Carl's training was in physiological psychology (which Lashley founded), and his formal field of inquiry was the physiology of vision. Half his lab was a forest of multiplex stimulators, stereotaxic apparatuses, oscilloscopes and the like-- the sophisticated contraptions and gizmos of contemporary brain science. But the other half belonged to behavior, Carl's abiding love and his reason for being in science in the first place.
Carl knew very little about larval salamanders when he joined the research outfit where I'd been working for a few years. His ignorance vanished fast. Did they prefer light to darkness? he asked on his very first visit. I confidently misinformed him with the conventional wisdom that Ambystoma larvae (the genus I use) avoid light. I recall his bending down, hands clasped behind his back for a long pensive moment as he observed a few animals swim around in their finger bowls. Was it okay if he took a couple of these little squirts back to his lab? I had over a thousand Amblystoma punctatum larvae in stock at the time. Sure he could take as many as he wanted.
Carl invented a miniature Y maze, as it's called because of its shape. Swimming down the stem, the animal has a simple choice between left and right when it reaches the confluence. Carl used the Y maze to find out if punctatum would choose a lighted versus a dark alley. (By randomly switching the lighted and darkened alleys, he eliminated left- versus right-handed preferences.) In the article he soon published in Animal Behavior, Carl reported, that Amblystoma punctatum larvae, "approach the illuminated arm in 92 percent...of the trials." The animals avoided heat, he observed.
Carl had been profoundly influenced by the ethologists, especially Jane Goodall. Like them, he'd spend hours, days and even weeks observing his animals perform freely before designing an experiment. He believed in shaping the test to the subject, not the other way around. "It's arrogant to do otherwise, " he once told me. And he could coax the most unexpected behavior from the most unlikely-looking creatures. Naturally, he was a devotee of Worm-Runner's Digest.
I remember a big axolotl I gave Carl as a birthday present while the beast was a big but still juvenile animal. A greedy and aggressive monster, Carl named him Julius.
Julius had become a pain the neck for me. In those days, I feed my animals exclusively on tubifex worms which had to be flown in fresh from New York every week or so. The shipping costs made the worms several orders of magnitude more expensive per unit weight than filet mignon. In few minutes, Julius could devour two weeks' supply of worms for the entire colony. I'd tried feeding him on guppies, on which I was overrun. But the clever little fish, which cohabited one of my sinks with him, were far too quick for Julius. Carl, too, had a guppy over-supply problem. He asked if axolotls can catch guppies. "Too stupid," I said. Carl frowned and his ears blushed. Although he said nothing, I had the distinct impression that he disliked my remark about Julius's cognitive ability.
One afternoon some weeks after he saved me from recycling Julius through the snapping turtles by accepting my gift, Carl burst into my lab, took me by the sleeve, and dragged me back to his quarters. He wanted to show me something but wouldn't say just what. I knew it had to be good.
Julius was in a large enamel pan. I recoiled at the sight of him. He'd almost doubled his size since I'd last seen him. When he arched his muscular back and looked up at me, I was glad a coarse mesh screen covered his pan.
Carl netted a guppy and transferred it into a small beaker of water. He flicked off the overhead light. The room turned an eerie brownish color in indirect light from the machines and indicators. Carl turned on a spotlight and aimed it at one corner of Julius's pan. The axolotl alerted and in a few seconds glided to the spot and parked right at its edge. Carl poured the guppy through the mesh, into the spot of light. Bam! The guppy vanish virtually as it hit the water.
"That's not fair!" I protested. I thought I could make at a grin on Carl's face. He ignored my remark, but as he netted another guppy he told me that Julius had learned that trick on the first day.
Carl poured the second guppy into the pan, but this time over on the opposite end from Julius and the pernicious spot of light. The axolotl's massive bush of external gills seemed to tense ever so slightly, but he remained parked. Now light strongly attracts guppies. And what do you suppose this poor guppy in the tank with Julius did? It swam to the spot and virtually into Julius's waiting jaws.
"Maybe," I conceded.
Carl turned off the spotlight, flicked on the overheads and went for a third guppy. Carl definitely was grinning, I noticed. In went the third guppy, again at the opposite end of the pan from Julius. This time there was no spot of light to attract the victim or hold Julius's attention. But shortly after the fish went into the tank, Julius turned. He began to chase the guppy all over the pan. Just as I was about to call him stupid again, I became aware of a change in the beast's behavior. He wasn't putting his fury into the chase, as he did back in my lab, wasn't lunging and thrashing and flopping ineffectual--isn't really trying to catch the guppy, I realized. Now his purpose was almost casual: a lazy flick of the gills here, a swush! of the giant tail there--just enough to keep the guppy frantically on the move, up and down and back and forth across the pan. The chase continued for perhaps two minutes, the fish moving flat-out almost constantly. Then smoothness began to disappear from the fish's movements. It's becoming fatigued, I thought. Just then, Julius began to close in, steadily, inexorably, boxing the worn-out little fish into a corner. Suddenly the water churned as though a volcano had erupted in its depths. Julius feinted to his left with his gills. The guppy darted to the right. But Julius was already on the ill-fated path. And the fish was suddenly gone.
Carl had trained Julius to associate light with the imminent presence of food. But the beast had somehow managed to learn the rest of the hunt by himself. Conventional tests of learning would not even hint at such capabilities. Carl had allowed Julius's behavior to determine the training. Like the ethologists, Carl respected behavior in the large, which made him a master of it in the small.
Carl often came to my lab around ten in the morning for his coffee break. We'd sometimes spend hours or even the rest of the day chewing and speculating about anything from the chemical transfer of memory to the social behavior of apes to war, which was on everyone's mind at the time.
One morning, he arrived a little earlier than usual. Squatting, balancing a coffee cup on one knee and using the floor drain as an ashtray (even scientists smoked in those days), he asked, "How hard is it to add an extra eye to a salamander?" He went into a coughing spasm but, between paroxysms and drags on his cigarette, managed to phrase a very interesting idea.
There is an important principle in sensory physiology known by some as the psychophysical law. First suggested in the 1830's by Ernst Weber, it was perfected and verified in 1860 by philosopher-biologist, Gustav Fechner. (Today, some people call it the Weber-Fechner law.) Experimenting, Fechner found that a change in the strength of a stimulus up or down elicits a corresponding increase or decrease in the intensity of a sensation. If H is the change in the sensation, k a constant and S the change in the strength of the stimulus, then H equals k times the logarithm of S (H = klogS). The law may not hold close to threshold or at extremely high intensities, and it's easier to demonstate with some senses than others. But in the range where most sensations occur (with the possible exception of hearing), the law holds remarkably well. There was even speculation that learning fit into the eye-to-one rule. Thus a one-to-one rule ought to exist in changes of sensation to perception to learning--within limits, of course.
Law or no law, Carl insisted, sensory physiology had not settled a fundamental question: given the inherant capabilities of a brain, are the refining constraints imposed out at the sense organs or up in the brain. He'd thought the critical test was impossible until he ran across the eye transplant experiments made famous by Roger Sperry. Adding and subtracting eyes was the approach, Carl thought.
After much procrastination on my part, we launched the study during the following spring. I'd conducted extensive pilot series, and had concluded that the best approach was to mount the extra eye on top of the animal's head just above the pineal body, the vestigial third eye. I'd cut a window in the top of the skill and then aim the stump of the optic nerve directly at the roof of the diencephalon. I called these animals, collectively, Triclops.
Our main controls were animals with an eye transplanted atop the head, like Triclops, but with both natural eyes removed. I tried calling them "monoclops"; then "uniclops"; but (to keep from swallowing my tongue during oral discourse) eventually went with "Cyclops." Cyclops would inform us not only whether but also when: whether the experiment was worth carrying to a conclusion, and, if so, when training could and should begin.
The one-to-one principle applies to increments of change, not static levels of sensation, perception or learning. (Thus, for example, if one pinch begets an ouch, two pinches won't necessarily bring forth two ouches. But the differences between one and two when added onto two should tell you what three pinches will elicit.) We had no way of knowing a priori just what those increments might possibly be in the visual system of the salamander larva. But if one-to-one works, then a normal salamander with two natural eyes would learn faster than a sibling with one eye removed. If the latter held up, the difference would equal our increment. The increment (difference between one- and two-eyed), when added to the two-eyed animals' scores would predict the performance Triclops--if one-to-one was valid. The latter statement became the basic prediction of our study.
Carl, meanwhile, had developed and perfected the training apparatus and the evaluation routines, which he called the "light-shock avoidance test." In principle like the ding of the bell in Pavlov's experiments, a spot light provided the conditioned stimulus (CS is the standard abbreviation). The shock, the unconditioned stimulus (US) was what the animal had to learn to avoid: 10 volts of direct current at 10 Hz for 10 milliseconds. The rig itself was a marvel of simplicity and ingenuity: two low cylindrical dishes, one larger than the other by a little more than the width of anAmblystoma punctatum larva's body, the smaller inverted in the larger, thus creating a circular alley in which the animal would swim. Platinum wires around the two walls served as electrodes, the mediators of the shock. Carl would reposition the light wherever the animal stopped. The circular geometry of the alley meant that every starting point was of the same shape as any other. Animals would not have to be dragged back to a starting point as in a conventional apparatus.
In training, a salamander had 10 seconds to escape from the light before receiving a shock. Carl performed 25 trials one an animal, per session, 2 sessions a day, for 4 days. He randomly varied the intervals between trials from 10 to 25 seconds, to make sure the animals did not cue on the tempo instead of the light .
Experimental psychologists have learned to take great care to eliminate what is called pseudo-conditioning: a positive response by the subject when there's no actual association between two the putative stimuli. One measure is known as the extinction test. After an animal has apparently made a specific association (gets the test right in, say, 90-95 percent of the trials), its performance will drop upon withdrawal of the reward or punishment (US) in direct relationship to the number of trials made with only the conditioned stimulus (CS). If the animal associates the CS with an extraneous variable its performance will not drop off when you terminate the US.
Carl applied the extinction test to every subject. All passed. He also stimulated animals with light alone or shock alone, as an additional control against pseudo-conditioning. In addition, we included eyeless animals in the study. Controls for mental telepathy? You might wonder. But a few years later, excellent evidence came along to show that animals, in fact, have some non-visual perception of light. Our eyeless animals didn't learn Carl's test.
I'd personally raised every animal in the colony from early embryonic stages. All were Ambylstoma punctatumm from two large clutches of eggs (those in a clutch have the same parents). I kept accurate records on individuals; later we ran comparisons of data from the two clutches and eliminated egg clutch (pedigree) as a factor in our findings. I made sure each animal had developed simultaneously through the same embryonic stages. Size and mass? Animals were of the same snout-tail length (in millimeters) and displaced the same volume of fluid (which beats trying to weigh an aquatic animal on the pan of a balance).
Given all the controls Carl had insisted upon, and the numbers of each type of subject necessary to make learning difference statistically significant, he could not train and test the entire group all at one time. Therefore (to avoid the variables implicit in the latter fact), I organized the animals into working squads, each squad with at least one representative of each type of animal. All members of a squad went under anesthesia at the same time and I revived them all together. Squad members lived in individual dishes, but I kept the dishes in the same stack, and where one dish went all the others in the stack went, too. Their spring water came from the same carboy, and even their tubifex worms came from the same culture. I spaced the operation for different squads over a period of days to give Carl some latitude. At the conclusion of the study we ran analyses and found no difference attributable to the particular squad an animal belonged to.
Cyclopes dictated when Carl could start the light-shock training. They began using the top-mounted eye about two weeks after surgery. When we dangled a worm above the water, the denizen would ascend hungrily from the depths, "like a submarine surfacing to salvage a free bargeload of beer," as a pharmacologist colleague of ours characterized it. After the transplanted eye began to work, the Cyclopes preferred sight to all other senses. Vision working again, they seemed compulsive about taking a good look at the worm before making a strike. Often, inspection required acrobatics. If a worm dropped below the plane of the salamander's surfaced-oriented visual field, the animal would duck, twist and pirouette on its snout to aim the eye. It would even poke and thrust at a wriggling red mass, using the eye as a prod and reminding the pharmacologist with the beer of "a rhinoceros chasing one of the Three Stooges around a mimosa tree."
Carl's instincts told him to wait a couple of extra weeks before launching the light-shock avoidance training. So that he could carefully control temperature and keep the animals in minimal illumination, I turned over my inner sanctum darkroom to him.
Over the years Carl and I have observed a rule: no chewing the fat about the data until they've all been retrieved, cleaned up and run through statistical analyses. It isn't just a matter of introducing bias, which is hard enough to control, but to hedge against a potential hell an experimentalists usually learns early on in the career: letting imagination run wild with a false lead. The pure agony in retracting one's brilliant speculations is akin to the Katzenjammer Kid's dachshund having to surrendering a stolen string of succulent sausages. Thus when the big day finally arrived, I had not a hint of what the returns would say about the one-to-one principle of perception and learning. I did think we'd be making big names for ourselves by showing IQ could be raised with the knife.
Carl came into my lab one day, arms loaded with sheaves of statisticated data. He spread them out on a long high lab bench, then tried to talk. Instead he began to giggle. The giggle turned into a laugh. The laugh became a fit. I feared he might collapse into a tall stack of dirty dishes on the soapstone sink behind him. Finally, he managed to tell me some of what was in the findings.
One-Eye (the mean avoidances for animals minus a natural eye) had indeed learned more slowly than Two-Eye, which sounded just fine to me. And Triclops (the mean values for animals with the third eye mounted on the head) learned faster than Two-Eye. Well great! I thought. Moreover, the One-Eye versus Two-Eye difference when added back to Two-Eye did equal Triclops, which seemed marvelous to me!
"What's so funny?" I asked, puzzled. It's swell to be delighted but that shouldn't kick you into a hebephrenic jag. Carl supported himself against the gray steel fume hood next to the sink. "Heee..." Now I'm also chuckling, although I don't know why. "Cyclops...[gasp!]...Cyclops learned faster than all the rest...Heeeeee..." Carl managed one last clause before his puffed eyes closed tight and he became incoherent: the Cyclops data were statistically significant. "Very highly significant..." And then I broke down, too.
Why was all this so hilarious to us? One-Eye, Two-Eye and Triclops had behaved according to our a priori expectations. But Cyclops, with one transplanted eye, should have learned at about the same rate as One-Eye ("plus or minus a shkoshi bit to account for the location", as I told our phamacologist). But certainly not faster than Triclops! Our results looked flukey. Mother Nature had played a practical joke on us, it seemed. And she was rubbing it in with statistics--a very high level of statistical significance, at that. It was the statistics that made Carl, and eventually me, come apart. The Cyclops data look preposterous. And statistics turned them into absrudity.
I'm not saying it's funny when ridiculous results become statistically significant. That happens all the time, really. Indeed, it's tragic when statistics prevent a scientist from recognizing absurdity. This too frequently happens.
Statistics furnish a rational test for whether or not differences can be accounted for merely from random individual variations within a population. The tests don't guarantee a difference. Also, statistical correlations let an observer decide on formal grounds rather than intuitively, what the random chances are of two sets of events occurring together, given normal variations among the samples. And statistics let us compare results against, say, the honest roulette wheel: they give the odds against winning when we bet on an alleged difference or correlation. There's really no way to conduct quantitative research with "stats."
But statistics aren't the same thing as truth. They're not the same thing as being right or wrong. And the term significance only refers to how many times in a hundred, thousand, million, etc., you can obtain the same result at an unrigged crap table. People have been known to roll eight or nine sevens in a row, which isn't very likely, statistically. An application of a given statistical test to a body of data may unwittingly violate unknown mathematical conditions. Cross the wrong abstract boundary and you may quickly generate absurdity without knowing it and without being able to control the source of the error. (I've often wondered how many heavy users of statistics have actually examined the theorems and proofs underlying their tests.) Then too, there's the matter of criteria. Much IQ gospel and parapsychology data, for instance, depend on level of significance and coefficients of correlation that would be useless in, say, quantum chemistry or statistical mechanics. On the other extreme, some of the most important discoveries in the history of science are statistically insignificant: Few of Pasteur's experiments were sufficiently replicated or adequately sampled for commonly used statistical tests. None of Koch's were. Nor Galileo's or Newton's.
Don't get me wrong. Statistics adds a dimension to quantitative analysis that wasn't there before. Nobody denies this. But like any data or body of alleged facts, statistically significant results must be considered within a context of what's happening. If your statistics tell you that a rat learned a maze after it died, something went haywire in the data collection or analysis. If your experimental worms ran the maze 1296 times versus the 1293 for the controls, and your test tells you they are highly significant, maybe the numbers are too large for the type of test you used. (How did the test hold up if you sample ten experimentals and controls? In alternative tests? ) If your results don't make sense or are clearly absurd, you're best off laughing at yourself, canceling your flight to Sweden to pick up your Nobel prize and going on to the next project, which is what Carl and I thought we were doing.
Carl pitched the data to me. I tossed them up on a dusty shelf above a new computer terminal I recently had installed, and there they moldered for months, where they still might be, except for chance.
In those days, a computer terminal was a teletype machine, and direct interaction with the computer, instead of feeding in cards, was new. I'd the machine installed ostensibly to assist in an otherwise impossible assays essential to my main line of research. (Actually I wanted to play with the new toy sveral buildings down the block.) The analysis depended on an operation called numerical integration. A brilliant young systems analyst from the Comp Lab had tailored a program to my needs. But the people in the Comp Lab bought a bigger, fancier computer--to the chagrin of us poor dumb slobs out on the user end of the line. The change meant having to relearn new access routines and commands and then recheck the reliability of our canned programs. The changeover cost me two laborious weeks.
One day, while sitting in front of the terminal, after having convinced myself that I was back in business, I decided on pure impulse to feed my numerical integration program a little absurdity. I'd previously discovered a safety feature that appealed to my empirical predispositions: if I fed the program data from an alleged curve that really wasn't a curve (had jump discontinuities in it), the computer would either balk outright or return utterly impossible results. In went the Cyclops avoidance data. Then I sat, smiling, wondering if the big new computer would simple go into an electronic spasm; or maybe it would tell me that Cyclops learned to avoid light forty-eight years before Carl's training sessions had begun.
It did neither. Back over the teletype came very realistic values. In went more data. Same thing. It went on like this for the test results of every single animal in the entire study.
I called up a different program and redid the calculations. Same thing.
Differentiation allows for the back-checking of integration. I back-checked. The results survive. While I had the computer's brain open, I even rechecked Carl's statistical analyses. They held up.
We were in a genuine ethical jam, I realized. It's one thing to set aside data because they tell you a dog weighs 500 pounds or even because your guts tell you something's fishy. But it's quite another thing to dismiss facts when there's a compelling reason to believe their validity. (If you don't tell the whole truth, you're effectively lying.) And the dancing little ball on the teletype machine had just hammered out very compelling reasons for belief. This was mathematics talking now, the math that builds bridges, runs chemical reactions and propels astronauts to the moon. It was Peirce's mathematics forcing necessary conclusions, even if I didn't understand the implications. I said nothing to Carl. I didn't know what to say, actually. This wasn't funny anymore. And I went into seclusion to think.
One thing the calculations did yield, besides a bad headache, was a body of nice data to work with. Differentiation permits a close estimate of the instantaneous rate of change at a given moment. Thus at any point along the curve, I could tell precisely how fast an animals was learning the task. By carrying out a second differentiation, one can make a close estimate of acceleration. Acceleration is an excellent measure of how a moving body's past affects its rate at the moment you took the measurement. Acceleration in avoidance gave us a very precise measure of how an animal's previous learning influenced its learning in progress--something the raw empirical data, or even rates, could never have revealed. Integration (the sum of all the minute changes) let us look at total learning, both as a whole and between any given periods.
Yet when polished up, organized into crisp, clean tables and spread out on the lab bench, the data were even more baffling than before.
Triclops hadn't merely learned faster than the normal Two-Eye. Triclops's test scores were exactly on the mathematical mark: were precisely as the one-to-one principle predicted, a priori. Let me convert the values to the scale used with IQ to show you exactly what I mean.
Let Two-Eye's IQ (normal) be 100. One-Eye's IQ turned out to be 80. Now if we take the 20-point difference--our increment of change from an extra eye-- and add it back to the 100 points for Two-Eye, we get 120 as the predicted IQ for Triclops. What did we actually find? The tricloptic animals had a mean IQ of 117, plus or minus enough standard deviation to make the score the same as 120!
By themselves, these data seemingly made a perfect case for the one-to-one principle, which Triclops obeyed to the letter, and which we would have convincingly asserted in the scientific literature, but for Cyclops, originally the source of mirth but now of consternation.
I began to put an explanation together over a bottle of Chianti late one night at the kitchen table after my wife and kids had gone to bed. Ironically, the epiphany struck while I mused over a picture of a Riemann surface in a book I'd borrowed from a friend.
Just consider what 273 visual IQ points would mean . That's 2.7 times normal-- practically triple the normal IQ! Suppose we shift from the visual to the auditory system. Ask yourself what it might mean to have a mind's ear three times more alert and discriminating than yours is now. Suppose, suddenly, the crackle of the corn flakes takes away your appetite. And what if the cat's meow summoned with the authority of the roar of the lion? And what, now, of the previously unnoticed pat of the rat? Pondering questions like these, I couldn't help but think of a line of graffiti on a wall in an Ann Arbor john:
"Every blip a blopNo, we wouldn't survive if we awoke one morning with perception tuned up anywhere near the level equivalent to Triclop's calculated IQ. Nor would the salamander make it out in the woods with 273 visual IQ points. Not where too fast a response to a glint from the belly of a hungry trout might draw the egg-heavy female away from her lover before she had insured next season's crop of new salamanders. Maybe even 173 points would be too much to bear in a world where reward and punishment come in the form of life and death. Some amphibians once did sport a functional third eye atop the head. They've most vanished. Maybe they weren't gifted with Triclops's talent for making perception fit the one-to-one principle. Maybe the three-eyed beasts of our past failed Nature's test of intelligence, the price of which is not as a mild electric goose in the ass, but the demise of the species.
"And me a flop!"
Triclops wasn't dumber than Cyclops, I concluded. His normal eyes had let him do with extra visual perception what my knife had taken away from poor old Cyclops: normal visual field data which Triclops could use to impose minus signs in calculating the final behavioral outcome. Cyclops's 173 IQ points represented a more primitive response than Triclops's 117. Higher IQ wasn't smarter. It was just higher. To borrow a metaphor from Hemingway's Snows of Kilamanjaro Cyclops's lofty IQ was like
"fat on the soul."
I tried to make a quick interpolation from 273 to 117 to see just what kind of math Triclop's mind would have to mimic. I couldn't even come close to an answer with pencil and paper. Carl and I would eventually write that the Triclops had toned down his response, with "integrative precision." His IQ had algebra in it--complex tensor algebra. Poor old Cyclops, reminiscent of Bitterman's hammering goldfish, had performed simple arithmetic.
I reasoned that an "active-negative" component must be operative in the salamander's intelligence. What Triclops didn't do was as important as what he did. But manifested as non-response, indistinguishable from no reaction, hidden on a completely invisible hyperplane, the active-negative mode would, of course, go undetected in conventional paradigm, which is what light-shock was. An attempt to determine intelligence from IQ is like being in a fight with an opponent who has an invisible arm. You never know when a thunderbolt will come flying out of Kant's realm of noumena to lay you flat. No, I concluded, the conventional tests don't measure intelligence. They measure IQ.
I also concluded that one-to-one is a valid principle and becomes useful providing we understand its epistemological nature. Like the active-negative mode, one-to-one is not simple arithmetic, but algebraic in character. And one-to-one is not an a priori principle of sensation-perception-learning. It is a by-product of intelligence. The mind imposes one-to-one, not the other way around. It is an effect not a cause, a consequence, not an antecedent.
I spent the next few days translating the main argument into scientese, drafted a manuscript and give it to Carl. He corrected my spelling, made a few minor changes and we shipped it off to Brain Research, which accepted it without changes, and published it in 1968. And Carl and I went on to other things.
What did Triclops's two normal eyes do for him? I ponder the question, even today. But it was several years before even a clue surfaced. The main obstacle was the test itself, which, after Triclops and Cyclops, looked to me like the sure route to dysinformation. But then I found a vision-dependent response that reopened the whole issue. As with the Looking-up reaction, the discovery was an outcome of making do.
I had some students working in the lab and we happened to have a larger number of larvae than of glass finger bowls. As a substitute, I bought polystyrene Dixie cups, which were inert and, by the gross, cost less than a half cent a piece. (I still owe my wife for them.) The cups were a brilliant bride's white. Against this background, the normal animals blanched to a very bright coloration, which they maintained, I found, even when the illumination was drastically curtailed (to moonlight levels). Transferred to a black pan, the normal animals darken until you can hardly find them; in clear cups or bowls, they assume a tawny color. In marked contrast, eyeless animals when illuminated assumed dark coloration in recepticles of any color, including the white cups.
Over the years, I'd become vaguely aware of the larva's ability to alter skin coloration, and I knew there was a literature on what is their camouflage reactions (the technical term is metachrosis) out in the wilds. It isn't anything like the chameleon, not dramatic or quick, and is not rwith the animals in clear crystal. But in the white cups, the reactions were conspicuous and they caught my immediate attention.
After reading all I could find in the scientific literature and conducting some preliminary experimentation to convince myself that normal camouflage reactions are visually elicited, I decided to look use test Cyclops for the reaction.
I had to have some way of judging when the grafted eyes were functional and, I realized, and therefore set up a group of controls called Orthoclops.
Ortho means the same. In the Orthoclops, I removed and immediately replaced the natural eye. It took about a month for the Orthoclops to recovery the full range of camouflage reactions.
Cyclops? My expectation was that, soon after the Orthoclopes showed me a viable camouflage reaction, the Cyclopes would too. That didn't happen. Cyclops darkened in white cups.
Now if all the Cyclopes had simply acted like a typical eyeless animals, I might have been a little embarrassed, but I would have ruled the top-mounted eye incapable of carrying visually meaningful sense data and have written an article critical of our previous observations. And that would have been that.
But Cyclops didn't fully darken like eyeless--not all of them, anyway. And many in the Cyclops group responded positively to vision function tests. I even shipped some off to Carl for light-shock testing. The Cyclops not only saw but the comparative scores were identical to what we'd observed years before. I had no choice but to keep on going with the camouflage reaction.
What could the stimulus be? I wondered. I soon found (by placing normal animals in containers of different colors) that the animal was responding to its immediate background (to what was reflected from a distance of about 10 body lengths). How did the animal know the container it was in was a black pan, a brown oleo cup or a clear crystal bowl? If it's simply a matter of the intensity of light coming from the side, what if I put an animal into a clear bowl and set the bowl at the center of a circular fluorescent tube, which I did. No change! No matter how high I jacked up (or down) the intensity of light from the side, the animal retained the tan coloration it usually exhibited in a clear bowl. I even tried illumination simultaneously from the side and from above. These same animals that did not change their coloration during lateral illumination blanched within a few minutes after transfer to white cups; when they went into a black photographic dark pan, they darkened.
Let's apply a little hologramic theory to the problem, I thought. Picture a normal animal in a white plastic cup. It's receiving light from above and reflections from the sides. The reflected and incident light are from the same source, but different directions. Although the two sets of waves don't have enough coherency to generate an interference pattern they, nevertheless, have some consistent phase relationships. The phase differential, I reasoned, informs the animal about the optical properties of the immediate background. The stimulus for camouflage reaction, I reasoned, was like the object and reference beams in a hologram. That's why such low levels (moonlight) of illumination worked in white cups.
What about Cyclops, then, I wondered. With his eye aimed at the sky, he'd receive little if any reflection from the sides and thus couldn't register the posited phase differences. His vision wouldn't let him perceive his photic environment.
Over the years, and for the sake of reproducibility, I'd perfected techniques for transplanting the eye in Cyclops so that it's visual axis was vertically aligned. Suppose instead, I tilted the eye obliquely off the vertical axis? If I'm right, the Cyclops of the Second Kind ought to blanch in white cups about like One-Eye.
The hypothesis worked. About a third of these Cyclops II as I identified them in a scientific article exhibited as intense a camouflage reaction as animals with a single natural eye. Cyclops's abnormal psychology wasn't his intelligence. It was his geometric optics. He just didn't have a correct visual angle on the world to inform himself about what was out there. He wasn't any more stupid than you or I would be if we couldn't hold a page in front of our faces and were given an IQ test based on the contents of that page. Given half a chance (a cocked eye), Cyclops could see enough of his visual environment to execute the camouflage reactions.
Does any of this relate to human intelligence? If the connections were obvious, I wouldn't have to pose the question. But take a look at a few active-negative events at work in people.
Take so-called "functional" amblyopia, a condition in which an optically normal eye can go blind because of double vision. An ophthalmologist name L. J. Girard and his colleagues demonstrated that certain types of lenses can have dramatic effects on persons suffering from what is called "suppression amblyopia." Here are some samples from his and his co-author's tables of data. One little girl had entered Girard's clinic with a 20/80 eye; after four week of wearing his lenses, her amblyopic eye was up to 20/20. A forty-seven year old man with 20/200 vision--legally blind in some states--had his amblyopic eye improved to 20/20. A teen aged boy with 20/400 improved to 20/50.
Just as with Triclops, human visual perception imposes minus signs and cancels information that doesn't work out to one-to-one vision. When a human eye sends confusion to the brain, the mind can compute the eye out of action, which seems to be what happened in many of Girard's patients.
We also find the active-negative mode in so-called cognitive dissonance, the theory Leon Festinger initiated in his investigations of the psychology of motivation. Festinger was trying to explain what occurs when we're forced to choose between conflicting opinions or to select among competing objects of desire. Festinger suggested the following little experiment to illustrate cognitive dissonance. Buy two similar but not identical presents for your wife, husband or sweet heart--things he or she would like about equally well. Let him or her examine the two items, rate both but keep only one. Take the reject back to the store (or at least hide it in the glove compartment). When you get back ask the recipient of the gift to reevaluate the two items. Festinger predicted that the chosen item's new rating would be even higher than it was the first time; that of the reject would go down. Indeed, numerous experiments vindicated Festinger's predictions and made cognitive dissonance popular in certain quarters. Today, advertising executives and politicians all know about cognitive dissonance.
Of course, there are exceptions. We're complicated beings (like our live actors in the gorilla experiment). Thus while cognitive dissonance works, I'm sure the reader knows we're not all that wishy-washy. But cognitive dissonance theory takes this into account, too. Consider studies where volunteers were forced to tell lies about their initially held beliefs. When the issue wasn't serious, the subjects would often come to believe their lies (cream and crimson sweaters sure beat red and purple ones!). But when the issue seemed serious, when the experimental subjects told lies about what they believed were important maters (somebody getting seriously hurt or not), they didn't change their opinions. The dissonance (the conflict between the belief and reality) remained.
Carl and I certainly didn't discover the active-negative mode. Inhibition is as much a part of brain physiology as excitation. Repression is a critical element in Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis. Lorenz talked about inhibition of aggressive behavior. But Triclops and Cyclops show us, first of all, the active-negative mode lies at the basis of the one-to-one principle. Second, the one-to-one principle depends on an adequately informed mind, not a tabala raza.
Is amblyopia an expression of one-to-one? Where's the one-to-one feature in reducing dissonance? If the connections were obvious, the experts would long since have belabored the subject into extinction.
But look at amblyopia. Each eye focuses on an object. But there's a single target out there in the world. If the eyes don't aim so as to fuse the two images into a single view, it can hurt. The mind will reduce, or eventually cancel, the input from one eye if the images don't fuse. Fusion is an attempt to make targets correspond one-to-one with percepts. A similar thing goes on with many of our quite normal sensory illusions-- optical, acoustical, tactile. To handle depth, we must synthesize several complex informational dimensions into a composite scene--one whole scene to one whole perception of the scene. And we must add as well as subtract to work out the complicated algebra. If not, we'd fall down or go nuts.
Auditory illusions are particularly interesting. If somebody is clicking a ball-point pen while you're listening to an economics lecture, you'll miss a few phonemes here and there in the audible message. Yet your mind can cut out the clicks and insert the phonemes most likely to be there (by virtue of linguistic rules). If we didn't have auditory illusions, (which the add-backs really are) we wouldn't be able to match a whole message with a whole memory and comprehend what we've just heard. (Imagine a conversation on a New York subway, otherwise?)
Cognitive dissonance is our way of matching one opinion with one set of apparent realities. Those of us who can't change our minds on any subject may very well be unable to endure an unforgiving world of realities.
Even in conscious reasoning, with mind working at the peak of pure intellect, the one-to-one principle shows up. Proceeding from the axioms of standard logic (there are nonstandard logics), the logician tells us that a valid proposition cannot be both true and false at the same time. If the proposition can be both true and false, we're in a heck of a philosophical pickle. Standard logic is linear: one logical relationship between valid premises has to yield one valid conclusion. If it were otherwise, if we really did invoke nonstandard forms, reason as we know it would falter. Or it would seem to falter. And we'd soon lose our faith in the intellect.
Yet one-to-one doesn't always hold up, not even in exactingly controlled psychophysical experiments. At the lowest limits of delectability the relationship between stimulus and response appears nonlinear. At intolerable agony, there's no simple one-to-one relationship between the change in stimulus and the change in how the torture feels. When we are at our outer limits of terror, a little extra "boo!" can come across with the import of the growl of a famished werewolf looking into the kitchen window from the black of night. Reducing dissonance won't work at the extremes, either. If our analysis becomes abstract enough, standard logic also fails. But if we view one-to-one as an effect rather than a cause, then its failure at the limits makes sense. One-to-one is the mind's attempt to flatten out the world--even though the world is not flat, even though the universe is not linear, even though mind-brain is a curved, nonlinear continuum.
To conceptualize the one-to-one principle, imagine that you're on an invisible but gently curved surface. You don't know you're on it, but below you is a visible flat map. Where your surface curves close to the map, your world and everything about it seems nice and flat and linear and--one-to-one! And the one-to-one is where you spend most of your time. Thus most of your experiences reinforce what the flat map indicates, namely that one-to-one is the governing principle of your world. But as you move off in the direction of your surface's extremes, and the map's boundaries, as you travel away from the zone where your surface and the map converge, your linear rules begin to fail.
Then when you try to gauge distances with the T-square or the straight ruler, things begin to seem screwy. At the limits error really counts. And if you move far enough out, everything goes haywire. For you haven't been on one-to-one surface, after all. You just didn't know it.
What are we living creatures, then? A bunch of stupidos set loose like honey ants in delicate machinery to gum up the grand design of a logical universe? Is living intelligence some form of transcendental stupidity? Are we an insult to beloved Nature? Maybe. But let's consider the following argument before you make up your mind and I make up mine.
The curvature of our Earth is very gentle over the distances even the largest living creature walks. A charging bull elephant runs across a perceptually flat surface. If he didn't treat the savanna top as linear, he'd fall on his tusks. And how could we treat time if we fused it into a four-dimensional continuum with space? We can't sit down and perform tensor calculus to tell how long to warm the baby's bottle. For us to deal in seconds, minutes, years...time must seem constant. Our time must seem constant in order for us to live in it. If one tick were not identical to the next, it wouldn't be our time anymore. Our time must be immutable. Our space must be Euclidean. Our coordinates must be Cartesian, or else linear transformations thereof. Our information must be in the form of linear bits. Our logic must be standard. Our world must be flat and straight. Our reality must be one-to-one or we would not survive it.
No! I for one cannot pronounce the one-to-one principle unintelligent, in spite of the error. One-to-one is the automatic artist in each of us, the transformationist of our theory, the telescope and microscope to fit the world to us and us to our world. One-to-one is a by-product of a continuous, indeterminate--and living and delicate--intelligence, striving to exist. In the end, the survival of our species may be the only true measure of how smart we are (or were).
From my office early one morning, I watched a winter day arrive while thinking about human capability. How could Riemann or Einstein embrace one-to-one, as persons, and at the same time unlimber imagination and intellect from innate constraints? What glory happens in Nature when we consider hologramic mind while savoring the virgin olive oil on a slice of pizza? I could feel an answer but not articulate it.
Reflections from snow covering the trees and rooftops announced the sun a little ahead of schedule. Soon students would be crossing the white fields. Cars would be rolling tentatively along slippery streets. Human intelligence would begin another day. I turned for a look at Triclops's picture on my bulletin board. Then, I sat at my desk and tried to picture Carl at work in my inner sanctum on one of the rare occasions when he allowed me to watch.
Illumination is just enough safe light to cast red-black shadowy hints of the work area. Salamanders wait unseen in solitary plastic dishes. In rows and columns, the dishes form the tiers of a cell block, where the lonely occupants await training as a convict waits for a tour in the yard--the only break in an otherwise amorphous daily routine. A dot of amber light indicates the location of the punishment switch. The oversized air conditioner hums a baritone background din. Carl's breathing is deep, controlled, regular. The stopwatch is set for ten seconds and cocked at zero.
Starch in Carl's lab coat crackles the signal that he is about to begin a twenty-five round bout for an inmate of the plastic tiers. Soundless transfer of dish to work area. Isometric wavelets wash the animal aboard a body scoop miniaturized to the scale of all things here. The animal enters the training alley on an invisible cascade. Carl pauses while the salamander adjusts.
Suddenly, without warning, like an unexpected slap in the face, on comes the spotlight. A lonely narrow shaft of white crosses our tiny universe, catching in transit random eddies of moonlike dust, and ending in a gold-fringed halo around the little salamander's head.
The sweep second hand of the stopwatch is already fast at work, as though sprinting around the track toward the finish line and driven by a will against all that goes on in places such as this. How can a goddamn dumb salamander really learn anything, anyway? the anatomist wonders to himself.
Carl's steady fingers now partially shade the amber indicator light and poise at the punishment switch. But the salamander swims forward and out of the light only a millifraction of a tick within the allotted ten seconds. He avoided the light and escaped the shock.
The spotlight goes off. Carl's fingers withdraw into the black of space. There's a silent, indeterminate pause. Again without warning another trial begins. Again, light. Again micromoons in a minicosmos. Again, halo. Again, torture inflicted on a shaky faith by the relentless race of the stopwatch. But again, escape just before the sweep second hand devours the last precious measure of short-rationed time.
It's like this throughout almost all the remaining trials. Only on the seventeenth round does the stopwatch win. At the end of the bout, the animal safely back in its dish, the steel spring in Carl's armless swivel chair squeal out under the full welter of his suddenly relaxed weight. He laughs a long, high bar of F-sharp and, with the universal pride of proud coaches everywhere, proclaims, "The little shitasses! They really make you sweat out those last few seconds!" Then it's silent again. And the miracle repeats itself, full cycle.
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