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Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (2016)

de Frans de Waal

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7733121,282 (4.04)34
What separates your mind from that of an animal? Is it the ability to design tools; a sense of self; or the grasp of past and future? In recent decades these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence, offering a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we've underestimated their abilities for too long.… (mais)
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» Veja também 34 menções

Inglês (25)  Holandês (4)  Espanhol (1)  Francês (1)  Todos os idiomas (31)
Mostrando 1-5 de 31 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Really fascinating information entertainingly told. Great stories, remarkable insight. I found the reader a bit stilted, but the material was so interesting that I had no trouble with it. He sounded like a scientist which is apt. ( )
  njcur | Apr 1, 2021 |
I registered this book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/14219278

Well, yes we are smart enough to know how smart animals are. But we resist knowing, or perhaps better to say we resist understanding what we observe.

For years the mechanistic approach was the only one widely accepted. That is, studies of other animals only reported what they saw and never suggested any "intention" on the part of the animal. All instinct, all living in the present. There were a few scientists who bucked this trend, and now we have Frans DeWaal, who unashamedly posits that humans are simply another animal whose traits are found in other animals to other degrees. Some animals do some tasks better than humans and some do worse. But the real point is that we are not some special species sitting on top of a ladder while all other animals are below us in order.

Animals evolved in different directions in response to different circumstances. Thus a cat has ears that are stunningly better at hearing than a human or even a dog. Thus a cheetah can run incredibly fast. And we might be better at some cognitive skills than others. We can't be placed on a scale, however, and it is ridiculous to compare a dog to a human, for example, to say a dog is "as smart as a three-year-old child". The child can do some things the dog can't but the dog can do things the child can't. They can't fairly be compared in this way.

In this book DeWaal examines animals in a wide range of ways, from social skills to telling time to solving problems. And of course the use of tools. Study after study supports his position that the differences between man and other animals are, as Darwin said, a matter of degree, not kind.

A particularly interesting aspect of the book is his finding that many scientists seem to be unable to overcome their bias toward humans and tend to construct experiments to favor the human and evaluate the outcomes to slant toward human as well. Scientists are meant to be unbiased in this respect but are probably unaware of this bias.

It's a beautifully written book that I will have on my shelf for a while. There is one question I wish DeWaal had answered: he points out that there is a difference in what we can learn from field study and what can be learned from laboratory study. Clearly there are advantages to be found in laboratory study. But the question is: what right do we have to put other animals in laboratories, however benign the conditions? I just wish he had addressed the question. Regardless, it's an excellent book that I will treasure. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
De Waal deconstructs every myth that humans have invented about how intelligence sets humans apart from animals. From tool use to language to anticipating the future, there is no metric that humans can devise (and they do keep changing the bar as often as possible) that can prove that human intelligence is greater, in any way, than that of all other animals.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, which talks about the oldest history of cognitive science, both of humans and of animals, and the very weird things that humans used to think about animals. (It’s so odd to me that anyone who has ever interacted with a pet could think that animals can’t have personalities). Once you get further into the book, it feels reactionary. When the proponents of “humans are definitively more intelligent” move the bar, de Waal proves them wrong, and they just move the bar again. It’s a losing battle. I’d much rather the book talked about cool types of intelligence that animals have, especially those that humans DON’T have. Overall it was a very enjoyable book. I listened to part of it as an audiobook narrated by Sean Runnette, which was very good. I would warn, however, that although there is a leopard on the cover of most editions, there is no discussion of leopards in the book and in fact most of it is about chimpanzees (if I had known this I would not have scheduled my book club to read it right after the Goodall book.) ( )
  norabelle414 | Aug 12, 2020 |
Anyone who spends time around animals (excluding human animals), knows that they are smart. This book was an eye opener about animal self awareness. Humans keep proving that we aren't as smart as we like to claim and the others that we share life with are smarter than we credit them. ( )
  duke_1138 | Jul 17, 2020 |
Terrific stories about the capabilities of animals - completely unknown to me. ( )
  tgraettinger | Sep 2, 2019 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 31 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
... De Waal argues that we should attempt to understand a species’ intelligence only within its own context, or umwelt: the animal’s “self-centered subjective world, which represents only a small tranche of all available worlds.” There are many different forms of intelligence; each should be valuated only relative to its environment. “It seems highly unfair to ask if a squirrel can count to 10 if counting is not really what a squirrel’s life is about,” de Waal writes. (A squirrel’s life is about remembering where it stored its nuts; its intelligence is geospatial intelligence.) And yet, there’s apparently a long history of scientists ignoring this truth. For example, they’ve investigated chimpanzees’ ability to recognize faces by testing whether the chimps can recognize human faces, instead of faces of other chimps. (They do the former poorly and the latter quite well.) They’ve performed the ­famous mirror test — to gauge whether an animal recognizes the figure in a mirror as itself — on elephants using a too-small, human-size mirror. Such blind spots are, ultimately, a failure of empathy — a failure to imagine the experiment, or the form of intelligence it’s testing for, through the animal’s eyes. De Waal compares it to “throwing both fish and cats into a swimming pool” and seeing who can swim...
adicionado por rybie2 | editarNew York Times, Jon Mooallem (Apr 26, 2016)
 

» Adicionar outros autores (13 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Frans de Waalautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Haggar, DarrenDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Marin, CatherineAuthor photographerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Mattarelliano, LouiseProduction managerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Moolman, LislArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Sloan, DanaDesignerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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What separates your mind from that of an animal? Is it the ability to design tools; a sense of self; or the grasp of past and future? In recent decades these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence, offering a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we've underestimated their abilities for too long.

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