The search for “what sets humans apart” from chimpanzees is really a fake search
|January 17, 2015||Posted by News under Human evolution, Mind, News|
Because it is agreed in advance that the most likely conclusions are ruled out
This from PNAS:
Despite our intuition that humans are a species distinct from other animals, attempts to define what makes us unique continue to confound.
In a quiet room, away from the bustle of their daycare playmates, two 3 year olds pull a rope that’s wrapped around a board, which sits inside a transparent box. A single pile of riches, stickers and gummy bears, can be theirs but only if they work together. To bring the board to the front of the box and ferry the reward to within reach, each must pull one end of the rope simultaneously because the ends of the rope are too far apart for one person to manage. First, each child works with an adult to accomplish the feat. Then the children work together, bringing the spoils close enough to grab. At that point, each must make a decision: should they share? Usually, they do (1).
Chimpanzees, it turns out, do not share, unless the food reward is split equally into two piles (See Fig. 2). Otherwise, the dominant chimpanzee takes it all (2).
Okay. That reminds some of us of the non-chimp political systems we threw out on their hind ends ages ago.
So why it is supposed to be so amazing if humans don’t live that way?
How about, instead, “attempts to define” continue to confound and always will, as long as we are studying chimps in order to understand humans. Who said that was the right way to go about it?
If you assume a bottom up universe it might work. Or might not. If you assume a top down universe , you can easily see it as a waste of money. Discuss.
See also the skinny: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)
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