maxdancona
 
  -2  
Wed 27 Jun, 2018 12:44 pm
@maxdancona,
There is no evidence that Koko wanted to be tickled in the Robin Williams video. The only reason that Robin Williams thought "tickle" or that you thought "tickle" is because the human handler said that Koko wanted to be tickled.

This is how sceances work... The mediums tell you what the ghosts are saying, and you believe them because they are mediums. Koko's handlers tell you what Koko "means". You have no way to confirm it... you believe it because you want to believe.

If you wanted to show that Koko was actually capable of conveying information, you would set up a test where the handler has to get information from Koko that can be verified (so the handler can't just say what she thinks the answer should be). You could put something in a box the handler can't see, and then have Koko tell her what is in the box,

Except Koko was never able to do this.

Humans want to believe, so they accept whatever the handlers tell them that Koko means.

This demonstrates the human ability to engage in wishful thinking. This doesn't demonstrate anything about a gorillas alleged ability to communicate.
maxdancona
 
  -2  
Wed 27 Jun, 2018 01:02 pm
@maxdancona,
Just to soften my position a little bit. It is clear that animals can learn words. I tell my dog "afuera" (yes, my dog understands Spanish), she moves to the door to go outside. Animals can be trained to respond to rote words or phrases in an appropriate way.

This isn't language.

The NCBI article I posted describe the distinction like this.

Quote:
Human language is distinct from all other known animal forms of communication in being compositional. Human language allows speakers to express thoughts in sentences comprising subjects, verbs and objects—such as ‘I kicked the ball’—and recognizing past, present and future tenses.... human language is also referential, meaning speakers use it to exchange specific information with each other about people or objects...


The claims made about Koko's ability to communicate were greatly exaggerated by her handlers.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Wed 27 Jun, 2018 01:10 pm
From the Slate article... https://slate.com/technology/2018/06/koko-the-ape-obituaries-are-overlooking-her-nipple-fetish-and-other-important-things.html

Quote:

AOL: What will she do now when we get off the phone? What does she eat for dinner?
KOKO: Candy hurry … candy.
PENNY: She’ll probably be very pleased to have her dinner. She’s asking me for ‘candy’ right now. After dinner.
KOKO: Candy hurry.
PENNY: She has vegetables for dinner … raw vegetables…
KOKO: Nipple.
PENNY: Yes, like a big salad.
...

Yet it’s not at all clear that she really meant “nipple” when she used the sign, in which she gestured to her own nipple. Koko’s signings tended to be incredibly malleable. According to Patterson and her colleagues, “nice” could be interpreted as meaning “rice.” “Foot” could be interpreted as “man.” “Lip” as “woman.” “Bean” as “cookies.” Or “shoes.” Or “artichokes.” Or a “toy tiger.” Or “Jell-O.” When all else fails, an out-of-context word could be interpreted as an insult. (“Bird,” “nut,” “toilet,” and “devil” were supposedly favorites.) Or interpreted as boredom. Or as bizarre gorilla humor. Even when transcribed by a sympathetic stenographer, Koko’s signing seemed to be littered with non sequiturs, even gibberish. Instead of seeing Koko’s inconsistencies as a sign that the gorilla hadn’t truly acquired language, advocates had to go through more and more intricate—and bizarre—intellectual backflips to try to project a meaning upon them.
Kolyo
 
  2  
Wed 27 Jun, 2018 03:26 pm
@maxdancona,
Max, I'll tell you what...

On the day that an "RIP Kolyo" thread appears, you can give half my eulogy. My sister will give the other half. The two of you can have a debate about whether anything I did really meant anything.
Kolyo
 
  1  
Wed 27 Jun, 2018 03:40 pm
@Ponderer,
Ponderer wrote:

The fact that Koko named her pet kitten All Ball makes me consider that she understood the meaning of some words and how to communicate those words.
Maybe she understood "all" meant "total".
Maybe to her, "ball" meant "play", "fun", or "happy".


That's really cool Ponderer.

It's impressive to see that she was creating her own compound words.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  -2  
Wed 27 Jun, 2018 04:27 pm
@Kolyo,
Kolyo wrote:

Max, I'll tell you what...

On the day that an "RIP Kolyo" thread appears, you can give half my eulogy. My sister will give the other half. The two of you can have a debate about whether anything I did really meant anything.


Koko is a talking gorilla; a heavily marketed cultural phenomenon. She was an wild animal in captivity and the subject of a dubious scientific experiment. She was also at the center of a sexual harrassment claim in 2005 when two researcher accused Patterson (the main researcher) of pressuring them to show the gorilla their nipples, allegedly at Koko's request (I suspect Patterson is the problem here).

She was not a real person. She was a manufactured cultural phenomenon that apparently gave people something that they couldn't get from Lassie or Flipper.

There have been a couple of people on Able2know who have passed, one of whom I liked and respected. I have never argued over the "eulogy" of a real person.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Wed 27 Jun, 2018 04:40 pm
@maxdancona,
I want to make it clear that I have nothing against Koko as an animal. It seems like a perfectly nice domesticated animal. I am pushing back on the group of humans that marketed Koko as a pseudo-science wonder beast, and the adoring public that made Koko into some source of spiritual/environmental truth.

I suspect that the real gorilla that was transformed into Koko would have been happier in the wild living as a gorilla instead of a domesticated animal doing tricks for adoring humans. But that is no fault of the gorilla.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  3  
Fri 29 Jun, 2018 12:45 am
@maxdancona,
No argument that animal languages are as complex as human's language, but they exist and they convey informarion. The bee waggle dance can inform other bees about the direction to take to find a good nectar resource, the distance from the hives and the quantity of the resource. The point is that language is not strictly human.
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  0  
Fri 29 Jun, 2018 12:47 pm
IMHO the focus should be on how better to get humans to talk with another in order to be heard and how better to hear others. Gorillas are very interesting but I'm not so sure how well they actually "speak our language" ... or how important it is to the survival of humanity. We seem to be an endangered species, bent on shelf-destruction.
0 Replies
 
livinglava
 
  1  
Fri 29 Jun, 2018 07:08 pm
@maxdancona,
I just rewatched the video. Koko's gestures clearly indicate "chase" and "tickle." After they finish playing, she says, "good . . . drink," and then receives some kind of sweet juice/soda as a reward. My conclusion is that she may have been communicating with and playing with Williams because she understood that if her behavior was good, she would get the drink as a reward. She was basically just performing for the reward, in other words, but she knew what she was doing and how to communicate as part of good behavior.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Fri 29 Jun, 2018 08:14 pm
@livinglava,
Even if what you are saying is true (and I don't see what you think you see)... it isn't anything that my dog doesn't do.

When my dog wants to go out, he raises his paw at the door. He knows that when he does this, I will often open the door for him. When my dog wants food, he gets up on his hind legs and raises his paws.

This is trained behavior, using actions to get treats. It isn't human language.
glitterbag
 
  2  
Fri 29 Jun, 2018 10:37 pm
@maxdancona,
Are you sure? It might be trained behaviour, but it's much more likely your dog trained you
maxdancona
 
  2  
Fri 29 Jun, 2018 10:50 pm
@glitterbag,
Fair enough... lol.
glitterbag
 
  3  
Fri 29 Jun, 2018 10:55 pm
@maxdancona,
Peace (shamrock emoji...the Mac is tempermental tonight)
0 Replies
 
livinglava
 
  2  
Tue 24 Jul, 2018 01:48 pm
@maxdancona,
Human language is also trained behavior. The question is how complex the cognitive nuances of communication can develop. Your dog probably likes to play, but he has no way to communicate the desire to play with sign language because he doesn't have fingers and the ability to coordinate them into legible symbols. A dog can bring its leash when it wants to go out, or bring a ball when it wants to fetch, etc

Animals are not stupid. They know what they want and they figure out how to communicate it with humans, assuming the humans are smart enough to figure out what they are trying to say.

Your point seems to be that Koko's language abilities weren't exceptional and I agree, but neither are humans' We just happen to have more nuanced hearing and vocal abilities that Gorillas either don't have, or their auditory language is too different from ours for us to communicate with each other across the species gap.

Do you listen to song birds? Song birds have developed the ability to communicate over long distances as part of evolving the ability to fly far. If they wouldn't have developed this ability, they wouldn't have been able to search as far and wide for food to feed their young. So we can guess that their songs probably identify them to their mates so they can communicate with the nest and for courting, but what else might they be communicating? Maybe the one in the nest makes a special call when she wants more of one particular type of food or another. That wouldn't be surprising if 1) their minds are able to distinguish between the different types of food, 2) their minds can distinguish the different sounds, and 3) their minds can associate each sound with its respective food.

Communication is not rocket science, but it requires some intelligence, and it is interesting to study how each species uses its particular evolved skills, such as fine motor control of fingers to communicate with other beings who couldn't otherwise understand what they want to tell.
camlok
 
  0  
Sat 1 Sep, 2018 08:45 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
Of the pig-headed conceit of morons, there is no end.

Don't bother me with facts, my mind is already made up!


You just can't help but be a hypocrite, Set. It is in your bones.
0 Replies
 
camlok
 
  -1  
Sat 1 Sep, 2018 08:48 pm
@maxdancona,
You're right, he is, Max, but I also have to point out what a stunning hypocrite you are. You only want to believe in science when it doesn't cause you mental consternation. I hope you aren't teaching this to your children.
0 Replies
 
camlok
 
  -1  
Sat 1 Sep, 2018 08:51 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
In fact, I am talking about you, and your obsessive need to trash threads on little or no basis other than your personal conceits.


Actually, Max presented the science and discussed the science while you presented little tales that you desperately want to believe because you think you had/have a cute dog.
0 Replies
 
camlok
 
  -1  
Sat 1 Sep, 2018 08:53 pm
@ehBeth,
Did this fan the home fires?
0 Replies
 
camlok
 
  0  
Sat 1 Sep, 2018 08:59 pm
@glitterbag,
Quote:
and by the way, I am a linguist.


How is that possible when your offerings on language have always illustrated that you seem to know precious little about how the English language works?
0 Replies
 
 

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