We Profoundly Underestimate Animal Intelligence
10,000 years ago humans domesticated animals. This innovation led to the belief that humans are an exceptional species, an idea that was further inflated when philosophy and religion conveniently placed humans at the center of the universe.
Today, fixated as we are on reason, humans continue to overlook other types of intelligence that animals possess in abundance. This is the subject of a new book called The Dynamic Human, which puts forward the argument that animals can have cognitive faculties that are exceptional to human beings.
These faculties include the ability to transmit complex information through leaving scents or making varied sounds to communicate across the tropical forest canopy. These scents and sounds are unintelligible to humans, as are the communication systems of killer whales.
We can go on and on and mention that beavers are better engineers than individual humans, just as bears are better fishermen. The bottom line, the authors argue, is that we have underestimated animal intelligence for a long time, and human reason, which we cherish so much, “is just one variety of intelligence.”
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