Friday, February 7, 2014

mirror, mirror -- who's the smartest one of all?

Seeing an image of woolly mammoth today, and remembering that elephants have bigger brains than humans... and remembering that "brain eight divided by body weight' is a silly measure of intelligence...
I found myself wondering: could it be that elephants really could outthink us, if we could give them an education which overcomes their natural handicaps in motivation and lifestyle (and body)? And so I did a quick check, and found a fascinating obscure web site:
Unless there is some obscure bias in how they count neurons, it seems clear that mice are smarter than rats, that cats are twice as smart as dogs, and the humans really are a lot smarter than elephants,
even in what they CAN learn under ideal circumstances. (Though dogs may be more motivated than cats sometimes.) I am a bit surprised about how low the octopus is here, since it may be the peak of a whole other path to intelligence, but then again, I don't know its relatives,  and it may be harder to compare numbers of neurons between mammals and octopus. (Don't know.) Of course, ants and bees are the peak of yet a third path to intelligence on earth, which doesn't show up because it is mainly a kind of collective hive intelligence, and also because the little cells in the "mushroom bodies" of their brains are hard to get on top of.

Still, all in all, it seems to support human pride more than other evidence seemed to allow for in recent decades. That reminds me of our new DNA data, which overwrites the massive circumstantial evidence
in my earlier post ("Cheney..."). Firmly German on my father's side (with a little Hungarian mixed in), despite an initial 23andme ruling that I am 55% Scotch-English and 45% Irish. Also, Read or Reid is now the number one on "surnames with match to your DNA," and Barry (which WE KNOW was an important guy on my mother's side) is pretty high on the list.

It all reminds me of the need to be careful not to jump to conclusions...
the DNA had me in a kind of 50-50 state until the final new, more conclusive data came in.

Best of luck...


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