Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

  • by Frans de Waal
  • Narrated by Sean Runnette
  • 10 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From world-renowned biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal comes this groundbreaking work on animal intelligence destined to become a classic.
What separates your mind from an animal's? Maybe you think it's your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future - all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet's preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have been eroded - or even disproved outright - by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame.
Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers 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. People often assume a cognitive ladder from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different, often incomparable forms? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you're less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of an echolocating bat?
De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal's landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal - and human - intelligence.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Finally the science catches up

This book gives a variety of examples where science has shown different examples of animals acting smart, being self-aware, and in ways we can relate to them.

I like the authors proposition that we should not discount the ability of all of life to exhibit intelligence, most of which is related to their requirements to survive.

As far as consciousness, or being self aware, these are general terms and pretty much subjective even within our species. The author explains this very well, a book well worth the time.
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- Philomath

Can't get over the lisp on the reader.

I think I would have loved the book, but I can't get over the speech impediment of the reader. Found that I was anticipating the next "s" in the sentence and cringing every time. Stopped listening after two chapters.
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- dawn

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-25-2016
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.