Nothing to Crow About
“Crows seem to be able to use causal reasoning to solve a problem, a feat previously undocumented in any other non-human animal, including chimps.” — NewScientist.com News Service, September 17, 2008
I don’t understand what all the fuss is about crows. Sure, they can “fly” and stuff, but come on, they’re birds. So what if some scientists recently discovered that crows used casual reasoning to figure out how to get food from an especially tricky tube? I could do that easily. I don’t find tubes tricky at all. Rain sticks are still something of a puzzle for me, but those aren’t really tubes in the same broad, tubular sense that other tubes are. Like straws. I own straws. At any rate, you don’t see scientists writing in their fancy journals about me, and I’m far more worthy of being written about. I can do this neat trick with my tongue and I played little league baseball with Matt Damon.
I don’t get scientists sometimes.
I read also that crows can figure out how to get food from a wooden compartment. The scientists setup this experiment using two compartments with food in them, but in one the food was placed in a trap hole. The crows consistently chose the compartment without the trap. Big whoop. Like I wouldn’t figure that out after my first couple of tries. I can see traps from a mile away. One time, while I was looking for my keys after getting drunk at the prom and throwing them in the woods next to the Howard Johnson’s parking lot after my date Vicki told me she wanted us to just be friends, I saw a bear trap. At least it looked like a bear trap. It was kind of dark. And like I said: I was hammered. Regardless, did I walk right into it? No, I did not, thank you very much. Plus I found my keys three hours later.
I’d like to see a crow try that.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for science. I took science in high school. I just think the scientific world gets a little too giddy every time a crow does something smart looking. I wouldn’t care if a crow knew how to program my TiVo—it would still be a crow. How does knowing that a crow can program a TiVo help me, other than having it record only first run episodes of Dirty Jobs? Sure that would be sort of beneficial, but after my Dirty Jobs marathon party is over, then what? What’s to do with the TiVo crow then, I ask? Will I have to break out some tubes and feed the thing? Who has the time for that? Makes no sense.
And I know what some of you are thinking: “You’re just angry because you’ve dedicated the last twenty years of your life training crows to help you get back at Vicki for crushing your heart.” False. Vicki has nothing to do with this. Matt Damon broke up with her eventually anyway. And even if I had achieved my dream of using a small army of crows to systematically destroy Vicki’s social life I would still be completely unimpressed by them.
Again: they’re just birds.
I think people wouldn’t give scientists such a hard time if they focused on things that really mattered. So I say to them: Less crow studying and more experimenting on important things, like rain sticks and what exactly it was I did to Vicki to make her cause me so much pain.
Link to news article about the crow study here.