“listen drink”

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

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I studied under the Gardners of “Washoe the chimp learns American Sign Language” fame.  For awhile, I even lived on the former Nevada divorce ranch where the chimps (including Tatu, Dar, and Mojo) lived, long after the chimps pulled stakes and moved to Washington, but “their signs” were all around, the chimp cabins full of toys, “robo-chimp” graffiti in barns, the tree-house, and pastures where the chimps threw rocks at the horses.

The Gardners told fantastic stories, including the coining of phrases by chimps, such as “listen-drink” for the alka-seltzer served one New Year’s Day.

Trixie once explained a great ape strength experiment employing a large garage door spring attached to a wall.  The gorilla put his pinkie into the bolt-hole at the end of the spring and stretched it out effortlessly.  The chimp grabbed on with both hands, feet against the wall, and managed considerable, yet considerably less distension than the gorilla.  The orangutan simply dismantled the apparatus, bolt by bolt.

Allen once described a troop of domesticated primates that had a vending machine (a kind of Skinner box, really) at its disposal.  Once the smaller, smarter guy figgered out how to operate the machine for treats, the bigger guy would just punch the smarter guy around, rather than watching and learning.

At some point was the story of “Basso,” the chimp at the Frankfurt zoo who could add numbers, or rather, point to the correct answers from choices painted on wooden plates when asked sums (auf Deutsch).  The experimenter was asked how Basso could do arithmetic, and he replied that of course chimps can’t do arithmetic!  He reads my mind.

Great stuff.  But the best thing they ever did for me was to disabuse me of the notion of the Law of Effect.  Now, go back to your wars of aggression and financial collapses.

2 comments

    • RUKind on February 3, 2012 at 4:33 am

    The law of effect basically states that “responses that produce a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again in that situation, and responses that produce a discomforting effect become less likely to occur again in that situation.” [Wiki]

    This explains Afghanistan, opioids, and the relationship between Halliburton, KBR and wars of choice.

    Chimps evolve into chumps.

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