Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Apparent Intelligence Of Creatures

I saw something today that really gave me an appreciation for the apparent intelligence of creatures, myself included.

Sometimes I think I'm a little dull, a little slow on the uptake. Someone will be spelling a word, let's say, and I'll need them to go very slowly, then repeat it, because I can't keep track of letters (that well) when they're given in a sequence quickly. Just last night, as an example, I had to listen to a podcast 10 times to get the URL for Someone says it's "r c r d l b l" and I'm not expecting it, I'm like, "What?!" (In case you're worried that might take you to a site that would rip you off, it won't. It stands for Record Label and is a place where artists post their songs.)

Anyway, no matter how dull I am, sometimes I amaze myself by being intelligent. With the creaturely intelligence that appears to be native to all creatures, given their own domain and level of raw ability. Look, I was able to think of that very intelligent description without much aforethought and without memorizing it in advance of writing it. It flowed forth, even though if I wanted to repeat it, I'd have to look at it a dozen times, and I would definitely have a hard time memorizing it.

Today I saw a thrilling display of the apparent intelligence of creatures. I was amazed. It was this:

I look outside in the morning when I'm feeding the cat and getting a bagel. I see the kids gathered across the road, waiting for the bus. The bus always comes from the south. They're standing on the east side of the street, waiting to board the bus through the door, which would be facing east. That's pretty smart of them right there, as they anticipate the bus's approach and depend on the door being in the same place each day. That they even know what a door is and how to use it takes intelligence as well.

(Maybe this isn't that amazing. Even my pets know how to use a door.)

Today, then, something way out of the ordinary happened. And I thought, they are smart! Because of the snow, I guess, the bus came from the west and pulled up on the road facing east. Yet the kids are still standing there, now southerly from the bus. The door will be north of where they're standing.

Every one of those kids recognized it as the bus they were waiting for. Every one of them saw the changed circumstances and immediately adapted. Now, some may have been following the crowd, stupefied by the weirdness of the moment. But just going by the appearance, it looked like each one of them was making an educated move, knowing through their apparent intelligence that they should approach and board the bus like usual, only going in a different direction, as everything about the scene was somewhat different than what they were expecting.

Not one kid was left behind! You might think there'd be at least one kid who would search around for what to do, then walk toward a phantom bus parked where it normally is, lift his leg as though boarding it, and fall flat on his face. But it did not happen!

I stood there at the window, thinking exactly what you're reading here, of how great the apparent intelligence of creatures is.

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