Apparently, apes have more similarities with human beings than you may think. Their cognitive patterns bear a striking resemblance to those of mankind.
Perception is not reality. How you see the world and how it actually is are two different things. The ability to see false thoughts for what they are is said to be a uniquely human quality.
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Yet apes show a similar repertoire in their tool kit of cognitive skills. Chimps, bonobos and orangutans have the ability to guesstimate whether something is just a figment of the imagination or not. This is a remarkable discovery.
The capacity to find out whether the other individual held mistaken beliefs happens to be a prime marker in human development through the ages. There was a time when anything and everything was a source of belief.
Then there came more skeptical times and along with them science and technology which happen to be the crowning achievements of humanity. Human beings form this ability to separate fact from fiction at around five years of age.
The theory of mind states that it is here at this crucial juncture that a child begins to gain a better comprehension of the thoughts and feelings of others.
These skills are very necessary for making friends and being on affable terms with others. Also the prediction of what they might do next is gauged by this cognitive sense.
The skill works both ways and could be employed to trick others into believing what we want them to believe. The lack of this skill happens to be a chief feature of autism in children.
The social skills of humanity are dependent upon this mental module. Apes can read minds too. While this may seem unbelievable to many, it is the truth.
Apes have a rich internal universe where they may even reason as to what the motives of others are. The show a thorough understanding of what others are thinking.
Yet the differentiation of fake thoughts from real thoughts is where they fail the acid test. This sifting of the wheat from the chaff requires a fundamental grasp of reality as it exists in its bare bones state. This is what apes lack.
The experiments that got carried out with the apes showed that they remain stuck or fixated at the same level as a two year old human being. Therefore while the reality-filtering ability is unique to human beings, the apes show it in a primitive and rudimentary form.
The study appeared today in the journal Science.