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Glenn Reynolds

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May 21, 2003

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Jerry was a man!:

Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2003, 09:58 AM:

But would you want your sister to date him?

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2003, 02:25 PM:

For that matter, would he want you to date his sister?

Um, seriously, the whole "99 and 44/100% the same DNA" factoid is close to meaningless. As would be a nomenclature change.

Chimps don't deserve human rights, they deserve chimp rights. (Which might start with the right not to have their natural habitat destroyed, or be hunted by poachers for meat, or get shipped to the West to end up wearing roller skates, diapers, and funny little sailor suits for our entertainment.)

r@d@r ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2003, 03:08 PM:

i was going to say what stefan said, but he beat me to it.

it's interesting to note, from a psychological standpoint, that mistreatment of animals is a feature of the early development of antisocial disorder. when an entire society does it, is the society antisocial? [for those of you who don't read psych textbooks much, 'antisocial' doesn't mean one doesn't enjoy parties, it means you don't care about anyone but yourself -- like, for instance, hannibal lecter.]

i would prefer the company of even the meanest, most foul-smelling chimp to that of most of my fellow humans. i'm sure there's a name for that disorder too. at least with a chimp you know where you stand.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2003, 05:47 PM:

Curiously enough mostly you don't know where you stand with a chimp - that is Washoe say, who likely communicates about as well as any chimp, is not a domestic animal - you can agree with a dog about going for a walk off-leash but not a mature chimp - for a sequel Jerry joins a 12 Step Group to quit smoking.

Billmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2003, 06:27 PM:

Jerry was a man!

And this guy is a . . . something.

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2003, 01:27 PM:

So, does The Smirking Chimp now have to change its name?

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2003, 01:32 PM:

Feh. That should be


Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2003, 02:16 PM:

Stefan, classifying chimps in genus homo doesn't mean declaring them the same species as homo sapiens and entitled to the same rights as ourselves. What it would do is tidy up the rather embarrassing fact that the category "great apes" makes no sense unless you include humans in it. If we were talking about another group of four species with the same degrees of relatedness as humans, the two chimp species, and gorillas, the first three would be in the same genus, and the fourth probably not.

In terms of their mental abilities and awareness, they're not us, but they're not just another animal, either. Being accurate about how closely related they are might help in efforts to treat them, not like homo sapiens, but more appropriately than we mostly do now.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2003, 01:58 AM:

Hey, I don't mind being lumped in with the Great Apes.

"Being accurate about how closely related they are . . ."

I understand this argument, but don't 'buy' it. The genetic delta thing is just too mushy. Anyways, Humans treat each other abominably despite belonging to one big messed-up species. When I mentioned 'chimp rights,' I meant rights appropriate to chimps. Not just base-line animal rights.

Zed ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2003, 01:44 PM:

Having been some decades (egads) since I read Assignment in Eternity, the reference in the link name would have sailed entirely over my head if I weren't reading Heinlein in Dimension...

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2003, 02:45 PM:

Stefan, the genetic data isn't mushy at all.

Not the 'percent similarity' data, but the most-recent-common-ancestor data; that did not produce the expected results, it's been hammered on very hard, and it's sound.

They really are our closest living relatives, and they're quite close.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2003, 06:58 PM:

Mushy in terms of doling out rights.

What if we discover a tribe of elephants building funeral mounds, or coyotes whose elaborate pee markings turn out to be a phonetic alphabet?

Far away from us cladistically, but perhaps worthy of special rights status.

Rich Magahiz ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2003, 09:51 PM:

So why is it that the recommendation is that chimp change their genus to Homo, instead of saying that our own tribemates should begin to style themselves Pan sapiens?

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2003, 11:36 PM:

Because the name which enters first into the linterature has priority, and Homo predates Pan.

Taxonomy is very, very strict about that; it's an important part of what keeps the nomenclature from disolving into chaos.

Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2003, 09:58 AM:

I could wish taxonomy were stricter in practice; there are close on a dozen examples in the NCBI taxonomy database of the same name being used in different branches of the overall tree, so that genus Xenia, for example, exists both in cnidarian worms and in plants.

The nomenclature is not in a state of chaos, by any means, but it's in a state that needs some wrestling with to get it to behave rationally.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2003, 10:31 PM:

Do you run screaming from the room when someone mentions phylocode?

The nomenclature is still trying to get into a state where it structurally includes modified descent.