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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Darwinists, please stop helping the chimp crazies. It's getting dangerous

Today, I posted on the Travis chimpanzee story - the gruesome results of imagining that chimpanzees are just people like us, only furry - a common theme in pop science mags.

In a comment, tsmith notes that Travis's mother Suzy had also died after a rampage, in 2001.

That story by Rick Schapiro in New York Daily News (February 21, 2009) is here. More reports here.

Just like us, only furry? - It is an odd belief, when you think of it.

If we assume that chimps and humans are related on a Tree of Life, it makes no more sense to assume that we can live with chimps than to assume that we can just as safely live with a rattlesnake as with a ribbon snake*.

The assumption that rattlesnakes and ribbon snakes descended from a common ancestor says nothing whatever about the comparative degree of danger that either would represent if you brought one into your home.

You and I are descended from the same common ancestor as many serial killers, which should warn us that common descent is obviously a poor predictor of psychology and behaviour.

So the “chimp champs” have no business relying on arguments from the Tree of Life theory to bolster their case, whether the theory is true or false.

However, last I heard, Darwinian evolutionists were trying to get humans and chimps classified in the same genus.

Such a grossly irresponsible move would only give the chimp crazies a boost - about the last thing that is needed.

A responsible move on the part of biological science societies would be to make clear to the chimp crazies that chimps are not people, and living with people does not change them into people.

Viewing a chimp as a child does not make it one.

However, I fear crickets will be chirping Sweet Adeline before the societies do anything like that. They are fronting too much false knowledge about human origins to risk the obvious questions that would be asked.

(Ribbon snake - small, neither venomous nor a constrictor - lives mainly on frogs)

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Intellectual Freedom in Canada: Five Feet of Fury interviews Ezra Levant, as Shakedown is published

Following on the publication of civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant's Shakedown, revealing the immense corruption of the "human rights", industry, Kathy Five Feet of Fury Shaidle interviews him here:

EXAMINER: Has anything happened since the book was printed that you'd like to tell people about, to keep them up to date on certain cases you covered in the book?

EZRA LEVANT: "To my surprise and delight, the cabinet minister in charge of Alberta's human rights commission -- the one that had fifteen bureaucrats and lawyers investigate me for 900 days -- has denounced his own agency as a 'kangaroo court', has appointed a real judge to oversee it and has given him a mandate to reform it. That cabinet minister -- a black man himself -- has said there is no right not to be offended. It's a hopeful sign that the campaign of reform is moving from the court of public opinion into the legislatures of the land."

"At the federal level, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has gone into damage control mode. It has quietly dropped some of its more political cases, such as against the Christian Heritage Party. It is clearly hoping that by just getting out of the headlines, it can weather its PR storm without being reformed. I hope they're wrong, and I think they're wrong.

"My book contains some explosive facts about the CHRC that will likely shock 'severely normal' Canadians, including evidence that the CHRC is Canada's largest disseminator of anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-gay bigotry. I just don't see how any government other than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's could accept the fact that staff from their 'human rights' agency has actually joined various neo-Nazi organizations, and made literally hundreds of bigoted comments (e.g. gays are 'deviants' and a 'cancer on society'; an apartheid city called 'Whiteville' should be formed; Canadian neo-Nazis need to get 'dangerous', etc.). This is a scandal of the first order, and political heads should roll."
The real scandal, in my view, is that the legacy mainstream media only got on the bandwagon after the blogosphere had been screeding the scandal for years.

Recently, friends in media have been kvetching to me about the decline of newspapers and how awful it is. I sympathize, but - where WERE they when bloggers were covering this? Hiding, apparently, afraid of being charged.

Yes, a number of writer bloggers, including famous ones, were indeed charged.

Guess what ... they fought back. They fight back today.

Well, the legacy media soon won't need to hide any more. They can start a museum and catalogue their exhibits. Doubtless, they can get a government grant for that. Justabout anyoine can, for just about anything, it seems.

Here's Ezra Levant's now famous opening statement at his interrogation: ("I don't answer to the State.")

(Note: The Danish Mohammed cartoons to which Levant refers - the actual ones, not the ones included to ensure controversy in Muslim lands - were dull, innocuous, or fair comment, at least in Canada. Here, at most, we might have expected angry letters from people who say that the cartoonists don't understand, cancelled subscriptions and advertising, etc.; not government interrogations. The government does not control the media here, or not any more, it seems.)

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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My post at MercatorNet: Wild animals are not people

From my post on animal minds:

Spurred by a horrific recent case, it focuses on their unpredictability, as far as humans are concerned: Herold wants the world to know that she is not a
"horrible" person and that Travis is not a "horrible" chimp. According to her, it is a "freak" thing.

Looking at the story from a traditional Christian perspective, I would pass on the question of whether Herold is a horrible person. I agree that Travis is not a horrible chimp. The very idea is an irrelevance; he is a chimp, period, and therefore not responsible for his actions.

But this incident was not a freak event. A wild animal kept in an urban environment may suddenly and unexpectedly rampage (which is why questions have been raised about pet ownership laws in the wake of this incident). All too typically, the stories sound like this ...

A companion piece by John Young addresses technical issues of animal mind, focusing on Alex the Parrot:

The New York Times obituary of Alex noted the judgment of some scientists that although the parrot learned to communicate in basic expressions, "it did not show the sort of logic and ability to generalize that children acquire at an early age." That is a key point. Sense knowledge, including the power to imagine and remember, fully explains Alex’s achievements. Constant repetition over many years of training conditioned him to associate objects with sounds and to imitate what his trainers did. In one exercise Dr Pepperberg employed a trainer to compete with Alex for a reward, such as a grape. The parrot saw what the trainer did to get the grape, and imitated him.
So far as I know, Alex genuinely had the skills he was credited with. But - just a caution - many accounts of animal intelligence achievements ("why, they're just like us, so we are just like them!") are overblown. (I'm not so sure about Alex's "last words," for example ... )

There is plenty of scope for observer bias in a field where only the discovery of intelligence will be rewarded and feted, but not the discovery of its absence. That doesn't mean that researchers are dishonest; only that observer bias is not likely to be addressed very often or very honestly.

The really intriguing part is that if a researcher tries to document animal behaviour that would tend to elevate animals without denigrating humans, he becomes a pop science target rather than a darling. Paging Eric Pianka ...

Intelligent design vs. Darwinism: Junk DNA as the genes' antique shop?

Scene: The antiques road show: "You're telling me this old book is worth $10 000 to a collector?" (Faints)

One often hears the claim that researchers' belief in the myth of junk DNA (the garbage heap of evolution that most of our genes supposedly are, because they do not apparently code for anything) did not retard scientific progress.

Usually, the claim shores up Darwinism (or neo-Darwinism), which the junk factor was said to demonstrate. Devout Catholic Darwinist Kenneth Miller, for example, called it "a sea of nonsense."

From a design perspective, that idea is highly suspect.

Richard Dawkins has also called it that.

A friend points me to this startling admission:
“Although catchy, the term ‘junk DNA’ for many years repelled mainstream researchers from studying noncoding DNA. Who, except a small number of genomic clochards, would like to dig through genomic garbage? However, in science as in normal life, there are some clochards who, at the risk of being ridiculed, explore unpopular territories. Because of them, the view of junk DNA, especially repetitive elements, began to change in the early 1990s. Now, more and more biologists regard repetitive elements as a genomic treasure ( 4, 5).” (Wojciech Makalowski, “Not Junk After All,” Science, Vol. 300(5623): (May 23, 2003). )
So swearing allegiance to Darwin, vs. design, wasted a lot of time.

Here's an explanation of how junk became junque.

Now, can anyone point to ID-friendly or non-Darwinian scientists who had the confidence to make this prediction before it was confirmed? If they didn't, it shows how lack of confidence can lead to lost opportunities.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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