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Author Topic:   Are learned and innate the only types of behaviors?
sinequanon
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 1 of 174 (446779)
01-07-2008 7:53 AM


If what you saw with your own eyes (or observed directly in any other way) conflicted with a vicarious account from a "highly respected" scientist in a "highly respected" scientific journal, which would you believe? Yourself, or the scientist?

What if you were someone with no scientific background whatsoever. Which should you believe?

I would always believe the evidence of my own eyes. Some people would be amazed at how easily experts can misinterpret observations or rely on weak assumptions.

For example, I recall a documentary showing a species of crow dropping snails onto rocks to crack the shells. The scientists in the program claimed that this behaviour was a unique development particular to a small colony of crows at the remote island location where they were filming. However, I see crows and gulls do this regularly in my bustling neighbourhood. To notice, it is only necessary to be a little more observant than the average zombie.

That is a clear cut example, but more subtle ones make me doubt many published scientific findings.

Edited by Admin, : Change title.


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Zawi
Member (Idle past 1429 days)
Posts: 126
From: UK
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 2 of 174 (446783)
01-07-2008 8:01 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 7:53 AM


I tried colliding an up quark and an anti-up quark the other day, but I couldn't see shit so I guess I'll never know what happened. Unless I read a "highly respected" scientific journal.
This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 3 of 174 (446787)
01-07-2008 8:05 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 7:53 AM


If what you saw with your own eyes (or observed directly in any other way) conflicted with a vicarious account from a "highly respected" scientist in a "highly respected" scientific journal, which would you believe? Yourself, or the scientist?

Depends on the situation specifically. However, if I had made a specific zoological observation that contradicted a general statement made by a scientist I might consider it an expected anomaly and put it down to the fact that the scientist was talking generally for convenience. If it was a significant diversion from what the scientist was saying I might be tempted to contact the scientist to discuss the matter after I had read around on the subject a little.

What if you were someone with no scientific background whatsoever. Which should you believe?

I would recommend scepticism of both positions until more can be learned.

I would always believe the evidence of my own eyes. Some people would be amazed at how easily experts can misinterpret observations or rely on weak assumptions.

I would suggest that most people would be more amazed about how easily non-experts can misinterpret observations or rely on weak assumptions.

That is a clear cut example, but more subtle ones make me doubt many published scientific findings.

That is half the job right there. You should be sceptical of many published scientific findings. However, you should also be sceptical of your own findings too. If the findings are replicated over and over again - the wise course of action is to realize that your own subjective experiences are not representative of the whole reality of the situation.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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sinequanon
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 4 of 174 (446795)
01-07-2008 9:23 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Modulous
01-07-2008 8:05 AM


Scepticism is in order, but some evidence are fairly categorical. This is especially the case where a scientist claims X doesn't happen and you observe X happening. However there are more subtle situations...

In message 94 of www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=12&t=501&m=91 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=12&t=501&m=91">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=12&t=501&m=91

RAZD writes:

Because the fly obviously sees the window as an open space. Just as the spider does.

It may seem a very reasonable assumption to make. Note the word 'obviously'.

Now, in my experience, different animals see glass very differently. I can stand a couple of feet behind a double glazed window, and my neighbours' cats would not be as quick to pick me out as my neighbour's 5-year-old.

I can stand six inches behind a double glazed window, in "full view" of a sparrow hopping on the ledge outside and within touching distance. If I don't move it won't pick me out. Try it. It's a very simple experiment that anyone can do. Most people won't. If the window wasn't there, such behaviour would be extremely remarkable.

OK. Then I try to scare away a bug that has landed on the ledge outside, or startle a spider in a web on the window. I wave my arms about like crazy and rap on the window. It doesn't shift. I don't know if it depends on the type of bug, but some cannot detect my presence from behind the window. Anyone can try that, too. Most people won't.

Then I'm told that spiders and bugs "obviously" see a window as an open space.

This is just one example, but scientific observations of animals in general are littered with anthropocentric gaffes.


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5579
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 5 of 174 (446799)
01-07-2008 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 7:53 AM


Many years ago, I was attending an undergraduate psychology class. During the class, a gunman broke in, and held up the professor. A couple of shots were fired.

The professor asked the class to write reports on the event, so that he would have good eyewitness reports.

The actual robbery was actually a staged event, though the class did not know that at the time. What it brought out very clearly, was the unreliability of eyewitness accounts. There was very little consistency between the various accounts given.


Let's end the political smears
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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 6 of 174 (446810)
01-07-2008 9:51 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 9:23 AM


Scepticism is in order, but some evidence are fairly categorical. This is especially the case where a scientist claims X doesn't happen and you observe X happening.

Once again the situation is important. If the scientist was genuinely absolute, then contacting the scientist might be in order. If it seems he is generalising for clarity of communication, then I wouldn't think it so important.

I can stand six inches behind a double glazed window, in "full view" of a sparrow hopping on the ledge outside and within touching distance. If I don't move it won't pick me out. Try it. It's a very simple experiment that anyone can do. Most people won't. If the window wasn't there, such behaviour would be extremely remarkable.

I've sat long and had birds do that with no window. I've also been outside and been unable to see inside because of reflections from the sun. I've also walked straight into a glass door because I couldn't see it. I've also seen birds fly straight into windows with fatal consequences: presumably they didn't see the window.

I have also watched flies bouncing off windows, continuously flying into them as if they were sure it was an open space. Even if spiders have better perception of windows than flies, it would still make sense to build webs there because their prey will act as if it were an open space.

Most importantly, RAZD is not speaking as a scientist making a statement to members of the public or his peers. He is a member of the public debating on a public board with a stranger. So I fail to see how your example illuminates the topic at hand.

This is just one example, but scientific observations of animals in general are littered with anthropocentric gaffes.

Oh naturally they are. As humans we can't help ourselves, we see ourselves everywhere - we even do it to dead bodies - the Theory of Mind discusses this cognitive glitch. We have to be very careful, I'm not sure that this is as big a problem as you think in the sciences but I'm willing to be convinced. Do you have any examples of scientists doing this that we should look out for?

I can think of a few examples like the metaphors of cells being like 'living cities' or factories filled with machinery. That kind of thing is great as an introduction but trying to build upon those metaphors as if they were the truth has led to strange conclusions about master factory designers and the like.


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Replies to this message:
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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5324
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 7 of 174 (446819)
01-07-2008 10:22 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 7:53 AM


You can see with your own eyes how the Sun, Moon, and stars circle around the stationary place where you live once every day, too. That doesn't necessarily mean that our planet sits still in the middle of things.


"The wretched world lies now under the tyranny of foolishness; things are believed by Christians of such absurdity as no one ever could aforetime induce the heathen to believe." - Agobard of Lyons, ca. 830 AD
This message is a reply to:
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sinequanon
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 8 of 174 (446830)
01-07-2008 10:46 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Modulous
01-07-2008 9:51 AM


I've sat long and had birds do that with no window. I've also been outside and been unable to see inside because of reflections from the sun.

I don't have to sit long to do this. I hear a sparrow on the ledge, I get up and creep up to the window and get within 6 inches of the bird, usually a sparrow or starling. Being very conservative, I can do this over 75 per cent of the time.

But, in any case, the point is that 'open spaces' don't relect sunlight usually.

I've also seen birds fly straight into windows with fatal consequences: presumably they didn't see the window.

I've seen that. I immediately took a look around and spotted a tercel.

Even if spiders have better perception of windows than flies, it would still make sense to build webs there because their prey will act as if it were an open space.

But they were arguing that spiders don't have the 'intelligence' to do that.

Most importantly, RAZD is not speaking as a scientist making a statement to members of the public or his peers. He is a member of the public debating on a public board with a stranger. So I fail to see how your example illuminates the topic at hand.

The main point was about anthropocentric assumptions, but it is interesting to note that you do not expect scientific rigour from the very people who are baying for it. :)


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sinequanon
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 9 of 174 (446841)
01-07-2008 10:56 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Coragyps
01-07-2008 10:22 AM


Actually, that is not the problem. The point would be that Newton's laws of motion would not apply in your frame of reference, as it would be non-inertial. You'd soon know if you were sitting in a Rollercoaster, though.
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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5324
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 10 of 174 (446842)
01-07-2008 11:01 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 10:56 AM


The point would be that Newton's laws of motion would not apply in your frame of reference...

And Newton based his laws on just "common sense" and looking around? I don't think so.....at least not the "common sense" that prevailed in 1650.


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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 11 of 174 (446845)
01-07-2008 11:03 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 10:46 AM


The main point was about anthropocentric assumptions, but it is interesting to note that you do not expect scientific rigour from the very people who are baying for it.

I expect as much rigour as we can muster, but this forum is not about producing reports that would pass scientific peer review. However, as I asked, do you have any specific examples of these assumptions in the science world so we can explore them?

But they were arguing that spiders don't have the 'intelligence' to do that.

Strategies don't require 'intelligence'. All that needs to happen is for the spider to treat windows in a similar way it would treat an open space - an instruction that can be hardwired or instinctual. It doesn't need to engage in fly behaviour analysis or fly-empathy to do this. However, that is surely something to discuss on the appropriate thread?


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sinequanon
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 12 of 174 (446864)
01-07-2008 11:41 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Coragyps
01-07-2008 11:01 AM


Coragyps writes:

You can see with your own eyes how the Sun, Moon, and stars circle around the stationary place where you live once every day, too. That doesn't necessarily mean that our planet sits still in the middle of things.

Coragyps writes:

And Newton based his laws on just "common sense" and looking around? I don't think so.....at least not the "common sense" that prevailed in 1650.

What I mean is that you can choose any "middle of things" that you want. The "middle of things" is relative to a model or framework. Models in geophysics or ballistics can have the earth in the "middle of things", and use a set of non-Newtonian laws. The observer can find a set of laws to satisfy his frame of reference. Newton's laws turn out to be the simplest.

Edited by sinequanon, : No reason given.


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16018
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 13 of 174 (446926)
01-07-2008 3:19 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 7:53 AM


For example, I recall a documentary showing a species of crow dropping snails onto rocks to crack the shells. The scientists in the program claimed that this behaviour was a unique development particular to a small colony of crows at the remote island location where they were filming. However, I see crows and gulls do this regularly in my bustling neighbourhood. To notice, it is only necessary to be a little more observant than the average zombie.

The idea that only these crows, of all birds, fly up with things and drop them to break them, has, I guarantee you, never appeared in the scientific literature. It couldn't, it would never get past the peer-review process. The phenomenon is well-known and has been studied in detail in many species.

I suspect that either you, or the makers of the documentary, have misinterpreted a statement to the effect that out of this particular species of crow, only this insular population exhibits this behavior.

As you point out:

To notice, it is only necessary to be a little more observant than the average zombie.

So people whose job it is to study bird behavior --- they would have noticed, yes? Like, hundreds of years ago?


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sinequanon
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 14 of 174 (446945)
01-07-2008 4:08 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Dr Adequate
01-07-2008 3:19 PM


It is quite possible that scientific findings are spiced up for public consumption. ;) The peer-reviewed scientific literature may be more exacting. Are scientists not responsible for ensuring that their findings are reported fairly, or are "other considerations" (read funding) deemed more expedient?
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nwr
Member
Posts: 5579
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 15 of 174 (446948)
01-07-2008 4:29 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by sinequanon
01-07-2008 4:08 PM


A lot of what the public sees is coming from journalists, and their interpretation of the science. And the journalists don't always understand what they are reporting.


Let's end the political smears
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