Article ID: CBB085423128

Levels of communication: The talking horse experiments (2020)


In the early twentieth century, counting and speaking horses, like the famous Clever Hans or the “Horses of Elberfeld,” became widely debated subjects in experimental psychology. The idea was to determine whether their learning success was only a fraud, or if it might open up a new chapter in “animal psychology” - or even belong to the realm of parapsychology and telepathy. When their tricks were discovered, the teachers of the animals were marked as charlatans. Both the attempts to detect charlatans and the efforts to avoid this accusation during the talking horse experiments proceeded using the method of introducing new levels of communication into the human-animal interaction process in order to substantiate each respective standpoint. This paper argues that the scientific studies and debates on the talking horses are relevant not only from psychological, biological, and semiotic vantage points, but also from the perspective of communications theory, giving rise to the foundational issue of levels of communication.

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Article Irina Podgorny; Daniel Gethmann (2020) “Please, come in.” Being a charlatan, or the question of trustworthy knowledge. Science in Context (pp. 355-361). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Wilson, David A. H.
Radick, Gregory
Montgomery, Georgina Mary
Brigandt, Ingo
Gentilcore, David
Goulden, Murray
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Public Understanding of Science
History and Theory
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Environmental History
University of Chicago Press
Oxford University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Cambridge University Press
Animal psychology
Human-animal relationships
Animal behavior
Lorenz, Konrad
Garner, Richard Lynch
Carpenter, Clarence Ray
Harlow, Harry Frederick
Ainsworth, Mary Dinsmore Salter
Bowlby, John
United States
Great Britain
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
20th century, late
17th century

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