September 27, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Kazooki Theater: Darwinism Tolerates Kooky Speculation

No, an orangutan playing a kazoo cannot explain the origin of human language. Why do such ideas get favorable media press?

Atheists who make attacks against CEH on our Twitter feed sometimes engage in hysterical ridicule and mockery at the idea of a “god” creating humans. They are confident that Darwinism explains the rise of humans from bacteria, given billions of years. And yet they use language to express such attacks. Language presupposes morality (because propositions are stated to affirm truths) and logic (because gibberish conveys no meaning). How did language, rationality and morality arise by an evolutionary process? One Darwinist believes we can listen to the soothing sounds of the kazoo for enlightenment.

Orangutans can play the kazoo – here’s what this tells us about the evolution of speech  (The Conversation). This has to be a parody, one might suppose, upon reading this headline. Surely Adriano Reis e Lameira, a psychologist at the University of St Andrews, is mocking the credulity of evolutionists with this article. But no — he is kooky serious.

A kazoo might seem a world away from the spoken word. But our ability to produce its buzzing, Donald Duck-like sound at will was key in us ever developing the ability to speak at all. And while our capacity for speech is unique, my colleague Robert Shumaker and I have used the novelty instrument to show that great apes aren’t far behind.

Words fail to convey the extent of madness in the suggestion that kazoos can tell anything about the “evolution of speech.” It’s not like Lameira has a foundation of evidence to stand on. He admits evolutionists are clueless:

Speech is one of the defining marks of humanhood. It is the interface of our social and societal relationships, and the baton through which individuals and generations pass information and knowledge from one to the other. Yet, how our species – and our species alone – developed such a powerful method of communication remains unclear.

Precision is supposed to be a hallmark of science. Let’s consider some synonyms for “unclear” – ambiguous, confused, fuzzy, hazy, imprecise, obscure, uncertain, unsettled, unsure, vague, blurry, cloudy, dim, elusive, intangible, nebulous, shadowy – you get the picture. Lameira admits that this is the level of precision in Darwinian explanations for language after 160 years since Darwin launched his storytelling empire in the Origin.

The Kazoo as Divination Device

Enter Lameira as a language translator and divination expert. Watch his YouTube video of Tilda, a female orangutan, croaking incoherently. Lameria mind-melds with Tilda and determines what she is trying to convey. “Orangutan babble provides insight into speech building blocks,” he explains. This must be the case, he argues, because Tilda exhibits “voice control” and has the ability to score food tidbits by mimicking Pavlovian vocalizations from her trainer.

For instance, great apes can mimic the rhythm of speech, producing babbling vocalisations that could easily be confused with those of a Disney cartoon character (as in the video above). They can also match the pitch of a human voice (below). Such feats would be impossible if great apes could not deploy and use their voice on command in similar ways to us.

Lameira does have a point. Many humans babble as incoherently as Tilda. This demonstrates that humans are devolving into lower primates, does it not?

Thoughtful orangutan contemplating how to improve nuance in kazoo communication (Corel Photos)

Gain Enlightenment: Hand the Orangutan a Kazoo

Next, Lameira halds a Kazoo up to Tilda’s lips, with which she makes a few brief farting sounds (YouTube). Lameira is pleased. “Well done,” he says to the ape, as if she comprehends and appreciates the compliment for her “speech.”

Lameira qualifies his assertion about the evolution of language by noting that not all orangutans are as skilled at making the farting sounds as Tilda is. Like the origin of language itself, the extent of individualization between orangutan kazoo players is “unclear.” What wonderful research opportunities this opens up!

The fact that only some of the orangutans managed to play the kazoo shows us that the capacity and/or motivation to demonstrate vocal control differs between individuals. So one great ape can never be representative of the vocal abilities of a whole species. To understand the vocal control of apes further, scientists should develop tests tailored to match each individual ape’s limitations and drive. This won’t be a surprise to parents, teachers, and linguistic therapists, who know that children develop speech at different rates and manners, despite sharing virtually the same environment.

By implication, individual differences between the expressive nuance of vocal communication by philosophers in the university are no different in kind from the differences between apes in ability to produce farting sounds on a kazoo.

It’s Darwin’s Fault

The Darwinian evolutionary tie-in is the foundation of this tale.

Understanding the extent to which great apes can “speak” offers clues as to how and when the various skills required for full-blown speech emerged in our evolutionary lineage. Scientists previously thought that great apes didn’t have the required brain circuitry. Now, it seems that they do. The question now is why our species used the last few million years to hone these neural capabilities, but our close cousins didn’t – or weren’t able to.

Evolution works if “speech emerged” in one “evolutionary lineage” but it also works when it didn’t emerge in another. Darwin can’t lose. That’s why his Stuff Happens Law is so successful. It explains everything.

Do Darwinians care about how silly they look with this kind of storytelling? We did a quick Google search on “lameira orangutan language speech kazoo” and found thousands of hits over the past year. None of the top entries criticize (or ridicule) his theory. All assume that this is wonderful research, proving that kazoos shed light on human language. 

This tells you much of what you need to know about Darwinism.

Cartoon for CEH by Brett Miller. All rights reserved.

Affirm the Biblical position that our Creator (the ultimate Communicator) endowed us with language, though, and you will likely be mocked, ridiculed and punished by banishment to make such an assertion in any scientific forum.

We’ve compared Darwin’s Empire to a castle that has banished all its critics outside the walls. Now we see that it is truly a Tower of Babble.

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  • John15 says:

    In my sadness, I was looking for an exact quote of G.K. Chesterton, when I came across this. ‘Oh, mortal man, is there anything you cannot be made to believe?’–Adam Weishaupt. The extreme gullibility of men outside the control and wisdom of the Holy Spirit is truly sad, and only sardonically humorous.

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