How do scientists get surprised? They look at evidence after their minds are made up….

I just watched a short video and read an article about it. Check it out here:

Octopus snatches coconut and runs: An octopus and its coconut-carrying antics have surprised scientists.

(Thank you to Jen for posting a link to this article)


The scientists are “surprised” that an octopus can decide to take a coconut shell, run off with it, and use it for his house.

Why are the scientists surprised? The scientists are surprised because octopi do not behave the way they have decided they should behave. Since octopi are so far down “Darwin’s Tree of Life”, they assume it would not be intelligent or be able to reason.

These scientists, and many other scientists, often make up their minds about living things before looking at the evidence.

These scientists are “surprised”, but I’m not surprised one little bit. God designed his creations so that they give evidence that He is the creator…


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6 responses to “How do scientists get surprised? They look at evidence after their minds are made up….

  1. Jen

    Didja watch the crow one? There\’s another goes with that one which I\’ve seen before.

  2. X-Evolutionist

    Jen: I like the crow one, too. Since I have parrots, I\’m not surprised that birds are smart. Thanks for sharing those! X

  3. Greg

    Lots of animals besides the great apes (the branch that includes you and me) are quite intelligent, just not in ways that humans would necessarily classify as smart. For instance, a flock of birds can turn with incredible precision, even though they can\’t appreciate Shakespeare or solve calculus equations. Octopii can fashion shelter from their environment. Those intelligent traits are likely to have evolved in response to specific environmental conditions. In other words, the better you can stay with the flock or hide under a coconut shell, the more likely that you\’ll dodge predators, reproduce, and pass along your genes. But are they smart? Well, that\’s sort of like calling a calculator smart. It\’s really good a performing a small group of tasks, because that\’s what it\’s been programmed to do, but it\’s neither aware of what it\’s doing or why.That\’s not to say non-apes aren\’t capable of intelligent decisions. I guess it all comes down to the semantics of motivation. I\’ve seen research that indicates sea lions can solve complex logic problems. Dolphins may be as socially intelligent as humans. Bees can glean information about the location of food from the way their counterparts dance in the hive. But do they actually understand (i.e., contemplate) their existence?Here\’s perhaps a more interesting series of questions: does a creature need to be self-aware to be considered intelligent? Furthermore, if some animals turned out to be sentient, would that change how we as humans view their place (and ours) in the world? I mean, what if we\’re no more "special" than dolphins? Does that mean we\’re just another species of sentient animal? Do they then deserve equal rights to humans?As far as science is concerned, scientists are surprised all the time. That\’s part of what makes it science. You seem to posit that scientists draw foregone conclusions and then try to make the evidence fit. That\’s not the case. Science allows discoveries to change the direction of accepted conventions at anytime, provided there\’s new evidence to support it.

  4. Diana

    @Greg, stimulating response. Here are some of my thoughts. To answer one of your questions I don’t think they contemplate their existence in the same manner (where we came from, where we go after life) that humans do. However, most are self aware (i.e. aware of their existence). For example, cattle cry before being slaughtered and elephants mourn their dead. Documented cases have shown that elephants recognise bones of other dead elephants. Perhaps the next question we should ask should relate to emotions. Are animals aware of their emotions or do they instinctively feel them? There is a difference. Being aware of emotions allows humans to exercise our freewill and choose to act on it or not. Animals simply feel the emotions. I guess this trait above all else makes us different from other sentient animals.

  5. Greg

    Thanks Diana, you make some excellent points and raise interesting questions of your own. To develop this discussion down a more philosophical path, suppose that our own emotion response is merely a highly developed social instinct. How we perceive the universe might simply be a crude reaction to stimuli that we don\’t fully understand. We might recognize animals to which we\’re closely related, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, as somewhat "sentient" only because their traits are similar to our own.

  6. Mandy

    Octopus are also renowned escape artists, that is, unless you have the lid of their aquarium locked tight, they will get out of the smallest hole……. into fresh air where they die …… maybe not so smart!

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