First the memory tests — now math

| December 18, 2007

Monkeys surprisingly proficient at mental arithmetic:

A college education doesn’t give you much of an edge over a monkey when it comes to doing some basic arithmetic, according to a study released Monday that underscores the surprising mental agility of our simian relatives.

In a rapid fire test of mental addition, monkeys performed almost as well as college students, showing they’re no slouches when it comes to number crunching.

The macaques got their sums right 76 percent of the time, while the students got the correct answer 94 percent of the time in a series of increasingly challenging maths tests.

This, of course, comes on the heels of another study showing that chimpanzees had better memory skills than college students.

All this reminds me of one of my favorite Charles Addams cartoons. It shows a father who had just opened and is reading a letter from the university attended by his son. The letter says something to the effect of “We are pleased to let you know that your son is evolving into a complete human being.” The father’s thought balloon (in response) shows his son as a caveman with loincloth and club, standing by a fire.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Humor, Main, Science

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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