Frans de Waal: Learning from Primates about ourselves: From Gender to Social Hierarchies
A dialogue with a primatologist who has changed my view of myself
Frans de Waal is not only my favorite primatologist, he is one of my favorite scientist-communicators. His books on primates, particularly on Bonobos and Chimpanzees—from politics to child-rearing and even culture—reveal a tremendous amount about our closest genetic relatives, and hence about ourselves. His newest book, Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist, tackles a particularly hot topic at the current time, but as is typical of his books, this one is both entertaining, and touching, and packed with data rather than anecdotes. I was very happy to sit down with Frans again to talk broadly about the motivations for his career choice, as well as his many years of experience in the field. While we focused on his new book, our discussion ranged far more broadly over the importance of primatology as a new and useful window on humans. I have had the privilege of sharing numerous stages with Frans, as well as hosting him at a previous Origins symposium, and each time I come away with important new perspectives. This podcast was no exception, and I hope you too will come away from it with a different view of yourself and your relationship to the world around you—which after all, is again one of the purposes of this podcast.
Speaking of new perspectives, I describe in the podcast how a video Frans showed me over a decade ago, involving Capuchin monkeys, as I recall, changed my own perspectives on occasions when I experience jealousy or envy, and I think it improved my own behavior, at least a little bit. Once you here him describe it, I wonder, if you then go to youtube and watch it, whether it will do the same for you. Either way, enjoy this entertaining, provocative, and informative discussion with a charming and insightful scientist.
As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers . Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project Youtube channel as well.