47. Skeptical Researcher, Dr. Clive Wynne Tackles DogsThatKnow

Guest: Dr. Clive Wynne on the University of Florida’s participation in the DogsThatKnow experiment.

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“What I feel is the need to find ways to convey to people the excitement, the creativity, of science. …People love discovery, you know, think of this Indiana Jones. I mean, the story of making a discovery is a rich story that everybody relates to. So, how come I, myself, turn off science programs when they come on television because I don’t get that sense of the excitement of discovery. It just doesn’t come across.”

 

–Dr. Clive Wynne

 

Announcer: Stay with us for skeptiko.

 

[theme music plays]

 

Alex: Welcome to skeptiko where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and, on today’s show, I wanted to take some time and update you on the Dogs That Know experiment that we’ve been doing.

 

Now, as most of you know, about a year ago, we decided to replicate the work of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake in terms of exploring whether some dogs have an ability to telepathically know when their owners are coming home. Last episode, if you recall, we spoke with Dr. Sheldrake and, in this episode, you’re going to hear from a researcher at the University of Florida, Dr. Clive Wynne, who is helping us replicate that work.

 

And, as you know, if you’ve listened to the previous interview with Dr. Wynne, he is what I would term an open-minded skeptic. He’s very skeptical of the idea that telepathy would explain this behavior but, at the same time, he’s a scientist, a true scientist, who’s interested in exploring phenomena that is within his domain and, certainly, animal and canine research is what he does. So, he’s a really good candidate for that.

 

So, I’m very very glad that Dr. Wynne has agreed to participate in this research. I’m very glad the research is going forward and I’m especially glad that it’s going forward in this “open source” way that I had originally conceived of when I started Open Source Science more than a year ago.

 

So, throughout this process, I’m going to have updates with interviews from Dr. Wynne and some of his associates who are involved in this project. As much as possible, we are going to open up all the decisions that are made in terms of protocol, in terms of design, in terms of analysis of the data, and that, I think, is key to this whole process.

 

So, some of this conversation that we’re having in this podcast might be a bit, I don’t know, boring? It’s a bit of inside baseball if you will, talking about specifics of how to do stuff. I’ve actually edited a lot of that out because we talk about the software that we’re using and little techniques that I’ve found or suggested that he might want to look at, just in terms of how we’ve done it. Obviously, he’s much more of an expert in the research but, in terms of, you know, how to find people and how to record and what equipment to use, I’ve been going at it for a few months so I’ve shared some of that with him.

 

But this idea that the entire process should be open, open to review by anyone who’s interested in it, I think is key to the whole process.

 

So, stay tuned. Coming up, an interview with Dr. Clive Wynne from the University of Florida on our Dogs That Know experiment.

 

[intro music plays]

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. So this is very exciting…very exciting. I can tell you the students love it, you know, I mean, of course, they should. I mean, it’s intellectually stimulating. But it’s also just…it’s got such a…for twenty years I went with pigeons and Skinner boxes.

 

Alex: [Laughs]

 

Dr. Wynne: No matter how hard you tried, no matter what you’re doing, you can never get people excited but you mention to the students this kind of thing and immediately you can see they’re engaged. It’s great.

 

Alex: Well, that’s great. I mean, that’s great on so many levels and, it’s not just students, right? I think the general population are excited about this and it’s a way to hook everyone into science…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: …and show them how exciting and interesting and fascinating the scientific method is, you know.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah, right. Absolutely. Absolutely. There’s been talk here locally about a program…I haven’t seen it myself…called “Myth Busters.”

 

Alex: Sure.

 

Dr. Wynne: Apparently, it’s proving to be one of the most successful popular science programs that has ever been on TV. And, I’m told…I haven’t seen it…I’m told that it captures the essence of scientific inquiry and, although they call it “Myth Busters,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that they always end up busting whatever proposition it is that they start with and this is a little bit like that. I mean, this is…it’s a sort of a myth and maybe it will get busted and maybe it won’t but…

 

Alex: [Laughs]

 

Dr. Wynne: …yeah…it’s great.

 

Alex: Yeah. Right. Right. Well, you know, what I thought we’d do today and, in this spirit of this being about science education as well as about doing science, I wanted to record our conversation, turn it into a podcast, because one of the things that I’ve found, you know, when you look into these experiments…and there’s all these…I don’t want to say shadowy because it’s not really shadowy…but there’s all these things that are unexplained or we don’t really have any insight into. Why did they choose to do that? Why did they do that?

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Alex: And then there’s this allusion to…they had a discussion about it and they decided that…well, I think, again, people would be interested if they heard discussions about…for instance, one of the topics that you and I exchanged an email about was this non-routine trips vs. randomized trips.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right. Right.

 

Alex: And, you know, we might not hash all that out today…

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: …but I think it’s kind of an interesting discussion.

 

Dr. Wynne: Sure. Absolutely. No, I think it gets to the crux of something. So, yes, I’m cool with recording this for a podcast and I think, yeah…it gets…what we’re talking about here is a crucial thing. You know, what’s the guy’s name, Stephen J. Gould, you know, he wrote all these wonderful essays mainly on biological topics…but one of his great quotes was that…one of the most fundamental misconceptions about science is the confusion of correlation with causation.

 

So, you pick up the newspaper any day of the week and it has some story about how scientists have proven that, I don’t know, eating fish is good for you or drinking beer is bad for you and, in fact, these studies are never proof of anything because they’re just correlations. All they find is that people who eat fish might live a couple of weeks longer and people who drink beer live a couple of weeks shorter.

 

And, correlation is just not…sometimes you have no alternative. We’re not going to force people to eat fish all their lives and see how long they come out…how long they live… but sometimes you have no choice. But wherever you have the choice, as scientists, we’re always wanting to get experimental control because that’s a far more powerful way of showing that there is a causal relationship between two things.

 

Alex: Right.

 

Dr. Wynne: And, in this particular case, you know, people have irregular lives and the behavior of their dog correlates with their irregular life but, really…and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t go do it apart from, of course, the imposition we’re putting on the dog’s owner [laughs] which we shouldn’t overlook, we want to have experimental control rather than just the correlation that comes from somebody who believes their lives are irregular. You know, the person’s life might not be as irregular as they think it is or, I think we talked about this before, the irregularity might correlate with something which their dog notices which they don’t expect their dog to notice like which bag they take. You know, if you’re going to go ride your horse, you maybe take a different bag than if you’re just going to school for a class and that kind of thing and…

 

Alex: Right. Hey, I am with you to a certain extent on that. I mean, there’s a couple things I’d add. First, I want to go back and really fill in, for anyone who isn’t…kind of an inside baseball discussion we’re having here…

 

Dr. Wynne: [laughs]

 

Alex: So, we’re measuring this dog’s waiting behavior, anticipatory behavior…

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: …which is slighty different in each animal.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: And, in this animal that we’ve shown this one video on and you’ve seen…it’s kind of nice from a demonstrative standpoint because it’s easily demonstrated…he just lays down in this hallway that leads to the garage.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: And, the point that you’re making is a good one that we have to control for, one, routine is the one thing you’re honing in on there…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: We want to make sure that the dog isn’t picking up on a routine. And the other thing is cueing, that there isn’t some cueing going on.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right. Right. Exactly.

 

Alex: You know, the one thing that I’d add on the other side of that and…on this show, I’ve recounted many times…some people are probably sick of it…but the work that was done by Richard Wiseman when he debunked this experiment initially. And he really really did a horrible job on the other side which is sometimes what I see and that’s that…

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: …you know, we have to apply reason on both sides, reason in terms of reasonably good controls and reason in terms of a good way to apply those controls. One thing that I point out that you just mentioned, you know, and I think you’re tuned into it obviously because you chuckled and you realize that it’s easy to overlook, is the…is how these experiments fit into the normal lives of people.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: Because, in this case, we’re observing an animal in a home setting and that’s very intertwined with the kind of crazy lives that we all lead.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: And one of the hard things we’ve had…one of the most difficult parts of this experiment thus far has been getting people to really commit enough time and effort to do this when their schedule is changing and, “Hey, there’s a lot of people coming in and out of the house that day so it wouldn’t be good.” and really making all that work. So, that’s when I think we’re both…

 

Dr. Wynne: Right. No, we have to be…we have to be sensitive to that. Of course we do. We’re not going to get anywhere without the cooperation of the dog’s owners. But I think it should be…it’s…I mean, we would obviously need to talk to people about, well, you know, what do you have lined up in the coming week and come to some kind of an arrangement that would work. I think I mentioned to you in an email. You know, somebody could tell us they have two or three appointments on a given day and that then defines certain times they have to be away from the house but, if they could then be willing to return to the house at a time that they wouldn’t know in advance but that we would call on our cellphone and say, “Okay, come home now.” If they had that flexibility in the range of an hour or two, then I think we can work something out.

 

Alex: Right. And I think that’s reasonable. The one point that I’d add, and I mentioned this in the email to you, is that…I also think, in the past, too much has been made of dismissing non-routine times. I mean, certainly, if you have a very small sample size and you say, “Hey, here are three trials and…”

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah…

 

Alex: …these are non-routine,” well, then, you’re really relying on someone to take as a matter of fact that they really are non-routine. But, on the other side of that, if we were to compile some number of trials, 20, 30, 40, 50 trials, you could, in fact, look at those trials and say, “Well, they are non-routine.” or at least they’re non-routine to the extent that any reasonable person could say, “Here, I have a Tuesday. They’re coming home at 12:00. And here’s another Tuesday.” that…so…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Well, the thing there, Alex, though is what I was saying about how…the problem with that is that we would need a great deal more information than just what time they came home because of the possibility that the dog has detected some unintentional cue that gives away their likely return time. So, in the example we discussed when we were talking whenever that was a couple of months ago about all of this, the individual who was the owner of the dog, she had various different things that she did. Sometimes she went and rode her horse but she was mainly a student so mainly she went to her college and so on. And it’s not impossible that a dog would pick up on different ways you might…different things you might have with you when you leave the house…that give some kind of a clue as to when you might be returning.

 

And so the problem with people’s irregular schedules is that we would have to photograph them each time they left the house to see how they looked when they left the house. We would ideally want to be there when they leave the house so we could see if there’s…and it would be that much more complicated whereas a small…a much smaller number of trials where we could actually have experimental control, that people would actually agree to return home on our command, having, as I say, you know, taking reasonable precautions so that they could get on with their lives, that…a much smaller number of trials with actual experimental control would be far more compelling than a larger number of trials where we’re just relying on the irregularity of their lives. You see what I mean?

 

Alex: I do and I don’t disagree with you. I really don’t. And, as I mentioned, you know, we already have, I think, a really nice system that we have where we can program in when to make a random call on a cellphone and it calls it once and then it calls it a minute later and then we have a system where they have to call back and that’s recorded and time stamped that they’ve received the call. So, I think it’s a nice…

 

Dr. Wynne: Good.

 

Alex: …system for implementing that and we can talk more about that offline.

 

Dr. Wynne: Great.

 

Alex: But, I don’t want to totally leave that point entirely because, while I accept the spirit of what you’re saying, I think too many times I’ve head skeptics kind of take that to an extreme and that’s that, you know, really let’s apply what you’re saying from a practical standpoint on this experiment. Okay. This owner had an approximately thirteen-minute commute home.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: And we took off the last three minutes with…just for the fact that it was probably in the range that the dog could conceivably hear, although a dog inside a house in a suburban neighborhood hearing somebody several miles away is very very unlikely but…nonetheless…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: …we don’t factor in the last three minutes of the experiment. But my point is this. There’s a thirteen-minute window.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: So, for the assumption that the dog is somehow picking up a cue that would match exactly that thirteen-minute window seems very unrealistic. And, moreover, in our randomization, if we were to move that window ten minutes sooner or ten minutes later on the randomization, we will have accomplished…well, let me ask it as a question…don’t you think we will have accomplished what we wanted to? I mean, when we’re talking about putting…randomizing the return time, we can random…if it’s a thirteen-minute return time, and we have randomized it over a course of thirty minutes, we’ve more than accounted for any pattern there, right?

 

Dr. Wynne: Ummm…

 

Alex: We don’t have to have a three-hour window for randomization.

 

Dr. Wynne: I’m trying…I’m not quite sure if I’m following you. So… how long…

 

Alex: Well…

 

Dr. Wynne: …is this person away from the house for?

 

Alex: I think it varies.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: I mean. We already have recorded trials where the person is away for several hours.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: And another one where the person is away for a little bit over an hour.

 

Dr. Wynne: And, so, do you video the animal throughout the period?

 

Alex: Yes.

 

Dr. Wynne: And, so, do you have data…so you have a focal behavior let’s call it, the behavior that this dog, you said, is doing it the whole way, I think?

 

Alex: Right.

 

Dr. Wynne: It will be different for different animals. So, let’s just call it the focal behavior that we take to be the animal recognizing that the owner is coming home. And, do you have data on how frequently that behavior occurs during a normal, you know, twelve-hour day? During the daylight hours? So that you have the base rate data.

 

Alex: Well, we certainly have it in the non-returning time. So, if the owner’s gone for several hours…

 

Dr. Wynne: Right. Right.

 

Alex: …we’re comparing…

 

Dr. Wynne: Well, that would be…that would be…yeah…that’s probably what we need. So, then, you could, I mean, effectively, you’re looking at a ten-minute window if you’re taking off the last three minutes of the thirteen minutes. So you have the rate of this focal behavior during that critical ten minutes compared to the rate of that behavior during the other ten-minute chunks of the period that the owner was out of the house.

 

Alex: Right.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Well, so then, if the…

 

Alex: All’s I’m saying is, if you should…let’s say the owner said, “Okay. I can come home anytime after 11:00.”

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: Where, if you either called her at 11:00 or ten after 11:00 or twenty after 11:00, that’s all the randomization you would do. You wouldn’t have to say, “Well, you have to…”

 

Dr. Wynne: Well, it depends on the base rate. It depends on the base rate. So, if the behavior…

 

Alex: Right. Right.

 

Dr. Wynne: …normally is a very very low frequency, then you’re right. You wouldn’t have to shift the target time very much. But, if the behavior is of moderate frequency and if, for example, because we know that all animals have a sense of time of day and, if people usually come home, you know, between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m., or whatever it might be, so that this…the base rate of the behavior is going up after 4:00, well, then shifting only ten/twenty minutes in the 4:00 to 4:30 range probably wouldn’t be enough to prove anything.

 

So, it’s going to depend on the base rate and I would say…I would expect the base rate to vary with time of day in most…because most people…you know, if you go out in the morning, you come back later in the afternoon…that varies from animal to animal.

 

Alex: Let’s kind of push that a little bit further because what you’re saying is kind of an interesting thought and that’s that, if there was a low differential if you will between the behavior when the owner isn’t coming home compared to when they are, then you’d have to have a larger window.

 

Dr. Wynne: Exactly.

 

Alex: In this case, that’s, at least thus far, hasn’t been the case.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: So we can kind of tweak that.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: You know, the other thing that I thought was worth mentioning that came up in our email conversation…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: …is this idea of cueing because you remarked, “We have to make sure that there’s no one else around the home.” It’s perfectly understandable from your part and then I came back and said, “You know, it turns out that initial indications suggest that that is kind of an important factor.”

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: Perhaps it’s because these animals are herd animals and they’re trying to communicate to the herd that somebody’s coming back but it turns out in this case that maybe a part of the reason why this works is that there’s three dogs and one cat so they have a little bit of a herd going there anyway.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Yeah. No, a few other animals is…there’s no harm in that. I mean, it becomes difficult to know which animal is leading and which is following but that wouldn’t really matter for our purposes. It would be exciting enough even if we weren’t sure exactly which of the three…did you say three dogs and two cats…you know, it wouldn’t…that wouldn’t be a problem but, if there’s a human in the house, then the human will likely have extra information that, you know, may have been said to them or whatever. So, it would be important not to have humans around.

 

Alex: I would take that to mean that we have to be extra careful if there’s human’s around and we would absolutely have to randomize the return times to have any kind of real…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Right.

 

Alex: …significant…but I think we could probably do this, you know, with humans around too because, one of the things we hope to do, obviously, is find more dogs that do this. This dog is in California.

 

Dr. Wynne: Right.

 

Alex: And we may have you come out and observe this dog in this situation but we’re hoping that we’ll find some dogs near you there in good old Gainsville.

 

Dr. Wynne: [laughs] Yeah.

 

Alex: It would be…also, I think interesting if we’re…I’m suggesting that this phenomena is not a particular phenomena of this dog but is rather more or less common so that would have to be another factor in this. I mean, if we’re never able to find another dog that does this, well then that kind of, I think, throws into question the whole…telepathy is an evolutionary advantage that a lot of dogs share.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. I mean, people have certainly gotten famous off discoveries on one animal. I was talking to a journalist from New York this afternoon about Alex, the parrot.

 

Alex: Right. Right.

 

Dr. Wynne: But I certainly agree with you that it…that…yeah…I mean, if it is…if one finds something in just one animal then, even if you can’t pin down how they’re doing it, it looks likely that this one animal has learned some special trick whereas if you do find it in a reasonable number of animals, then you become more convinced that it’s for real. I think that’s…and, of course, it would be a rule that I would be very happy to make a trip to California sometime, [laughs] it would be so much easier to deal with it if it were close to us. We’ve actually had, for a long time, for over a year, a thing on our website, caninecognition.com, inviting people to contact us if their dog has any particular talents but we’ve…nobody comes out fast. [laughs]

 

Alex: Well, it’s…they didn’t really contact us. We had to go looking for them pretty hard.

 

Dr. Wynne: Uh huh…

 

Alex: And it’s just…which is another aspect of this that I think is worth talking about a little bit and that’s just how…even though this…we’re finding out two things that are kind of paradoxical. One, that a lot of people are reporting that they’ve observed this in their animals and the second is that, even people who are convinced that they have this strong link and their dog is demonstrating this, can’t always reliably reproduce it, either because they don’t have the time and effort to put into it or, number two, it’s exactly what you suspected initially which is that…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: …you know, when they really get down to it, it doesn’t really act exactly the way that they’ve thought.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: And, I think there’s a couple of different ways to interpret that but, one of the things that I think really needs to be factored in is that telepathy, if it does exist, is not…we can probably speculate some…about some characteristics of it and one is that it’s not a strong signal if you will.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: You know, we don’t…I don’t get the sense that these dogs are overwhelmed by this communication that they’re getting from their owner. That, if it is happening, it’s very subtle and it’s coming through as a very weak signal. And, a little bit of the evidence is somewhat anecdotal but it’s part of the experiment that we’ve had so far is…we actually have talked to animal communicators, folks who think that they can actually communicate with animals.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: And, in their trials, you know, they were not really effective at doing…at getting animals to demonstrate this particular behavior. So I don’t want to make too much of that but it does kind of lend credence to the idea that, at the very least, this is not something that’s like a direct communication between animal and owner. Again, if it exists, and I know you’re still on that camp, which you have to be of, “Hey, we haven’t proven anything yet.”

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s uh…I’m just excited to see what we have really. I mean, I’m trying to keep an open mind and just be…I mean, from my point of view…I think…you know, I can be proven wrong about this but, in my experience, animals achieve amazing things through what turn out to be very simple mechanisms but sometimes, even an apparently simple mechanism can be hard to spot. And, to me, it’s very exciting to be able to find out what the underlying, you know, quiet…maybe even mundane-seeming mechanism can be that can lead to an amazing performance.

 

Like, I mean, take my possible explanation that, perhaps, in the case of the student that we discussed last, that perhaps the dog notices which textbooks she takes with and has noticed that, if she takes the big fat French textbook, then she’s going to be home by 2:30 and, if she takes some slim notebook, then she’s going to be back by 4:30. I mean, on the one hand, compared to telepathy, that’s a very mundane explanation of the animals’ behavior. But, hang on a second. Isn’t that an absolutely…wouldn’t that be an absolutely amazing thing to demonstrate that a dog could have picked up all on his own such a subtle relationship between which of these things, you know, just these heavy blocks that people sometimes pick up and take with them, and when to expect your mistress home.

 

I mean, to me, the mundane explanation is actually…is as exciting or close to as exciting as the telepathy explanation. I mean, it would just be an amazing thing to demonstrate.

 

Alex: That…that would be quite amazing. You know, it’s just…another interesting…this doesn’t fit exactly with what you’re saying but, one of the interesting things we discovered in doing this experiment thus far is that the signaling, this waiting behavior, really only occurs for the first person to come home. And, what made me think of it, when you mentioned the college student, you know, in this household, there’s the woman, the owner, Jane, and her son is a college student.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: And, so, they both go out. The dog seems to anticipate the first one coming home. The second one doesn’t really get the treatment. [laughs]

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: So, once the first one’s home, even if they’re out of camera shot and just…and the dog’s then again waiting, so, I think it’s also…go ahead…what were you going…

 

Dr. Wynne: Well, I was going to say, you know, that makes perfectly good sense that the…once the first person’s home, well then, the world has become a more stimulating place in the house and there’s no longer the motivation to pay much attention to when another person’s coming home. You know, if the dog wants human attention, well, there’s a human in the house. So…

 

Alex: Right.

 

Dr. Wynne: I think that makes sense. But, of course, if we have to work in a situation where there’s more than one person coming and going, well then it’s going to be kind of complicated isn’t it? It’s going be…

 

Alex: Well, I think it actually, you know, I think it actually…it doesn’t complicate it but I think it kind of helps to eliminate one of the explanations that you just had. I mean, that would make it more difficult to explain in terms of the dog has tuned into some routine because now, there’s kind of this, we don’t know which one’s going to come home first and we can…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: You know, I think it strengthens the case for telepathy actually.

 

Dr. Wynne: Well, I was just thinking in the practical sense that we might be dealing with the dog’s owner and we have a plan that we’re going to ask the dog’s owner to come home at a time she doesn’t actually know exactly when and, while we’re waiting for that to happen, her son comes home so that that day’s test is basically wiped out.

 

Alex: Right. I think we can work around that with just some good communication…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Yeah.

 

Alex: …in terms of letting folks…you know…folks can…the cellphone part can work two ways too. I mean, if someone is going to come home earlier, they can tell us that and then we can still randomize it from that point forward.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. That’s true. That’s true. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Well, it’s an exciting thing. How are we going to do this, Alex? How are we going to actually…you already…you were saying you already have some videos, some observations…

 

Alex: Right. Right. So, you know, what I thought I’d do?

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: Because you asked for it. Why don’t I send you some of the video, some of the raw if you will…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah, that would be great.

 

Alex: And then that’ll give us a chance to get started. You can go over it with your students and we can kind of start working towards this protocol…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Yeah.

 

Alex: …that we were talking about.

 

Dr. Wynne: That’s a great plan. Yeah.

 

Alex: And, in the meantime, I’m going to have to really put the full court press on Gainsville, run some ads on craigslist and find some other forums down there…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. See, I’m not very good at all that side of things. You know, being a lifelong academic, I’m never really very good at that side of it. Some of my students are better at it than I am but…yeah…

 

Alex: Well, good. Let’s get them involved too.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah, absolutely.

 

Alex: Let’s make that fun for them too because I think they’d have a blast doing it and tell them to feel free to, you know, email me if they want any…like the copy that I’ve been using, you know, to recruit people.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: Anything like that or anything at all…happy to help…and I’ll actually send some of that along to you to kind of distribute out…

 

Dr. Wynne: Well, you know, it just crossed my mind…I…there’s a local pet magazine that’s handed out free at pet food stores and so on and…

 

Alex: Perfect.

 

Dr. Wynne: And they would be receptive to this. They want me to write them a little piece and so I had one in mind but, actually, I can do this. If you send me your copy, I’ll add my bits to it and…yeah…that’d be great.

 

[call ends]

 

Alex: So, Dr. Wynne and I discussed a couple of other aspects of the experiment that I won’t bother including in this podcast. And then we turned back to the subject of science and science education.

 

[call begins again]

 

Alex: So, I was in the computer business for awhile. And I’ve always been, you know, fascinated by science and maybe it’s that frustrated Ph.D. student who…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: …never went all the way. [laughs] I don’t know…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Well, they do say that a Ph.D….it’s not a test of smarts. It’s just a test of your ability to stick at something long after it’s ceased to be interesting. [laughs]

 

Alex: [laughs] I don’t know about that. I think I ran into a lot of smart people too. So, it’s great. I think it’s great and I think it’s really a valuable component of our society. So, I’m very pro science in this whole thing so…

 

Dr. Wynne: Good. And I think…what I feel is the need…and that’s why I wish I’d got the channel that has this Myth Busters…the need to find ways to convey to people the excitement…

 

Alex: Yes.

 

Dr. Wynne: …the creativity of science…

 

Alex: Yes. Yes.

 

Dr. Wynne: …the sense of the…people love discovery. You know, think of this Indiana Jones. I mean, the story of making a discovery is a rich story that everybody relates to so how come when you…you know…I, myself, turn off science programs when they come on television…

 

Alex: Yeah.

 

Dr. Wynne: …because I don’t get that sense of the excitement of discovery. It just doesn’t come across.

 

Alex: Yeah.

 

Dr. Wynne: So…so, it would be good if we can do something…because I think it has tremendous, you know, TV educational…

 

Alex: Right. Right. Right.

 

Dr. Wynne: potential.

 

Alex: All this stuff builds on itself. And that’s the other thing. You know, we get started on this and, if everybody’s having a good time, this should be a long-term…a long-term project if there’s anything…if there’s anything to it. But, if it does raise a lot of questions, which I think it might, then, you know, this is the kind of stuff that we all…will gain a lot of interest and will accomplish a lot of things for…from a lot of different angles…

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah.

 

Alex: …from the dog lover angle, from the scientist angle, from the…maybe from the psi angle…we’ll see.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. Yeah. Well, there’s a lot to be done with dogs especially, pets in general.

 

Alex: Yeah.

 

Dr. Wynne: Yeah. There’s a lot of potential to teach scientific lessons.

 

Alex: Well, great. I couldn’t be more excited that you’re joining us. I think it’s terrific.

 

Dr. Wynne: Well, I’m thrilled too. I really appreciate your interest. That’s great.

 

[call ends]

 

Alex: Thanks again to Dr. Wynne for joining us today. I’ll obviously be keeping you up to date on the progress of this research and on our trials which are ongoing.

 

If you’d like more information about Dr. Wynne, you can, of course, go to our show notes at the skeptiko website, that’s skeptiko.com, where you’ll also find links to our previous shows and links to our forum and my email link where you can drop me a note. So, please, check that out if you’re interested.

 

Well, that’s going to do it for this episode. I expect to be back in a couple weeks with another interview. Until then, bye for now.

 

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