If you aren't aware, there's a dog named "bunny" on social media that is blowing up because the dog supposedly uses buttons on a soundboard that speak words to communicate like a human. Bunny says wants to go for a walk, or wants a treat. He says what's on his mind through talking buttons that seem to spell out sentences. If he is to be believed, Bunny can talk about abstract concepts. his worries, and contemplate existence.
His owner says she has been training Bunny in using AAC (or augmented alternative communication), usually reserved for humans who are disabled and can't express themselves.
Discovering Bunny, I went down the "Bunny The Dog" rabbit hole on the internet.
My internal bu\\$h!t detector went off. My initial problems:
*lots of editing
*a ton of fast-forwarding between scenes
*sounds like his owner is either leading Bunny with a tone of voice, or he was coached on buttons to press before the video started
Did some digging and found a bunch of scientists and animal behavioralists. Guess what? Their detectors went off too.
Science Focus had some good criticisms. They wonder if Bunny made no sense pressing random buttons, but that one time when they could get something to make sense... the video made it to the internet. The rest were deleted.
They mention canine cognition expert Alexandra Horowitz who said: “A lyre bird mimicking someone yelling ‘timber’ because they’ve heard someone yelling ‘timber’ is not themselves meaning to say ‘timber!’"
The author of the SE article said these hoaxes have been going on since the beginning of time. One example was "Clever Whizz", a supposedly math proficient horse... that wasn't.
And then there's this debunking.