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Another Brilliant Idea from your Government 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Another Brilliant Idea from your Government
Yes, I know, this is a cat post, but it's worth it. I am reading The Cat's Mind by Bruce Fogle, a treatise on the physiology and psychology of cats, and this part is too good not to share:
Quote:
These new cat owners [...] mistakenly apply their understanding of canine behavior to their new feline [...] So many people are simply getting it wrong. And the custard-pie prize for getting it the most gloriously wrong has got to go to the United States Army.

During the Vietnam war, some bright spark, almost undoubtedly an owner of Coon Hounds who had never issued a command to a cat in his life, decided that the Army should experiment with using cats as night-time guides for soldiers. After all, he must have said to himself, dogs have good noses and we use them to sniff out ordnance. Cats have good night vision, so we should use them too. He forgot, or perhaps simply never knew, that it is easy to train cats--as long as you pick something they like doing. In this project cats were issued harnesses and told to lead soldiers through the jungle at night. After a month of night maneuvers a report was filed; here are some extracts from it:
Quote:
A squad, upon being ordered to move out, was led off in all different directions by the cats....On many occasions the animals led the troops racing through thick brush in pursuit of field mice and birds...Troops had to force the cats to follow the direction of the patrol; the practice often led to the animals stalking and attacking the dangling pack straps of the soldier marching directly in front of the animal....If the weather was inclement or even threatening inclemency, the cats were never anywhere to be found.

The project was suspended.


Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:16 pm
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Another Brilliant Idea from your Government
My dad, who worked in the civilian end of the Air Force for 30 years, had many of these stories. Such as the sheaf of blank paper, simulating a report, circulated with a "read and sign" tracking sheet that came back signed off by every person on the list.

His signature story of this type, which generated a standard quip of mine, is about the experiment with grasshoppers. An Army team took a grasshopper and trained it to jump whenever they said "Jump!" Once successful, they cut off two of its legs and tried again. "Jump!" - and the creature jumped, albeit awkwardly. They cut off two more legs. "Jump!" - and it did its best, flopping over on command. They cut off the last two legs. "Jump!" - and nothing happened.

Conclusion of the team: Grasshoppers without legs can't hear.

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Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:53 pm
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Post Re: Another Brilliant Idea from your Government
PeterScott wrote:

<snip>

Quote:
After a month of night maneuvers a report was filed; here are some extracts from it:
Quote:
A squad, upon being ordered to move out, was led off in all different directions by the cats....On many occasions the animals led the troops racing through thick brush in pursuit of field mice and birds...Troops had to force the cats to follow the direction of the patrol; the practice often led to the animals stalking and attacking the dangling pack straps of the soldier marching directly in front of the animal....If the weather was inclement or even threatening inclemency, the cats were never anywhere to be found.

The project was suspended.


<laughing helplessly> What *nitwit* ever thought a cat could be trained in that manner? Obviously somebody who never was owned by a cat.

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Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:45 pm
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