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Neuroscientist: “Ultra social ability” makes humans smarter than apes

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Michael Tomasello, author of Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny, explains:

He was asked, in particular, about the pointing gesture:

“So, the pointing gesture. Human infants typically start pointing at around 11 or 12 months of age, and when you point for them, they understand it immediately. Neither apes nor any other animals use the pointing gesture in their natural communication. So if a child is looking for something and you point behind the couch, they know you are intending to help them find the thing behind the couch.

With chimps, if they’re looking for something and you point … they’re clueless, absolutely clueless. They don’t understand that you’re trying to help them. Having unique communicative skills such as pointing—not to mention language as socially shared conventions—is absolutely essential in children’s development. He was asked, in particular, about the pointing gesture: So, the pointing gesture. Human infants typically start pointing at around 11 or 12 months of age, and when you point for them, they understand it immediately. Neither apes nor any other animals use the pointing gesture in their natural communication. So if a child is looking for something and you point behind the couch, they know you are intending to help them find the thing behind the couch. With chimps, if they’re looking for something and you point … they’re clueless, absolutely clueless. They don’t understand that you’re trying to help them. Having unique communicative skills such as pointing—not to mention language as socially shared conventions—is absolutely essential in children’s development.” – Duke University, “Michael Tomasello: What Makes Humans Human?” at Phys.org

Curiously, chimpanzees may not understand what pointing means but dogs, according to other research, do understand quite well… Denyse O’Leary, “Does Social Ability Distinguish Human Intelligence from That of Apes?” at Mind Matters

Maybe greater social intelligence is the outcome of a much higher order of underlying intelligence in humans?

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See also: See also: Dogs are not as intelligent as seals, say some researchers.

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Also at Mind Matters: Why AI can’t win wars as if wars were chess games Jed Macosko and Bradley Alaniz: Is Vladimir Putin right? Will whoever leads in AI rule the world? It’s not so simple

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