Mister Pterodactyl
Friday, March 05, 2004
I've been catching up on my newsmagazines. A couple weeks ago, the Economist had a piece (read it here) about why dogs are man's best friend.
Brian Hare of Harvard ran an experiment in which dogs and chimps (supposedly one of the more intelligent animals) had to find a treat under one of two cups. With no interference, both animals found it with 50% accuracy, as might be expected. But when the researcher cued the subject by tapping the correct cup, staring at it, or just tugged an ear, the dog almost always got it right while the chimp showed very little improvement. He ran the experiment with wolves and with an undomesticated breed of dog from New Guinea and got the same results: the domesticated dogs were better.

The experiment was meant to show that dogs are good at reading the behavior of humans, and that's why we like them so much. Here's my question: why didn't he try it with cats? (answer: because the cats would just wander off to lie in the sun.)
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