Frans de Waal on Political Apes, Science Communication, and Building a Cooperative Society

Eric Michael Johnson in Scientific American:

Johnson: In addition to your many scientific articles and books you also contribute to blogs. My friends Ed Yong who writes Not Exactly Rocket Science and Christopher Ryan at Sex at Dawn have both had the pleasure, as I have myself, of interacting with you through this medium. You also write occasional pieces for The Huffington Post and Three Quarks Daily. Why do you think it’s important for prominent scientists to utilize the blogosphere?

DeWaalFeedsLemurs De Waal: If you’re a passionate scientist it’s important to communicate your science to people. I personally don’t think that should be left to science writers. I respect a lot of science writers and many of them are very good. But I do feel that the scientists themselves also need to say what they think of their field and what research they find relevant. I also have fun and do it more for amusement sometimes. During the elections, for example, I wrote a piece about Hilary Clinton and alpha female apes. I think a lot of human politics mirrors primate politics and I like to make those connections. But, at the same time, there’s a serious undertone in communicating to people that what we do is not necessarily so special, it’s not so special that you can’t compare it to what other animals are doing.

More here.