Quotations by Author

Roger Fouts

The fact that all our ape cousins -- chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans -- can acquire signs -- is powerful evidence that our hominid ancestors' first language was gestural and that the vocal version of language was a relatively recent development.

Proper science is done by carefully designing your experiment and making sure there are no confounds in the design. That has nothing to do with loving and respecting your subject. Some scientists -- perhaps too many scientists -- think they must objectify their research subject. So this means that they must not feel sympathy, or empathy, for animals. In my view they are dissociating themselves intentionally from their own feelings. When that happens unintentionally outside of science we call it psychosis. But scientists are rewarded for denying emotions and viewing animals as they would a machine.... That doesn't seem very scientific to me or even in touch with reality. I believe scientists should be in touch with their feelings of compassion. We should not be training our school children to suppress emotion in the name of science.

Washoe [the chimpanzee (and friend for over 30 years)] has taught me that we are both a part of the natural world we share with all our fellow animals. She has taught me that personhood is something we share, and that personhood goes beyond species classifications. She has taught me that human arrogance is very lethal to our fellow beings on this planet, especially when it is combined with human ignorance. She has taught me that the most profound scientific discoveries are often based on the most humble approach. She has taught me that compassion is one of our dearest traits, and that we should value it above all others, including intelligence. She helped me to realize that if we humans do not embrace and respect our fellow species on this planet, then we stand a good chance of destroying the whole thing.