Topic: Equine

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The Clever Hans Effect

Skepticism Psychology Equine

Clever Hans (in German: der Kluge Hans) was an Orlov Trotter horse that was claimed to have performed arithmetic and other intellectual tasks.

After a formal investigation in 1907, psychologist Oskar Pfungst demonstrated that the horse was not actually performing these mental tasks, but was watching the reactions of his trainer. He discovered this artifact in the research methodology, wherein the horse was responding directly to involuntary cues in the body language of the human trainer, who had the faculties to solve each problem. The trainer was entirely unaware that he was providing such cues. In honour of Pfungst's study, the anomalous artifact has since been referred to as the Clever Hans effect and has continued to be important knowledge in the observer-expectancy effect and later studies in animal cognition. Pfungst was an assistant to German philosopher and psychologist Carl Stumpf, who incorporated the experience with Hans into his further work on animal psychology and his ideas on phenomenology.

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Great Stirrup Controversy

Military history Military history/Military science, technology, and theory Equine Military history/Medieval warfare

The Great Stirrup Controversy is the academic debate about the Stirrup Thesis, the theory that feudalism in Europe developed largely as a result of the introduction of the stirrup to cavalry in the 8th century CE. It relates to the hypothesis suggested by Lynn Townsend White Jr. in his 1962 book, Medieval Technology and Social Change. White believed that the stirrup enabled heavy cavalry and shock combat, which in turn prompted the Carolingian dynasty of the 8th and 9th centuries to organize its territory into a vassalage system, rewarding mounted warriors with land grants for their service. White's book has proved very influential, but others have accused him of speculation, oversimplification, and ignoring contradictory evidence on the subject. Scholars have debated whether the stirrup actually provided the impetus for this social change, or whether the rise of heavy cavalry resulted from political changes in Medieval Europe.

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