Monday, February 19, 2007

Laughing Dog

Dang, turns out dogs are laughing after all. You know, when their tongue is hanging out and they're puffing and panting. They really are laughing, at least some of the time.

When I was a youngster I always used to assume that dogs were laughing, until I ran across some tidbit from a debunking naysayer ("NOOOOOOO!") who asservated that it's just a dog's way of perspiring.

Which it is, much of the time. But now it turns out that certain "dog laughter" has a very distictive profile spectrogram-wise, and "appears to be a vocalization exclusive to play encounters and friendly encounters with other dogs and people. This vocalization is a signal to reinforce play, a signal to initiate play, and to demonstrate good intentions."

Reminds me of the old Talking Heads song:
I know the animals... Are laughing at us
They don't even know... What a joke is
I won't follow... Animal's advice
I don't care... If they're laughing at us.


Blogger The Tetrast said...

I've long known that "let's have fun" kind of dog pant.

Some nay-sayers don't know the difference between:

A: "Scientists don't have enough scientific evidence to support it and it's not helping anybody do science" and

B: "Scientists have strong evidentiary or theoretical reasons against it."

Tiresome people, I've always liked arguing them into dust.

Monday, February 19, 2007 2:20:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Yeah, it's always seemed a fairly obvious thing with dogs. But I had read this somewhere many years ago, and of course we mustn't question anyone who stands at even second or third remove from a white lab coat...

I have another observation about reductionistic nay-sayers: they often seem to be fairly blind to any phenomena which involve interpreting subtle or even semi-subtle sensory cues. For instance, the dog's laughing as distinct from panting. Or somehow I'm reminded of the instance where someone had stolen from Charles Peirce, was it a special clock or chronometer used in surveying, and Peirce picked the fellow out of a lineup— oh, there was a book about this years back, I held it in my hands in the main campus library at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and I'm afraid it's not among the books currently on my Peirce bookshelf...

Monday, February 19, 2007 7:00:00 PM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

Yes, I've read about Peirce picking the right man. It's a kind of intuition which cops and detectives seek to develop. It should be noted, however, that this is in context of a process in which the suspicions will lead to active follow-up investigation and the innocent likely will be soon cleared of suspicion. In that context, elaborate surmises can be developed and argued with excessive clearcutness and still things don't go often go too wrong. But without that context, the overassurance of one's intuition becomes dangerous, as at least one detective's offspring whom I know fails to realize, creating some stupid and unnecessary problems among some neighbors of mine.

Monday, February 19, 2007 7:34:00 PM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

When I was young our family had a dog. Sometimes laughing or "grinning," sometimes panting, sometimes doing both. I came to see these distinctions in other dogs as well. It was obviously interconnected with one's own immediate behavior and one came to really sense it.

Monday, February 19, 2007 7:42:00 PM  

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