Pop Science

Pullum rants at the Log

a paragraph at the end of the story reveals that the BBC still brings out its most gullible writers […] as soon as anything to do with the cognitive or linguistic sciences comes on the scene. The last para says this:

The African Grey parrot is considered one of the most intelligent birds and is said by experts to have the cognitive ability of a six-year-old.

They mean a human of age six. There are people writing purportedly serious stories for the British Broadcasting Corporation who think that a grey parrot has the cognitive ability of a normal six year old human child. Have these people never met a normal six-year-old human child?

[…]

I realize that what most journalistic writers on animal language use as a measure of linguistic development is the singularly stupid yardstick of number of words known. But even so, no one has provided evidence of parrots being able to utter more words than a six-year-old human knows.

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