I'll be a (genius) monkey's Uncle...

If every so many years (let’s just say a hundred, OK?) a genius is born of such intellectual superiority that they contribute to the progress of man in exponential ways (Einstein, Hawking, Plato, to name but a few), wouldn’t it stand to reason that at least as often (and surely within several hundred years) a primate would be born that has the intellectual capacity of your average 10 year old child? And would Einstein have been as prolific if he was born amongst the Orangutans in the mist? Makes me think, though, that if we could interview all of the primates alive today…, we might just stumble across one smart monkey (and that ain’t no euphemism).

Are humans the only species able to rise to the level of ‘genius’ relative to their species?

I kinda suspect this belongs in GQ, but a lot of human intelligence is dependant on certain areas of the brain that are, I believe barely developed or non-existant in monkees. I’m not convinced that they could do the kind of abstraction a 10-year-old human child could do.
Maybe a four year old…

Well, there are things a monkey (as far as I know) is completely incapable of understanding. Language, for example. Although I may be wrong (if this was GD, I’d look it up, but it’s not, so I won’t). Anyway, the point is that you shouldn’t try to compare monkeys with people.

Beyond that, however, I think the likelihood of a “Much-smarter” monkey being born is high. Other animals, like dogs and cats, show stark differentials in intelligence, even among the same breed (some cats are wickedly smart, some are slovenly stupid, etc.). So while I don’t expect a monkey to win a Nobel Prize in Physics, I’m sure some can figure out how to peel a banana better than others.

I remember having a discussion once with my Dad talking about the relative dumbness of our pets when I asked, “I wonder what a cat’s IQ is?”

My Dad, who has a psychology degree, didn’t know. After some discussion we decided that a cat can’t be measured by IQ, for the simple reason that no IQ would fit a cat. A cat would get zero on any IQ test, but a human with an IQ of zero would be a slobbering vegetable, whereas a cat is a fully functional, self-sustaining individual.

I would think, then, that the difference between humans and animals goes way beyond just occupying different points along a one-dimensional smarts scale.

I think that I would have to agree with Kyberneticist in that it may be apples and oranges simply because a monkey doesn’t have the areas of the brain that could be over-developed. The initial question centered on the idea that we share a basic fundamental brain structure with the higher primates (chimpanzees for example). This position may be obviously flawed.

I appreciate the feedback, as I felt that it was a more “hmmm…,” kind of question that didn’t necessarily deserve space in the GD forum.

That being said, I am still struck that there are some humans who obviously are making the most of their brain structure (assuming that it is alike in kind with the majority of other humans). This has allowed them to rise outside of what would be expected of the average brains ability. Are we possibly making gross assumptions about what a primate brain is capable of, based on what we know of the handful that have been closely studied? Wouldn’t the rare genetic variation create the circumstance where a primate brain was capable of speech (although its physiology prevented it regardless)?

I also think that RickJay is correct that I.Q. tests are meaningless as a measure with animals. I don’t know that I would necessarily be basing intelligence on those metrics. But is a ‘genius’ monkey one that just knows how to “peel a better banana”? Or are they capable of a greater degree of conscience?

I’m wondering if the real question starts with a better definition of ‘genius”.

talking monkeys (well, okay, a Gorilla; I’ve heard they’re not even close to being the same thing, but go to the website anyway.)

I think that Koko is a good example of having skills that probably most gorillas have, but she has found a new outlet for. So if we were to assume that Koko is near average for a gorilla (perhaps an erroneous assumption), what would a ‘genius’ gorilla be capable of?

Or is it more accurate to say that all animals can have individuals who show a better ability to learn, or are more ‘clever’ than most, but that ‘genius’ is a capacity that only humans can obtain?

I dunno, but I suspect that our own hubris would make it difficult to discern, regardless.

How can you define “degree of consciousness” of a human as related to IQ?
I’ve met people with IQs of over 150 that were not very “conscious” of the world around them (and by this I mean they had book smarts, they just couldn’t apply them).
I’ve also met people who tested in the 100 range, who were very capable of applying what they knew to everyday problems.
I think the measure of a genius is that you have great faculties AND the wisdom/foresight to see when/where/why they need to be used.
Incidentally, my definition doesn’t always include IQ points.

I didn’t.

To paraphrase myself: Is ‘genius’ in a primate defined as having an increased ability to perform in areas that they already have some proficiency (banana peeling), or is their genius defined by having abilities that we don’t normally associate with primates (e.g. a human, or close to human, level of being “self-aware”).

I had previously pointed out that I agreed that the metric of an I.Q. was meaningless. What was needed, was a better understanding as to what would define genius in a primate.

So far I have heard a lot on how they aren’t capable or can’t be compared to humans, but I haven’t heard what exactly would be the appropriate definition of genius for a primate (assuming, of course that there is one).