Bughouse Square Podcast with Eve Ewing has launched, check out the first episode and subscribe now! Read the Story

00 / 00

Discussing the book "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are"

BROADCAST: Oct. 5, 1992 | DURATION: 00:52:54

Synopsis

Discussing the book "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are" about the evolution and the future of the human species. Includes an excerpt of the astronomer Harlow Shapley speaking at the beginning. Includes Carl Sagan reading an excerpt from the book at the end.

Transcript

Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.

OK

Studs Terkel We always wonder, everybody asks, where is the human species going? Will it last? Will it make it? There was the dinosaur, way back. Powerful. Huge. He didn't make it. Somehow, I guess he wasn't aware that changes were taking place in the topography. Now what about the human race? I could think of nobody better to discuss it than the distinguished astronomer, Carl Sagan, and his colleague, Ann Druyan, who's, who is a writer in the world of biology and all sorts of sciences. And a magnificent book that deals with that very question, itself: "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors." Who are our great uncles, and aunts, and cousins, and nieces? And it's a search for who we are. And to find who we are, we have to know who we were, and then, perhaps, what we will be. And that's the challenge. Now we're thinking, [and I'm so delighted?] to have Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan as guests, since I've admired them, as millions have, for so long. Suppose we have a colleague of yours of the past whom you respected: the distinguished American astronomer, Harlow Shapley, was asked that question at the time of--shortly after Hiroshima. And there's a voice of this woman, the Hiroshima, or Hiroshima Maiden, cries out as she recalls the moment of the flash, and Harlow Shapley is reflecting:

Harlow Shapley I've often wondered who would inherit the earth? We understand that the meek may inherit the earth. And, of course, that leaves us out. Will it be mammals? Or will it be fish? Or insects?

Studs Terkel Distinguished American astronomer, on the subject of man, the elements and risk.

Harlow Shapley In wondering about the future, and without actually trying to make a horoscope of humanity, or of life on the earth, I've just tried to list down sometimes what are the risks we suffer? What will eliminate man, if he is eliminated, from the surface of the earth? Will it be the sun running down? Or blowing up? Either one of those, freezing man out or incinerating him? No, because the sun's a good steady star, and, as you know, it's pretty well thermostated to run for, say, ten thousand million years at its present rate. So the sun isn't going to [play out?]. How about stars colliding with us? No, they're too far apart. Collisions that happen too infrequently. Say, in the next thousand centuries? No. No chance of that. I mean, a very low chance. What about the earth getting out of its orbit, and running away and freezing to death in empty space? Or plunging into the sun and boiling up? No chance. We know from our celestial mechanics that the orbit of the earth is constant and will stay just about put. And, so, I think we're safe from sun, from star, from earth. So now, I, must I say, that it looks pretty safe on man for this future you talk about for the next thousand centuries? Yes? No. Because you have one deadly enemy that I didn't mention: an enemy that's at his throat and may succeed in returning him to the fossils, and leaving life on the earth to the cockroaches and the kelp. You know what that enemy is, of course? That's man himself.

Studs Terkel I was thinking, Carl Sagan, hearing Harlow Shapley--your thoughts?

Carl Sagan Well, a pleasure to hear him again after all these years, and since that time we've learned a little bit more, and there are catastrophes which wipe organisms out through no errors of their own--you were talking about the dinosaurs, who seem to have been extinguished by a collision with an asteroid or a comet 65 million years ago. But the general thrust of what Shapley said is absolutely right--on the short term, on any time scale which we are concerned with our children, our grandchildren, and a few generations into the future, by far the most dangerous threat to the human species is other humans. And it's a thesis of our book, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," that the problems arise, in part, because there are aspects of our nature that were perfectly adaptive in the past, that really made evolutionary sense, but that today--under quite different circumstances than humans have ever lived in--they are counterproductive, counter-adaptive, and dangerous. And we argue that if we are to make it through, it is essential that we understand what's in us. What proclivities we have. Proclivities that we might consider good, proclivities that we might consider bad. But if we ignore what's in us, if we pretend that we are different from what we are, then we are in really serious trouble.

Studs Terkel Anne Druyan?

Ann Druyan Well, it's interesting that you chose Harlow Shapley on the catastrophe of Hiroshima. In fact, it was the nuclear arms race, and the some 60,000 nuclear weapons, 60,000 Hiroshimas that we are now capable of that drove us to this project. We were trying to find out why, why we act the way we do? Why we would, why we would amass so many weapons of such mighty destruction. And, of course, going back for the nuclear arms race it took us, of course, to Hiroshima, and the second world war, and the origins of the nuclear arms race. And then, of course, the rise of the nation state, and then back to the invention of agriculture, and then to our pre-human ancestors.

Studs Terkel What adds sufficient drama to your project, this book, is that you began it during the Cold War, didn't you? During the Cold War.

Ann Druyan That's right.

Studs Terkel And it continues with the end of the Cold War. That itself, that moment as you're writing it, and that change is, itself, adds all sorts of urgency and drama to what you're talking about.

Ann Druyan Yes, because we find that after the immediate euphoria of the termination of hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union, it was clear that our problems are by no means solved. That that was just the focus of an excuse, in a way, for us to stockpile these weapons and to postpone dealing with these problems.

Studs Terkel And so we come to the core, the core of the book itself: who is man? And woman, of course.

Ann Druyan Right.

Studs Terkel Who is, or what is man? And this is something, as an old friend of mine said, the psalmist asks the question--here's the guy who is capable of writing "Ode on a Grecian Urn," and the Ninth of Beethoven, and Hiroshima, and Auschwitz, too. The same guy!

Carl Sagan Yeah. That's exactly the point we are laying stress on. If we forget that, if we forget that Hitler and Stalin as well as Gandhi and Einstein are our confrères, our relatives--that's what we're like, that's the best and the worst--then we will neglect to arrange things to bring out the best in us. We look something like the following: there is an enormous range of proclivities that humans have. All of which, by the way, we share with our primate relatives. And society lays a kind of stencil over them so that some of these proclivities are brought out and other proclivities are discouraged. Different society lays a different stencil; different proclivities come up there. And the question is: what kind of a society shall we have? What kind of a stencil, that pays real attention to who we are, shall be laid over us so that the correct, the adaptive set of proclivities, predispositions, is brought out. So, clearly, we have a need for developing our intelligence and our capacity to be educated. And our compassion for others, or a sense of altruism. And to diffuse the ethnocentrism, and xenophobia, and general, diffuse aggression and violence, dominance hierarchies, and all the rest. But all of that is in us. Every one of us.

Studs Terkel So we come back to that question of the duality here. You speak somewhere, you speak of--we speak of nature: "red in tooth and claw." Yet, it's harmonious, too. I mean, the harmony of nature we speak. At the same time, the brutality, the brutishness of it, too.

Ann Druyan That's right. We had to be very careful neither to idealise it, to have a kind of sentimental view of it, nor to say that we are in some way separate from it and superior. This has been the kind of tragic flaw that run through Western philosophies, starting with Aristotle, Plato, Rousseau, Kant. All of these guys disagreed about many things, but they could agree on one thing: humans--but, of course, they always said man--was somehow different in kind from the rest of nature, not in degree.

Studs Terkel Yeah. So, it's in kind, not degree? Of course--

Ann Druyan Well, but what--I think the findings of science over the last couple of hundred years all point in another direction--saying that we are, we were not separately created in God's image, separate from the rest of nature. But, in fact, we are part of that fabric. And when we screw around with it, we are endangering ourselves.

Carl Sagan See, the prejudice, the conceit was that there were certain characteristics of human beings which made an unbridgeable gap between us and all the other animals. And different people had different ideas what that might be: self-awareness, rational thinking, language, altruism, politics, religion, art, music--

Ann Druyan Ethics.

Carl Sagan Ethics. And when we look closely at what is known, just in the standard scientific literature, we find that on every one of these counts--every single one of them--other animals, especially our closest relatives, the chimps and the bonobos, have these qualities.

Studs Terkel It is this very thing that you were talking about, when we speak of man we know that those who oppose--still, you must be aware there's tremendous--more than we think--opposition to Darwin. In Girard, Pennsylvania, which is a northern city near Erie--blue collar, working-class town--I was there for one reason or another, and of the class of 20 kids, 18, of course, laughed when the subject of evolution came up. There's one crazy family, they said. We know the girl--she's a little nutty. They believe in evolution. The rest

Ann Druyan

Studs Terkel Wow. The rest were creationists. So you see, we have a long way to go.

Carl Sagan There's no question about it. And this is one of many examples where the truths of science are uncongenial to many. They are cold. They don't speak to our wishes to be taken care of, to feel that the future will be bright no matter what we do, that there is some force that will save us from ourselves. The idea of evolution as blind, as stochastic, as predominantly a sequence of random events in which what works is saved and what doesn't work is thrown away, that is not congenial. And so, many people--I mean, it's characteristic of religions to invent stories that are comfortable, never mind whether they correspond to the facts--and this is merely an example of that.

Studs Terkel In our, thinking, throughout the book, there are these cases we'll come to, what you call primate ethics--the chimp. How he did something, perhaps humans can't do, as far as ethics is concerned. Before that, just to extend to what Carl Sagan said, rather than face the truth there, you speak of the great debate here, after Darwin, between Thomas Huxley backing it, and [unintelligible]--

Ann Druyan Wilberforce.

Studs Terkel Bishop Wilberforce was furious--and that's, what is it that Huxley said? I'd rather be descended from apes than be afraid to face the truth? Something like that.

Ann Druyan That's a good, that's a really good paraphrase of what he said. Yeah. I'd rather be descended from apes than know the truth and be afraid to face it.

Studs Terkel But who are these apes? I mean, who are these chimps? And now we come--we say, "this guy's a beast," or "the bestial nature is"--wait a minute. Some of these we call beasts are quite remarkable people, very--they are our cousins.

Ann Druyan They are our cousins. Perhaps, the ones who come to my--my heroes, are the macaques, who are also known as rhesus monkeys. And when given, when participating in a horrendous experiment in the 1960s, in which they were offered food as a reward for shocking their fellows, for shocking other macaques, an enormous number of them, some 60 percent, in every experiment refused to do so. They preferred to go hungry rather than to inflict pain on their fellows. In one course of the experiment, 87 percent of the macaques said no to the food rather than inflict pain. And, in some cases, this was after two weeks of not being given any food. Now, this is a kind of ethical conduct that, if we could say that 60 percent, or 87 percent of our fellows would rather go hungry than exploit us, than inflict pain on us, we would be far more optimistic about the human species. This is ethics on the highest level. And people come up with explanations of why it's just a reflex, or it's not the same thing. But when we act ethically, how is that any different?

Carl Sagan Well, if it's a reflex, I wish we had more of that reflex. You know, when the tables are turned, if you would ask, what happens if macaque scientists [would offer?] that same deal to humans, we know that humans don't do nearly as well, because of the experiments of Stanley Milgram in which, not food for a starving person, but five bucks for pressing a button, people were perfectly happy to shock their fellows.

Studs Terkel Extend this. I think this is a key to so much of the misconception, perhaps, through the years thanks to one form of religion or another, or myth, or--that we are [special?]. A moment ago, Ann was pointing out, as you in your book do, these macaque monkeys actually suffered themselves, were denied, would deny themselves food than do something to shock or hurt another of their species. And, so, you, Carl Sagan, pointing out an experiment, a Milgram experiment, in which actors were playing the roles of people about to be victimized, shocked. When the students were chosen, were ordered: "You follow orders!" It was about following orders.

Carl Sagan That's right. So, it goes like--

Studs Terkel Orders. Why don't you tell that?

Carl Sagan It goes like this: these were experiments that were first done at Yale with students, but then they were done with blue-collar people, and it went to lots of other parts of the country. Now it's been done all over the world, so it's clear that this isn't some quirk of college students, this is common to humans all over the world. For five or ten bucks you come in and do an experiment. As far as you know the experiment is merely on the instructions of a scientist to turn a dial. But the dial is hooked up, you are told, to a kind of electric chair. In that electric chair is a person who you can hear but cannot see. And the dial has markings on it with, say, you know, dangerous, deadly, lethal. And you, and as you turn up the dial, under the encouragement of the scientist who says it's an experiment, don't worry about it, you can hear the cries and screams of the actor who is playing the role of a victim. And while some people are reluctant to turn up the dial too much past there, especially when the victim says, "I have a heart attack! I have a heart condition! This is bad for me!" The vast majority of people will continue to turn it up to what they believe is lethal levels merely because the scientist said, "Oh, don't worry about it. I will take responsibility." And, so, this has to do, partly with how much of the macaque ethics is in us--not much, it looks like--and also, partly with our penchant for doing whatever authority tells us to do. If there wasn't a scientist there saying, "It's okay, I take the responsibility, you must do it," then most people will not, beyond a certain level of shocking, do it. We are creatures who evolved in dominance hierarchies, both males and females. It is a central fact of our politics. We haven't evolved out of it. And if we neglect this area about ourselves, if we pretend we're not creatures of dominance hierarchies, then we miss a fundamental way of improving our politics and our government.

Studs Terkel So if I were called by someone who fears me, "You're nothing but a macaque monkey!" I should thank you very much, [I'm deeply moved?].

Ann Druyan You say, "What a compliment!"

Carl Sagan Right, right. [And when people say?]--

Ann Druyan Yes. I aspire to be one.

Carl Sagan And when people say bestial, bestial, you know, that's beast-like, well, there's a lot of things in those beasts we would be happy to have more of.

Studs Terkel Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and their book is "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," which, I imagine, it's the first of a series. [As we go?], this, what we--where we came from.

Carl Sagan That's it.

Studs Terkel How our [families' scutcheon?], the search for who we are. Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan. You said, we talked in here, about a moment ago, says, "Well, man by very nature is warlike. There are always going to be wars, always going to be"--but you were pointing out something interesting a moment ago--that they were following orders in that experiment with the Yale students, following orders. You [point out?] that is something called, whimsically enough, statecraft, or politics, or forces from man himself that leads to some of the depredations, not something innate in man. Of course, there are two aspects here.

Ann Druyan You know, usually when people say man I object, because I am a human on this earth.

Studs Terkel When they what?

Ann Druyan Usually when people say man to subsume all of--

Studs Terkel Of course.

Ann Druyan Our species I object, usually, because I'm a humanist and a feminist. But, in this case, I think man is, perhaps, the right term because we're talking about a particular quality--

Studs Terkel Or the macho.

Ann Druyan Of--yes, exactly, of a kind of biological makeup of males, that's different, somewhat different from females. And I think it's a fair distinction to make.

Carl Sagan Now, on this issue of dominance hierarchy, you know, you can see it--you can see it among hens, where the phrase "pecking order" comes. You can certainly see it in almost every one of the primates, and you can absolutely see it in the primates most closely related to us, the chimps. The chimps have 99.7% of their active genes that are identical with ours. There's no question we can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at them. What is their attitudes towards dominance and submission? The, first off, the males have a ladder, a hierarchical ladder with the top, the top chimp scientists call alpha and the bottom chimp call omega, after the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and intermediate guys in the ladder have intermediate levels of dominance. Everybody bows and scrapes before the alpha. The alpha has dining and sexual privileges but also has certain statecraft responsibilities: reassuring people, the other chimps, that he's not angry at them. Leading in warfare. Helping to procure food, especially hunting. And if you look closely, we find it's just irresistible to see parallels with human institutions, especially in the times of great stress, but also not only in times of stress. I mean things like political hierarchies, street and motorcycle gangs, academic hierarchies, police hierarchies, military hierarchies, corporate hierarchies, monarchies; the kind of politics that Machiavelli described in Renaissance Italy. If you look closely, it's just a dead ringer for the kind of hierarchical politics, with balance of power moderation, that you see in the chimps. We have something to learn about ourselves by studying the chimps.

Studs Terkel Who we were, where we came from, who we are. Just as you're saying this--hierarchies--also, people we call radicals, or troublemakers, often are the ones who--they're questioning orders, unlike those students who accepted orders. And there's a passage here, in the book of Sagan and Druyan, I find very stunning. The analogy--you're talking about organisms now, these [very?] primitive and--it's, if I could quote this: "It's as if, for every million dyed-in-the-wool conservative organisms, there's one radical who's out to change things (although usually very small things);" This has been--you're talking about amoeba and everything, going way back--but "for every one of the radicals, only one in a million actually knows what it's talking about--providing a significantly better survival plan than the one currently fashionable. And yet the evolution of life is determined by these revolutionaries." That's a stunning passage. We go right to the beginning, that there are these little--whatever they are--

Carl Sagan What we're talking about there is the evolutionary process, in which the mutations, even, as you say, in very humble one-celled organisms, the mutations are random. They are a departure from how things are done right now. And, after all, things must be done pretty well right now, because the organisms are alive. Most changes will be harmful, in the same sense that if you drop a watch from a tall building, you're unlikely to make it work better as a result. The likelihood that a mutation will improve the adaptive qualities of the organism are very small. And, yet, these random changes that only very rarely are helpful, are the means by which life evolves. Now, in our time it's very different. We don't have to depend on random mutations. We can, to some level, within human fallibility limits, sit down and see what's wrong and devise solutions in a way that random mutation never could.

Ann Druyan There's something else hopeful, which I'd like to point out, and that is that for most of human history we were not living in this kind of vicious, violent, brutal, alienated society. In fact, for the great, the largest part of human history, perhaps, a million years, we were hunter gatherers. We lived in small groups. We wandered. We had no real turf. We had no possessions. And, so, I really would like to dispel the notion that there is something in us, innately, which causes us to constantly inflict so much damage on ourselves. In fact, it looks to be very much that it's human social organization, the way it is constituted at this moment, that brings out the worst in us. And, so, we not only want to know who we are and why we act this way, but we want to figure out a more constructive way that we could live which would be more humane and bring out the best in us.

Carl Sagan If I could just add to that--there are, as we say in the last chapters of "Shadows," there are real reasons for optimism, for hope. Because, well, take this issue of dominance hierarchies. Now, it used to be institutionalized in human society all over the world as monarchy--divine right of kings. So you have the great philosophers saying that it is God's intention that we should bow and scrape before these monarchs and if we have any complaint take it up in the hereafter. There things will all be rectified. And the great religious leaders said the same thing. Look at the enormous vested interest in maintaining these monarchical political forms. And, yet, today they hardly exist. You have a small amount of pomp and costume left in Buckingham Palace and a few other places; it's almost gone. There's been a stirring and worldwide revolution that has overthrown what you might have thought was so deeply ingrained in us--because look at our primate relatives--that we could never get loose of it. But we have. And the same thing is true of chattel slavery. Here, again, the great philosophers--Aristotle said slavery was natural and God-given; some people naturally slaves, some people naturally masters. And all sorts of religious people said that. And the white slave owners in the antebellum South said that we should keep slaves for religious reasons. Well, there's hardly anybody on earth who thinks chattel slavery is good anymore. We are capable of real change.

Studs Terkel See, what's good about your book--Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, the book "Shadows of our Forgotten Ancestors--that you can apply this to the social-political aspects of our society. We have Social Security--following the analogy--well, when that first was put forth in the 30s, during the New Deal days, "well that's socialism, that will make people indolent", and no one questions the need for Social Security today. But then, of course, considered horrendous. So, we're talking about--.

Carl Sagan The graduated income tax was considered a communist plank, because of Marx and Engels talked about it in "The Communist Manifesto".

Ann Druyan And, to me, what is the Bill of Rights, but a way to obviate the control of the alpha over everybody else? What is the Bill of Rights but a way of saying we need protection from these alphas. They get out of hand. They have a tendency to go nuts. They push us around. As a 43-year old woman, who was born in a world which was so egregiously sexist, and the attitudes about women were so incredibly unfair and inaccurate, that's changed so much in my lifetime. So I have tremendous hope that we have the capacity to do this. But it's a race. We're running in a race.

Studs Terkel Of course, what you're saying, both of you are paraphrasing Einstein, too--one of the things [he said?] before he died. I'll paraphrase badly, as "Everything in the world has changed. The Quantum Leap has occurred"--technologically--"Everything will never be the same"--since the atom was split, certainly--"will never be the same. Only one thing hasn't changed: the way we think."

Carl Sagan But, but, you see, what Ann and I are saying is, that that has changed.

Studs Terkel That has. Yeah. Right. It's changing at a fantastic

Ann Druyan

Carl Sagan has. Yeah. Right. It's changing. Yes. It's changing at a fantastic pace. [Of course,? Because?] these changes are happening much more quickly than biological evolution can go. So these must be drawing upon proclivities that we already have in us.

Ann Druyan Exactly. In fact, this past summer when Patrick Buchanan made this appeal, I think, to division and to, I think, some of the things that are worst in us, wasn't it remarkable, and at a time of real economic hard times, people did not go for it? They turned away from it. They said we don't want any more of this stuff. So I think we are changing our way of thinking.

Carl Sagan And what Buchanan was essentially giving is the hamadryas baboon political platform: ethnocentrism, xenophobia, fit into a dominance hierarchy.

Ann Druyan Oppress the females.

Carl Sagan Oppress the females. And it didn't sell. That's a very positive sign.

Studs Terkel On that point--the perversion of a truth discovered, say, by Darwin, we have the phrase "social Darwinism."

Ann Druyan Yes.

Studs Terkel And using it in precisely the opposite way. That is to [unintelligible] people, we are--

Ann Druyan Yes.

Studs Terkel The survival of the fittest.

Ann Druyan Yes.

Studs Terkel Used in a predatory way.

Ann Druyan Yes. Exactly. In fact, Darwin has been sorely misused in a number of ways. When he first revealed that we were related to the other non-human primates, immediately people were willing to look at the poorest and the weakest among us and say, "See? They act like these, these monkeys." In fact, they didn't turn this same insight, which was equally applicable to the House of Lords, and to Wall Street, and to everywhere else. They only wanted to see it in terms of those among us who they were most distanced from. And, of course, when you--I look when the president is riding high in the polls, and he walks down the aisle after giving the State of the Union speech, and you see all of those betas reaching out to be touched by him.

Studs Terkel I like that.

Ann Druyan Just exactly as if he were what he is, which is the alpha male of the moment. I think it's undeniable that it's equally applicable to every area of human existence.

Studs Terkel Before we take our next break, and perhaps we'll speak of the matter of our close relatives, the primates, especially the chimps. And tools. We'll come to that. And how they think. We'll come to that. Before that, she spoke of the--Ann Druyan did--of the betas. These are these male guys, all got--even, to make your point in more dramat--look at old newsreels. You see Congress, or you see gatherings, all white males, mostly middle class, middle age. Today you'll find more and more different colors here and there spotting it--more should be--but more and more women, certainly. So we'll notice changes that you're talking about.

Carl Sagan But, if the organization of government were to reflect the composition of the citizenry, you would have half the members of Congress be women. Half the members of Congress--of the Cabinet--half the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and we're nowhere near anything like that. So we have minor token representation. Even if all the women running in the forthcoming election win, it's still nowhere near a proportional representation.

Studs Terkel "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" is the book. We'll come--this is the first of a series, I take it? The search for who we are. You speak of the whole evolutionary aspect, and the one-cellular animals, all the way up to our closest--the primates and the chimps. Man is known as a tool-making, tool-using animals. They are too. Chimps.

Carl Sagan Yeah. It's amazing. And such a disappointment to those of us who had hope that that was our distinction. That that was the unbridgeable gap between us and everybody else. So, to give an example that we describe in "Shadows," chimps like to eat termites. Termites live in big termite mounds, and they're an excellent source of protein, and chimps have devised a technology to get to the termites. Briefly, what they do, in the morning they rub away the barriers that the termites have erected over the entries into their mound at night. They go and find a suitable reed, strip off the leaves and branches, insert it at the right angle at the right speed, put it all the way in the mound, wiggle it so that it is enticing to termites to climb aboard, and then pull it out in such a way that it doesn't strip off the termites, and then yum-yum. Now, an anthropologist named Géza Teleki spent months under the tutelage of a chimp named Leakey trying to--

Studs Terkel After Leakey!

Carl Sagan After L.S.B. Leakey, the famous anthropologist, paleo-anthropologist, trying to learn this technology. He failed utterly. He saw them clean away the entrances to the doorways into the mounds, but he couldn't see how they knew it. He could see no--the termites were so good at covering up, he didn't understand how the chimps were able to do it. He couldn't find the right kind of reed, he couldn't strip it correctly, when he put it in it would accordion up or, and he couldn't get the termites to get on it, and he would pull it out in a way that would strip them off. In months of trying to duplicate chimp technology, he failed. On the vaunted ground of human superiority, we don't do as well as an adolescent chimp. Now, this is not to say that chimps make nuclear weapons or even a fire, but it's a very important fact that they are, as we are, technological.

Studs Terkel The year is 1929: I got Psychology One at Crane Junior College, and because my interests in this particular lesson of this teacher, I missed out on the first game of the World Series. I coulda gone, between the Cubs--I was so furious. But, I remember what--

Carl Sagan Cubs and the Yankees?

Studs Terkel Eh?

Carl Sagan Yankees--Cubs and Yankees?

Studs Terkel No, Cubs and the Athletics.

Carl Sagan 1929? Huh.

Studs Terkel 1929. Yeah. [crosstalk] Athletics--that's what--And saw a game in which a guy slow pitches, slow--[you know?] Ehmke instead of Grove, anyway, he struck out 13 Cubs. Missed that because Professor [Kraut?] was talking about a gorilla--was the gorilla Sultan?

Carl Sagan It was a chimp.

Studs Terkel A chimp, named Sultan, and there were bananas he couldn't reach on a stalk, and he notices a stick on the ground and a little stool. And he did everything--he connected the stick, the stool, the bananas. He got it. That's [unintelligible]. That's like the getting the termites out, too.

Carl Sagan Yeah, and, in the case of Sultan, there was even a moment when the scientist thought he could see the light bulb go off. You know, in which Sultan was looking longingly at the bananas, then at the stick, then at the stool, and then sort of stood bolt upright, too, as the thought came across him and then stood up on the stool and used the stick to knock down the banana. That is also rudimentary tool using.

Studs Terkel

Ann Druyan We always wonder, everybody asks, where is the human species going? Will it last? Will it make it? There was the dinosaur, way back. Powerful. Huge. He didn't make it. Somehow, I guess he wasn't aware that changes were taking place in the topography. Now what about the human race? I could think of nobody better to discuss it than the distinguished astronomer, Carl Sagan, and his colleague, Ann Druyan, who's, who is a writer in the world of biology and all sorts of sciences. And a magnificent book that deals with that very question, itself: "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors." Who are our great uncles, and aunts, and cousins, and nieces? And it's a search for who we are. And to find who we are, we have to know who we were, and then, perhaps, what we will be. And that's the challenge. Now we're thinking, [and I'm so delighted?] to have Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan as guests, since I've admired them, as millions have, for so long. Suppose we have a colleague of yours of the past whom you respected: the distinguished American astronomer, Harlow Shapley, was asked that question at the time of--shortly after Hiroshima. And there's a voice of this woman, the Hiroshima, or Hiroshima Maiden, cries out as she recalls the moment of the flash, and Harlow Shapley is reflecting: I've often wondered who would inherit the earth? We understand that the meek may inherit the earth. And, of course, that leaves us out. Will it be mammals? Or will it be fish? Or insects? Distinguished American astronomer, on the subject of man, the elements and risk. In wondering about the future, and without actually trying to make a horoscope of humanity, or of life on the earth, I've just tried to list down sometimes what are the risks we suffer? What will eliminate man, if he is eliminated, from the surface of the earth? Will it be the sun running down? Or blowing up? Either one of those, freezing man out or incinerating him? No, because the sun's a good steady star, and, as you know, it's pretty well thermostated to run for, say, ten thousand million years at its present rate. So the sun isn't going to [play out?]. How about stars colliding with us? No, they're too far apart. Collisions that happen too infrequently. Say, in the next thousand centuries? No. No chance of that. I mean, a very low chance. What about the earth getting out of its orbit, and running away and freezing to death in empty space? Or plunging into the sun and boiling up? No chance. We know from our celestial mechanics that the orbit of the earth is constant and will stay just about put. And, so, I think we're safe from sun, from star, from earth. So now, I, must I say, that it looks pretty safe on man for this future you talk about for the next thousand centuries? Yes? No. Because you have one deadly enemy that I didn't mention: an enemy that's at his throat and may succeed in returning him to the fossils, and leaving life on the earth to the cockroaches and the kelp. You know what that enemy is, of course? That's man himself. I was thinking, Carl Sagan, hearing Harlow Shapley--your thoughts? Well, a pleasure to hear him again after all these years, and since that time we've learned a little bit more, and there are catastrophes which wipe organisms out through no errors of their own--you were talking about the dinosaurs, who seem to have been extinguished by a collision with an asteroid or a comet 65 million years ago. But the general thrust of what Shapley said is absolutely right--on the short term, on any time scale which we are concerned with our children, our grandchildren, and a few generations into the future, by far the most dangerous threat to the human species is other humans. And it's a thesis of our book, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," that the problems arise, in part, because there are aspects of our nature that were perfectly adaptive in the past, that really made evolutionary sense, but that today--under quite different circumstances than humans have ever lived in--they are counterproductive, counter-adaptive, and dangerous. And we argue that if we are to make it through, it is essential that we understand what's in us. What proclivities we have. Proclivities that we might consider good, proclivities that we might consider bad. But if we ignore what's in us, if we pretend that we are different from what we are, then we are in really serious trouble. Anne Druyan? Well, it's interesting that you chose Harlow Shapley on the catastrophe of Hiroshima. In fact, it was the nuclear arms race, and the some 60,000 nuclear weapons, 60,000 Hiroshimas that we are now capable of that drove us to this project. We were trying to find out why, why we act the way we do? Why we would, why we would amass so many weapons of such mighty destruction. And, of course, going back for the nuclear arms race it took us, of course, to Hiroshima, and the second world war, and the origins of the nuclear arms race. And then, of course, the rise of the nation state, and then back to the invention of agriculture, and then to our pre-human ancestors. What adds sufficient drama to your project, this book, is that you began it during the Cold War, didn't you? During the Cold War. That's right. And it continues with the end of the Cold War. That itself, that moment as you're writing it, and that change is, itself, adds all sorts of urgency and drama to what you're talking about. Yes, because we find that after the immediate euphoria of the termination of hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union, it was clear that our problems are by no means solved. That that was just the focus of an excuse, in a way, for us to stockpile these weapons and to postpone dealing with these problems. And so we come to the core, the core of the book itself: who is man? And woman, of course. Right. Who is, or what is man? And this is something, as an old friend of mine said, the psalmist asks the question--here's the guy who is capable of writing "Ode on a Grecian Urn," and the Ninth of Beethoven, and Hiroshima, and Auschwitz, too. The same guy! Yeah. That's exactly the point we are laying stress on. If we forget that, if we forget that Hitler and Stalin as well as Gandhi and Einstein are our confrères, our relatives--that's what we're like, that's the best and the worst--then we will neglect to arrange things to bring out the best in us. We look something like the following: there is an enormous range of proclivities that humans have. All of which, by the way, we share with our primate relatives. And society lays a kind of stencil over them so that some of these proclivities are brought out and other proclivities are discouraged. Different society lays a different stencil; different proclivities come up there. And the question is: what kind of a society shall we have? What kind of a stencil, that pays real attention to who we are, shall be laid over us so that the correct, the adaptive set of proclivities, predispositions, is brought out. So, clearly, we have a need for developing our intelligence and our capacity to be educated. And our compassion for others, or a sense of altruism. And to diffuse the ethnocentrism, and xenophobia, and general, diffuse aggression and violence, dominance hierarchies, and all the rest. But all of that is in us. Every one of us. So we come back to that question of the duality here. You speak somewhere, you speak of--we speak of nature: "red in tooth and claw." Yet, it's harmonious, too. I mean, the harmony of nature we speak. At the same time, the brutality, the brutishness of it, too. That's right. We had to be very careful neither to idealise it, to have a kind of sentimental view of it, nor to say that we are in some way separate from it and superior. This has been the kind of tragic flaw that run through Western philosophies, starting with Aristotle, Plato, Rousseau, Kant. All of these guys disagreed about many things, but they could agree on one thing: humans--but, of course, they always said man--was somehow different in kind from the rest of nature, not in degree. Yeah. So, it's in kind, not degree? Of course-- Well, but what--I think the findings of science over the last couple of hundred years all point in another direction--saying that we are, we were not separately created in God's image, separate from the rest of nature. But, in fact, we are part of that fabric. And when we screw around with it, we are endangering ourselves. See, the prejudice, the conceit was that there were certain characteristics of human beings which made an unbridgeable gap between us and all the other animals. And different people had different ideas what that might be: self-awareness, rational thinking, language, altruism, politics, religion, art, music-- Ethics. Ethics. And when we look closely at what is known, just in the standard scientific literature, we find that on every one of these counts--every single one of them--other animals, especially our closest relatives, the chimps and the bonobos, have these qualities. It is this very thing that you were talking about, when we speak of man we know that those who oppose--still, you must be aware there's tremendous--more than we think--opposition to Darwin. In Girard, Pennsylvania, which is a northern city near Erie--blue collar, working-class town--I was there for one reason or another, and of the class of 20 kids, 18, of course, laughed when the subject of evolution came up. There's one crazy family, they said. We know the girl--she's a little nutty. They believe in evolution. Wow. The rest were creationists. So you see, we have a long way to go. There's no question about it. And this is one of many examples where the truths of science are uncongenial to many. They are cold. They don't speak to our wishes to be taken care of, to feel that the future will be bright no matter what we do, that there is some force that will save us from ourselves. The idea of evolution as blind, as stochastic, as predominantly a sequence of random events in which what works is saved and what doesn't work is thrown away, that is not congenial. And so, many people--I mean, it's characteristic of religions to invent stories that are comfortable, never mind whether they correspond to the facts--and this is merely an example of that. In our, thinking, throughout the book, there are these cases we'll come to, what you call primate ethics--the chimp. How he did something, perhaps humans can't do, as far as ethics is concerned. Before that, just to extend to what Carl Sagan said, rather than face the truth there, you speak of the great debate here, after Darwin, between Thomas Huxley backing it, and [unintelligible]-- Wilberforce. Bishop Wilberforce was furious--and that's, what is it that Huxley said? I'd rather be descended from apes than be afraid to face the truth? Something like that. That's a good, that's a really good paraphrase of what he said. Yeah. I'd rather be descended from apes than know the truth and be afraid to face it. But who are these apes? I mean, who are these chimps? And now we come--we say, "this guy's a beast," or "the bestial nature is"--wait a minute. Some of these we call beasts are quite remarkable people, very--they are our cousins. They are our cousins. Perhaps, the ones who come to my--my heroes, are the macaques, who are also known as rhesus monkeys. And when given, when participating in a horrendous experiment in the 1960s, in which they were offered food as a reward for shocking their fellows, for shocking other macaques, an enormous number of them, some 60 percent, in every experiment refused to do so. They preferred to go hungry rather than to inflict pain on their fellows. In one course of the experiment, 87 percent of the macaques said no to the food rather than inflict pain. And, in some cases, this was after two weeks of not being given any food. Now, this is a kind of ethical conduct that, if we could say that 60 percent, or 87 percent of our fellows would rather go hungry than exploit us, than inflict pain on us, we would be far more optimistic about the human species. This is ethics on the highest level. And people come up with explanations of why it's just a reflex, or it's not the same thing. But when we act ethically, how is that any different? Well, if it's a reflex, I wish we had more of that reflex. You know, when the tables are turned, if you would ask, what happens if macaque scientists [would offer?] that same deal to humans, we know that humans don't do nearly as well, because of the experiments of Stanley Milgram in which, not food for a starving person, but five bucks for pressing a button, people were perfectly happy to shock their fellows. Extend this. I think this is a key to so much of the misconception, perhaps, through the years thanks to one form of religion or another, or myth, or--that we are [special?]. A moment ago, Ann was pointing out, as you in your book do, these macaque monkeys actually suffered themselves, were denied, would deny themselves food than do something to shock or hurt another of their species. And, so, you, Carl Sagan, pointing out an experiment, a Milgram experiment, in which actors were playing the roles of people about to be victimized, shocked. When the students were chosen, were ordered: "You follow orders!" It was about following orders. That's right. So, it goes like-- Orders. Why don't you tell that? It goes like this: these were experiments that were first done at Yale with students, but then they were done with blue-collar people, and it went to lots of other parts of the country. Now it's been done all over the world, so it's clear that this isn't some quirk of college students, this is common to humans all over the world. For five or ten bucks you come in and do an experiment. As far as you know the experiment is merely on the instructions of a scientist to turn a dial. But the dial is hooked up, you are told, to a kind of electric chair. In that electric chair is a person who you can hear but cannot see. And the dial has markings on it with, say, you know, dangerous, deadly, lethal. And you, and as you turn up the dial, under the encouragement of the scientist who says it's an experiment, don't worry about it, you can hear the cries and screams of the actor who is playing the role of a victim. And while some people are reluctant to turn up the dial too much past there, especially when the victim says, "I have a heart attack! I have a heart condition! This is bad for me!" The vast majority of people will continue to turn it up to what they believe is lethal levels merely because the scientist said, "Oh, don't worry about it. I will take responsibility." And, so, this has to do, partly with how much of the macaque ethics is in us--not much, it looks like--and also, partly with our penchant for doing whatever authority tells us to do. If there wasn't a scientist there saying, "It's okay, I take the responsibility, you must do it," then most people will not, beyond a certain level of shocking, do it. We are creatures who evolved in dominance hierarchies, both males and females. It is a central fact of our politics. We haven't evolved out of it. And if we neglect this area about ourselves, if we pretend we're not creatures of dominance hierarchies, then we miss a fundamental way of improving our politics and our government. So if I were called by someone who fears me, "You're nothing but a macaque monkey!" I should thank you very much, [I'm deeply moved?]. You say, "What a compliment!" Right, right. [And when people say?]-- Yes. I aspire to be one. And when people say bestial, bestial, you know, that's beast-like, well, there's a lot of things in those beasts we would be happy to have more of. Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and their book is "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," which, I imagine, it's the first of a series. [As we go?], this, what we--where we came from. That's it. How our [families' scutcheon?], the search for who we are. Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan. You said, we talked in here, about a moment ago, says, "Well, man by very nature is warlike. There are always going to be wars, always going to be"--but you were pointing out something interesting a moment ago--that they were following orders in that experiment with the Yale students, following orders. You [point out?] that is something called, whimsically enough, statecraft, or politics, or forces from man himself that leads to some of the depredations, not something innate in man. Of course, there are two aspects here. You know, usually when people say man I object, because I am a human on this earth. When they what? Usually when people say man to subsume all of-- Of course. Our species I object, usually, because I'm a humanist and a feminist. But, in this case, I think man is, perhaps, the right term because we're talking about a particular quality-- Or the macho. Of--yes, exactly, of a kind of biological makeup of males, that's different, somewhat different from females. And I think it's a fair distinction to make. Now, on this issue of dominance hierarchy, you know, you can see it--you can see it among hens, where the phrase "pecking order" comes. You can certainly see it in almost every one of the primates, and you can absolutely see it in the primates most closely related to us, the chimps. The chimps have 99.7% of their active genes that are identical with ours. There's no question we can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at them. What is their attitudes towards dominance and submission? The, first off, the males have a ladder, a hierarchical ladder with the top, the top chimp scientists call alpha and the bottom chimp call omega, after the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and intermediate guys in the ladder have intermediate levels of dominance. Everybody bows and scrapes before the alpha. The alpha has dining and sexual privileges but also has certain statecraft responsibilities: reassuring people, the other chimps, that he's not angry at them. Leading in warfare. Helping to procure food, especially hunting. And if you look closely, we find it's just irresistible to see parallels with human institutions, especially in the times of great stress, but also not only in times of stress. I mean things like political hierarchies, street and motorcycle gangs, academic hierarchies, police hierarchies, military hierarchies, corporate hierarchies, monarchies; the kind of politics that Machiavelli described in Renaissance Italy. If you look closely, it's just a dead ringer for the kind of hierarchical politics, with balance of power moderation, that you see in the chimps. We have something to learn about ourselves by studying the chimps. Who we were, where we came from, who we are. Just as you're saying this--hierarchies--also, people we call radicals, or troublemakers, often are the ones who--they're questioning orders, unlike those students who accepted orders. And there's a passage here, in the book of Sagan and Druyan, I find very stunning. The analogy--you're talking about organisms now, these [very?] primitive and--it's, if I could quote this: "It's as if, for every million dyed-in-the-wool conservative organisms, there's one radical who's out to change things (although usually very small things);" This has been--you're talking about amoeba and everything, going way back--but "for every one of the radicals, only one in a million actually knows what it's talking about--providing a significantly better survival plan than the one currently fashionable. And yet the evolution of life is determined by these revolutionaries." That's a stunning passage. We go right to the beginning, that there are these little--whatever they are-- What we're talking about there is the evolutionary process, in which the mutations, even, as you say, in very humble one-celled organisms, the mutations are random. They are a departure from how things are done right now. And, after all, things must be done pretty well right now, because the organisms are alive. Most changes will be harmful, in the same sense that if you drop a watch from a tall building, you're unlikely to make it work better as a result. The likelihood that a mutation will improve the adaptive qualities of the organism are very small. And, yet, these random changes that only very rarely are helpful, are the means by which life evolves. Now, in our time it's very different. We don't have to depend on random mutations. We can, to some level, within human fallibility limits, sit down and see what's wrong and devise solutions in a way that random mutation never could. There's something else hopeful, which I'd like to point out, and that is that for most of human history we were not living in this kind of vicious, violent, brutal, alienated society. In fact, for the great, the largest part of human history, perhaps, a million years, we were hunter gatherers. We lived in small groups. We wandered. We had no real turf. We had no possessions. And, so, I really would like to dispel the notion that there is something in us, innately, which causes us to constantly inflict so much damage on ourselves. In fact, it looks to be very much that it's human social organization, the way it is constituted at this moment, that brings out the worst in us. And, so, we not only want to know who we are and why we act this way, but we want to figure out a more constructive way that we could live which would be more humane and bring out the best in us. If I could just add to that--there are, as we say in the last chapters of "Shadows," there are real reasons for optimism, for hope. Because, well, take this issue of dominance hierarchies. Now, it used to be institutionalized in human society all over the world as monarchy--divine right of kings. So you have the great philosophers saying that it is God's intention that we should bow and scrape before these monarchs and if we have any complaint take it up in the hereafter. There things will all be rectified. And the great religious leaders said the same thing. Look at the enormous vested interest in maintaining these monarchical political forms. And, yet, today they hardly exist. You have a small amount of pomp and costume left in Buckingham Palace and a few other places; it's almost gone. There's been a stirring and worldwide revolution that has overthrown what you might have thought was so deeply ingrained in us--because look at our primate relatives--that we could never get loose of it. But we have. And the same thing is true of chattel slavery. Here, again, the great philosophers--Aristotle said slavery was natural and God-given; some people naturally slaves, some people naturally masters. And all sorts of religious people said that. And the white slave owners in the antebellum South said that we should keep slaves for religious reasons. Well, there's hardly anybody on earth who thinks chattel slavery is good anymore. We are capable of real change. See, what's good about your book--Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, the book "Shadows of our Forgotten Ancestors--that you can apply this to the social-political aspects of our society. We have Social Security--following the analogy--well, when that first was put forth in the 30s, during the New Deal days, "well that's socialism, that will make people indolent", and no one questions the need for Social Security today. But then, of course, considered horrendous. So, we're talking about--. The graduated income tax was considered a communist plank, because of Marx and Engels talked about it in "The Communist Manifesto". And, to me, what is the Bill of Rights, but a way to obviate the control of the alpha over everybody else? What is the Bill of Rights but a way of saying we need protection from these alphas. They get out of hand. They have a tendency to go nuts. They push us around. As a 43-year old woman, who was born in a world which was so egregiously sexist, and the attitudes about women were so incredibly unfair and inaccurate, that's changed so much in my lifetime. So I have tremendous hope that we have the capacity to do this. But it's a race. We're running in a race. Of course, what you're saying, both of you are paraphrasing Einstein, too--one of the things [he said?] before he died. I'll paraphrase badly, as "Everything in the world has changed. The Quantum Leap has occurred"--technologically--"Everything will never be the same"--since the atom was split, certainly--"will never be the same. Only one thing hasn't changed: the way we think." But, but, you see, what Ann and I are saying is, that that has changed. That has. Yeah. Right. It's changing. Yes. It's changing at a fantastic pace. [Of course,? Because?] these changes are happening much more quickly than biological evolution can go. So these must be drawing upon proclivities that we already have in us. Exactly. In fact, this past summer when Patrick Buchanan made this appeal, I think, to division and to, I think, some of the things that are worst in us, wasn't it remarkable, and at a time of real economic hard times, people did not go for it? They turned away from it. They said we don't want any more of this stuff. So I think we are changing our way of thinking. And what Buchanan was essentially giving is the hamadryas baboon political platform: ethnocentrism, xenophobia, fit into a dominance hierarchy. Oppress the females. Oppress the females. And it didn't sell. That's a very positive sign. On that point--the perversion of a truth discovered, say, by Darwin, we have the phrase "social Darwinism." Yes. And using it in precisely the opposite way. That is to [unintelligible] people, we are-- Yes. The survival of the fittest. Yes. Used in a predatory way. Yes. Exactly. In fact, Darwin has been sorely misused in a number of ways. When he first revealed that we were related to the other non-human primates, immediately people were willing to look at the poorest and the weakest among us and say, "See? They act like these, these monkeys." In fact, they didn't turn this same insight, which was equally applicable to the House of Lords, and to Wall Street, and to everywhere else. They only wanted to see it in terms of those among us who they were most distanced from. And, of course, when you--I look when the president is riding high in the polls, and he walks down the aisle after giving the State of the Union speech, and you see all of those betas reaching out to be touched by him. I like that. Just exactly as if he were what he is, which is the alpha male of the moment. I think it's undeniable that it's equally applicable to every area of human existence. Before we take our next break, and perhaps we'll speak of the matter of our close relatives, the primates, especially the chimps. And tools. We'll come to that. And how they think. We'll come to that. Before that, she spoke of the--Ann Druyan did--of the betas. These are these male guys, all got--even, to make your point in more dramat--look at old newsreels. You see Congress, or you see gatherings, all white males, mostly middle class, middle age. Today you'll find more and more different colors here and there spotting it--more should be--but more and more women, certainly. So we'll notice changes that you're talking about. But, if the organization of government were to reflect the composition of the citizenry, you would have half the members of Congress be women. Half the members of Congress--of the Cabinet--half the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and we're nowhere near anything like that. So we have minor token representation. Even if all the women running in the forthcoming election win, it's still nowhere near a proportional representation. "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" is the book. We'll come--this is the first of a series, I take it? The search for who we are. You speak of the whole evolutionary aspect, and the one-cellular animals, all the way up to our closest--the primates and the chimps. Man is known as a tool-making, tool-using animals. They are too. Chimps. Yeah. It's amazing. And such a disappointment to those of us who had hope that that was our distinction. That that was the unbridgeable gap between us and everybody else. So, to give an example that we describe in "Shadows," chimps like to eat termites. Termites live in big termite mounds, and they're an excellent source of protein, and chimps have devised a technology to get to the termites. Briefly, what they do, in the morning they rub away the barriers that the termites have erected over the entries into their mound at night. They go and find a suitable reed, strip off the leaves and branches, insert it at the right angle at the right speed, put it all the way in the mound, wiggle it so that it is enticing to termites to climb aboard, and then pull it out in such a way that it doesn't strip off the termites, and then yum-yum. Now, an anthropologist named Géza Teleki spent months under the tutelage of a chimp named Leakey trying to-- After Leakey! After L.S.B. Leakey, the famous anthropologist, paleo-anthropologist, trying to learn this technology. He failed utterly. He saw them clean away the entrances to the doorways into the mounds, but he couldn't see how they knew it. He could see no--the termites were so good at covering up, he didn't understand how the chimps were able to do it. He couldn't find the right kind of reed, he couldn't strip it correctly, when he put it in it would accordion up or, and he couldn't get the termites to get on it, and he would pull it out in a way that would strip them off. In months of trying to duplicate chimp technology, he failed. On the vaunted ground of human superiority, we don't do as well as an adolescent chimp. Now, this is not to say that chimps make nuclear weapons or even a fire, but it's a very important fact that they are, as we are, technological. The year is 1929: I got Psychology One at Crane Junior College, and because my interests in this particular lesson of this teacher, I missed out on the first game of the World Series. I coulda gone, between the Cubs--I was so furious. But, I remember what-- Cubs and the Yankees? Eh? Yankees--Cubs and Yankees? No, Cubs and the Athletics. 1929? Huh. 1929. Yeah. [crosstalk] Athletics--that's what--And saw a game in which a guy slow pitches, slow--[you know?] Ehmke instead of Grove, anyway, he struck out 13 Cubs. Missed that because Professor [Kraut?] was talking about a gorilla--was the gorilla Sultan? It was a chimp. A chimp, named Sultan, and there were bananas he couldn't reach on a stalk, and he notices a stick on the ground and a little stool. And he did everything--he connected the stick, the stool, the bananas. He got it. That's [unintelligible]. That's like the getting the termites out, too. Yeah, and, in the case of Sultan, there was even a moment when the scientist thought he could see the light bulb go off. You know, in which Sultan was looking longingly at the bananas, then at the stick, then at the stool, and then sort of stood bolt upright, too, as the thought came across him and then stood up on the stool and used the stick to knock down the banana. That is also rudimentary tool using. So we come to the question of understanding, and language, I suppose--of a sort--and signs, don't we? And you speak of the many experiments here with the different chimps. Chimps have been taught Ameslan, they've been taught to work with symbols, and there's no question--in double-blind experiments--there's no question that they know what they're doing and they are communicating. Charles Darwin had a wonderful insight into why we persist in clinging to this notion that they are, there's a Rubicon between us and them, that they are simply hopelessly inferior to us. And that was, and I'm paraphrasing him, that those who we exploit and torture, we don't like to think of as being members of our own family. And I think there's something, something to that. Now that, of course, and the notion of separate creation which is something that's been really-- Of

Studs Terkel Which leads to another point that you make, both of you do in this book, that we don't think of members of your own family. Those, we know that people [will?] say, I'll save my own family, you know. I'll

Ann Druyan

Studs Terkel Yes. I'll preserve my--the hell with the rest, you know.

Ann Druyan Yes. Yes.

Studs Terkel And then at the same time here's your [unintelligible]: a baby is in a well, caught, a strange baby.

Ann Druyan Yes

Studs Terkel A Black baby. And the community will rally to try to save that baby.

Carl Sagan You mean, even the white community will?

Studs Terkel Even the white I meant.

Ann Druyan Yeah.

Carl Sagan Yeah.

Ann Druyan Well, it's for, you know, Forty thousand children die needlessly every day on this planet. Forty thousand children. And we sleep at night. We have decided that we can live with this horrendous fact and there's something, there's a denial that takes place, that enables us in some way to separate; we couldn't sleep if our own children were hungry, you couldn't sleep if our own children had no shelter. But somehow those children are abstractions to us.

Carl Sagan In part because they're not our close relatives. The closer we imagine the relation, then the more dedicated we are to try to save them. But then, if we recognize that we are in fact so closely related to every other human on Earth, and even to some of the great apes, our sense of family solidarity calls on us to be kinder to others.

Studs Terkel But it has to, isn't--now, I mean, because of the leaps that have taken place and the world being smaller. Communications. We don't communicate too well, but communications. Because of that, whether we want to or not, as a global village, isn't that it? Whether we want to or not.

Carl Sagan That's right. And not, I mean, advances in communications and transportation have shrunk the world. The global economy is bound up so that every hiccup in Tokyo causes spasms in New York and vice versa. The global environmental problems are now very clear; that no one nation can solve these problems. We have to all do it together. And our ability to destroy each other is at such a unprecedented high level that, again, the problems are global and the solutions must be global. So we're in a very different time from when our primate ancestors first got going. We have immense, formidable, even awesome powers. And that means that if we wish to continue, we wish to survive, we wish to propagate these extraordinary capabilities that we have, we have to do things in a different way. And as we said before, we are. We are learning from this. The only question is: are we learning fast enough?

Studs Terkel Yeah. Well, that leads to another passage I've just marked in the Sagan/Druyan book, "Shadows of our Forgotten"--of our forgotten ancestors--and your point is to remember them.

Carl Sagan That's it.

Studs Terkel And, of course, to know them.

Ann Druyan That's a--we--yes--[crosstalk]--

Studs Terkel So, killing and--here, now we know about early days, and we know about guys with bull hides on their backs and horned hats. We know all about that. And the tiger, and the leopard leaping to--"Killing an enemy with teeth and bare hands is emotionally fa"--emotionally--"far more demanding than pulling a trigger or pressing a button," from way, way up. "In inventing tools and weapons, in contriving civilization, we have disinhabited the controls"--

Carl Sagan Disinhibited.

Studs Terkel Oh, disinhibited. I'm sorry. "Disinhibited the control"--Yeah. Well, now, anything goes, where we don't see the one we're knocking off. Not the ones, I should say, in the thousands.

Ann Druyan But--

Studs Terkel Do you know that 49,600 Iraqi kids died of diarrhea? Mike Royko had a marvelous column about it. You know, and the diarrhea caused by the bombings that dislocated all the plumbing and everything. So there's 49,600.

Ann Druyan Our great victory.

Studs Terkel Hmm?

Ann Druyan Our great victory.

Studs Terkel Yeah. Great, glorious victory.

Ann Druyan Yeah.

Studs Terkel "Sometimes"--oh, here's the drop-in--"we have disinhibited the controls--sometimes thoughtlessly and inadvertently, but sometimes with cool premeditation. If the beasts who are our nearest relatives engaged recklessly in incest and mass murder, they would have rendered themselves extinct. If our non-human ancestors did, we would not be here." And, so, here's the point that you make. Now, I'd like to emphasize this: "For the deficiencies of the human condition, we have only ourselves and our statecraft"--you mean the political nature and everything else [unintelligible]--"to blame--not the 'wild beasts,' and not our distant ancestors."

Ann Druyan That's right. And, in fact, it's very interesting about alphas in other species--the alpha maintains dominance in some of these non-human primate species by being the one who goes out and, with the help of some of the other beta males, goes out and does battle. Whereas our, in the human species, the alphas have arranged it so they never have to leave Washington. They send the betas out to do the fighting and the dying, and they stay right here. And it's, again--

Carl Sagan With the young women, it might be added.

Ann Druyan With the young women, we might add.

Carl Sagan Who do not go out to battle.

Ann Druyan Which is a very different arrangement and, in a way, a very dangerous arrangement because the alpha who's going out to do the battle himself is going to use some judgment--he, his own life is at stake.

Studs Terkel Let's humanize that--personify the alphas and the betas. When you say alphas you mean the guys--GUYS--who have run things, pretty much--middle class, middle--

Ann Druyan They're at the top of the dominance heap.

Studs Terkel Aged white guys. The betas are the kids who fought in Vietnam.

Carl Sagan Well, or gammas, or deltas, or zetas.

Ann Druyan Yeah. I mean there--

Carl Sagan I mean, I mean, you know, if there is a hierarchy then there are ranks below beta.

Studs Terkel No, I mean they went to fight and die in Vietnam.

Ann Druyan Yes. That's right. Those are the ones who really pay the price for the dishonesty and the lack of judgment on the part of the alphas.

Carl Sagan But it is striking that the young men are sent away and the old men stay at home. And this is justified on various grounds but it's a very cushy arrangement for the alphas.

Studs Terkel So, we come to, I suppose, what I find particularly delightful, and exciting, and revelatory in the book is the connection between the evolutionary life you're talking about--history--and our social, and that it is definitely connected, of course. There has to be that. And [you point out?], in teaching, for example, the chimps--a matter of teaching, a very sophisticated, easy way of teaching others, and it reminds you of Enrico Fermi. Why don't you expand on that, Carl Sagan.

Carl Sagan Well, there's an industry of scientists and philosophers whose job it is to demonstrate how this or that remarkable achievement by a chimp really doesn't mean that they have the same capabilities as we do. So on the chimps--the chimpanzee termite fishery industry that we were talking about before--they, of course, teach it to their young. But they teach it in the following way: the adults go about doing it, the youngsters watch very carefully, you know, head cocked a foot away, but there's no sense in which the adults take the babies' hands and say, now, twist it exactly this way, and practice your lessons, and so on. The youngsters watch, they attempt to imitate, they don't succeed, they attempt to imitate some more. And they put their own spin on how to do it. And then there are scientists who say, oh, they're not really teaching. They don't have the ability to teach. Well, I was a student at the University of Chicago in the Physics Department where Enrico Fermi was, by all rights, the alpha, and his method of learning was never to ask someone else how do you solve this problem. It was merely, tell me what the problem is and then let me alone, I want to figure it out myself. If I don't figure it out myself, I will never know it. And, so, I would say that the chimpanzee technology learning style is very much like that of Enrico Fermi, and not like someone teaching a piano lesson and being required to go through endless practice of Czerny scales.

Studs Terkel We're talking to Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan. "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," obviously ours, and a search for who we are. Which, of course, leads to then, I'm sure, the forthcoming books of the series--where we are now and where we're heading. I suppose the big question, asking Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, is the two sides of our nature are here--close as we are to, certainly, the primate, and certainly the chimp, which is the one that society most values or emphasizes? So, we have, you know, the commercials and--everywhere--you hear about school: go to school so you can compete. The word is compete. And sometimes it's a mean competition. Edge. Competitive. You know, you see this in every commercial, whether it be for a product or for school; the point of going to school is to beat somebody. We are, we've got to out-compete other nations. So the, we're talking of an aspect as sort of a--you have to be mean to do it, too. Of course, to win you've got to beat somebody. Now, the other aspect doesn't [test?]: the cooperative nature. So this, in a sense, is what we're facing today, too, aren't we?

Ann Druyan The pendulum seems to swing back and forth and now, it seems to me, that the pendulum--I'm an optimist, but I feel like the pendulum is swinging back in the right direction, more towards the notion that we have to take better care of each other. We have to be more fore--farsighted. We can't be, like the hideous greed and narcissism of the 80s seems to me like something that most of us would like to leave behind in favor of a more inclusive society. So I think those--that tension is always there. And our society, traditionally, has given its greatest rewards to, very often, to the most venal and selfish among us. But I think that there's another tendency which is growing stronger right now.

Carl Sagan Which is advocated by all the world's great religions. So, at a time of religious revival, you would think that this competition and venality would be on the decline.

Studs Terkel Yeah. You see, also there's the middle part of your book in which you deal with DNA, and that big question comes up, doesn't it? Always. I know there was a big debate at Cambridge recently, wasn't there, between the city and the college, about--I guess you'd call it genetic engineering, wouldn't you? That has its, of course, dangers, doesn't it?

Carl Sagan Well, it's another of the many examples that started, I guess, with stone tools, or fire, in which an enormous capability, fantastic powers, are given to human beings, but our wisdom manifestly doesn't keep pace with our inventive genius. And, so, it's always, can we be trusted with this or that technology? Not just in the sense of people intending to do others harm, but in the context of human fallibility. We make mistakes. For example, CFCs and the ozone layer, you know, which is depleting the ozone layer, letting enormous amounts of searing ultraviolet light in which will cause certainly a serious assault on life on Earth. Now, where did CFCs come from? They were invented for their safety. It was a case of us outsmarting ourselves. And they are safe in all the senses that were imagined then: they are non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-allergenic, all the rest. The only thing is, they destroy the protective ozone layer. Nobody had thought that through. Nobody was clever enough. So the dangers are that we leap to new technologies before we fully understand the consequences and then are surprised at what we have done.

Studs Terkel You know, it's so funny as you say this--you don't mind if we jump around? Of course, this leads to all sorts of random thoughts that are not random, just about man and nature: we're going to--the Biblical phrase--we'll subdue nature, by the fundamentalists, takes that literally, meaning to beat it. To beat it. So, I'm thinking, I was born in the year 1912. I call myself a Titanic baby. Of course, the Titanic went down that year, and I came up, that went down. The Titanic: the greatest sea invention ever, the ship that would never--a little tip of an iceberg is nothing. Bang, goes the Titanic. In our arrogance, of the tragedy [of course?], we haven't learned from the Titanic.

Carl Sagan Yeah. I think that's right. By the way, you're 80 years old, Studs?

Studs Terkel You bet.

Carl Sagan 1912. I am knocked out! [crosstalk]

Ann Druyan That's really [a shock?]

Carl Sagan

Studs Terkel We always wonder, everybody asks, where is the human species going? Will it last? Will it make it? There was the dinosaur, way back. Powerful. Huge. He didn't make it. Somehow, I guess he wasn't aware that changes were taking place in the topography. Now what about the human race? I could think of nobody better to discuss it than the distinguished astronomer, Carl Sagan, and his colleague, Ann Druyan, who's, who is a writer in the world of biology and all sorts of sciences. And a magnificent book that deals with that very question, itself: "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors." Who are our great uncles, and aunts, and cousins, and nieces? And it's a search for who we are. And to find who we are, we have to know who we were, and then, perhaps, what we will be. And that's the challenge. Now we're thinking, [and I'm so delighted?] to have Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan as guests, since I've admired them, as millions have, for so long. Suppose we have a colleague of yours of the past whom you respected: the distinguished American astronomer, Harlow Shapley, was asked that question at the time of--shortly after Hiroshima. And there's a voice of this woman, the Hiroshima, or Hiroshima Maiden, cries out as she recalls the moment of the flash, and Harlow Shapley is reflecting: I've often wondered who would inherit the earth? We understand that the meek may inherit the earth. And, of course, that leaves us out. Will it be mammals? Or will it be fish? Or insects? Distinguished American astronomer, on the subject of man, the elements and risk. In wondering about the future, and without actually trying to make a horoscope of humanity, or of life on the earth, I've just tried to list down sometimes what are the risks we suffer? What will eliminate man, if he is eliminated, from the surface of the earth? Will it be the sun running down? Or blowing up? Either one of those, freezing man out or incinerating him? No, because the sun's a good steady star, and, as you know, it's pretty well thermostated to run for, say, ten thousand million years at its present rate. So the sun isn't going to [play out?]. How about stars colliding with us? No, they're too far apart. Collisions that happen too infrequently. Say, in the next thousand centuries? No. No chance of that. I mean, a very low chance. What about the earth getting out of its orbit, and running away and freezing to death in empty space? Or plunging into the sun and boiling up? No chance. We know from our celestial mechanics that the orbit of the earth is constant and will stay just about put. And, so, I think we're safe from sun, from star, from earth. So now, I, must I say, that it looks pretty safe on man for this future you talk about for the next thousand centuries? Yes? No. Because you have one deadly enemy that I didn't mention: an enemy that's at his throat and may succeed in returning him to the fossils, and leaving life on the earth to the cockroaches and the kelp. You know what that enemy is, of course? That's man himself. I was thinking, Carl Sagan, hearing Harlow Shapley--your thoughts? Well, a pleasure to hear him again after all these years, and since that time we've learned a little bit more, and there are catastrophes which wipe organisms out through no errors of their own--you were talking about the dinosaurs, who seem to have been extinguished by a collision with an asteroid or a comet 65 million years ago. But the general thrust of what Shapley said is absolutely right--on the short term, on any time scale which we are concerned with our children, our grandchildren, and a few generations into the future, by far the most dangerous threat to the human species is other humans. And it's a thesis of our book, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," that the problems arise, in part, because there are aspects of our nature that were perfectly adaptive in the past, that really made evolutionary sense, but that today--under quite different circumstances than humans have ever lived in--they are counterproductive, counter-adaptive, and dangerous. And we argue that if we are to make it through, it is essential that we understand what's in us. What proclivities we have. Proclivities that we might consider good, proclivities that we might consider bad. But if we ignore what's in us, if we pretend that we are different from what we are, then we are in really serious trouble. Anne Druyan? Well, it's interesting that you chose Harlow Shapley on the catastrophe of Hiroshima. In fact, it was the nuclear arms race, and the some 60,000 nuclear weapons, 60,000 Hiroshimas that we are now capable of that drove us to this project. We were trying to find out why, why we act the way we do? Why we would, why we would amass so many weapons of such mighty destruction. And, of course, going back for the nuclear arms race it took us, of course, to Hiroshima, and the second world war, and the origins of the nuclear arms race. And then, of course, the rise of the nation state, and then back to the invention of agriculture, and then to our pre-human ancestors. What adds sufficient drama to your project, this book, is that you began it during the Cold War, didn't you? During the Cold War. That's right. And it continues with the end of the Cold War. That itself, that moment as you're writing it, and that change is, itself, adds all sorts of urgency and drama to what you're talking about. Yes, because we find that after the immediate euphoria of the termination of hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union, it was clear that our problems are by no means solved. That that was just the focus of an excuse, in a way, for us to stockpile these weapons and to postpone dealing with these problems. And so we come to the core, the core of the book itself: who is man? And woman, of course. Right. Who is, or what is man? And this is something, as an old friend of mine said, the psalmist asks the question--here's the guy who is capable of writing "Ode on a Grecian Urn," and the Ninth of Beethoven, and Hiroshima, and Auschwitz, too. The same guy! Yeah. That's exactly the point we are laying stress on. If we forget that, if we forget that Hitler and Stalin as well as Gandhi and Einstein are our confrères, our relatives--that's what we're like, that's the best and the worst--then we will neglect to arrange things to bring out the best in us. We look something like the following: there is an enormous range of proclivities that humans have. All of which, by the way, we share with our primate relatives. And society lays a kind of stencil over them so that some of these proclivities are brought out and other proclivities are discouraged. Different society lays a different stencil; different proclivities come up there. And the question is: what kind of a society shall we have? What kind of a stencil, that pays real attention to who we are, shall be laid over us so that the correct, the adaptive set of proclivities, predispositions, is brought out. So, clearly, we have a need for developing our intelligence and our capacity to be educated. And our compassion for others, or a sense of altruism. And to diffuse the ethnocentrism, and xenophobia, and general, diffuse aggression and violence, dominance hierarchies, and all the rest. But all of that is in us. Every one of us. So we come back to that question of the duality here. You speak somewhere, you speak of--we speak of nature: "red in tooth and claw." Yet, it's harmonious, too. I mean, the harmony of nature we speak. At the same time, the brutality, the brutishness of it, too. That's right. We had to be very careful neither to idealise it, to have a kind of sentimental view of it, nor to say that we are in some way separate from it and superior. This has been the kind of tragic flaw that run through Western philosophies, starting with Aristotle, Plato, Rousseau, Kant. All of these guys disagreed about many things, but they could agree on one thing: humans--but, of course, they always said man--was somehow different in kind from the rest of nature, not in degree. Yeah. So, it's in kind, not degree? Of course-- Well, but what--I think the findings of science over the last couple of hundred years all point in another direction--saying that we are, we were not separately created in God's image, separate from the rest of nature. But, in fact, we are part of that fabric. And when we screw around with it, we are endangering ourselves. See, the prejudice, the conceit was that there were certain characteristics of human beings which made an unbridgeable gap between us and all the other animals. And different people had different ideas what that might be: self-awareness, rational thinking, language, altruism, politics, religion, art, music-- Ethics. Ethics. And when we look closely at what is known, just in the standard scientific literature, we find that on every one of these counts--every single one of them--other animals, especially our closest relatives, the chimps and the bonobos, have these qualities. It is this very thing that you were talking about, when we speak of man we know that those who oppose--still, you must be aware there's tremendous--more than we think--opposition to Darwin. In Girard, Pennsylvania, which is a northern city near Erie--blue collar, working-class town--I was there for one reason or another, and of the class of 20 kids, 18, of course, laughed when the subject of evolution came up. There's one crazy family, they said. We know the girl--she's a little nutty. They believe in evolution. Wow. The rest were creationists. So you see, we have a long way to go. There's no question about it. And this is one of many examples where the truths of science are uncongenial to many. They are cold. They don't speak to our wishes to be taken care of, to feel that the future will be bright no matter what we do, that there is some force that will save us from ourselves. The idea of evolution as blind, as stochastic, as predominantly a sequence of random events in which what works is saved and what doesn't work is thrown away, that is not congenial. And so, many people--I mean, it's characteristic of religions to invent stories that are comfortable, never mind whether they correspond to the facts--and this is merely an example of that. In our, thinking, throughout the book, there are these cases we'll come to, what you call primate ethics--the chimp. How he did something, perhaps humans can't do, as far as ethics is concerned. Before that, just to extend to what Carl Sagan said, rather than face the truth there, you speak of the great debate here, after Darwin, between Thomas Huxley backing it, and [unintelligible]-- Wilberforce. Bishop Wilberforce was furious--and that's, what is it that Huxley said? I'd rather be descended from apes than be afraid to face the truth? Something like that. That's a good, that's a really good paraphrase of what he said. Yeah. I'd rather be descended from apes than know the truth and be afraid to face it. But who are these apes? I mean, who are these chimps? And now we come--we say, "this guy's a beast," or "the bestial nature is"--wait a minute. Some of these we call beasts are quite remarkable people, very--they are our cousins. They are our cousins. Perhaps, the ones who come to my--my heroes, are the macaques, who are also known as rhesus monkeys. And when given, when participating in a horrendous experiment in the 1960s, in which they were offered food as a reward for shocking their fellows, for shocking other macaques, an enormous number of them, some 60 percent, in every experiment refused to do so. They preferred to go hungry rather than to inflict pain on their fellows. In one course of the experiment, 87 percent of the macaques said no to the food rather than inflict pain. And, in some cases, this was after two weeks of not being given any food. Now, this is a kind of ethical conduct that, if we could say that 60 percent, or 87 percent of our fellows would rather go hungry than exploit us, than inflict pain on us, we would be far more optimistic about the human species. This is ethics on the highest level. And people come up with explanations of why it's just a reflex, or it's not the same thing. But when we act ethically, how is that any different? Well, if it's a reflex, I wish we had more of that reflex. You know, when the tables are turned, if you would ask, what happens if macaque scientists [would offer?] that same deal to humans, we know that humans don't do nearly as well, because of the experiments of Stanley Milgram in which, not food for a starving person, but five bucks for pressing a button, people were perfectly happy to shock their fellows. Extend this. I think this is a key to so much of the misconception, perhaps, through the years thanks to one form of religion or another, or myth, or--that we are [special?]. A moment ago, Ann was pointing out, as you in your book do, these macaque monkeys actually suffered themselves, were denied, would deny themselves food than do something to shock or hurt another of their species. And, so, you, Carl Sagan, pointing out an experiment, a Milgram experiment, in which actors were playing the roles of people about to be victimized, shocked. When the students were chosen, were ordered: "You follow orders!" It was about following orders. That's right. So, it goes like-- Orders. Why don't you tell that? It goes like this: these were experiments that were first done at Yale with students, but then they were done with blue-collar people, and it went to lots of other parts of the country. Now it's been done all over the world, so it's clear that this isn't some quirk of college students, this is common to humans all over the world. For five or ten bucks you come in and do an experiment. As far as you know the experiment is merely on the instructions of a scientist to turn a dial. But the dial is hooked up, you are told, to a kind of electric chair. In that electric chair is a person who you can hear but cannot see. And the dial has markings on it with, say, you know, dangerous, deadly, lethal. And you, and as you turn up the dial, under the encouragement of the scientist who says it's an experiment, don't worry about it, you can hear the cries and screams of the actor who is playing the role of a victim. And while some people are reluctant to turn up the dial too much past there, especially when the victim says, "I have a heart attack! I have a heart condition! This is bad for me!" The vast majority of people will continue to turn it up to what they believe is lethal levels merely because the scientist said, "Oh, don't worry about it. I will take responsibility." And, so, this has to do, partly with how much of the macaque ethics is in us--not much, it looks like--and also, partly with our penchant for doing whatever authority tells us to do. If there wasn't a scientist there saying, "It's okay, I take the responsibility, you must do it," then most people will not, beyond a certain level of shocking, do it. We are creatures who evolved in dominance hierarchies, both males and females. It is a central fact of our politics. We haven't evolved out of it. And if we neglect this area about ourselves, if we pretend we're not creatures of dominance hierarchies, then we miss a fundamental way of improving our politics and our government. So if I were called by someone who fears me, "You're nothing but a macaque monkey!" I should thank you very much, [I'm deeply moved?]. You say, "What a compliment!" Right, right. [And when people say?]-- Yes. I aspire to be one. And when people say bestial, bestial, you know, that's beast-like, well, there's a lot of things in those beasts we would be happy to have more of. Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and their book is "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," which, I imagine, it's the first of a series. [As we go?], this, what we--where we came from. That's it. How our [families' scutcheon?], the search for who we are. Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan. You said, we talked in here, about a moment ago, says, "Well, man by very nature is warlike. There are always going to be wars, always going to be"--but you were pointing out something interesting a moment ago--that they were following orders in that experiment with the Yale students, following orders. You [point out?] that is something called, whimsically enough, statecraft, or politics, or forces from man himself that leads to some of the depredations, not something innate in man. Of course, there are two aspects here. You know, usually when people say man I object, because I am a human on this earth. When they what? Usually when people say man to subsume all of-- Of course. Our species I object, usually, because I'm a humanist and a feminist. But, in this case, I think man is, perhaps, the right term because we're talking about a particular quality-- Or the macho. Of--yes, exactly, of a kind of biological makeup of males, that's different, somewhat different from females. And I think it's a fair distinction to make. Now, on this issue of dominance hierarchy, you know, you can see it--you can see it among hens, where the phrase "pecking order" comes. You can certainly see it in almost every one of the primates, and you can absolutely see it in the primates most closely related to us, the chimps. The chimps have 99.7% of their active genes that are identical with ours. There's no question we can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at them. What is their attitudes towards dominance and submission? The, first off, the males have a ladder, a hierarchical ladder with the top, the top chimp scientists call alpha and the bottom chimp call omega, after the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and intermediate guys in the ladder have intermediate levels of dominance. Everybody bows and scrapes before the alpha. The alpha has dining and sexual privileges but also has certain statecraft responsibilities: reassuring people, the other chimps, that he's not angry at them. Leading in warfare. Helping to procure food, especially hunting. And if you look closely, we find it's just irresistible to see parallels with human institutions, especially in the times of great stress, but also not only in times of stress. I mean things like political hierarchies, street and motorcycle gangs, academic hierarchies, police hierarchies, military hierarchies, corporate hierarchies, monarchies; the kind of politics that Machiavelli described in Renaissance Italy. If you look closely, it's just a dead ringer for the kind of hierarchical politics, with balance of power moderation, that you see in the chimps. We have something to learn about ourselves by studying the chimps. Who we were, where we came from, who we are. Just as you're saying this--hierarchies--also, people we call radicals, or troublemakers, often are the ones who--they're questioning orders, unlike those students who accepted orders. And there's a passage here, in the book of Sagan and Druyan, I find very stunning. The analogy--you're talking about organisms now, these [very?] primitive and--it's, if I could quote this: "It's as if, for every million dyed-in-the-wool conservative organisms, there's one radical who's out to change things (although usually very small things);" This has been--you're talking about amoeba and everything, going way back--but "for every one of the radicals, only one in a million actually knows what it's talking about--providing a significantly better survival plan than the one currently fashionable. And yet the evolution of life is determined by these revolutionaries." That's a stunning passage. We go right to the beginning, that there are these little--whatever they are-- What we're talking about there is the evolutionary process, in which the mutations, even, as you say, in very humble one-celled organisms, the mutations are random. They are a departure from how things are done right now. And, after all, things must be done pretty well right now, because the organisms are alive. Most changes will be harmful, in the same sense that if you drop a watch from a tall building, you're unlikely to make it work better as a result. The likelihood that a mutation will improve the adaptive qualities of the organism are very small. And, yet, these random changes that only very rarely are helpful, are the means by which life evolves. Now, in our time it's very different. We don't have to depend on random mutations. We can, to some level, within human fallibility limits, sit down and see what's wrong and devise solutions in a way that random mutation never could. There's something else hopeful, which I'd like to point out, and that is that for most of human history we were not living in this kind of vicious, violent, brutal, alienated society. In fact, for the great, the largest part of human history, perhaps, a million years, we were hunter gatherers. We lived in small groups. We wandered. We had no real turf. We had no possessions. And, so, I really would like to dispel the notion that there is something in us, innately, which causes us to constantly inflict so much damage on ourselves. In fact, it looks to be very much that it's human social organization, the way it is constituted at this moment, that brings out the worst in us. And, so, we not only want to know who we are and why we act this way, but we want to figure out a more constructive way that we could live which would be more humane and bring out the best in us. If I could just add to that--there are, as we say in the last chapters of "Shadows," there are real reasons for optimism, for hope. Because, well, take this issue of dominance hierarchies. Now, it used to be institutionalized in human society all over the world as monarchy--divine right of kings. So you have the great philosophers saying that it is God's intention that we should bow and scrape before these monarchs and if we have any complaint take it up in the hereafter. There things will all be rectified. And the great religious leaders said the same thing. Look at the enormous vested interest in maintaining these monarchical political forms. And, yet, today they hardly exist. You have a small amount of pomp and costume left in Buckingham Palace and a few other places; it's almost gone. There's been a stirring and worldwide revolution that has overthrown what you might have thought was so deeply ingrained in us--because look at our primate relatives--that we could never get loose of it. But we have. And the same thing is true of chattel slavery. Here, again, the great philosophers--Aristotle said slavery was natural and God-given; some people naturally slaves, some people naturally masters. And all sorts of religious people said that. And the white slave owners in the antebellum South said that we should keep slaves for religious reasons. Well, there's hardly anybody on earth who thinks chattel slavery is good anymore. We are capable of real change. See, what's good about your book--Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, the book "Shadows of our Forgotten Ancestors--that you can apply this to the social-political aspects of our society. We have Social Security--following the analogy--well, when that first was put forth in the 30s, during the New Deal days, "well that's socialism, that will make people indolent", and no one questions the need for Social Security today. But then, of course, considered horrendous. So, we're talking about--. The graduated income tax was considered a communist plank, because of Marx and Engels talked about it in "The Communist Manifesto". And, to me, what is the Bill of Rights, but a way to obviate the control of the alpha over everybody else? What is the Bill of Rights but a way of saying we need protection from these alphas. They get out of hand. They have a tendency to go nuts. They push us around. As a 43-year old woman, who was born in a world which was so egregiously sexist, and the attitudes about women were so incredibly unfair and inaccurate, that's changed so much in my lifetime. So I have tremendous hope that we have the capacity to do this. But it's a race. We're running in a race. Of course, what you're saying, both of you are paraphrasing Einstein, too--one of the things [he said?] before he died. I'll paraphrase badly, as "Everything in the world has changed. The Quantum Leap has occurred"--technologically--"Everything will never be the same"--since the atom was split, certainly--"will never be the same. Only one thing hasn't changed: the way we think." But, but, you see, what Ann and I are saying is, that that has changed. That has. Yeah. Right. It's changing. Yes. It's changing at a fantastic pace. [Of course,? Because?] these changes are happening much more quickly than biological evolution can go. So these must be drawing upon proclivities that we already have in us. Exactly. In fact, this past summer when Patrick Buchanan made this appeal, I think, to division and to, I think, some of the things that are worst in us, wasn't it remarkable, and at a time of real economic hard times, people did not go for it? They turned away from it. They said we don't want any more of this stuff. So I think we are changing our way of thinking. And what Buchanan was essentially giving is the hamadryas baboon political platform: ethnocentrism, xenophobia, fit into a dominance hierarchy. Oppress the females. Oppress the females. And it didn't sell. That's a very positive sign. On that point--the perversion of a truth discovered, say, by Darwin, we have the phrase "social Darwinism." Yes. And using it in precisely the opposite way. That is to [unintelligible] people, we are-- Yes. The survival of the fittest. Yes. Used in a predatory way. Yes. Exactly. In fact, Darwin has been sorely misused in a number of ways. When he first revealed that we were related to the other non-human primates, immediately people were willing to look at the poorest and the weakest among us and say, "See? They act like these, these monkeys." In fact, they didn't turn this same insight, which was equally applicable to the House of Lords, and to Wall Street, and to everywhere else. They only wanted to see it in terms of those among us who they were most distanced from. And, of course, when you--I look when the president is riding high in the polls, and he walks down the aisle after giving the State of the Union speech, and you see all of those betas reaching out to be touched by him. I like that. Just exactly as if he were what he is, which is the alpha male of the moment. I think it's undeniable that it's equally applicable to every area of human existence. Before we take our next break, and perhaps we'll speak of the matter of our close relatives, the primates, especially the chimps. And tools. We'll come to that. And how they think. We'll come to that. Before that, she spoke of the--Ann Druyan did--of the betas. These are these male guys, all got--even, to make your point in more dramat--look at old newsreels. You see Congress, or you see gatherings, all white males, mostly middle class, middle age. Today you'll find more and more different colors here and there spotting it--more should be--but more and more women, certainly. So we'll notice changes that you're talking about. But, if the organization of government were to reflect the composition of the citizenry, you would have half the members of Congress be women. Half the members of Congress--of the Cabinet--half the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and we're nowhere near anything like that. So we have minor token representation. Even if all the women running in the forthcoming election win, it's still nowhere near a proportional representation. "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" is the book. We'll come--this is the first of a series, I take it? The search for who we are. You speak of the whole evolutionary aspect, and the one-cellular animals, all the way up to our closest--the primates and the chimps. Man is known as a tool-making, tool-using animals. They are too. Chimps. Yeah. It's amazing. And such a disappointment to those of us who had hope that that was our distinction. That that was the unbridgeable gap between us and everybody else. So, to give an example that we describe in "Shadows," chimps like to eat termites. Termites live in big termite mounds, and they're an excellent source of protein, and chimps have devised a technology to get to the termites. Briefly, what they do, in the morning they rub away the barriers that the termites have erected over the entries into their mound at night. They go and find a suitable reed, strip off the leaves and branches, insert it at the right angle at the right speed, put it all the way in the mound, wiggle it so that it is enticing to termites to climb aboard, and then pull it out in such a way that it doesn't strip off the termites, and then yum-yum. Now, an anthropologist named Géza Teleki spent months under the tutelage of a chimp named Leakey trying to-- After Leakey! After L.S.B. Leakey, the famous anthropologist, paleo-anthropologist, trying to learn this technology. He failed utterly. He saw them clean away the entrances to the doorways into the mounds, but he couldn't see how they knew it. He could see no--the termites were so good at covering up, he didn't understand how the chimps were able to do it. He couldn't find the right kind of reed, he couldn't strip it correctly, when he put it in it would accordion up or, and he couldn't get the termites to get on it, and he would pull it out in a way that would strip them off. In months of trying to duplicate chimp technology, he failed. On the vaunted ground of human superiority, we don't do as well as an adolescent chimp. Now, this is not to say that chimps make nuclear weapons or even a fire, but it's a very important fact that they are, as we are, technological. The year is 1929: I got Psychology One at Crane Junior College, and because my interests in this particular lesson of this teacher, I missed out on the first game of the World Series. I coulda gone, between the Cubs--I was so furious. But, I remember what-- Cubs and the Yankees? Eh? Yankees--Cubs and Yankees? No, Cubs and the Athletics. 1929? Huh. 1929. Yeah. [crosstalk] Athletics--that's what--And saw a game in which a guy slow pitches, slow--[you know?] Ehmke instead of Grove, anyway, he struck out 13 Cubs. Missed that because Professor [Kraut?] was talking about a gorilla--was the gorilla Sultan? It was a chimp. A chimp, named Sultan, and there were bananas he couldn't reach on a stalk, and he notices a stick on the ground and a little stool. And he did everything--he connected the stick, the stool, the bananas. He got it. That's [unintelligible]. That's like the getting the termites out, too. Yeah, and, in the case of Sultan, there was even a moment when the scientist thought he could see the light bulb go off. You know, in which Sultan was looking longingly at the bananas, then at the stick, then at the stool, and then sort of stood bolt upright, too, as the thought came across him and then stood up on the stool and used the stick to knock down the banana. That is also rudimentary tool using. So we come to the question of understanding, and language, I suppose--of a sort--and signs, don't we? And you speak of the many experiments here with the different chimps. Chimps have been taught Ameslan, they've been taught to work with symbols, and there's no question--in double-blind experiments--there's no question that they know what they're doing and they are communicating. Charles Darwin had a wonderful insight into why we persist in clinging to this notion that they are, there's a Rubicon between us and them, that they are simply hopelessly inferior to us. And that was, and I'm paraphrasing him, that those who we exploit and torture, we don't like to think of as being members of our own family. And I think there's something, something to that. Now that, of course, and the notion of separate creation which is something that's been really-- Which leads to another point that you make, both of you do in this book, that we don't think of members of your own family. Those, we know that people [will?] say, I'll save my own family, you know. Yes. I'll preserve my--the hell with the rest, you know. Yes. Yes. And then at the same time here's your [unintelligible]: a baby is in a well, caught, a strange baby. Yes A Black baby. And the community will rally to try to save that baby. You mean, even the white community will? Even the white I meant. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's for, you know, Forty thousand children die needlessly every day on this planet. Forty thousand children. And we sleep at night. We have decided that we can live with this horrendous fact and there's something, there's a denial that takes place, that enables us in some way to separate; we couldn't sleep if our own children were hungry, you couldn't sleep if our own children had no shelter. But somehow those children are abstractions to us. In part because they're not our close relatives. The closer we imagine the relation, then the more dedicated we are to try to save them. But then, if we recognize that we are in fact so closely related to every other human on Earth, and even to some of the great apes, our sense of family solidarity calls on us to be kinder to others. But it has to, isn't--now, I mean, because of the leaps that have taken place and the world being smaller. Communications. We don't communicate too well, but communications. Because of that, whether we want to or not, as a global village, isn't that it? Whether we want to or not. That's right. And not, I mean, advances in communications and transportation have shrunk the world. The global economy is bound up so that every hiccup in Tokyo causes spasms in New York and vice versa. The global environmental problems are now very clear; that no one nation can solve these problems. We have to all do it together. And our ability to destroy each other is at such a unprecedented high level that, again, the problems are global and the solutions must be global. So we're in a very different time from when our primate ancestors first got going. We have immense, formidable, even awesome powers. And that means that if we wish to continue, we wish to survive, we wish to propagate these extraordinary capabilities that we have, we have to do things in a different way. And as we said before, we are. We