|Feature Article - August 2004|
|by S. Chandler|
To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. To an evolutionist, every biological characteristic looks like the result of evolution. One example of this evolutionary bias is shown in the way scientists rate the intelligence of animals. Animals that most resemble man are assumed to be the most intelligent. But is this really true?
In regards to evolution, we have been conditioned to see things a certain way. This conditioning is embedded in our school and college curriculum, textbooks, literature, and other forms of media. Only by careful reading and understanding are we able to filter fact from conclusions based on assumptions and hypothesis. Most ideas of evolution, which are presented as fact, are actually speculation.
It is very difficult to find a program on TV or other form of main-stream media which discusses chimpanzees or other apes without some type of biased spin about how apes and people evolved from a close common ancestor. For entertainment, chimps are often dressed in people's clothing and trained to do acts people do.
Of course, today's evolutionists know humans are not descendants of chimpanzees, however they are convinced we share the closest common ancestor with them. It is an observable fact we do share a lot of physical and unique characteristics with chimpanzees. Among other things, chimpanzees are very intelligent, have a high level of logic and reasoning, use tools, and have complex societal structures. We are constantly conditioned to view these observations as a single step away from being a human.
Consider this question and answer article called "Chimps are the next smartest" in USA Today.
Q: Next to humans, what animal is smartest?
A: Probably the chimpanzee is the next smartest animal, although bonobos are close contenders. Parrots are also adept at using tools and solving problems. 1
The person who asked the question clearly thought people are the smartest creatures on the planet--and perhaps they are. But how does one accurately measure intelligence? Would an unbiased intelligence test include the ability to figure out exact geographical locations without navigation tools? (Birds and insects do this, but people can’t.) Perhaps we just believe we are smarter than other animals because we bias the definition of intelligence by including things people can figure out, and excluding things that animals can figure out.
It also seems like the person who answered USA Today’s question has been conditioned about chimpanzees and wants to share that bias with everyone.
The fact of the matter is there is disagreement between different scientists on the subject of animal intelligence. It would have been more correct to answer: "Probably parrots, dolphins, killer whales, and chimpanzees", however, this completely changes the inference and doesn't fit into the bias.
Some trained parrots have the ability to communicate using speech, and use advanced reasoning. An African grey parrot, for example, can have a vocabulary of up to 2000 human words. If you listen to an African grey parrot named Alex 2, you will be absolutely amazed how he can count blocks, say which block is largest, and ask for water, among many other things.
Not only can parrots say words, they also seem to understand their meaning as well. Communicative competence requires learning both how to produce and use a communication code--it is not just mimicking.
African greys are said to have the intellectual capacity of a 5 year-old child with the emotions of a 2 year-old. Dr. Irene Pepperberg, who has degrees from MIT and Harvard and works closely with Alex, has concluded that
...parrot intelligence parallels that of chimpanzees and dolphins. 3
Alex and other African grey parrots have also been observed to do many other amazing and incredible things. 4 After hearing Alex speak and communicate, an evolutionist should logically conclude his cognitive use of speech should make our supposed "closest relative" a bird--not a chimpanzee.
Imagine for a moment chimpanzees being able to speak and communicate using words and phrases like Alex. Wouldn't that demonstrate a more logical successive ascent in complexity than going from grunts, groans, and shrills to a full-blown complex language communication structure unique to humans?
Many other different animals are also known for using tools, demonstrating problem solving, and having high intelligence levels as well. German researchers working with a border collie named Rico have discovered that he can fetch about 200 objects by name.
Rico can even take the next step, figuring out what a new word means.
Equivalent to toddler
The researchers put several known toys in a room along with one that Rico had not seen before. From a different room, Rico's owner asked him to fetch a toy, using a name for the toy the dog had never heard.
The border collie, a breed known primarily for its herding ability, was able to go to the room with the toys and, seven times out of 10, bring back the one he had not seen before. The dog seemingly understood that because he knew the names of all the other toys, the new one must be the one with the unfamiliar name. … A month later, he still remembered the name of that new toy three out of six times, even without having seen it since that first test. That is a rate the scientists said was equivalent to that of a 3-year-old. 5
That same article shows how evolutionary conditioning can bias the interpretation of this scientific observation.
Katrina Kelner, Science's deputy editor for life sciences, said such fast, one-trial learning in dogs is remarkable. This ability suggests that the brain structures that support this kind of learning are not unique to humans and may have formed the evolutionary basis of some of the advanced language abilities of humans. 6
They just can’t help dragging evolution into everything!
Humans also share other important traits with certain birds more than our supposed "closest relative", the chimpanzee. Parrots like Alex share a lifelong monogamous bond with their sexual partners. The female settles on the eggs to incubate them and is fed entirely by the male at this point. When the eggs hatch, the male hunts for food and feeds the entire family.
Chimpanzees naturally live in troops with multiple males and females, and when a female comes into heat she may mate with several males in one day. 7 When chimpanzees get older, they become much stronger than humans (8-10 times stronger in their arms alone). 8 This is why we usually only see very young chimps on TV shows and other programs. Some people are also surprised to know as chimpanzees get older they can exhibit very violent, ruthless behavior. Normally, the older they get, the less human they look and act.
Much has also been made of the high similarities between human and chimpanzee DNA. We have previously written about a widely publicized study claiming that the similarity between human and chimpanzee DNA is 98%. Scientists have also recently claimed that "just 2.5% of DNA is different between people and mice." 9 So, we are almost as closely related to mice as we are to monkeys! Furthermore, we are also consistently told a chimpanzees' DNA is more similar to ours than it is to a gorilla or any of the other apes.
DNA similarities between creatures don't always make sense from an evolutionary point of view. It has been shown different groups of the same species of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are less related to each other than to their close cousins bonobos or pygmy chimpanzees (Pan paniscus) which are considered completely separate species.
[DNA analysis had] ...another surprise up its sleeve when it came to the bond between the chimpanzee and the bonobo. Their evolutionary tree revealed a closer relationship between the two separate species than was inferred from other DNA sequences. In fact, some common chimpanzees were more genetically distant from each other than they were from bonobos, a startling fact given that the two are currently separated at the species level. 10
Long-term conditioning (from school and the media) can indeed bias our perception of reality. We have been told for so long that we descended from a common ancestor with the apes that we naturally assume that chimpanzees are more like us than any other animal. This bias influences our expectations in scientific studies. That’s why there are so many “surprising results”.
The only reason results are surprising is because they aren’t what they were expected to be. The expectations come from logical conclusions based on the theory of evolution. Since the theory of evolution is wrong, the conclusions are wrong, and the results are “surprising.”
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5 Hartling , “Go ahead, talk to your dogs” AP June 10, 2004, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5180799/
7 http://www.ulm.edu/~palmer/SpermWars.htm (Ev)
8 http://www.cwu.edu/~docentns/docent%20notebook/ccfactsheet.htm (Ev)
9 Mural, R.J., et al., Science, v. 296, May 31, 2002, p. 1661. (Ev)
10 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991108090738.htm (Ev)