation being triggered by the organism under their own volition. This is how 'they work it out for themselves'. They have the choice of triggering the mechanism or not.

So God supplies the first cells with computer programmes for weaverbird nest-building, tree communication, monarch migration, cuttlefish camouflage, and these get passed down till there are weaverbirds, trees, monarchs, cuttlefish, and then they all decide whether to switch the programme on or not, and if they do, we can say they worked out for themselves how to build the nest, communicate, migrate, camouflage themselves. And you think the survival of advantageous behaviour is a just-so story.

Smart animals

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 22, 2016, 20:13 (450 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Good just-so story. Might be correct.

dhw: Certainly no more “just-so” than your God teaching weaverbirds to build a nest, or monarchs to migrate in order to provide a balance of nature allowing time for humans to evolve - though apparently they didn't “evolve” as such anyway, because God had to intervene in order to produce them.

Your comment is not at the level of just-so stories (Kipling), which are made up tales to explain evolution, like the giraffe stretching its neck to eat tree leaves.

DAVID: I won't because I don't believe early life can invent intelligence by itself.

dhw; My hypothesis does not entail early life inventing intelligence. It entails the possibility of your God inventing intelligence, and intelligence working out means of communicating etc.

I like the way you use your agnostic position to blithely drag God in when you need him!

DAVID: I see nothing wrong with looking at it as activating a mechanism with guidlelines, the activation being triggered by the organism under their own volition. This is how 'they work it out for themselves'. They have the choice of triggering the mechanism or not.

dhw: So God supplies the first cells with computer programmes for weaverbird nest-building, tree communication, monarch migration, cuttlefish camouflage, and these get passed down till there are weaverbirds, trees, monarchs, cuttlefish, and then they all decide whether to switch the programme on or not, and if they do, we can say they worked out for themselves how to build the nest, communicate, migrate, camouflage themselves. And you think the survival of advantageous behaviour is a just-so story.

Advantageous behavior is not a just-so story. It is necessary for life to survive.It is the convoluted contorted explanations of how the behaviour might have developed which are the just-so stories.

Smart animals; pigeons recognize words

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 22, 2016, 21:19 (450 days ago) @ David Turell

Like the clever corvids, pigeons have some brain power identifying words on computer screens:

http://www.agnosticweb.com/index.php?mode=posting&id=22940&back=entry

"These pigeons were living in a lab in New Zealand where, over a span of two years, they learned to distinguish four-letter English words from nonsense words. For their training, a computer screen would flash words like “DOWN” or “GAME”, and non-words like “TWOR” or “NELD”, along with a star symbol. Each time the pigeons made a correct identification — pecking the word if it was a real one, or pecking the star symbol beneath a non-word — they were rewarded with a portion of wheat.

"After the pigeons built up decent vocabularies (the star pupil acquired 58 words), the screen began flashing new words that they had never seen before. And even when faced with these novel words, the pigeons continued to pick out the real words from the non-words with impressive accuracy, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

***

"It appears that the pigeons are paying attention to pairs of letters in the words,” explains study lead author Damian Scarf, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Otoga, New Zealand. Letters that appear side-by-side are known as bigrams, and some bigrams occur more frequently than others. For example, “TH” is a high-frequency bigram, whereas the “CB” combination is far less common.
Over time, the pigeons came to pick up on these statistical properties of words.

***

"But what these birds did manage to learn is remarkable, and it might even explain why humans have an entire brain region devoted to recognizing written words, despite the fact that writing was only invented around 5,400 years ago. As Scarf and his colleagues note, that's far too short a period for a new specialized brain area to have evolved from scratch, but more than enough time for an old neural mechanism to get repurposed. (my bold)

"This process of “neuronal recycling” involves brain cells that were once devoted to spotting everyday objects, like rocks or trees, gradually learning to key in to new visuals, like the written word. Some scientists believe this is precisely how ancient people first developed reading skills, and a recent study revealed that monkey brains can be trained to visually process written words in much the same way.

"But according to this latest study, visual word recognition is not limited to the realm of the primate brain. Indeed, bird brains, which are “neither genetically nor organizationally similar to [those of] humans,” are quite capable of taking an existing neural circuit and recycling it to process a visual word — or, as Scarf describes it, a “two-dimensional stimulus that's not relevant in the real world.”

"Though the capacity to recognize a series of printed strokes may be of little consequence to a pigeon, the research shows that a visual system separated from ours by more than 300 million years of evolution can be co-opted to perform a very human function."

Comment: This bird training is very instructional. Note the bold. Humans learned reading in a short period of time. Brain plasticity.

Smart animals; pigeons recognize words

by BBella @, Friday, September 23, 2016, 19:02 (449 days ago) @ David Turell

Like the clever corvids, pigeons have some brain power identifying words on computer screens:

http://www.agnosticweb.com/index.php?mode=posting&id=22940&back=entry


"But what these birds did manage to learn is remarkable, and it might even explain why humans have an entire brain region devoted to recognizing written words, despite the fact that writing was only invented around 5,400 years ago. As Scarf and his colleagues note, that's far too short a period for a new specialized brain area to have evolved from scratch, but more than enough time for an old neural mechanism to get repurposed. (my bold)

Shines new light on the term "bird brain".

Smart animals; pigeons recognize words

by David Turell @, Friday, September 23, 2016, 19:28 (449 days ago) @ BBella

Like the clever corvids, pigeons have some brain power identifying words on computer screens:

http://www.agnosticweb.com/index.php?mode=posting&id=22940&back=entry


David: "But what these birds did manage to learn is remarkable, and it might even explain why humans have an entire brain region devoted to recognizing written words, despite the fact that writing was only invented around 5,400 years ago. As Scarf and his colleagues note, that's far too short a period for a new specialized brain area to have evolved from scratch, but more than enough time for an old neural mechanism to get repurposed. (my bold)


BBella: Shines new light on the term "bird brain".

Different brain but similar result. Convergence.

Smart animals; pigeons recognize time and space

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 00:48 (12 days ago) @ David Turell

Pigeons can understand the concepts of space and time:

https://phys.org/news/2017-12-pigeons-discriminate-space.html

"New research at the University of Iowa shows that pigeons can discriminate the abstract concepts of space and time—and seem to use a different region of the brain than humans and primates to do so. In experiments, pigeons were shown on a computer screen a static horizontal line and had to judge its length or the amount of time it was visible to them. Pigeons judged longer lines to also have longer duration and judged lines longer in duration to also be longer in length.

"What that means, says Edward Wasserman, Stuit Professor of Experimental Psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the UI, is pigeons use a common area of the brain to judge space and time, suggesting that these abstract concepts are not processed separately. Similar results have been found with humans and other primates.

***

"'Indeed, the cognitive prowess of birds is now deemed to be ever closer to that of both human and nonhuman primates," says Wasserman, who has studied intelligence in pigeons, crows, baboons, and other animals for more than four decades. "Those avian nervous systems are capable of far greater achievements than the pejorative term 'bird brain' would suggest."

"Humans are able to perceive space and time, even without the aid of inventions such as a watch or a ruler. The region of the brain that helps humans make those abstract concepts more tangible is the parietal cortex, part of the cerebral cortex and the outermost layer of the brain. The cerebral cortex is known to be a locus of higher thought processes, including speech and decision-making, and the four lobes that comprise it, including the parietal cortex, process different types of sensory information.

"But the pigeon brain doesn't have a parietal cortex, or at least one developed enough to be distinct. So, the birds must employ another area of the brain to discriminate between space and time—or perhaps there's a common evolutionary mechanism in the central nervous system shared by early primates and birds.

***

"The researchers found that the length of the line affected the pigeons' discrimination of line duration, and the duration of the line affected the pigeons' discrimination of line length. This interplay of space and time paralleled research done with humans and monkeys and revealed the common neural coding of these two physical dimensions. Researchers previously believed that the parietal cortex was the locus of this interplay. However, because pigeons lack an apparent parietal cortex, Wasserman's findings suggest this isn't always the case."

Comment: Even simple brains are very complex and what they can produce at the animal level is truly amazing, but it also tells us how the human brain is able to pack in so many more activities at the same time

Smart animals

by dhw, Friday, September 23, 2016, 12:53 (450 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Good just-so story. Might be correct.
dhw: Certainly no more “just-so” than your God teaching weaverbirds to build a nest, or monarchs to migrate in order to provide a balance of nature allowing time for humans to evolve - though apparently they didn't “evolve” as such anyway, because God had to intervene in order to produce them.
DAVID: Your comment is not at the level of just-so stories (Kipling), which are made up tales to explain evolution, like the giraffe stretching its neck to eat tree leaves.

This is a linguistic digression. You have used the expression to suggest that Darwin's explanation is pure fiction. The claim that your God taught the weaverbird to make its nest in order to balance nature in order to leave time for humans to evolve strikes me as considerably more “just-so” (fictional) than my Darwinian-type suggestion that an avian tap-dance originated as a way of impressing the female of the species, and survived because it worked.

DAVID: I won't because I don't believe early life can invent intelligence by itself.
dhw; My hypothesis does not entail early life inventing intelligence. It entails the possibility of your God inventing intelligence, and intelligence working out means of communicating etc.
DAVID: I like the way you use your agnostic position to blithely drag God in when you need him!

The issue is whether evolution is run by divine preprogramming/dabbling, or by the intelligence of organisms. This is not an issue concerning God's existence, because God fits in with either proposal. I do not think that as a theist you have any more ability to interpret God's modus operandi than I do when I put on my theist hat. And once more, I have never claimed that early life or cells invented intelligence.

DAVID: I see nothing wrong with looking at it as activating a mechanism with guidlelines, the activation being triggered by the organism under their own volition. This is how 'they work it out for themselves'. They have the choice of triggering the mechanism or not.
dhw: So God supplies the first cells with computer programmes for weaverbird nest-building, tree communication, monarch migration, cuttlefish camouflage, and these get passed down till there are weaverbirds, trees, monarchs, cuttlefish, and then they all decide whether to switch the programme on or not, and if they do, we can say they worked out for themselves how to build the nest, communicate, migrate, camouflage themselves. And you think the survival of advantageous behaviour is a just-so story.

DAVID: Advantageous behavior is not a just-so story. It is necessary for life to survive. It is the convoluted contorted explanations of how the behaviour might have developed which are the just-so stories.

And your just-so explanation is that God preprogrammed the first cells to pass on the behaviour, or personally intervened to teach the weaverbird, tree, monarch, cuttlefish, so that they would provide a balance of nature, leaving time for humans to evolve. My suggestion is that these organisms worked out for themselves forms of behaviour that suited their own special needs. However, this is a diversion from the point at issue, which is that choosing whether to switch on God's computer programme giving instructions on how to build a nest is not my idea of the weaverbird working things out for itself.

Smart animals

by David Turell @, Friday, September 23, 2016, 16:00 (450 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: The claim that your God taught the weaverbird to make its nest in order to balance nature in order to leave time for humans to evolve strikes me as considerably more “just-so” (fictional) than my Darwinian-type suggestion that an avian tap-dance originated as a way of impressing the female of the species, and survived because it worked.

My point is that the weaver nest construction is so complex it cannot be explained by a just-so story, most of which are feeble attempts to explain evolution.

DAVID: I like the way you use your agnostic position to blithely drag God in when you need him!

dhw: The issue is whether evolution is run by divine preprogramming/dabbling, or by the intelligence of organisms. .... And once more, I have never claimed that early life or cells invented intelligence.

So how did they develop the intelligence you claim they have.


DAVID: Advantageous behavior is not a just-so story. It is necessary for life to survive. It is the convoluted contorted explanations of how the behaviour might have developed which are the just-so stories.

dhw: However, this is a diversion from the point at issue, which is that choosing whether to switch on God's computer programme giving instructions on how to build a nest is not my idea of the weaverbird working things out for itself.

Understood.

Smart animals

by dhw, Saturday, September 24, 2016, 12:29 (449 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The claim that your God taught the weaverbird to make its nest in order to balance nature in order to leave time for humans to evolve strikes me as considerably more “just-so” (fictional) than my Darwinian-type suggestion that an avian tap-dance originated as a way of impressing the female of the species, and survived because it worked.

DAVID: My point is that the weaver nest construction is so complex it cannot be explained by a just-so story, most of which are feeble attempts to explain evolution.

What feeble just-so story are you talking about? What is “feeble” about the hypothesis that organisms work out their own ways of building nests, surviving different weather conditions, defending themselves against predators - as opposed to your God having to provide each and every one of them with instructions so that life can go on in order for humans to arrive?

DAVID: I like the way you use your agnostic position to blithely drag God in when you need him!
dhw: The issue is whether evolution is run by divine preprogramming/dabbling, or by the intelligence of organisms. .... And once more, I have never claimed that early life or cells invented intelligence.

DAVID: So how did they develop the intelligence you claim they have.

Nobody knows the origin of intelligence or consciousness, but it may have been provided by your God. However, the issue is whether evolution is run by divine preprogramming/dabbling or by the possibly God-given intelligence of organisms…I may have said that before!

Smart animals

by David Turell @, Saturday, September 24, 2016, 16:01 (449 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: So how did they develop the intelligence you claim they have.

dhw: Nobody knows the origin of intelligence or consciousness, but it may have been provided by your God. However, the issue is whether evolution is run by divine preprogramming/dabbling or by the possibly God-given intelligence of organisms…I may have said that before!

My viewpoint fully explained in today's entry 'Explaining natural wonders'

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 05, 2016, 02:00 (438 days ago) @ David Turell

The amazing part is the colony of bees learn by watching a trained bee. Now will it become an inherited instinct

http://phys.org/news/2016-10-problem-solving-socially-culturally-bumblebees.html

"Chittka and colleagues attached strings to artificial flowers laden with sugar water, put these "flowers" under Plexiglas, and trained bumblebees to pull strings to access the sugar water. "What I like about the work," said Chittka, "in addition to the experimental and intellectual challenges and insights, is the sheer absurdity of seeing bees solving a string-pulling puzzle. When lead author Sylvain Alem first showed me a bee successfully pulling on the string, I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. And even now, looking at the videos still makes me laugh."

"The trained bees served as innovators. To see if other bees could learn from them, the researchers put 25 untrained bees in transparent cages where they could watch trained bees demonstrate their string-pulling prowess. Untrained bees rarely learned this skill on their own. But 60% of the untrained bees solved the problem after watching other bees do it, showing that these insects can learn socially.

"To test whether string pulling would also be transmitted culturally in bumblebees, the researchers added a single trained bee to each of three colonies of untrained bees. Then the researchers assessed string pulling in pairs of bees. After 150 of these bouts, roughly half of the untrained bees in each colony had learned to pull strings to get sugar water (53, 58 and 42 percent, respectively, for the three colonies). Moreover, even though the trained innovator died after only about a third of the test bouts in one colony, string pulling continued to spread, underscoring the strength of this cultural transmission.

***

"But it was even more of a surprise that not only could bees be trained to solve this task in a step-by-step manner - but a small minority of bees actually solved the task by themselves, without gradual training or observing a skilled bee. The final big surprise came in the context of social learning: we discovered that naïve individuals that would observe, from a distance, a skilled string-pulling bee, could subsequently solve the task by themselves."

"This work shows that social learning and cultural transmission can occur with a cognitive toolkit far simpler than that of humans. "

Comment: I'm not surprised by this finding and have always thought animals could figure out simple tasks or mimic the actions of other members of their group and these behaviors might become instinctual. Weaverbird nests are too complex for this methodology.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by dhw, Wednesday, October 05, 2016, 13:45 (438 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The amazing part is the colony of bees learn by watching a trained bee. Now will it become an inherited instincthttp://phys.org/news/2016-10-problem-solving-socially-culturally-bumblebees.html

Thank you for another absolutely superb article, vividly illustrating the reasoning powers of even tiny organisms. Yet again, we see how autonomously intelligent they are, some more than others (as in our human world). Then we see how they learn from one another: “60% of the untrained bees solved the problem after watching other bees do it, showing that these insects can learn socially.”

Then we learn how the learning spreads “culturally”: “…even though the trained innovator died after only about a third of the test bouts in one colony, string pulling continued to spread, underscoring the strength of this cultural transmission.”

The reasoning power was not even confined to the innovators: “a small minority of bees actually solved the task by themselves, without gradual training or observing a skilled bee.”

And in due course even the less intelligent ones could perform the task: “…we discovered that naïve individuals that would observe, from a distance, a skilled string-pulling bee, could subsequently solve the task by themselves."

The conclusion is devastatingly direct. Quite apart from the autonomous intelligence of individual bees, "this work shows that social learning and cultural transmission can occur with a cognitive toolkit far simpler than that of humans."

David, your comment that weaverbird nests are too complex for this methodology is a saddening assumption. What a shame that you cannot countenance the possibility that clever individuals might work things out for themselves, and others might learn from them. Bees, wasps, termites build nests of great complexity, but in spite of all the tests and observations of scientists who specialize in all these fields, proving over and over again how intelligent all these organisms are, you insist that the weaverbird is too dumb to have designed its own nest.

The admirable method of testing intelligence through setting problems, and then observing how organisms not only solve them but can also learn and copy from one another, echoes the equally mind-boggling example BBella gave us:

BBELLA: The footage depicts a strain of the gut bacterium E. coli evolving to be 1,000 times more resistant to an antibiotic in a matter of 11 days, starkly visualizing the speed with which diseases can adapt to the drugs we throw their way.

https://www.wired.com/2016/09/gorgeous-unsettling-video-evolution-action/?mbid=nl_91216...

The researchers set the bacteria a problem analogous to that with which the bees were presented. They solved it, and even passed on the solution. Apparently bees prove their intelligence by solving a problem, but bacteria can only solve a problem if they are preprogrammed by God (although many obviously weren't because they died).

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 05, 2016, 15:59 (438 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The amazing part is the colony of bees learn by watching a trained bee. Now will it become an inherited instincthttp://phys.org/news/2016-10-problem-solving-socially-culturally-bumblebees.html

dhw: Thank you for another absolutely superb article, vividly illustrating the reasoning powers of even tiny organisms. Yet again, we see how autonomously intelligent they are, some more than others (as in our human world). Then we see how they learn from one another: “60% of the untrained bees solved the problem after watching other bees do it, showing that these insects can learn socially.”

You are welcome.


dhw: David, your comment that weaverbird nests are too complex for this methodology is a saddening assumption. What a shame that you cannot countenance the possibility that clever individuals might work things out for themselves, and others might learn from them. Bees, wasps, termites build nests of great complexity, but in spite of all the tests and observations of scientists who specialize in all these fields, proving over and over again how intelligent all these organisms are, you insist that the weaverbird is too dumb to have designed its own nest.

I suggest you look up an article on the nest, and make your own copy of the nest using straw for the knots. It will take you longer than the birds take, by far.


dhw:The admirable method of testing intelligence through setting problems, and then observing how organisms not only solve them but can also learn and copy from one another, echoes the equally mind-boggling example BBella gave us:

BBELLA: The footage depicts a strain of the gut bacterium E. coli evolving to be 1,000 times more resistant to an antibiotic in a matter of 11 days, starkly visualizing the speed with which diseases can adapt to the drugs we throw their way.

https://www.wired.com/2016/09/gorgeous-unsettling-video-evolution-action/?mbid=nl_91216...

dhw: The researchers set the bacteria a problem analogous to that with which the bees were presented. They solved it, and even passed on the solution. Apparently bees prove their intelligence by solving a problem, but bacteria can only solve a problem if they are preprogrammed by God (although many obviously weren't because they died).

The bees started with humans running training sessions. The bacteria had some individuals with partial immunity already on board as I have previously explained and you have forgotten or ignored. Eleven days means 792 generations of bacteria to begin slowly moving forward against the antibiotics as the partially immune population took over..

Smart animals: capuchin monkeys remember food sites

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 05, 2016, 20:19 (437 days ago) @ David Turell

A careful study shows that capuchin monkeys remember where to find food:

http://phys.org/news/2016-10-wild-capuchin-monkeys-food-hidden.html

"Charles Janson, a professor of biological anthropology, zoology and evolutionary biology at the University of Montana, has found that capuchin monkeys have memory abilities that are far more complex than has been realized. In his paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, he describes experiments he designed and carried out with monkeys in the wild, what he observed and why he now believes that the monkeys have integrated memories regarding food sites including where they are located, how much food is likely to be at a particular site and an awareness of how much time has passed since they last visited each site.

"Janson notes that prior research showed that capuchin monkeys were able to remember the location and amount of food at patches they had previously visited—in this new effort, he sought to discover if they remembered other things about the places where they get their food. To learn more, he set up eight feeding sites in Iguazu´ Falls National Park in northeastern Argentina, which allowed him to vary the amount of food the monkeys would find at a given site. He simulated the maturing process that fruit goes through naturally by putting more food at sites that had been there longer and observed the behavior of the monkeys visiting the sites and eating what they found there.

"He found that over a period of 68 days, which corresponded to two fruit maturation cycles, a group of monkeys that visited his test patches had to make 212 choices regarding where to eat. He then compared their choice making with simulated movements and against statistical models to provide a means for judging whether the choices were random or were made intentionally by the monkeys. He reports that the choices made by the monkeys indicated they were using dynamic memory to keep track of elapsed time specific to each of the feeding sites. What this meant was that the monkeys were able to keep track of not only where the food would be, but how much to expect at each patch based on how much time had passed. And this means that they possess memory skills that up till now, only humans were believed to have."

Comment: Squirrels do the same thing in nut storage. I'm not surprised at the findings.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by dhw, Thursday, October 06, 2016, 13:03 (437 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: … in spite of all the tests and observations of scientists who specialize in all these fields, proving over and over again how intelligent all these organisms are, you insist that the weaverbird is too dumb to have designed its own nest.
DAVID: I suggest you look up an article on the nest, and make your own copy of the nest using straw for the knots. It will take you longer than the birds take, by far.

I have seen the articles and do not doubt the complexity of the nest, or of the nests of bees, wasps, termites, or of the monarch's lifestyle, or of the behaviour of the parasitic wasp and the parasitic fly. The fact that I can't do things that other organisms do so easily suggests to me that they have a different kind of intelligence from mine. And I wonder why your God should have found it necessary to give them all special tuition in order to balance nature to keep life going until humans arrived.

dhw: The admirable method of testing intelligence through setting problems, and then observing how organisms not only solve them but can also learn and copy from one another, echoes the equally mind-boggling example BBella gave us:

https://www.wired.com/2016/09/gorgeous-unsettling-video-evolution-action/?mbid=nl_91216...

dhw: Apparently bees prove their intelligence by solving a problem, but bacteria can only solve a problem if they are preprogrammed by God…
DAVID: The bacteria had some individuals with partial immunity already on board as I have previously explained and you have forgotten or ignored.

Your comments on partial immunity were on a different thread and concerned the Tasmanian devil. The first few colonies in the E.coli experiment actually died. Not much immunity there. Here is your comment, and I stand by my response:

DAVID: “Research has shown that bacteria have more than one metabolic pathway at their command to stay alive when attacked by antibiotics….Those that stay alive simply switch over and use them. It takes some effort and time so the colonies pause…”

Dhw: “Those that stay alive simply switch over…It takes some time and effort”. Hardly “simply” if it takes time and effort and lots of them die, and what sort of “effort” do the survivors make? How do you apply effort if you haven't a clue what you're doing because God has organized it all for you? And if your God preprogrammed all the different “metabolic pathways”, why do some bacteria die and others survive? Did the first cells faill to pass on the right instructions to the unlucky ones? Or if God dabbled, was it HIS time and effort, and he only spent it on the lucky few?

You did not answer any of these questions, but preferred to concentrate on the fact that life is a miracle.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by David Turell @, Thursday, October 06, 2016, 16:12 (436 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I suggest you look up an article on the nest, and make your own copy of the nest using straw for the knots. It will take you longer than the birds take, by far.

dhw:I have seen the articles and do not doubt the complexity of the nest, or of the nests of bees, wasps, termites, or of the monarch's lifestyle, or of the behaviour of the parasitic wasp and the parasitic fly. The fact that I can't do things that other organisms do so easily suggests to me that they have a different kind of intelligence from mine. And I wonder why your God should have found it necessary to give them all special tuition in order to balance nature to keep life going until humans arrived.

Because the balance of nature provides the energy for life to continue to evolve.

dhw: Apparently bees prove their intelligence by solving a problem, but bacteria can only solve a problem if they are preprogrammed by God…

DAVID: The bacteria had some individuals with partial immunity already on board as I have previously explained and you have forgotten or ignored.

dhw: Your comments on partial immunity were on a different thread and concerned the Tasmanian devil. The first few colonies in the E.coli experiment actually died. Not much immunity there.

In e. coli experiment advances paused. If all colonies died there would have been no experiment. My memory may not be reliable about my previous responses. I have trouble finding previous statements on this site. Tell me how do you do it?

dhw: Here is your comment, and I stand by my response:

DAVID: “Research has shown that bacteria have more than one metabolic pathway at their command to stay alive when attacked by antibiotics….Those that stay alive simply switch over and use them. It takes some effort and time so the colonies pause…”

Dhw: “Those that stay alive simply switch over…It takes some time and effort”. Hardly “simply” if it takes time and effort and lots of them die, and what sort of “effort” do the survivors make?

If alternative pathways are on-board switching is not difficult, just like changing gears in your car. Main response blocked, use the secondary backup. Not all bacteria contain them due to individual variability, but some do and survive, and in the end all have the ability to survive.

dhw: How do you apply effort if you haven't a clue what you're doing because God has organized it all for you? And if your God preprogrammed all the different “metabolic pathways”, why do some bacteria die and others survive? Did the first cells faill to pass on the right instructions to the unlucky ones? Or if God dabbled, was it HIS time and effort, and he only spent it on the lucky few?[/i]

Simply explained above. Alternative metabolic pathways are a proven fact.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by dhw, Friday, October 07, 2016, 12:58 (436 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Your comments on partial immunity were on a different thread and concerned the Tasmanian devil. The first few colonies in the E.coli experiment actually died. Not much immunity there.
DAVID: In e. coli experiment advances paused. If all colonies died there would have been no experiment.

I presume the researchers replaced the first colonies with new ones.

DAVID: My memory may not be reliable about my previous responses. I have trouble finding previous statements on this site. Tell me how do you do it?

The Tasmanian devil fiendishly burrowed its way into my memory, as did our exchanges on partial immunity. I actually remembered your E.coli explanation and my own scepticism, though it took me a while to find it. I have as much trouble as you locating statements. Ah, David, we are getting old! ":-("

dhw: Here is your comment, and I stand by my response:
DAVID: “Research has shown that bacteria have more than one metabolic pathway at their command to stay alive when attacked by antibiotics….Those that stay alive simply switch over and use them. It takes some effort and time so the colonies pause…”
Dhw: “Those that stay alive simply switch over…It takes some time and effort”. Hardly “simply” if it takes time and effort and lots of them die, and what sort of “effort” do the survivors make?

DAVID: If alternative pathways are on-board switching is not difficult, just like changing gears in your car. Main response blocked, use the secondary backup. Not all bacteria contain them due to individual variability, but some do and survive, and in the end all have the ability to survive.

Obviously they vary since some die, obviously some survive, and obviously when all the dead are dead and all the survivors have survived, the survivors must have the ability to survive. Bearing in mind that they are all supposed to be following built-in instructions from your God, this doesn't explain why automatons have to make an effort and why God failed to preprogramme all those that died.

DAVID: Simply explained above. Alternative metabolic pathways are a proven fact.

Too simple for me. But I do understand that there has to be more than one way to approach a problem, and it could even be that it requires intelligence to work out the right solution. And I love your image of mindless bacteria not having a clue what they're doing but somehow knowing that they need to change gear (though apparently it takes some time and effort). Especially when they're driving along a route they've never taken before.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by dhw, Friday, October 07, 2016, 13:11 (436 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Your comments on partial immunity were on a different thread and concerned the Tasmanian devil. The first few colonies in the E.coli experiment actually died. Not much immunity there.
DAVID: In e. coli experiment advances paused. If all colonies died there would have been no experiment.

I presume the researchers replaced the first colonies with new ones.

DAVID: My memory may not be reliable about my previous responses. I have trouble finding previous statements on this site. Tell me how do you do it?

The Tasmanian devil fiendishly burrowed its way into my memory, as did our exchanges on partial immunity. I actually remembered your E.coli explanation and my own scepticism, though it took me a while to find it. I have as much trouble as you locating statements. Ah, David, we are getting old! ":-("

dhw: Here is your comment, and I stand by my response:
DAVID: “Research has shown that bacteria have more than one metabolic pathway at their command to stay alive when attacked by antibiotics….Those that stay alive simply switch over and use them. It takes some effort and time so the colonies pause…”

Dhw: “Those that stay alive simply switch over…It takes some time and effort”. Hardly “simply” if it takes time and effort and lots of them die, and what sort of “effort” do the survivors make?

DAVID: If alternative pathways are on-board switching is not difficult, just like changing gears in your car. Main response blocked, use the secondary backup. Not all bacteria contain them due to individual variability, but some do and survive, and in the end all have the ability to survive.

Obviously they vary since some die, obviously some survive, and obviously when all the dead are dead and all the survivors have survived, the survivors must have the ability to survive. Bearing in mind that they are all supposed to be following built-in instructions from your God, this doesn't explain why automatons have to make an effort and why God failed to preprogramme all those that died.

DAVID: Simply explained above. Alternative metabolic pathways are a proven fact.

Too simple for me. And surely there must be more than one back-up to cover all those millions of problems. And it could even be that it requires intelligence to work out which switch to press. However, I love your image of mindless bacteria not having a clue what they're doing but somehow knowing that they need to change gear (though apparently it takes some time and effort). Especially when they're driving along a route they've never taken before. I'll assume that they change gear before they die, but how do they know they must do it? Do they learn from watching their mates die? Or do they realize they're not feeling too good, and switch over before too much damage is done? No, can't be - those would be signs of intelligence, wouldn't they?

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by David Turell @, Friday, October 07, 2016, 22:02 (435 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Your comments on partial immunity were on a different thread and concerned the Tasmanian devil. The first few colonies in the E.coli experiment actually died. Not much immunity there.

DAVID: In e. coli experiment advances paused. If all colonies died there would have been no experiment.

I presume the researchers replaced the first colonies with new ones.

No, the colonies paused and then advanced.


DAVID: My memory may not be reliable about my previous responses. I have trouble finding previous statements on this site. Tell me how do you do it?

dhw:The Tasmanian devil fiendishly burrowed its way into my memory, as did our exchanges on partial immunity. I actually remembered your E.coli explanation and my own scepticism, though it took me a while to find it. I have as much trouble as you locating statements. Ah, David, we are getting old! ":-("

Perhaps Neil could provide a better search mechanism. The current one is the problem or he might have suggestion how to use it better.


DAVID: If alternative pathways are on-board switching is not difficult, just like changing gears in your car. Main response blocked, use the secondary backup. Not all bacteria contain them due to individual variability, but some do and survive, and in the end all have the ability to survive.

dhw: Obviously they vary since some die, obviously some survive, and obviously when all the dead are dead and all the survivors have survived, the survivors must have the ability to survive. Bearing in mind that they are all supposed to be following built-in instructions from your God, this doesn't explain why automatons have to make an effort and why God failed to preprogramme all those that died.

The observed situation is that all organisms vary on the bell-shaped curve in how strong their characteristics are, in this case resistance to antibiotics. This is what allows evolution to advance in Darwin's view, the better variations survive. But what the E. coli story shows is minor adaptation in an existing species. All we know so far is epigenetic adaptation against the problem of speciation.


DAVID: Simply explained above. Alternative metabolic pathways are a proven fact.

dhw: Too simple for me. But I do understand that there has to be more than one way to approach a problem, and it could even be that it requires intelligence to work out the right solution. And I love your image of mindless bacteria not having a clue what they're doing but somehow knowing that they need to change gear (though apparently it takes some time and effort). Especially when they're driving along a route they've never taken before.

Cute analogy. Bacteria have the capacity to try the alternate pathways as they strive to live, a characteristic of life.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by dhw, Saturday, October 08, 2016, 12:45 (435 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: In e. coli experiment advances paused. If all colonies died there would have been no experiment.
Dhw: I presume the researchers replaced the first colonies with new ones.DAVID: No, the colonies paused and then advanced.

I have found the quote: “It took some doing (the first few colonies succumbed to contamination and water condensation) but eventually they had the movie you see here.” Did I misunderstand something?

DAVID: …what the E. coli story shows is minor adaptation in an existing species. All we know so far is epigenetic adaptation against the problem of speciation.


Yes, I know. We do not understand how innovation leading to speciation takes place. Epigenetic adaptation suggests that there is a mechanism by which organisms can change themselves, and my hypothesis is that this same mechanism may also be capable of innovation. It is a hypothesis, just like your 3.7-billion-year-old divine computer programme.

dhw: I love your image of mindless bacteria not having a clue what they're doing but somehow knowing that they need to change gear (though apparently it takes some time and effort). Especially when they're driving along a route they've never taken before.
DAVID: Cute analogy. Bacteria have the capacity to try the alternate pathways as they strive to live, a characteristic of life.

I wonder how many alternative pathways there are, bearing in mind the millions of problems bacteria have had to solve over the last 3.7 billion years. As for their “capacity”, one possible description of it is “intelligence”.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by David Turell @, Saturday, October 08, 2016, 15:30 (435 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: In e. coli experiment advances paused. If all colonies died there would have been no experiment.
Dhw: I presume the researchers replaced the first colonies with new ones.DAVID: No, the colonies paused and then advanced.

I have found the quote: “It took some doing (the first few colonies succumbed to contamination and water condensation) but eventually they had the movie you see here.” Did I misunderstand something?

Yes. 'Contamination and water condensation' are problems with experimental design, not at all the issue of the experiment, response to antibiotics.


dhw: I wonder how many alternative pathways there are, bearing in mind the millions of problems bacteria have had to solve over the last 3.7 billion years. As for their “capacity”, one possible description of it is “intelligence”.

These are alternative biochemical processes which have been found to exist in bacteria.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by dhw, Sunday, October 09, 2016, 13:06 (434 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: In e. coli experiment advances paused. If all colonies died there would have been no experiment.
Dhw: I presume the researchers replaced the first colonies with new ones.
DAVID: No, the colonies paused and then advanced
.
I have found the quote: “It took some doing (the first few colonies succumbed to contamination and water condensation) but eventually they had the movie you see here.” Did I misunderstand something?
DAVID: Yes. 'Contamination and water condensation' are problems with experimental design, not at all the issue of the experiment, response to antibiotics.

Thank you. I did misunderstand it. However, this makes me wonder if it wouldn't be worth studying the sources of the contamination and the powers of water condensation in our quest to be rid of E.coli!

dhw: I wonder how many alternative pathways there are, bearing in mind the millions of problems bacteria have had to solve over the last 3.7 billion years. As for their “capacity”, one possible description of it is “intelligence”.

DAVID: These are alternative biochemical processes which have been found to exist in bacteria.

I do not doubt that bacteria are capable of using different biochemical processes to deal with all the different problems they have faced during their 3.7 billion years of existence. All organisms use biochemical processes! Every action we humans take entails biochemical processes. And when we have problems to solve, the biochemical processes are set in motion by thought. But according to you, when bacteria have problems to solve, the biochemical processes are set in motion by a divine dabble or by a 3.7-billion-year-old computer programme which God installed in the first living cells, along with programmes for every evolutionary innovation and natural wonder. Hard to believe.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 09, 2016, 21:42 (433 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: I do not doubt that bacteria are capable of using different biochemical processes to deal with all the different problems they have faced during their 3.7 billion years of existence. All organisms use biochemical processes! Every action we humans take entails biochemical processes. And when we have problems to solve, the biochemical processes are set in motion by thought. But according to you, when bacteria have problems to solve, the biochemical processes are set in motion by a divine dabble or by a 3.7-billion-year-old computer programme which God installed in the first living cells, along with programmes for every evolutionary innovation and natural wonder. Hard to believe.

Not hard and not current God intervention.. Given alternative pathways that can be turned on automatically, and these pathways are shown to exist, and are used by bacteria without God intervening. Automaticity of choice.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by dhw, Monday, October 10, 2016, 12:16 (433 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I do not doubt that bacteria are capable of using different biochemical processes to deal with all the different problems they have faced during their 3.7 billion years of existence. All organisms use biochemical processes! Every action we humans take entails biochemical processes. And when we have problems to solve, the biochemical processes are set in motion by thought. But according to you, when bacteria have problems to solve, the biochemical processes are set in motion by a divine dabble or by a 3.7-billion-year-old computer programme which God installed in the first living cells, along with programmes for every evolutionary innovation and natural wonder. Hard to believe.

DAVID: Not hard and not current God intervention.. Given alternative pathways that can be turned on automatically, and these pathways are shown to exist, and are used by bacteria without God intervening. Automaticity of choice.

Then we can leave out divine dabbling. That's easy. The hard bit is to accept that if God does not intervene and has provided bacteria with solutions to every single problem for the last 3.7 billion years (“alternative pathways that can be turned on automatically” is a neat way to minimize the range of environments and problems that bacteria are able to cope with), then these solutions can only have been preprogrammed in the very first cells. And according to your concept of evolution, the same very first cells were also provided with every single innovation and natural wonder in the history of life on Earth (apart from those that were dabbled). THAT is what I find so hard to believe, not to mention that it is a totally unnecessary strain on credulity when there is the far simpler option of God providing the first cells with a form of evolvable intelligence.

Smart animals: bees trained to pull strings for treat

by David Turell @, Monday, October 10, 2016, 17:57 (432 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Not hard and not current God intervention.. Given alternative pathways that can be turned on automatically, and these pathways are shown to exist, and are used by bacteria without God intervening. Automaticity of choice.

dhw: And according to your concept of evolution, the same very first cells were also provided with every single innovation and natural wonder in the history of life on Earth (apart from those that were dabbled). THAT is what I find so hard to believe, not to mention that it is a totally unnecessary strain on credulity when there is the far simpler option of God providing the first cells with a form of evolvable intelligence.

Your 'form of evolvable intelligence' is the original provision of alternative pathways. Bacteria can solve problems of survivability on their own.

Smart animals: bees trained to push a ball for food

by David Turell @, Thursday, February 23, 2017, 20:35 (296 days ago) @ David Turell

In this study bees were trained to do something totally unrelated to their normal lives:

https://phys.org/news/2017-02-ball-rolling-bees-reveal-complex.html

"The experiment required the bees to move a ball to a specified location to obtain a reward of food. The insects were first trained to know the correct location of the ball on a platform. Subsequently, to obtain their reward, the bees had to move a displaced ball to the specified location.

"To learn the technique, the bees were trained under one of three conditions: some observed a previously trained bee move the furthest ball to the centre to gain reward, others received a "ghost" demonstration, where a magnet hidden underneath the platform was used to move the ball, and a third group received no demonstration, where they found the ball already at the centre of the platform with reward.

"The bees that observed the technique from a live or model demonstrator learned the task more efficiently than those observing a "ghost" demonstration or without demonstration.

"Joint lead author Dr Olli J. Loukola, said: "The bees solved the task in a different way than what was demonstrated, suggesting that observer bees did not simply copy what they saw, but improved on it. This shows an impressive amount of cognitive flexibility, especially for an insect."

"During the demonstrations, the researchers placed three yellow balls at varying distances from the centre. The "demonstrator" bees always moved the furthest ball to the centre, and always from the same spatial location, since they had been trained under conditions where the closer balls were immobile. Untrained bees were given three opportunities to watch a skilled bee perform the task in this manner.

"In later tests, when these untrained bees were tested without the presence of a skilled demonstrator, bees moved the closest ball instead of the furthest ball, which they had seen the demonstrator moving. In another experiment, the bees also used a differently coloured ball than previously encountered.

"Dr Loukola added: "It may be that bumblebees, along with many other animals, have the cognitive capabilities to solve such complex tasks, but will only do so if environmental pressures are applied to necessitate such behaviours.'"

Comment: A tiny brain can still learn with training. But the untrained bees could not innovate, showing that training is required.

Smart animals: bees trained to push a ball for food

by dhw, Friday, February 24, 2017, 13:10 (296 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTES: "Joint lead author Dr Olli J. Loukola, said: "The bees solved the task in a different way than what was demonstrated, suggesting that observer bees did not simply copy what they saw, but improved on it. This shows an impressive amount of cognitive flexibility, especially for an insect."

"Dr Loukola added: "It may be that bumblebees, along with many other animals, have the cognitive capabilities to solve such complex tasks, but will only do so if environmental pressures are applied to necessitate such behaviours.'"

DAVID’s comment: A tiny brain can still learn with training. But the untrained bees could not innovate, showing that training is required.

Yet more evidence that insects are intelligent. Not as intelligent as humans, of course, and applying their intelligence only to what is useful for survival. For innovation, we would have to go back to the origins of bee society and bee behaviour – long, long, long before humans came on the scene. Either they worked it all out for themselves, or your God provided the first cells with a special bee-behaviour programme, or your God dabbled with an existing species (wasp?) to show them what to do. I wonder which you think is most likely.

Smart animals: bees trained to push a ball for food

by David Turell @, Friday, February 24, 2017, 22:36 (295 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID’s comment: A tiny brain can still learn with training. But the untrained bees could not innovate, showing that training is required.

dhw: Yet more evidence that insects are intelligent. Not as intelligent as humans, of course, and applying their intelligence only to what is useful for survival. For innovation, we would have to go back to the origins of bee society and bee behaviour – long, long, long before humans came on the scene. Either they worked it all out for themselves, or your God provided the first cells with a special bee-behaviour programme, or your God dabbled with an existing species (wasp?) to show them what to do. I wonder which you think is most likely.

Animals with brains can have intelligence as bees show. The hexagonal forms in their hives are shown to be due to physical properties of the materials they create. They don't know geometry. To answer your question I wish I knew how instinctual behavior is developed or how much God does to create it.

Smart animals: bees trained to push a ball for food

by dhw, Saturday, February 25, 2017, 11:31 (295 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID’s comment: A tiny brain can still learn with training. But the untrained bees could not innovate, showing that training is required.

dhw: Yet more evidence that insects are intelligent. Not as intelligent as humans, of course, and applying their intelligence only to what is useful for survival. For innovation, we would have to go back to the origins of bee society and bee behaviour – long, long, long before humans came on the scene. Either they worked it all out for themselves, or your God provided the first cells with a special bee-behaviour programme, or your God dabbled with an existing species (wasp?) to show them what to do. I wonder which you think is most likely.

DAVID: Animals with brains can have intelligence as bees show. The hexagonal forms in their hives are shown to be due to physical properties of the materials they create. They don't know geometry. To answer your question I wish I knew how instinctual behavior is developed or how much God does to create it.

The experiment has proved that their behaviour is not confined to instinct. They can solve problems, and there is no reason to suppose that their intelligent ability to cope with and/or exploit new conditions was not the creative force that first invented the now established social, architectural and behavioural patterns that have enabled them to survive.So although of course we all wish we knew the answers to all the difficult questions, since you are generally opposed to fence-sitting, do please tell us which of these options you think most likely (you don't have to believe it). Bee behaviour: preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago, personally dabbled by your God, or the consequence of autonomous intelligence?

Smart animals: bees trained to push a ball for food

by David Turell @, Saturday, February 25, 2017, 14:45 (295 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: The experiment has proved that their behaviour is not confined to instinct. They can solve problems, and there is no reason to suppose that their intelligent ability to cope with and/or exploit new conditions was not the creative force that first invented the now established social, architectural and behavioural patterns that have enabled them to survive.So although of course we all wish we knew the answers to all the difficult questions, since you are generally opposed to fence-sitting, do please tell us which of these options you think most likely (you don't have to believe it). Bee behaviour: preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago, personally dabbled by your God, or the consequence of autonomous intelligence?

Bees are an integral part of the balance of nature. They are raised as pollinators to help in agriculture, and because of bee hive decline are in short supply right now. God may well have paid special attention to them. The complexity of their 'dances' signaling information suggests that. God obviously played a role.

Smart animals: play objects become useful

by David Turell @, Monday, October 02, 2017, 20:48 (75 days ago) @ David Turell

Crows and parrots play with objects that they then use as tools once familiar with them:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171002105204.htm

"Researchers have discovered that New Caledonian crows and kea parrots can learn about the usefulness of objects by playing with them -- similar to human baby behaviour.

"The study, led by researchers at the Universities of York and St Andrews, demonstrated that two types of bird were able to solve tasks more successfully if they had explored the object involved in the task beforehand.

"It has long been thought that playful exploration allows animals to gather information about their physical world, in much the same way that human infants learn about their world through play.

"In one of the first direct tests of this hypothesis, scientists studied two bird species, the New Caledonian crow and the kea parrot, to understand how they interact with objects before, during and after a task involving that object.

***

"'We found that both species were better at selecting the correct tools to solve a task if they had the opportunity to explore them beforehand, suggesting that they were learning something about the properties of them as they interacted with them."

"The team presented the birds with blocks and ropes of different colours, weights and patterns to explore and play with, before presenting a task where they had to collapse a platform with a ball and retrieve a reward from a pipe with a stick. The ball and stick where later replaced with the blocks and ropes to see whether they could choose the right tool from their earlier play session to complete the task.

***

"Megan Lambert, PhD student at the University of York, said: "This type of 'latent learning', which occurs without any reinforcement, is thought to be particularly important for animals to be able to use objects as tools in a variety of contexts for creative problem-solving.

"'Although the birds appeared to learn from their exploration, we found no evidence that the birds changed the way they interacted with the objects after learning they could be used as tools.

"'This means that the birds did not appear to explicitly seek information about the objects, but rather learned about their properties incidentally through exploring them.'"

Comment: These birds did some type of simple analytic thought process to see the usefulness of the objects of play that might then be used as tools. This is their brain at work, which means adaptations require brain work. I do not believe this type of adaptation can happen without a brain.

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