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  • CARL SAFINA: All right, well, we're

  • going to talk about basically the subtitle of this book.

  • This book came out two days ago, so it's brand new.

  • And we're going to start in a kind of familiar place.

  • Many of us have animals at home, and we've often asked ourselves

  • these questions, right?

  • How many people have asked themselves

  • if their cat or dog really loves them, or just

  • wants food, or whatever, right?

  • That's pretty common.

  • And we think, well, it's impossible to know.

  • But is it really?

  • Is it really impossible to know what's

  • going on in the mind and the heart of our pets?

  • Well, in a way, no and in a way, yes.

  • What's really going on in those minds is the question.

  • Another question is-- it's not showing up very well

  • there-- how are they like us?

  • But I don't like that question so much.

  • It's an inescapable question because they

  • are in many ways like us.

  • But when we say, how are they like us,

  • we put the attention back on us.

  • And us is our favorite story.

  • We like to talk about ourselves.

  • And what we're really supposed to be doing here

  • is asking, how are they like us or not?

  • Who are we here on Earth with is really the point.

  • And what is going on in these minds that

  • are our co-voyagers on planet Earth?

  • Is there any way to get into the mind

  • of an elephant, for instance, or any other kind of creature?

  • Well, I think there are actually several really good ways

  • of seeing in.

  • You can look at their brain and their mind.

  • You can look at their body, at the logic of their behavior,

  • at their evolution.

  • So the first thing is if we're interested in minds

  • is to know where is the mind?

  • In many parts of human history, people

  • have thought the mind is in the heart or the mind

  • is in the soul.

  • The mind is a disembodied spirit that

  • is our eternal presence in the universe, all

  • these different kinds of things.

  • So first of all, where is the mind?

  • And a hint is that if you have a heart surgery,

  • it's not going to damage your mind.

  • But if you have brain surgery and something goes wrong,

  • it's going to damage your mind.

  • Your mind comes from your brain.

  • The mind is in the brain.

  • And we might say, oh, we have no idea if animals

  • are experiencing anything.

  • But we use their experience all the time.

  • For instance, if we want to know if cosmetics

  • are going to sting us, we test them on the eyes of rabbits

  • to see if they sting the rabbit.

  • So if they sting the rabbits, the rabbits

  • are having exactly the same experience

  • of pain, the sensation of stinging, as people have.

  • When dogs are depressed, or if dogs

  • have obsessive-compulsive disorder,

  • they respond to the same drugs in the same way

  • that we give to people-- antidepressant drugs.

  • Why?

  • Because the part of the brain that gets depressed

  • and the chemicals that create depression

  • or obsessive-compulsive disorders are exactly the same.

  • They're not experiencing an analogous problem.

  • They're having the same problem in the brain of a dog.

  • Or even as low as down below vertebrates

  • on the evolutionary timescale, or before vertebrates,

  • something like a crayfish, you can

  • make crayfish develop anxiety by giving them

  • little electrical shocks and making

  • them feel nervous and tense.

  • And so they retreat into their burrows.

  • They stop exploring.

  • They won't eat.

  • You give them the same anti-anxiety drugs

  • that work on people, the crayfish relaxes,

  • comes out of its burrow, and starts exploring again.

  • So these are ways we can manipulate minds

  • with different kinds of tests and drugs

  • to see if they respond the same way ours do.

  • And that's a good way in.

  • Now you can say, well, we can see brains,

  • but we can't see the mind.

  • And that, in a sense, is a fair enough statement.

  • I mean, it's true, right?

  • But I can't see your mind.

  • You can't see my mind.

  • It's always true.

  • But where is our mind from?

  • Where is the human mind from?

  • The human mind is from the minds of non-humans

  • that were here before us.

  • When evolution created-- in a sense-- humanity,

  • humanity evolved from something.

  • We had to use the parts that were already in stock

  • and make a few tweaks.

  • And the parts that were in stock are the highly developed brains

  • of the other mammals from which we evolved.

  • So if you look at a mouse brain, and you look at a human brain,

  • it's a very similar, very recognizable kind of thing.

  • The human brain looks different.

  • It's got lots of convolutions in the forebrain.

  • That's where a lot of thinking happens

  • in humans-- human thinking.

  • If you compare our brain with a chimpanzee brain,

  • you see basically that we are apes,

  • so it's not too surprising that the human brain is basically

  • a very big chimpanzee brain.

  • So it's not logical to think that the human brain only

  • does things that only humans do and nothing that

  • happens in any other brain.

  • It's just completely illogical.

  • We're all very insecure, we human beings.

  • We can soothe our insecurity with the thought

  • that at least we have the biggest brain, right?

  • Except, uh-oh, there's a dolphin brand.

  • It's not only much bigger.

  • It has way more convolutions than ours.

  • It's doing something with all of those neurons

  • and all of those networked connections.

  • We can see the working of the mind

  • in the logic of behaviors of other animals, the fact

  • that their responses and emotions make sense to us.

  • We don't see-- well, we'll go through a few, OK.

  • We say these albatrosses here, they're dancing in courtship.

  • And why do we say they're dancing in courtship?

  • Because that's a very recognizable thing.

  • It happens at the same time that humans dance in courtship.

  • It's something that we do, pre-bonding and pre-mating--

  • same with them.

  • We look at elephants like this.

  • Now, elephants don't do this if they're surrounded

  • by all kinds of dangers.

  • And they don't do this if they're famished.

  • They do this if everything is cool and nice,

  • and they're relaxed.

  • And the parents are still a little bit on guard

  • while they let the babies lie down and not worry

  • about anything.

  • That totally makes sense to us, and it's totally

  • appropriate to the situation.

  • So we can tell by the logic of their behavior, something about

  • what's going on in their minds.

  • They are protective and parental,

  • like we are protective and parental,

  • whether they are humans or elephants or mammals in water.

  • The differences between us are mostly the outer contours

  • and a few internal tweaks.

  • So one analysis is only humans have human skeletons.

  • But it's not true that only humans have skeletons.

  • And only humans have human minds,

  • but it's not true that only humans have minds.

  • When help is needed, help is provided.

  • They're not trying to eat their baby.

  • They're trying to help it to its feet.

  • I love this picture.

  • This is the cover of the book, actually.

  • That's a newborn elephant that has never stood up before.

  • And its mother and two cousins are helping it

  • to its feet for the first time.

  • When animals are very young, they're very curious.

  • They don't know what things like egrets are.

  • They check everything out, because they

  • have to learn what's in their environment.

  • And many animals have to learn just about everything.

  • Baby elephants don't even know that lions are dangerous.

  • They have to be taught by their parents

  • and by example that lions are dangerous, that bees can sting

  • you, and these kinds of things.

  • But when we're young, we do lots and lots of exploring.

  • And as we get a little older, and we

  • know what's going on in our environment,

  • and what we have to do, we tend to be less playful than when

  • we were children.

  • We tend to do less exploring.

  • You can see that in others.

  • And when something goes wrong, or something

  • might be dangerous, you see a very different set

  • of behaviors.

  • And you see them paying attention

  • in very different ways.

  • When it's time to relax and have fun,

  • they relax, and they have fun.

  • Now, no one would look at this and say,

  • I have no idea if the baby is frightened out of its mind,

  • right?

  • It's not what you'd say.

  • You can see that they're just having

  • a nice time in the water.

  • And that not all of their behaviors

  • are driven by the need to survive in the next minute,

  • that there are other things that help us to survive.

  • A lot of these deep motivations like love and like bonding,

  • these things, we don't just do it in the minute it's needed.

  • We develop relationships before these things

  • need to come into play.

  • So the love and bonding of family members

  • is something that provides ongoing benefits in many ways.

  • But we don't think, OK, let's see,

  • I'm going to get ongoing benefits in many ways,

  • so I better love my siblings, and my parents,

  • and my family members.

  • That's just not how our minds are equipped.

  • We just feel these motivations, and then they

  • do what they are supposed to do, what they're evolved to do.

  • Albatrosses have these bonds and maintain these pair bonds

  • in ways that are a bit unusual among birds, actually

  • even a bit unusual among mammals.

  • Because their pair bonds are very, very long-lasting.

  • They can live many decades in the wild.

  • They mate with the same mate every year.

  • And if a mate dies, it usually takes them two or three

  • years to court and re-mate.

  • So you see the deep maintenance of these bonds in them In a way

  • that I find quite touching and really quite beautiful.

  • All right, there are other things that are unexpected,

  • I guess.

  • Only unexpected because our assumption

  • and what we've been taught is that animals

  • have very, very simple minds, and they're not

  • really aware of much.

  • And they just do things without thinking about it,

  • without feeling about it.

  • But it turns out that if you broadcast the recorded

  • conversations of tourists, farmers who farm away

  • from where the elephants live, and pastoralist herders who

  • walk around with spears and get into trouble with elephants

  • around water holes, and fairly frequently hurt the elephants,

  • that the elephants ignore the conversations of the tourists.

  • They ignore the conversations of the farmers.

  • And when they hear the conversations

  • of the herders broadcast out of hidden speakers,

  • they react with alarm.

  • The family bunches up, and they run away.

  • They can actually tell the difference

  • between human languages.

  • And they know which ones are dangerous to them.

  • They react exactly the same way to clothes

  • that are worn by those three different groups, that

  • are placed on trails where elephants can encounter them.

  • And that's been shown with experiments.

  • So let's get a little bit deeper into a question here

  • that is fundamental, which is, can animals think?

  • Well, first of all, the shortest answer is, of course.

  • Because humans are animals.

  • And human thinking is animal thinking.

  • But another thing is, we need much better definitions

  • of