Re: Milk Bottles & Animal IQ

Bruce Howlett (
Wed, 17 Dec 1997 23:02:45 +0000

Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 23:02:45 +0000
From: Bruce Howlett <>
Subject: Re: Milk Bottles & Animal IQ

Ton Maas wrote:
> but on the whole, the experiment is rather
> convincing in favor of the hypothesis that the jackdaw is counting the
> pieces of meat rather than recognizing a pattern either of pieces or of his
> own actions."

This seems to confirm that the bird was "taught" to count. One wonders
how the bird was punished for mistakes! As an ex-teacher, I have some
strong views on education. The empirical data would indicate that a
skill can be transferred from teacher to student by imitation and
repetitive practice. This could be interpreted as pattern recognition.
However, this does not explain why some students have exceptional
"talent" in a specific area. Is this genetic, memetic or pattern
identification? (Or, dare I say, Instinct?)

Having said that, I have always made a distinction between "skills
training" and "teaching" which I define as leading the student to the
discovery of concepts and the cognitive manipulation of concepts by
duplicating the processes that enable comprehension.


Bruce Howlett :-)

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