Friday, 21 August 2009

Drunken Monkeys

I'm back, but not fully, so I thought that I would share an interesting video on monkeys and their drinking habits. Notice how alike they are to humans, especially the percentages of binge drinkers, moderate drinkers, and teetotalers.

I also wanted to share part of an essay by Sam Harris, wherein he speaks about animal behavior:

And just how widespread must “glimmerings” of morality be among other animals before [Francis] Collins—who, after all, knows a thing or two about genes—begins to wonder whether our moral sense has evolutionary precursors in the natural world? What if mice showed greater distress at the suffering of familiar mice than unfamiliar ones? (They do.[11]) What if monkeys will starve themselves to prevent their cage-mates from receiving painful shocks? (They will.[12]) What if chimps have a demonstrable sense of fairness when receiving food rewards? (They might.[13]) Wouldn’t these be precisely the sorts of findings one would expect if our morality were the product of evolution?


11 Langford DJ, Crager SE, Shehzad Z, Smith SB, Sotocinal SG, et al. (2006) Social modulation of pain as evidence for empathy in mice. Science 312: 1967-1970. ↩

12 Masserman JH, Wechkin S, Terris W (1964) “Altruistic” Behavior in Rhesus Monkeys. Am J Psychiatry 121: 584-585. ↩

13 Our picture of chimp notions of fairness is somewhat muddled. There is no question that they notice inequity, but they do not seem to care if they profit from it. Brosnan SF (2008) How primates (including us!) respond to inequity. Adv Health Econ Health Serv Res 20: 99-124. Jensen K, Call J, Tomasello M (2007) Chimpanzees are rational maximizers in an ultimatum game. Science 318: 107-109. Jensen K, Hare B, Call J, Tomasello M (2006) What’s in it for me? Self-regard precludes altruism and spite in chimpanzees. Proc Biol Sci 273: 1013-1021. Silk JB, Brosnan SF, Vonk J, Henrich J, Povinelli DJ, et al. (2005) Chimpanzees are indifferent to the welfare of unrelated group members. Nature 437: 1357-1359. Brosnan SF, Schiff HC, de Waal FB (2005) Tolerance for inequity may increase with social closeness in chimpanzees. Proc Biol Sci 272: 253-258.


Tigerboy said...

I have been reading a very interesting book called "Wild Justice, The Moral Lives of Animals."

It is amazing to me how we humans delude ourselves into believing the most ridiculous things. Some people have convinced themselves that animals don't feel pain, feel stress, recognize fairness, or have any form of inner emotional lives.

Absurd. Of course they do.

Chimpanzees and humans are 95% identical, down to the DNA. We are far more alike than dissimilar.

People tell themselves these things so they don't have to feel guilty about the fact that we kill animals and eat them. We delude ourselves.

We are just one more species of animal, a part of the fauna of this planet. The other animals, especially the other mammals, have much more in common with us than many people seem to think. How could it possibly be anything other than that?

Oh, I forgot. That whole "made in His image bullshit." Another delusion.

GCT said...

Maybe god is a big ape?

Tigerboy said...

I think you might be on to something. Perhaps the afterlife looks a bit like this.