Archive for the ‘anthropology’ Category

I’m obsessed with big questions.  What is life?   Why are we here? How did we get here?  Why do we experience time the way we do?  Why haven’t we seen another planet teeming with life?  What is mathematics?  What is currency?   Why does learning work the way it does?   How do we come to understand each other or anything at all?  Is there free will? How should we live? If not democracy, then what? and so on!

We all start our intellectual life focused on the big questions.  As children we’re unconditioned to censor our questioning of how and why things work.   We are also natural experimenters of theories and are able to quickly absorb new views/ideas.

We’re such good learners as kids that it doesn’t take too many years before the process of turning kids into responsible adults destroys most of our original questioning and critical thinking ability.     Instead of taking advantage of the amazing sponge like years, we teach our children not to think, not to question, not to risk.  We teach them to follow rules, not think and write their own rules.  Our culture is so adept at squashing original, inquisitive thinking that many of us then need 4 years+ in higher education to “learn how to think.”

It happens moment by moment.  From TV, movies, books, our schools, our homes, our politics, the things we say, the way we are.  (Ever caught yourself telling your child, “That’s just the way it is.   You ask why a lot.” …

It happens because we get tired. and having dogma and previously used answers keeps it simple and saves energy, in the short term.

Big Questions take energy.  Lots of energy.  And kids have a lot of that.  Adults don’t, in general.   Adult life seeks order.  Keep the disturbance to a minimum.

If you stop asking the big questions your actions become small, orderly, understandable.   but!   the engine of progress is mutation.  Exploring strange intellectual places.  and, I believe, those strange places can only be reached in ones lifetime by never ceasing to ask and attempt to answer the big questions through thought and deeds.

Kids make big strides quickly for many many reasons, and I believe fearlessly asking big questions and not looking for intellectual order is one of the bigger reasons.







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Almost all humans do all the following daily:

  • Eat
  • Drink Water
  • Sleep
  • Breath
  • Think about Sex/Get Sexually Excited
  • Communicate with Close Friends and Family
  • Go to the bathroom
  • People Watch
  • Groom

Almost all humans do the following very regularly:

  • Work (hunt, gather, desk job, factory job, sell at the market)
  • Have sex or have sexual activities
  • Listen to or play music
  • Play
  • Take inventory of possessions (count, tally, inspect, store)

A good deal of humans do the following regularly:

  • Go to school/have formal learning (training, go to school, college, apprenticeship)
  • Cook/Prepare Food
  • Read
  • Compete for social status
  • Court a mate

Fewer humans do the following occasionally:

  • Travel more than a few miles from home
  • Write (blog, novel, paper)
  • Eat away from home
  • Stay somewhere that isn’t their home
  • Exercise outside of work tasks (play sports, train, jog)

I’m sure we can think up many more activities in the bottom category probably not many more in the top 3 categories.

For a technology to be mass market successful it has to, at its core, be about behaviors in the top categories.   And it has to integrate with those behaviors in a very pure way, i.e. don’t try to mold the person, let the person mold the technology to their behavior.

I define mass market success as “use by more than 10% of the general population of a country.”   Few technologies and services achieve this.   But those that do all deal with these FHAs.  Twitter, Google, MySpace, Facebook, Microsoft, TV, Radio, Telephone, Cellular Phone…. the more of those activities they deal with the faster they grow.   Notice also that almost all of these examples do not impose a set of specific use paths on users.  e.g. Twitter is just a simple messaging platform for that you can use in a bazillion contexts.

It’s not about making everything more efficient, more technologically beautiful.   It is about humans doing what they’ve done for 100,000+ years with contemporary technology.  If you want to be a successful service, you have to integrate and do a behavioral evolution with the users.

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Online social networks as a dominant medium for ideas, relationships and communication is not a fad. Online communities not based on something substantial in the offline world are a fad or rather were the easiest types of networks to get up and running. Today’s leading social networks from Facebook to linkedin to eharmony and other niche communities thrive because they are based on meaningful relationships/structures in the offline world – workplace, school, dating, religion, community activity, teams The social networks in decline or already gone have been based on virtual or entertainment only connections between members – music group fans, gossip, breaking news, Internet memes, pro sports, etc.

The online networks based on offline structures benefit greatly from built in relationships, hierarchies, and connected behaviors. It is much easier to invent functions and services based on well established behaviors and objectives. Additionally the offline structures mentioned above are more important to people in their daily lives than purely virtual communities. This deeper importance leads to better engagement and commitment to the online counterpart of that institution. E.g. Few users maintain a sloppy or misleading linked in or Facebook profile (this isn’t constrained to any age group either). As the online and offline components become more intertwined activity in either becomes reinforcing.

The downside of building an online community based on something offline is that can take considerable resources to get it right and achieve critical mass, the user must do more to get the value – fill out a profile, be real, have substance in interactions, be interesting offline etc.

There are other reasons virtual only communities suffer… Because the interactions have few offline consequences the interactions quickly grow out of sync with offline norms and values. The more out of sync they get the harder it is for their to be lasting connectedness between larger and larger groups of members. The network fractures and often gets too abnormal for mass consumption.

I am definitely making the claim that celebrity worship, loving the same bands, seeing the same movies, disliking the same athletes, being simply in a similar career are not strong enough connections to build a social network around. Shared offline experiences is the basis of long lasting online communities. Last I checked humans still lived, ate, made babies, earned money and died in the real world. And the things most essential to doing those activities are what were all going to post, blog, take pictures, comment and like.

As an aside to those working in the internet biz…. Not all unique users are created equal. Very quickly this industry will have a metric system based on unique people with real names interacting in your system. Of course publishers, networks, media companies will always attempt to shroud those numbers in mystery, but it’s getting harder and harder to hide how many real people use a system. Once the industry makes this shift the offline connectedness becomes more essential.

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Don’t let me sit on the sidelines.

Never let me watch others make the world go round.

Never let me watch others dance the night away.

Never let me see the band play on without me.

Never let me… wait for others to suck it all in.

This is all there is.

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For one thing, the smartest people do not necessarily make the best political choices. William F. Buckley once famously declared that he would rather give control of our government to “the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” Bruce Charlton, a professor of theoretical medicine at the University of Buckingham, recently coined the term “clever sillies” to describe people who hold wacky political views seemingly because of—rather than despite—their high intelligence. Conservative writer John Derbyshire has also observed that political naivety exists at both extremes of the IQ distribution, not just the lower one. The reason is that brilliant people can sometimes be so consumed by abstract philosophy that they forget common sense.

Read the full article here.


It’s the “Bell Curve” argument all over again.

There’s no way to really answer this.  It’s clever writing and fun with stats, but it’s a bogus argument.  a) impossible to really categorize political beliefs in such binary way b) there are so many behavioral factors involved in your belief system that it’s hard to draw a cause strong enough to justify the distinctions here.

Fun read but fairly useless.

Unless it’s true.

I’ll leave the last words to the article author:

The bottom line is that a political debate will never be resolved by measuring the IQs of groups on each side of the issue. Even if certain positions tend to be held by less intelligent people, there will usually be plenty of sharp thinkers who take the same side. Rather than focus on the intellectual deficiencies, real or imagined, of certain politicians and their supporters, people should strive to find the best and brightest spokesmen for the opposing side.

There is a certain devilish fun to contemplating the intelligence of liberals and conservatives, but it should have no effect on how we think about issues. Political debates would be better without it.

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What do we really mean by human rights? where do these rights come from? what is their source of power?

Russell’s (Son) position:

Though we have produced powerful rhetoric and documents through human history human rights are simply a concept.  They values we create and we choose to live by.  There is no such thing has some absolute, outside of us thing called a human right.  The universe doesn’t have a conscience.  Humankinds evolution from earlier species didn’t somehow magically produce some special rights for us that the rest of the universe can’t enjoy.

Agreeing to some basic rights seems to be a beneficial idea for humankind.  Freedom in all its forms seems to be a pretty darn useful value to live by.  That doesn’t make it some universal truth.

All men aren’t created equal – not in body, not in cognitive ability, not in environment.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat everyone on equal ground.  Not Equal doesn’t mean better or worse.  I think that’s the confusion that makes people fall back to claiming some fundamental human rights.

Does the fact that human rights spring forth only from man and not the universe, not a god, or some other outside source devalue them? make them less powerful?  No.  In fact, in some sense I think it makes it more powerful.  The fact that billions of people can agree on some basic principles is quite powerful and very empowering.   It actually increases the burden of enforcing it because there’s no faceless being we can blame when these agreed upon rights are violated.

Donna’s (Mother) Position:

Hmmm. Human rights. We’ve assigned a lot of value to the words and far less to those issues we find critical enough to include under the label.

I’ve never operated under the illusion that God defined human rights. Some big thinkers have done that, and others have shunned the notion that there are any universal needs that might rise to the level of being rights we grant and protect.

It seems more important to me to try to answer if our basic needs have advanced as our knowledge as human beings has advanced. Do we add to the list of things we value and protect as rights or are we locked into what we could reasonably provide in the past? Food, clean water, education, shelter, healthcare, equal protection under the law … are these all just things we need and desire or are they rights we identify and extend to one another?

And that pesky little topic of equality becomes so muddy all on its own as we deny various individuals their abilities to become waht they could otherwise be by limiting their access to some basic human needs. We create inequality and then shrug our shoulders and call it inevitable. And we most definitely make decisions about less than equal meaning less than good — and less worthy.

So, if we do not define some of our basic human needs and desires as rights, we will doom millions of our fellow men and women to poverty, to pain, to illness, to cold and so on. If we have the ability to lift one another by sharing human values as human rights, I say we do so.

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I don’t do hardcore predictions as most interesting things are fundamentally unpredictable.  That Black Swan thing and all that.

However, I do think it worthwhile to lay down some context and shifts in the business, social and other environments that will shape our lives going forward.

Microsoft and Facebook Merge

Facebook is what Microsoft likely wanted Passport and then Windows Live to be – the single sign on for the planet.  Owning the sign-on and digital trail people leave behind is the single most valuable (to a business) asset any media/software business can own (well, really any business).  Not even search engine advertising is as valueable.  Search is just one of the hundreds of things we all do online and it isn’t nearly as revealing as the comments we post, the products we buy, the addresses we ship to, the people we connect and the jobs we take.

Facebook brings together efficiently so much of what Microsoft makes billions on: messaging, apps development, gaming, mobile…

If you look at how tight Microsoft has been with Facebook from Television ads to deep integration into XBox live it seems that a deepening relationship is inevitable.

Beyond that it would be quite a trojan horse into Apple and Google to have MSFT-FB, as Facebook is a major factor in the continued success of iPhone and Facebook is the only viable-still growing by leaps and bounds advertising platform.

Now, is it Facebook that has the commanding position over Microsoft?   Perhaps a strong Facebook IPO (a very likely event in 2010) will give Facebook enough power to make several very bold moves.  Maybe it starts smaller where Facebook absorbs Yahoo….  Again, these things are complex, but I very much think it’s Facebook=Microsoft that mounts the serious competition to the growing Google empire.

For fun, a prediction:  As a specific thing I can see happening – you will be able to login to your windows OS based device via Facebook connect.    And that could get very interesting for all things cloud computing, social gaming and so forth!

Print Focused Companies (retailers, publishers, distributors included) to Be Very Aggressive and Then Flame Out

Again, hard to be too specific here but it’s clear after the massive holidays for digital assets that there’s not much hope (hope=transactions!) for the mega bookstores, the mostly print based publishers and daily newspapers.

Borders and Barnes and Noble simply failed on ebooks and their stores are a wreck.  I visit at least 2 bookstores a week.  Week over week I see a decline in inventory, more and more Twilight displays and a growing impulse buy check out line.  All of those things mean that consumers are browsing the shelves and buying inventory.  Local borders seem much more like a Hallmark store than a book store.  Endless BS gadgets and gifts and a truly horribly vanilla book selection.  Sadly the mega bookstores stopped focusing on what made them so attractive – the experience of buying a book.  This was their last defensible asset.  And now they are probably the WORST way to buy a book – price, fidelity, distractions, over selling, etc.

(If they had the balls they could save themselves.  Give away ereaders, give discounts to buying ebooks instore, install print-on-demand binding machines, expand the cafes, hire actual booklovers/experts.   It would take 2 years of investment but in the end these would be beautiful places to socialize, read, explore… and the margins would go way up because they wouldn’t have shitty inventory, confusing displays and everything else that comes with a bad bookstore.)

Print publishers won’t see the return of the ad dollars.  And fewer and fewer people will subscribe.   Once the grocery stores dump the lame magazine and newspaper displays (they don’t make us much money as the energy drink displays) print will really suffer.   Print publishers still have tons of great content in them they just can’t get off the crack of the gross margins of the past print monopolies.   No, new emagazine readers aren’t going to save this stuff.   There’s a business is feature content, but it’s not at all like the business of old and the near future will reveal who’s going to adjust to a tighter business model with no investment in print.

Print on Demand, Self Publishing services (iuniverse and the others), ebook stores will continue to erode the distribution and agent infrastructure.  I’m sure eventually we’ll have widespread “SEO/findability consultants” for authors. (I’ve advised a few authors and agents).    With megabookstores and other “stands” for print content going away there won’t be any need for restocking and all that.  It’s going to be 90% digital very soon.  (what does this mean for printers? paper makers?   many that i’ve looked up don’t look much like paper companies anymore!)

We will see a near term explosion of activity with these companies as they struggle against the tide.  The tide is too great, though.

Network TV goes On Demand Only

The NBC – GE- Comcast deal earlier and now the Time Warner / Fox feud is the precursor to network TV going all on demand.  There’s no long term business model for free-over the air-high cost network TV.  The ad rates don’t support it, the consumers don’t watch it and content creators don’t need it any more.   Yeah, it will take years to unwind this business but it’s pretty clear you the network brand doesn’t mean much in the world today.

The recent reselling/movement of fairly popular (or what seem to be popular shows) while still popular is an interesting data point.  Scrubs from NBC to ABC, Medium from NBC to CBS, ESPN and Disney brand all over ABC, Oprah from ABC to her own thing.  MLB network, NFL network, NBA network…..  all of these entities are far more on demand and digitally integrated than the networks.

Once the current crop of executives age out/move on the facade of network TV will be over.

Education becomes Wikified

Public schools simply can’t keep up and it’s not really their fault.  Their main value (in most locations) is a social function.   Their content, methods, resources are simply not sufficient to deliver a functional modern education.   Very soon parents won’t worry about home schooling being something that weird/non-social people do… public schools will make sure home-school is the norm.  The public schools will become community centers.

How can I say this?  It’s already happening!  I have a pre-K kid that goes to the pre-K program for a couple of hours a day.  She has homework assignments.  We have mandatory parenting meetings.  Everything else is home or third party based.   I have a 1st grader.  She has at least 1 hour of homework a day.  The school is closed for 3 weeks in the holidays, has a good amount of short days, etc.   Parents now comprise the majority of in room help and supply almost all of the fundraising and community awareness.  The community and each family is already contributing so much ON TOP of taxes that eventually parents en masse will decide that the ruse of public school as a valuable curriculum resources and effective learning environment is over.

I’m socially close to quite a few teachers (at all levels) and administrators.    Teaching isn’t nearly as rewarding as they’d hoped, the resources aren’t there and pay simply won’t keep them afloat.

So…. the community will just take it over directly.  $300 netbooks, endless curriculum online, widespread social networking makes schooling from home something that is tangible, effective and affordable.

And, no, private schools and higher education are not immune to this.  They have a slightly longer life span because of their deeper resources but even they won’t be able to compete long term in any of their current forms.

I think the initial tipping point came when schools no longer were the best place to get access to technology.  That happened in the early 2000s.

Presidential Campaigns to Start Early Into Presidents First Term

Personally I think the next presidential campaign has already started.   From Sarah Palin’s actions to the still aggressive use of social media by the parties the next campaign is basically underway.  I suspect the national parties will get revved up with formalities even sooner than the last presidential election.

The news outlets and late night shows and blogs will see to it.  The rise of current media leaders  rise coincided with the last election and it’s the only trick they know to keep that ever-needed growth going.   The media, if we let it, is going to start the next election in 2010.

Brandon Marshall Ends up on the Bears

Well, I hope!  I don’t see how the Broncos and Marshall ever get along.  Cutler and Marshall just worked.  Make it happen.

I have more to flow out on the shape of things…. sadly The Little Mermaid II just ended on the old VCR so the girls need attention. 😉  Talk at ya later.

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Happy 2010.  After several lengthy discussions over the holidays with my Mom I thought it might be interesting to generate an online Mother/Son debate to discuss the Big Issues in life.  Note: This post is the first time my mom will have heard of this idea but I suspect she’ll embrace this and start producing her viewpoints within 24 hours 😉

The Mother Son Debates will illuminate the differences in values, ideas, hopes and approaches to life between my mom and I.  Perhaps in putting these thoughts out there we might learn more about our respective generations, our social networks and the contexts of our own value formations.  We might also change some of our own view points in the process.  Oh, and yes, we’ll have a lot of fun!

Topics We’ll Debate:

  • Health Care Reform – why reform? who should pay? what’s the end result we want?
  • Free Will – do we have free will?
  • God – current concept of God? is there a God?
  • Education – what works? what doesn’t?
  • Designer Genetics – should we design our children?  redesign ourselves?
  • Technology Enhanced Human Biology – cyborgs? intelligence enhancers?
  • Determinism – is it all determined?
  • Global Warming – is it real? does it matter?
  • Human Rights – what are human rights?
  • Universal Truth – are there any universal truths?
  • Personal Responsibility – who’s responsible for everything?
  • War and Peace – is there a positive to war? is war necessary? is there an acceptable cost of war?
  • Generational Shifts – does every generation think the incoming generation has great challenges? eroding values? is not ready to take on the challenges? is the older generation a has been? old ideas? outdated? technophobic?

First topic will be Health Care Reform, as I know that will get my mom into the debate! 😉

The format is simple.  We’ll start with a one paragraph statement of our positions in one blog post.  The debate will happen via comments and follow on blog posts.  Everyone is free to join in the discussion.

Quoting old dead white guys is allowed but is greatly frowned upon.

About Donna Smith, My Mom:

Photo by Robin HollandDonna Smith is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Colorado College with a degree in history. Her journalism career includes work as a stringer for NEWSWEEK magazine. She has been honored by the Associated Press Managing Editors with 15 regional awards from 2004-2006 and by the Inland Press Association’s top honor in 2006 for community-based journalism. Since 2007, she has co-chaired the Progressive Democrats of America’s national “Healthcare Not Warfare” campaign, and she has so far spoken in 41 states and the District of Columbia about single-payer healthcare reform.

Donna continues an active writing and speaking career, and now blogs and writes op-ed pieces about the health care crisis. She also is the founder of American Patients United, a non-profit group educating citizens about health care reform on the national level. She also works as a national single-payer health care advocate and community organizer for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. Donna and Larry now live in Washington, DC, and they have six children and 14 grandchildren.

About Me

You can ready the far-less-impressive-for-the purposes-of-intellectual-debate background in the About Russell tab of this blog.

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This question, and its variants, might be the most common question asked in literature, storytelling, laws, history and philosophy (less so in daily conversations!).  This question defies an answer not because it is too complicated or out of our reach.  There is no such thing as Man (with a capital “M”), so the question is non-sense.

There is man – in the Linnaean taxonomy sense – you know, man is the creature with two hands, two feet, a biggish brain, two eyes and so on.  Though if we push hard enough on that – trace the evolutionary line back a couple of million years or push it forward a bit – we’ll find that pin pointing the precise animal known as “man” gets increasing hard to pin point.

This is definitely not a new idea or clever statement on my part.  I call attention to this in attempting to synthesize the impact of improving technology to augment our biological weaknesses, confusion over shifts in religious beliefs, global warming concerns, health care reform and other big things going on in our world that call into question some universal sense of Man.   My thesis is that clinging to a belief in Human Nature gets in the way of knowledge and impedes the progress of society on many fronts.  It is also can have grave consequences for each individual.

Cultures, societies, governments and various other collections of humans struggle to integrate big shifts within their lifetimes because learning is a long term exercise (some patterns of behavior take a lifetime to integrate).  The schedules we grow into throughout a lifetime are incredibly hard to change and sometimes require dramatic changes to the environment and/or our relation to it (body changes, for example).   It’s made every more difficult for most humans because our “blank slate” is so quickly filled with bad data, false assumptions, false positive patterns (aka superstition, religious dogma, good vs. evil, old wives tales, urban legends, irrational fears).   All of these things get associated with more and more behavior patterns very early and throughout life so much so that we all spend a life time UNLEARNING and DISASSOCIATING the falsehoods, inefficient behavior, and counter productive patterns.

The biggest false positive belief humans have is that there is Human Nature and definitive ideal of Man.  Our cultural narratives and norms claim that there is some Platonic form, some universal concept of Man and if we look hard enough, think deep enough, and/or believe enough we will understand Man and figure out how to really live.  This false positive concept of Man isn’t confined to religion or fading cultures – it pervades every modern institution too!   Top universities teach it (“liberal arts”).  Science chases it (google for scientific papers’ references to human nature).  Art celebrates it (the thinker!).  Churches preach it (man was made in the image of God).  Governments and courts enforce it (e.g. all men are created equal).  This belief is maintained over generations because it mostly “works” to keep people alive and procreating (at least, I think it does). A useful fiction, perhaps.  Truth, no.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

If we give up on Man what changes?  what contingencies go away?  what schedules are no longer maintained?

Does stem cell research pick up?  Do we march ever more quickly towards machine enhanced bodies and brains?  Do robots really start to pervade our workplaces? Would we really continue to worry so much about global warming destroying the sensitive environment we require?

How much does this false belief really change our behavior or is it just “exhaust” we spew out when trying to synthesize all the behavior around us?  That is, does a well defined and earnest belief in Man actually contribute to what we do or don’t do?

It’s an important discussion.

  • Health care reform tend to fall into two camps:  health care is a human right (Man is real and necessary) or health care is essentially an economic issue (Man is not relevant)
  • The penal system are built on a concept of perhaps not Universal Morality, but certainly a very strong concept of Character.
  • The debate on global warming rides on whether people believe the we should keep the earth at a stable temp for our current species biology (if we’re machines or just digitized versions or in space, global warming isn’t as concerning???)
  • Abortion rights are obviously about whether you think a bundle of cells in a woman’s body constitutes Man
  • End of Life decisions – is the life supported body still a Man when the lights have gone out?

Beyond these big issues consider many of the plots of recent pop culture smashes (all are about What is Man?):

  • Avatar
  • Terminator
  • Twilight
  • Heroes
  • Harry Potter
  • The Secret
  • Eckhart Tolle

If we lose the belief in Man (the soul, autonomous man, in God’s image, human nature) is there a negative impact personally and in society?  Do we all just become nihilists? Do we stop passionately pursuing things? do we devalue our relationships?

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Though TIME completely misrepresents the article with the title of this piece the article is quite nice.  Most of the findings are quite straightforward and the utility of the article is that it does a nice job of illustrating how genetics and learning combine to explain behavior (and “intelligence”).

Here’s a nice example from the article:

Once dogs became comfortable in our company, humans began to speed up dogs’ social evolution. They may have started by giving extra food to helpful dogs–ones that barked to warn of danger, say. Dogs that paid close attention to humans got more rewards and eventually became partners with humans, helping with hunts or herding other animals. Along the way, the dogs’ social intelligence became eerily like ours, and not just in their ability to follow a pointed finger. Indeed, they even started to make very human mistakes.

A team led by cognitive scientist Josef Topál of the Research Institute for Psychology in Hungary recently ran an experiment to study how 10-month-old babies pay attention to people. The scientists put a toy under one of two cups and then let the children choose which cup to pick up. The children, of course, picked the right cup–no surprise since they saw the toy being hidden. Topál and his colleagues repeated the trial several times, always hiding the toy under the same cup, until finally they hid it under the other one. Despite the evidence of their eyes, the kids picked the original cup–the one that had hidden the toy before but did not now.

To investigate why the kids made this counterintuitive mistake, the scientists rigged the cups to wires and then lowered them over the toy. Without the distraction of a human being, the babies were far more likely to pick the right cup. Small children, it seems, are hardwired to pay such close attention to people that they disregard their other observations. Topál and his colleagues ran the same experiment on dogs–and the results were the same. When they administered the test to wolves, however, the animals did not make the mistake the babies and dogs did. They relied on their own observations rather than focusing on a human.

There are a few mistakes in this article and/or researcher’s thinking though.

One question the research of Topál, Hare and others raises is why chimpanzees–who are in most ways much smarter than dogs–lack the ability to read gestures. Hare believes that the chimps’ poor performance is one more piece of proof that the talent is rooted not in raw intelligence but in personality. Our ape cousins are simply too distracted by their aggression and competitiveness to fathom gestures easily. Chimps can cooperate to get food that they can’t get on their own, but if there’s the slightest chance for them to fight over it, they will. For humans to evolve as we did, Hare says, “We had to not get freaked out about sharing.”

This paragraph is a bit misleading.  There isn’t this thing called Personality.  The same mechanisms at play in dog behavior, pertain to primates too.  Evolution and learning shape the chimps behavior, just differently than humans and/or dogs.  In reading articles like this it’s important to sift out the trap words like mind, personality, “human nature”, and intelligence.

All in all though, and enjoyable piece.

Now back to football….

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