In a thematic follow-up to the interview with Culum Brown, Derrick Jensen’s August 17 Resistance Radio episode features Con Slobodchikoff. Slobodchikoff studies Gunnison’s Prairie Dogs as a model for understanding animal language, and shares some delightful and amazing observations on the complexity of their relationships and communication. For example, the prairie dogs can tell each other the equivalent of “Here is a tall thin human walking slowly wearing a blue shirt coming towards us.”
Jensen and Slobodchikoff discuss the reasons for mass die-offs, habitat destruction, and ongoing intentional eradication of prairie dogs, a topic especially heartbreaking (but important) in light of their intelligence and highly developed social structure. They also examine their role improving pastures and prairies as a keystone species in their landbases, a great bonus to their being just plain cute.
The conversation touches on many other subjects, including language in other species, what actually constitutes language, the assumptions and inherent values of science (Slobodchikoff was pressured to deafen young prairie dogs to see how it affected their language development; he refused), and the many ways science and other institutions of civilization reinforce the arrogant myths of human supremacism.
Listen to this important and enjoyable interview below, play the interview at the Deep Green Resistance Youtube Channel, or visit the website for Con Slobodchikoff’s book Chasing Dr. Doolittle: Learning the Language of Animals.
Browse all of Derrick Jensen’s Resistance Radio episodes.