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[Phys-L] check your work : wizards versus lizards

Alas on 08/29/2012 04:04 PM, I wrote:
I call such products "lizard friendly"
since they seem to be aimed at users who lack a cerebral cortex.

It's still true that lizards, compared to wizards, exhibit much less in
the way of sophisticated critical reasoning.

However, my obiter dicta about brain structure were wrong. I am a big
believer in "check your work". Usually I check everything before posting
to phys-l, so it bugged me when I realized that I hadn't actually checked
the point about brain structure. When I belatedly did some checking, I
found that my information was out-of-date by several decades, and unfair
to lizards. The details are off-topic but interesting. Quoting Ulinski

It is only in reptiles and mammals that the telencephalic roof develops
into extensive and multilayered cortices.

Although amphibians (Northcutt and Kicliter 1980) and lungfishes (Northcutt
1986) have laminated cortices, they show little migration of neurons away
from the ependyma. Birds have a small cerebral cortex, ostensibly resulting
from a secondary reduction of the reptilian pattern (Benowitz 1980).

I am not the only person to have been exposed to wrong information about this.
As recently as two years ago, Arthur De Vany quoted somebody (perhaps Andy
Groves) as saying

This surprising paper overturns the long held and cherished belief that the
pallium, the highest level of the mammalian brain, is unique to mammals.

It used to be thought that "pallium" and "cerebral cortex" were more-or-less
synonymous terms, but apparently not even that is true anymore. Sigh. There's
a lot more that could be said about this, but I'll stop here.


Bottom line: I'm still going to use the term "lizard friendly" as the near-
opposite of "wizard friendly".

I will however redouble my commitment to the "check your work" principle.