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Telepathic parrot?

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#1    inkblot


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Posted 28 March 2008 - 05:48 PM

From skeptic.com:

"After writing up his results with telepathic pets, Sheldrake received an email from a woman in New York City who said that her African grey parrot not only read her thoughts but responded to them with speech. The woman and her husband might be sitting in another room, out of sight from the bird, whose name is N’kisi, and if they were feeling hungry, N’kisi would suddenly say, “You want some yummy.” If the owner and her husband were thinking about going out, N’kisi might say, “You gotta go out, see ya later.”

Greatly intrigued, Sheldrake contacted the owner, an artist named Aimee Morgana. The situation he found was remarkable even without telepathy. African gray parrots are among the most linguistically talented of all birds, and N’kisi had a huge vocabulary of over 700 words. More remarkable still, he used them like human speech, not “parroting” a word mindlessly but applying it where appropriate; if he saw something that was red, he said “red,” and if the object was another color, he said that color. A decade ago this talent would have been unbelievable, until a researcher named Dr. Irene Pepperberg, after twenty years of work with her own African gray, had proved beyond a doubt that it could use language meaningfully. Now associated with MIT, Pepperberg made a breakthrough, not just in our understanding of animal intelligence, but in the possibility that mind exists outside the brain.

It was this possibility, which Sheldrake and others call “extended mind,” that N’kisi seemed to prove. Aimee had some astonishing anecdotes to relate. When she was watching a Jackie Chan movie on television, one shot showed Chan perilously perched on a girder. When the shot came on, N’kisi said, “Don’t fall down,” even though his cage was behind the television with no line of sight to the picture. When an automobile commercial came on next, N’kisi said, “That’s my car.” Another time Aimee was reading a book that had the lines, “The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice,” and simultaneously from another room the bird said, “The color is black.”

Sheldrake wanted to confirm all of this for himself. On his first visit, Aimee gave him a taste of N’kisi’s telepathy: she looked at a picture of a girl from a magazine, and with remarkable clarity from the adjoining room the parrot said, “That’s a girl.” The next step was a formal experiment. If N’kisi could understand words and also had telepathic abilities, could the two be tested together? The experiment Sheldrake devised was quite strange if he hadn’t already seen what N’kisi could do — he proposed that Aimee would look at pictures that corresponded to words her parrot already knew. Aimee would sit in one room while N’kisi remained isolated in another. The bird would have two minutes to utter a “key word” that matched the picture. If he said the word in that time, it would count as a hit. If he didn’t say the word, or if he said it after the two minutes were up, it counted as a miss.

To insure neutrality, someone besides Aimee chose both the pictures and the key words that matched each one. (This proved unfair to the bird, actually, since the neutral chooser picked a word like “TV” that N’kisi had only said once or twice before; it didn’t utter these words at the right time during the experiment, nor did he say them at all.) After all the trials were over, the tapes of what N’kisi had said were played for three judges, who wrote down what they heard; unless N’kisi distinctly said the right word, as transcribed by all three judges, a hit wouldn’t count. The results were beyond ordinary comprehension. For example, when Aimee looked at a picture showing scantily clad bathers on a beach, N’kisi mumbled for a bit, then all three judges heard him say, “Look at my pretty naked body.” He didn’t say other, irrelevant key words; in between saying the right words twice, the bird only whistled and made vocal tones. When Aimee looked at a picture of someone talking on the telephone, N’kisi said, “What’cha doin’ on the phone?” Perhaps the most intriguing response was when Aimee concentrated on a picture of flowers. Instead of simply uttering the key word “flower,” N’kisi said, “That’s a pic of flowers.”

How did he do overall? Out of 71 trails, N’kisi got 23 hits, as compared to the 7.4 hits that would have been expected if the results were random. Sheldrake points out that this is quite a significant outcome, all the more because N’kisi wasn’t aware that he was being tested and often said the right key word after the allotted time was up. In a small Manhattan apartment another bit of proof added to mounting evidence that the mind isn’t solely human property and in fact might exist outside the brain. Communication between the animal kingdom and us has an eerie ring, but pets can’t cheat and they have no ulterior motive for proving that they are special in their abilities. India’s Vedic rishis long ago asserted that the entire universe is intelligent, because it is permeated by consciousness."

#2    Mahtu


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Posted 31 March 2008 - 06:26 PM

I guess it could be possible.  Even though birds have smaller, less powerful brains than human beings, they also do not rely on verbal communication, do not rely on certain senses as much as humans, and are more in tune with their inborn instincts.  I think that some psychic perception, like in the case of someone who has just begun to learn to use these abilities, much of it is attributed to being extremely in tune with your instincts.  I think everyone has psychic abilities but not everyone knows how to use them.  I, for example, cannot do anything telepathic or extra-sensory to save my life.  But an animal who runs off of pure instinct might be able to.  However, they would not know that they were using ESP because as an instinctual animal they can't understand the concept of psi or any other abstract concepts.

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