May 16, 2005

SING FOR THE CUTE ONES:

Bird song sheds light on learning (BBC, 5/16/05)

Young canaries happily learn songs that sound nothing like their species, but they revert to a strict canary-like melody as they mature, Science reports.

A US team was surprised to find it could teach juvenile birds a haphazard jumble of computer generated tunes.

However, the birds' impressive flexibility gave way to rigid rules when breeding became a priority.

Paradoxically, months of wayward early learning seems to have little impact on the birds' ability to sing properly.

The scientists hope this puzzling course of events will help them understand how birds develop songs.


Missing the point that it's teaching them about the lack of speciation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 16, 2005 7:06 AM
Comments

"Missing the point that it's teaching them about the lack of speciation."

That seems like a vastly unrelated "point" to the article at hand.

Posted by: creeper at May 16, 2005 8:54 AM

You're saying that "speciation" consists in their choice of song?

Posted by: pj at May 16, 2005 9:27 AM

I'm saying that the subject of "speciation" appears to be unrelated to this article.

Posted by: creeper at May 16, 2005 10:07 AM

appears

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2005 10:11 AM

Yes, appears. Since you have no other response, do I take it you don't see how it's all that relevant either?

Posted by: creeper at May 16, 2005 10:14 AM

" a haphazard jumble of computer generated tunes."

Never heard to the Hip-Hop top ten referred to in that way before.

Now if they could get them to whistle "Louie Louie" or the start of "In-a-gadda-da-vida", I'll be impressed.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 16, 2005 11:33 AM

creeper:

Try looking at it without your blinders on--you'll get it.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2005 12:24 PM

You wouldn't have a point even if they didn't revert to their specific song, but even on your allegedly unblinkered terms your conclusion does not follow.

Given enough time, I could teach you to swing by your arms through the trees, but that wouldn't make you a monkey.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at May 16, 2005 1:46 PM

I thought the point would be how youngsters trained to be PC can acquire more rational opinions as they mature.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at May 16, 2005 6:55 PM

I could teach you to swing by your arms through the trees, but that wouldn't make you a monkey.

Harry: I thought that was OJ's point.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 16, 2005 7:14 PM

"Try looking at it without your blinders on--you'll get it."

Nice evasion, Orrin, but if you're positing this as some kind of valid dig against the theory of evolution, you'll have to explain yourself. As it stands, this is fairly limp.

Posted by: creeper at May 16, 2005 7:23 PM
"I could teach you to swing by your arms through the trees, but that wouldn't make you a monkey."

"I thought that was OJ's point."

... Lamarckianism?

Posted by: creeper at May 16, 2005 7:42 PM

Orrin is not very coherent when it comes to this subject, but I understand him to believe that all birds are just birds and that the apparent distinctions between, say, an eagle and a penguin are mere distractions.

If so, then the reversion of the bird to its specific song would not reinforce but destroy this assertion.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at May 16, 2005 8:52 PM
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