Social skills favoured in evolution

A new cycle of research of baboon behaviour is summed up in a book titled “Baboon Metaphysics” by Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth, biologists from the University of Pennsylvania.  The title is a play on Darwin’s comment “He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.”

Their conclusion, based on many painstaking experiments, is that baboons’ minds are specialized for social interaction, for understanding the structure of their complex society and for navigating their way within it. The shaper of a baboon’s mind is natural selection. Those with the best social skills leave the most offspring.  Perhaps that is why so many with questionable technical skills are so successful, especially it seems in politics.  And if so, this again reinforces the rationale for encouraging development of emotional intelligence in the first 10 years of life when social skills are adopted.

This NYT article discusses the research and offers videos of baboons in action.

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