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Old 31st January 2018, 07:25 PM   #201
Reality Check
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A blogger who has read the paper: Evidence that raptors spread brushfires to flush out prey
The paper contains
  • "twenty cases from twelve aboriginal tribes"
  • "six first-hand accounts"
  • "two of the authors (Eussen and Ferguson) directly observed “fire spreading,”"
I agree with the blogger - hearsay but believable and cool if true.
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Old 31st January 2018, 11:25 PM   #202
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Having personally watched a raccoon pick up two candles one at a time and turn them over to snuff the flame out in order to 'turn out the light' we were watching them with, it's clear we underestimate the knowledge a few animals have about fire. It's not all about panic, some of them have some understanding of fire.
Do you have a degree in racoonology? If not, I am afraid you can make no such claim
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Old 1st February 2018, 01:13 PM   #203
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Are we discussing the behavior of birds or trying to determine who is the most skeptical. It seems that some won't be satisfied until one of these hawks approach them on its own volition, without coercion and offers an explanation. Even then, I feel some effort will be made to determine if the bird is lying.

Firstly, this whole, 'All animals are afraid of fire' trope is a ridiculous myth, perpetuated for people who are afraid of camping. Next, "Bird brain" as a derogatory term is just something mean kids say in the playground. Birds are smart, capable of amazing feats of engineering and navigation, as well as complex problem solving. It is by no means a stretch to conclude that these birds have figured out that more fire means more chances of food. It also does not take a monkey to observe that little fires grow into big fires.

This behavior documented by multiple people is obviously and quite simply birds hunting for food. I would even be willing to take it a bit farther and say they also do this to eliminate tall grass and brush to make future hunts easier, when fire is unavailable.
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Old 1st February 2018, 01:29 PM   #204
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Do you have a degree in racoonology? If not, I am afraid you can make no such claim
I lit the candles and put the oatmeal in between them, does that make me an apprentice raccooner?
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Old 1st February 2018, 01:30 PM   #205
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Originally Posted by Nakani View Post
....Firstly, this whole, 'All animals are afraid of fire' trope is a ridiculous myth, perpetuated for people who are afraid of camping. ...
I think it comes from all of us seeing/reading Bambi as kids.
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Old 1st February 2018, 03:10 PM   #206
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Quote:
I agree with the blogger - hearsay but believable and cool if true.
How long before the chimps hunting with a home made spear was confirmed despite many accounts.
There is lots yet to discover ...in particular how clever birds are at problem solving and predicting future behaviours......talk about spy vs spy.

We'll stash this over here while he's watching and go back and move it later.

read in awe ( good long read )
https://arstechnica.com/science/2016...ird-prodigies/
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Old 2nd February 2018, 02:30 AM   #207
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I love this from the article that macdoc links to:

Quote:
We have a tendency to project our own minds onto animals, says Alex Kacelnik, a professor of behavioral ecology at Oxford University. “We see animals doing things for which we don’t have appropriate explanations other than pretending we ourselves are doing it.”

There are several examples of the tendency in this thread.


Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Do you have a degree in racoonology? If not, I am afraid you can make no such claim

It’s a funny joke, but steenkh has actually got a point that he may not even aware of: People tend to read intentions into animal behavior that aren’t always actually there. When the dog is trained to make sounds remotely similar to aaaaa oooo uuuuu, people are convinced that it's saying I love you, and when Skeptic Ginger sees (or rather: personally watches) the raccoon snuff out candles, she reads intention into the act twice. To her (and Steenkh, apparently) she’s observing intention, to me it isn’t necessarily the case:

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Having personally watched a raccoon pick up two candles one at a time and turn them over to snuff the flame out in order to 'turn out the light' we were watching them with, it's clear knowledge a few animals have about fire.

But since a raccoon – much like the hawks in Nakami’s fiction – can’t ’approach us on its own volition, without coercion, and offer an explanation’, researchers should be very careful when they interpret the stuff they’re observing.

Magicians tend to be more aware of this than scientists … , and they often use their knowledge in misdirection.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 02:51 AM   #208
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
There are several examples of the tendency in this thread.
But then, there is also the possibility that animals actually can act with intention that is similar to humans, and scientists might miss it when they insist on not interpreting the act as intentional.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 03:01 AM   #209
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Originally Posted by Nakani View Post
Firstly, this whole, 'All animals are afraid of fire' trope is a ridiculous myth, perpetuated for people who are afraid of camping.

It's a truth, not a trope. Nobody's claimed that it's a fear that they can't overcome - especially when fire is connected with the smell of food.
Nakami has come up with a trope for people who are afraid of camping outside of areas designated for the purpose where some animals get used to both campfires and people and come to expect them to be connected with food - much like the Australian birds.

It's obvious that most dogs can get used to fire when they notice that their owners aren't bothered by it. And a bear can overcome its natural instincts when the fire is contained and in a place where it expects to find food.
Birds, of course, have an advantage over most other mammals: They can take off if the fire threatens to surround them, which probably helps them overcome their fear and may even encourage them to seek out fire. Emus, ostriches or kakapos probably not so much.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 03:05 AM   #210
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
But then, there is also the possibility that animals actually can act with intention that is similar to humans, and scientists might miss it when they insist on not interpreting the act as intentional.

Which is why proper scientists don't insist on interpreting the act as intentional and based on actual knowledge - or not - until they have established with some certainty what it is.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 04:27 AM   #211
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Which is why proper scientists don't insist on interpreting the act as intentional and based on actual knowledge - or not - until they have established with some certainty what it is.
This knowledge is impossible to get, because we cannot make the animals tells what they mean. Because of this, there is a spectrum ranging from people who think that everything animals do is intentional and exactly as it would have been for humans (and sometimes even more so ) to people who refuse to think that animals can in any way be like humans: everything is just instincts and training.

Finding the right balance can be difficult.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 06:37 AM   #212
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Some people claim that
Quote:
We have the technology now to be able to develop devices that are the size of a cellphone and that would allow us to talk to our dogs and cats.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
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Old 2nd February 2018, 08:53 AM   #213
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Old news, see Gary Larson's Dog Bark Translator
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Old 2nd February 2018, 02:07 PM   #214
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
...
It’s a funny joke, but steenkh has actually got a point that he may not even aware of: People tend to read intentions into animal behavior that aren’t always actually there. When the dog is trained to make sounds remotely similar to aaaaa oooo uuuuu, people are convinced that it's saying I love you, and when Skeptic Ginger sees (or rather: personally watches) the raccoon snuff out candles, she reads intention into the act twice. To her (and Steenkh, apparently) she’s observing intention, to me it isn’t necessarily the case:

But since a raccoon – much like the hawks in Nakami’s fiction – can’t ’approach us on its own volition, without coercion, and offer an explanation’, researchers should be very careful when they interpret the stuff they’re observing.
Trying to avoid anthropomorphism can go way to far the other way as well. I don't buy it we can't ever anthropomorphize. That was a fad in animal behavior science a while ago. Most researchers who aren't being absurdly pedantic understand animals experience joy and grief.

The raccoon purposefully and carefully turned two candles upside down and put them out. It could have simply knocked the candles away from the oatmeal.

Your analogy of teaching a dog a particular sound is a fail of epic proportions.

But just on that note alone, people tried to dismiss cockatiels recognizing numbers of objects, colors, shapes and material. They were proved wrong.

People tried to dismiss the ability of chimps to learn language and used Clever Hans and the poorly done science of teaching Koko the gorilla to use sign language to dismiss all non-human primate acquisition of human language. They've been proven wrong as well, and in particular when chimps are taught language from infancy on, they have a much greater ability to learn language than when taught as adults.


Originally Posted by dann View Post
...Magicians tend to be more aware of this than scientists … , and they often use their knowledge in misdirection.
Bull ****. Not only is it an absurd over-generalization, your romantic view of magicians and poor understanding of researchers is rather blatant.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 02:14 PM   #215
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I think you seriously misunderstand that article.

Animals have various forms of communication. The article is not saying we are going to have a conversation with our pets. The researcher may be a tad over enthusiastic about the messages one's pets may be saying, but the underlying science is sound.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 02:30 PM   #216
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Thanks for the lecture, but no, no, I don't.
And I also have no "romantic view of magicians," whatever that might be.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
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Old 2nd February 2018, 02:51 PM   #217
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Thanks for the lecture, but no, no, I don't.
And I also have no "romantic view of magicians," whatever that might be.
No you don't what? Stand by your dismissal of what we can determine observing animal behavior?

A romantic view is an idealized view, as if magicians had some special skill those stupid researchers don't have.


Sorry, I'm annoyed.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 03:39 PM   #218
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
It's a truth, not a trope. Nobody's claimed that it's a fear that they can't overcome - especially when fire is connected with the smell of food.
Nakami has come up with a trope for people who are afraid of camping outside of areas designated for the purpose where some animals get used to both campfires and people and come to expect them to be connected with food - much like the Australian birds.
Damn,
I have not come up with this trope, it is something that humans have told themselves for years. There is no proof that fire is scary to animals, sure you try and hit the beast with your torch, it's going to back off but not wanting to get burned is not the same as being afraid of a orange flickering light. All a campfire is, is a bush night light, like the one we had in our rooms when we were kids.

Quote:
It's obvious that most dogs can get used to fire when they notice that their owners aren't bothered by it. And a bear can overcome its natural instincts when the fire is contained and in a place where it expects to find food.
Birds, of course, have an advantage over most other mammals: They can take off if the fire threatens to surround them, which probably helps them overcome their fear and may even encourage them to seek out fire. Emus, ostriches or kakapos probably not so much.
Some birds have even been observed starting fires to flush out their prey.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 05:00 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Emus, ostriches or kakapos probably not so much.
I would be surprised if any living wild Kakapo has ever even seen a fire, let alone know anything about it. They live in the dampest part of the entire Universe.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 06:35 PM   #220
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I can't see the benefit to the birds.

They would have to ignore the prey that is available (because of the fire) to start new fires.

There is risk associated with trying to move the fire.

Having met a few aboriginal rangers, I can say that the one's I've met seem to really enjoy retelling aboriginal myths. They also seem to regard that an important part of their duties.

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Old 2nd February 2018, 07:21 PM   #221
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Um once a fire gets too hot or larger the easily availble prey are gone. You might not see it...the birds do.
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Old 6th February 2018, 03:49 AM   #222
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Here is further evidence that avians are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Crows have figured out how to eat cane toads without getting poisoned.

The intentionally introduced cane toads have no natural predators in Australia because they are deadly to nearly all Australian wildlife, even freshwater crocodiles.

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and...us-cane-toads/

Now, I wonder how may steps they had to undertake to work this out. They at least had to work out which bits to avoid contact with to avoid the poison, and which bits were safe to eat.
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Old 6th February 2018, 05:25 PM   #223
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Now it's in the New York Times. Nobody took me up on my bet - but I won. The firefighters (rangers) who are claiming to see the birds carry fire are Aborigines.

Originally Posted by New York Times
...It’s unclear how common the behavior is — or whether it exists at all. As yet, no conclusive photographic or video documentation exists...

Dr. Mark Bonta believes that fire-spreading is not observed more often because only a few birds in any large flock understand how to do it.

“It’s notable that we did not receive credible reports from casual tourists or others who might have simply gotten lucky,” he said. “It appears that one needs to have spent a lot of time in the bush, and a fair amount of it close to wildfires.”...

Dr. Bonta and Mr. Bob Gosford hope to launch a three-week research expedition in May, where they’ll work with fire rangers in hopes of documenting the behavior firsthand. They’ll be accompanied by volunteer birders with cameras and with drones....
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/0...boriginal.html
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Old 6th February 2018, 05:42 PM   #224
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Now it's in the New York Times. Nobody took me up on my bet - but I won. The firefighters (rangers) who are claiming to see the birds carry fire are Aborigines.



https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/0...boriginal.html


"“It’s notable that we did not receive credible reports from casual tourists'

Bwhahaha! I'm not surprised. Most casual tourists will have the backs to the fire as they run away from it, or they will if they know what is good for them!!!.
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Old 6th February 2018, 06:09 PM   #225
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Now it's in the New York Times. Nobody took me up on my bet - but I won. The firefighters (rangers) who are claiming to see the birds carry fire are Aborigines.
The report also has
Quote:
They told stories of raptors stealing burning twigs from cook fires and transporting the brands up to a kilometer (about a half mile) away.
That is a bit surprising. I would think that prey being flushed by fire would be the trigger for fire spreading behaviour to flush more prey. However it does suggest a test for the behaviour - just light some small fires, surround them with cameras and wait.
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Old 7th February 2018, 12:43 AM   #226
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
No you don't what? Stand by your dismissal of what we can determine observing animal behavior?

Dismissal of what animal behavior? Your alleged observation of purposeful behavior of raccoons "in order to 'turn out the light'" and based on its "clear knowledge" about fire, yes, I dismiss that.

Quote:
A romantic view is an idealized view, as if magicians had some special skill those stupid researchers don't have.

Sorry, I'm annoyed.

Go ahead, be annoyed.
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Old 7th February 2018, 12:50 AM   #227
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Here is further evidence that avians are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Crows have figured out how to eat cane toads without getting poisoned.

Who exactly are "we"? You seem to think that because some of us find it hard to believe that birds deliberately set fire to grasslands, it means that some animals are smarter than others. Parrots have "figured out" how to eat poisonous plants. Who's denying it?


Quote:
One secret is that parrots eat soils containing minerals particularly good at binding plant toxins, especially positively charged alkaloids (such as strychnine and quinine) and tannic acids, which give acorns and many other plant parts their bitter taste
Discover Magazine

But unlike your 'fire birds' it is well documented, not just anecdotal.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 7th February 2018, 12:54 AM   #228
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Who exactly are "we"? You seem to think that because some of us find it hard to believe that birds deliberately set fire to grasslands, it means that some animals are smarter than others. Parrots have "figured out" how to eat poisonous plants. Who's denying it?....
Erm....
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:00 AM   #229
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I added another example of complex bird behavior. Was it so difficult for you to grasp?
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:05 AM   #230
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Why the tone? You responded to "poisonous cane toads" with a comment about poisonous plants. Naturally, I assumed you'd made a simple mistake, and responding with a light-hearted (did you see the smilie?) link to help you adjust before smartcooky rips into you again. You then respond to me as though I'm some dog dirt on your shoe.
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:09 AM   #231
dann
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You might have noticed that Smartcooky was talking about crows, and my example was parrots ...

By the way, my sentence should have been:
Originally Posted by dann View Post
You seem to think that because some of us find it hard to believe that birds deliberately set fire to grasslands, it means that we deny that some animals are smarter than others.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

Last edited by dann; 7th February 2018 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:11 AM   #232
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Originally Posted by Nakani View Post
For forty thousand years some birds have even been observed (but, for some mysterious reason, never filmed) starting fires to flush out their prey.
FTFY
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:14 AM   #233
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Sorry Mike, I over-egged it a bit...
FTFY
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:18 AM   #234
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Who exactly are "we"?
We, as in humans, people in general.

Originally Posted by dann View Post
You seem to think that because some of us find it hard to believe that birds deliberately set fire to grasslands, it means that some animals are smarter than others.
This sentence doesn't make any sense

Originally Posted by dann View Post
Parrots have "figured out" how to eat poisonous plants. Who's denying it?
Parrots have evolved over millions of years to eat poisonous plants

These crows have learned to eat cane toads in less than 85 years.
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:20 AM   #235
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
FTFY = "For forty thousand years some birds have even been observed (but, for some mysterious reason, never filmed)"
You really expect birds to have been filmed for the last 40,000 years

(think about it before you reply)
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:21 AM   #236
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Now it's in the New York Times. Nobody took me up on my bet - but I won. The firefighters (rangers) who are claiming to see the birds carry fire are Aborigines.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/0...boriginal.html

"They’ll be accompanied by volunteer birders with cameras and with drones...."
That is interesting. The article is from Feb. 5, 2018. Obviously, he didn't succeed in 2016 and 2017, but he hasn't given up getting actual footage of the alleged behavior.
I just hope that fire-starting birds aren't afraid of drones ...
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:30 AM   #237
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
You really expect birds to have been filmed for the last 40,000 years

No (and I've mentioned that before in this thread). I'm even aware that an alleged 40,000-year-long oral tradition is absurd! But you don't seem to find it odd that the fire-starting birds have never been filmed since film cameras were invented ...

Quote:
(think about it before you reply)

You too!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:48 AM   #238
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
We, as in humans, people in general.

I don't think that you are right. 'Humans' give them all the credit they're due. Everybody knows the TV shows about smart crows and parrots. And everybody in this thread seems to be well aware of the fact that some animals are smart, but you appear to think that our skepticism of the stories about fire-starting birds means that we want to dismiss these extremely well-documented examples of bird (and other animal) behavior, which is probably the reason why you triumphantly add one new example after the other.

Quote:
This sentence doesn't make any sense
You're right. It should have been:

Quote:
You seem to think that because some of us find it hard to believe that birds deliberately set fire to grasslands, it means that we deny that some animals are smarter than others.

Quote:
Parrots have evolved over millions of years to eat poisonous plants.

Yes, some parrots have evolved to be able to survive eating certain poisonous plants, but some Amazonian parrots eat earth to neutralize ingested toxins. For obvious reasons, it's pretty hard to say when this behavior began ...

Quote:
These crows have learned to eat cane toads in less than 85 years.

Good for them!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

Last edited by dann; 7th February 2018 at 01:54 AM.
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:58 AM   #239
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
No (and I've mentioned that before in this thread). I'm even aware that an alleged 40,000-year-long oral tradition is absurd! But you don't seem to find it odd that the fire-starting birds have never been filmed since film cameras were invented ...
Bwahahah! Thats funny. You expect Aboriginals in 1890 to be filming birds with movie cameras? Don't know much about Australia do you?

I would point out that the Goliath Bird Eating Spider, Walker's Duiker, the Red-bearded Titi, the Pinocchio Frog, the Lesula and the Wattled Smoky Honeyeater were all first discovered in 2017 (even though many native tribes have known of their existence for thousands of years, and even though they have been on the planet for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years). They weren't filmed in 1890 when mass market film camera first became available; it took a further 127 years! Now I wonder why that is?
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Old 7th February 2018, 11:32 AM   #240
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Quote:
I'm even aware that an alleged 40,000-year-long oral tradition is absurd!
you are not aware ....you are ignorant of it.
There are 40k year old drawings that locals can interpret today .....the drawings work together with oral traditions.

Quote:
But you don't seem to find it odd that the fire-starting birds have never been filmed since film cameras were invented ...
Not in the least. Have you ever even done any avian photography?
There was one shot I got of babblers in a mating display by pure luck and another photographer from Australia said he had been trying to get a decent shot of babblers for years ( was dumb luck on my part )



Giant squids weren't photographed until recently and Humbolt squid behaviour is an ongoing wonder.

You gather evidence, make a thesis, provide a potential explanation for the behaviour and search out additional evidence.
The authors have done that and are activey searching for more evidence. That's good scientific method and your counter arguments are so far baseless.

This behaviour is not in the least surprising to those who understand a bit about the ability of birds ....an especially raptors who as with most top predators have smarts.
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