Monday, February 06, 2006

New Studies of Chimp Brains Show How TV Pundits Operate


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

90% of what TV pundits say is pure rubbish yet millions of Americans believe what they say simply because TV gives them status within the monkey troop. The same goes for top chimp, the number one monkey, Bush. Now scientist figured out how this works, from our cousins, the real chimpanzees.

From Primates.com:
Monkey "Pay-Per-View" Study Could Aid Understanding Of Autism

DURHAM, N.C. -- Researches have found that monkeys will "pay" juice rewards to see images of high-ranking monkeys or female hindquarters. They say their research technique offers a rigorous laboratory approach to studying the "social machinery" of the brain and how this machinery goes tragically awry in autism -- a disease that afflicts more than a million Americans and is the fastest growing developmental disorder.
Fix autism? How about understanding why see see nothing but wall to wall monkey bottoms on TV pretending to be pundits? Seriously, these lower ranking monkeys on TV all groom and fawn over seemingly higher ranking monkeys and both conspire to drive the lowest ranking monkeys to go out and die in monkey wars a la "2001".

Here is another, similar story. From Live Science:
The social conformity displayed in a new study is a trait previously seen only in humans.

Researchers at Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center presented two groups of chimpanzees a food puzzle. The chimps were faced with a small barrier that blocked food from rolling down a pipe.

They could either lift the barrier, allowing the food to roll towards them, or poke at it until it pushed the food reward down a different chute. The task was designed to recreate the type of problem solving chimps do in the wild.

Out of sight from the other chimps, researchers took aside one chimp from each group and taught each a different way to use a stick to get at the food. Erika was shown how to use the stick to lift the blockage. Georgia was taught to poke the blockage with the stick until it rolled into her hands.

"We chose those individuals because they had a lot of friends in the group and we thought that the other chimps would watch them," study coauthor Victoria Horner told LiveScience.
So, chimps act like Jr. High School girls? Who would have guessed! Actually, they show lots of human characteristics because except for only 1.5% of their genes, they are us.

Or rather, we are an infantilized version of them. This is why their teeth are big and strong and so are their arms, anyone who wants to arm wrestle a chimp will find their arm ripped out of its socket. The only chimps we can manhandle are their babies and toddlers.

This is why humans handling chimps can't do it so easily once they reach more than 7 years of age. This is when they discover they are stronger than even the biggest human. If nothing else, they can rip us apart with their teeth.

All animals like to imitate. This is why we humans were able to devise training for other animals, "taming" them pretty rapidly with no help from any scientific studies. When we let dogs move in with us, we did so because dogs always imitate the leader of the pack and so all you need is the top monkey to show the dogs who is boss and bingo. They go along.

Many animals I have owned end up watching me like hawks, trying to figure out what I do and why. For example, opening doors. I have had cats, dogs, horses and even a wild crow study how I open and shut things and then, behind my back, doing it for themselves. My horse, Sparky, is very dangerous about that. I have to hide my hands when manipulating things or he will memorize how I do it and then replicate it with his lips. This means, he is a top "escape artist". He even figured out how I turned on and off the electric fence because I stupidly thought he couldn't figure out the connection between the throw switch and the fence going off.

There is a place in the brain which recognizes faces. From National Geographic:
The brain of the macaque monkey has a distinct area dedicated to recognizing faces, according to a new study.

This brain region is the first one in any animal—including humans—found to have nearly all of its nerve cells focused on a specific visual form.

The finding adds weight to the theory that the brain works like a Swiss Army knife, with separate modules set to different tasks.
This must mean that Bush's brain is like a dull butter knife? Suits me.

The media exploits this tendency to not only face-recognize but couples it with the monkey see-monkey do reflexes. This is why our pundits don't care if they are naked butts on TV or lying or fuddling facts. All they have to do is bare their fangs, wave their manes hither and yon, flash the rear buttocks, and bark. The average monkey watching this dominance display then accepts the data without looking very closely. Those who dare look at information are driven away with the monkey pundits shrieking, "Shut up! Shut up!" More than one of these silly creatures has "won" their debates with me on TV or the radio by simply cutting my mike and rattling on, showing eyebrows, fangs and rear anal gear.

It works!
Scientists already know that humans have areas of the brain that are adept at face processing. For example, some stroke victims lose the ability to identify faces yet can still recognize everyday objects.
In my case, when I was hit by lightning in 1955, one of the odd side effects was, I couldn't recognize faces unless I "tag" them in some fashion. Mostly, though, I just don't bother with it, I warn everyone I have this bizarre deficit and they can do whatever. I LOVE heraldry because that, I can remember perfectly and when I used to fight in Society of the Creative Anacronism's battles fields, I had no problem knowing who was who. And who to whack with my sword!

Once, my parents and I were flying to different airports so when we said goodbye, I figured, I wouldn't see them again for another year.

I landed at Chicago airport and changed flights to Kennedy. A stewardess approached and said, "Some people want to see you," and I wondered if it was the Secret Service or something. Heh.

Two people came to me and I stared at them. "Don't you know who we are?" my mother asked. "Who are you?" I asked.

"We're your parents! You saw us only an hour ago at the airport in Tucson!" said my father. All the passengers around me laughed.

"Oh! Now I see you!" I said. For now I could ID them. Up until then, they looked like strangers because my brain told me they were in DC so they couldn't be standing in front of me. But their flight was diverted by a blizzard so they came to NYC with me, instead and visited the UN to talk about future projects.

Maybe this is why I am unimpressed by leaders. Since they have to be processed by a different part of my brain, the "worship the top monkey ass" isn't triggered. I always wondered about this. To spot loved ones in a crowd, I have to repeat what they are wearing or picture their hair style in order to cut down on the chaos of choosing.

Maybe if more humans disabled this part of the brain we won't see anymore Hitlers or Bushes since one would always be saying, "Who on earth is that bizarre looking idiot?" instead.
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