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Dolphin brain

Tim Tillman tillman at ithink.net
Mon Feb 1 18:02:02 EST 1999

Krakatoa <stephan at ucla.edu> wrote in message
news:stephan-0102991313120001 at we-24-130-93-57.we.mediaone.net...

>The fact that you are writing this post is ample evidence that
>intelligence has in fact increased; humans of 50-200,000 years ago were
>completely incapable of this behavior or this level of analysis in any
>way; they would score lower on any intelligence test, even one that was
>designed for them. There is no legimate intelligence defintion you could
>use which would not give you that humans today are more intelligent.

Lacking an encyclopedia at my desk, I resort to Encarta 98 ...

"intelligence, capacity to learn or to understand. It is generally
with intellect but is usually differentiated from intellect in practice to
emphasize ability or efficiency in dealing with concrete situations and in
profiting intellectually from sensory experience."

Would you reject this definition of intelligence?  By this definition,
intelligence is not a measure of accumulated knowledge, but rather as stated
above a 'capacity to learn or to understand.'  To say that intelligence is
increasing over time is not measurable, however our say that the amount of
accumulated knowledge is increasing over time is a given.

There is no evidence that dolphin populations accumulate knowledge.  What
skills do they pass on to other generations?  What history?  What lore?
Great apes and man can teach successive generations.  Great apes are less
intelligent than man not because man has accumulated his vast amount of
knowledge, but rather because mankind's capacity to learn is higher, than
that of the great apes.

That a kitten seems to know to use a litter box does not imply intelligence.
That plants exhibit geotropism and phototropism does not imply intelligence.
That members of species come together for mating does not imply

>You choose to reject this because you know that human biology probably has
>not changed much over the same time period, but this is not a good reason
>reject it. I could take two identical twins, raise one in an isolated
>impoverished prison, and the other at Oxford, and the Oxford raised twin
>would be MUCH MORE intelligent than the one raised in a prison. I don't
>think I need to repeat this point.

Just as you may take orphaned identical twins from a third world country,
raise one on a subsistance diet, the other on standard American fair.  The
child raised in America will be stronger, taller, and overall healthier.  In
the twins is is the genetic capacity, analogous to intelligence, to grow
strong.  This capacity is only exploited in the environment that can support
it.  In your case above, both have the inate capacity to learn.  But only in
the Oxford sibling is that capacity exploited.  Therefore, they are of equal

>Some traits that contribute intelligence are heritable, these components
>probably include genes which contribute to the ability to learn.

And some genetic defects are detrimental to the ability to learn.

>I would argue there is already very good evidence that the abililtiy to
learn can
>strongly affect reproductive fitness, ergo, natural selection has probably
>favored them.  The fact that these learning mechanisms are so highly
>conserved in the entire phylum (e.g., CREB) suggests that they are very
>strongly associated with fitness.


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