« Freakonomics Radio

329. The Invisible Paw

2018-04-05 | 🔗
Humans, it has long been thought, are the only animal to engage in economic activity. But what if we've had it exactly backward?
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become a member text, econ e c, o n to seven zero one zero one right now or go to Freakin, Alex Dotcom, Slash, dawning thanks again for everything you do and now onto these episodes. here's a question: what is the one thing that sets humans apart from all other animals, I believe it is our curiosity and specifically the curiosity of the. Why and how that is the essence of our humanity, and separates us from all other species on this planet, its build diamond he's president, the Seti Institute that stands for search for extraterrestrial intelligence,
other animal species may exhibit the curiosity of the. What, as in what was that noise? What do I see or smell? Is it a threat or is it a meal and we all know that curiosity may kill the cat. But our curiosity I understand the how and why drives human to learn to explore, to discover and invent all of which contribute. our success? Is a species perhaps sometimes to a fault? Well, I think The thing that distinguishes it from animals most obviously is language, and that is Anthony APP Yahoo teaches philosophy at and why you like Is what makes possible the accumulation of cuts sure it makes possible the very complex forms of social collaboration that human beings do which no other organism does with such flexibility and it's why we're just now, like any other animal on the planet, what does Appian think that other animals dogs, maybe would say if they could?
there's a famous remark evidenced eyes the effective. If lands could speak, we and understand them, not entirely sure what he said. He I mean, I think, the main difference a dog speech would make two dogs are they get over each other and then they Collaborate in ways that they count now, they could say I'll, meet you in five minutes at the sheep pen and stuff, like that. and then they could accumulate knowledge and share it through the generations and acquire more complicated doggie packages of ideas so yet would make you indifference and then we'd have to be met more careful in our relations with hooks my name's kitchen and I'm a behavioral economist and professor at the business school it usually so Keith. If I were to ask you as an economist, what's the one thing that makes humans human? What would you say.
Oh my gosh I mean is an economist. I would say you know: cooperative trade like the ability to form complex social structures that allow the emergence of things like in a cooperation and effective economy. Is that strikes me, as is by far one of our most interesting kind of, differences from animals, so I can see why you'd say that I mean I think of one of the most famous quotes in economic history from Adam Smith, who once RO. Nobody ever saw a dog make affair and deliberate exchange of one behind with another dog. Nobody ever saw one animal by its gestures and natural cries signify to another. This is mine that yours, I am willing to give this for that, but you yourself, I mean you're.
The economist that I know of at least he's actually done. Experiments with animals capuchin monkeys, particularly in tamarin monkeys. That seems to show that Smith was to a large degree. I don't know if I should call him wrong, but doesn't it seem like it was kind of wrong? Yeah I mean so Smith was definitely wrong. Working that made me. Maybe we could defend Psmith and say he really meant just dogs specifically he's chins answer about what makes us human isn't all that surprising. Indeed, we sometimes call ourselves homo economic us because of our ability to trade, to create markets, to respond rationally to supply and demand, but what, if we have that
idea kinda backwards. You're, you should leave out the homo part you're going. Ok today and economics, radio monkey business fish tales and if homo is not the only economic is what does? us us. There is a real challenge in question and I'm a little very reluctant to give an answer to them. Afraid it looks like it requires such requires a lot of thought. We always give thought this answer. the thought for questions on the show that that's I'm happy W and Y see studios. This is for economic, radio, the podcast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host Stephen Abner.
though you see Allay economist Keith Chen did his monkey research back when he was a graduate student at Harvard and then, while teaching at Yale yeah. That's absolutely right. We should say the monkeys at you done, work with components and tamarind their way down the tree from us in terms of intelligence. Yes, well, you know so so I should be lowered for rights. Observe, promote tolerance will tell you that what we know about monkey intelligences very multifaceted, but the monkeys. I work their so called new world monkeys, meaning there found in kind of north and South America? There are more did currently related from us. Then the whole group of of what we call Albert monkeys, monkeys that are found in Africa and Asia and, in general, there less intelligent than old world monkeys. I love that you am. I
But you don't want to insult their intelligence. That summit Uk Agnes settled it might take it personally. Radio and, of course, router smart enough to take it personally. If you call them down here exactly exactly the first monkey experiments, Chen work done with the private. Tell just Mark Hauser explored the ideas of reciprocity and altruism. The researchers would put to tackle in separate cages where they could see each other. We set up situations where you know: one tamarind could pull a lever and it would drop like Marshmallow into your world like monkey aid, poles, However, in a drops just enlargement under your world and then the quest,
his later hour, you nice to this monkey niceness was measured by whether monkey be would reciprocate by pulling its lever to give monkey a marshmallow. Often they did about forty percent of the time this compared to just seven percent the time for a monkey who hadn't given his partner, a marshmallow. The take away for tamarinds was this. You do something nice for me I'll, do something nice. Are you. You do nothing for me I'll pass situation to his monkey, pose a lever it drops of marshmallow into your world and a marshmallow into his world, so like he's being nice to you, but only as a kind of a by product of doing himself, this kind of favor and what happens when monkey be ceases. Marshmallow, as a mere byproduct of monkey is self interest. In this case, monkey be reciprocates only three percent of the even less than if the monkey A hadn't, given him a marginal at all, like a true out surest way,
Does the accidental authorised monkeys, if more united, and did that surprise you that distinction? Oh my gosh yeah, absolutely! This distinction was surprising because it looks an awful lot like what humans do, while making economic decisions. So I do governments on politicians on sea Yos on car salesman and he'll school teachers in school. Kids. That's John list from the University of Chicago he's. One of the foremost practitioners of economic experiment. on humans in where I start is. I say what are the fundamental building blocks from economics that we can test to see if these people conform to economic theories and the thing that you'd point to is the law of demand, it says
I'll buy less. If I face higher prices, it almost seems absurdly obvious. So when I do experiments that, in a widow, increased price. What happens in the markets? Nearly every time politicians C, o schoolteacher. They will always conform to that particular law. Three four five year olds conform to that law, Would you say that may be the one law in economics? It is actually a law. I guess what I really want to know is: is it the truest law of economics laws exactly? I thought, said the truest law of economics laws would be the love demand now. Would it surprise you, If animals, if non human, most responded to that law less consistently than human animals. I guess that one surprise you right there not is as brilliant as us here. I think that
If you talk about rationality in reasoning being important in satisfying this particular law, then I would say in so much as those are important. We should find more violations of that law than what we find amongst human. Such correct in other words those not very brilliant new world monkeys that Keith Chin was working with you to assume they would not respond to the law of demand like we do and one to find out for sure first he would have to teach a bunch of compulsion monkeys to use money. You know that took a long time as money. He used metal washers, the kind you get at a hardware store so some monkeys never get it some monkeys, I mean we gave after about half a year of trying to teach them to kind of patiently pick up a wash and then you know handed to an experimenter who would then traded for food. These
to be younger monkeys that would what kind of like never get the task, but no monkey picked it up Mediately was it was very kind of artificial to them this kind of physical trade, but once some monkeys did learn how to use money and by different food and make choices. Basically, you are able to produce what we would recognizes economic research ass, absolute, so once they understood the concept of money once they started to use it kind of fluently all of a sudden. I felt like a lot of other components of of economic they suddenly became unlocks like they suddenly. in very natural at responding to price changes right, so you know yesterday, apple slices only cost a coin today there on sale in one coin will buy me to apple slices. They immediately got that and respond in ways that you know that look incredibly text economically rational. Yes, so what you just described, desire Call it a price shock rate. Would you say that the capitulation
These responded worse as EL or better than the average human in responding to a price shock was we conducted this relatively technical tasks, but it's called gossip in echo. Mechlin go. The generalised axiom of revealed preference economist. Think of gossip is basically the test which asks like Our humans, responding in a rational way to prices. Like you know, we we don't want to all people irrational just because they like peanut butter, more than jelly or if they like jelly more than peanut butter, but garbed basically says regardless of how you feel about peanut, butter and jelly. You know I'm usually or jolly if we double the prize of peanut butter and it puts kind of bounds on behaviour which will call kind of risk Responses to push ox end when we test the computer. monkeys on this basic rationality of this basic, rational response, depression ox. They pass garb as el, as any human beings that you can test, in fact, it
not until about aged, like ten or eleven, that humans even start to pass Garbutt this basic level that we observe the competent monkeys passing about Peggy Sue Caput monkeys seem to understand price shocks and the law of demand pretty well on that dimension there looking fairly human, but what about some other dimensions that make us human like some of the clerks and biases? We exhibit making decisions. Chen wondered whether those parallels would hold up. As you went down the evolutionary ladder we tested, this kind of long standing economic puzzle, which is called the endowment effect where you give lake you give some. Students, a coffee, mug and others a pan and ask him to trade? It is at the idea exactly so. You know any and when one classes around the country in their first year, half is econ. Students are handed mugs and half her handed pens and
We know the economically rational thing is for half of all students to request a trade. Basically, you either like a pen more or you like a mug more and yet a fifty percent chance of getting what you liked more so about half students to trade for the other thing and then what we typically there is only about you know, somewhere between in twenty percent of students trade instead of the economically rational fifty and that's exactly what was this could put in monkeys as well, we find they look just like countless experiments that you run. With econ one wanna, one students enlarged lecture halls, even though we think the endowment effect as economic language now just described. What you think is the sort of psychological, Oh, you know formation that result in our wanting to keep what is ours yeah? That's something called loss, aversion, loss of Is this basic idea that once you have something, it feels more pain
all to give it up then than it would have felt good to acquired in the first place so quite robustly students, actors, if it hurts two and a half times more to be asked to give up the mug, then than it felt good to be given the mug in the first place, it is almost as if it you know just instantaneously, this sense of ownership makes it a painful loss to give up the mug, as opposed to kind of a small came to tat two acquired in the first place and what that does it we suppresses trade. It means that we, just don't see nearly as much economic activities we see between humans. so keep Chin, found that computer monkeys once they were taught to use money, behaved rationally like we do when it comes to praise theory and irrationally like we do when it comes to the endowment We were surprised every month like every month. We would just be flabbergasted again at how sophisticated our monkeys looked specifically
economic activity, but also subtle ways in which they live irrational and they emotional inexact. The same wasted people do Maybe we shouldn't be to surprise at other primates. Behave like us in these ways we do are more genetic material with them than other animals. That is something pointed out by the renowned, premature colleges, France, to wall. When we asked him what makes women's human I've been doing this for a long time like forty years and the question when humans are different and how they are different is for me a sort of We have question because, for me, humans are primates, said are not fundamentally different. Darwin, of course, that. We descend from the apes, but I think he's he didn't go far enough. We are basically apes does know, good reason to distinguish us from apes and their text.
I miss. You have argued that we should not even have a special genus. We are just part of chimpanzees and bonobos because in terms of dna ninety eight point: five percent identical in every respect. I consider human intelligence and cognition. A variation on animal intelligence and cognition. I don't see it is fundamentally different. Ok, I see dwells point. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised.
Other primates engage in what looks like the economic activity we engage in, but still its remember, Keith Tens experiments happened in a lab after he and his colleagues had painstakingly taught the monkeys to use money. You dont seek pigeons setting up banks and stock exchanges in the wild, and you certainly when expect to see economic activity in animals further down the chain like fish would do very well if that works eat. My has over the past few decades an idea has been percolating through the field of biology that economic activity may be happening in the wild boar. Here about that after the break, but first here is the Princeton sociologist Dalton calmly, when we asked him what makes humans different from all the rest. They, the answer is absolutely nothing one by one, the suppose it attributes that we had thought where you need to hear
have been shown to be present in other species. Crows use tools, elephant. Can recognise themselves in a mirror whales, social networks of the same size and complexity as we do penguins more in their dead. Gibbons are monogamous all of those are polymers ducks. Rape, chimpanzees, deploy slaves, velvet spiders commit suicide dolphins, have language and the quicker we get over. The judeo christian ocean that we are somehow qualitatively different from the rest of the biome, the quicker we will learn to live healthier lives for ourselves and for the planet
We ve been asking people. What is the one thing that distinguishes humans from other animals? since the one thing that makes humans human is our ability to think in the future. Tents in that rabbi revenue, Jonathan sags, former chief rabbi, Britain and the commonwealth. Currently, a university teacher author thinker thinking in the future. Tenth like that notion, not sure I buy it entirely: squirrels,
they're not for the winner. Is the median squirrel really worth saving for the future than the median human? In fact, many of the distinguishing marks of humanity that we ve been hearing about today are well arguable, especially this one. I mean, as an economist, I would say, cooperative trade. That again is the economist Keith Chen, whose own research suggests it monkeys at least, do quite resemble humans when it comes to matters of trade, but, as we noted monkeys are genetically pretty close to humans and further those were nice. Tate lab experiments in which Chen spent many months teaching the monkeys how to use money, What if we were to take this question of animal economics out of the lab and into nature, my name is Ben prayer and I'm a journalist living in Berlin. I write mainly
science and wildlife, prayer really fascinating article four Bloomberg called the secret economic lives of animals. We started or, conversely, with the question we ve been asking everyone else today. So as someone who, written about animals a lot and who is a human animal herself? What would you say is the one thing that makes humans different from all other animals ass it, our question, I think a lot of biologists would say that you know that we do have a lot in common with animals so that it's not really clear where to draw the line. You know that getting ourselves as animals, as it provides, is probably a waiter this and other animals as well, so that we can get these lines are actually getting harder to
fine, that what is animal in what is human is used to see more distinct, getting harder because we're learning more about animal behavior, yeah yeah, when I inhuman behaviour as well, and is what is intelligence, what produces intelligence in animals and find in an unexpected places, and you know and animals that things like Octopus is that are so different from us evolution airily, but that exhibit behaviors at the categories extremely intelligent, then prayers pursuit of animal economics began were many greek stories begin in the foot, as researching something else, and I saw a reference to biological market theory and it struck me as a contract an oxymoron, a biological market, because a market is around with economic activity and only humans engage in economic activity. I thought so. I followed the footnotes back they lend me if I'm wrong no way round. No, I
professor here at the university of first as Bore in France, and are you technically biologists or some other kind of I'm a pure biologists to promote knowledge is to be more exact. Talk to me for just a moment about why you began to buddy animal behavior and how you got started. I have to say that as many biology is to adjust attracted to animals because their front to look at and I was, two mammals, because their dearest, nice and harry- and whatever is still the reason that most of my students asked me to do- primates if you asked in number, I, what are your questions day, go silent and then actually day wanted adventure won't Africa? They want an ice animals and I must admit that trust
the basic reason, those well as it as a young boy as soon as you get into the university of course, are confronted with the fact that you need to ask real questions. The real questions knowing had were about cooperation in primates. He got his star as grad student under France. The wall, in fact observing chimpanzee, is at the arms zoo in the Netherlands by the early nineteen eighties? No, I was observing baboons in the wild in Kenya. In these baboon groups. Alpha males had access to females and kept the lower ranking males away, but no, I found that lower ranking males could band together to challenge the office and if you our successful a that, don't you have a certain time exclusive access to the female to call the consortium the lower ranking males only of a chance if day cooperate together and chase
the high ranking melt away from the female, but there's a dilemma, if too, Low, ranking males, worked together to steal a female from an alpha. Only one of them could meet with the female. You can't split a female into. So how is a decision made? How could this cooperation work at the time there were in biology circles to primary theories of cooperation. One was kin selection, which involves helping out a clue, sleep related individual to make it more likely for your own genes to be passed on, but the baboons. Now, it was observing warrant that closely related. The other theory was called reciprocal. Altruism, you scratch my back I'll scratch. Yours kind like the marshmallow monkeys, Keith chanted studied according to this theory, the lower ranking males should alternate who gets access to the female after they chased away the alpha male there's? U dont Elton! I had done the wonder, did not have
the female. Often enough, should walk away from it should not accept it. Now I was observing three of everyone's been prayer. Again there, although rigging, but with a most powerful one, was named still, you started the best partner in what he realized was that when Stew and when the other boat was successfully chow, the higher mail and drove him off and then has the opportune, mate with a female stew was getting most of the waiting time they weren't sharing at fifty fifty and the other males still form coalitions with him, and that started me thinking about how the heck is this possible No, we realised that reciprocal altruism could not explain the behaviour he was seeing. It had to be something else and has no are observed them more closely. What he really Stew was like a really clever animal stu was more valuable to each of those governments and they were to each other. They want a strong and still feels that he could basically get more mating time after a success is the challenge, because, if the guy who was with tried to say all, I want fifty these stewardess Lienemann NGO work with the other one, and that will reply
happy to Accept- maybe thirty percent of it I must do they not have do it all, and so what no one realises that there is this element of partner choice going on partner choice, that was Ronald noise. Big idea, stew could choose between partners, effectively bargaining to raise the price of his cooperation, and with that in saying no, I realise that what he was observing was an economic transaction part of choices. What drives markets, what drives trade? What drives everything, because you forced the IRA to our bidding competition, and that's basically water market is. We know he published his research The early. Ninety nineties, he called this situation a biological market. There was essentially one the first time is. Biologists. Have really tried to apply economic ideas to nature,
The idea didn't go over so well with biologists or the big biology journals. We, of course, send it to nature, and at night you didn't want to have it. Biologists didn't think economics had much to say about their field and economists didn't one here from a bye I'm just either in the usual slowly arrogant way of economies. They say We knew all this and we have all these models before, but over time. No is biological market idea gain some traction. If you go back to the question of wider cooperation exist in nature. I think that this theory has been accepted as a really credible and correct Aspasia for why that is picked up very slowly. These days it cited much more per year than it was in the early five six year. One. The biologists picked up the gear and extended it way beyond. Primates was a student of noise from my name is read what I'm sorry, I'm a professor, be heavily. Ecology means
study animal behavior, the Sharia teaches at the University of New should tell in Switzerland. He started out doing fieldwork in Africa with Romagnoli and be Shari was good, really good. he proposed to do experiments in the field, which is very difficult for us. So I bought the leopard cluster wrapped around my body and approach monkeys and see how they respond, and I said well, if networks eat, my has until gives alarm calls first, because I studying mix species associations- and he actually did at any pull it off. So if I have it right, you're, essentially climbing into trees wearing a kind of leopard skin, no hope No, no! It's all about leopardess approaching over the forest floor, so I was stoking the monkey. Ok, so direct collarbone, monkeys and Diana monkeys they're, not particularly famous for non premier colleges
because they just occur in primary rain forests in Africa. There are difficult to observe and spied and not that many people studying them. But Bashar decided he did not want to spend his career wrapped up in a leopard skin. In the hot jungle here coming to contact somebody in our lab worked in the Red Sea on fish and Bashar. He thought pay, maybe scuba diving would be better than jungle stuff. I really learned diving because of the project he camped out by the Red Sea in Egypt for a couple of months. I lived in the middle of nowhere in a tent beset little stroll roof above for protection against the sun, no fridge so quite vague in eating. Apart from once a week we go to the next village. there, it was probably the only time in my life tat I really enjoyed to go to make comments once Bashar AL,
and had a dive and started working on the coral reef. He discovered that this habitat was ideal for studying animal behavior. The nice thing about the coral reef is the predatory prayed so close together that if you had as a human, they don't the fish, don't really care about you, so you Amy Lee part of it. Where is, if you studying monkeys in inner rainforest festival. You you spend banya the trading the monkeys to your presence before they hide from you. And one day I used to you, there still twenty metres up in them in the trees in the canopy. So it's very difficult to observe anything in the rain forest rears its extremely easy in a coral reef. One little fish captured fisheries attention. It's called a cleaner Ras Ras is double. You are a s third, cleaner, assessor
Small fish pen, centimetres mucks did lives from the Red Sea to Australia and a hole in the Pacific. This particular Ras is called a cleaner because of the rather unusual niche. It fills on the coral reef. Please are the fish that essentially eat the parasites and dead scales off of other fish little crustaceans little flat worms. That would,
either the mucous I d skin or the blood of the clients. That's obviously like a tick, and you don't want to swim around mistakes. So you go to a cleaner fish and thick inefficient and remove these parasites. Each cleaner Ras sets up shop at a particular spot on the reef kind, like a string of car washes and the client fish line up at their favorite station to have their parasites removed. That's the reason of being so to speak. In a coral reef from Sun rise to sunset eleven hours, they claim to have two thousand interactions per day and a single climbed. Typically, those five to thirty times a day to see a cleaner fish. The cleaner ass believin service predators like the Barracuda one of the other scary. Looking fishes in the ocean, its Gaga crocodile mouth needle sharp teeth and the cleaner ass will go in its mouth and eat. The parasites from between its teeth,
so really one. But Shari was hanging out underwater at the coral reef watching all this cleaner s action and he began to observe patterns. For one thing, there were two different types of client fish there. were the fish with limited range who had access to just one cleaner, Ass Shari called these fish residence compares them to people who live out in the country. They live in a little village. There's one hairdresser. If you want to have your hair cut, you go to one headdress Ella, don't have you have got it all, and then there were the fish with more range who had their pick of many cleaning stations if they didn't like the service they got at one, they could choose another. These fish Bashar called visitors. So this is like two big city life. In other words, if you dont like one hairdresser, you can find another one near by and the cleaner fish know the difference between visitors and residence. What's incredible here is the cleaner asses themselves.
are able to recognise and understand which species officious have other options, and they will actually tailor their level service are depending on the competition, for instance, they might make a resident fish. We, while they service a visitor, knowing that a visitor might take his business elsewhere. If there's a line and that's exactly what visitors are doing, if the service is good, there's a higher chance, did you go back to the same station for your next inspection? If the services lousy you go to a different station for your next inspection, they also provide another service to which, as they use their fins till basically like massage the their servicing and then the predators receive way more tactile stimulation from the cleaner asses, then on predators and make the residents receive much less. This was exactly what the Shari had been looking for. The client fish were choosing their partners.
And the cleaner fish were dialing their service up or down in response to the amount of choice that each client had and as economic theory would predict, the client fish with more choice, reaped greater benefits, Obviously I was extremely excited. I was hoping for this market effect, but there is controlled tension between cleaner asses and their clients, eating parasites and dead scales is all well and good, but that is not what the cleaner ass truly wants. That actually prefers to take a bite of healthy scales or healthy, mucus. This mucus. This is what makes the fish so slime tastes better. It's probably more nutritious, that's actually quite nutritious de mucus protects the skin and the scales of the fish, but if it does that it hurts
the fish replies from away so declined obviously has no interest whatsoever that the cleaner fish, it's the mucous and saw so there is conflict of interest. The cleaner fish once the mucous declined wants to clean. If history parasites and therefore declines have to find means to make to cleaner fish it against its preference. So what happens? The Shari founded the cleaner ass is much more likely to cheat and take mucus from a resident fish. kind of can't just move his business to another cleaner to clean out the car. They can extract the higher price, whereas you know what you're not more open market with a fish. Ten travel and shopping have to raise the quality of service, so they're. More gentle here is something else Bushari found if the supply of cleaner wrasses in a given area, creased, the remaining cleaners, had more leverage so When Bush, I would manipulate conditions in the reef if he like just took happen the rest is out of the reef. The one that remained immediately
taking more bites from their clients, but the clients do have recourse. If a queen harass takes two big of a bite, the client will chase a cleaner away and became a fish will remember that this particular client chased it, and then this particular Klein comes back twenty minutes later half an hour later to cleaner, This room a member. Ok here, my relationship with his client is not particularly good, so I have to make up for fodder that service last time and to clean, officially give disregard a particularly good service and there's no doubt in your mind that they really do remember the individual fish. The heavy did experiments on this, yet Rwanda Shari has by now spent two decades studying the cleaner ass long enough to convince him and
fellow animal behaviorist, that they plainly engage in what humans would recognise as economic transactions and with growing evidence that biological markets exist across a very wide range of animals. Paper wasps, for instance, they live in nests that are controlled by a single queen and they earn their keep by forging for food, but are free to go work in another nest if they like Ben prayer, again its labour, a sort of the price it pays to get into a nest she suddenly double the number of nests. The price should go down, and that is exactly what researchers found. When the number of nests in a given area rose, the worker wasps could get away with foraging less the die. For years, were suddenly willing to tolerate smaller contributions in terms of the amount of time this importance for spending in the field forging so is it like when the unemployment rate. Goes down wages go up. I thought.
but more in terms of like a real estate market. So when there's a a larger supply of homes develop on the market, price of rent is cheaper and when that will suffice, really restricted the price. Frank, goes up the purest biological market, at least according to Ben prayer, lies outside the animal kingdom, there underground Marcus between the roots of plants and fungi as you may remember, from Highschool. Fungi are really good at harvesting nutrients from the soil like nitrogen and phosphorus, while plants are good at turning suddenly, and carbon dioxide into sugar molecules, so both bodies give some molecules tat. The auto needs that again is a biologist. Ronald knowing those markets are, in fact, nutrient exchange markets. The fungus to plant nutrient exchange is
course pretty far from what we humans. Think of as markets. There's no cognition going on there at least what we think of ass cognition. Doesnt trade require an intention to try What about all the emotions that accompany intention, perhaps, but for Ronald no way? That is what makes biological markets more rational than human ones how much economic ass I dont think exists it really in humans, because they are not that rational but natural. So A check on, of course, end up with many many generations and a lot of selection. You can end up with an organism that is doing things that look very rational. It's it's not using reason, of course, its using in aid mechanisms, but it s programme to do things that look very rational. Let's put
that way. That's so interesting! So, as I'm sure you well know this year, Richard failure won the Nobel Economics for essentially arguing that homo economic, as is greatly overrated, you're saying that homo we can chemicals is really that the idea that is probably more fully press. in other animals other than humans and yeah You should leave out the homo part and the guy, I think, the less you use cognitive, can isms delay, Brain you have. If you have no neurons, you have a better chance of being very rational in your behavior. Then, when you use them having He was your brain. You can make all kinds of mistakes. What you just said is a summary of: what's attracted me to economic behavioral economics- these S twenty years, because the anomalies that the holes in the rational theories been pointed out, but when you say it like that, it kind of
Those me away because you'd basically saying that the more we think the more capacity we have four cognitive me: no activity to decision making. The more likely we are to be less rational yeah. There is, of course, a big advantage of using them brain for for all kinds of solutions to your very plastic. You can react to all kinds of novel situations and thinks without brains like Bulgaria, fringy or whatever cannot react in. the key to all kinds of different situations. They are well selected to act in a certain environment if they are in that environment, however, agenda are very good at it today. are selected to do exactly the right thing in thousands, of generations to do the right thing in the right moment and in that respect, if you look at that you would say: well how do you mean react in the same kind of situation in
rational way. He would do exactly the same as that firmness or a bacterium thinking about Ronald newest argument. For the intense rationality of biological markets. I went back to Keith Chin, the economist in light of the biological I wanted to take one more run at his answer about what sets us, apart from other animals, You know, obviously they dont do as much as we do. They don't drive cars, they don't write down, math and so on, and how much of it was an exhibition of August me. No human triumphal is a mere species, superiority that you just assume
because we're the humans in their the animals there's this whole set of economic like activity, but, of course, you're not going to be able to know how much of it was that. Do you think yeah, I guess it would be natural to think the animals can't engaged in very rich economic activity, because you just look out at the animal kingdom and you just typically don't see very rich economic activity right, but when you start to actually test those assumptions by bringing animals into the laboratory and just try and create the conditions for them to learn economic trade and subtle aspects of beauty, maintenance and sheer detection and cheating punishment is that it doesn't take very much that adding just very thin layers of institutions for trust, adding very thin layers which allow the emergence of abstract money. With just immediately engender very, very
economic activity, even among monkeys. So when I ask you at the beginning, what is it that makes us human makes humans here? Your answer was basically be no trade, but you spend a lot of economic research. Life did moving? Your very argument: haven't you? Ok, I have here. I I think that's right. Ok, I feel like I have an endowment effect towards my earlier answer, and I'm going to cut off like it's going to feel painful to get it because it's going to feel painful to give up on it, but absolutely nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog that was Adam Smith's contention.
I think we can all agree that if this sentiment is an outright wrong, it certainly not quite right. In said, Psmith was picking on dogs specifically, will give the last word today. Twenty my very favorite dog experts again on the question of what sets humans apart. I'm Alexander Horowitz researcher and professor at Barnard College. Where run the dog Commission lab, we studied the sensory. cognitive abilities of dogs with my to be to understand what it might be like to be. A dog Horwitz has written a couple of fascinating books inside of a dog and being a dog I've studied and taught animal cognition and comparative psychology for decades. In this question, what's the word thing that distinguishes humans from nonhuman, animals is clearly the drive Force of much research. We might trace back to Plato who described
man as a featherless pipe head, but the smart AL diabetes then plug the chicken and said triumphantly here is Platos man to which Plato simply pivoted, adding ok featherless by paired with broad nails, not clause and so it has been since trying to find the feed that will verify the human species uniqueness its. rotation, its culture, its teaching, its language. It's a theory of mind each confidently prepared, first and then collapsing under the weight of actual evidence. The one thing that makes humans human, our obsession, with asking and answering this question as far as No we're the only species so concerned with distinguishing ourselves from other animals. Of course, research could prove me wrong.
to shape our Sandra Horwitz, and thank you also, please remember that if you would like to donate to the production budget of this pact cast, we would love to have you just text. The word eco You see oh m to seven zero one zero one or go to for economics. Dot com flesh donate coming up next time on for economics, radio, it's almost tax day. How excited you are about that? Wouldn't you like to hear from the economist who helped create the wildly controversial new tax bill, so he had really kind of like a raging problem that required antibiotics of attacks. Reform for economics. Radio goes to Washington to visit Kevin hassock. Chairman of President trumps Council of economic advisers. Has it also the ins and outs of the new tax bill. Why he stayed away from government until now and what it's like to work for this present He will challenge you
in ways that economists often are not ready for its next time on, for economic? Three of Economics radio was produced by w in my C studios and W productions. This episode was produced by Matt Frass occur in Rangoon. Terrace, our staff also includes Ellison Hockenberry Great Resolve ski Stephanie. Tam merit Jacob MAX Mill, Harry Huggins and Andy Meissner, homer. The music you hear throughout our episodes was composed by the we scare up. You can subscribe different animals, radio and apple podcast, or where every get your punk ass. We should also check out our archive FR economics dot com where you can stream or download every episode we have ever made. You can also be the transcripts and fine links to the buying academic research. We can also be found on Twitter Facebook linked in or via email at radio at four ex dotcom thanks for listening.
Transcript generated on 2021-01-21.