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The Eternal Debate


sethoflagos
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Taking a balcony break this evening, I was greeted once again with a chorus we get at the height of the rains that has intrigued me for years.

Here in southern Nigeria, our frogs don't go 'Ribbit...'

There's one species that does a similar and insistent 'Chicken... Chicken... Chicken'. And then there's a second that intersperses a deeper pitched almost lugubrious 'Egg... Egg... Egg'.

Is there an Aristotelian debate going on here amongst the lower orders?

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Nope. You didn't mention Hooo-grrmmm-grm, cheep-cheep-cheep, Um-ba um-ba, or any of the other sounds frogs make. They're a wonderfully vocal and varied folk. It would be interesting to watch what Gareth Malone could make of a population of a Canadian pond.

(And, of course, we should probably take into consideration the significance of a particular listener hearing English in the sounds heard from frogs, whose native tongue is clearly not English. But that would come under Psychology.) 

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The reason that people expect frogs to go "ribbit" is to do with Hollywood films.

All the frogs go "ribbit" in Hollywood films, because the films are all shot in the same place, and in that locality, the frogs go "ribbit". 

Elsewhere, they make all sorts of different noises, but most people don't know that. 

I expect they just dub the frog noises on in the movies anyway, maybe they use the same track for all the films. 

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Maybe so.

But then, there is the cultural question, too. What do frogs know of ribbits or chickins?

If they were having a debate, wouldn't it be more likely "guppy-guppy-guppy" vs "roe-roe-roe"?

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4 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

Taking a balcony break this evening, I was greeted once again with a chorus we get at the height of the rains that has intrigued me for years.

Here in southern Nigeria, our frogs don't go 'Ribbit...'

There's one species that does a similar and insistent 'Chicken... Chicken... Chicken'. And then there's a second that intersperses a deeper pitched almost lugubrious 'Egg... Egg... Egg'.

Is there an Aristotelian debate going on here amongst the lower orders?

Hi, your post caught my eye, Seth, I just spent a few seconds researching the debate between free will and fate, if indeed that's what you are referring to, if not forgive my impromptu interjection. I have often pondered the question whilst driving to pick my wife up from work during traffic jams etc. The idea that we impact the timeline of other people by the actions we take on the road for example. If I let this guy out of the junction will his timeline be affected in a minor way for the rest of his life, will he get to the interview on time for example? But also if such decisions are random, free will, or fate. I posted the idea several years ago and suggested that at the quantum level quantum errors and the process by which our brains calculate decisions actually cause a degree of randomness or errors in our consciousness much like errors in the output from quantum computers that have to be corrected, and that perhaps we are not slaves to either freewill or fate but to a tiny degree our thought process is impacted by errors at the quantum level and therefore random to a degree.

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5 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

Is there an Aristotelian debate going on here amongst the lower orders?

I doubt it. What could have spawned a debate? Anyway, Aristophanes transcribed the sound of frogs debating in ancient Greek as "brekekekèx-koàx-koáx".

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9 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

Is there an Aristotelian debate going on here amongst the lower orders?

In a way, yes. They’re calling for mates. Staking their territories. Existing and acting. Perhaps less of a debate and more of a jazz band writ very large. 

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5 minutes ago, joigus said:

I'm sure there's a gradation here too. It stands to reason that the signals of corvids be more sophisticated and nuanced than those of wrens or tits.

But at least they'd all be more egg-aware than humans are.

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28 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

But at least they'd all be more egg-aware than humans are.

No doubt. But I think some birds would be more likely to have something similar to a debate than others. More aspects, more nuances, more "cerebral room" for if-then clauses.

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13 minutes ago, joigus said:

But I think some birds would be more likely to have something similar to a debate than others. More aspects, more nuances, more "cerebral room" for if-then clauses.

Where is even a crow going to find nuance in chicken v egg ?

He'll just eat both.

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6 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Where is even a crow going to find nuance in chicken v egg ?

He'll just eat both.

Make it more a nuance in egg vs other egg. Eg.*, I doubt cuckoos would make any corvid their target. Crows would see right through it.

* No pun intended.

Edited by joigus
minor addition
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34 minutes ago, joigus said:

No pun intended.

Whyever not? Apparently, this is not true:

41 minutes ago, joigus said:

I doubt cuckoos would make any corvid their target. Crows would see right through it.

Quote

The male Koel makes more mock attacks and the Crows are really annoyed. The nesting pair is serious and they chase the male Koel as far away as possible and come back to the nest. This unguarded moment was what the female Koel was waiting for and she makes dash to the Crow’s nest and lays one egg in such hurry that it would sound impossible to lay an egg in that short time. It later drops the crow’s egg to the ground. https://starofmysore.com/the-story-of-dumb-cuckoos-smart-crows/

It's quite an interesting article, actually, if you can bear to wade through the accompanying advertisements. Not punny at all.

 

But then,a cuckoo in a crow family would raise some serious issues with evolution, were the offspring allowed to marry in. I suppose they twig by puberty.  

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2 hours ago, Peterkin said:

But at least they'd all be more egg-aware than humans are.

But it's doubtful they really address the big questions of eggs-istence.  

Abstraction requires a sophisticated scaffolding of language, especially a rich trove of nouns which do not refer only to physical objects.  

Quote

This unguarded moment was what the female Koel was waiting for and she makes dash to the Crow’s nest and lays one egg in such hurry that it would sound impossible to lay an egg in that short time....

It is remarkable when cuckoos know they're on the clock.

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38 minutes ago, TheVat said:

It is remarkable when cuckoos know they're on the clock.

Not only that:

Quote

The normal time taken for many birds to lay an egg is anywhere between 1.5 minutes to 4 minutes. The Cuculids, the master deceptors, have mastered this art of quick-laying also.

Nature has endowed the Brood Parasites the ability to lay an egg within 4 to 5 seconds. The Cuckoos have also evolved into distortionists. They can twist and turn their body to such suitable positions that will enable them to deposit their egg into very small nests like the Tailorbird’s and Warbler’s.

Amazing, the risk and trouble some species must take to avoid the joys and pains of parenting. Fish can just swim away and never give it a thought. 

38 minutes ago, TheVat said:

But it's doubtful they really address the big questions of eggs-istence.  

Abstraction requires a sophisticated scaffolding of language, especially a rich trove of nouns which do not refer only to physical objects.  

And yet we can barely cope with the conceptual difference between egg and chicken and are utterly stymied by the sociological question of rooster/hen/other.  

Edited by Peterkin
it's not senile impairment; it's carpal tunnel
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4 hours ago, iNow said:

In a way, yes. They’re calling for mates. Staking their territories. Existing and acting. Perhaps less of a debate and more of a jazz band writ very large. 

The species (I presume it's two different species) wait for the other species to fall silent before making their calls. So they clearly appear to acknowledge each others existence.

2 hours ago, joigus said:

No doubt. But I think some birds would be more likely to have something similar to a debate than others. More aspects, more nuances, more "cerebral room" for if-then clauses.

We've a bright metallic green cuckoo called the Diederik (it's usual call is dee-dee-deederik).

A while ago I was watching one perched on an elevated cable being mobbed by a multispecies group of smaller birds. It's primary response (before eventually flying off) was to mimic (very well!) the call of our local kestrel. 

There's quite a lot going on here. 

2 hours ago, Peterkin said:

 

Quote

The male Koel makes more mock attacks and the Crows are really annoyed. The nesting pair is serious and they chase the male Koel as far away as possible and come back to the nest. This unguarded moment was what the female Koel was waiting for and she makes dash to the Crow’s nest and lays one egg in such hurry that it would sound impossible to lay an egg in that short time. It later drops the crow’s egg to the ground. https://starofmysore.com/the-story-of-dumb-cuckoos-smart-crows/

Interesting article. Thanks!

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51 minutes ago, TheVat said:

But it's doubtful they really address the big questions of eggs-istence.  

Abstraction requires a sophisticated scaffolding of language, especially a rich trove of nouns which do not refer only to physical objects.  

The cuckoo tales clearly show that many birds are clearly aware of eggs-istential threats, not only to themselves, but also threats to other species, and can refer to these threats (such as raptors) even when there are none around.

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Quote

The Eternal Debate [..do animals think, predict, communicate, discuss...]

 

...there is needed imagination and the foresight to "click this in the right order to get the reward ("cookie")"....

 

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4 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

The cuckoo tales clearly show that many birds are clearly aware of eggs-istential threats, not only to themselves, but also threats to other species, and can refer to these threats (such as raptors) even when there are none around.

It's impossible to tell how much, or what they're thinking. There is some very fine specialization of physical abilities and instincts, but how conscious is the activity?

Nature tries everything and keeps everything that works. Clearly, distributing eggs in the nests of as many other birds as possible maximizes the survival potential of offspring for the cuckoo, but it doesn't propel the species into the social relationships and the need to communicate that made the corvids so clever and adaptable. There is always some trade-off.

2 hours ago, Sensei said:

..there is needed imagination and the foresight to "click this in the right order to get the reward ("cookie")"....

Yes, and abstract thought required to identify, interpret and manipulate symbols. But this is quite a few steps past the egg-laying orders. 

 

 

4 minutes ago, MigL said:

Were you having a few drinks on that balcony, Seth ?

Not everyone needs the help of alcohol to wonder about things.

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3 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Not everyone needs the help of alcohol to wonder about things.

Sometimes I need a drink when wondering why you make it a point to seriously reply to obvious humor ...

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2 hours ago, MigL said:

Were you having a few drinks on that balcony, Seth ?

I wouldn't have minded one, but no. I rarely drink before midnight these days. 

You're right of course. The 'chicken' and 'egg' calls are no more than an amusing coincidence, and no one here believes otherwise. But there clearly is some interaction going on between the species and that in itself is interesting. I see no harm in other forum members picking up on this.

2 hours ago, Peterkin said:

It's impossible to tell how much, or what they're thinking. There is some very fine specialization of physical abilities and instincts, but how conscious is the activity?

What do you mean by 'conscious'? A correct answer would be Nobel prize material. @chrisjones has already brought up the free will debate, and the superdeterminist faction of physicists would claim that all actions (including thought, conscious or otherwise) are predetermined. I don't personally believe this for a moment, but I've nothing better to offer than an argument from incredulty. Not sure anyone else has. 

 

Edited by sethoflagos
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2 hours ago, MigL said:

Sometimes I need a drink when wondering why you make it a point to seriously reply to obvious humor ...

Maybe I have no sense obvious humour. But, anyway, Skol!

2 minutes ago, sethoflagos said:

has already brought up the free will debate,

Oh, I wasn't planning to go there! Regarding the cuckoos, all I meant was that, compared to crows, they're pretty dumb, but yet they have this apparently devious behaviour that allows them to 'outsmart' crows. I find that pretty amazing, and wonder whether they know what they're doing and why, or following a long-established instinct. On a more esoteric philosophical level, I might wonder whether some cuckoos wish they could have a family of their own and might consider adopting orphaned phoebes or something. Just following the illogic of the thread.... 

and, uh, If it's not a personal question, what happens at midnight?

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8 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

The species (I presume it's two different species) wait for the other species to fall silent before making their calls. So they clearly appear to acknowledge each others existence.

When submarines move through the water, they use sound waves to detect their surroundings and gain information about their environment. They pulse out a sonar “ping” and listen for what comes back. I presume the various specie out there in Nigeria and elsewhere may be largely doing the same. 

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