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Driving a stake through the heart of human exceptionalism

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From Denyse O’Leary (O’Leary for News) at MercatorNet:

In the early 2000s, one brainwave was to reclassify humans and chimpanzees so as to appear in the same biological category. Chimpanzees would be classified with modern humans and extinct humans such as Neanderthals instead: The common chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, would be reclassified as Homo troglodytes, just as modern humans are Homo sapiens.

The researchers were open about the philosophical and political implications of their proposal: “challenging our long-held view of the boundary between humans and other animals.” Humans, they agreed, “appear as only slightly remodeled chimpanzee-like apes.”

The obvious problem is, no matter how one tries to classify and reclassify the problem, chimpanzees simply do not do what humans do. The humanzee proposal aims to get past that problem by simply importing the human part by force.

Barash himself seems more of an evolutionary psychologist than an evolutionary biologist. The difference matters. Evolutionary biologists classify living and extinct life forms by their fossils and genomes.

Evolutionary psychologists, by contrast, try to guess how long-dead humans and animals thought by applying the principles expounded in explicitly Darwinian evolution theory. More.

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