Now struggling to avoid falling for the naturalistic fallacy

The last two years have coarsened me. I read this story of the demise of a chimpanzee leader, and realized I’ve changed.

Chimps have been spotted killing and then eating their former tyrannical leader.

Jill Pruetz, an professor of anthropology, said that she found it “very difficult and quite gruesome to watch” the group of chimpanzees kill a member of their own community and then abuse the animal’s dead body.

Professor Pruetz has described how she saw a group of the animals discover the body of a chimp called Foudouko, a former leader of the Fongoli community who had since been exiled for five years and who was probably killed by members of the group. After they came across the dead body, they abused and ate it for nearly four hours, the Iowa State University anthropologist described.

Once I would have been horrified and thought this was a terrible, awful act.

Now I’m thinking, well, maybe this was a reasonable response. Perhaps this is simply a normal group of young chimps reacting appropriately. Maybe this is how state funerals ought to be conducted in the future.

Both sides. Both sides on this issue would have good people.

(Warning: there is video at the link.)


  1. nomdeplume says

    I’m reminded, for some reason, of the comment about Ted Cruz, to the effect that if he was found murdered in the Senate everyone in the building would be a suspect…

  2. consciousness razor says

    Now I’m thinking, well, maybe this was a reasonable response.

    Come on now … you just know that by the time it’s your turn, you’ll be stuck eating Trump giblets, instead of the … uhhhh … are there any tasty bits? The hair?

  3. ridana says

    Didn’t go to the link, but if members of his former community killed him, why didn’t they eat him then? How did they just “discover” or “come across” the body they were responsible for killing?

    The way it started out gave me the impression that they overthrew him and killed him, but then it said he’d been exiled for five years. Didn’t Goodall document similar behavior during conflicts between rival communities? After five years, they probably saw him as no different from such rivals, except maybe they hated him more. No point in wasting food.

  4. anthrosciguy says

    Now I’m thinking, well, maybe this was a reasonable response… Maybe this is how state funerals ought to be conducted in the future.

    Worked for the Batak.

  5. Mark says

    If Trump were a Thanksgiving turkey, he’d be the one with all the artificial coloring and injected flavors. He’d start off frozen and mushy and end up dry and bland. No thanks, I’d rather eat roadkill.

  6. wzrd1 says

    @4, a leader that was exiled, hence, an outsider and hence, their treatment and eventual consuming of free meat.

    Still, PZ’s suggestion, sorry, but I disagree with it. I don’t eat shit, I reject it entirely.
    That’s how various forms of CJD got established in various communities over the millennia. The last cannibalistic variant, described when I was still quite young.
    Hint for my age, my first memory was of mom telling me not to wiggle about and of course, I wiggled about and got nicked by a diaper pin. Next clear memory was of JFK being shot to death, the next sequence, mom for once paralyzed in front of the offending television that she for once, let me to be babysat at, didn’t hear my call to help me wipe my heinie. Filled the toilet bowl with toilet paper (they belong together anyway and one must be thorough). Toilet overflowed in a Philadelphia row home.
    Mom came running, I don’t recall anything after that.
    But, I’d not be surprised if the memory was a tanned heinie.
    It was a new roll of toilet paper.
    Memory, an odd thing…

    Primate behavior, far less odd and far more predictable. Attack and kill an outsider and never turn down a free lunch, since chimps lack McDonald’s.
    And I do find Pan Troglodytes a fine model for human behavior. Especially when emotions are high, large groups are involved and are restrained only by the threat of force of law.
    Law enforced by the head Chumpanzee.

  7. komarov says

    Humans like to make things complicated, to stand on ceremony and add useless pomp to everything. So why not, in order to avoid having to eat certain people who already leave a bad taste in your mouth, take advantage of this?
    A breed of animal kept especially for the purpose of devouring and recycling the deliberately departed figurehead. Perhaps the Royal Vultures or the Palace Maggots and the Imperial Swarm Of Flies (it seems sensible to have both). Add some fanfares, banners and a machine-washable red carpet and you’re all set. Call it whatever you think fits best: a day of mourning, a day of rejoicing or, if you want to stay technical and neutral, unelection day.
    Incidentally, whatever creatures you recruit, they’ll consider it a favour. So there you have a … strong … ethical argument for the practice, especially if you pick an endangered species.

  8. says

    If I am informed correctly, human cannibals usually other humans ritually, in hopes of “consuming” admirable traits of those they feed on — strength or speed or intelligence. What about Donald Trump would anybody possibly want to gain by eating him? More or less by definition, if you’re old enough to eat him you can’t absorb “being born rich” and that’s the only thing he really has going for him.

  9. komarov says

    Re: The Vicar (#10):

    What about Donald Trump would anybody possibly want to gain by eating him?

    His keen eye for tasteful decor?