You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel?
Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting?
Each week, host Jason Gots surprises some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. Join us and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins, Maria Popova, Mary-Louise Parker, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many more...
Frans de Waal (primatologist) – You’re such a social animal
Love, grief, and moral disgust aren't unique to humans. Like chimps, humans sometimes struggle for dominance, but our first impulse is trust and connection. Frans de Waal has spent decades showing that most of what we believe about animals, humans, and the differences between us is wrong.
- The lifelong gratitude of a chimp de Waal taught to bottle-feed and adopt an orphan
- Trump's alpha male display during the 2016 debates
- How B.F. Skinner screwed up behavioral science for half a century
When I was a kid, there used to be a TV commercial for this series of animal videos you could order that were basically nothing but killing and sex. The tagline was "Find out why we call them . . . ANIMALS"!
"Wait a minute . . ." I used to think: "That's not why we call them animals. Also, we're animals too, aren't we? What exactly are you trying to say?"
That video series was a cynical cash grab, but it's not too far removed from how science has approached animal research, with some very recent exceptions. Generosity? Empathy? Happiness? Reconciliation? These rich emotions and prosocial behaviors were for humans. The animal kingdom was about dominance, survival, and the right to reproduce. Hey, it was a jungle out there.
My guest today, primatologist Frans de Waal, has spent decades gathering field and laboratory evidence that the line between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom is very blurry indeed, and that emotions are the deep connective tissue across species. His wonderful new book MAMA'S LAST HUG will help you find out why they call us…ANIMALS.
Surprise conversation starters in this episode:
Killer robots. Alien invasions. Climate change. Josh Clark of Stuff You Should Know and the new podcast The End of the World thinks a lot these days about existential threats. Believe it or not, he's optimistic.
- Could the threat of extinction be humanity's opportunity to get our collective s#*t together?
- Two centuries since the Enlightenment, the war between reason and belief is still raging. Why?
- Why is it still hard to explain to some people what a podcast is?
- Why hasn't technology given us more freedom?
- Why is eternal life not desirable?
- Why don't Universal Basic Income and other forms of redistribution solve the underlying problem?
In the 1980's, Northeast Portland was a black neighborhood hustling to survive. Today, it's full of pilates studios and handlebar moustaches. As a writer, professor, and former inmate, Mitchell S. Jackson has lived in and learned from both worlds. In SURVIVAL MATH, he puts the pieces together.
- An open letter to Markus, the first black American to live—and immediately die—on Oregon soil.
- "Nobody gets a pass. And everybody gets a pass. If you take a broad look at anyone's circumstances, it's hard to convict them of just being a terrible person."
- "Portland's a utopia now…but I wonder if they know what it cost?"
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