Presentation (Project) Title

From Clever Hans to Bunny the TikTok Dog: An Exploration into Animal-to-Human Communication

Mentor Information

Simon Dutton (Department of Philosophy)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

Clever Hans was a German horse who, around the turn of the twentieth century, would perform in shows where he would answer math problems by tapping his hoof. While he wasn’t 100% accurate, he caught the attention of spectators and scientists alike. Upon investigation and testing, it was revealed that while Hans was not clever enough to do math, he was clever enough to pick up on unintentional cues from his questioner. More contemporary examples of animal-to-human communication, specifically seen in Koko the Gorilla, Alex the Parrot, and Bunny the Dog, also catch the attention of spectators and scientists, though it is unclear whether the animals truly know what they are saying. Through an examination of these animals’ relationships with their handlers, it is evident that regardless of the animal’s language capabilities, communication with an animal still plays a valuable role in the animal-to-human bond and that it is worth studying for its potential to revolutionize veterinary care.

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From Clever Hans to Bunny the TikTok Dog: An Exploration into Animal-to-Human Communication

Clever Hans was a German horse who, around the turn of the twentieth century, would perform in shows where he would answer math problems by tapping his hoof. While he wasn’t 100% accurate, he caught the attention of spectators and scientists alike. Upon investigation and testing, it was revealed that while Hans was not clever enough to do math, he was clever enough to pick up on unintentional cues from his questioner. More contemporary examples of animal-to-human communication, specifically seen in Koko the Gorilla, Alex the Parrot, and Bunny the Dog, also catch the attention of spectators and scientists, though it is unclear whether the animals truly know what they are saying. Through an examination of these animals’ relationships with their handlers, it is evident that regardless of the animal’s language capabilities, communication with an animal still plays a valuable role in the animal-to-human bond and that it is worth studying for its potential to revolutionize veterinary care.