February 28th, 2014


Problem Solving

I was just reading about Edward Thorndike's puzzle boxes - an experiment where he put a cat or dog into a box that had some sort of release lever to let it out, and waited to see if the cat or dog would work out whether/how to press the lever.

I now desperately want to put, say, 100 human beings into puzzle boxes, and see how long it takes each of THEM to work out that pushing a lever in a darkened room opens the door. Perhaps my view of humanity is pessimistic, but based on many of the support phonecalls I get, not only are most human beings incapable of empirically working out the solution to a problem, but they are also a species absolutely beset with cargo cult beliefs about the things that appeared to work but in the real world cannot possibly have done so...

I'm fairly sure that the people on my LJ friendslist can indeed reason their way out of a paper bag, but to be honest, I'm not sure you lot are entirely representative.

Both Az and Brythen were expert puzzle-solvers of the canine variety. Az could open doors, turn keys,and undo tent-zips, and it's a delight to see Brythen realise that he's on the wrong side of a fence and work out at speed how to navigate through a series of gates and gaps to the right side of it (when he decides to do so, and OK, sometimes he decides not to :-D ) . He can open a dog-crate from the inside, too. But These are Not Typical Dogs.