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Our brain is a tool for thinking, but not its cause. Our brain has not invented thinking, the thinking invented the brain.

-- Hoimar von Ditfurth

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Knowledge vs. Instinct:
Inborn Patterns of Animal Behavior

In 1976 Hoimar von Ditfurth, a German neurologist and scientist, published a book  Der Geist fiel nicht vom Himmel : d. Evolution unseres Bewusstseins  ("The mind did not come out of the blue skies").

Ditfurth says that "our brain is a tool for thinking, but not its cause. Our brain has not invented thinking, the thinking invented the brain."

In this fascinating book Ditfurth describes "mock-up/decoy" experiments used by biologists to study inborn patterns of animal behavior.

In one of such experiments (in 1951), Dutch zoologist Tinbergen used a flock of newly hatched baby turkeys, not more than a few days old. They were contained in a circular pen, about 20 feet in diameter, with the walls not more than a foot in height. At the center of this circular pen, was a vertical pole 3 meters in height, with a horizontal arm extending out from the top of the central pole so that the arm could sweep horizontally over the pen in a rotary motion. Then a wooden cross was attached to the end of the arm.

The little chicks were peacefully feeding in the pen. When the arm with the cross would slowly move in one direction, the little chicks would run for cover.
When the same cross would move in the opposite direction, the birds would ignore it.  If the cross moved in the direction of its longer arm, the little chicks, completely undisturbed, would go on pecking at their food. If the cross would move in the direction of it's shorter arm, they would immediately scream with fright and run for cover in a hutch in the center of the pen.

Tinbergen (1951) showed that when young turkeys see a silhouette model pulled in the direction that makes it look like a hawk, they were terrified and ran for cover. However, when it was pulled in the other direction, which makes it look like a goose, they were nonchalant (i.e., didn't react).

When a silhouette model resembled the outlines of
a flying goose, the little chicks would ignore it.


When a silhouette model resembled the outlines of
a flying hawk, the chicks were terrified and ran for cover.

This, despite the fact that there was not even a mother to warn them, or relate her experience to the little chicks. Inborn in those little chicks' brain was the instinctive recognition of the hawk as its natural enemy, instinctive fear and instinctive reaction to flee and take cover. Without any training, without any conscious thought processes, a few days old chicks were able to recognize a clear and present danger - the hawk - even though it was only a silhouette model of their enemy passing over their heads.

Another fascinating aspect of studies of the inborn patterns of animal behavior is that such behavior is not based on a response to perfect perception of the outside world (in our mind) but to an important aspect of it.  The pictures below show 3 examples.

Above, there are two models, realistic model of stickleback female and next to it
a primitive version of the female with exaggerated area of the belly (which normally contains fish eggs). When male is shown both “models”, each time he picks as the object of his “courting” the model that in our view the least resembles the real female.

 The red-breast robin picks a bunch of read feathers over a stuffed real bird
(because a young bird does not have the red spot in the chest area).

Another example; on the left a female of the butterfly and on the right a rotating cylinder with stripes; the male of her species prefers rotating cylinder with stripes because the flicker of the dark and light stripes generates effect similar, in natural conditions, to flapping wings of the female butterfly.

Each time the "poor imitation" is chosen over the realistic model.

Described above patters of animal behavior are valid for our own species.
It seems to be certain that inborn patterns of our sexual behavior,
just like our other instincts, are based on inherited “patterns of connections” in specific areas of our midbrain.

This photo shows fragment of a mannequin's chest.
Our brain interprets it in more than one way...

The results of this "inborn wiring" of our brain are well illustrated by many songs.
Here are just a few examples:

Arm and neck

Our "inborn patterns of sexual attraction" are also responsible for the powerful appeal of pornography.

Related Links


Suppression, Censorship and Dogmatism in Science

Textbooks present science as a noble search for truth, in which progress depends on questioning established ideas. But for many scientists, this is a cruel myth. They know from bitter experience that disagreeing with the dominant view is dangerous - especially when that view is backed by powerful interest groups. Call it suppression of intellectual dissent. The usual pattern is that someone does research or speaks out in a way that threatens a powerful interest group, typically a government, industry or professional body. As a result, representatives of that group attack the critic's ideas or the critic personally-by censoring writing, blocking publications, denying appointments or promotions, withdrawing research grants, taking legal actions, harassing, blacklisting, spreading rumors.

The Suppression of Inconvenient Facts in Physics: Read More>>

Subject Related

Sex Industry Statistics

Pornography Industry Revenue Statistics

Porn revenue, $57.0 billion world-wide, is larger than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises.
US porn revenue, $12.0 billion, exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC (6.2 billion).  Here are few relevant statistics:

  • Adult videos - $20 billion

  • Magazines - $7.5 billion

  • Cable/Pay per view - $2.5 billion

  • Internet - $2.5 billion

  • CD-Rom - $1.5 billion

Porn on the Web

$2.5 of the $12 billion US porn revenue is related to internet porn.
12% of total websites are pornographic.

 Internet Porn statistics

  • Pornographic websites - 4.2 million (12% of total websites)

  • Pornographic pages - 372 million

  • Daily pornographic search engine requests - 68 million (25% of total search engine requests)

  • Daily pornographic emails - 2.5 billion (8% of total emails)

  • Monthly Pornographic downloads (Peer-to-peer) - 1.5 billion (35% of all downloads)

  • Worldwide visitors to pornographic web sites - 72 million annually

Adult Internet Pornography Statistics

  • Men admitting to accessing pornography at work - 20%

  • US adults who regularly visit Internet pornography websites - 40 million

  • Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction - 10%

  • Breakdown of male/female visitors to pornography sites - 72% male - 28% female

Women and Pornography

  • 70% of women keep their cyber activities secret.

  • 17% of all women struggle with pornography addiction.

  • Women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life,
    such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs.

  • Women favor chat rooms 2X more than men.

  • 1 of 3 visitors to all adult web sites are women.

  • 9.4 million women access adult web sites each month.

  • Women admitting to accessing pornography at work 13%

Source: ©2005 TopTenREVIEWS, Inc
Top Ten Reviews: Internet Pornography Statistics

Note: Internet Pornography statistics become outdated very quickly, especially in the Internet environment where numbers change daily. These statistics have been derived from a number of different reputable sources including Google, WordTracker, PBS, MSNBC, NRC, and Alexa research.

Female Genital Mutilation

HUMAN RIGHTS - FGM/C is a violation of the physical and psychosexual integrity of girls and inherently contradicts gender equality. There are many international treaties and conventions that condemn harmful practices. A specific focus on female genital mutilation/cutting is found in UN General Assembly Resolution 56/128 on Traditional or Customary Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Girls (2001) and in the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, or Maputo Protocol (2003). Despite of these efforts, at least 2 million girls undergo FGM each year...

At least 130 million women in Africa have been circumcised, and two million more girls undergo the practice every year in 28 African countries, mostly in the continent's north and central areas.


Resources: Books, Magazines, DVDs

Science Illustrated

Civilization One

This book  investigates the sources of the megalithic yard, its consequences to units of weights and measure, and sets out to prove the premise of Alexander Thom.                    Read More>>


Discover attracts intelligent and curious readers - forward thinkers and public advocates engaging in a dialogue of action that influences opinion leaders and encourages innovation. They are active in their communities, carry a strong voice concerning political issues and are very active in environmental groups.

Science Illustrated 

It present science in a very exciting and approachable way. Stories are typically accompanied with many large photos or illustrations. It is typically packed with stories that cover a wide range of science from archeology to space travel.

Scientific American National Geographic Popular Mechanics (2-year)
Scientific American 

This magazine is designed for technically educated professionals and managers interested in a broad range of the physical and social sciences.
Its articles and features anticipate what the breakthroughs and the news will be in a society increasingly dependent upon scientific and technological advances.


National Geographic 

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, the flagship magazine of the National Geographic Society, chronicles exploration and adventure, as well as changes that impact life on Earth. Editorial coverage encompasses people and places of the world, with an emphasis on human involvement in a changing universe. Major topics include culture, nature, geography, ecology, science and technology.

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics is for people who have a passion to know how things work. It's about how the latest advances in science and technology will impact your home, your car, consumer electronics, computers, even your health. Popular Mechanics - answers for curious minds.

Wired (1-year) Smithsonian American Scientist


Wired readers want to know how technology is changing the world, and they’re interested in big, relevant ideas, even if those ideas challenge their assumptions—or blow their minds. Wired is a magazine about science, art, adventure, online culture, business, philosophy … and bright shiny beautiful gadgets. Each month, more than 2 million smart, savvy readers come to Wired for clean, clear writing with a wry twist


This magazine chronicles the arts, environment, sciences and popular culture of the times. It is edited for modern, well-rounded individuals with diverse, general interests. Each subscription includes a membership to the Smithsonian Institution which provides special discounts at Smithsonian gift shops, world travel opportunities through Smithsonian study tours and information on all Smithsonian events in any area.

American Scientist

Articles cover all areas of science and endeavor to provide explanations of research. This bimonthly magazine contains science articles written by scientists for the scientifically literate reader (primarily other scientists).

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