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pilight



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PostPosted: 06/21/18 9:07 am    ::: RIP Koko Reply Reply with quote

Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language, dead at 46

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/koko-gorilla-mastered-sign-language-dead-at-46/

Quote:
Koko appeared in many documentaries and twice in National Geographic. The gorilla's 1978 cover featured a photo that the animal had taken of itself in a mirror.



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PostPosted: 06/21/18 10:07 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Crying or Very sad



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Howee



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PostPosted: 06/21/18 11:34 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Truly a most unique life....very sad to me.



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 06/23/18 1:29 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

She couldn't sign for shit.



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GlennMacGrady



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PostPosted: 06/23/18 1:24 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Koko could sign -- i.e., make gestures -- but most academics don't believe that was language, but rather just imitative behavior seeking rewards.

Here's a Koko critique by Herb Terrace, who had a multi-year language experiment with a chimpanzee named Nim Chimpsky and who, earlier, was my Psych 101 professor:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1980/12/04/more-on-monkey-talk-1/
mercfan3



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PostPosted: 06/23/18 7:16 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

It’s always amazing how so many people know so much more than the scientists who spend their lives studying their subject matter.



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Howee



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PostPosted: 06/24/18 2:40 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

mercfan3 wrote:
It’s always amazing how so many people know so much more than the scientists who spend their lives studying their subject matter.

Truth, indeed.

Terrace obviously believes his chimp experience qualifies him to debunk Koko's abilities. I believe it's far more a case of "scientists" wanting to use human metrics to prove animals can't implement human metrics. Duh.

I remember reading about times Koko used appropriate signage to indicate her moods, or things she wanted without prompting from humans. And folks like Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey and Birute Galdikas would be quick to tell you that their primate subjects were supremely eloquent in communicating with each OTHER, in ways that transcended the efficiency of our "language".



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GlennMacGrady



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PostPosted: 06/24/18 10:10 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Everyone agrees that animals can communicate with each other -- even bees and ants -- and that some animals can be taught to understand human words.

However, there has always been great definitional differences and controversies about what distinguishes "communication" from "language". This question has occupied scientists and researchers from many fields for many decades. There seems to be general agreement that language is more than the understanding of words or sounds, but requires the ability to construct and understand word strings in accordance with the rules of a structured syntax and grammar. This ability must be in the mind even if the organism doesn't have the vocal apparatus to form words.

The linguist Noam Chomsky became famous for proposing that only humans are born with a genetic "language facility", and that this facility evolved in homo sapiens very suddenly. Chomsky's views in the 1950's and 1960's were in opposition to those of B.F. Skinner, the most famous psychologist of the 20th Century and Herb Terrace's mentor at Harvard, who believed the human mind is a tabula rasa at birth and that language is a learned behavior. In retrospect, it seems the Chomskyites have largely prevailed in this debate.

Of those who believe that language is uniquely human, the "sudden evolution" of the language facility is anthropologically puzzling. Scientists don't do theology, but an interesting hypothesis has been suggested by naturalistic theologians who accept both biological evolution and divine miracle. The hypothesis is that, at some point in relatively recent homo sapien history -- dimly remembered in Genesis by a (Jungian) collective ancestral unconsciousness --god implanted the language/thought facility into ancestral humans. The result was Adam, whose creation "in the likeness of god" refers, not to some physical appearance, but to the ability to think and communicate at divine levels of abstraction and understanding.

This has all interested me greatly since I switched from physics to Skinnerian psychology (under Terrace) as an undergraduate -- and about which I've changed my mind several times in the half century since.
Howee



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PostPosted: 06/24/18 12:03 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

All interesting and valid points. Clearly, you've studied this topic more than many of us might have (my psych studies focused more on Bloom and Skinner, and that was 100 years ago).

Re: This point....
Quote:
However, there has always been great definitional differences and controversies about what distinguishes "communication" from "language".

....I would simply categorize "language" as one (very human) form of "communication". Animals communicate so many things WE cannot comprehend, being so tuned into verbal language as our species is. I think we've let the (literal) din of talking overwhelm our other very God-given communication skills: pheromones, perceptions of mental energies, etc.

That said, verbal languages REALLY became an ascendant feature for humans when writing evolved, enabling us to communicate things with others not in our immediate vicinity. Books. The internet....the universe is our oyster, no?

But then....Donald Trump discovered Twitter. DE-volution is real. Shocked Razz



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 06/24/18 1:37 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

There are ‘transcripts.’ Read them.



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PUmatty



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PostPosted: 06/24/18 2:22 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

People might be interested in the book "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?" by Frans de Waal.

De Waal is a cognitive biologist who has studied animal intelligence. The book is a fascinating look at how scientists try to understand intelligence in different species, including looking at how aspects of experiments may have led us to underestimate animal intelligence.

I don't read much science writing, and I couldn't put this one down.


jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 06/24/18 2:45 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

By the way, I think animals are incredibly smart. Even down to insects. I think honestly our own limitations determine how far off the mark we have been in understand just how smart these other creatures are and it’s largely because scientists use human thinking as a reference point. Mosquitos are brilliant. Flies, too. Many spiders are masters of their universe. Our processing of their capabilities should result in a respect for what seems uncanny behaviors given their minuscule brains. But it is anything but uncanny, it’s common nature hundreds of millions of years old. Bear cub fell into an empty swimming pool yesterday. They put a ladder down for it and the little fucker climed right up it. First few rungs it was putting its paws in the wrong place. But it quickly self learned the more efficient hand/rung placement that humans use. Crazy.

But read the transcripts from Koko’s signing. It’s no better than a dog laying on its back pawing at the air giving you the big eyes. Translation: rub my belly.



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 06/24/18 2:48 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

PUmatty wrote:
People might be interested in the book "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?" by Frans de Waal.

De Waal is a cognitive biologist who has studied animal intelligence. The book is a fascinating look at how scientists try to understand intelligence in different species, including looking at how aspects of experiments may have led us to underestimate animal intelligence.

I don't read much science writing, and I couldn't put this one down.


So yeah, your first sentence. The whole point of my last post.



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