Nova Science Now: How Smart Are Animals
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Host Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles one of sciences major challenges in each episode of How Smart are Animals? He will guide us as he explores dramatic discoveries and the frontiers of research that connect each central, provocative mystery. Program episodes include: How Smart are Dogs?; How Smart are Dolphins?; How Smart is an Octopus?; and Profile: Irene Pepperberg & Alex.
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The work tries hard to differentiate between rote learning and actual problem-solving. It showed how dogs understand the meaning of humans' pointing, but monkeys do not. It speaks of those animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror. I'm still stumped at some of the things they call smartness. They show an octopus camoflaging itself and ask, "Gee! Isn't it so smart?" Well, it worked with what it had. If I had wings, I'd fly. If I had a long neck, I'd try to eat fruits or leaves from the tops of trees. It does point to the large brain size, but sometimes there seems to be holes in their argument.
The work concludes by showing a female researcher who spent 30 years studying one smart parrot. The work admits that she needed many grants and got few of them. However, I don't understand how one person could work with such a small sample. I think universities like studies that are repeatable with the chance to generalize. Yes, she picked this parrot out of the blue, but it still could have been Parrot Einstein. Her method(s) didn't seem topknotch to me.
If you like this documentary, you should surely see "Ape Genius."
Alex the parrot lived half a normal life of 60 years. He could count up to eight, distinguish between colors, shapes and objects, identify what was different, the same, or bigger, knew 100+ words.