Fawl Lecture Series

2017 Fawl Lecture presents:

Frans de Waal

"Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?"

Thursday, March 30, 2017
7 p.m.
O'Donnell Auditorium

Frans de Waal
Dr. de Waal is a Dutch/American ethologist and biologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His first book (1982), compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His scientific work has been published in technical articles in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books—translated into over twenty languages—have made him one of the world's most visible primatologists. His latest books are The Atheist and the Bonobo (Norton, 2013) and Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (Norton, 2016).

De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor in the Psychology Department of Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also Distinguished Professor at Utrecht University. He has been elected to the (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today, and in 2011 by Discover as among 47 (all time) Great Minds of Science.

de Waal to Present His Animal Intelligence Research

Book entitled, "Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?" by Frans de Waal
The wall between human and animal intelligence is starting to look like a Swiss cheese. Whereas a mechanistic view of animals prevailed during most of last century, an undercurrent of scientists nourished a more cognitive approach, which by now has become dominant. It started a century ago with the observation that chimpanzees solve problems with a flash of insight.
 

Initially, this kind of research was ridiculed and suppressed, while a taboo was placed on anthropomorphism. From a Darwinian perspective, however, the most parsimonious assumption about closely related species (such as humans and apes) is that behavioral similarity reflects psychological similarity. Anthropomorphism is actually a logical position regarding our closest relatives. Neuroscience increasingly supports this view, and human uniqueness claims have fallen one by one over the last few decades. Other primates are now seen as political, cultural, perhaps even moral beings. This cognitive revolution has been rippling beyond the primates to include the entire animal kingdom, from tool-using crows to cooperating dolphins. Many unexpected new capacities have been discovered, such as that animals are aware of their own knowledge (metacognition) or reflect on past and future (time travel).

Dr. de Waal will provide a general overview of the methods and findings of animal studies with an accent on primates and elephants, but also including octopuses, corvids, cetaceans, and fish. The central message of this new science, known as evolutionary cognition is one of mental continuity across all species, with human intelligence being a variety of animal intelligence.

 

About Fawl Lecture Series

Psychology professor PDF iconClifford L. Fawl  (1930-2002) left an indelible mark on the Psychology Department at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Chairing the department for over 40 years, Fawl challenged students to think for themselves, integrated innovative teaching programs and designed the laboratory space in the Smith-Curtis building.

In 1975, Fawl started a Psychology Fair that invited hundreds of high school students and their teachers to engage in demonstrations of psychological phenomena. Distinguished researchers in the various fields of psychology were invited each year to present a lecture and interact with our students. 

In 1997, friends and alumni donated money to establish The Fawl lecture series in his honor. There are two objectives for the Fawl Lecture Series Fund: to honor the career of Cliff Fawl and to fund an annual lecture in psychology.

 

Past Fawl Lecturers

Year Lecturer Affiliation

2015

Susan Clayton

Wooster University

2014

Samuel Gosling

University of Texas at Austin

2013

Lisa Lopez Levers

Duquesne University

2012

Ken Keith

University of San Diego

2011

Michael Shermer

The Skeptics Society

2010

James H. Bray

Baylor College of Medicine

2009

Mary Spiers

Drexel University

2008

Alice H. Eagly

Northwestern University

2007

Craig A. Anderson

Iowa State University

2006

Ludy Benjamin

Texas A&M University

2005

Robert D. Hare

University of British Columbia

2005

Christopher Peterson

University of Michigan

2001

Robert Sternberg

Yale University

2000

Margaret Matlin

State University of New York, Geneseo

1999

Richard Suinn

Colorado State University

1998

William McKeachie

University of Michigan

1997

Linda Bartoshuk

Yale University

Psychology Fair Speakers

Year Speaker Affiliation

1995

Ron Comer

Princeton University

1993

Steven Smith

Texas A&M University

1991

David Myers

Hope University

1989

Eleanor Maccoby

Stanford University

1987

Lawrence Wrightsman

University of Kansas

1985

Ludy Benjamin

Texas A&M University

1983

Elizabeth Loftus

University of Washington

1981

Allen and Beatrice Gardner

University of Nevada

1979

Richard Solomon

University of Pennsylvania

1977

James McConnell

University of Michigan

1975

Harry Harlow

University of Arizona

Contact or visit us

Psychology Department
Dr. Marilyn Petro, Department Chair
Smith-Curtis, Room 340B
Lincoln, NE 68504
402.465.2429
mpetro [at] NebrWesleyan.edu