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.

Think Again Podcasts
  • 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:

David Wallace-Wells on climate change

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
Keep reading Show less
Related Articles

Sharon Salzberg - On Balance

In this episode master teacher Sharon Salzberg considers whether it's ok to teach mindfulness to the armed forces, how practitioners of meditation and mindfulness should balance openness with discipline, and so much more.

Think Again Podcasts


Keep reading Show less

Roz Chast and Patricia Marx (cartoons, words, ukuleles) – the Beatles stole everything from us

The New Yorker-based comedy team on never exercising or going outside, and so much more.

Think Again Podcasts


Keep reading Show less

mindfulness and meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein – doubt comes masquerading as wisdom

In this first episode of 2020, beloved dharma teacher Joseph Goldstein is back for a conversation about struggle, doubt, and growth on the spiritual path.

Think Again Podcasts


Keep reading Show less

Connect with us

How to listen

You can listen to Think Again right here on site, or select your podcast app:

Apple Podcast Spotify Stitcher RSS feed