His exclamation of “FRELL YOU!” was not in response to Abby’s assertion that anecdotes don’t constitute proof of avian intelligence; rather, it was in response to this whole conversation about him in third person when he was right there. How rude!
TEXT OF COMIC:
Is that bird really only a month old? I swear he looks totally different from a few days ago.
I know, right? They grow so fast in the first few months. I wonder when he’ll start getting his adult plumage.
Hi, Polyphemus! Wow! Does he always use words so appropriately?
He has his moments. Talking birds can get really good at associating words with their meanings and using them in the proper contexts.
They must be incredibly smart for such teeny brains.
It’s hard to tell. Birds have been taught to do all sorts of intelligent-looking tasks, like identifying objects by their appearance and quantity.
But training an animal is kind of like programming a computer, establishing a certain output for a certain command. There are computer programs that can count and identify objects, or use words relevantly. It doesn’t mean those computer programs are sentient.
The most compelling evidence for bird intelligence is in the little one-time flukes, the things that aren’t scientifically reproducible.
Like the time Alex the African Grey parrot looked in the mirror and asked “What color?” when he’d never been taught to ask questions… and then, when he heard the answer “Grey,” he knew it and could identify grey objects from then on.
Most of the clearest signs of consciousness are little, anecdotal things like that. I believe in their importance, but I know they don’t constitute any kind of proof, from a scientific perspective.
I dunno, he seems really good at fitting his comments into the conversation.
“Frell you” fits pretty well anywhere.
MOUSEOVER TEXT: and his understanding of that fact demonstrates his intelligence