Seagulls, Worm Charming, Lies and Knowledge

A few days ago, I saw a seagull hopping from one foot to the other on some grass. It was (I thought) replicating the sound of rainfall, hoping for a fooled worm to breach the surface. Within seconds one did, and was promptly devoured whole. It’s a curious but common sight – captured here.



The sight of seagulls tapping for worms raises concepts of intentionality, deception and knowledge – potentially very good for ways of knowing in a Theory of Knowledge curriculum.

·  What does the seagull know?

·  What do the worms think?

·  What do we know?

·  Is the seagull lying to the worms?

·  Does the seagull know what it is doing?

·  Is the seagull planning?

·  How does the seagull know this works as a way to hunt worms? (instinct? induction? learnt behaviour?)

·  How do we know this works as a way to hunt worms? (induction, research, inference, analogy)

·  How do we know how the seagull knows how to hunt worms? (theory, inference, analogy)

In an interesting twist, it turns out that scientific research suggests it’s not rainfall the seagull is, knowingly or unknowingly, imitating, but the vibrations made by a predatory mole! So what I thought I knew turns out not to have been knowledge either!

See this article and this brilliantly titled scientific paper, “Worm Grunting, Fiddling, and Charming—Humans Unknowingly Mimic a Predator to Harvest Bait

To the Moon and Beyond

The day I saw the seagull saw this year’s ‘Super Worm Moon’, named so for coinciding with worms’ first appearance after winter, and for its super size. Next week’s bulletin is on the theme of the moon and how each moon has a different traditional name. We’ll also be going beyond the solar system with an invitation to an Alien Adventure in Philosophy, including an optional masterclass in online philosophical facilitation, in case more schools here on earth end up closing for a while.

Best wishes,


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