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May 17, 2007



"I've never heard of Levy's distribution": nor me. But the way that naming works in Science means that you can be fairly confident that the first person to observe it wasn't Levy.


Levi's distribution was zip.

Matt Munro

Er is this new ? Skinner first made the distinction between elicitited behaviours (those in response to stimuli) and emitted behaviours (occur naturally) in his infamous boxes. The label "emitted" was seen as something of a cop out as the S:R model doesn't really explain why an animal would press a lever the first time.
I've never heard of Leveys distribution either, but it's unlikley that insects behaviours are truly random as this would be disadvantagous in terms of survival e.g spiders webs all have a common structure, desite being different sizes and shapes, this has presumably evolved as being the structure most likely to trap food, and the most likley explanation is a gentic program which gives the spider a behavioral template for web building, which it can adapt to its' environment, I'm not sure you could call this free will though, it's more likely to be a form of developmental plasticity.

You're righ that the question of free will doesn't make sense when appliedf to a fruit fly, that's because free will is an entirely social construction, so even if it exists, and I'm not convinced, it cannot be applied to animals.


Lest we forget. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.


"...the S:R model doesn't really explain why an animal would press a lever the first time."

Very OT here. But Skinner noted that all the rats in his boxes had to be "primed" (his word) to press the lever the first time. That was why he switched to Pigeons. Pecking for a pigeon didn't need to be primed the way pressing did for a rat.

The question "where does behavior come from" didn't interest him, just like "how did life begin" doesn't interest evolutionists. Given that animals emit behaviors, why does some behavior become more likely, others less likely? That was the question for behaviorists.

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