Ask Lafeber


April 28, 2020

Study ethics

although we obviously love and care about your work, do you ever have to justify doing it since some people would think it is a waste of time and money to learn about bird intelligence?


Hi Trish,

A lot of the time…I try to explain to people that the only way that we can figure out what makes us human is to try to figure out if there are any real differences between the way that humans and nonhumans solve problems and the extent to which nonhumans can solve problems…our brains are organized so differently from those of birds, yet both brains seem to work in similar ways… what does that tell us about evolution? I also remind people that they are more likely to be interested in conservation if they see the parallels between humans and nonhumans. I also try to explain that the training techniques that we are pioneering with the birds can help children who have trouble learning language.

Thank you,

Dr. Irene Pepperberg

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