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Submission + - Monkey see, monkey read (

Linzer writes: A team of cognitive scientists has shown that baboons are able to read English words and differentiate them from non-words. Initially, the baboons recognize words that have already been presented. Then, in a second phase, they can differentiate between a non-word and an English word unknown to them, apparently relying on relationships between letters, or orthographic patterns, similar to those used by humans. The researchers from Marseille, France have published their findings in Science (full text for subscribers only), and uploaded a video summary.

Comment Re:It's not just Japan (Score 1) 107

Private philantropy is basically only a factor in the medical sector, where patient organizations may fund research into specific diseases

Good point about medical research: that is a sizable exception. The difference with the model prevalent in the US is that those organizations typically collect many small donations, as opposed to large single endowments by wealthy donors.

Comment It's not just Japan (Score 5, Insightful) 107

Here, I think "Western institutions" should be understood as "mainly in the US, and to some extent the UK and the English-speaking world". To the best of my knowledge, in all other countries the situation is closer to that in Japan than in the US: the bulk of academic research is performed by public institutions using public funds.

Comment Re:Good luck with that (Score 1) 589

She's not even two yet and I hate pink. Like I said, she stays home with her dad who likes to dress her up like a dinosaur. Where the fuck did she pick up the stereotype that she should prefer the pink shirt to the blue shirt?

I suspect that liking pink is innate to boys and girls alike. I have seen little boys (less than 3yo) go for bright pink objects over any other color. I am led to assume that pink just feels like a vivid, yet soft and pleasant color to us - that is, before we males duly acquire proper male tastes, and grow a strong, healthy distaste for it.

That said, I am quite convinced that there are, on average, innate psychological differences between men and women. It's just that these differences are much less pronounced than the differences between conventional male and female behaviors, and can only be appreciated in a fuzzy, statistical way, not with statements of the form "men prefer A, women prefer B".

Comment Re:U.S. (Score 3, Insightful) 451

How about you don't lump us all together as imperialist, culture-bound yahoos?

I have lived in the US and I would never lump Americans together as imperialists. Actually, I wouldn't dream of lumping them together as *anything*. Not a clever thing to do with Americans.

OTOH, the US as a country - meaning the elected government - has imperialist policies and attitude, and has had them for a while now. It is up to US citizens to decide whether they care. In recent decades, the response has been underwhelming.

Comment Re:See. Patents/Copyright spur innovation. (Score 1) 491

Exactly. A good rule of thumb: if your "right" requires others to do something for you, it's not a right - it's a service.

That is true of natural rights. But we live in societies where we have elected to grant ourselves many rights that are human constructs. The right to elect our leaders, for one, requires others to do things for us. Maybe you consider that you have a right to basic personal safety, which requires people to maintain a form of law and order.

Or maybe you are the sole inhabitant of a nation-island, in which case I take my comment back.

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"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment." -- Richard P. Feynman