Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dead horses, monkeys and my kids.

Although those who know me best might say otherwise, I think I’m an easygoing kind of guy who enjoys some of life’s simpler pleasures. You know, salt of the earth sort of stuff;, mom, baseball and apple pie. ,No wait, those are the things that make me a red-blooded all-American boy, right? ,So how about pina coladas and getting caught in the rain? ,Oh I don’t know, it’s all so confusing.

Anyway, there is one thing about which I’m quite sure, and that’s the pleasure I take in beating a dead horse. So today, even though everyone on the internets has spent the last week having fun with this little gem about Japanese research monkeys being “smarter” than college students, I’m still going to take my turn. Here we go.

So chimpanzees have better short term memories than so-called humans? No kidding. Any parent with a fifth and seventh grader will tell you that there seems to be an inexplicably steep curve with kids and their memory skills. But on the other hand, free will is certainly a part of the equation too. My boys, for instance, have entire episodes of the Simpsons imprinted on their little brains and will be only too happy to recite them word for word ad nauseam… ,and yet they both show a remarkable ability to jettison any information that they deem trivial. Trivial, like bringing home the books they need for homework, or putting on a coat before running out the door into the snow. Or even washing their hands after they go to the bathroom, for heaven’s sake.

So I ask you, is it really that big a surprise that our simian cousins display greater mental horsepower than your average kid? I think not. ,And jeez, unlike my kids we could probably even train them to wash their hands after flinging their poo..., if anybody's up for a challenge.


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