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Medical Autistic savant animals

  1. Jan 1, 2006 #1
    In the animal kingdom, do relatively extremely intelligent subjects exist among their species?
    Like we humans have geniuses and autistic savants.

    For people with pets here or experience with animals, have you noticed exceptionally intelligent animals?

    And finally (this may be a dumb question), could a genius chimpansee reach humanlike (retarded) intelligence?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 2, 2006 #2
    Well, seeing as how idiot savants can't take care of themself, it determines on a lot of factors. One being intelligence which is socially determined, and etc etc.

    However, the key point here is that animal kingdoms don't really have any educational system. They don't read, they don't really carve bronze horses... It would be hard to say if there are such idiot savant animals. I would assume that there are, however finding them would be complex since other species don't have a system of organization and society in which others are recognized to their full extent. And if these animals can't take care of themselves because they are genius yet disabled, they would probably be shunned by the animal's ignorant community and left to die.

    In other words, animals would need a language in order for us to notice if they are indeed idiot/genius compared to the others.

    There is more research being done on the cognitive science of animals and there are many animals who can do extrodinary things. We haven't fully discovered everything about animals and there leaves much to be done. I assume if there were such a thing as an idiot savant animal, it would be recognizable in a parrot which can recite words. Parrots are the interesting animal when it comes to mental activity.


    Birds aren't stupid, take a look.
    - http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/tools_main.shtml
  4. Jan 12, 2006 #3


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    Human like intelligence has already been demonstrated (arguably) by the gorilla Koko. She scored 95 on an IQ test even though she was deducted on a question about "where do you go when it's raining outside" and she responded "tree" instead of the "correct" answer "house."

    For certain information about her, check out the responses from biff the unclean at http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=94556. Also, google Koko for more information.

    Furthermore, humans are probably idiots when compared to dolphins and marine mammals in their form of communication, as well as their ways of finding food.
  5. Jan 13, 2006 #4


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    Koko was that gorillia that was in Micheal Chichton's Congo wasn't it?

    A strong statement. Too strong. Completely untrue.
  6. Jan 13, 2006 #5


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    Let's treat animal intelligence with an open mind. Scientists were previously treating animal intelligence with a closed mind - and guess what - Lois Leakey hired Jane Goodall because Jane Goodall didn't have the experience that others had - and she proved everyone wrong. Similar with Irene Pepperberg and her research on African Gray Parrots.

    And the key word I said was "PROBABLY." I did not say "DEFINITELY" or anything like that. What is intelligence anyways? It isn't just one thing - that "g" that is full of bias. It's much more than that.

    Ok, I was not articulate in my previous statement. What I mean by "their form of communication" was the form of communication that dolphins use with each other, namely, via clicking and sound waves. I also used this in reference to finding food - dolphins have a special part in their brain that is used for echolocation and tracking down food. Humans lack it, duh, but humans think animals are stupid because they lack structures such as the neocortex.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2006
  7. Jan 13, 2006 #6


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    Superior anatomy, even in the brain, does not constitute intelligence.
    No, humans think animals are stupid because, regardless of anatomy, they can't* add 2+2, or talk, or write symbols, or pick up a stick to whack their foe with it.

    (*with notable exceptions)
  8. Jan 13, 2006 #7


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    When the animals don't use it, it does not constitute intelligence. When they do use it, as when dolphins use echolocation to find their food and to communicate, that can constitute an unique type of intelligence, more sophisticated than that used by bats. It is this that makes their brains so large.

    That doesn't mean that animals are stupid. They may not be intelligent in the ways humans think of intelligence, but there is more evidence pointing in the direction of "multiple intelligences". Sure, they may all have some correlation, but since the correlation is far from absolute, there are other ways that they can demonstrate their intelligence.

    Speaking of the title "autistic savant", a similar relation occurs with autistic savants. They have exceptional abilities, some that may go unnoticed, yet their IQs often fall far below normal.
  9. Jan 13, 2006 #8


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    Would you say that a tiger using its claws is intelligence? Or a bat using its echoloc... oh wait, you just did.

    That is an interesting definition of intellligence.

    I think that perhaps we'll need a common definition of intelligence to continue this.

    Well, considering humans invented the word I think that gives them the right to determine what it applies to.

    Put your cards on the table. What you are looking to do is create your own definition of the word intelligence.
  10. Jan 14, 2006 #9


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    And intelligence, like all other words, is being revolutionized. Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, for example, talks of many intelligences.

    The thing of intelligence, is that it describes adaptability to the environment. Now, I'm not a dolphin expert - but the question is, is dolphin echolocation to locate objects in the environment and to communicate and such a learned behavior that comes from their immediate families? Or is it a combination of innate abilities and learned behavior. And there definitely is something to dolphin abilities if their brains are so large because of this function, when the brain consumes so many calories as per compared to other organs. As for tigers using their claws - it's nothing more spectacular than humans using their hands - they are homologous structures after all.

    For one thing, there's this thing known as spatial intelligence. Is there any information describing spatial intelligence of animals?
  11. Feb 28, 2006 #10
    Different kind of intelligence

    Your reference to autism is timely, I don't know if it was deliberate. But since you didn't refer to it in your post, check out 'Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior' by Temple Grandin. Here's some blurb from various sources.

    Why would a cow lick a tractor? Why are collies getting dumber? Why do dolphins sometimes kill for fun? How can a parrot learn to spell? How did wolves teach man to evolve? Temple Grandin draws upon a long, distinguished career as an animal scientist and her own experiences with autism to deliver an extraordinary message about how animals act, think, and feel. She has a perspective like that of no other expert in the field, which allows her to offer unparalleled observations and groundbreaking ideas.

    People with autism can often think the way animals think, putting them in the perfect position to translate "animal talk." Grandin is a faithful guide into their world, exploring animal pain, fear, aggression, love, friendship, communication, learning, and, yes, even animal genius. The sweep of Animals in Translation is immense and will forever change the way we think about animals.

    "Not since Jane Goodall's research on the chimpanzee's use of tools has there been a book that so successfully challenges our definitions of what is human and what is animal." [BookPage]

    "Grandin's prose alone makes her new book, Animals in Translation, well worth a read. Fresh and irreverent, yet almost completely emotionless, the style suggests a cross between Holden Caulfield and Star Trek's Mr. Spock — which is so much better than it sounds that I wish Grandin would try her hand at fiction.... 'Animals in Translation' is well researched and insightful. Its main thrust is that life cannot be classified in terms of a simple neurological ladder, with human beings at the top; it is more accurate to talk of different forms of intelligence, each with its own strengths and weaknesses." [B R Myers, the Atlantic Monthly]

    About the Author
    TEMPLE GRANDIN earned her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois, went on to become an associate professor at Colorado State University, and wrote two books on autism, including the seminal Thinking in Pictures. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  12. Mar 2, 2006 #11
    The problem I see with this question is that you are putting genius in the same category as autistic-savantism. They are extremely different things. Autistic-savants aren't "intelligent" in the way a genius is. Their abilities are narrow in scope and they, themselves, don't have any insight into what they're doing. They just do it, and are not able to analyze how, or even explain why. They can't connect what they're doing with a larger picture. If you ever saw the film Rainman you may remember that, although Raymond could instantly count the number of toothpicks that had spilled, he had no sense whatever of what the concept of "amount" meant, how it applied in the most rudimentary way to daily life. When asked how much a candy bar cost he replied "About a hundred dollars." When asked how much a car cost he said "About a hundred dollars."

    A "genius" on the other hand, lets take Richard Feynman, is the opposite: super conscious of the bigger picture, aware of connections that that average person in his field was oblivious to. Not only that, he can explain the connection extremely well to anyone with the patience to listen. He's socially adept, can talk to anyone at any level and make himself understood, not some loner misfit who doesn't fit in.

    If there are "genius" animals, they are so in the way Feynman was a genius, not Rainman. Rainman animals, that is: animals as deficient in the standard level of awareness of their species as Rainman was deficient in awareness to standard human concerns, just wouldn't be able to survive.

    There almost certainly are dolphins, chimps, and even earthworms and amoebas who are geniuses compared to their fellows, who have a vastly better grasp on the bigger picture of their world. What Temple Grandin probably understands is that if you're a cow it's not a particularly intelligent thing to do to learn calculus, to try and become adept at the tools of another species. A genius cow is a cow who's way above average at cow activities and cow concerns, which, she understands, are completely different than human's.
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