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There is (yet another) war raging in science. This one is over how we evaluate other vertebrates. In this fascinating and eye-opening compendium, Frans de Waal says we are prejudiced towards ourselves, always comparing animals’ performance to ours, in unfairly biased experiments designed for us. It bothers people that we are not unique, and it bothers de Waal that animals don’t obtain the credit they deserve. Ranging all over the globe and all over species, the book is an endless Waal gives the example of a chimp named Ayumu at a research center in Japan, who can routinely memorize nine numbers in any given order, having seen them for just one fifth of one second. He can then pick them out in order from random numbers presented to him all over the computer screen. No human comes close. That’s a issue for a lot of scientists. The book is full of examples of animals, birds and fish doing highly smart things naturally. Our tests twist and pervert their skills to fit the test, showing them less smart than they are. We draw the wrong conclusions, often by asking the wrong questions. de Waal shows the method to a far more appreciative and objective method of looking at the own favorite story in prejudice occurred when scientists induced pain in the feet of mice to see if they could be created to hide it. They found that mice could place on a brave face, but only when a human male tended to them. For females, they allow their guard down; they freely showed their suffering. The difference was so powerful that it worked even when scientists simply placed a man’s t-shirt near the cage. The mice were totally focused on fear and ignored their own pain. This said two things: mice could hide their own pain, and every experiment using mice is to some extent invalid, prejudiced by the mere presence of humans. Male or female scientists will cause various that story, de Waal adds attention, motivation, and especially cognition, giving animals the full range of unlimited possibility, including communication (bottlenose dolphins call to each other by name). It is actually real respect. Possibly the most telling sentence about primates (de Waal’s focus) is that the caretakers in a primate center have greater respect for the intelligence of the animals than do the psychologists and philosophers who run the experiments.Every being is magnificently adapted to its habitat and needs. That they have various strengths, some or none of which might also be show in humans, is basically irrelevant. The whole field of comparative psychology, where we try how animals measure up to humans, is irrelevant and invalid. We need to appreciate the possible, not the comparative.David Wineberg
Are We Intelligent Enough to Know How Intelligent Animals Are? By Frans de Waal“Are We Intelligent Enough to Know How Intelligent Animals Are?” is an insightful look at animal intelligence backed up by evidence from controlled experiments. Dutch/American biologist with a Ph.D. in zoology and ethology and author of Our Inner Ape and others, Frans de Waal, takes the reader on a journey of the sophistication of nonhuman minds. This entertaining 352-page book contains the following nine chapters: 1. Magic Wells, 2. A Tale of Two Schools, 3. Cognitive Ripples, 4. Talk to Me, 5. The Measure of all Things, 6. Social Skills, 7. Time Will Tell, 8. Of Mirrors and Jars, and 9. Evolutionary Cognition.Positives:1. Engaging and well-written book that is accessible to the masses.2. A fascinating subject in the hands of a topic matter expert, nonhuman cognition.3. Entertaining and insightful. The book is simple to follow. Professor de Waal is fair and even handed. He is careful to not oversell nonhuman cognition while providing a mixture of stories, experiments and observations to back his points. “I will pick and choose from among a lot of discoveries, species, and scientists, so as to convey the excitement of the past twenty years.”4. Contains a lot of sketches that complement the perfect narrative.5. Introduces and explains key fresh terms. “Umwelt stresses an organism’s self-centered, subjective world, which represents only a little tranche of all available worlds.”6. Does a unbelievable job of explaining the most necessary subject of this book, animal cognition. “No wonder Griffin became an early winner of animal cognition—a term considered an oxymoron until well into the 1980s—because what else is cognition but info processing? Cognition is the mental transformation of sensory input into knowledge about the environment and the flexible app of this knowledge.” “While the term cognition refers to the process of doing this, intelligence refers more to the ability to do it successfully.”7. A look into experimental science. “The credo of experimental science remains that an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”8. One of the recurring themes of this unbelievable book is the importance of conducting well-constructed experiments. “Their earlier not good performance had had more to do with the method they were tested than with their mental powers.” “The challenge is to search tests that fit an animal’s temperament, interests, anatomy, and sensory capacities.”9. A fascinating look at the field of evolutionary cognition. “The field of evolutionary cognition requires us to consider every species in full.”10. One of the most necessary subjects covered is the notion of continuity. “It is far more logical to assume continuity in every domain, Griffin said, echoing Charles Darwin’s well-known observation that the mental difference between humans and other animals is one of degree rather than kind.”11. Explains key differences between behaviorism and ethology. “The difference between behaviorism and ethology has always been one of human-controlled vs natural behavior. Behaviorists sought to dictate behavior by placing animals in barren environments in which they could do small else than what the experimenter wanted.”12. The book provides interesting examples that contains animals beyond de Waal’s expertise of primates. “With animals such as chimpanzees, elephants, and crows, for which we have ample evidence of complex cognition, we really do not need to begin at zero every time we are struck by seemingly intelligent behavior.”13. Provocative questions. Do animals have culture? Search out.14. Provides evidence for animal cognition. “A century ago Wolfgang Köhler set the scene for animal cognition research by demonstrating that apes can solve issues in their heads by means of a flash of insight, before enacting the solution.” “Apes do not just find for tools for specific occasions; they actually fabricate them.”15. The pioneers of animal cognition. “Nadia Ladygina-Kohts was a pioneer in animal cognition, who studied not only primates but also parrots, such as this macaw. Working in Moscow at around the same time that Köhler conducted his research, she remains far less known.”16. The awesome story of Ayumu. “Ayumu’s photographic memory allows him to quickly tap a series of numbers on a touchscreen in the right order, even though the numbers disappear in the blink of an eye. That humans cannot hold up with this young ape has upset some psychologists.”17. An interesting look at social skills. “The cooperative pulling paradigm, as it is known, has been applied to monkeys, hyenas, parrots, rooks, elephants, and so on.” “In the end, we found proof in the pudding that chimpanzees are highly cooperative. They have no problem whatsoever regulating and dampening strife for the sake of achieving shared outcomes.”18. Do animals plan ahead? “This study was quite ingenious and included a few extra controls, leading the authors to conclude that jays recall what stuff they have place where and at what point in time.” “Lisala, a bonobo, carries a massive rock on a long trek toward a put where she knows there are nuts. After collecting the nuts, she continues her trek to the only huge slab of rock in the area, where she employs her rock as a hammer to crack the nuts. Picking up a tool so long in advance suggests planning.”19. The intelligence of elephants. “In short, elephants create sophisticated distinctions regarding potential opponents to the point that they classify our own species based on language, age, and gender. How they do so is not entirely clear, but studies like these are beginning to scratch the surface of one of the most enigmatic minds on the planet.”20. The three divided attitudes on animal cognition: slayers, skeptics, and the proponents.21. Notes and bibliography gatives:1. The scientific process required to be explained in more detail and specifically how it relates to the study of primates. An appendix explaining de Waal’s overall scientific approach would have been helpful.2. Lacks supplementary visual materials such as diagrams, charts and graphs. A chart depicting the various types of primates with key statistics as an example. Maps showing where the main topics come from.3. On the subject of neuroscience a small more depth was warranted. Once again, visual material would have complemented the narrative.4. The format could have been enhanced to highlight the most noteworthy observations or summary, this was a very entertaining book. Professor De Waal succeeds in entertaining and educating the public on animal cognition. His mastery of the subject is admirable and is careful to be grounded on the facts and not to oversell an idea. A lot of interesting insights don’t miss this one. I recommend it!Further recommendations: “The Bonobo and the Atheist”, “Our Inner Ape”, “The Age of Empathy”, “Chimpanzee Politics” by the same author, “The Genius of Birds” by Jennifer Ackerman, “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel” by Carl Safina, “The Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery, “Animal Wise” by Virginia Morell, “Zoobiquity” by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, “The Secret Lives of Bats” by Merlin Tuttle, and “Last Ape Standing” by Chip Walter.
I truly hated one thing about this book - it ended! Now I have to read everything else Frans de Wall has written and I'll never obtain the laundry done. A strong and necessary book. So a lot of fascinating stories, examples, experiments and all of it written in clear, concise language that even I could follow. Elephants, ravens, dolphins, wasps, chimps, oh my! I vividly remember my 8th grade science teacher telling the class that what separated us from animals was our ability to create and use tools. Oops.I especially was drawn to the idea that learning depends more on social connections than incentives. Throw away those stickers! Rapport trumps rewards every time. If I were in charge of the world, I'd create this needed reading for every teacher.We have a very narrow "umwelt" indeed.
An perfect overview of current evolutionary biology written in a really enjoyable format. Dr. De Waal provides example after fascinating example of the wonderful cognitive abilities of a lot of a lot of animals including Primates, Birds and Octopi. Debunks a lot of of our cherished notions, of when it comes to the uniqueness of our also discusses the lengths of biasness that different scientic and social science researchers have gone to, to protect their beliefs including,comparitive psychology, behaviorism as well as philosophy.A amazing book.
This is so refreshing, informative, scholarly, and SO overdue! Why is it that humans think they are various and superior than other animals? No, there is not some large gap in evolution separating us from all other beings. It is a continuum. We have some capabilities that other species do not, but other species have just as a lot of capabilities that we do not have. Finally maybe more people will obtain a clue and stop taking humans as the be all and end all of evolution!
Once we stop doing research using humans as point zero and take into acc animals thought processes it is a no brainer. The book is a amazing source of behaviorists and scientists to present we are just scratching the surface. A must read.
Unbelievable up-to-date book about animal behavior and intelligence. A lot of well documented research studies are referenced in this simple to follow and exciting look at the recent views of animal intelligence, emotions and awareness.
DeWaal's recounting of the development of the study of animal cognition is fascinating. For anyone who has ever thought their pet has intentions or can execute a plan this will be welcome. DeWaal treats animal cognition in relation to its evolutionary role in nature. Some animals have developed higher levels than others according to their survival needs. It's a very convincing argument for the acceptance of animal cognition.
I have read a lot of books on this topic and am writing one myself. This one stands out! Frans de Waal covers the current state of the animal ethology movement well. He also contains a lot of fascinating examples of current research. He focuses mainly on primates and covers research in a lot of areas worldwide. The material is well organized and documented. I highly recommend this book.
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