Wed, 22 March 2023

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm GMT

What Animal Minds Reveals About Human Intelligence

Justin Gregg in conversation with Robin Ince

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What if intelligence is actually more of a liability than a gift? Join cognitive scientist Justin Gregg for a hilarious and demystifying look at humans, animals, and the meaning of life itself.

At first glance, human history is full of remarkable feats of intelligence, yet human exceptionalism can be a double-edged sword. With our unique cognitive prowess comes severe consequences, including existential angst, violence, discrimination, and the creation of a world teetering towards climate catastrophe. What if human exceptionalism is more of a curse than a blessing?

After all, the animal kingdom, in all its diversity, gets by just fine without it.

According to animal cognition expert Justin Gregg, there’s an evolutionary reason why human intelligence isn’t more prevalent in the animal kingdom. Simply put, non-human animals don’t need it to be successful.

And, miraculously, their success arrives without the added baggage of destroying themselves and the planet in the process.

In conversation with comedian and science communicator Robin Ince, Justin will highlight features seemingly unique to humans – our use of language, our rationality, our moral systems, our so-called sophisticated consciousness – and compares them to our animal brethren. The picture he paints will forever change how you look at life on earth.

Praise for Justin Gregg’s If Nietzsche Was a Narwhal:

“A dazzling, delightful read on what animal cognition can teach us about our own mental shortcomings… This is one of the best debuts I’ve read in a long time, and I dare you to open it without rethinking some of your basic ideas about intelligence.” Adam Grant, bestselling author of New York Times bestseller, Originals.

“Extraordinary and thought-provoking. It is not only engagingly written, but its controversial thesis is worth taking seriously… some of the cognitive concepts introduced…are nothing less than brilliant.” Wall Street Journal.

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Justin Gregg

Psychologist

Justin Gregg is a senior research associate with the Dolphin Communication Project and adjunct professor at St. Francis Xavier University where he lectures on animal behaviour and cognition. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Aeon Magazine, Scientific America, BBC Focus, Slate, and more. He regularly lectures on topics related to animal minds, and currently lives in rural Nova Scotia, where he writes about science and contemplates the inner lives of the crows that live near his home.

Robin Ince

Comedian and co-host of The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Robin Ince is the co-presenter of Radio 4’s multiple award winning The Infinite Monkey Cage. He spent 2019 appearing across the world in the Universal tour with Brian Cox – travelling from LA to Oslo, Wellington to Aberdeen and ending up in Reykjavik after shows at the 02 and Wembley Arena. Robin co-wrote How to Build a Universe (part 1) with Brian Cox and authored other works including The Importance of Being Interested – Adventures in Scientific Curiosity, and his most recent book, Bibliomaniac: An Obsessive’s Tour of the Bookshops of Britain.