Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Monkey Bars

True or False: Only humans, among God's creation, commit murder.

False. But what does that mean?

Chimpanzee homicide is a clear example β€” society treats the same behavior in human beings as criminal and pathological. Does this mean that we should view a killer chimp as the equivalent of a felon, or must we stretch the definition of "natural" behavior for primates (including us) to include such acts? Evolutionary biologists argue that chimpanzee infanticide might be an adaptive reproductive strategy. In contrast, students of human behavior β€” lawyers, anthropologists and psychiatrists β€” regard it as abnormal. A model that accommodates both species raises questions of whether chimp violence is a disorder or an adaptive strategy, and of whether the same answer holds for human beings.

Of course it could always be that the world will discover that the chimps are really just, y'know, Americans.