Pigeons can distinguish real words from fake non-words


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/29/unlike-trump.html


can they repeat the experiment with this online test so I can compare my result with pigeons?


But, but, but, I keep hearing here, that English has no rules, that there are no correct spellings, conjugations, nor usage. Are you saying that pigeons have grokked English more betterly than your average Mutant?


Given what’s been going on in the realm of psychology research, especially at PNAS, I think I’ll wait for the replication study before I get excited.



“The pigeons correctly identified the new words as words at a rate significantly above chance, researchers said”

So… 52%?


Indeed. The crisis of reporting significance rather than effect size.

(Maybe they did include effect size, but there’s no link to the article.)

52% may be significant, if it can be replicated across thousands of trials, but it’s not super-interesting, especially if (say) you can replicate 52% significance by just arbitrarily excluding all strings that end with “x” or something. A small decision like that, or a few such decisions, could easily be enough to hit a significant-yet-tiny-effect-size result.


Yeah non-specific statements on science reporting really annoys me because it doesn’t convey anything useful. As you said, at least link to the relevant study or an article with more information.

And as you pointed out statistics can be easily skewed depending on how someone is interpreting the data and what their criteria is. Mark Twain had statistics pegged perfectly


What the fuck is wrong with these people?!

NOTE: This comment also applies to:


Grok, there’s a nice word.

Do you honestly think a pigeon could tell you that grok is a real word but flup is not?

Every word is a fake word until people start using it, and then it’s only a matter of language snobbery until people decide it’s a “real” word.


So… pigeons speak English? Because it’s not the easiest language to learn, you know. Have they tried Spanish?


I’m sure they’d be better at it than me.


What about Klingon?


Frankly, I think they only speak Pidgin English.


What? Flup is a perfectly cromulent word. It’s the sea bottom muck that comes out of spill tubes to form spill mountains.


Neither can I, and I ain’t a pigeon.

“Flup” looks like a word, and might someday be used as one. “Jkmd” doesn’t and won’t be. It seems possible a pigeon used to which English language symbols go with other symbols could learn that.


I jkmd what you’re trying to say


It isn’t like they’ve taken lessons, i’m fairly certain they just wing it.


Well, it’s at least as good a word as grok, ansible, robot, or nanite


Also applies to @SamSam’s comment. And @redesigned