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"Smart Hans"

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:03 am    Post subject: "Smart Hans" Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I know an interesting story and would like to know whether you know more about this sort of things.
At the beginning of the 20th century lived a man called von Osten who owned a horse which was famous for its mind. Its name was Hans and people used to call it "Smart Hans", because it was able to count! That was of course an interesting story for the past times and many honourable scientists tried to prove either that the horse had a real mind and intellect or that Mr von Osten was a swindler. Nobody could proof that von Osten cheated and so it was obvious that the Smart Hans was an intelligent animal.
One day the German psychologist Pfungst tried it another time and managed to discover how everything worked and what stood behind the "magic".

How the whole thing worked was easy: Hans was asked a simple mathematical task and he knocked then as often with his hoof as the solution was. This worked always when von Osten was present, sometimes when he wasn't, but scientists, and never when nobody was visible to Hans. Pfungst realised after tests, that von Osten didn't want to cheat, but that he looked at Hans' hoof whenever he should start to "count" and rose his head in pride and awe whenever Hans reached the exact count. These signs were unintentionally and almost not visible, but the horse was used to search for this little signs. After all this trouble Pfungst was able to proof that the "Smart Hans" was, not exactly stupid, but nonetheless not what they thought he was...

Do you know similair stories like this one or things that couldn't be proved yet?

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