Friday, December 24, 2010

Testing babies for mindreading

SciAm reports that babies can read minds:
Babies as young as seven months old may be able to take into account the thoughts and beliefs of other people, according to a paper published December 23 in Science. Called "theory of mind," this ability is central to human cooperation.

The finding provides evidence for the earliest awareness in infants so far of others' perspectives, says lead author Ágnes Kovács, a developmental psychologist at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. The research team made the discovery by measuring a simple behavior -- how long infants stare at a scene -- in experiments that did not require infants to explicitly assess others' thoughts or predict their actions.
Others are not convinced, such as this comment:
Um, I don't buy this one at all; first, it's not OTHER PEOPLE'S 'minds' they are reading, so right away it is totally flawed. 2nd, how you get from watching Smurf cartoons to mind reading or whatever you tag it is completely beyond me. Also way too many variables, way to many 'adult' assumptions about a 6 month old brain's method of processing visual information. Also way too many environmental variables that could have been manipulated to allow any credence to this 'study'.
I'm sorry, but even the conceptual context of mind reading is pathetic, as we know we don't read minds, we read articles about screwy experiments with bizarre conclusions.
Am I the only one still shaking their head over this one?
I am shaking my head also. There are probably simply explanations than baby mindreading.

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