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Our Inner Ape

Frans De Waal

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Bonobos and chimps both belong to same genus, Pan (the playfully lecherous Greek forest god with human body and goat's legs and horns . Bonobos species name, paniscus, means 'diminutive'. Chimps are troglodytes, meaning 'cave dweller'.

Bonobos use their feet as hands - holding things, using feet to point, and clapping like hands.

Men won't go to the doctor, not bc they are stubborn, but bc evo has taught them that to show any weakness will, at the very least, result in a rival overtaking you on the status ladder.

In conversation, speakers adjust the timbre of their voice to match other person. The lower status person will adjust theirs to match the higher status person.

Egyptian pharoahs used to impress audiences with a ceremony that was held only once a year. He would stand in a specific spot in the Solar Temple of Amen-Ra, so that the sun would shine down the narrow hallway behind him, bathing them in such brilliance that it blinded the audience, confirming the ruler's divinity.

Although positions in a hierachy are determined by conflict, once established, there is no need for conflict. Thos down the bottom would prefer to be higher, but they settle for the next best thing, which is to be left in peace.

Human society functions on clear status order. We need to judge whether we are talking to a respected leader or a powerless serf/youth.

Human males prefer young women, but not bonobos. They will ignore a young female, who has to beg for sex, and pursue an older female, who just waits for them to come to her.

Women are peacekeepers; men are peacemakers. For males, rivalry/hostility don't stand in the way of good relations. Teams will fight to the death on sportsfield, then spend evening drinking beer together. But if two women get into a fight, they'll hold a festering grudge to the end of their days.

Economists end up believing a cardboard 2D cutout view of human nature. People are both less selfish and less rational than economists think we are. But economists getso many lectures about human rationality and selfishness that they become less trusting, and hence become less trusted.

Any political system that fails to promote its citizens well-being has a problem. Communism collapsed bc ideology did not match human behaviour and needs. Unmitigated capitalism is unsustainable if it celebrates the material well-being of a few while short-changing the rest.

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