The Crow Paradox

The mind numbing Raven paradox, also known as Hempel’s paradox or Hempel’s ravens is a paradox proposed by the German logician Carl Gustav Hempel in the 1940s to illustrate a problem where inductive logic violates intuition. It reveals the fundamental problem of induction – All Ravens are black, thus anything that is not black is not a Raven.

On the contrary, here is a white raven.

By Mike yip

Not to be daunted, John M. Marzluff, co-author of the award-winning In the Company of Crows and Ravens, was featured in an NPR interview last year discussing the “Crow Paradox.”

In the interview, Marzluff discusses research he conducted at the University of Washington, concluding that while most humans can’t differentiate between individual crows (or even between species of similar birds), crows have the ability to recognize and remember the faces of people they’ve encountered before. This adaptive skill enables crows to distinguish between a man who throws breadcrumbs and another who carries a rifle.

In their book, Marzluff and co-author Tony Angel argue that crows and people share similar traits and social strategies. “To a surprising extent,” they contend, “to know the crow is to know ourselves.”¬Ě

This popular broadcast originally aired on July 27th 2009, but can be accessed online here. Be sure to check it out and take the Crow recognition test.