Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chimps are better people than people ever will be

I have long believed that the majority of animals better embody what we consider to be the best qualities of human beings than humanity does itself. But scientific research has finally confirmed what I've known all along: monkeys are better people than people are.

I mainly like this research study because it shows that chimps apparently recognize the pragmatic social elements of retributive behavior. Even though human-like behavior and emotional intelligence can be recognized in all sorts of animals, realistically speaking, it's probably mostly just people anthropomorphizing their pets' instinctual responses to their environments (except for my dogs...my dogs are smarter than yours and more emotionally genuine and they really really love me). But the chimps are operating on some kind of real, conscious social design. Retribution is legitimately socially useful, spite isn't, and they've figured out where to draw the line. I imagine that spite (which I, of course, indulge in regularly, perhaps to excess) is one of those things that can only thrive when a species or a community really doesn't have to worry about its survival anymore. The more spoiled and comfortable something is, the freer it is to dabble in spite.

Well in that case, no wonder I like the stuff so much.

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