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The Thoughtful Animal

The Thoughtful Animal


Exploring the evolution and architecture of the mind
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Friday Fun: Liam Neeson and Social Cognition

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I was recently reminded of the fantastic 2001 PBS/NOVA series Evolution, which was released in tandem with Carl Zimmer’s book, Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea.

The whole series is great, but episode 6, The Mind’s Big Bang, was my favorite. And this segment in particular, starting around the 2:15 mark, featuring Andrew Whiten. I think it’s the best video explanation of the “Sally-Anne” test I’ve yet seen, and clearly explains some of the key theory-of-mind differences between humans and non-human animals.

Also, you can’t beat a science documentary narrated by Liam Neeson.

(Here’s a link to a Youtube playlist for the entire episode, in order.)

Jason G. Goldman About the Author: Dr. Jason G. Goldman received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the University of Southern California, where he studied the evolutionary and developmental origins of the mind in humans and non-human animals. Jason is also an editor at ScienceSeeker and Editor of Open Lab 2010. He lives in Los Angeles, CA. Follow on . Follow on Twitter @jgold85.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. BrianSchmidt 11:55 am 04/4/2012

    OTOH, there’s Santino, a chimp in a zoo that collected and stored rocks because he knew he would be angry in the future and want to throw them. If he didn’t have a theory of mind for others, he did for himself:

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2009/03/santino-planned-for-his-own-future.html

    Link to this

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