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Science media: Insects can reason logically! Researchers: We never said that…

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paper wasps/© Floki, Adobe Stock

But current pop science media’s warp hides a bigger story. In a paper on wasps learning to avoid shocks better than bees, the researchers referenced an ability to grasp levels of risk. That was immediately inflated into “wasps can reason!”

The researchers clearly dissociate themselves from a claim that wasps reason. “We’re not saying that wasps used logical deduction to solve this problem…” But the media ignored the hint, as they might be expected to do. …

Many people who write for science media seem to believe that reason arises naturally from brute forces and is present in, say, insects. Explicit disavowals by researchers will not prevent them from claiming a trophy.

The media’s monolithic obsession with denying human uniqueness comes at a cost. The remarkable fact that two life forms have the same number of neurons but one displays significantly more complex behavior than the other is drowned out by the volume of misrepresentation. Denyse O’Leary, “Wasps can reason? Science media say yes, researchers no” at Mind Matters News

Could legacy science media actually afford to get it right? Could they afford a serious discussion?

See also: Did a fish just show self-awareness? What if the whole question is founded on a mistake about the nature of the mirror test?

Study: Cats do recognize their names They recognize them as signals but not abstractions

and

Do big brains matter to human intelligence? We don’t know. Brain research readily dissolves into confusion at that point

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2 Replies to “Science media: Insects can reason logically! Researchers: We never said that…

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    I asked a wasp to do a quadratic equation, after multiple rounds of shocking the shit out of it when it got it wrong, it Died

  2. 2
    aarceng says:

    Science media is there to sell a story; any story so long as people will read it. So they will beat up the more sensational bits whatever they are.

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