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Researchers: We tend to overrate dog intelligence

He may not be smarter than he looks, say researchers/ © chalabala, Fotolia

From ScienceDaily:

People who think dogs are exceptionally intelligent are barking up the wrong tree, new research shows.

Scientists reviewed evidence that compared the brain power of dogs with other domestic animals, other social hunters and other carnivorans (an order including animals such as dogs, wolves, bears, lions and hyenas).

The researchers, from the University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University, found the cognitive abilities of dogs were at least matched by several species in each of these groups.

The study examined more than 300 papers on the intelligence of dogs and other animals, and found several cases of “over interpretation” in favour of dogs’ abilities.

“They are often compared to chimpanzees and whenever dogs ‘win’, this gets added to their reputation as something exceptional.

“Yet in each and every case we found other valid comparison species that do at least as well as dogs do in those tasks.” Paper. (open access) – Stephen E. G. Lea, Britta Osthaus. In what sense are dogs special? Canine cognition in comparative context. Learning & Behavior, 2018; DOI: 10.3758/s13420-018-0349-7 More.

Doubtless, but then chimpanzee and gorilla intelligence is probably greatly overrated too, though the drivers are different. As far as some people are concerned, intelligence tests will always be unfair to apes and KoKo the gorilla will always be “able to talk.”

By contrast, Neanderthal and octopus intelligence are greatly underrated, but the social needs are different there. For a variety of reasons, they are needed to be stupid.

We are not really objective judges.

Greg Hume (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Note: The same researchers were going to do a hit on cat intelligence but something very bad happened to them in the middle of the night and all their data disappeared amid a monstrous yowling noise so … cf “Tales from the UD News Virtual Coffee Room” 😉

See also: A top anthropology finding of year show humans cognitively closer to dogs than chimps

Is the octopus a second genesis of intelligence?


Are intelligence tests unfair to apes?

Anyone who lives with dogs disregards any measure of pure intelligence. No other animal fits itself so neatly and completely into a manpack. It is well known that cats are simply wild animals who see some benefits to themselves from letting humans pet and feed them. And when someone is crazy enough to try keeping a chimp as a pet, the chimp, for no obvious reason, decides to rip your neighbor's face off. And what about whales and dolphins? Who cares how "smart" they are, raw IQ-wise? They ain't gonna lay down at your feet with a chewed up tennis ball and give you the sad puppy eyes that say, in terms COMPLETELY understood by both dogs and humans, "PLEASE, daddy, can we go outside and hunt musk ox on the frozen tundra for a while?" vmahuna
Good point. Cats are Ockhamly smart. No unnecessary entities that don't contribute directly to survival. polistra
Whereas a cat is far too smart to try to carry a stick. R J Sawyer
The top picture specifically overrates one of the areas where dogs are specifically unintelligent. Dogs never grab a long stick by one end. They always grab it in the middle, then spend minutes trying to get through a door without ever trying a different hold or a different angle. polistra

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