REVIEW DOCU: What can we learn from animals?

REVIEW DOCU: What can we learn from animals?

Wise Owl

REVIEW DOCU: What can we learn from animals?


Documentary: HOW SMART ARE ANIMALS? – Nova Science

Presenter: Neil De Grasse Tyson (Astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History)

Review: Nicholas Sebastian Chan


I always try to extract the essence of any book or documentary I watch. This time, animals have attracted my attention. Even if animals perform astounding tricks or re-give words, we still tend to underestimate their intelligence, empathy, and adaptability.

  1. DOGS

In the documentary of Nova Science – “How smart are animals?”, I watched with great interest the skills of a Border Collie, dolphins and an octopus. What can we learn from them? Have a look at the traits that we can acquire as well.

Remember 1000 words and what they stand for quickly
This is an amazing skill for an animal. It requires to distinct different objects by sound and visual, then going for the right object. In case of the dog, his toys. Not a great skill? When was the last time we were memorizing vocabulary in a foreign language and could recall them in a short period of time? It is about comprehension. This takes a huge amount of concentration and perseverance. Train your brain as well and you`ll become a mastermind.

Dogs pay attention
Even if they cannot solve complicated problems like chimpanzees could. Paying attention is always a high-valued trait in business and in life. If you pay attention, you not only show respect to the person opposite of you, but will be able to act and react faster. The ability to concentrate and focus at a meeting, in class, or on a date is going to determine your levels of success.

Dogs cooperate, show up, and play the game
Most hiring managers and CEOs would agree that these 3 traits already count for a big part when it comes to job interviews. The amount that people are unable to immerse themselves in a team environment, even show up on time or at all, or are willing to actively play the game (job) are critical success factors.

Reading social cues is key!
Dogs are our best friends. Why? Because they are masters of reading our social cues. They know how we feel or what we expect from them. Of course, the ancestors of a dog were wolves, however, sometimes one can get the impression that there`s little animal-like behaviour left. With empathy and heart, they immerse themselves into the world of us human beings. If we can read those social cues of other people as accurately as dogs can, we can make communication and interaction more valuable.

Dogs remember connections between items and are flexible in mind
This sounds obvious that we as human beings can do that. However, you know, as I do, that this often is not the case. We mostly are so caught up in our daily routine that we literally miss connections between items, situations, moments, memories. Sometimes we get a little rusty. Practice and train your brain daily.



Love to learn
The coaches and animal trainers teach dolphins the love of learning. They use positive re-enforcement and cheer them up. They make them excited, says dolphin trainer Teri Bolton. Our own love for learning something new has very often been extinct by society. By becoming excited again about a topic, being able to apply it, and actively trying to connect it with other related topics, we can find our passion and curiosity again.

Plan ahead
The dolphins have the skill to “plan ahead”. This is a skill that – we believe - is foremost found within human beings and apes. This is a true sign of intelligence. This sounds like a skill all human beings have, however, very little of us make use of it. Take retirement or health for example. How many do really “plan ahead” and put money away and invest for their retirement? How many have bad eating habits and really “plan ahead” how to become a hundred years old? This requires planning!

Create something on your own
Additionally, scientists found out that dolphins are capable of creating something by their own. So, there is not only the actions that are necessary for survival, but to come up with own “ideas”, for instance, when performing different tricks on their own. Coming up with our own ideas is crucial to push society forward. Sticking to old ideas and “the way it always was” does not work. Create something on your own.

Last, but not least, dolphins are capable of collaborating. That seems obvious that we humans can do that as well. But you know yourself that sometimes it seems impossible for people working together. Collaboration ensures survival and forthcoming. Nobody really can make it on their own. However, choose your partners wisely. Collaboration means progress!



An octopus can be taught to solve problems
Therefore, the skill of how to approach a problem or challenge can be passed on step-by-step. If we can teach an octopus to do it, we can teach that to others. Most often we pass on content, but not principles and methods. Principles can be applied over and over again, content can become obsolete.

The ability to camouflage
The ability to camouflage is called “Parsimony”. This is where the octopus uses 3 different patterns to create others to match its environment. The skin is the representation of a neural activity. Adapt to your environment if necessary at work and in life. Use your natural ability and strength to use it to your advantage.


YouTube Video:

How smart are Animals NOVA w/ Neil DeGrasse Tyson HD
from 19.11.2014



  1. Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are? - Frans de Waal - Book
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  4. What we can learn from the animals about office politics - Dr,Michael Teng - Book - [Mandarin]
  5. Kippa Vita - GPS Tracker for Cats & Dogs
  6. SMART - Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team - DVD
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  8. Maxesla - Wireless Pet Montor

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