Natures wonders: insect migration (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, November 22, 2021, 15:18 (5 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The waggle dance is complex giving direction and distance to be interpreted. How to interpret the dance must be quite a brief but concise program implanted in the larval bee brain which automatically becomes active at one week, as the article tells us.

dhw: It is not the larva brain. “The behavior develops in adult honey bees who have emerged from the pupa stage and chewed through the protective cell to join the colony. Honey bees are able to interpret the dance after about one week.”
There is no way the dance could be interpreted without knowledge of directions and distances! And we are told that the bee’s brain changes as it learns – precisely as the human brain does (remember the illiterate women and the taxi drivers): “The development includes electrophysiological changes in brain neurons, evident when comparing mature foragers with newly emerged bees." Why would the brain change if the programme was already in there?

DAVID: What you do no appreciate is the imbedded program causes the brain cells to change on command.

dhw: Are you saying that the new adults don’t learn anything? Perhaps you could tell us precisely what this “imbedded program” consists of, and how it puts all the individual distances and directions and movements into the bee’s brain so that the bee doesn’t have to do any learning or thinking of its own.

The DNA of the bee's neurons contains the program's algorithm, as the author of the article proposes. Specifically, this is not equivalent of adults learning new functions or facts. It does resemble the way children pick up language quickly, although not exactly the same time frame. as you noted.


DAVID: The baby bee can't use it until it understands it by watching dances repeatedly. In that time frame it must be automatic, just as a baby suckles automatically when discovering the breast nipple when offered to it. Any insertion will start suckling ( a finger tip).

dhw: The adult worker bee is not an automatically suckling baby! It learns to work out directions and distances, and about the individual movements that convey these, and it even learns to perform the movements! The fact that it can do so within a week is testimony to its intelligence, but since it will only live for six to eight weeks, I don’t think there would be much honey around if it took any longer. As I said earlier, the difference between them and us is scale and time span. So please explain why you think human learning denotes autonomous intelligence but bee learning denotes automaticity.

DAVID: The tiny algorithm, the term used by the author, automatically controls the changes in brain neurons.

dhw: That simply means that when the bee or the human learns something new, the brain changes. It does not mean that humans have an autonomous intelligence that enables them to learn, whereas bees can only follow God’s instructions. Once more, what does your God’s programme consist of?

See above.


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