Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Sorry State of Modern Anthropology

Since my last post was on a toddler learning to walk, I thought this article in the Friday Sept. 7th edition of the Detroit News is interesting by way of contrast. It's an AP article by Lauran Neergaard which starts with these two paragraphs:
WASHINGTON -- Toddlers may act up like little apes, but researchers who compared the species concluded a 2-year-old child still has the more sophisticated social learning skills.

In one test, preschoolers who wanted a toy hidden in a trick tube copied a scientist's movements to retrieve the prize. Chimps watched the lesson but then mostly tried to smash or bite open the tube.
Exactly what is a social learning skill is not defined at least in this article. As evidence of the anti-mind nature of this study, notice how the researchers preferred to use the words 'learning skill' instead of thinking skill. Evidently, learning is something that is done without thought, like a conditioned social reflex perhaps. More anti-mind evidence:
In a novel study, scientists lured 106 chimpanzees, 32 orangutans and 105 toddlers to sit through five hours of testing over several days.

Researchers were trying to tell which innate abilities are distinctly human.
So, abilities are innate. I've always thought that if skills are innate, they are not learned and if they are learned, they are not innate. So what did these researchers learn?
"Human children are not overall more intelligent than other primates, but instead have specialized skills of social cognition," concluded the lead researcher, Esther Herrmann of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "They learn in a way that chimpanzees don't learn."
What way? Can you define this 'way'? What is the nature of this 'way'? Any clues at all Ms. Herrmann? Well since you didn't identify it I will: it's called concept formation. Only human beings can do it and it is anything but innate, humans must choose to discover then use this ability.

This is the kind of knowledge upon which policymakers are basing their social engineering legislation aimed at regulating you and me. Sad.

(A longer reuters version can be found here.--hat tip Junkscience.com of Sept. 7th.)

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