Last week, during the AI about the cognitive and emotional abilities of animals, we talked about Alex, the African Grey Parrot that Dr. Irene Pepperberg worked with for 30 years in an attempt to demonstrate that science currently undervalues the abilities of the avian brain.
I just read Dr. Pepperberg’s book, Alex & Me, and it’s an interesting read, from the POV of an animal lover, a scientist, and/or a skeptic.Â But scrutiny of her methods and accomplishments aside, she brought up an interesting topic: the possibility that we may “know” certain things thatÂ can’t be proven with science.
Although she was able to demonstrate with some level of scientific merit the ability of Alex to identify shapes, colors, materials, same vs. different, and the concept of “zero”, she also witnessed in him a higher level of consciousness, that was too spontaneous to replicate with trials.Â For example, he refused to call an apple an apple, preferring insteadÂ to call itÂ a “banerry”, which she interpreted to be a neologism of banana and cherry, due to the apple’s round red appearance, and soft yellow pulp.Â She also witnessed in him the emotions of guilt, sadness, and intimacy toward her, and rivalry (almost bullying) between he andÂ the baby parrot, Griffin.Â Over-interpretation by Dr. Pepperberg, or valid conclusion?
Non-parrot-related examples of things we may just “know” might include…love, right & wrong (basic morality), good, evil, etc.
Are there some things that you just “know” from your experience, that can’t be proven with science?