Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Can a restrictive definition lead to biases and tautologies?

Luc-Alain Giraldeaua1, Louis Lefebvrea2 and Julie Morand-Ferrona1

a1 Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3P8, Canada;

a2 Department of Biology, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, H3A 1B1, Canada.


We argue that the operational definition proposed by Ramsey et al. does not represent a significant improvement for students of innovation, because it is so restrictive that it might actually prevent the testing of hypotheses on the relationships between innovation, ecology, evolution, culture, and intelligence. To avoid tautological thinking, we need to use an operational definition that is taxonomically unbiased and neutral with respect to the hypotheses to be tested.

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