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Monkey Puzzle – a monkey that can count

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Hymie | 20:50 Wed 08th Feb 2012 | Science
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This is now quite old – but it keeps re-appearing every once in a while on main stream TV.

A monkey is shown a display screen with single digit numbers at various locations on the screen, the monkey touches each number in ascending order and is rewarded with a peanut, having completed the task.

Next, the numbers are displayed for a short time and then obscured by blocks. The monkey again touches the hidden numbers in the correct sequence (counting up).

In some sequences, the monkey is only shown the numbers for a fraction of a second before being obscured by blocks, but can still touch the hidden numbers in sequence - something that humans cannot match.

Scientists claim that this shows that the monkey can count and has a true photographic memory (to remember where the numbers are).



It is very doubtful to me from the footage that the monkey can count and has a photographic memory. What it does show is how easy it is to fool scientists.

I would be willing to bet a £ to a penny that if the numbers displayed were replaced by random graphic symbols (then obscured by blocks) – the monkey would follow whatever pre-arranged sequence it has been taught to mimic.

The monkey knows nothing of numbers, and does not possess a photographic memory - it has simply been taught a series of sequences to follow – and is rewarded with a peanut.

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Although a few scientist do fiddle results for various reasons (some of them nothing to to with faking the results), the vast majority do not. Most of the bad science is the result of poor experimental design, poor monitoring and biases in instrument readings. Some scientists use the statistical analysis which gives the best (not the most accurate) results, ie. the results they expected according to their preconceptions. This bad science is usually weeded out long before the research is published. It is possible that the monkey experiment video is fraudulent and /or the video is selective and only shows the best bits. If you are really concerned you should look up the research on this subject that has been peer reviewed and published. I'm sure that someone on AB can point you in the right direction.
If my chavvy neighbour can count to 9, I dont see why a chimp couldn't
You'd think that with that level of intelligence the monkey wouldn't work for peanuts.
You'd think that with that level of intelligence the monkey wouldn't work for peanuts.

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