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September 11: A Post to the Clickryder List

If feels good to sit in front of a computer and do something as normal as write an email. Like all the rest of you, I've been watching the terrible images of sorrow that are unfolding via the television. It is so unbelievably sad; sad to think of the passengers on those planes and the terror they must have felt; sad to think of the firefighters climbing to their deaths in those towers as everyone else was rushing down; sad to think of the families devastated by their losses; sad to think of the rescue workers forever changed by the nightmare horrors of what they are seeing. So many images, so many terrible things, but the saddest of all is thinking about what may be coming. That's the most frightening part of all of this. What will our reaction be? Will we find a wise course of action in all this chaos, or will we become just another terrorist who screams for an eye for an eye?

Learning by Observation: Across Species

From Aidan Bindoff: Most of you would be aware that the golden retriever excells in obedience, tracking, retrieving etc. This all-purpose dog is well known for its intelligence and ability to obey instruction, and cats are well known for their ability to lie around all day and look pretty, right?

Learning by Observation II

I have written about learning by observation several times, beginning with Lads Before the Wind in 1975 (reissued with four new chapters in 2000), and the account of two Steno bredanensis, or rough-toothed dolphins, that were inadvertently switched during shows and succeeded in doing most of each other's repertoires, including some shaped behaviors. One animal accepted blindfolds and located and retrieved sinking hoops, a behavior that had taken weeks to train in the model animal. The other animal succeeded in jumping through a hoop high above the water. (They had separate show routines, but could watch each other, day after day, from the holding tanks which had barred underwater gates. Probably sitting there saying "Heck, I could do that!")

On Fear and Aggression

People call many behaviors aggression, and talk about "treating" aggression as if it were a medical entity, like a staph infection. It's as if any display of symptoms confirms the existence of a full-blown case for which known treatments exist.

Loading the Problem Loader

"Loading the Problem Loader: The Effects of Target Training and Shaping on Trailer-Loading Behavior of Horses," a research paper published by Dawnery L. Ferguson and Jesus Rosales-Ruiz, University of North Texas, in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 34 (1002): 409-424.