Animal minds Intelligent Design

Never buy a parrot from a sailor…

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Otherwise, a lesson in science media gullibility. This time it concerns a duck:

TS: What went through your head when you first heard those recordings? When I first heard and saw the report of it imitating a human voice, it also mentioned that the duck imitated ‘you bloody fool.’ I thought: is this a hoax?

CtC: I was amazed. I was really amazed. When I first heard and saw the report of it imitating a human voice, it also mentioned that the duck imitated ‘you bloody fool.’ I thought: is this a hoax? I couldn’t believe it. It would be—it is—so unexpected from a species from this group, which is considered quite primitive. . . . Vocal learning is considered quite an advanced trait, and that it would be present in any representative of these groups—yeah, I couldn’t believe it.

That’s also why I went out of my way to get hold of these recordings before I dared to contact the guy who made them, because I wanted to be convinced myself that it was a genuine imitation. I was really flabbergasted.

The recordings were very convincing. And I discovered that the man who made these recordings was actually still alive and around. . . . And he, then, was capable of telling me from his own experience, but also from people whom he contacted who had been involved in the rearing of this duck at the time, how it was raised. And yeah, the story of Ripper then unfolded.

Christie Wilcox, “Talking Duck Stuns Animal Behavior Researcher” at The Scientist (September 5, 2021)

Flabbergasted? But why? When I (O’Leary for News) was a little kid, people said, “Never buy a parrot from a sailor.”

Are readers clever enough to get why they said that?

Meanwhile, a friend shares a parrot joke: A sailor walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder and a man at the bar says, “Hey, where did you get that?” The parrot replied: “In the navy; there’s thousands of them.”

But why do we pay for science media that are this stupid?

Hat tip: Ken Francis, co-author with Theodore Dalrymple of The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd

2 Replies to “Never buy a parrot from a sailor…

  1. 1
    EDTA says:

    Sounds like a coincidence to me. Of all the animals that can make sounds, I could believe one of them randomly happened into a sound that triggers recognition in us. We humans hear and see all sorts of things that aren’t there: pareidolia, perceiving faint music in what is really audio noise, etc.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Are readers clever enough to get why they said that?

    A sailor’s parrot might be too colorful at a polite dinner party than just with its plumage.

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