I think I remember, too, saying a couple of times, on the blog, that I came away from writing Animals in Translation thinking birds might just be as smart as people, or smarter. I didn't want to think that, particularly; How smart are birds, anyway? wasn't the topic of the book, which was mostly about mammals, not birds. But every time Temple told me a bird story, I would think hmmmmm.
The crow-and-the-rifle story, about a crow repeatedly taunting a rancher, has never left me.
So naturally, when I saw "Pigeons, Humans, and the Monty Hall Dilemma," I had to look.
The Monty Hall Dilemma is a probability puzzle that is notorious for eliciting suboptimal decisions from humans. A participant is given a choice from among three doors, one of which conceals a valuable prize. After an initial selection, one of the remaining, nonwinning doors is opened, and the participant is given a chance to switch to the other unopened door. The probability of winning is higher if the participant switches. Pigeons maximize their wins by switching on virtually all trials of a Monty Hall Dilemma analogue, whereas humans utilize a suboptimal strategy involving probability matching. Possible reasons for the difference between these two species’ performance are considered.No time to read or even skim --- but looking forward.
Pigeons, Humans, and the Monty Hall Dilemma by Walter T. Herbranson Current Directions in Psychological Science 2012 21: 297