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Responding to animal rights advocates who used her work in making their arguements,  Jane Goodall says "no" in an essay in the Wall Street Journal

What is amazing is how peaceful we are. Goodall (and the people she writes with as it's signed by three people) say that chimps similar to humans when meeting up with an individual from a separate neighboring band will kill the single individual if there are no societal repercussions from doing so.

"There but for the grace of fortune, circumstance and effective social institutions go you and I"
Speaking of chimps Ms Goodall says they murder at a rate of around 270 per 100,000. To put it in perspective she says that would be one individual of a group of 50 murdered once every seven years.

Similar to humans the killings are done by males and all males participate. The common denominator is a territorial species which is sometimes carnivorous, and travels in different sized groups. This allows superior sized groups to encounter lone individuals where killing the individual would lead to increased territory and very little risk. These behaviors are not precipitated by mental instability.

A species with similar territorial imperatives that Ms Goodall mentions is the wolf where losses are at 40% from other wolves. Imagine living in a world where 4 out of 10 people you know were murdered. A far cry from the puppy like portrait painted by animal rights advocates. No wonder wolves are shown as a fierce evil in literature.

Thankfully that's not how we live. We are amazingly peaceful where we have intact societies. Violence is a monopoly of the state, which hopefully seldom uses it's power. For being such a potentially violent animal we are mostly peaceful.

My street- Quiet and non threatening - kids ride bikes unsupervised - people walk around without being murdered

Update: Sorry, I should have linked the people and articles Ms Goodall was responding to.
Humanlike Violence Is Not Seen In Other Animals

Quitting the Hominid Fight Club

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Comment Preferences

  •  thanks - would have missed this piece (11+ / 0-)

    interesting to read the perspective of primatologist/anthropologist Goodall.


    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:59:43 AM PST

  •  I think attempting to draw moral lessons (4+ / 0-)

    from the behavior of animals is a mistake (I've gotten into a couple of mild arguments with people on this site this topic).  Careful observation of interactions both within species and between species reveal the natural world to be full of both wonder and terror and horror.

    My mother was more or less a 'New Ager' and she spent time in communities of like-minded people.  Once she recounted being shown a film at one of these places that showed animals eating one another alive or something like that.  Many of the viewers were outraged and upset.  It didn't fit in with their conception of nature as a 'garden' which humans had sullied.  My mother thought that if that was went on then we should know about it.

    Glad to see Jane Goodall writing this.

    "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge with hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

    by matching mole on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:02:32 AM PST

    •  You think we aren't still animals? (4+ / 0-)

      Hormonal mating urges - check.
      Territoriality - check.
      Fight or flight adrenal response - check.
      Maternal instinct to protect what we perceive as our young - check.

      You think we aren't still fairly primal creatures?

      It's safe to trust a sane person with the keys to nuclear weapons, but it's not safe to trust an insane person with the cleaners under the kitchen sink. The answer is not gun control, it's people care.

      by JayFromPA on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:21:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with all of this (0+ / 0-)

        but I fail to see how it has anything to do with anything I wrote.

        I was talking about morality not motivations.  I'm honestly completely confused by your comment.

        "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge with hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

        by matching mole on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:25:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Having gone and taken a quick look (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, 43north, quill

      I have a couple of other quick notes

      The second author, Richard Wrangham, is a very well known primatologist as well.  

      The author of the piece to which they are responding is also a quite well known behavioral biologist from your state.  They all work on mammals and I'm not that familiar with research there.  

      The perspective of the essay is really just comparing social mammals (primates and carnivores) to humans and making evolutionary interpretations.  The focus of it is on making the point that the aggressive behavior of humans is linked evolutionarily to that of other social mammals and is not 'unnatural'.  I am a bit more leery of this because it ignores the immense flexibility of human social behavior.  Clearly the behavior of mass shooters is maladaptive, that is one reason it is so disturbing. It is a horrifying action which benefits no one.  In contrast terrorist acts or gang wars have some kind of goal behind them.  In that restricted sense I would agree with Bekoff- the actions of Adam Lanza are not something you see in non-human animals.

      "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge with hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

      by matching mole on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:23:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Grouping the Lanza type murderer with gang (4+ / 0-)

        crime which might be not much different than what we call war might not help us to understand.

        Likewise a friend who was a public defender said many murders are temporary acts of passion. A card game in an alley, two argue then fight over a gun.

        I'd hate to agree with Bekoff, he is a champion of anti hunting.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:45:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wasn't arguing that the motivations should (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ban nock, 43north

          be similar but rather that a lot of violent human actions 'make sense' in a context of self interest (or group interest) but that these kind of mass killings don't.  The only way to make sense of them is to speculate that the social environment has resulted in a nonsensical aggressive response.  Our behavior is extraordinarily malleable and this can lead to all kinds of things that might not make sense from an evolutionary interpretation.

          With regard to your last sentence:  I think the example of R.A. Fisher is instructive here.  He was a brilliant geneticist and statistician but also a strong believer in eugenics and the genetic superiority of the British upper classes.  He was really right about many things and also really wrong about many things.

          I'm not arguing that Bekoff is right as I haven't read the source material yet just that if he was narrowly arguing that the mass killings were unlike animals then he was right.  If he was arguing more broadly then he was wrong.

          "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge with hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

          by matching mole on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:04:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  actually, animals may show similar behavior (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        matching mole

        The proportion of deviant "berserker tendency" humans in the human population is probably very small. That same proportion may exist in other social species but we just don't see them often enough to observe and document it.

        I know for a fact that the more we look at animals, the more we see parallels to human behavior. One of the hot topics in animal behavior research is personality, which until recently was all but denied. What researchers are finding is that animals from many different taxa have a wide range of personality types within a population, including anti-social and other maladaptive tendencies.  In fact, I do recall a Goodall talk where she described a specific male who was especially violent and cruel. It is likely that the only thing that sets us apart is the effectiveness of the tools that we have at our disposal for inflicting violence on others.

        "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

        by quill on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:56:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm familiar with the animal personality (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          field largely through people who work on fish (sticklebacks).  I think it is an interesting and valuable field of study but it can lead to a minimizing of the high level of phenotypic plasticity in human behavior.  I'm not arguing that there aren't parallels between human and animal behavior - that would be ridiculous.  But I think that some people go overboard in seeking evolutionary interpretations for all human behavior.  Some of what we do is almost certainly the response of our nervous systems to the evolutionary novel environment in  which we live.

          "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge with hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

          by matching mole on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 06:55:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  No innocent animals as that also implies there an (4+ / 0-)

      can be guilt.

      One of my favorite carnivores, the coyote, can also be very cruel and heartless only when viewed through my eyes.

      I updated with links to the articles she was responding to.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:25:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Flint, MI's murder rate is 50 per 100,000 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, high uintas

    Detroit's is roughly the same.  Clearly, things could get much violent and dangerous there before they could be described as falling into a Hobbesian "State of Nature."

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:31:20 AM PST

  •  But chimps don't have organized mass military (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    murder.  "Civilization" has taken our biological heritage, which can be seen in the "warfare" between chimp groups described by Goodall et al. (occasional picking off of isolated individuals from competing groups) and the occassional reciprocal raiding of neighboring groups among pre-civilized men, and turned it into something much more lethal, reaching its apogee in industrialized genocide.  

    •  that's an argument about tools, not motives (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock

      Would chimps have a WWII if they were socially and technologically able to do so?  From what I've read about them, I think they're perfectly capable of it.

      Civilization is a development of our animal natures; the difference between it and Stone Age society or chimp society is quantitative, not qualitative.  It's no more unnatural than anything else that we do.  The difference between us and any other form of life is that we are self-aware and theoretically able to control our own actions.  Chimps are slaves to to their natures; we are not ... or at least much less so.

      Something's wrong when the bad guys are the utopian ones.

      by Visceral on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:07:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You haven't been to the South Side of Chicago... (0+ / 0-)

    ....or to many third world countries, have you?

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:50:32 AM PST

  •  chores,,, back in the PM (6+ / 0-)

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:24:55 AM PST

  •  not sure if that was the intent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but those two wolves are engaging in stylized aggression play ("bitey face")

    pic related

    I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.…We're better than this. We must do better. Cmdr Scott Kelley

    by wretchedhive on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:45:28 AM PST

    •  That's what the site on the net I grabbed them (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, oldpunk

      from said. Something about fighting over a female, but no one hurt. I was just looking for a fierce looking wolf photo.

      Most wolf photos are of puppies or a gray or white adult looking noble.

      I was trying to show big toothed scary animals and little human puppies.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:11:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, kind of hard to judge what was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock

        truly going on without context.  It's easy for people, even dog owners to misinterpret bared fangs as scary.

        I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.…We're better than this. We must do better. Cmdr Scott Kelley

        by wretchedhive on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 12:23:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Norman Rockwell child, Walmart bicycle... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    ...the bicycle is a Huffy. Read about the Huffy corporation here, if you're inclined.

    Of course, Huffys are sold in other stores besides Walmart, it seems mostly big box stores.

    Apologies that noticing this and commenting, well,  introduces a downer into the idyllic moment. I suppose the devil is in the details. The simple fact is that the child's idyllic moment likely comes at a complicated price.


    •  No downer, I bought the bike, at Walmart (4+ / 0-)

      Most people in our little town shop at Walmart, many work there.

      We are lower middle class blue collar. Sometimes I read about us here at DK, mostly we are lumped with more affluent middle class though.

      Walmart also has a way we can purchase a card and deposit money onto it so that we can pay for stuff online even though most people in our class can't have credit cards. We've been messed over by our government and our more well to do fellow citizens for 35+ years. We don't blame individual companies.

      My child's idyllic moments come from the holes I dig in the ground to earn my living.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:20:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, I don't think there's much real doubt... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock

        ...that Walmart has been proactive in participating in and profiting immensely from the "messing over" that folks have been receiving for 35+ years. That individual company could be accurately called a stand-out leader in making the messing-over happen.

        This isn't a swipe at you or your family & community, for me it's a given that folks gotta do what they gotta do.

        Still, I wonder if wolves' or gorillas' social constructs contain such a thing that behaves as Walmart does...


  •  I believe that despite the violence of evolution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    it leads inexorably over the longest term toward empathy and harmony, and the same applies to the "long arc of history" as it pertains to human society.  

    The chimp behavior you describe is basically identical to how humans lived before developing civilization.  See a stranger alone while you are in a group, he dies.  See a group of strangers comparable in strength to your group, confront them in force, but try to scare them off rather than fight since it could be costly.  Find yourself alone or outnumbered among strangers, run.  

    The Roman Empire was paradise for most people compared to that, and our society is paradise compared to the Roman Empire.  What things that we - in fact, even the gentlest European societies - take for granted as facts of life will someday be seen as barbarous and hellish?  

    Pour yourself into the future.

    by Troubadour on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:32:42 AM PST

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