Saturday, August 11, 2007
Bonobo Revisionism in the New Yorker
This article does a nice job showing how much of the popular understanding of bonobos is due to the philosophical commitments of one researcher (de Waal), versus the empirical reality observed by others. Female bonobos will gang up on a male and chew off his fingers or toes (in captivity at least), a hunt often ends by eating the prey animal's viscera while it is still alive; and there is anecdotal evidence for murder.
It seems that social scientists can't avoid projecting fantasies of peaceful, sexually liberated lifestyles onto other cultures.