Stoners = Smart Monkeys

Once upon a time, back in the 1970s when I was going to college and it was fashionable to either shove a safety pin through your ear or wear bell bottoms, many of us pretty much looked upon Bluto Blutarski as a role model and began and ended the day drunk and/or stoned. After a good number of years and a bazillion dollars spent on “straighten up and fly right” advertisements, it could be that we’re breeding a better, cleaner, smarter collegiate.

But I doubt it. And new research bears out my suspicions. Which is to say, chaps in white coats have found monkeys add up numbers just about as well as college students. And note the last line of the story.

Researchers: Monkeys Can Do Mental Math
From Associated Press
December 18, 2007 6:34 PM EST

DURHAM, N.C. – Researchers at Duke University have demonstrated that monkeys have the ability to perform mental addition, and that they performed about as well as college students given the same test.

Current evidence has shown that both humans and animals have the ability to mentally represent and compare numbers. For instance, animals, infants and adults can discriminate between four objects and eight objects.

However, until now it was unclear whether animals could perform mental arithmetic.

Elizabeth Brannon and Jessica Cantlon of the Duke Center for Cognitive Neuroscience said the findings shed light on the shared evolutionary origins of arithmetic ability in humans and non-human animals.

That monkeys and humans share the ability to add suggests that basic arithmetic may be part of a shared evolutionary past.

Earlier this month, Japanese researchers pitted young chimps against human adults in tests of short-term memory, and overall, the chimps won.

I rest my case.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

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