Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review:: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

Title: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
Author: Frans de Waal
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Once again, Frans de Waal comes forward to show us that the animal kingdom isn't how many perceive it. However, once again, his organization is a bit funky and I'm left feeling like I could have gotten more out of this.

The book is very similar in style and content to The Bonobo and the Atheist, although it's focusing on animal intelligence instead of empathy. Animal intelligence is split off into multiple categories, and each chapter covers one of them. However, the categories feel kind of arbitrary to me, and a lot of the science in each chapter feels like it could be in multiple places.

It also didn't help my read-through that I had recently read The Bonobo and the Atheist, and many of the anecdotes he shares are shared between the two books. However, that's not to say I didn't learn anything. Mice feeling regret comes to mind, with an ingenious study that looks on whether or not they feel bad about making a "wrong" choice.

However, if the book had been better organized, I just feel like I might have enjoyed it more. I want to like Frans de Waal more than I do; it's not really him I dislike -- it's his writing style. I really love his outlook; it's refreshingly not human-centric. Which I like in just about every science, but especially biology.


  1. I like his anecdotes a lot, but I agree, there is something off about his organisation at times.

    1. I think it may just be a difficult thing to do now that I think about it. Most of the books in this subject area or zoology in general, they tend to have weird organization.