Why is the Vervet monkey study "really dumb?"
I suggest looking at the external link that Nebuchadnezzar left at the end of the post. Here it is again, for your convenience:
Okay, I read through the blog post, but I'm still not seeing it. She doesn't refute (at all) the findings of the study. Rather she deflects and tries to associate it with something else, then associate THAT with something else, until she's going on at great length about object-oriented vs. person-oriented. But at no point does she make any argument that suggests the findings in the study were wrong or inaccurate.
True, she doesn't negate the vervet study. She does minimize it by pointing out how the actual differences in behavior were relatively small. In medical research (my area), that'd be statistical significance combined with clinical irrelevance. The findings may be right, but they're small.
She also points out that using human toys in a monkey study is ridiculous. A red frying pan is apparently a girl's toy, but how can that possibly apply to a species that has no concept of cooking. The same goes for the toy truck in a species that I would imagine would have trouble recognizing the connection between a tiny toy and an actual vehicle. Further, there are problems in comparing gender roles in primates as they vary wildly from species to species.
I understand that, Marlow, but the reason why she's using monkeys is at all is because any time humans are used, regardless of age, we can't rule out the possibility that, even at such a young age, there could be a preconceived bias from observations in society. The real problem with this kind of study at all is that it's impossible to do any kind of double-blind study involving humans. Primates are all we have.
What does she mean when she's talking about object-oriented behavior? I know object-oriented programming as in the computer science stuff, but a lot of the points she's making refers to subjects that are less in the 'hard' sciences and more in the social sciences, which I'm not really all that well versed in.
I'm not certain what she means by object, but I think it's the opposite of animate which I think refers to people/animal like. A dump truck is an object. A doll is animate. Thomas the Tank Engine is a confusing mix of the two.
Clearly you never made up a name and personality for your bicycle when you were a child.