Chimps Fail at Gift Giving

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Chimps fail at gift giving, according to reports in ScienceNOW, 26 Oct 2005, Nature, vol. 437, p135, and BBC online news, 27 October 2005. Behavioural biologist Joan Silk of University of California Los Angeles and colleagues tested two groups of well socialised chimps to see if they had any sense of altruism. The researchers placed chimps in two adjacent enclosures, where they could see one another. One of the enclosures had the controls of a device that delivered pieces of food. The chimp in this enclosure had a choice of pulling a lever that delivered identical food rewards to both enclosures or a lever that delivered a food reward to its own enclosure but not to the other. The food reward was the same for the controlling chimp in each case, i.e. it lost nothing if it gave the other chimp a piece of food, and gained nothing if it didn’t. The chimps understood that their actions did make a difference, because when they were in the receiving enclosure they made begging gestures to the other chimp. However, none of the chimps showed any preference for using the gift device. Ernst Fehr, an experimental economist at University of Zurich described the study as “pathbreaking” because it challenges the view of humans and chimps being similar in social behaviour. He also commented that human teenagers involved in similar experiments almost always gave the gift.

BBC

Editorial Comment: The origin of altruistic behaviour has been a mystery to evolutionists because it is the opposite of the driving forces of evolution, i.e. the struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. Co-operative behaviour amongst social animals and birds is often explained as having survival value for the group as a whole, and therefore ensuring that some of the genes shared by the group will be passed onto the next generation. This would certainly be true when it happens, but it does not explain the origin of kindness and many other positive human qualities that are valued by human society. These will never be explained if scientists assume human beings are just another primate, who happened to come out on top in the struggle to survive. Goodness in human beings comes from being created in the image of the God who is good. (Ref. apes, socialisation, friendship)

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