Re: testing memetics

Ton Maas (
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 08:36:23 +0100

Message-Id: <v03102801b0b696f23b2e@[]>
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Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 08:36:23 +0100
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: testing memetics

> The jackdaw (Eurasian crow) is a member of the Crovidae, jays, crows,
>etc., some of the most intelligent of the birds.

In his "Mind & Nature; a necessary unity" Gregory Bateson devotes some
attention to jackdaws and their ability to count, referring to research
done by the early gestalt psychologists like Otto Koehler, dealing with the
question whether these birds can really "count" or perceive and remember
certain patterns. It was established that they really can count - jackdaws
actually up to seven - by presenting them with intermittent amounts of
objects (where the desired quantity was stored in two or three separate &
closed containers and the birds had to remove one lid after another, so
they could not perceive the whole amount in one glance). A friend of mine
who is an avid field ornithologist, tells me magpies (related too) even do
better. To fool them into believing there's nobody left in the observation
hut, at least twelve people have to enter and eleven leave, otherwise the
birds know one person still remains, indicating an ability to count up to


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