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Toddler intelligence vs. chimp intelligence: Toddlers way ahead

From the Wall Street Journal (paywall) about a recent psychological study by Gopnik et al, to be published in Psychological Science :

Suppose you see an experimenter put two orange blocks on a machine, and it lights up. She then puts a green one and a blue one on the same machine, but nothing happens.

Two red ones work, a black and white combination doesn’t. Now you have to make the machine light up yourself. You can choose two purple blocks or a yellow one and a brown one.

As a clever (or even not so clever) reader of this newspaper, you’d surely choose the two purple blocks.

But this simple problem actually requires some very abstract thinking. It’s not that any particular block makes the machine go. It’s the fact that the blocks are the same rather than different. Other animals have a very hard time understanding this. Chimpanzees can get hundreds of examples and still not get it, even with delicious bananas as a reward.

You mean, you found that even though chimp excrement-throwing, baby apes’ arm-waving or monkey lip-smacking provide insight into human development?

Still no signal from the mother ship? What gives?

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2 Responses to Toddler intelligence vs. chimp intelligence: Toddlers way ahead

  1. Toddlers beat chimps because they have the intelligence of human beings in them. How could a chimp beat a baby?? The baby must be already wired up pretty good.
    anyways we think with our souls and our brains are just middleman, i say, to the body.
    This means its impossible for a soul to get smarter therefore babies are as smart as any person and the only problem is they are in effect severally retarded. Including no original ideas alongside the retardation.The babies however come out of this as their memories are provoked.
    Prodigy’s in kids are simply demonstrations of memory’s having been quicker provoked and unduly concentrated.
    this is why kid prodigy’s are always as dumb as other kids but do well in things exclusively products of the memory.

  2. Entire article:

    Adventures in Experimenting On Toddlers By Alison Gopnik Dec. 13, 2013
    The Gopnik lab is rejoicing. My student Caren Walker and I have just published a paper in the well known journal Psychological Science. Usually when I write about scientific papers here, they sound neat and tidy. But since this was our own experiment, I can tell you the messy inside story too.
    First, the study—and a small IQ test for you. Suppose you see an experimenter put two orange blocks on a machine, and it lights up. She then puts a green one and a blue one on the same machine, but nothing happens. Two red ones work, a black and white combination doesn’t. Now you have to make the machine light up yourself. You can choose two purple blocks or a yellow one and a brown one.
    As a clever (or even not so clever) reader of this newspaper, you’d surely choose the two purple blocks.
    But this simple problem actually requires some very abstract thinking. It’s not that any particular block makes the machine go. It’s the fact that the blocks are the same rather than different. Other animals have a very hard time understanding this. Chimpanzees can get hundreds of examples and still not get it, even with delicious bananas as a reward.
    The conventional wisdom has been that young children also can’t learn this kind of abstract logical principle. Scientists like Jean Piaget believed that young children’s thinking was concrete and superficial. And in earlier studies, preschoolers couldn’t solve this sort of “same/different” problem.
    But in those studies, researchers asked children to say what they thought about pictures of objects. Children often look much smarter when you watch what they do instead of relying on what they say.
    We did the experiment I just described with 18-to-24-month-olds. And they got it right, with just two examples. The secret was showing them real blocks on a real machine and asking them to use the blocks to make the machine go.
    Tiny toddlers, barely walking and talking, could quickly learn abstract relationships. And they understood “different” as well as “same.” If you reversed the examples so that the two different blocks made the machine go, they would choose the new, “different” pair.
    The brilliant scientists of the Gopnik lab must have realized that babies could do better than prior research suggested and so designed this elegant experiment, right? Not exactly. Here’s what really happened: We were doing a totally different experiment.
    My student Caren wanted to see whether getting children to explain an event made them think about it more abstractly. We thought that a version of the “same block” problem would be tough for 4-year-olds and having them explain might help. We actually tried a problem a bit simpler than the one I just described, because the experimenter put the blocks on the machine one at a time instead of simultaneously. The trouble was that the 4-year-olds had no trouble at all! Caren tested 3-year-olds, then 2-year-olds and finally the babies, and they got it too.
    We sent the paper to the journal. All scientists occasionally (OK, more than occasionally) curse journal editors and reviewers, but they contributed to the discovery too. They insisted that we do the more difficult simultaneous version of the task with babies and that we test “different” as well as “same.” So we went back to the lab, muttering that the “different” task would be too hard. But we were wrong again.
    Now we are looking at another weird result. Although the 4-year-olds did well on the easier sequential task, in a study we’re still working on, they actually seem to be doing worse than the babies on the harder simultaneous one. So there’s a new problem for us to solve.
    Scientists legitimately worry about confirmation bias, our tendency to look for evidence that fits what we already think. But, fortunately, learning is most fun, for us and 18-month-olds too, when the answers are most surprising.
    Scientific discoveries aren’t about individual geniuses miraculously grasping the truth. Instead, they come when we all chase the unexpected together.
    http://online.wsj.com/news/art.....3386009168

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