Chimp Cookery

Researchers built an oven for some chimpanzees, and the chimps worked out how to cook with it for themselves.

Well, no, but that's what they're claiming they found. What they actually found was that chimps can learn to play games involving trading things they like less for things they like more.
The device was actually just a bowl with a false bottom that held cooked food. The researchers didn't use fire because it could have injured the chimps, and because some chimps might have already seen how humans used it to cook food.
So what we haven't learned is how early man came to control fire, or how he learned to cook -- let alone how he learned to build an oven! Fire's too dangerous for the chimps, and no oven construction is being observed.

4 comments:

Larry Harman said...

And because this experiment is tightly controlled, no argument for evolution can be made. I realize that I'm stretching a bit.

Texan99 said...

Still, learning to trade, even in a game context, is an interesting cognitive acquisition.

james said...

Grim got to this story before I was done frothing at the mouth. There's a circle allotted for headline writers. BTW, did you read Niven/Pournelle's Inferno, and note where he put ad writers?

douglas said...

When is the last time you saw an experiment regarding the intelligence of animals that wasn't horribly flawed? They all seem to be fatally flawed by their own biases on interpreting actions and the considerations underlying them. This is a perfect example.