I don’t believe anything I read on the internet. That’s my working premise in the cyber world.
Still, I’m gracious enough that I don’t disbelieve everything on the internet, either. I judge each internet “fact” according to its measure of outlandishness. My online algorithm is thus: the shocking nature of a claim is directly proportional to the scrutiny one must focus to assert its validity. The best policy is one of “benevolent skepticism.” Don’t take it personally if someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. It doesn’t mean anything and the onus is on you, as an internet information consumer, to weed out the fluff.
On Quora, an interesting answer. Another rule: beware of those who presume to supply “answers.” They are a shady bunch, especially foreigners with funny names.
My bullshit meter was triggered by this claim. I’d certainly like it to be true; it would bear out many notions I have about the state of humanity now, and forever.
Chukwuebuka Sunday tells us that this dubious social experiment (which in itself is pretty believable given the 1930’s were the not the height of laboratory ethics) took a detour.
The chimp (Gua) and human toddler (Donald) were observed and Sunday asserts as fact that the experiment was abandoned when the human child began acting like a chimp as opposed to the chimp acting human. Our lofty self-appraisal would indicate that all animals want to be human, right? The human animal is the ethereal state all life morally strives to be. It’s unquestionable. And then the opposite happened. Donald mimicked the chimp. Human revealed himself to be more innately animal, not god.
Problem is, the video presented in Sunday’s post does not show any footage of this alleged phenomenon (I’d love to see little Donald throwing poop at his parents) and there is no attribution provided. Great story, pretty nebulous.
Due process indicates a little sleuthing in in order.
The experiment, however, ended rather abruptly and mysteriously. As The Psychological Record authors describe:
Our final concern is why the project ended when it did.
We are told only that the study was terminated on March 28, 1932, when Gua was returned to the Orange Park primate colony through a gradual rehabilitating process. But as for why, the Kelloggs, who are so specific on so many other points, leave the reader wondering.
It could be that the Kelloggs were simply exhausted from nine months of non-stop parenting and scientific work. Or perhaps it was the fact that Gua was becoming stronger and less manageable, and that Mrs. and Dr. Kellogg feared that she might harm her human brother. Finally, one other possibility comes to mind, the authors point out: while Gua showed no signs of learning human languages, her brother Donald had began imitating Gua’s chimp noises. “In short, the language retardation in Donald may have brought an end to the study,” the authors write.
“It could be” is about as authoritative as Chukwuebuka Sunday’s assertion on Quora.
Gizmodo alludes to Daniel’s mimicry but without the dramatic insinuations.
The overall study, called The Ape and the Child, is of more historical than scientific interest. Gua developed, physically, a great deal faster than Donald did. Gua imitated adult behaviors, wearing shoes, opening doors using the door handle, and feeding herself with a glass and a spoon. The chimp also outperformed the human when it came to physical tests. Kellogg would, for example, shut each child in a room with a cookie suspended on a string and time how long they took to grab the cookie down.
What really worried the Kelloggs was that Donald didn’t seem all that interested in outperforming Gua in verbal trials. Although the infant did better, he lagged behind other babies when it came to speech. (Fortunately, he took to toilet training well even when Gua did not.) Eventually, he started imitating the instinctive hunger barks that Gua made. The parents were no longer interested in using their baby as a control. The experiment was stopped after nine months, and Gua was returned to the primate center where the Kelloggs had acquired her.
And lastly, from the reputable New York Times Post. If you had any doubts about such a dubiously named news source, observe its hyperbolic flourishes and assertion of fact regarding the chimp and the boy.
Gua showed no signs of learning human languages, but Donald, on the other hand, had began imitating her chimp noises.
“In short, the language retardation in Donald may have brought an end to the study,” the The Psychological Record authors wrote.
What’s more, OZY reports, Luella Kellogg became increasingly concerned Donald was becoming more chimp than human.
Gua and Donald would wrestle in a way that looked more like-chimp and she had taught her older brother how to spy on people beneath doors.
Donald began biting people and crawled like his sister. He grunted and barked like her when he wanted more food.
The fable is recounted many times but not in the form of direct quotes or attribution. In a court setting this might comprise hearsay. On the surface, very intriguing; the story of a boy who became behaviorally more like the chimp than vice versa demolishes the perceived outcome of this very unorthodox experiment. It’s an apocryphal tale and ignites a narrative chain of its own that attains more credibility because of the hungry repetition it received. Nowhere along the line does anyone break the chain. It’s easier to humor the story. Without the story it becomes a faintly amusing experiment ensconced in antiquity, at best.
At the risk of becoming mired in whether the chimp-or-daniel anecdote is true, let’s assume it’s not. In which case we’re left with an obscure thought experiment.
That the human child might succumb to chimp behavior in such an experiment does not seem far-fetched or beyond the scope of reason. Humans and chimps, inhabiting neighborly portions of the animal-human continuum, are so similar that overlap is to be expected. The chimp can lean human and the human can lean chimp; a human toddler’s socialization level is so nascent that he can be thought of as “less” than human (or is the chimp “more” than chimp?). The socialization, or evolution, into human is the step which escalates a person closer to godliness. In this sense, our “humanity” is a cultural appendage that we prop atop our primal essence; the “appendage” is a kit of social evolutionary steps that accumulate upon the concomitant social evolutionary steps of our peers and society. It propels us exponentially into “human-hood” in the span of a few childhood years. Comprising it all, the animal essence is the elemental ingredient of our existence which is hinged upon our physical manifestation: we eat and procreate because we are animals. We love people and glamorize food because our human appendage personas seek godliness, not the physical.
The grandiose society we have formed is a manifestation of the human appendage. Were we content to remain a primal nature, caves and huts would suit our needs.
Nevertheless, we are closer to ape, farther from god.
Our lure is to the animal, our savage drives reign; not until we eschew and detach from the Body will we embrace God.
Man’s god transformation will be exponential and has begun.
Technological evolution during the past century has been a vehicle by which we are excised from our physical anchor. Each leap of technology compresses our mental and alienates our physical. In leaving our physical form and assuming a new collective mental hive that unites humanity, we may discover godliness as we defeat base bodily cravings.
Until then, we are chimps.