Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Using Human Standards, Who Is Smarter?

I will readily admit that the title for today's post is misleading. I chose to word it that way because the pull quote from this article in the Daily Express that I heard being bandied about on the radio is:
She compared the results with standard measurements of the intellectual development of human babies aged nine months. Baby chimps given responsive care scored 110, the average human baby at nine months 100.
I would think that, in a reasonable world, the more actionable quote to make the news should be:
Chimps given only basic care scored 91. [Human] babies in Romanian orphanages performed even worse than chimps given only basic care.
You see, the study in question is actually about the effects of loving care on the mental development of babies, across species. The conclusion drawn by the researchers is:
Early experiences either of warm, responsive care-giving or of extreme deprivation have a dramatic impact on emotional and cognitive outcomes in both chimpanzees and humans.
So, is your dog neurotic? Your cat aloof? You may have to look back in time to find the reason why.

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