Intelligence in Nature: Chimps vs. Humans

I escaped to a remote mountain cabin (1900bps on the modem) for a few days. The human intelligence represented by civilization’s progress was getting to be too much for me. Besides, I was looking for my Self too, as I’m often known to do. The sucker just seems to runaway on me a lot.
It can be hard to keep a Self at home you know. At least mine is that way. You try to train ‘em right, to be civilized and all, to not think forbidden thoughts or go wandering off to where ever they please but…. Too much wonder or joy is a dangerous thing you know; a Self ought to stay within the boundaries of the corral.
War is good for us! Remember? Helps the economy and gives us peace. Eventually. Maybe. In some people’s dreams, it seems.
But if you find yourself frustrated or pissed off or anxious, well go shopping and buy something for Christ sake. It’s your patriotic American duty! And we know who said so, huh George.
And if you see a homeless person wandering down the street, don’t look into their eyes whatever you do; it’s not good for ‘em. Might make ‘em think you care enough to give them a devalued $20. Worse, looking into their eyes might even just… make your heart hurt.
Dead Horse Juniper, UTAnd if we need to drill for more oil and gas on what little remains of our ‘pristine and sacred public lands,’ like Nine Mile Canyon in Utah, why God made for ‘em to be governed by the “multiple use” principle you know; every extractive industry deserves an equal right to their abuse. Besides, a Self can get lost out in those wild places if they’re not careful. One might even get all inspired and start thinking they’re worth saving.
Or even worse yet , God forbid, one might start to think the ‘other than human world’ possesses a dignity of its own, or even an intelligence… equal to… in its own way… human intelligence?
Take the recent reality research reported on in the journal Current Biology, with a link here to the Science News Story: Chimp Aces Memory Test: Outscores People.

Turns out that when a 5-year old Chimp was pitted against adult humans in a short-term memory test, yep, the Chimp won. See for yourself.

That challenges the belief of many people, including many scientists, that ‘humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions,’ said researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University.

No fooling! You’d think, by our civilized attitude toward the other than human world, that we consider the making of nuclear bombs to be a mark of intelligence. And as if the capacity to blow ourselves up once wasn’t enough to prove our IQ, we made another, and then another 26,000 more, and now our old growth forests and wild lands are but endangered remnants as well. And now too, the outlook for our oceans is bleak as sea ‘deserts’ grow.
And we’re debating whether it’s OK to torture our enemies? Like we got nothing better to do than torture people? After signing international treaties and declaring and prosecuting it as an international war crime for all these years, how did we ever come to think of torture as a national policy even worthy of debate?
Get back in the corral yall!
And how did we ever come to think of torture as a worthy Presidential strategy against terrorism?
Stop thinking like an Enemy Combatant!
You’d think we’d lost sight of… our Selves or something. Like maybe they just got too domesticated and started believing what they were being fed. And once they’re in the feedlot, it does get hard to tell ‘em apart. They do all start to look alike and think the same after all, once they start eating that Fear Food.
Be careful what you eat is what I say! If you don’t get out and eat and drink some of that wild clean old growth forest air while we still got some left… if you don’t go stare in wonder and amazement at the ancient Anasazi petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon before they sink those oil and gas wells there, you’ll never hear than kind of silence again. It’ll be gone. Just like the polar bears.
And your Self, and those of your grandchildren, you’ll never again get the chance to remember how to wander out of the corral and into the dark forest, and how to think for your self.
Yep. We’re still writing that old story of human intelligence: Can we learn in time? Are we willing to transform our collective consciousness and to claim the personal responsibility of freedom?
Am I willing to transform my personal consciousness and to lay claim to the freedom of that responsibility?
Nothing I might write here however can come close to the poetic eloquence of Red Hawk (Robert Moore), from his book The Art of Dying, so I’ll stand aside.

Easter Island is a remarkable place
not only for its giant stone statues,
one thousand of them, each weighing
18 tons and standing 15 feet tall, but
also for its fossil pollen record and
what it tells us about Human Beings.
Easter Island is completely treeless
but the fossil pollen tells us that
a fruit palm tree flourished on Easter Island
for thousands of years and the decline of that species
began about 1200 years ago and continued for
several hundred years until the tree became extinct.
1200 years ago is when the Humans came to Easter Island.
If you stand on the island’s highest point
you can see nearly the entire island so
the people knew what they were doing:
systematically they were destroying their paradise
and the man who cut the last tree, the very thing
he depended upon for his survival,
knew it was the last tree standing and
he cut it anyway.

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction. — Rachel Carson

Go talk to the Aspen Trees for Christ ‘s sake! They know the forbidden knowledge, that all our great problems are but symptoms of the same wound, the very same personal and collective wound: our self’s experience of separation from Self, from our very Nature, and so from our neighbor too.
Or try staring into the eyes of a Chimp, a wild one preferably, as if you were looking into a mirror. There is, after all, only about a one percent genetic difference between us and humans!
And there is less than that between humans and their human enemies!


  1. Animals do the Cleverest Things « wild resiliency blog!

    12/08/2007 at 6:12 pm

    […] wild resiliency blog! for the love of life—go wild, be wild, stay wild! « Intelligence in Nature: Chimps vs. Humans […]

  2. Required

    07/13/2009 at 9:03 am

    “There is, after all, only about a one percent genetic difference between us and humans!” So wait, Larry Glover is a chimp? My god, he can talk! He can write! We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!

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