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Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired. - Jules Renard 

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Children Learn by Monkey See, Monkey Do. Chimps Don't. - New York Times

Children Learn by Monkey See, Monkey Do. Chimps Don't. - New York Times: "Mr. Lyons sees his results as evidence that humans are hard-wired to learn by imitation, even when that is clearly not the best way to learn. If he is right, this represents a big evolutionary change from our ape ancestors. Other primates are bad at imitation. When they watch another primate doing something, they seem to focus on what its goals are and ignore its actions.

As human ancestors began to make complicated tools, figuring out goals might not have been good enough anymore. Hominids needed a way to register automatically what other hominids did, even if they didn't understand the intentions behind them. They needed to imitate.

Not long ago, many psychologists thought that imitation was a simple, primitive action compared with figuring out the intentions of others. But that is changing. 'Maybe imitation is a lot more sophisticated than people thought,' Mr. Lyons said.

We don't appreciate just how automatically we rely on imitation, because usually it serves us so well. 'It is so adaptive that it almost never sticks out this way,' he added. 'You have to create very artificial circumstances to see it.'

In a few years, I plan to explain this experience to Charlotte. I want her to know what I now know. That it's O.K. to lose to the chimps. In fact, it may be what makes us uniquely human"


Blogger Ramki said...

That doesn't sound right. Haven't you read the story of a hat seller who lost all his caps to monkeys on top of a tree got them back by making them imitating his action of dropping the cap? 


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