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James Brody
January 13th, 2007, 06:24 PM
Frank Beach caught us! That is, his graphs show that in 1915 (approx) the number of species that psychologists studied were evenly split between white rats, non rat mammals, non mammalian vertebrates, and non vertebrates. By 1948, the corresponding figures (from J experimental psych and J comp. physiol psych) were rattus, 65%; non rattus mammals, 25%; vertebrate non mammals, 2%; and invertebrates, 2%.

I looked at the data, murmured disapproval and then a "Eureka!"

An emergent network unfolded, just as we might expect when one component in a collection recruits new members. Given feedback between psychologists, SOMETHING would have become dominant!

Why rattus? It's enough like us to be fun!

Is there a loss? Only for purists who insist on equality of data, all flyboxes occupants must be equal! Fact: mice and humans overlap with sophomores to a remarkable degree in their genetic similarities, attitudes, and general information. (A similar opportunity exists for anthropologists who, to this date, ship their students to African or South American bug hatcheries. The relationships, however, found in the Yanomamo can be duplicated in C&W Top 40, The American Truckers Network, religious groups, political parties, and even your local association of stamp collectors!

JimB

Reference:
Beach FA (1950 The snark was a boojum. American Psychologist. 5:115-124. Also in Thomas McGill (Ed.) Readings in Animal Behavior. NY: Holt Rinehart Winston, 1965, pp. 3-14.

Copyright, James Brody, 2007, all rights reserved.