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No, Harrows will enjoy this, too. I mean, the show is about perception, insecurity, vanity, just like human stuff.
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Hey, pal, how are you doing? Charles W Chuck Bryant here on a Saturday with my select pick for this week from September 17th, 2009, one of our many, many episodes on dogs. And this is a good one. How did dogs perceive time? Really, really good stuff.
Check it out. Welcome to Stuff You Should Know. A production of ancient radios, HowStuffWorks. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark, there's Charles Chuck Bryant, Chuck Bright. Oh, yes, nice Chuck. We'll get to that in a second. Do it again. That's awesome. Chuck's barking because this is stuff you should know. And this particular stuff you should know is entitled How Do Dogs Perceive Time? And I said in dog language just then, I don't perceive time.
That is up for debate, my friend, for vigorous debate. All right. So, Chuck, let me let me do a little intro here, a little lead in Segway, whatever, and spoiled your parade there.
What do we call them these days? What do we what Segway is leadings intro. Intro shackles. Shackles. Chuck, about a year ago. Well, a year ago this month. Paris, well, France, Paris, France made history. Legal history. How so? They actually used a dog as a witness in a criminal case. Did they get the dog to bark at someone? Yep. Wow. I kid you not.
Well, like an intruder at the very least. And I hope I'm not a Bangladeshi newspaper here because I found it in the Daily Mail, which is not known for satire, but it's all it can be done for poor reporting from time to time.
So you may have egg on your face soon. We'll find out. But there is a dog named Scooby that was brought into a sound.
It does, doesn't it? I should have to do this article. There is a dog named Scooby that was brought into a murder case. Her hearing to see if there is enough evidence to try a man for murder for something that was ruled a suicide. And the dog barked furiously at the alleged perpetrator and they gave him a Scooby snack.
Yeah. So that was the last I heard. It was from a year ago. But there was some concern over whether the dog's memory would serve it or not because it had been two and a half years since the incident. OK, that makes sense. And that's kind of key to how dogs may or may not perceive time.
The best I could come up with. That's great. Thanks. So what that what that betrays is a sense by at least the reporter and the courts in Paris that dogs have a memory, that they they if they have a memory, then they should be able to perceive time. Right. Right.
Chuck, let's talk about this. What is time to me?
Well, you know, my whole deal with time, I've said it before.
Well well, time is just abstract. Numbers on a calendar and hands on a watch aren't time.
Oh, yeah, I know. What you're talking about is a human construct of time. Yes. Based on twenty four hours, which all kind of arbitrary. Seven days in a week.
Well, not necessarily. Well, not anymore. So here's why.
It was actually kind of ingenious that we should come up with the twenty four hour day because we have these things called circadian oscillators. Yes. Which are the what they're the fluctuations in our circadian rhythm, which makes us fall asleep at night, wake up in the morning body temperature, get hungry at certain times. Neural activity. Right. The neural activity in the hormones are reactions to things like changes in temperature that are on a daily basis, things like the changes in natural light.
Right. Right. So our our reactions to these are circadian oscillators. And if you put them all together, like sleeping at night and waking up in the morning, that's our circadian rhythm. But these circadian clocks actually exist on about a 24 hour period. So that makes sense. And so but like you said, days on the calendar and all that, that's that is a human construct. Yeah. Yeah. So what we're trying to get to the bottom of is whether or not dogs can perceive this, not necessarily the human construct of time.
Right. But of time in and of itself, which is essentially a past, present and future. Exactly.
And I know that one thing that we will talk about and maybe we'll talk about right now is you have three dogs. Do you have any dogs? I have two dogs. What? Shut up. I have two dogs.
And I'm actually fostering two feral puppy rescues, which, you know.
So right now, if you want to get rid of those two dogs because we could get rid of them like that if we plug this on this on this puppy. Yeah. We're kind of picky about who we give them to. OK, well, how about this?
If you're not a creep and you love dogs and you live in the East Lake area. Yeah, that. Send us an email if you want. One of Chuck's puppies. Very cute. Yeah.
So anyway, if your dogs are anything like my dogs, they and actually my cats too, they know when the food bill is going to ring. Sure. Actually they start Emily calls it food abuse. They start the food abuse typically about an hour and a half before they typically get fed every afternoon and in the morning. We feed them pretty much straight away in the morning. So they know. They know then. But my dog. Lucy dude comes in the room and looks at you with her head cocked, stamps on the floor with her feet and goes.
And I'm waiting her for her literally to one day say, feed me one day.
I told Emily if she did that one day, I would be surprised for about a second. So, Chuck, here is where we reached the bone of contention. Right. The sorry for that pun. I'm not Jonathan Strickland. Your dog did the same thing, though, I assumed, right? Well, no.
My dogs are fed constantly. They always have food. They for some reason I'd lucked out and they just eat whenever they want. I can't imagine that it's pretty cool that dogs eat their food like it's the first time they've ever been fed twice before. My dogs, they're pretty laid back when it comes to stuff like that. Are they fat? No. Really? No, they're they're healthier than I am. Well, they don't say you're healthier than a lot of people.
I know. They're very they regulate their food intake on their own. It's weird and so weird to say, but I know what you're talking about.
So the question is this. Do your dogs know based on past experience that food is coming at a certain time of day? Not necessarily like five thirty five p.m., but say, as far as the dogs concerned, when sun is low in the sky over there.
Right. Are they Native American. Right. Is there like Italians playing Native Americans. Right.
Well you think I'm dumbell so. Or is it a circadian oscillator. Well that's the circadian oscillation. It could be, yeah it could be. What that is, is they're using their memories of past experiences to predict the future, which is episodic memory, which is our construction of time, or is this semantic memory, which is totally different but related. Do you want me to go into this?
Because this is outside research? I have no choice. Then semantic memory is.
All right, Chuck, let's say that you have brain damage to your frontal lobe. I do, in fact, which is where your episodic memory is. Right. Is located. That's the region that controls episodic memory, which is learning from experience. Right. Right.
You could conceivably learn how to play chess. Right. Right. But you won't remember where you learned how to play chess.
Right. Much like they say a baby learns how to walk and talk, but they don't remember that day. You've taught me how to walk, right.
They don't have to relearn crawling or walking or talk on a day to day basis. Right. Because they learned it. And that's semantic memory. That's like facts and rules in impossibly motor movements or whatever. Or, you know, if I run into this wall, it's going to hurt my face because I'm crawling. Right. Right. But they don't remember me teaching them, like, come crawling to me, that kind of thing.
Right. So, yeah, that's semantic memory.
Episodic memory would be like, what did you have for breakfast this morning at a fruit smoothie?
You had a fruit smoothie.
I remember what the light look like. I remember what it smelled like. That is precisely episodic memory. And I should probably give a shout out to teachers tall who I'm like just blatantly ripping off right now. The the chess example was one of Zen Tolle's examples of semantic memory. And what you've just said is almost word for word an example of episodic memory. You said, you know, you remember these other details. Sure. Whereas had you said I had I had a smoothie this morning, I must have because I have a smoothie.
Right. That would be well, not the burping part, but if you always had it.
Yeah, that'd be more like semantic memory. So we reached the question. Do dogs. Perceive time or are these reactions that appear like they're they're keeping track of time, some way, maybe through a circadian oscillator based on semantic memories and there's been a lot of studies, not necessarily on dogs, but on other animals, right? Yeah. What's what's this? Crackpots name Robert. No, what's this guy's name? Dr. Roberts. Yeah. I have to say, I'm going to take issue with Dr.
Roberts. Yeah. William Roberts. He's an animal cognition researcher. Right. Right off the bat you're taking issue with that is not that title. No. Yeah.
He did some studies on pigeons in primates to name a couple and long term and short term memory as far as remembering a sequence that they would I guess the pigeons would pick it out and the primates would tap it out and to get a reward. And they found that they have pretty good short term memory for this kind of thing.
Right. Which is what that's working memory, right? Yes. But long term as reference memory. Yeah. But as far as the reference goes, they couldn't remember it that well, if it was if there was a big break in between. Right. Roberts actually wrote a very famous paper as far as Animal Cognition goes, where he basically said that he concluded animals are stuck in time. And I just made air quotes for those of you out there listening in podcast land.
And by studying time, he means that they are they live exclusively in the present, that they don't have the capacity for forming long term episodic memory.
Episodic is the key word. It is very much because I know at home you're saying now I taught my dog to sit when she was one. That's not the same thing. That's what you're talking about with the baby and learning how to walk. Right.
But that's that's not there's a lot of examples out there in nature that would kind of belie Dr. Roberts's idea that animals or dogs are stuck in time.
Well, a good one is squirrels foraging food, stocking up for the winter or for the winter and doing it year after year after year.
I believe Roberts actually addressed that and says but they continue hoarding even when their stores inexplicably disappear, which I assume some researchers went and stole squirrels nuts and then studied them to see what they would do.
I don't understand that at all. I don't either. Seems like they would that would make them want to hoard. Yeah. So I kind of have an issue with that one a little bit, but it's possible. I'm not entirely seeing that point all the way. I don't see the point. I'm not quite sure what what he meant there. But there's also one about the bananas, right, Chuck? There's there are some primates that were given choices between more or less bananas.
Yeah. And predictably, at first, if you offered an ape one banana or two bananas, they're going to take the two bananas. Sure. But they found that when they started increasing the number of bananas, like 10 compared to 20, they would just go for the 10 bananas. They wouldn't he and he thought this meant they can't. They have no concept of the future. Like, maybe I should take these bananas because I might be hungry tomorrow.
Right now, that's I think Roberts fails to take into account social structure. Sure. Right. We we know that we could use ten bananas for tomorrow, but we also have things like preservation techniques or refrigeration available. That's what I thought, too. And if you go back in time just a few thousand years ago to Hunter-Gatherer societies or even Hunter-Gatherer societies that are around now, they don't store food at all. They forage for what they need right then and that's what they eat.
I would imagine that that would actually explain a lot of the primate decisions. There's no real reason to their societies and set up on this idea that I need more and more to protect myself in the future. Exactly. I don't know that that necessarily means that they don't have any concept of the future. I think that there's all these other explanations out there. Right. And they may like one. I was when I read that, the first thing I thought was maybe they're not they've never taken more than ten bananas in their life because they've never needed to.
So it doesn't even dawn on them that that should be something they would do. Exactly. I guess what we're seeing, both of us are on the same page here. There are other explanations. I agree. And I think one of the things I took from this article was that Roberts found it conclusive that animals are stuck in time by cherry picking some some studies here. And we kind of disagree with them. Yeah, there's a lot of other factors.
I know that my dog Lucy is stuck in time at five, 30 p.m every day. Yeah, because she's always asking for the food.
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Did you ever hear that like goldfish have an eight second memory span? I've never heard that. So I have.
You have a goldfish and I do have a goldfish here. You're a cutie. Yeah. Molly, she's very cute. You're named Molly. I didn't know that. Yeah, interesting.
But having an episodic memory makes it almost impossible to think about not having one. So, like, if a goldfish does have a memory of eight seconds, is that mean that every eight seconds all of its memories are purged, like getting rid of the browser history in your computer? Or as new experiences come into the present, are older ones pushed out after they hit this eight second maturity level? Right. And how do they test that on a goldfish anyway?
Perfect, Chuck. Perfect Segway here. Here's the biggest problem. Robert's position is almost inherently speciesist. You're familiar with this term? Yeah, this is a legitimate term. I'm not making this up. Animals have no souls. Animals don't have souls. It's impossible for like a dog to be happy. But that's a secondary emotion.
Self-Aware enough. There's a competing explanation for all this speciesist tend to rely very strictly or remain very strictly within the structure provided by the scientific method and all his studies here. He probably came out from that frame of mind. Sure. Right. But there's another way of looking at it, and that is that humans simply haven't come up with tests that are clever enough to get definitive proof that an animal can experience happiness or can or is aware of time, the future, the past, that kind of thing.
You can take that away too far, like after test after test after test. That proves the opposite. You could still conceivably say, well, there's a test out there that that we haven't come up with yet, proves that they can. But I think that the testing that has been done is very much below that threshold so far.
I don't think we have a clue what what animals are capable of as far as consciousness goes, because we have such a loose grasp on our own consciousness. Sure. And we can't certainly can't delve into an animal's brain and see what they think and they can't tell us anything. I guarantee you one thing. I bet you Dr. Roberts is not a dog owner.
Agreed? Agreed. Because you have dogs, dude. And I guarantee you we're going to get tons of mail from people saying, are you kidding? My dog displays emotion every day. And, you know, I guess Cesar, the dog whisperer, might say, you know, that's you're putting your human construct on the dog's frame of mind. Yeah. And through anthropomorphizing. Yeah. I don't know, man. My dog is they're both pretty emotional.
Well, yeah. Anthropomorphizing is the go to ammunition for speciesist. Yeah. And I don't want I don't mean to say that anybody who's saying like no animals can't be happy because it's secondary emotion and they lack that sense of self-awareness required to experience a secondary emotion is a speciesist. But the two often go hand in hand.
And it's really interesting that there's a line drawn right now between people who think animals don't have a soul. Right. And people who think animals can be happy and all the implications that that come with that.
Jerry, I bet you think your dog is this all right, Jerry saying you just gave the sweetest face and nodded. Yes.
Yes, so I feel like Chuck and I just opened a big can of worms, so we'll see how this plays out in the emails, right? Yeah, if you want to read more about dogs perceiving time to answer the question, according to Roberts, no, dogs don't perceive time, time as a human construct consisting of a past, present and future in dogs. Pretty much live in the present. Chuck and I don't necessarily agree with that one.
You can go on and type in dogs, perceive time in the Handey search bar, HowStuffWorks Dotcom. Since I just said that it means it's time for a whole message. Listener mail. You're right, Josh, this is we're just going to call this Muppet male and we are going to go on a little longer than usual with our male, because the Muppet podcast, I think we will all agree, was sort of a sea change episode. And plus, we just want to see how how long this background music actually goes for.
I know. I mean, we literally got better response from The Muppet Show episode than anything we've ever done, I would say. Wouldn't you? Yeah, the Henson Company twittered about it. Yeah. Heather Hansen, we should say, our colleague and friend, Jonathan Strickland of Texas to fame. His sister sister is friends with Heather Hansen and it went viral thanks to him. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah. So we got great response. It's clear that everyone loves the Muppets.
And so I wanted to go just through a few of these because I didn't want to just do one quickly before we start. And we never do this. But a guy sent me an email and I kind of touched a chord with me. So I want to quickly give a shout out for for Joe to Beth and Elwood, Indiana.
And Joe, just want to say that he thinks that you are a pretty cool chick, that chunk you playing matchmaker.
Is that why you're wearing nothing but a diaper with nothing but Beth and Elwood? Jo Jo thinks you're cool Chick, and so do we, because she actually sent us an alien hand syndrome video which brought Cool is good.
I'll show it to you quick. A couple of things that we didn't mention in corrections. First of all, I mistakenly referred to the Children's Television Workshop as the children's television network. So I give that one. You're thinking of Home Shopping Network? I was her kids. We did not mention every Muppet movie. We did not mention every Muppet venture because no one I want to illustrate on this, we did that on purpose. First of all, we mentioned the three that were in theatrical release directed by Jim Henson.
Yes. And by first of all, I mean, that's it, right?
So a lot of people said, well, how could you not mention Muppets Christmas Carol? And we wanted to mention everything, but we would have been sitting here reading things all day long about the dark crystal and other Muppet ventures. So we chose to only do the handsome ones, which I have to say dark crystal that creeps me out still. And that was hinted to because I know people are going to write and say that was insane, but get over it.
Right. We had a guy named Peter wrote in and he told us about the Muppet. What, not workshop. Yeah. And then the Goldman Sachs and Schwartz. Yes.
And you can go to New York City and you could do it online.
But I looked and it's down right now, but it's just around Christmas or the holidays now. They got bought out by Toys R US. I think. So that's down right now. But you can still go to New York, you can go to the Muppet workshop and you can build your own whatnot. At Goldman Sachs, it costs about a hundred bucks. And he sent me a picture of he and his little cute daughter with her Muppet whatnot. So you want to thank Peter for that.
And I actually got him going on and on. But Peter had one of the big Fu Manchu mustaches like me. Yeah, I'll tell you about this. And I said, very cool, Peter, thanks for sending this. It looks like you picked up a mustache while you were there. And he wrote back and said, no, I got that at the Sam Elliott Sam Elliott Supply Center down the street to Peter's. Peter packed a picnic supper.
Um, so that is all for the corrections. Now we have Josh and Chuck it. Just listen to how Muppet's worked. I was excited to hear you talk about it because you mentioned the costume designer for Miss Piggy, who happens to be my Aunt Calista. Oh, wow. She if you look at The Muppet Movie, you can see her and the costume and wardrobe department on IMDB. She worked closely with Henson and I've actually seen a picture of her with Jim Henson setting up some Muppets and imitators.
Jug Band Christmas. She left the Muppets, I think, when Jim Henson died. But we still see her once a year. That's from Sam.
And Josh is, in fact, eating a Reese's cup onto the next one. Hi, guys. I love your recent podcast. I was listening and thought I would mention that Jim Henson studied Muppets at University of Maryland. I know this because I went to school there and there was a Jim Henson studies program and it is our claim to fame. I didn't know he went to my school until I went there. And there is actually a little a bitch statue.
It's a bench with Henson sitting on it and Kermit sitting on the back of the bench and they're kind of holding hands. That is beyond cute. It is very cute. So and she also says that this is from Letia that they have the rights to it. It ain't easy being green and rainbow connection. So they're marching band actually plays that. The University of Maryland go Turks moving on. Man, listen to this background music check is I know, I know, and we compared The Muppet Show to 30 Rock and fill of Lynden, Washington has this to say.
I was trying to imagine Sesame Street would look like in real life, two little boys getting their own apartment, a giant bird that sleeps behind garbage cans, a few scattered, seemingly sensible adults who really have no jobs and nothing else to do.
No. Mr. Hooper had a story on this trip. Finally, it hit me while working my job as a special ed classroom assistant. It is one big government operated group home facility for special needs children and adults. Think about it. Bert displays classic Asperger syndrome. They share a bedroom and obviously have some adult taking care of the rest of their house. Oscar is schizophrenic with his mood swings and a worm is a best friend, as is Big Bird with his imaginary friend.
Is it Snuffleupagus? And tell me, Grovers not dealing with severe ADHD and Cookie Monster from manic bipolar tendencies and the jobless adults Gordon, Susan and Bob. So that's true. So are the jobless adults, are the caregivers he says are jobless adults?
I've got two more. Uh, Jerry's laughing at how long this is going, but I warned her I was listening to your fantastic podcast and I had to write in.
I am getting married at the Hynson soundstage next year. Sweet. So cool. He and his wife to be toward the soundstage. It was like being behind the scenes at The Muppet Show. We are honored as the first wedding ever to be hosted there. And I asked him, are running backs like, dude, what's the hookup? And he had none. He just asked. They rent it out to people, apparently for things. And no one's ever thought to have a wedding once.
And that is from he gave us some facts, but not time for that.
That is from Dan and of TD F illustration Dotcom, because he's a cool artist and wanted to pluck that from Dan. And finally, Josh from Jake in Newport Richey, Florida, says, I was an accident of the eighties and I missed the Muppet heyday, but I was lucky enough to have three older sisters and parents who had the foresight to ensure that they taped several seasons of The Muppet Show. So Jake is a big fan of the Muppets now.
And he told us this fact, which I did not know since Jim Henson's death, Ralph, the dog has not spoken in a seldom used and it's my understanding that they do this out of reference to Mr. Henson because Ralph was his favorite. Oh, yeah, yeah, took the swept away to your Teria, you sweet old softy, so that's Muppet man. We got hundreds of pieces of mail and good blog response and thanks for sending me. That was a good show.
Yeah. And we'll try to keep you supplied with more good shows in the future if you want to send an email and try to make Chuck cry. It's not that hard. You can send it to Stuff podcast at HowStuffWorks Dotcom. Stuff you should know is a production of radios HowStuffWorks for more podcasts, My Heart Radio is the radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.