Author Topic: Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs  (Read 8860 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Earl

  • Brand New
  • Posts: 9
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« on: February 18, 2007, 07:20:38 PM »
Quote below is from: http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/chimpanzee

For example, to extract honey from the hives of stingless bees, chimpanzees use short sticks stripped of their leaves, twigs, and bark to most effectively scoop it out of the hive. On the other hand, to extract honey from the hives of aggressive African honeybees, chimpanzees use significantly longer and thinner sticks to avoid the painful stings of these bees (Stanford et al. 2000). In a similar fashion, chimpanzees strip the leaves off of long, thin sticks and use these to extract ants from ground nests (Goodall 1986; Boesch & Boesch 1993).

Earl Williams,  Surrey, British Columbia

Offline Paul Ganssle

  • Objective Hitler
  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3615
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2007, 07:28:40 PM »
While I do think that this week's science or fiction was deliberately rigged against our hero Jay with this nonsense :evil:, the question is really whether there is evidence that they have been doing it for thousands of years.
quot;if you looat the world and think there is a God nothin make sense but if you see it fro a naturalistivc perspectiove all the shti goin on is exactly what youd expect-"  -The Always Eloquent Richard Dawkins

Offline moneyman1490

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 811
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2007, 01:52:26 AM »
And with stone tools.
kidoo, in response to CapeRoadie's threat of Libel
Quote from: "skidoo"
Your documented evasiveness and dishonesty leads me to no other conclusion: You're a dangerous quack. How's that for a retraction?

Put up or shut up!!!

Offline Mike

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2367
    • SGUFans.net
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2007, 06:46:54 AM »
"We're just so damn exciting." - Dr. Steven Novella, MD

Offline moneyman1490

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 811
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2007, 10:28:28 PM »
Looks like this science or fiction is in pretty sore shape now.  :shock:
kidoo, in response to CapeRoadie's threat of Libel
Quote from: "skidoo"
Your documented evasiveness and dishonesty leads me to no other conclusion: You're a dangerous quack. How's that for a retraction?

Put up or shut up!!!

Offline Chico

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2007, 10:57:36 PM »
(Note: I already posted the text below, with a few differences, under "Episode #82", but it was a bit lost among the extensive discussions on the twin paradox there...)

About item 2 of the "Science or Fiction" this week, I just think it was a bit too misleading to characterize this item as "science" based on the fact "Newly published article claims..." instead of addressing the actual claim, which was apparently intended to be fiction.

I understand, of course, that the whole point of "Science or Fiction" is to be misleading, but I think it becomes too confusing - at least to my little brain - if you add too many variables, like "an article was published..." or "a scientist said...".

Let me illustrate with a hypothetical, intentionally obvious, example: "A scientist declared that the Earth is flat". Science or fiction? Well, if the main point were the part "a scientist declared..." based on a documented fact that some quack who has a scientist diploma claims something crazy, then, technically, this item would be science.

But the real point is the claim "the Earth is flat" - and that's fiction.

So I would suggest that the items should refer more to the claim itself, rather than to the fact that "it was published..." / "declared" / "stated" or not. Otherwise "Science or Fiction" becomes a cold reading session and I'm not in the Sylvia Browne business.

Offline Paul Ganssle

  • Objective Hitler
  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3615
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2007, 11:05:39 PM »
I have to agree with this sentiment in general, but also I have to say that Steve can't really evaluate the efficacy of every story he chooses just from reading it.  I am not sure that Steve is necessarily the caliber of physicist who could evaluate the claims of the guy with the twin paradox (I don't know that I could), nor is does he know everything about simian paleontology (if that is what it is called), so we can cut him a bit of slack if he thinks he is being tricky and he accidentally fucks up.  Still, that doesn't mean that Jay shouldn't be given credit for his victory.
quot;if you looat the world and think there is a God nothin make sense but if you see it fro a naturalistivc perspectiove all the shti goin on is exactly what youd expect-"  -The Always Eloquent Richard Dawkins

Offline Earl

  • Brand New
  • Posts: 9
Rather Have Fuzzy Fact or Fiction Than No Game
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2007, 02:44:45 PM »
If we put too many restrictions on the game, it will take too long to create it.  Steve is a busy guy.

A very good podcast is The Naked Scientists -- also found on iTunes, also hosted by a physician, Dr. Chris Smith. They play a fact or fiction games.  Some times the creators have the wrong answers to their questions.  The games are still fun and educational.  Listeners correct poor questions.  http://www.thenakedscientists.com/

I used the phrase "Fuzzy Fact or Fiction" because Steve's posers are pondered by the thousands of unseen game players who can continue their truth seeking on the message boards.  The game is still educational even if the path to the odd question requires a fuzzy route.

Earl Williams,  Surrey, British Columbia

Offline Steven Novella

  • SGU Panel Member
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • http://www.theskepticsguide.org
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2007, 04:54:24 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback.  

I rarely use items that I do not think are factual and clarify them by saying that "a study claims,"  but in this case I thought it was appropriate, since it is not claiming any evidence or research, just that he worked out a solution to the twin paradox.

Regarding chimps and stone tools - so far I stand by my position. I have read all the articles linked to - they mention stone tools being selected and used by chimps, but no description of actual "crafting" and that was the key to that item. I think the reporting is some articles is a bit sloppy and is equating use with "making."

I have an e-mail out to the lead researcher, so hopefully I will get an expert opinion soon and will report on what he says.
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
snovella@theness.com

Offline Paulhoff

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 626
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2007, 06:12:29 PM »
color=blue]"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein
Much worse than the Question not asked, is the Answer not Given. - mine
Never in the history of humankind, have so many, known so little, about so much.[/color]

Offline Steven Novella

  • SGU Panel Member
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • http://www.theskepticsguide.org
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2007, 07:56:17 PM »
That chimps choose particular sticks and then modify (craft) them for specific tasks is old news.

That chimps use stone tools is old news.

The new bit here is evidence that stone tool use goes back thousands of years - this tends to rebut the notion that chimps were copying humans.

I have not seen any evidence that chimps "craft" stone tools. That is specifically what made this item fiction.

The original press release is very specific in its language. There is no mention of any behavior that can be interpreted as crafting stone tools - only selecting and using. Some secondary sources appear to have sloppily interchanged "tool making" and "tool using" as if they were synonymous.

If anyone has a primary reference to evidence that chimps craft stone tools please post it here or e-mail it to me so we can make a correction on the show.

Still waiting on a response from the article contact.
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
snovella@theness.com

Offline Paulhoff

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 626
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2007, 08:21:46 PM »
Quote from: "Steven Novella"
I have not seen any evidence that chimps "craft" stone tools. That is specifically what made this item fiction.

I agree with this statement about chimps not crafting stone tools.

The best example I have seen an ape using manmade hand tools was an orangutan at a zoo. I would have to look up which to find which zoo. The people at the zoo would make puzzle boxes that the orangutan would have use hand tools in order to open and get some kind of award.

Paul

 :D  :D  :D
color=blue]"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein
Much worse than the Question not asked, is the Answer not Given. - mine
Never in the history of humankind, have so many, known so little, about so much.[/color]

Offline Mike

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2367
    • SGUFans.net
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2007, 07:55:10 AM »
Quote from: "Steven Novella"
I have not seen any evidence that chimps "craft" stone tools. That is specifically what made this item fiction.


I think you're right on this one, I re-read the article I linked to and it says these tools are "chimp-made" which may be misleading and a little vague.
"We're just so damn exciting." - Dr. Steven Novella, MD

Offline kel

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2007, 08:27:38 AM »
I noticed when reading the latest edition of New Scientist yesterday that they didn't report the 'making' of stone tools, only the 'use' of them.

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/mg19325915.600-stone-age-chimps-were-handy-with-a-hammer.html

I'd definitely say it was sloppy reporting on the part of articles that do suggest the 'making' of stone tools.
quot;It goes without saying, everything I do is amazing." - Perry DeAngelis, a skeptic 'of some note'.

We'll miss you Perry.

Offline skidoo

  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 5881
Chimps Do Craft Tools By Stripping Twigs
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2007, 10:16:28 AM »
Quote from: "Steven Novella"
The new bit here is evidence that stone tool use goes back thousands of years - this tends to rebut the notion that chimps were copying humans.

Excepting the parameters of the on-air SGU debate specifically, is there any important distinction between crafting wooden tools and crafting stone tools? I can see how stone tools figure in paleontology and even evolutionary biology discussions, but in the context of intelligence, I don't see any difference. Is that right? I can't think of any interesting distinctions.

And what is the significance of whether chimps are copying humans? We ourselves take cues from other creatures, of course:





Is this just interesting from an evolutionary perspective? E.g. as potential evidence of a common ancestor? Whether their tool use was learned from us or not doesn't seem important from a cognitive standpoint. Either way they're using reason to adapt based on evidence.