Monkeys Know When They Don’t Know

It seems a team of scientists have set out to determine why animals hesitate in the face of risk.

Dogs and cats, even birds, hesitate and I was certain this had to do with uncertainty. A presentation yesterday gives new data on the matter and apparently proves, without a doubt, that at least monkeys and dolphins can have doubts.

Humans have feelings of doubt and confidence, and of certainty and uncertainty. You know if you do not know or remember — a perfect example of this is when something is on the tip of your tongue. This ability to evaluate and predict one’s own mental performance is known as metacognition. It is one of our most sophisticated cognitive capacities and has even been thought to be uniquely human. Metacognition rivals language and tool use in its potential to reveal similarities and differences between human and animal minds. This session presents this rapidly developing area and is convened by the European Science Foundation. It will explore how newly devised experimental paradigms, testing metacognition in dolphins and monkeys, show that it is not a uniquely human talent.

Macaque of the Year
Are you sure I can trust you not to eat me?

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