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01/12/2009

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Dawkins cannot wait for the Humanzee. That is, a chimpanzee grown with human genetic material. The first human/chimp hybrid. Half human, half chimpanzee. Quite a creature.

Of course, Dawkins has some interesting ideas about how society might react to such a creature. He believes that religion will fall (of course), boundaries between humans and animals will disappear, and society in general will have to re-adjust to a new philosophical view of life in general, in the midst of a very exciting upheaval.

I don't see any of that happening at all.

Humans went to the moon and lost interest. We landed rovers on Mars, but the headlines were all about Britney Spears' new baby. We developed the internet, which most people now use to look up porn.

I think society in general would not even give a hoot about a Human-chimpanzee. We're all too busy paying bills. Religion would not fall. St. Francis of Assisi, after all, regarded animals as intelligent, autonomous, free-thinking life-forms. Such reasoning is not new. So I doubt religion is going to disappear because of a Humanzee.

Also, chimpanzees do not have human-type intelligence. They are intelligent about things that chimps care about - surviving in trees, termite-fishing, killing other chimpanzees, etc. A chimp who is good at these things may be said to be highly intelligent, for a chimp. But by human standards, chimps are retarded. By retarded I do not mean "not smart.". Because chimps are very smart. They're just not smart about human things. A chimp, for example, could never pass an IQ test. It wouldn't even know where to begin. By this criteria alone, chimps would be classified as mentally retarded. But most humans would never be able to termite-fish - something chimpanzees are very good at. Chimps are merely smart in a different way from humans. But such smartness would not look promising in a human subject. A creature made of half human, half chimp genetic material may merely end up looking like a retarded human being. Only half of it would be human, with the potential for human intelligence. The other half would be chimpanzee, with the potential for chimp intelligence - which, by human standards, would look very like retardation in a regular person.

Most people have an IQ of around 100. A Humanzee would likely have an IQ of near 50 - thanks to the half-chimp genetics in its system. It probably wouldn't be a scintillating conversationalist. It may very well become a laughing-stock in popular culture. The retarded human with chimp-like features. I find such a prospect sad indeed.

I obviously do not share Richard Dawkins' vision for the Humanzee. It is not rationally supportable. No doubt we will see a Humanzee eventually. I just think the consequences will be somewhat different.

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