What separates us from…the ants?
WNYC’s Radiolab is an NPR program that tries to explain the science behind peculiar and unusual phenomena. While a very interesting program, the two hosts, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, have antiquated attitudes towards animals, in my humble opinion, and are annoyingly fixated on the question of “What makes us human?”
Today I was listening to their Emergence episode in which they discuss ant behavior. The conversation later turned to people trying to trick Google into giving their websites a higher rating and Jad pointed out in a serious voice, “See this is what separates us from the ants right here…”
Really? We are so insecure that we need to point out what makes humans different from ants?
Back in 1988, I read an article in Psychology Today that ran down the list of the different traits that people have traditionally thought separates humans from other animals, and one by one showed that some animals also possess each of those traits. They concluded, tongue in cheek, that what separates us from other animals is that we are the only species that tries to find things that separates us from the other animals.
It’s not much, but hopefully will provide some comfort for those who are searching.