kitchen table math, the sequel: Independent George reflects

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Independent George reflects

re: sticky wages at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Independent George writes:
You know you've been fully immersed into the canine world when the first thing you think about when reading an econ article on a math blog is how they've gotten the dogs wrong.
I cracked up when I read that.

Since I, too, find dogs majorly fascinating, I'm posting Independent George's second Comment:
The other red flag from your quoted passage is "120 pounds". Wolves don't naturally grow anywhere close to that size, which makes me question how much wolf is actually in those supposed hybrids.

I will say, though, that wolves ARE scary; when you see those yellow eyes staring at you in the yard, I completely understand how that would deter a prisoner escape. True wolfdogs behave very differently from dogs, and we're genetically hardwired to spot the difference. The very thing which causes the intimidation is also what makes them so unruly. And the lesson from the Belyaev experiments is that you can't have both - the behavioral traits are tied too strongly to the physical appearance.
I first grasped the "genetically hardwired" understanding between people and dogs when Christopher was age 7.

Unfortunately, Safari ate my post, so I will have to reconstruct it later.


Independent George said...

I actually meant more that fear of wolves (or, really, any predator) was genetically hardwired into us, but our relationship with dogs works, too. I can't count how many times my dog has come in from the next room to bark & paws at me because her ball/bone/toy had rolled under the furniture, and she needed my help to get it back. The whole notion that we can communicate this so easily with this completely different species should be utterly bizarre and insane, but it's so common that we take it for granted.

And, yet again, I had to restrain myself from quoting your own damned book to you in the comments.

Catherine Johnson said...

you should definitely quote my book! I barely remember what's in it.
That's one of the really weird things about being a writer -- you don't remember your own writing much better than you remember anyone else's.

I'm certain that my life as a writer is one of the main things that has made me SOOOOO skeptical of constructivism.

I 'construct knowledge' for a living.

Then I forget what I constructed.

Temple doesn't remember most of the new material that's in the books, either.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm thrilled you left comments, because I had suppressed my own impulse to say THIS WOLF DOG BUSINESS IS FRIKKIN' NUTS.

ChemProf said...

"fear of wolves (or, really, any predator) was genetically hardwired into us"

This comment made me laugh a little, reminding me of an incident years ago at San Diego Zoo. We were standing at a window trying to find the tiger, as one does. Turns out he was sleeping at the bottom of the window, but we all were looking further away and didn't see him. He let out a big snore and rolled over, and you should have seen everyone leap as the monkey brains took over - "Predator! Run!"

The wolf dog idea remains nuts, though.

Catherine Johnson said...

I love that story!!!


I gotta find some time today to re-write the story about my discovery of human-dog comprehension....

I'm so flabbergasted by the wolf-dog prison guards I'm thinking of setting up a Google alert on wolf dog prison guards just so I can be the first to know when the whole thing goes kablooey.

Catherine Johnson said...

I think the one prisoner they've got 'working' with the dogs should just leave.

Have his wolf-dog give the guards a long stare and walk on out.

(I'm kidding.)

Anonymous said...

There are two possible combinations of lion and tiger, depending on which is the father. We unimaginatively call them ligers and tiglions.

Ligers are much huger than either lions or tigers are. Why? Because the gene that inhibits growth is inherited through the father for tigers and through the mother for lions, and ligers therefore have NO gene to inhibit growth. Tiglions, of course, have two copies of that gene.

I do not know the genetics behind wolf size, but it may be something similar, that wolf dogs are much larger than wolves because of a quirk of combining dog and wolf genes,