Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Polly Wanna Rational Cracker

Bob received a parrot for his birthday! 

The parrot was fully grown, with a bad attitude and a worse vocabulary. Every other word was an expletive, and the parrot was constantly cursing and swearing. Bob tried to change the bird's attitude by setting a good example, but the bird continued to swear as much as ever. 

This went on for several months until finally, in a moment of desperation, Bob put the parrot in the freezer. For a few minutes, he heard the bird squawking and cursing - and then suddenly it went quiet. 

Bob was afraid he had actually harmed the parrot and he quickly opened the freezer door. 

The parrot stepped out onto Bob's extended arm and said, "I'm sorry that I have offended you with my language and actions and I ask for your forgiveness. I will endeavor to correct my behavior." 

Bob was astonished at the bird's change in attitude and was about to ask what had caused such a drastic change when the parrot said: 

"Sir, may I ask what the chicken did?" 

Sometimes behavior and attitude changes as a rational response to new information. This parrot, for example, changed his attitude and demeanor when he was briefly placed in the freezer (punishment). 

The owner, potentially trying to "cool the bird off" thought that a few minutes in the freezer would rectify the cursing parrot's attitude. He may not have realized that he inadvertently placed the parrot next to a frozen breast of chicken. (inadvertent mistake)

Relating evolutionarily to the chicken, the parrot (1) recognized that his owner could affect his existence; (2) believed he was being punished for his behavior; (3) rectified his behavior with a renewed sense of proper decorum.  (inferential mistake)

Essentially, for the parrot, he changes his behavior, but only because of an inferential mistake. 

Does it count? 

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