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Comment author: MugaSofer 10 January 2013 10:56:25AM -2 points [-]

Of course, it's hard to be sure how much of those behaviors is "programmed in" by evolution.

The same sort of people believe that animals see in monochrome (in which case, why waste scarce evolutionary resources on developing, e.g., bright plumage?)

In fairness, some animals do see in monochrome. Others can see into the ultraviolet or have even more exotic senses. I guess these people (who I don't seem to have encountered, are you sure you're not generalizing?) are treating all animals as dogs, which isn't uncommon in fiction.

Comment author: Kratoklastes 10 January 2013 10:30:43PM 2 points [-]

Not generalising in the least: I'm a man of the people who interacts often with the common man - particularly the rustic and bucolic variety (from the Auvergne in Deepest Darkest France to the dusty hinterland of rural Victora and New South Wales).

Everywhere I've ever lived, I've had conversations about animals (most of which I've initiated, I admit - and most of them before I went veggie), with folks ranging from French eleveurs de boeuf to Melbourne barristers and stock analysts: their lack of awareness of the complexity of animal sense organs (and their ignorance of animal awareness research generally) is astounding.

It may well be that you've never met anybody who thinks that all animals see in monochrome - maybe you're young, maybe you don't get out much, or maybe you don't have discussions about animals much. Fortunately, the 'animals see in black and white' trope is dying (as bad ideas should), but it's not dead.

To give you some context: I'm so old that when I went to school we were not allowed to use calculators (mine was the last generation to use trig tables). If you polled people my age (especially outside metropolitan areas) I reckon you would get >50% of them declaring that animals see in "black and white" - that's certainly my anecdotal experience.

Lastly: what makes you think that dogs see in monochrome? As far as we can tell dogs see the visual spectrum in the same way as a red-green colour-blind human does - they have both rods and cones in their visual apparatus, but with different sensitivities than humans' (same for cats, but carts lack cones that filter for red).

Of course we are only using "We can do this, and we have these cells" methods to make that call: as with some migratory birds that can 'see' magnetic fields, dogs and cats may have senses of which we are not yet aware. Cats certainly act as if they know something we don't.

Comment author: Kratoklastes 10 January 2013 06:45:27AM *  -2 points [-]

The idea of entanglement of present and future states is what makes me think that dogs invest (albeit with a strategy that has binding constraints on rate of return): they know that by burying a bone, the probability that it will be available for them at some later date, is higher than it would be if the bone was left in the open.

In other words, the expected rate of return from burying, is greater than for not-burying. (Both expected rates of return are negative, and E[RoR|not-burying]= -100% for relatively short investment horizons).

It also opens up the idea that the dog knows that the bone is being stored for 'not-now', and that 'not-now' is 'after-now' in some important sense: that is, that dogs understand temporal causality in ways other than simple Pavlovian torture-silliness.

I've also watched a crow diversify: I was tossing him pieces of bread from my motel balcony while on a hiking holiday. He ate the first five or six pieces of bread, then started caching excess bread under a rock. After he'd put a couple of pieces under the rock, he cached additional pieces elsewhere, and did this for several different locations.

E[Pr(loss=100%)] diminishes when you bury the bone, but it diminishes even more if you bury multiple bones at multiple locations (i.e., you diversify).

And yet there are still educated people who will tell you that animals' heads are full of little more than "[white noise]...urge to have sex...[white noise]...urge to eat... [white noise]... PREDATOR! RUN... [white noise]..." - again, the tendency to run from a predator indicates that the animal is conscious of its (future) fate if it fails to escape, and it knows that it will 'cease-to-be' if the predator catches it.

The same sort of people believe that animals see in monochrome (in which case, why waste scarce evolutionary resources on developing, e.g., bright plumage?)

Surprise... I'm a vegetarian.

In response to Closet survey #1
Comment author: Kratoklastes 10 January 2013 05:14:26AM 1 point [-]

Late to this (only by 4 years... so fifty smartphone generations), but LOVE the idea.

I believe - firmly, and with conviction - that the modal politician is a parasitic megalomaniacal sociopath who should be prevented at all costs from obtaining power; that the State (and therefore democracy) is an entirely illegitimate way of ameliorating public goods problems and furthering 'social objectives'.

Hence my nick (which I invented).

Comment author: Maelin 09 January 2013 12:28:45PM 3 points [-]

Bonus incentive: I give a free upvote to every comment that includes an expectation of attending!

Comment author: Kratoklastes 10 January 2013 05:09:07AM 2 points [-]

I expect that people will attend. Upvote that, hooka.</snark>

Actually, I expect that people including me will attend.