Donkey Punch

October 12, 2007

Relax. The NeoCons are Doomed.


I stumbled across and article in Smithsonian Magazine that prompted some thoughts. The article is about a young behavioral research scientist who studies chimpanzees. He has looked into the link between aggressive behavior and intelligence:

…we would not have evolved the kind of intelligence we have—the kind that allows us to use our brains together, to build things, to be mentally flexible—if we hadn’t had a shift in temperament.” That is, we had to become more like bonobos and less like chimps, which are high-strung, fearful of strangers and generally intolerant of any chimp lower on the social hierarchy. “We had to lose all those traits in order to become who we are.”

The article explains how he studied foxes at a research facility in Siberia. These foxes have been bred for compatibility with people, and nothing else. So this scientist, Brian Hare, devised tests to asses the ability of the foxes to infer what another being is thinking from social cues. The selectively bred foxes:

…performed brilliantly on tests to understand human gestures, while a control group of normal foxes did not. “The fearless foxes hadn’t been selected to be smarter,” notes Hare. “They were selected for ‘niceness,’ for being able to be handled…

So a tentative link is being drawn between the ability to get along with others and intelligence.

…some scientists have claimed that animals are more likely to survive and reproduce if they are able to read social cues…
But Hare focuses on a slightly different type of social intelligence, the ability to work with others, regardless of whether they are strangers or rank lower in the social hierarchy. Hare’s quest [is] to find the primate roots of our social tolerance—and hence, according to him, our intelligence…

He also finds that when testing chimpanzees for similar traits, the more aggressive chimps fail:

…”because of social tensions. They can’t get beyond that to work together,” Hare says. “Only those chimps that eat together are able to cooperate to solve this task.”

Cue every hedonist’s favorite primate, the bonobos:

But bonobos, close relatives of chimps, relieve social tensions quickly and enthusiastically: when two or more bonobos, of either gender, encounter each other, they have a quick bout of sex. Then they settle down and work on the problem together. Bonobos ace Hare’s tests.

This all makes me wonder if the reason they can’t find a single missing link is because there are more than one. Is it not possible that in separate parts of the world, advanced species of primates could have evolved in a parallel manner? This would explain the chasm that exists between the Right and Left in this country. And, according to this article, the species more adapted to cooperation and empathy is bound to win out in the end. If they don’t kill us all first.



  1. Hey you. Look up the “multiregional hypothesis” and “out of Africa theory” on like Wikipedia or somewhere. It doesn’t really have anything to do w/republicans, but if you are actually interested in human evolution…I think that which you are talking about is a result of cultural evolution ;-P

    Comment by Sallie — October 12, 2007 @ 11:47 am

  2. I’ll look into it. I was just using this research to explain (at least to me) how some people gravitate toward authoritarianism and seem to be so devoid of compassion.

    Really, I’m just shootin’ spitballs.

    Comment by t4toby — October 12, 2007 @ 11:52 am

  3. …too bad having sex with everyone we meet doesn’t work out as well for most humans as it does for Bonobos 😦

    Comment by Sallie — October 12, 2007 @ 11:52 am

  4. Yeah, it really doesn’t. But I blame that on Christmas.

    Comment by t4toby — October 12, 2007 @ 11:54 am

  5. So here’s a question: why do “scientists” study monkeys, rats, lemurs, lice, ad infinitum, to discover who and what man is…um, howzabout looking at man? I personally don’t give a rat’s (or monkey’s) arse about how they evolved. Let’s try living in the here and now, eh?

    Comment by Mike — October 12, 2007 @ 6:09 pm

  6. well. “scientists” don’t study man because, well, frankly, man doesn’t like to be studied. Something about sticking people in a glass box and giving them inconsequential puzzles and mind benders doesn’t sit well with the general populace…

    Comment by Oz — October 12, 2007 @ 6:24 pm

  7. I have studied a man, a particular man, and find I prefer apes and lemurs. Unless they’re those apes in the zoo that jack-off all the time and then they remind me of the studied man.

    Comment by marty — October 12, 2007 @ 6:41 pm

  8. It’s impossible to study man and get real data because man alters his behavior when he knows he’s being studied (usually to try and alter the data in his favor – i.e. look better).

    It’s important to understand evolution and the past because that’s how you create a reliable model for future trends.

    Comment by mcclaud — October 13, 2007 @ 3:52 am

  9. That’s what deceptive studies are for. I took part in one as an underegrad and was completely fooled.

    Comment by Cangrejero — October 13, 2007 @ 8:09 am

  10. Man still reacts differently when observed. Even if he is deceived, he still doesn’t act naturally.

    Comment by mcclaud — February 14, 2008 @ 8:46 pm

  11. I constantly spent my half an hour to read this web site’s articles all the time along with a mug of coffee.

    Comment by Lynda — September 16, 2012 @ 1:48 am

  12. Many companies would publicize that their Silver Chains are ‘bona fide. If you think only women are fashion-conscious, you are very much mistaken. The customer is always more important, and you want them to come back to you again.

    Comment by How to lose weight — August 7, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: