posted on Apr, 23 2008 @ 08:40 PM
I believe the sensational way these studies are broadcast undermines their value. A study like this should shed some light on how other species
interact with their environment, and how they have adapted over time. It could even give us more accurate yardsticks with which to measure
'intelligence' in other species; something that's more than just, "How exciting! The badger can write his name!"
I believe there are substantial differences between "Control" human subjects and chimps. An adult human has associated considerably more information
with the numbers that appear on screen, so as each number is observed, the human is distracted by first recalling what it is, or associating it
appropriately. The chimp, on the other hand, learns of the numbers as symbols, and is aware that remembering certain symbol patterns will earn a
prize. Since the motivation is different, the subjects interact with the task differently.
I believe also that a photographic memory is of great use to a chimp in a forest. Trees, rocks, and river locations -- the most important landmarks --
don't typically move; if a chimp can't remember what home (or the feeding ground) looks like, it won't make it there.
Humans, on the other hand, have less use for photographic memory. We learn by association, because we interact with many unique-but-similar things. I
will name five items, and readers can think of five examples for each:
Humans still have functional memories -- else, you wouldn't be able to read what I'm writing. As individuals, we are each exposed to far more
information than our peers in previous centuries, or other species outside our society. It is necessary to therefore store information differently: in
learning by association, we group things by their similarity to each other. That way, we can store more information in less space: You can recognize a
car when you see it, even if it looks unconventional, because of aspects/visual cues that you associate with all vehicles.
I think we should stop looking at this from a "better/worse than" perspective. Different environments will generate differing individuals. The
earlier we understand this, the quicker we'll be ready to deal with interplanetary species.