In his first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982), Frans de Waal compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, the noted biologist and primatologist has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture.
This evening, de Waal turns the received wisdom about animal intelligence on its head. From octopus tool design to elephant recognition of humans by age, gender, or language to a young chimp whose flash memory proved he was the smartest one in the room, de Waal shows how recent studies of animal cognition have challenged our claim to be the planet’s preeminent species. Drawing on his new book, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (W.W. Norton), he explores the scope and depth of animal intelligence—from primates to invertebrates—and offers fascinating accounts that will make many of us think—if we’re smart.
De Waal is C. H. Candler professor in the psychology department, Emory University, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Center, Atlanta.
His book is available for signing.