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RightNation.US: Decades of Research Unfair to Apes! - RightNation.US

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No, this isn't a trailer for the next Planet of the Apes reboot. This article highlights recent, preliminary research into the alleged bias of former studies of animal cognitive abilities, specifically regarding comparisons of apes to humans. It's potentially explosive, at least in this area of interest.

I say this is "preliminary research" in that it has presumably not yet been replicated, although the analysis has been published in the journal Animal Cognition.

If this is true, then I see a little, almost-hidden irony here: The putatively biased researchers were studying animal cognition, yet allowed their own cognitive dissonance to affect their conclusions. Their "humans are naturally better" prejudice got the better of them.

Note that these researchers herein have not conducted any original research into animal cognition; they are instead pointing out flaws in prior research and suggesting alternate methodologies.

This Phys.org article is based on materials provided by the University of Portsmouth; IOW it's essentially a press release.


Apes' abilities misunderstood by decades of poor science
August 31, 2017
© Phys.org 2003 - 2017, Science X network
Source; excerpts follow:

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Apes' intelligence may be entirely misunderstood, because research has so far failed to measure it fairly and accurately, according to scientists.

Hundreds of scientific studies over two decades have told us that apes are clever - just not as clever as us.

A new analysis argues that what we think we know about apes' social intelligence is based on wishful thinking and flawed science…

[Co-author] Dr Leavens said: "The fault underlying decades of research and our understanding of apes' abilities is due to such a strongly-held belief in our own superiority, that scientists have come to believe that human babies are more socially capable than ape adults. As humans, we see ourselves as top of the evolutionary tree. This had led to a systematic exaltation of the reasoning abilities of human infants, on the one hand, and biased research designs that discriminate against apes, on the other hand…

[Co-author] Professor Bard said: "In examining the literature, we found a chasm between evidence and belief. This suggests a deep commitment to the idea that humans alone possess sophisticated social intelligence, a bias that is often not supported by the evidence."

The starting point in comparative psychology research is that if an ape makes a pointing gesture, say a point to a distant object, the meaning is ambiguous, but if a human does it, a double standard of interpretation is applied, concluding that humans have a degree of sophistication, a product of evolution, which other species can't possibly share…

So, that last paragraph is the essence of the putative bias. It goes on to cite a few (unspecified) examples of biased research, noting that prior studies failed to adjust for differences between the ape and human subjects, such as: culture, age, life history, or environment. The article closes with the researchers' "four possible remedies" for this "pervasive superiority complex in comparative psychology research":

  • Cross fostering
  • Radical operationalization
  • Training
  • Sampling

I recommend that you drill down and read these suggestions as they're just as interesting as the claims.
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Quote

The starting point in comparative psychology research is that if an ape makes a pointing gesture, say a point to a distant object, the meaning is ambiguous, but if a human does it, a double standard of interpretation is applied, concluding that humans have a degree of sophistication, a product of evolution, which other species can't possibly share…

Quote

So, that last paragraph is the essence of the putative bias. It goes on to cite a few (unspecified) examples of biased research, noting that prior studies failed to adjust for differences between the ape and human subjects, such as: culture, age, life history, or environment. The article closes with the researchers' "four possible remedies" for this "pervasive superiority complex in comparative psychology research":


It is "bias" to merely recognize as obvious what is readily apparent to all?

It's not a double standard if, when an ape points to something it's ambiguous but when *I* point to something its NOT ambiguous because I also have the tools to describe, define, and communicate what I'm pointing to. And, over time, others can build on that to create a corpus scientia that is separate and distinct from any of us yet available to all.

These 'psychologists', in ignoring the blindingly obvious, apparently wish to establish that they are no more intelligent than apes. They have succeeded.



(And is that Carl Sagan doing the spoken word?)
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And IMHO the world would be far better off if there were fewer psychologists and more Pink Floyd albums,
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