by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Aug 31, 2017
In a newly published study, researchers argue the intelligence and cognitive abilities of apes are continually underestimated and discounted.
According to a team of international scientists, decades of ape research has been poisoned by the base assumption that humans are smarter and more capable than -- and all-around superior to -- their ape ancestors.
David Leavens, a professor at the University of Sussex, says such an assumption is wrong and makes for flawed science.
"As humans, we see ourselves as top of the evolutionary tree," Leavens said in a news release. "This had led to a systematic exaltation of the reasoning abilities of human infants, on the one hand, and biased research designs that discriminate against apes, on the other hand."
As proof of the problem and often twisted logic deployed in ape research, Leavens and his colleagues cite studies in which the superior cognitive performance of apes over human infants is explained as a consequence of an ape's inferior cognitive abilities.
"There is not one scientifically sound report of an essential species difference between apes and humans in their abilities to use and understand clues from gestures, for example," Leavens said. "Not one."
Leavens and his colleagues aren't arguing that apes boast cognitive abilities equal to humans. In their new study -- published this week in the journal Animal Cognition -- researchers simply make the case that the current science doesn't support the assumption of human superiority.
"In examining the literature, we found a chasm between evidence and belief," said Kim Bard, a professor at the University of Portsmouth.
One of the biggest problems, researchers argue, is apes are often pitted against human children in tests where exposure or Western cultural norms are an advantage. For example, apes and human infants are sometimes tested on their ability to understand Western conventions of non-verbal communication. The apes, of course, have not been exposed to Western conventions of non-verbal communication.
In their latest study, scientists argue ape researchers must worker harder to put apes and human infants on equal footing prior to cognitive testing. Leavens and Bard suggest researchers can do this by having ape subjects adopted by human families, or by training apes in the skills needed to perform.
Davis CA (SPX) Aug 28, 2017
The advent of farming, especially dairy products, had a small but significant effect on the shape of human skulls, according to a recently published study from anthropologists at UC Davis. Humans who live by hunting and foraging wild foods have to put more effort into chewing than people living from farming, who eat a softer diet. Although previous studies have linked skull shape to agricu ... read more
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|