Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jane Goodall on what separates us from the apes

By Evan T.

In this TED talk, Jane Goodall is talking about what separates us from apes but also what is similar about humans and apes; and she is using these as examples of why we should learn from apes and the way they are.

Jane Goodall is a very good speaker, and you could definitely tell that she is talking about something she is passionate about, rather than just something she has a lot of knowledge of, even if you knew nothing about Jane Goodall (because if you did, you would know that she is passionate about apes). She starts off by saying how she is happy to be doing this talk and then talks about what she was doing in the rainforests in Ecuador with indigenous people who are trying to keep oil companies and roads from coming into the rainforests, which foreshadows what she is going to talk about later. She then says, " Too often we just see a few slides, or a bit of film, but these beings have voices that mean something. And so, I want to give you a greeting, as from a chimpanzee in the forests of Tanzania -- Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh! I thought that was very interesting, because I always find it interesting when people talk about the way animal’s communicate with each other because they are languages that humans will never be able to speak or at least fully speak or understand. She then states that she has been studying chimpanzees since the 1960’s and that since then there have been modern technologies that have transformed how field biologists do their work and there are things that they can finally do for the first time. Jane talks about a chimpanzee named Ai in Japan who she thinks is the most skilled chimpanzee in captivity. Ai will actually go and sit down at her computer and play a video game, and do it faster than most humans and then she will concentrate for 20 minutes or so and even retry if she is not satisfied with her score in the game, because she doesn’t like making mistakes. I thought that was fascinating. She then compares this to her first discovery, which was the first discovery of apes using tools, when she saw an ape in the jungle using a stick as a tool to get the termites out of a termite mound, and here she is today seeing chimps use computers and even learn human sign language. She then says, “When I was at school, we were defined as man, the tool-maker. So that when Louis Leakey, my mentor, heard this news, he said, "Ah, we must now redefine man, redefine tool, or accept chimpanzees as humans." (Laughter) We now know that at Gombe alone, there are nine different ways in which chimpanzees use different objects for different purposes. Moreover, we know that in different parts of Africa, wherever chimps have been studied, there are completely different tool-using behaviors. And because it seems that these patterns are passed from one generation to the next, through observation, imitation and practice -- that is a definition of human culture.” I thought that was really cool. She then goes on to list many examples of apes showing human traits and emotions and actions that they even do in the same kinds of context as humans would. This all is based around the main point of her talk that she is trying to get across: that we are not the only animals on this planet with personalities, minds and feelings, but most people don’t want to admit that and do not feel this way. That is why we can learn so much from research and studies of apes, because its prove that, though we are the most intelligent life on this planet, we are not the only life, and life with feelings and minds, so we should use our intelligence for good and not take it for granted and be selfish by polluting and destroying other animals' habitats. She then goes on to say a whole lot more supporting this fact, like deforestation and that now because of the roads, instead of the ways it used to be for hunters, where they would only kill what they needed to feed their families, hunters now have so much easy access that they kill anything alive bigger that about the size of a rat, then sun-dry or smoke it and fill up logging trucks and sell it. One of the my favourite parts and one of the most persuasive quotes supporting her points is when she says,"The one thing we have, which makes us so different from chimpanzees or other living creatures, is this sophisticated spoken language -- a language with which we can tell children about things that aren't here. We can talk about the distant past, plan for the distant future, discuss ideas with each other, so that the ideas can grow from the accumulated wisdom of a group. We can do it by talking to each other, we can do it through video, we can do it through the written word. And we are abusing this great power we have to be wise stewards, and we're destroying the world. In the developed world in a way, it's worse, because we have so much access to knowledge of the stupidity of what we're doing." I also thought a good quote from near the end of her talk was when she said,"Even after the 11th of September -- and I was in New York and I felt the fear -- nevertheless, there was so much human courage, so much love and so much compassion. And then as I went around the country after that and felt the fear -- the fear that was leading to people feeling they couldn't worry about the environment any more, in case they seemed not to be patriotic." Which I think is very true. I believe that the number one issue that should be being worked on is helping the environment because it is being patriotic, but patriotic to the Earth rather than just your home country. I also believe that if the U.S. and Canada focused on helping the environment rather than the war, then it would be even less likely that there would be a terrorist attack because other countries wouldn't see the U.S especially as such a selfish country anymore and if the U.S. did this, because it is such a super power, other countries would follow.

Jane Goodall used a lot of emotion and passion in this talk and showed her love for apes and her argument was clearly shown and was definitely very convincing and had a lot of facts and her own knowledge of apes and their behavior to support it. I very much enjoyed Jane Goodall's talk, and I think it would do a lot of people good to actually watch this. She was very convincing and was a great speaker. I learned a lot about how intelligent apes actually are and learned many new and interesting facts.

No comments:

Post a Comment