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On page 62 of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Ayn Rand wrote about her encounter with a professor of psychology telling the story which has become known as "The Crow", or "Crow-Epistemology". Where did this story originate?

asked Apr 28 '11 at 18:30

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dream_weaver ♦
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edited Apr 28 '11 at 19:01

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Greg Perkins ♦♦
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The fourth paragraph of the first chapter of THE NUMBER CONCEPT: ITS ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT, Levi Leonard Conant wrote:

In connection with the assertion that the idea of number seems to be understood by the higher orders of animals, the following brief quotation from a paper by Sir John Lubbock may not be out of place: "Leroy ... mentions a case in which a man was anxious to shoot a crow. 'To deceive this suspicious bird, the plan was hit upon of sending two men to the watch house, one of whom passed on, while the other remained; but the crow counted and kept her distance. The next day three went, and again she perceived that only two retired. In fine, it was found necessary to send five or six men to the watch house to put her out in her calculation. The crow, thinking that this number of men had passed by, lost no time in returning.' From this he inferred that crows could count up to four.

Update: From footnote 57 in HOW WE KNOW by Harry Binswanger he cites this source when addressing the origin of the story as:

The primary source is "On the Intelligence of the Dog," Nature, vol.33 (Nov. 12, 1885) p.45: "In fine, it was found necessary to send five or six men to the watch-house to put [the crow] out in her calculation. The crow, thinking that this number of men had passed by, lost no time in returning."

The copyright of the former article cited is July 1896.

answered Apr 28 '11 at 18:32

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦
663214

edited Feb 19 '14 at 18:40

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Asked: Apr 28 '11 at 18:30

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Last updated: Feb 19 '14 at 18:40