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Dragons of Eden/ape language

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posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 01:58 PM
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I read Carl Sagan's chapter on language and communication in 'Dragons of Eden' recently. I'm interested in more information involving concerning this topic of alterior forms of discourse between other critters. Any entertaining suggestions?
Also, what are everyones thoughts on Sagan's proposals? That being that basically apes(particularly the schooled ones) are being held captive from growing intellectually and the opportunity to 'teach' other apes in the wild the language. That if signing apes were released into the wild that the language would develop across the species in the future.



J_3

posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 02:03 PM
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Interesting. But a link to his work would help.



posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 02:47 PM
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I'm attempting to retrieve further information outside of the book itself.

Here is a good basic Sagan site:
www.oarval.org...

This site is great for Sagan's thoughts on religion:
www.detwiler.us...

Carl Sagan (supposedly/unconfirmed) on smoking pot:

I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of Gaussian distribution curves. It was a point obvious [sic] in a way, but rarely talked about. I drew curves in soap on the shower wall, and went to write the idea down. One idea led to another, and at the end of about an hour of extremely hard work I had found I had written eleven short essays on a wide range of social, political, philosophical, and human biological topics... . I have used them in university commencement addresses, public lectures, and in my books.
www.wunderland.com...

And a psycological analysis of his work:
psychcentral.com...



posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 02:49 PM
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Originally posted by quarterforty
That being that basically apes(particularly the schooled ones) are being held captive from growing intellectually and the opportunity to 'teach' other apes in the wild the language. That if signing apes were released into the wild that the language would develop across the species in the future.

Does sagan say it like that or does he suggest that the chimps that have been taught language also be taught to teach them to other chimps? Is he saying that man's holding them is retarding them, or that they can be used to teach other wild chimps?



posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 03:09 PM
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i have Dragons of Eden and its an amazing book!

One of my favorite books of all time , actually.

Carl Sagan was a true hero for popularizing science

I believe that Carl Sagan had 20 or 22 honerary PhDs too

think of that!!!
A Dr. of 22 fields!!

i truely respect the guy in every way
hes dead now; but his legacy will always live on


Dragons of Eden is an excellant book about how humans are NOT unique animals of earth in our basic abilitys
many other animals are capable of communication with humans
chimps; gorillas; parrots etc

i would suggest to Anyone to pick up this book and read it!
"Dragons of Eden" its quite fascinating

did you know that carl sagan was a major part in getting SETI going?

Did you know carl sagan was on Project Blue book the air force investigation into UFO phenomena and in his book "Demon haunted world"
its very interesting stuff
and carl sagan is probably one of the Most Credible sources you can find out there; hes very honest and always great with documentation and evidence to support his ideas
A model scientist


seriously Carl sagan has been my 'hero' since i was in high school

too bad no one else in the world has geeky heros like i do; then we would definatly be living in a better world


Check out these books by Carl Sagan:::
ive read all these


"Cosmos "
- his biggest hit almost everyone has heard of this or saw its TV series

"Broca's Brain"
-not sure how to describe it; but wonderful exploration of the history of science' well worth anyones time to read it; its Sweet!

"Shadows of Forgotton Ancestors"
-similar to Dragons of Eden; deep investigation of DNA and our history as a species; alot of science about the similaritys between man and other primates; alot of cases of primates using technology etc

"Dragons of Eden"
-about how humans are not as unique as we "think" we are; detailed examples of primates communicating thru sign language or a symbol language ; alot of very interesting related info

"Pale Blue Dot"
- All about Earth and how small we really are
very interesting thoughts about our history our present and where we may go in the future; talks about future events like terraforming worlds and what would be nessasary for that; even gives a great example of how mars could be terraformed into earthlike habitat over 500years and 50trillion dollars
lmao! and just about anything space related u will find in this book (Make Sure to get the book with photos!)
somewhere near the end of a book is a "map" of the SETI radar returns; showing all the funky radio signals they picked up *weird stuff*

"Demon Haunted World"
-About Skepticism and how alot of Balogne gets tossed around all the time
Included is the "Skeptics Tool Kit" i believe its called; and by following the 10 or 20 rules of logical thinking that can help you become a reasonable open-minded skeptic
also included is a chapter or two on UFO; aliens ; and his work on Project Blue Book

Billions and Billions
-i think it was his last book
it was great still
he kind of goes over everything in this one
gets really into how "big" or "vast" the universe is
really great reading

ok SORRY everyone for the long post!
but i see a carl sagan thread i gotta represent for my man carl!!

im sure you all understand


PS- now that Carl is gone there is this really smart guy taking his place

Michio Kaku ; one of the founders of string theory
try his books ::
"Hyperspace"
"Visions"
or "Parallel Worlds"
(i think thats what his new one is called)

this guy is amazing w/physics
check him out too!





posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 03:14 PM
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he doesnt say we are retarding them; but that we could definatly foster growth in their species by being a little more friendly towards them and their enviornmental habitat
in a nutshell
lol

and the story about Carl Sagan Was confirmed i beleive After his death!
he was a Pothead!!

i saw the story on CNN one day and taped it when they re-aired the 30min news broadcast
they were saying they had evidence he was the guy who wrote for that SF newspaper under the 'mr x' or whatever name he used

i still have the video tape around somewhere


score 1 for the potheads
he has like 22 honorary PhDs!!

i wish i could try some of the pot he had!!
lol



posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 08:18 PM
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Originally posted by NygdanDoes sagan say it like that or does he suggest that the chimps that have been taught language also be taught to teach them to other chimps? Is he saying that man's holding them is retarding them, or that they can be used to teach other wild chimps?

Actually, they don't seem to be very good at teaching the language or picking it up from other chimps. It may take human socialization to make it possible for them (bringing them up in an alien environment.)

Chimps and other animals may have a different form of universal grammar; one with different rules and different order of thinking things. It might be completely contrary to human grammars (side track ... one would wonder if dogs, because of their close socialization wthh humans, have developed a more human-style universal grammar.)
en.wikipedia.org...

But observations based on moving Washoe and other human-trained signing primates in with other primates show that other primates simply don't pick the language up if their teacher is another primate like themselves.



posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 08:18 PM
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I highly suggest reading Up From Dragons. It tries to follow Sagan (daughter(?) is a co-author), and is a fantastic read that is basically about neural plasticity. I cannot begin to explain how many times in my life something I've read in that book has come in handy. The theories, the examples, everything. It's a great read.

Plus, you can read about a blind man who could ride his bike because he used echolocation.



posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 02:07 AM
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A fascinating read on Kanzi, and other apes like Koko and Nim Chimpsky.

acp.eugraph.com...

If they evolved bigger brains they could communicate with each by talking and could become very intelligent.

We are a primate, and we developed speech so why can't they?
members.fortunecity.com...



posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 06:56 AM
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It is a brilliant book among his best IMO.

This is also being discussed in some other threads :

Evolution or ID?
Dolphins Thread

There is a recent good audio documentary on Chimps. Please guys if you have any interest in this spare 20 mins and listen to the following not only a complete look at Chimps (kanzi mainly who btw was never taught Sign but observed and taught himself!) but fantastic investigative journalism.

Chimps Signing and starting to speak? you decide!

The homepage for the Docu is below there is another part that looks at our genetic, social & behavoral similarities. Well worth a listen as well.

Chimpana to Chimpanzee Documentary Homepage.

MischeviouslyMonkyingAbout
Elf

[edit on 8-6-2005 by MischeviousElf]



posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 08:32 AM
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Originally posted by Charlie Murphy
A fascinating read on Kanzi, and other apes like Koko and Nim Chimpsky.

acp.eugraph.com...

If they evolved bigger brains they could communicate with each by talking and could become very intelligent.

I don't think the issue is bigger brains. I think the issue is that we haven't learned enough to understand the basis of their universal grammar.


We are a primate, and we developed speech so why can't they?
members.fortunecity.com...

That's a pretty neat page with a good summary of human evolution. However, we still don't know why and how and when we developed speech. I have read that part of it relates to our ability to remember things, so that a dog (for example) might only be able to remember 2-3 word sentences but humans are capable of processing fairly complex strings of words in ways that other animals can't.

A dog, for instance, could easily process "fetch the ball" or "get Roger's ball" but "fetch the ball that Roger gave me yesterday that I put inside the small storage bin" is something that's beyond her ability to process. As far as we know, animals deal in concrete concepts and abstracts and time-related things (such as "I dreamed about the commuter train yesterday") are probably beyond them.

...however my knowledge of linguistics is still pretty small.



posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 09:17 AM
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Originally posted by Charlie Murphy
We are a primate, and we developed speech so why can't they?
members.fortunecity.com...


An interesting book that deals with exactly that problem is Language and Species by Derek Bickerton. He proposes a new theory that accounts for why other primates lack language, and maintains that language evolved despite the fact that language is not observed in nature aside from humans. It's really a compelling read, and for the most part simple. There are a few chapters that can be difficult, however, when he deals with grammar and the like.

Also, worth checking out:

Invitation to Cognitive Science edited by Edward E. Smith and Daniel N. Osherson. Specifically, check out Chapter 2, written by R.C. Lewontin, titled The Evolution of Cognition

The Origin of Humankind by Richard Leakey. Specifically, Chapter 7, titled The Art of Language

A History of Language by Steven Robert Fischer, Chapter 2, Talking Apes

Also interesting is How History made the Mind: The Cultural Origins of Objective Thinking by David Johnson.

This book proposes an extreme relevance of culture in the development of language (drawing specifically on the Upper Paleolithic Revolution and the emergence of rationality in Greek culture) as examples and explains language that way. Very interesting book, controversial thesis. I studied under the author, and he's a stellar academic, but I don't know if I agree with him. interesting nonetheless.



posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 09:42 AM
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Originally posted by Byrd

That's a pretty neat page with a good summary of human evolution. However, we still don't know why and how and when we developed speech. I have read that part of it relates to our ability to remember things, so that a dog (for example) might only be able to remember 2-3 word sentences but humans are capable of processing fairly complex strings of words in ways that other animals can't.


Some say it's memory, but beyond that, it's how the world is represented. More often than not, language is not about communication, b ut a way of seeing and representing the world. The way animals see and represent the world is very straight forward. They see what's there and kind of deal with the whole picture and it seems as though that's as far as animal language goes as it's been observed in nature (with the exception of birds, bees, and trained great apes), whereas human language deals with particulars and we are sort of disconnected from the world. We don't deal primarily with the senses. For example, Vervets don't know anything they can't see, touch or feel, but we can. We have abstract concepts which are divorced from our senses.

What you mention about 2-3 word sentences has more to do with syntactical elements of language. Without syntax there's superficial ordering of constituents, arbitrary null elements, few gramatical elements, and more importantly in this discussion, there are no mechanisms for the expansion of utterances. In so-called proto-language (which has been observed in trained great apes, as well as ferral children) there are no rules for expansion of sentences, so they would just throw in whatever they could, randomly. Memory is not really the issue here, but the fact that there are no rules that allow for expansion of a sentence. The words can be known, but without that ability it seems that words will be just strung together, and normally only a few at a time, nothing like a complex sentence you mention below.

There is evidence, too, that even if one can't speak it, they can think it, and are aware of past tenses, and expansions, but it can't be incorporated into speach unless under direct pressure. An instance of this would be Genie, as 13 year old girl discovered in 1970 in California after having spent 11 years imprisoned and alone in her bedroom, which no exposure to language. She learned words, and could communicate, but was lacking all of the things trained apes seem to lack. But she was aware, she just couldn't use them unless prodded.





posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 02:01 PM
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Originally posted by Byrd

I don't think the issue is bigger brains. I think the issue is that we haven't learned enough to understand the basis of their universal grammar.



However, we still don't know why and how and when we developed speech.


The FOXP2 gene in humans give us the abliity to speak, and I guess I was wrong. No matter how big their brains are it will be physically impossible for apes to speak(well, correctly).
www.cnn.com...

That explains the how and Im assuming the why is that is was best for survival.



posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 09:27 PM
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Thanks for the great followups, folks. I haven't really read much linguistics and the course I'm going to take later this summer will be strictly human grammar basics (argh!) and not linguistic basics. I still think it's one of the most fascinating substudies in anthropology.

Charlie, I'd forgotten about the FOXP2 gene.

Parrhesia -- interesting story about the feral children. I hadn't realized they also had similar problems.



posted on Jun, 9 2005 @ 02:05 PM
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Originally posted by parrhesia
Invitation to Cognitive Science edited by Edward E. Smith

Christ, for a few moments there I thought you meant the EE Smith; Doc Smith. But 1995 is way too late for him!



posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 02:44 PM
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Originally posted by Byrd
Actually, they don't seem to be very good at teaching the language or picking it up from other chimps. It may take human socialization to make it possible for them (bringing them up in an alien environment.)

Chimps and other animals may have a different form of universal grammar; one with different rules and different order of thinking things. It might be completely contrary to human grammars (side track ... one would wonder if dogs, because of their close socialization wthh humans, have developed a more human-style universal grammar.)
en.wikipedia.org...

But observations based on moving Washoe and other human-trained signing primates in with other primates show that other primates simply don't pick the language up if their teacher is another primate like themselves.


Byrd, are you sure about this? I remember reading the story of Washoe, who did teach ASL to a chimp she fostered. I've also read numerous other accounts about mother chimps/apes teaching it to their offspring.



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