Clever Hans was a horse from Germany, owned by Wilhelm II. Hans belongs to the Russian Orlov Trotter (also known as Orlov) horse breed.
And according to many people’s observations, it seems that this is a horse that can count, speak the days of the week and even understand German.
At first, many believed that this was just a lie to get Wihelm II’s attention. However, Hans is indeed an intelligent horse, and has become famous around the world for his unexplained abilities.
William von Osten gave the first performance of this extraordinary horse in 1891, and both attracted a great deal of public attention.
Wilhelm von Osten and his horse. Clever Hans, of the Russian Orlov Trotter (also known as Orlov) horse breed. This horse is famous for its long stride, fast speed and good endurance. In Russia, the Orlov is the most famous horse breed, which began to be widely bred in the late 18th century.
Behind every good student, there is a great teacher. And indeed, Herrn von Osten, a little-known German mathematician, saw the potential in Hans as well as the opportunity to draw attention to the horse’s abilities.
Since a horse cannot speak like a human, it communicates by stomping on the ground. For example, Herrn von Osten asked: If Tuesday is the 8th, what day is Friday? Immediately Hans will kick 11 times. How much is 23 + 49, Hans can kick 72 times in a row.
Hans could not only count, but also tell time. It even “speaks” German. By tapping its hooves with numbers instead of letters, the horse can spell people’s names correctly, or put together a complete sentence.
After this performance, the whole of Germany knew about this special horse, and people also followed it as a kind of national treasure.
This horse also became so famous in 1892-1893 that many people would travel the world just to witness with their own eyes Hans’ special abilities.
However, there were also many people who wondered if this was a hoax or if Hans was really a smart horse. The matter became so serious that the German Ministry of Education directed the creation of a Scientific Investigation Committee into Clever Hans.
This committee carried out four checks including: separating Clever Hans and the owner from the audience to exclude third-party assistance; replace Osten with other questioners; Clever Hans blindfold; and check the possibility that Hans has already memorized the answer.
In 1904, a group of researchers announced that they had not found any evidence that it was a hoax. However, Professor Carl Stumpf and one of his students, Oskar Pfungst, finally solved the mystery.
They note that Hans is very rarely able to answer questions to which its owner does not know the answer. That said, there must be some special connection between Wilhelm von Osten and Hans.
Psychology professor Carl Stumpf.
Through careful examination and observation, they realized that Hans was reacting to very subtle, even unconscious signals given by the coach.
For example, when Hans is asked what two plus three equals, Osten or the questioner (standing directly in front of the horse) will lean forward slightly after Hans kicks five times and before performing the move for the next time. Friday.
Each time Hans performed the correct number of kicks according to the answer, the trainer would make subtle movements (sometimes just a simple change in facial expression or posture) to tell the horse to stop. .
Hans was clearly trained and rewarded for correct answers, so he was used to this type of behavior. Therefore, Hans is indeed a smart horse, but not as smart as the public thinks.