Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

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RJN
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Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by RJN » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:54 pm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ition.html
When scientists found out that chimps had better memories than students, there were unkind comments about the calibre of the human competition they faced.

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Re: Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by makc » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:41 pm

I remember watching this on TV. I could not once beat the chimp, not even when they runned video at 1/4th of speed.

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Re: Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by neufer » Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:05 am

makc wrote:I remember watching this on TV.
I could not once beat the chimp, not even when they runned video at 1/4th of speed.
I don't remember it at all :!:
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Re: Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by neufer » Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:12 pm

Apes don't fill up their brains with a lot of useless trivia:
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_____ A Study in Scarlet » Chapter 2

[Dr. Watson: Sherlock Holmes's] ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.

"You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it."

"To forget it!"

"You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones."

"But the Solar System!" I protested.

"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."


I was on the point of asking him what that work might be, but something in his manner showed me that the question would be an unwelcome one. I pondered over our short conversation, however, and endeavoured to draw my deductions from it. He said that he would acquire no knowledge which did not bear upon his object. Therefore all the knowledge which he possessed was such as would be useful to him. I enumerated in my own mind all the various points upon which he had shown me that he was exceptionally well-informed. I even took a pencil and jotted them down. I could not help smiling at the document when I had completed it. It ran in this way --

SHERLOCK HOLMES -- his limits.
  • 1. Knowledge of Literature. -- Nil.
    2. Philosophy. -- Nil.
    3. Astronomy. -- Nil.
    4. Politics. -- Feeble.
    5. Botany. -- Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
    6. Geology. -- Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
    7. Chemistry. -- Profound.
    8. Anatomy. -- Accurate, but unsystematic.
    9. Sensational Literature. -- Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
    10. Plays the violin well.
    11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
    12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.
When I had got so far in my list I threw it into the fire in despair. "If I can only find what the fellow is driving at by reconciling all these accomplishments, and discovering a calling which needs them all," I said to myself, "I may as well give up the attempt at once."
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Arthur Conan Doyle » Through the Magic Door » Chapter 12

I wanted to say that if I were advising a young man who was beginning life, I should counsel him to devote one evening a week to scientific reading. Had he the perseverance to adhere to his resolution, and if he began it at twenty, he would certainly find himself with an unusually well-furnished mind at thirty, which would stand him in right good stead in whatever line of life he might walk. When I advise him to read science, I do not mean that he should choke himself with the dust of the pedants, and lose himself in the subdivisions of the Lepidoptera, or the classifications of the dicotyledonous plants. These dreary details are the prickly bushes in that enchanted garden, and you are foolish indeed if you begin your walks by butting your head into one. Keep very clear of them until you have explored the open beds and wandered down every easy path. For this reason avoid the text-books, which repel, and cultivate that popular science which attracts. You cannot hope to be a specialist upon all these varied subjects. Better far to have a broad idea of general results, and to understand their relations to each other. A very little reading will give a man such a knowledge of geology, for example, as will make every quarry and railway cutting an object of interest. A very little zoology will enable you to satisfy your curiosity as to what is the proper name and style of this buff-ermine moth which at the present instant is buzzing round the lamp. A very little botany will enable you to recognize every flower you are likely to meet in your walks abroad, and to give you a tiny thrill of interest when you chance upon one which is beyond your ken. A very little archaeology will tell you all about yonder British tumulus, or help you to fill in the outline of the broken Roman camp upon the downs. A very little Astronomy will cause you to look more intently at the heavens, to pick out your brothers the planets, who move in your own circles, from the stranger stars, and to appreciate the order, beauty, and majesty of that material universe which is most surely the outward sign of the spiritual force behind it. How a man of science can be a materialist is as amazing to me as how a sectarian can limit the possibilities of the Creator. Show me a picture without an artist, show me a bust without a sculptor, show me music without a musician, and then you may begin to talk to me of a universe without a Universe-maker, call Him by what name you will.
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____ The Five Orange Pips

Sherlock Holmes closed his eyes and placed his elbows upon the arms of his chair, with his finger-tips together. "The ideal reasoner," he remarked, "would, when he had once been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it. As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after. We have not yet grasped the results which the reason alone can attain to. Problems may be solved in the study which have baffled all those who have sought a solution by the aid of their senses. To carry the art, however, to its highest pitch, it is necessary that the reasoner should be able to utilize all the facts which have come to his knowledge; and this in itself implies, as you will readily see, a possession of all knowledge, which, even in these days of free education and encyclopaedias, is a somewhat rare accomplishment. It is not so impossible, however, that a man should possess all knowledge which is likely to be useful to him in his work, and this I have endeavored in my case to do. If I remember rightly, you on one occasion, in the early days of our friendship, defined my limits in a very precise fashion."

"Yes," I answered, laughing. "It was a singular document. Philosophy, Astronomy, and politics were marked at zero, I remember. Botany variable, geology profound as regards the mud-stains from any region within fifty miles of town, chemistry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime records unique, violin-player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self-poisoner by cocaine and tobacco. Those, I think, were the main points of my analysis."

Holmes grinned at the last item. "Well," he said, "I say now, as I said then, that a man should keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it."
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Re: Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by The Code » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:48 pm

neufer wrote:Apes don't fill up their brains with a lot of useless trivia:

Errrr yes we do? :wink:
makc wrote:I remember watching this on TV. I could not once beat the chimp, not even when they runned video at 1/4th of speed.
Yeah, I saw it too. They had to remember a sequence of pictures to get the food. And press the correct buttons. And others that leaned how to open a sequence of doors. And others who learned how to do it, just by watching the other do it.

Mark
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Re: Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by Chris Peterson » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:07 pm

RJN wrote:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ition.html
When scientists found out that chimps had better memories than students, there were unkind comments about the calibre of the human competition they faced.
It isn't clear that this experiment demonstrates chimps have better memories than humans. What is shows is that chimps (or one chimp, at least) has a better memory (in a very specific domain) than your typical British student, and better than your very untypical memory savant.

I wonder how the students would fare against, say, an older Bushman or Aborigine, or against a member of any of the remaining groups of indigenous, illiterate humans? I believe I've read that some members of such cultures have exceptional memories. You even read of remarkable memory feats in Europeans not so long ago. In the developed world, we are no longer very dependent on memory, given writing and cameras and computers. This may simply be a skill that we have not developed, not a real difference in fundamental brain function.
Chris

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Re: Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by The Code » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:19 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:It isn't clear that this experiment demonstrates chimps have better memories than humans. What is shows is that chimps (or one chimp, at least) has a better memory (in a very specific domain) than your typical British student, and better than your very untypical memory savant.
Sorry Chris, I could not resist .

Mark
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A shrewdness of astericknots

Post by neufer » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:29 pm

mark swain wrote:
neufer wrote:Apes don't fill up their brains with a lot of useless trivia:
Errrr yes we do? :wink:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ape wrote:
<<"Ape", from Old English apa is possibly an onomatopoetic imitation of animal chatter. The term has a history of rather imprecise usage. Its earliest meaning was a tailless (and therefore exceptionally human-like) non-human primate, but as zoological knowledge developed it became clear that taillessness occurred in a number of different and otherwise unrelated species. The original usage of "ape" in English might have referred to the baboon, an African monkey. Two tailless species of macaque are commonly named as apes, the Barbary ape of North Africa (introduced into Gibraltar) and the Sulawesi black ape or Celebes crested macaque.

A group of apes may be referred to as a troop or a shrewdness.

Until a few decades ago, humans were thought to be distinctly set apart from the other apes, so much so that many people still do not think of the term "apes" to include humans at all. However, it is not considered accurate by many biologists to think of apes in a biological sense without considering humans to be included. The terms "non-human apes" or "non-human great apes" is used with increasing frequency to show the monophyletic relationship of humans to the other apes while yet talking only about the non-human species.>>
  • ---------------------------------------------------
    . Hamlet > Act III, scene IV

    HAMLET: Let the birds fly, and, like the famous ape,
    . To try conclusions, in the basket creep,
    . And break your own neck down.
    ---------------------------------------------------
    . King Richard III > Act III, scene I

    YORK: I am little, like an ape.
    ---------------------------------------------------
    . The Comedy of Errors > Act II, scene II

    DROMIO OF SYRACUSE: I am an ape.

    LUCIANA: If thou Art changed to aught, 'tis to an ass.
    ---------------------------------------------------
Art Neuendorffer

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Re: Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by makc » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:50 pm

neufer wrote:I don't remember it at all :!:
Maybe that's because TV schedule and list of channels varies slightly across the globe? Or maybe because I watched the video online somewhere... it's really hard to tell.

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Re: Daily Mail: Ape Trounces Humans in Memory Competition

Post by neufer » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:59 pm

makc wrote:
neufer wrote:I don't remember it at all :!:
Maybe that's because TV schedule and list of channels varies slightly across the globe?
Or maybe because I watched the video online somewhere... it's really hard to tell.
So you really don't remember either :!:
Art Neuendorffer