Closing down crows is running away from the future

Ask any educated person to name the most iconic laboratories in the world, and they will reel of a list which might include Los Alamos, CERN, the Broad Institute, the Max Planck……we could go on. But how many would name the Comparative Cognition Laboratory[2] at Madingley in Cambridge, and its handful of little offices and aviaries? Yet the work done there is just as surprising, and as prestigious as any done at those somewhat larger and much better-heeled institutes.

For the work of Professor Nicola Clayton and her team has shown that the Corvid family of birds-whose members include crows, jays, rooks and ravens are intelligent. Maybe very intelligent, right up there with chimpanzees and the other bright stars of the animal kingdom. People have suspected this since the time of Aesop, but the Professor and her team have shown, unequivocally, that these clever birds can use tools, plan ahead and second guess the actions of those around them. That’s a pretty good definition of intelligence in anyone, certainly anyone in the present Government.

And now this fascinating, value-for money little outfit is to close. You can read the hows and whys in Will Coldwell‘s coverage for The Guardian.[1] What we want to point out, rather sourly, is how a genuine cultural treasure, a source of new learning, is being thoughtlessly vandalised. Yes, we in Britain are very keen to save bits ancient culture, like big country houses and old steam trains. But, given the chance to preserve something new, and potentially game changing, it’s spurned. That seems to us at LSS to be the very opposite of taking back control.



#psychology #intelligence #research #crow family #aesop

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