Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Sex as a prime motivator

Peer pressure is a topic that any parent and high school student is familiar with.

José Halloy, a biology researcher at the Free University of Brussels seems to think that he has been able to influence behavior of cockroaches through the use of peer pressure. The information is terse, but here is what I was able to discern:

They made some little robots that had swarm intelligence programming. This is a type of programming that gives very few and simple rules to a robot. The rules usually are goal related and consist of interaction between the robot and other similar robots around it.

For example, in this case the robots were given two rules: "Get near other robots" and "go to darker places". The evaluation of each rule may be weighted (for example, if the actions contradict each other, one may be given more weight).

So they ran these tests, and the robots huddled together under a light blocking disc. So did the cockroaches. Then after doing this, they changed the programming so that the robots would prefer lighter places instead. In most of the cases (60%), the roaches followed the robots, uncharacteristically into the light areas.

Oh... and by the way...the robots were smeared with cockroach sex hormone.

Hello? Did we learn anything by this test? What happens if I put a bunny in the ring smeared with sex hormone, wouldn't I expect the cockroaches to try to hump the bunny in a big entomological gang rape in broad daylight?

While I think the little robots are cool, and swarm programming is neat (ever watch a flock of birds, its beautiful), I can't figure out what this test does except show how strong a motivator sex hormone is. I don't know what the rest of it had to do with cockroach behavior.

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