In This Episode: It used to be that humans thought they were special because we can think. We might be a little special, but we’re not as far above other animals than what we want to believe. And the implications of that are profound.

092: Leaving a Better World is More Complicated Than You Think


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Show Notes

* Help support Uncommon Sense — yes, $5 helps!

* What is the Norden bombsight.

* The book Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina, came out in 2015.

* Other books mentioned: Factfulness (2018) by Hans Rosling, and Enlightenment Now (2018) by Steven Pinker.

* Infant Mortality: The U.S. is #47(!) in infant mortality, at 6.5 under-5 deaths per 1000 live births. San Marino is #1 with 1.7; Iceland 2.0. Also ahead of the U.S. in that list are (in order) Slovenia, Cyprus, Montenegro, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Luxembourg, Andorra, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Belarus, Czech Republic, South Korea, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Latvia, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Switzerland, U.K., Poland, France, New Zealand, Croatia, Canada, Cuba, Serbia, Russia, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and Qatar. Politicians like to say the U.S. has the best healthcare in the world. It’s a lie: we’re not even close on many measures.

* The index of articles/podcasts in this series is


Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham.

Episode 26 talked about the implications of Koko the gorilla, who proved she could think because …she could talk to humans. Not grunts, but American Sign Language, where she could form sentences, express likes and dislikes, and even plan for the future.

Others might say that Koko was a one-off: a particularly smart gorilla, or maybe even that gorillas are particularly smart as far as animals go, not the bird-brains that, well, birds are.

The thing is, animals other than gorillas use tools. Monkeys, for instance, find just the right stick to shove into a hole to rile up termites, which the monkeys eat when they come to the surface. So maybe it’s primates that are smart, leaving the bird-brains for, well, the birds!

There’s a problem with that hypothesis: birds can think too. They even use tools. They’ll grab a rock, get above shellfish on the beach, and drop their rocks on the shellfish to crack them open so they (the birds) can eat the sea creatures.

So, think about that: they not only figured out rocks can be tools ...

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