Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Orgy in the legislature!

Wouldn't it be awesome if humans dealt with the problem of dividing precious resources the way bonobos do:

Bonobos like apples. They like them a lot. As a matter of fact, it’s difficult to do bonobo research without a supply of green apples to motivate them to do the experiments.

But they like group harmony most of all. And the sudden appearance of the apples in their midst immediately raises the threat of discord. Who will get to eat the apples?

If these were chimpanzees, the strongest males would immediately claim the fruit. There would be a fair amount of shoving, and possibly some bloodshed.

But bonobos are so communal that the tension produced by something so precious as an apple in their midst must be dispelled by a gesture of community. In this case, everyone gets to cool off with a little sexual comfort from their neighbor. Then, self-interest replaced by a certain yummy group feeling, they settle down to share the apple.

Sometimes, I think the only path to decreased human suffering lies in tinkering with our very nature. We're buggy. Let's fix us. (Yes, yes, we know so little. Yes, yes, there would be unintended consequences. Yes, all of that. But isn't making human nature better, more moral, something we should strive for?)

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