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Bard College Presents Andrew J. Bernstein ’68 Memorial Lecture on March 6

Dr. Laurie Santos to Speak on the Evolutionary Origins of Irrational Thinking

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bard College presents renowned psychologist Laurie R. Santos, who will deliver the 10th Andrew J. Bernstein ’68 Memorial Lecture. Santos, associate professor at Yale University and director of Yale Comparative Cognition Laboratory (CapLab), will give a talk, “The Evolution of Irrationality: Insights from Primates,” on Thursday, March 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center at Bard College. This event is free and open to the public. A Q&A session will follow the lecture.

Santos’s lecture will explore the evolutionary origins of some of our species’ systematic and predictable cognitive errors. Specifically, she will explore whether humans share our more irrational errors with our close relatives, the nonhuman primates. In doing so, the lecture will tackle the larger issue of whether some human irrationalities stem from evolutionarily ancient cognitive strategies, ones that are shared broadly across the primate order.

Named by Time as a leading campus celebrity, Santos directs the Comparative Cognition Laboratory (CapLab) at Yale. Collaborating with researchers across disciplines, from primatology to neurobiology, the CapLab explores the evolutionary origins of the human mind by comparing the cognitive abilities of human and nonhuman primates. Santos and her colleagues focus on a number of different primate species and, more recently, canines, incorporating ingenious methodologies from cognitive development and cognitive neuroscience. Her research examines the following broad questions: what domains of knowledge are unique to the human mind? Given that human infants and nonhuman primates both lack language, what similarities and differences do we see in the expression of nonlinguistic domains of knowledge? Current work explores what primates understand about physical objects and their motions, how primates spontaneously reason about different kinds of things (foods, artifacts, and animals), and whether or not nonhuman primates possess precursors to a theory of mind. Santos’ TED talk on “monkeynomics” has been viewed more than 700,000 times.

The Andrew J. Bernstein ’68 Memorial Lecture Series
was established in honor of Andrew Bernstein ’68, a Bard student who did his Senior Project in social psychology and who passed away shortly after his graduation. Recognizing his passion for the field, his family endowed this lecture series to allow prominent social and behavioral scientists to share the latest research developments with students and the community. Past speakers include John Cacioppo, John Jost, and Susan Fiske.

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This event was last updated on 02-28-2014