August 5, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Monkeys Prefer the Sound of Silence

Given a choice, chimpanzees choose silence over music.  The Random Samples page in Science1 mentioned experiments by scientists from MIT and Harvard where monkeys were given a choice of booths playing a flute lullaby, a Mozart concerto, techno-rock, and silence.  Between the musical booths, “The monkeys spent an average of about two-thirds of their time on the lullaby side, showing that they prefer slower tempos,” the article says.  “But when given the choice of silence, lullabies, or a Mozart concerto, they spent most of their time avoiding music altogether.”  Eight human subjects, by contrast, all preferred the lullaby over silence.
    Isabelle Peretz (U of Montreal) remarked that this shows humans have “a natural, or innate, inclination to engage with music.”  The scientists who performed the experiments had earlier found that monkeys show no preference between harmony and dissonance (cf. 12/13/2004).  To the scientists, the new experiments “suggest that humans’ music responses may reflect a ‘unique evolutionary history of selection’ for cognitive processes linked to emotion and motivation.
    The snippet is accompanied by a picture of a chimpanzee with his hands over his ears.  The article, titled “Monkeys have tin ears,” began, “A new study finds that monkeys prefer silence to music, suggesting that some of the acoustic preferences that underlie music are unique to humans.


1Random Samples, Science, Volume 317, Number 5838, Issue of 03 August 2007.

The evolutionary explanation is dissonant cacophony.  Are they claiming chimpanzees have no emotion or motivation?  Monkeys show a lot of emotion when they screech, and a lot of motivation when they want a banana.  Besides, no amount of emotion or motivation is going to affect neo-Darwinism’s capacity to produce the random mutations needed for a brain containing a music appreciation module.
    There is no selective advantage for a reproductively useless thing like music – nor for literature, art, geometry, philosophy, altruism, wisdom, knowledge, theology, or prayer.  Evolutionists produce nothing but fables when trying to explain how these unique human traits “arose” by an unguided process (e.g., 03/07/2002), and they just make fools of themselves (11/12/2004) trying to bridge the chasm between monkey antics and Mozart.  What drives a man like Beethoven to write a complete symphony celebrating joy when he was deaf?  How could he hear it perfectly within his mind?  Is this the work of neurons firing in response to genetic accidents?  Flutter-tongue a tuba if you believe that.
    For fun, let’s all sing the Bonzo version of The Sound of Music:
The jungle’s alive, with the sound of screeches / With hollers we’ve yelled for a zillion years / The bush fills my bowels with a glut of berries / My voice tries to outshout each sound it hears.
My mouth wants to binge like the beak of a vulture that flies to the kill o’er the breeze / My chest wants to thump like a chimp that vaults from each limb in the trees / To laugh at the tourist who trips and falls o’er my dung in his way / To screech through the night, like an owl that is searching for prey.
I feel all the chills when my stomach’s empty / That grumbling sound I have heard before / My gut will be filled with a brown banana / And I’ll sleep once more.

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Categories: Human Body, Mammals

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