Bird Brains

I’m back in town briefly, but having got home after midnight from a 13-hour day at work, I have no time for writing. But…

Remember our piece a while back about the “Monty Hall problem”? Well, reader J. Kapok has now sent along a dispiriting item about the relative mathematical capabilities of people and pigeons. Here.

We’re off again shortly. Back to normal next week.


  1. Kevin Kim says

    The link doesn’t seem to be working. Is it just me?

    Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:50 am | Permalink
  2. Kevin Kim says

    Ah, OK. The link worked, but only after several clicks of the “refresh” button.

    Posted March 9, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    You know, I had that problem too; I thought it was just a fluke. Apologies to all.

    Posted March 9, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  4. JK says

    Apologies Malcolm. When I originally sent that, I was advised the IT guys assisting the scientists were simultaneously working on a clicker device for pigeons too.

    It would appear some IT guys are faster than others.

    Posted March 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink
  5. bob koepp says

    Well, for sure pigeons are brighter than the average IT dude or dudette. But being better at the Monty Hall problem is the result of their having no conception whatever of probability. With humans, it’s a clear case of a little bit of intelligence making us prone to very stupid moves (e.g., thinking when there’s no need for thought).

    Posted March 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Just to be sociable, Bob, I’ll assume you don’t mean to include highly skilled and creative C++ developers in the sub-peristeronic ranks of “IT dudes”…

    Posted March 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  7. JK says


    Postmortem studies (so far) seem to confirm your postulation. Indeed, the pre-frontal areas of the pigeon brains weigh (on average) 4.2 grams heavier than the IT prevailing human counterparts. Furthermore [preliminary] the human IT “specialists” seem to be far more content with the original “vivisection (Door #1)” than do the avian counterparts.

    Conclusions remain hypothetical at present. None of the avian subjects have chosen to remain content with the prelimary choice.

    Scientists however postulate improvement is possible. At some future point the human IT brain may be advantaged through means of avian augmentation. Researchers however acknowledge voluntary implemenation is hampered by the seeming unwillingness on the part of the avian genera to be generically lumped “IT-Brained” with “Bird-Brained.”

    Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink
  8. bob koepp says

    Well, I did reference the average IT dude or dudette — outliers were not part of the comparison.

    Also, it might help to provide some context… I just had my computer replaced at work, after a “tech guy” managed to trash my hard drive.

    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink

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