Even among fairly well educated people, there is a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to the theory of evolution. A student of mine wrote that “humans are the most intelligent beings on the planet.” My response: I’m not sure this is true. Intelligence is relative. If a creature is able to successfully live and reproduce in its environment, it is intelligent. For instance, insects that have been around for millions of years can be called highly intelligent. In contrast, we humans might actually destroy our environment and go extinct.
This is a case where Luhmannian systems theory can help. It makes no sense to say that one species is “more evolved” or “higher on the evolutionary ladder” than some other species. This trope has been used racists to justify their racism. There is no “up or down” in evolution. This view is consistent with a stratified, hierarchical society. Evolution has no direction. A cockroach or sewer rat is just as “highly evolved” as a human being.
Hierarchical views of evolution also lead people to envision life forms on other planets as more intelligent than we are or extraterrestrial societies being more highly evolved than our own “primitive” society.
This is at the heart of what anti-humanism means. We shouldn’t take ourselves as the model or paradigmatic species.