Monkey Pucker Logic
Scientists measured lip-smacking by macaques and concluded that’s where human language came from. Is that logical? Only if an arbitrary requirement is imposed on scientific explanations.
The materialism rule in science is a de facto requirement that no intelligent causes are allowed in explanation. Also known as methodological naturalism, the rule requires that everything be reducible to physics and chemistry. This is what powers Darwinism, a materialist account for the origin of everything biological and everything human. Scientists enslaved to this rule never seem to catch on that it leads to absurdity.
An example can be found in a new paper in PNAS that alleges lip-smacking behavior in macaques led to human language. Because there appears to be a similarity in the frequency of lip smacks and the tempo of human vocalization, the evolutionists imagine a causal link between them, ignoring all other possible explanations (such as the physical constraints on lip muscles). The authors stated this in the abstract:
…we tested rhesus monkeys in a preferential-looking procedure, measuring the time spent looking at each of two side-by-side computer-generated monkey avatars lip-smacking at natural versus sped-up or slowed-down rhythms. Monkeys showed an overall preference for the natural rhythm compared with the perturbed rhythms. This lends behavioral support for the hypothesis that perceptual processes in monkeys are similarly tuned to the natural frequencies of communication signals as they are in humans. Our data provide perceptual evidence for the theory that speech may have evolved from ancestral primate rhythmic facial expressions.
But surely the scientists are overlooking the most important element of language: meaning The focus on mechanical lip action is misdirected. It’s also self-refuting, because it would imply that the scientists’ own language has no more meaning that lip-smacking.. Besides, macaques still exist side-by-side with humans and have not developed symbolic language of their own—complete with syntax, semantics, and understanding—in the same time humans allegedly came out of the trees and developed tensor calculus.
Another example in another PNAS paper alleges that human fairness evolved from chimpanzees, because chimps and children gave similar responses in a simplistic game that required a choice between sharing and not sharing:
Both apes and children responded like humans typically do. If their partner’s cooperation was required, they split the rewards equally. However, with passive partners—a situation akin to the so-called dictator game—they preferred the selfish option. Thus, humans and chimpanzees show similar preferences regarding reward division, suggesting a long evolutionary history to the human sense of fairness.
But surely the authors would know, if they thought about it, that this is illogical, because it only displaces the question of the origin of fairness. Where did the chimpanzees get it? Where did the imaginary “long evolutionary history” of fairness begin? And what is fairness, if it is not referring to a principle that cannot evolve? Additionally, it is not logical for a scientist to ignore all the possible true causes of a phenomenon, and simply stop at the evolutionary explanation. Because methodological naturalism is the de facto rule, they leave themselves with no alternative but the illogical position. These papers illustrate how the materialism rule is bad for science. It’s a science stopper.
It’s also bad for public education, because the news media, similarly bound to the materialism rule, accept the conclusions uncritically rather than act as evidential watchdogs. Science Daily, for instance, headlined that “apes’ sense of fairness [had been] confirmed.” The BBC News echoed the conclusions as well, with only a slight caveat that “further evidence would be needed to show clearly that chimps had a natural tendency towards fairness.” That caveat could hardly compete with Victoria Gill’s big, bold headline, “Sharing: Chimp study reveals origins of human fair play.”
Tip of the day: cure yourself of scientism. A good way to do it is to read Discovery Institute’s latest book, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism and Society. Understand the “argument from reason” thoroughly, to the point you can explain it and defend it in debate, including responses to the pseudo-scholarly comeback arguments like “evolutionary epistemology.”
Then look for signs of scientists drunk with scientism making self-refuting statements: alleging that language has no ultimate meaning, therefore undermining their own language, or alleging that morals have no ultimate validity, undermining their own efforts to present scientific research as true. Once this principle clicks in your mind, you’ll see things clearly. Papers like these two will be exposed as illogical and absurd. Proper wielding of this logical sword by an army of trained interlocutors would go far to unmask the aura of scientism and produce the logical outcome: former addicts of methodological naturalism laughing at themselves and wondering, “How could we have been so dumb?”