Mammals Together Category

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I'm a believer in the power of culture, but I confess here that I'm also a believer in the mammalian instincts that drive a lot of our cultural choices (especially stranger aspects like gossip, fashion and professional sports).

Before you think it sounds like I'm reducing humans to blind instinct, I should mention that I think that mammals (especially the social mammals like chimps, dolphins, dogs, elephants and others) are turning out to be a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

I think it's interesting to compare human behavior to other mammalian behavior. There are some obvious differences (thankfully, we have given up the social butt sniffing of dogs). But some things never change - like the efficiency of peer to peer learning (see dogs teaching other dogs the rules of the household).

One book I recommend is How Dogs Learn by Stanley Coren in which he describes a St. Bernard rescue work training program conducted entirely by the St. Bernards. Dogs can apparently develop individual cultures and workplace habits by themselves.

Fortunately, humans will always have cultural heritage and old-fashioned "free will" to fall back on in a pinch!