Monday, September 17, 2007

Alex, we hardly knew ye

Alex the Grey Parrot, who understood the concept of zero, died last week at the age of 31. Not only was Alex smart, (he understood colors, categories and numbers) he also was easily bored if the experiments he participated in were not up to snuff in challenging his intellect. Needless to say, he stirred up a huge controversy among some cognitive scientists who questioned if he was the bird version of "Clever Hans" the horse "that was claimed to have been able to perform arithmetic and other intellectual tasks." but did not as Hans, sensing the involuntary movements of people that clued him to the right answer of any question asked, tapped his way to fame and fortune until he was discovered to be just clever but not truly intelligent.

In the case of Alex, intellect and feeling was real as the last thing he said to his long time owner, Dr. Pepperberg, was: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”

No comments: