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Gadagkar, R., 2020. More Fun Than Fun: The Smart Animals That Helped Scientists Demystify Altruism. The Wire Science.

Gadagkar, R Gadagkar, R., 2020. More Fun Than Fun: The Smart Animals That Helped Scientists Demystify Altruism. The Wire Science. In:

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Abstract

Some time ago, I read a remarkable book with a provocative title: Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? Probably not, the author – Frans de Waal, a well-known Dutch-American primatologist – argued. I agree, but I think we should keep trying. After all, human smartness is largely due to trial and error. The inability to know how smart animals are can be a serious professional handicap for those of us who study animals and build theories to explain their behaviour. Our theories may be quite off the mark if our smartness limits our attribution of smartness to animals. But we hope that there are some (not enough, I worry) maverick scientists bold enough to keep pushing the boundaries of their imagination. A major evolutionary paradox concerns why animals are nice to each other. Many of my humanist friends think that we scientists are depraved to think so. What they don’t understand is that our best theories have difficulty accommodating niceness. We love niceties for sure, but that’s not enough. Our understanding of animals from first principles and our mathematics about what evolution should make them do should predict niceness – but they often don’t.

Item Type: Editorials/Short Communications
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2021 05:56
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 07:27
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/68414

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