Scientific American: Why Are Some Animals So Smart?

March 28, 2006

Scientific American: Why Are Some Animals So Smart?: “My own explanation, which is not incompatible with these other forces, puts the emphasis on social learning. In humans, intelligence develops over time. A child learns primarily from the guidance of patient adults. Without strong social–that is, cultural–inputs, even a potential wunderkind will end up a bungling bumpkin as an adult. We now have evidence that this process of social learning also applies to great apes, and I will argue that, by and large, the animals that are intelligent are the ones that are cultural: they learn from one another innovative solutions to ecological or social problems. In short, I suggest that culture promotes intelligence.”

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