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Author Topic:   Higher Intelligence
Posts: 3975
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005

Message 46 of 53 (468676)
05-31-2008 6:03 AM
Reply to: Message 40 by Iblis
05-29-2008 8:25 PM

Re: Designer fixation and Darwinian selection
Iblis writes:

Isn't there something in this story, about flatworms or planaria or some such germs, which were taught these simple maze tricks with the electrical shocks, and then they cut those germs up, and fed them to a different set of germs, and that new population then knew that maze without being taught?

That's a myth.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by Iblis, posted 05-29-2008 8:25 PM Iblis has not yet responded

Inactive Member

Message 47 of 53 (468700)
05-31-2008 3:43 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by Iblis
05-30-2008 10:54 PM

Re: Measuring higher intelligence
Iblis writes:

Really they are waiting patiently for me to get my delicate house of cards all set up and then see who can demolish it with the least amount of effort.

While you're waiting for them, any response to my #44?

The immeasurable present eternally extends the infinite past and infinitely consumes the eternal future.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 45 by Iblis, posted 05-30-2008 10:54 PM Iblis has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 1975 days)
Posts: 663
Joined: 11-17-2005

Message 48 of 53 (468723)
05-31-2008 10:50 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by ramoss
05-29-2008 12:23 PM

Spawn of Cthulhu
ramoss writes:

isn't the cuttlefish as intelligent as a dog? And some octopus

Ok, isn't that kind of surprising? Catholic Scientist was doing a good job listing out animals (relatively) closely related to us,in the same line of descent, who have basically the same brain as we do, more or less. That seems like it should be a feasible approach.

That's not the case with these cephalopods. We (and dogs and dolphins and boa constrictors and possums and birds) are a kind of fish. Cuttlefish are a kind of mollusc. That's insane, our probable common ancestor will be something rather like a slug or a worm or a larva.

Here this is Jean Boal talking, the biologist / animal behaviorist who is doing much of the work:

Boal: I'm interested in cephalopod learning and communication, communication as a sort of window into their minds. I'm really interested in why cephalopods have such large brains compared to their relatives, clams and snails. Cuttlefish are very engaging, and on top of that, it looks like their brain size relative to body size is perhaps the largest of the invertebrates, even larger than in octopuses. Cuttlefish ended up leading me into lots of interesting areas of behavior that I couldn't research with octopuses.


Originally you know I took these claims with a big grain of salt. This behavioral training idea, it could mean a lot of things. Germs can be "trained", conditioned responses are a commonplace throughout the animal {and vegetable!) kingdom. But that's just mental mothballs in light of what the research is showing.

Octopuses are highly intelligent, probably more intelligent than any other order of invertebrates. The exact extent of their intelligence and learning capability is much debated among biologists,[2][3][4] but maze and problem-solving experiments have shown that they do have both short- and long-term memory. Their short lifespans limit the amount they can ultimately learn. There has been much speculation to the effect that almost all octopus behaviors are independently learned rather than instinct-based, although this remains largely unproven. They learn almost no behaviors from their parents, with whom young octopuses have very little contact.

An octopus has a highly complex nervous system, only part of which is localized in its brain. Two-thirds of an octopus's neurons are found in the nerve cords of its arms, which have a remarkable amount of autonomy. Octopus arms show a wide variety of complex reflex actions arising on at least three different levels of the nervous system. Some octopuses, such as the Mimic Octopus, will move their arms in ways that emulate the movements of other sea creatures.

In laboratory experiments, octopuses can be readily trained to distinguish between different shapes and patterns. They have been reported to practice observational learning,[5] although the validity of these findings is widely contested on a number of grounds.[2][3] Octopuses have also been observed in what some have described as play: repeatedly releasing bottles or toys into a circular current in their aquariums and then catching them.[6] Octopuses often break out of their aquariums and sometimes into others in search of food. They have even boarded fishing boats and opened holds to eat crabs.[4]


When I look at what we have on tap of these creatures
I see them behaving much like dogs and dolphins in terms of problem-solving, communication, and plain unpredicability ("free will"). I feel it would not be that hard to write a linear program that simulated a particular shark or bug "thinking" (response) behavior. I don't know that we are smart enough ourselves yet to be able to simulate cephalopod problem-solving.

Without exception, and unlike most other molluscs, all cephalopods are active predators. The demands of locating and capturing prey has likely been a driving force behind the development of their intelligence, uniquely advanced in their phylum.

The humboldt squid has been observed to hunt schools of fish in packs, seemingly showing cooperation and communication in its hunting techniques. This is the first observation of such behaviour in invertebrates.[4]


Anyway this line of thinking is important to our question in that it indicates that intelligence, even by the strict "mental" definition CS has put forward for us, is not unique to ourselves and our line of descent. It has developed independently in both higher mammals and higher molluscs.

Boal: Cuttlefish and all other cephalopods are clever and remarkable animals. I am frustrated when people compare them to mammals, because I think that's to misunderstand them. They have a totally different evolutionary history. Cephalopods are fast, and they're out there interacting with fish and marine mammals, doing really exciting things that fish and marine mammals don't do. And they're reacting quickly and solving problems, and I think that's really cool.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by ramoss, posted 05-29-2008 12:23 PM ramoss has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 1975 days)
Posts: 663
Joined: 11-17-2005

Message 49 of 53 (468773)
06-01-2008 1:45 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Fosdick
05-30-2008 11:32 AM

answered this part
Hoot Mon writes:

You don't? What about this

You're a real funny guy!

some moron writes:

evolutionary biology on the one side and neurology on the other, the ones I am poking at now. They have things in common, things that resemble one another, about their existing paradigms. This is worth exploring. If we have time, we have another candidate who has this "best described by statistics" thing also going on, which is quantum physics.

And that makes 3 !!!

I'm just saying, the way you tell the story, it's very funny!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by Fosdick, posted 05-30-2008 11:32 AM Fosdick has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 1975 days)
Posts: 663
Joined: 11-17-2005

Message 50 of 53 (468820)
06-01-2008 6:49 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by onifre
05-28-2008 5:17 PM

Third Eye
Hi onifre, I really appreciate your comments.

onifre writes:

In my opinion where the line can be drawn for intelligence, if we had to draw a line, is in the ability to learn from those you interact with, with the conscious awareness that its a benefit to you and that way its something you'd want to pass on to your child(I think its refered to as Memes). As a species gets smarter due to its ability to raise its consciousness, it gives rise to what we refer to as intelligence. In that respect nothing under primate and some domestic animals seem to have this capacity; the capacity to learn with the intent to progress as a whole. In fact it could be argued that nothing under humans actually have full use of this ability. Instinct, as its being refered to in this thread, seems to just be the evolved traits of the species that better help it survive and not necessarily intelligence. Consciousness however, is another issue...

I think this is an insightful way of looking at the relationship between consciousness on the one hand and intelligence and instinct on the other. Is intelligence just conscious instinct?

Hoot Mon writes:

Can consciousness be dissociated from intelligence? Can a person have "higher consciousness" and still be less "intelligent." Can the Dalai Lama solve Fermat's last thoerem?

What do you guys think about the idea that our consciousness or self-awareness or greater-intelligence or whatever it is we feel makes us advanced simians so profoundly different from every other species whose brains we don't have a direct insight to :) is a direct result of specific changes in our development which directly affect our parietal cortex?

Extending the growth of the brain obviously gave us big brains, but it may have endowed us with another gift. All that growth now happened not in the dark confines of the womb, but over the course of years of childhood. Instead of floating in an aminotic sac, children run around, fall off chairs, bang on pots, and see how loud they can scream. (At least mine do.) In other words, they are experiencing what it's like to control their body in the outside world. And because their brains are still developing, they can easily make new connections to learn from these experiences. Some researchers even argue that only after the brains of our ancestors became plastic was it possible for them to begin to use language. After all, language is one of the most important things that children learn, and they do a far better job of learning it than adults do. If scientists could somehow find a marker in hominid fossils that shows how their brains grew, it might be possible to put a date on the origin of language.


The gist of the whole "pineal gland" meme seems to be that we have a vestigial optical system in the top of our head that we share with lizards and other "creeping things". For a small portion of our childhood, this ancient proto-eye still receives a little light through the thin semi-transparent flesh of our heads. Then at around 18 months the anterior fontanelle finishes suturing itself together and that light has gone out forever. Around this same time we develop an imagination, self-awareness, advanced language skills, the whole shebang. Our posterior parietal cortex, which manages this primitive eye for the animals which depend on it, gets re-used as a key regulator for our own visual center and movement systems.


Is the source of our religous/supernatural ideas simply a feeling of direct awareness that we once experienced before we had self-awareness which has been shut off, but which we still retain physiological memories of and can use to re-stimulate those primal animal feelings?

Is the real cure for the creationist simply trepanation?

I have also noticed a seeming increase in attention span. This has been one of the most enjoyable aspects, because I hadn’t expected or necessarily desired it, nor did I notice how short my attention span was prior to the trepanning. I am surprised daily by my ability to hear, and actually listen, to all of what anyone is saying to me at any given moment. It has increased my understanding of what is said because of that I’m sure. This has also been very noticeable and applicable to musical situations. I can hear and pay attention to not only the rhythms being created, but also am now more attentive to tonal qualities and chord progressions and whatnot. Not that I hadn’t heard these things and paid attention to them before, but I hardly noticed or paid attention to them while I was playing. I’ve mostly centered on the rhythms and trusted the rest to work itself out.

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by Nausicaa, posted 06-28-2008 2:49 PM Iblis has responded

Junior Member (Idle past 3831 days)
Posts: 1
From: Illinois
Joined: 06-28-2008

Message 51 of 53 (473360)
06-28-2008 2:49 PM
Reply to: Message 50 by Iblis
06-01-2008 6:49 PM

Re: Third Eye
Iblis writes:

Is the real cure for the creationist simply trepanation?

If you took the time to read the entirety of what is written at that link, you would see that the author finally arrives at the conclusion that his procedure produced no lasting effects. I enjoy smoking as much as the next guy, so I'm not judging, but the supposed 'benefits' of increased alertness and attention, as well as the ability to recall dreams sound a lot more like what happens when you put down the pipe after smoking a little too much for a little too long.

That's not to say that some creationists might not benefit from a little drug induced thought, but they should probably stop short of drilling holes in their skulls because some people fancy, like a conspiracy theorist, that tenuously stringing together ancient rituals with little pop-sci tidbits constitutes the formation of scientific theory.

So I ask, why do you present it as evidence, and what exactly is this evidence supposed to support? As a casual observer who has just read this thread, I honestly don't even know what you're attempting to argue or explain. You just seem to be clinging to any piece of information posted here or elsewhere and constructing this 'house of cards', as you call it.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 50 by Iblis, posted 06-01-2008 6:49 PM Iblis has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by Iblis, posted 07-02-2008 9:18 PM Nausicaa has not yet responded
 Message 53 by Iblis, posted 07-02-2008 9:40 PM Nausicaa has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 1975 days)
Posts: 663
Joined: 11-17-2005

Message 52 of 53 (473777)
07-02-2008 9:18 PM
Reply to: Message 51 by Nausicaa
06-28-2008 2:49 PM

F for effert
Thanks for your post Nausicaa. Let me reiterate that I'm not trying to prove any preconceived idea, I'm just acting out the process of applying the scientific method in a series of "thought experiments" to the pseudoscience of intelligent design.

I begin by excluding irreducible complexity from the center stage, it's a straightforward creationist concept which was relabeled at the last minute for legal reasons. I don't mind coming back to it later when it is appropriate but I don't have any interest in debating it straightforwardly, there are several actual biology fans here who refute it throroughly in appropriate threads.

So what does that leave? Anything?

The general idea with intelligent design (as distinct from straight creationism) is that design theory works on natural stuff as well as artificial, and a design implies a designer. This might just be a semantic ghost, yes? But let's follow it through anyway. The claim is advanced that this theoretical designer must be intelligent, and furthermore must be more intelligent than us, because some of this stuff we see is really amazing, some of it is even so amazing, that we haven't figured out how to do it ourselves yet.

ID is supposed to be true, in short, even if evolution itself is a perfectly good fact. This is where it parts ways with IC and other creationist concepts. It's supposed to be genuine science. It claims to be rooted in information theory, it wants us to think it has whole new insights into intelligence.

So I say fine, let's do science with it. Let's walk through some basic "is this idea nonsense?" kind of thought experiments with it and see if we can get it to predict anything that is testable. One might think for example, that an Intelligent Designer would produce designs that were superior to the sort of thing we puny mortals would tend to come up with. Now the best refutation of this is to point at a few choice samples like our lower back and the hyena's penis, maybe some babies born with their lips stuck to their forehead and so on, and say Come on, that's not real freaking smart is it? Who designed that?

The evidence we actually get from nature doesn't look like intentional design, it's more like an ongoing half-assed process that is extraordinarily wasteful and perverse. In other words, it looks less like the products of our design, and more like the contents of our heads. We think all sorts of things, and various totally weird ideas can change back and forth into other things and so on, before we really make our mind up about anything, and even then we are often wrong. The world is similarly inclined.

So fine, we have learned something about our hypothesis. If we are really doing science we modify our hypothesis and move on. The "design" we see in nature is, perhaps, the naked thought of some sort of thinking being. Creepy, huh? But I don't know if it's still science at that point, that sounds like poetry to me.

And from there it's a straighforward compare and contrast between evolution and intelligence. Yes, evolution is like intelligence in many ways (if creatures are like thoughts.) Is it, are they? Catholic Scientist and Hoot Mon worked it thoroughly from there. Spider webs are amazing, but they aren't the product of a brain. Single-celled insects are amazing, still no brain involved. Mental activity required to be called "intelligence".

And so it goes, evolution isn't intelligent, evolution isn't the intelligence of the earth, evolution is perhaps like intelligence. Ok, in what ways? Well, it solves problems. Is that another ghost? Ok, it remembers some things, it even reuses things it learns in one place at some other point where they turn out useful. Still no? Hmm, why not?

And even if it isn't a "real intelligence" it's, you know, so amazing, it ought to get extra credit. I mean, its thoughts are things! That's an amazing thing isn't it. Think as hard as we want, when it's time to make our thoughts real, we have to get up and do some actual work. Right? No?

But honestly, we have cut some extreme slack to get the hypothesis along this far. Let's do that one more time, and let's test it. How do we test intelligence? What's the name of that number, how is it calculated?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 51 by Nausicaa, posted 06-28-2008 2:49 PM Nausicaa has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 1975 days)
Posts: 663
Joined: 11-17-2005

Message 53 of 53 (473778)
07-02-2008 9:40 PM
Reply to: Message 51 by Nausicaa
06-28-2008 2:49 PM

Re: Third Eye
Nausicaa writes:

If you took the time to read the entirety of what is written at that link

Yeah that story rocks! Dude got his piercing guy to stick a hole in his head for him! Super funny :)

But it's just filler to illustrate the "third eye" concept. See when I saw what the thread was degenerating to I wanted to leave the table with something drawing a distinction between consciousness and intelligence. Self-awareness or language or a conscience or whatever we like to think we have that critters don't, is a peculiar function of our brains, it might be related to nice high intelligence like we like to think we have. Or it might not. But it's definitely not one and the same.

So you know, what do you think about the idea that our species are just the ones whose skulls take a long time to close up completely? Or any similar line of thinking, biological basis for human consciousness, Koestler and Leary and so forth. Is it all just poop?

'house of cards',

The behavior in a game of cards is a remarkably good example of a stochastic process with signicant emergent properties. Is a poker party intelligent? How about Miss Cleo? Which would be, more intelligent?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 51 by Nausicaa, posted 06-28-2008 2:49 PM Nausicaa has not yet responded

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