Re: poly: Darwin and Chomsky

From: Peter C. McCluskey <>
Date: Fri Apr 24 1998 - 09:59:02 PDT (Robin Hanson) writes:
>In particular, they see the root of language recursion in the "ever more
>detailed planning of the complex sequences of segmented movements -- upper
>body, shoulder, arm, wrist, etc. -- that precision hammering and aimed
>throwing require." Are human body movements really much more recursive
>than other animals'?

 Judging from parts of the argument in Calvin's previous books, it goes
something like "recursion is important to planning". I don't see how a
body movement itself would be recursive.

>And is it really true that human brain signals are much more precise, in
>timing and brain-location specificity, than other animals? This should
>be testable.

 Generally human brain signals don't seem to be more precise. Calvin
claims that humans have evolved some special ways of producing unusual
precision by averaging the results of thousands of neurons to reduce
the noise that plagues individual neurons.
 "No one has ever measured chimpanzee throwing accuracy, to the best of
my knowledge. Were chimps even half as accurate as humans, however, I think
we would have heard about it: they'd be the terror of Africa and (given how
they love meat) they'd be eating meat every day." - p. 178 of Calvin's
The Ascent of Mind.

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list
Received on Fri Apr 24 17:01:28 1998

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