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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

Watch or listen here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

EPISODE # 57

Dr. Frans de Waal — When Animals Weep (and laugh, love, fight, are afraid, get angry, seek revenge, and other human-like emotions)

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves (book cover)

Based on his latest book — Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves — the legendary biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal continues his empirical and theoretical work on animal societies, politics, intelligence, sentience, consciousness and, now, feelings and emotions. In this conversation Dr. de Waal and Dr. Shermer discuss:

  • the difference between feelings and emotions
  • the problem of “other minds” (how do we know what other people, much less animals, are thinking and feeling?)
  • why it took a century since Darwin’s book on the evolution of animal and human emotions before scientists took up the mantle
  • the push back from social scientists that Paul Ekman and other scientists, including de Waal, got for suggesting emotions evolved
  • A.I. and emotions (can we program feelings into robots?)
  • the six different emotions and why there are very probably more
  • the nature/nurture debate in the study of emotions
  • primate politics in U.S. elections: a biologist analyzes the Trump-Clinton debate #2
  • is Trump an alpha male or a bully?
  • the difference between sentience and consciousness
  • animal rights and the future of factory farming.

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This Science Salon was recorded on February 12, 2019.

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This episode was released on March 12, 2019.

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