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Fledgling Chickens Affect Inanimate Robots


In an unusual, but revealing experiment reported by Rupert Sheldrake in his book The Sense of Being Stared At (Hutchinson 2003), when fledgling chickens developed a bond with a robot they thought was their mother, the robot, a completely inanimate machine, spent more time in their vicinity than at other places in the cage (p. 322). (This description and the illustrations were taken from "Consciousness fields can now be measured scientifically," M*Tec Medizin- und Umwelttechnik, http://www.m-tec.ag/dasneueste.asp?lang=eng.)

In this experiment, hatching fledglings were with a robot from the time they were hatched, convincing them that the robot was their mother. The robot was designed to move randomly around a cage. The experimenters established a baseline of robot movements by tracking the movements when the robot was alone in the cage. The tracks are in diagram 1:

Diagram 1


The tracks are obviously random. Then, freshly hatched fledgling chickens were put into the cage and kept on the right side of the cage. They bonded with the robot, assuming it was their mother. After that bonding, when researchers tracked the robot's movements, it was very plain that the robot actually stayed closer to the right side of the cage where the fledglings were and spent no time in the left side of the cage farthest from the fledglings. The tracks the robot then took are illustrated in Diagram 2:

Diagram 2

In other words, this inanimate object was responding to the fledgling's love or need for their mother's presence.





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