By now most Pawesome readers have probably heard of Alex, the African Grey parrot who was the ongoing subject of animal psychologist Dr. Irene Pepperberg. Alex was born in 1976 and worked with Pepperberg for almost his entire 31 years. He died in 2007.
Pepperberg’s work with Alex focused on solving complex language and math problems, two areas previously thought to require a big old primate brain. Instead, Pepperberg’s research indicated that Alex was capable of using basic reasoning and language, and that his intelligence was on par with dolphins and great apes.
Pepperberg’s research was somewhat controversial, particularly because of the emotional component of her relationship with Alex. When asked about it, she says that she considered Alex like “a close colleague.” I think it’s clear from both videos that Alex’s intelligence goes beyond mere repetition. Could Pepperberg’s research conclusions been unduly influenced by her affection for Alex? Pepperberg wrote a book about Alex and their time together, Alex & Me, to discuss this issue and more. Has anyone read it?