(NOTE: This is my favorite presentation EVER at Pop!Tech. This was presented less than 3 weeks before the 2004 presidential election. As a special treat, I got to ask Frans and his wife--and scientific partner-- what Nature wants me to do as a new parent of an infant.)
Renowned primatologist, psychologist and ethologist Frans de Waal wants to convince us we’re all basically apes, saying we’d be much happier if we paid attention to some of the basic principals of cooperative social behavior that even primates are sensitive to. Watching monkeys engage in peace-making, power relationships and reciprocity is a potent reminder of just how alike we are. view Pop!Cast video
Emory professor and author of Bonobo: the Forgotten Ape, shared the findings of his studies of primates, and noted how the behavior we're currently seeing in the presidential campaign is not dissimilar to that of two apes competing for primacy. For example, he said, chimps are prone to form strategic coalitions, even with enemies, as a way of challenging another chimp's power.
Cut to a slide of the infamous McCain/Bush hug. In another experiment, he discussed how capuchin monkeys reject unequal pay. If one chimp gets a slice of cucumber (tasty, but not yummy) in exchange for a pebble, and his pal in the next cage gets a grape (tasty AND yummy), the cucumber-trading primate will eventually retire into the corner of his cage in a snit. Can a lawsuit be far behind?