20/11/2015

Pigeons Can Detect Cancer

There are some things in life that make me think, “If there is intelligent design it's not that intelligent.”

New research has found that pigeons can spot breast cancer in women's scans 'as accurately as human experts'.

What is the point of that? Who gives the expert abilities of a doctor to a pigeon, literally a bird-brained animal?

I remember reading before that pigeons have great eyesight. That's good because it makes up for the minged up feet they always seem to have. Great eyes but can't really walk, the pigeon version of Rear Window is a great film. In fact, pigeons can see so well if you take them to a cinema they don't see a moving image, they'd view it as a series of still images. That would ruin many films, but make some Adam Sandler ones better.

Now scientists in the US tell us the birds can detect and identify malignant cancer cells in biopsy samples and mammogram scans. If the junior doctors weren't going on strike before they would after this. If you are replaced by a computer that's one thing, but if a trained bird gets your job you'd be rather miffed.

Prof Richard Levenson said: “With training and food reinforcement, pigeons do just as well as humans.” It could be a great saving for the NHS as you can feed the birds for tuppence a bag, I remember hearing.

Pretty soon the hospitals could be filled with animals as recently researchers have been discovering how dogs can “smell” if you have cancer. I'm not sure how the dogs let you know about this, I hope it's not just by sniffing the affected area a lot, or my gusset needs checking.

That's more impressive than the pigeon trick, because for a pigeon to detect you have cancer they still need to do a biopsy, and I don't think they're very good at that bit.

I have a theory that cats can probably smell cancer too. They just don't care enough to tell you.
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