Could This Be the Difference Between a ‘Paper Wasp’ and Your Favorite Leftist?

 

This isn’t a “Let’s Hate Leftists” thread. I have many friends who are considerably to my Left on the political spectrum, and some of them are very dear to me, although I think they’re wrong about almost everything.

But the question above was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this headline yesterday: Paper wasps capable of behavior that resembles logical reasoning.

A new University of Michigan study provides the first evidence of transitive inference, the ability to use known relationships to infer unknown relationships, in a nonvertebrate animal: the lowly paper wasp.

Apparently their brains are not quite as large as a grain of rice. I’ll stop there.

Published in Humor
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There are 14 comments.

  1. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    She: I’ll stop there.

    Other than to say that this part of the quote, “the first evidence . . . in a nonvertebrate animal,” seems to indicate that they may have included many Republicans as part of the study.

    • #1
    • May 9, 2019, at 5:55 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  2. Mark Camp Member

    “waspish humor”? I think you are being a little bit hard on yourself there, She. “Waggish”, maybe, or “arch”. But not waspish.

    All inanish humor aside, good post.

    • #2
    • May 9, 2019, at 5:57 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    “waspish humor”? I think you are being a little bit hard on yourself there, She. “Waggish”, maybe, or “arch”. But not waspish.

    All inanish humor aside, good post.

    Well, since I are one (a WASP), in once sense it’s just a declaration of fact. And it’s bees that “wag,” not wasps, so that’s probably not an appropriate word to describe it. “Arch” is good, though. I like “arch.” 

    • #3
    • May 9, 2019, at 6:04 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Mark Camp Member

    She (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    “waspish humor”? I think you are being a little bit hard on yourself there, She. “Waggish”, maybe, or “arch”. But not waspish.

    All inanish humor aside, good post.

    Well, since I are one (a WASP), in once sense it’s just a declaration of fact. And it’s bees that “wag,” not wasps, so that’s probably not an appropriate word to describe it. “Arch” is good, though. I like “arch.”

    This earns a Like plus a “COL” (Chortling Out Loud).

    • #4
    • May 9, 2019, at 6:12 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. KentForrester Coolidge

    She, your post undermines my high opinion of myself. I always thought that my ability to use “transitive inference” made me superior to the paper wasps, with their teensy weensy little brains. Now I learn they can think about things as well as I can.

    Damned paper wasps.

    • #5
    • May 9, 2019, at 6:15 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  6. John H. Member

    I wonder what would happen if, while training up a wasp, you had another wasp just watch, safely outside the arena and never feeling the shocks. Then put that spectator wasp in an arena. Would it position itself randomly, or would it “know” always to go right to the safe color? Even if no shock was delivered to it? It wouldn’t demonstrate anything about transitive inference but it would suggest wasps have imaginations. The naive wasp wouldn’t know what the aversive stimulus was but it might imagine that its colleague had been subjected to one.

    • #6
    • May 9, 2019, at 6:22 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    John H. (View Comment):

    I wonder what would happen if, while training up a wasp, you had another wasp just watch, safely outside the arena and never feeling the shocks. Then put that spectator wasp in an arena. Would it position itself randomly, or would it “know” always to go right to the safe color? Even if no shock was delivered to it? It wouldn’t demonstrate anything about transitive inference but it would suggest wasps have imaginations. The naive wasp wouldn’t know what the aversive stimulus was but it might imagine that its colleague had been subjected to one.

    A good thought. You’d fit right in with those who, apparently, have made the study of the humble paper wasp their life’s work. (Honestly, who knew?)

    Here’s an article about paper wasps’ eyes:

    Some wasps have developed bigger eyes, and thus better vision, to read the social cues written on the faces of their sister wasps, according to a new UC Berkeley study.

    It’s fascinating, actually.

     

    • #7
    • May 9, 2019, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Aaron Miller Member

    As I’ve said before, programmers are ever so slowly learning to build real intelligence (logic) — not just smoke and mirrors — but there’s no worry AI will approach human equivalence while we fail even to simulate the intelligence of bugs. No AI in the most complex video games comes close to matching the intelligence of a cockroach. 

    The Gulf Coast has a subtropical climate. So we see many kinds of wasps and bees. Every so often, something new comes in through the ports or migrants. I had to evict a couple dozen sweat bees that somehow got in the house once. In California, law probably would give them equal ownership.

    • #8
    • May 9, 2019, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. Mark Camp Member

    John H. (View Comment):

    I wonder what would happen if, while training up a wasp, you had another wasp just watch, safely outside the arena and never feeling the shocks. Then put that spectator wasp in an arena. Would it position itself randomly, or would it “know” always to go right to the safe color? Even if no shock was delivered to it? It wouldn’t demonstrate anything about transitive inference but it would suggest wasps have imaginations. The naive wasp wouldn’t know what the aversive stimulus was but it might imagine that its colleague had been subjected to one.

    It would mean that wasps

    • do abstract processing, which we already know that they do
    • form an abstract category we can call “wasp” or “thing like self”. (Call it what you like, since they don’t necessarily assign words to their categories, as humans do).
    • assign “self” to that category
    • create and store the causal relationship “that category hurts wasps”

    It would give us no suggestion that wasps have imaginations, which are known directly to each of us by introspection, and which phenomenon we assign to other humans with very high confidence by inference.

    • #9
    • May 9, 2019, at 8:08 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    No AI in the most complex video games comes close to matching the intelligence of a cockroach. 

    I’m getting a little tired of the unending criticisms of our public servants on this site. Politicians are certainly smarter than a darn video game…

    • #10
    • May 9, 2019, at 8:30 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  11. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    No AI in the most complex video games comes close to matching the intelligence of a cockroach.

    I’m getting a little tired of the unending criticisms of our public servants on this site. Politicians are certainly smarter than a darn video game…

    Really, I think the metaphor was quite appropriate, considering the excerpt from this page:

    Although most us think of cockroaches as vermin, they do have a useful ecological role. Cockroaches are professional recyclers, chowing down just about anything, including dead plants and animals, and animal waste.

    I mean, really. “chowing down on just about anything?” Including the dead (think of the voters in Chicago)? And, certainly, “animal waste” in a more scatological term, is representative of much that’s produced in the seats (so to speak) of Western democracies and republics, worldwide),

    • #11
    • May 9, 2019, at 11:37 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Randy Webster Member

    Whenever I think of wasps, I always think of Jack Vance’s description of one of the Demon Princes as “malignant as a wasp.”

    • #12
    • May 9, 2019, at 4:32 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Hang On Member

    I am highly allergic to wasp stings. When liberals try to sting, I usually just laugh ’cause their arguments are usually highly amusing. 

    • #13
    • May 11, 2019, at 9:33 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    She (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    No AI in the most complex video games comes close to matching the intelligence of a cockroach.

    I’m getting a little tired of the unending criticisms of our public servants on this site. Politicians are certainly smarter than a darn video game…

    Really, I think the metaphor was quite appropriate, considering the excerpt from this page:

    Although most us think of cockroaches as vermin, they do have a useful ecological role. Cockroaches are professional recyclers, chowing down just about anything, including dead plants and animals, and animal waste.

    I mean, really. “chowing down on just about anything?” Including the dead (think of the voters in Chicago)? And, certainly, “animal waste” in a more scatological term, is representative of much that’s produced in the seats (so to speak) of Western democracies and republics, worldwide),

    This come to mind w.r.t. “chowing down”

    • #14
    • May 11, 2019, at 9:37 AM PDT
    • 1 like