There can be big differences in the messages from a scholarly, or scientific, article and a main stream, or non-scientific article. The titles and the messages written in the articles can give readers entirely different meanings. The original article may state the study was done one way, but the main stream article tries to write in layman terms and may miss the entire meaning, or the way the study was actually completed. The techniques used to draw the reader's attention can also have an effect on the way the article gets written and the messages they send.
Reading the article from the Language Log, the article compares other sources that covered a study on a baboon learning to read English words. (Liberman, 2012) Each of the sources listed stated the titles different from each other and gave different impressions of what the baboon actually did. For instance, some of them actually stated that baboons could read English words, other stated the fact they could read, but not necessarily English words, and still others stated they could recognize words, but not necessarily read them. They seem to zero in on the fact that the study claimed the baboons were able to read.
There were two key facts the article mentioned about the original study. The first, the baboons had actually only learned about differences in letter combinations because the letter-pair frequencies changed, or differences in the frequency of letter combinations. The second, the study's conclusion is not supported by the evidence provided. (Liberman, 2012) Questions were raised about the method the study was performed. For example, could the study have been done with single letter frequencies instead of the four letter frequency? The accuracy of the study was also questioned. Statistical probabilities were done on the number of guesses from Dan, the leading performer. It was 75% accurate where the original claim was 75% as well. But different algorithms showed different results.
The author had a different impression of the relative importance of the study's claims. With the different algorithms showing different results and the method used to determine the letter combinations, it raised questions about what the baboons actually knew or if they were merely guesses the baboon was making. The authors used statistical analysis with different algorithms in an effort to disprove the validity of the claim as a tactic to attract attention. They claimed the original study claimed a 75% accuracy, their first statistic showed 75% accuracy, but yet, there was different results with some of the other statistical analysis.
If someone was not interested specifically in primatology, they would probably respond negatively. There would probably be a lot of doubt about the subject. The title may be the only thing that was actually read. The article, itself, would probably not have been given a chance to even start to defend itself. Non-interested parties would respond in an unbelief manner.
The original title link was to another website. The website was Science Mag. A subscription had to be purchased in order to access the article written about original study. Then the press release on the article could be downloaded and accessed. It was interesting that there had to be a payment involved in order to read the original press release. Without it, there was no way to verify anything written in the article.
The press release to the original study is, "Orthographic Processing in Baboons (Papio). "The discovery that orthographic processing is achieved by neutral structures in the left ventral occipitotemporal cortex (6, 7), a region that is bilaterally associated with object and face processing, has encourage a reconsideration of the role of basic object identification processing in visual word recognition." (Grainger, 2012) This study was done for reconsideration of a previous study. The first article failed to mention this part. This press release mentions the baboons were first trained to discriminate randomly selected real English four letter words from artificially generated four letter strings that were not words, which the first article also failed to mention. The training period for the baboons actually lasted a month and a half. Because the baboons had had some actual training before the study, words that were not known were actually triggered by words they had learned, resulting in fewer non-word responses. The press release used the anthropomorphism tactic to get the reader's attention by mentioning orthographic and baboons in the title.
The conclusions suggest that statistical learning is a powerful universal mechanism that could be the basis for higher learning that facilitate the evolution of natural language and that orthographic processing could, at least partly, be constrained by visual principles of visual object processing shared by monkeys and humans. (Grainger, 2012) According to the way the study was explained, it was based on the orthographic processing skills that monkeys and humans are born with. This was recognized as the same abilities to learn as humans and the first process of recognizing and learning words. The orthographic processing uses information about which letters are located where in a word. This processing was actually the basis of the study. The letter combinations were actually one of the processes used to test the orthographic processes in the baboons. The author of the first article had an incomplete impression. It does appear that the author of the first article did not really understand everything about the study, or did not actually read it the way it was written. The first scholarly article did not display the study the way it actually happened, or even explain it the way the original press release explained it.
The main stream article puts the study in much simpler words and explains in more of a layman terms. (Press, 2012) It explains the study in a lot of ways the same as the original press release, except for the orthographic processing terminology and how the statistics were done. It explains the baboons being part of a research study to examine how cognitive skills work in the learning process. Using touch screen computers, the baboons were taught letter combinations that actually made up words. They were then tested on their knowledge and if they could recognize words with letter combinations they had not been taught. With each correct answer, they were rewarded with a treat of food. Even though, the baboons did not know the meanings of the words, they learned to recognize the patterns in the letter combinations that made up the words.
The conclusions in this article were that baboons had more cognitive ability than humans give them credit for. The only thing this article mentioned about the statistics was that Dan had gotten an 80% accuracy, not the statistical averages or the meanings of the statistics. It did not mention about orthographic or visual principles that the original press release did. It mentioned that Dan was a 4-year-old, equivalent to a human teenager. That was not mentioned in the original press release. This was in addition to what the original stated. It used the anthropomorphism tactic to get the reader's attention by mentioning that baboon can to learn to spot real words in the title
In laymen terms, no one wants to be compared to a monkey. But in all reality, humans and monkeys are in the same primate family. They have similar body structures that develop the same way and behaviors that are very similar in nature. Research has shown throughout history that the monkey has the same intelligence, cognitive abilities, and sensitivities that humans have. Primitive human ancestors lived very similar to monkeys in the respect of some of the same foods, living in the forests, and climbing trees.
Primate research helps in the understanding of human behaviors in respect to actions and reactions. For example, when the monkeys are taken out…