> "Whether this behavior is due to competition for food or to the decline of the rainforest's productivity caused by climate change will now be investigated in more detail."
Declaring the cause must be food competition or climate change seems a bit hasty?
These are complex social animals. Given this is the only attack ever observed, it seems possible to me that there are a myriad of plausible one-off explanations. Perhaps a particular chimp or gorilla was having a really bad day and just went out looking for a fight.
Indeed. Chimps will eat gorilla infants. So if the attack was over a scarcity of food resources you'd expect the killed infant to be eaten. This was only observed in 1/2 the encounters...
> Between 2014 and 2018, we observed nine direct interactions between individuals of the Rekambo community and unhabituated gorillas (N=9; see Fig. 1). These events were always peaceful, and occasionally involved co-feeding in fruiting trees (N=2). In 2019 however, we observed two encounters resulting, in both cases, in coalitionary lethal attacks. The first encounter involved a party of 27 chimpanzees and a group of five gorillas. The second involved a party of 27 chimpanzees and a group of seven gorillas (see Table 1, and video clips 1 and 2 in the SA). The first event occurred after a territorial patrol during which the males made a deep incur- sion into a neighbouring chimpanzee territory. The second event happened at the start of a suspected territorial boundary patrol. Both events took place on the outer boundaries of the Rekambo territory (see Fig. 1). The main aggressors in both events were adult male chimpanzees (for details of involvement see Table 1).
The two encounters lasted 52 and 79 min, respectively, involved both contact and non-contact aggressions and coalitionary displays from chimpanzees towards gorillas. The gorillas counter attacked and defended themselves using contact aggressions, displays and threat gestures. During the first encounter the silverback was present for 14 min, whilst in the second encounter the silverback was present for 10 min. The first encounter resulted in one dead gorilla infant and three injured chimpanzees; the second resulted in one dead gorilla infant. While there was no indication of consumption of the dead gorilla infant in the first encounter, the infant in the second encounter was almost entirely consumed by one adult chimpanzee female.
>> Declaring the cause must be food competition or climate change seems a bit hasty?
It's not a declaration, but a hypothesis that attempts to explain the observations according to prior knowledge. It "will now be investigated in more detail" to try and disprove it. That's bog standard scientific work.
What's hasty is the easy dismissal of the opinion of experts on a subject most commenters here are probably unfamliar with (interspecies interactions between non-human primates) and the attemps to find an ulterior motive of some kind of political nature, in comments in this thread.
The scientific establishment is a group of people in various organizational structures and alliances. I'm part of that establishment, and I can say that it lies, exaggerates, and has become increasingly untrustworthy in the past decade or two:
- The easiest way to get ahead in the scientific establishment is to fabricate politically-motivated results.
- Competition is intense, and the "hard" way is becoming impossible.
My general advice is to read source data -- even there with a large grain of salt -- but to definitely not trust "expert" conclusions. One of the easiest ways to have "impact" is to write newsworthy conclusions weakly supported by evidence. It's not technically academic fraud, and gives you the visibility you need for academic job offers.
Science isn't about authority or expertise. It's about evidence, critical thinking, and the scientific process. If you believe science is "opinion of experts," you're doing it wrong.
Can you please show me where in my comment above I say that "science is "opinion
If I haven't said that in my comment, would you say I'm obliged to reply to your
comment and explain why I'm not, in fact, "doing it wrong"?
Do you agree that when having a conversation one should reply to what one's
interlocutor has actually said, and not what one thinks has been said?
>> Science isn't about authority or expertise. It's about evidence, critical
thinking, and the scientific process.
I disagree. "Science" means knowledge. What we call science is a process, like
you say, but it is the process of accumulating and organising the collective
knowledge of our civilisation. "Evidence, critical thinking and the scientific
process" are not the essence of science, but tools to acquire knowledge, and
this knowledge is the essence of science.
The people who have deep knowledge of a subject of scientific inquiry, we call
"experts". At least I do and that's what I mean by "expert" in my comment
above. To become an expert -to acquire deep knowledge in a subject- takes long
years of study and familiarity with the work of other experts. "Evidence,
critical thinking, and the scientific process" don't make anyone an expert. Hard
work and applying oneself to the task of learning is what does.
Yet, what I see on HN, time and again, is that it is the opinions of non-experts
that are supported by the majority of users. I say that because every time I see
a post like the one above, where some researchers announce the results of their
work, someone will always, always, jump in and dismiss the work of the
researchers, and that someone usually has no idea what they're talking about,
has spent a minimal amount of time thinking about or learning about what
they're talking about, and their comment will rise to the top of the
conversation, like a flag waving in the wind proclaiming "we do not care what
you know, we can do better with a quick google and some bungled logic". That
such comments rise to the top of conversations means that they are the ones most
other users agree with.
This, the preponderance of inexpert opinion found as the first comment in posts
about researchers' work, dismissing the researchers' work and supported by a
majority of HN readers, is what I think of as "anti-science".
> Can you please show me where in my comment above I say that "science is "opinion of experts"?
Right here: "What's hasty is the easy dismissal of the *opinion of experts* on a subject ... When did HN become so anti-science?"
> The people who have deep knowledge of a subject of scientific inquiry, we call "experts".
Those "experts" said that Jews, Slavs, and African Americans were stupid and inferior to Anglo-Saxons, and ought to be enslaved or killed. Science is not a blind deference to "experts."
> Hard work and applying oneself to the task of learning is what does.
I have not found this to be the case. The harder work required is combing through evidence. People who apply hard work to learning generally come out as ideologues who can regurgitate opinions, from similar ideologues who came before. The way to become an expert involves looking at primary sources and understanding the evidence which went into a conclusion. In my domain, it involves working through a lot of math too.
A lot of the scientific establishment is a game of telephone where Bob cites Sue who cites Jill who cites Jim, and by the time you get to the end, there is no trace of evidence left. Good science involves recognizing when that's the case.
> This, the preponderance of inexpert opinion found as the first comment in posts about researchers' work, dismissing the researchers' work and supported by a majority of HN readers, is what I think of as "anti-science".
Then you're wrong in your thinking. This is anti-scientific-establishment.
I am a recognized "expert" in one domain of research. That's why I am anti-scientific-establishment. I see how the sausage gets made. I am pro-science.
I think the scientific establishment would benefit from more diversity -- in all dimensions (liberals talk about race and socioeconomics, conservatives about ideology, and no one talks about culture), more transparency, broader engagement, and more, to be blunt, audits to make sure people didn't fabricate results.
Oh yes it is. We're not just talking about criticisms of individual papers here; this site often has comments disparaging science as a whole, calling it a "new religion", etc. If that isn't anti-science, then there isn't such a thing.
Moreover, typical commenters here do not apply evidence, critical thinking, and scientific process appropriately. They usually find something easy to nitpick that gives them the appearance of thinking critically, then they conclude that the research is trash. See: the recent article on caffeine.
It's one giant fallacy fallacy masquerading as deep conversation.
I've noticed a tendency towards pseudo-intellectual snark amidst the comments these days. It relies a lot on misused logic and eloquence to present itself as a knowledgeable opinion, but often never goes deeper than a semantic nitpick. This whole comment thread wouldn't exist if the author of the article had simply said "or something else."
People who participate in HN are not a monolithic bloc, not everyone reads the words the same way or thinks about them the same way.
I think “climate change” is a bit indirect as a topic myself, would love to hear something about how these encounters would be directly caused by a change in temperatures, humidity, rainfall and the like. Non-human primates don’t share our politics. Food pressure or loss of habitat might cause more of these encounters, and those could attribute to climate change, that’s indirect.
Gangs of adult male chimpanzees can be right assholes. Pinning down another chimp and tearing its rectum, among other violent indignities, suggests that they’re capable of lots of other violence.
> Perhaps a particular chimp or gorilla was having a really bad day and just went out looking for a fight.
This doesn't necessarily contradict the food competition or climate change hypothesis. To the individual ape it might seem that he's just having a bad day, but then you could look at weather/food data and compare it to incidence of violence and see a causal relation. It would actually be surprising if those things didn't affect ape behavior.
You have to tie your research to the popular causes of the day. It would a bit far-fetched to tie it to gender and underrepresented minorities or online misinformation or covid, so the nearest possible "serious issue of our time" is climate change.
What on earth has happened to HN comments over the last couple of months? Every post I've opened today has had this same kind of "half-joking-but-not-really SJWs are bad" comment on something completely unrelated.
I touched in this subject the other day in a deep thread full of flaggings, since HN is [primarily] user moderated, these kind of comments seem like they must be here because enough users either want them here, or don’t care either way. Otherwise they’d be flagged as they do violate guildines.
As to why they’ve been like this recently, I can’t tell for sure. I feel like it’s been a bit kore than just a few months though, obviously 2020 was a US election cycle and things tend to get dicey around those times. I recall in both 2016 and 2020 people getting upset by the low quality threads, and other attempted to placate them by swearing it’d be over in a few months. Now it’s been more than a few months at this point, but there was also so much more than an election cycle in 2020 to cause political division.
Which leads to another point. HN is explicitly not a venue for politics, but politics infects everything so it gets complicated. For example, are political threads related to tech and startups off topic? I wouldn’t say no offhand, but there certainly have been an increase in the number of inheritor political threads that I’d personally consider this not the place for. Often this is justified by a lax interpretation of “anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity” (note though that the sort of threads I’m thinking of almost never contain inquisitive or intellectual discussion) from the submission guidelines. So if political threads are more common and more accepted, that’s going to invite all the sort of antics you get with internet politics including the sort of comment you mention in your comment. Some of the most egregious stuff will get flagged, but some surprisingly bad comments can stay upvoted if the opinion expressed resonates with enough of the community.
I don't know what others do, I've been commenting on various technical things too. I wouldn't categorize this as "SJW bad". It's a related but not the same phenomenon.
And it's also quite usual that these kinds of press releases have to include some political punchline, to confirm being on the right side of history and so on. It's predictable.
Maybe it's totally benign in this case. But I've been duped so many times that I discount any such claim which ties into these "serious respectable talking points". I'm planning to take a look at Lawrence Krauss' now book on climate change, that dude still seems to have his head screwed on the right way.
There is a lot of incentive to flood well-meaning discussions with vitriol in order to bring the political temperature up. Most people that do this aren't even trying to be trolls, they are caught up in the fury of those around them.
Are you sure? "the infant in the second encounter was almost entirely consumed by one adult chimpanzee female." I see a gender assumption here.. we have to check her Twitter to see if it's she/her or they/them..
It's a convenient hypothesis, given the ubiquity of climate change impacts, but also a lazy one, like blaming the aggression on something equally as prevalent and relevant to the situation, like chimp genetics. The hypothesis is untestable absent some other specific assertions, and therefore unscientific.
climate change is having wide and radically accelerating impacts. I'm certain the scientists have good insights into why it might be a factor in this event. much more concerning is the knee-jerk ignorance about climate change among lay audiences who are repeatedly putting their hands over their eyes and ears.
Yes, given the headline I expected a coordinated attack that wiped out an entire group of gorillas, not a couple of skirmishes. Chimpanzees will attack humans, including eating human children. I don't see why small encounters that result in one or two deaths would be totally unexpected.
Did I mention natural behavior? Did the comment I responded to mention natural behavior? How is natural behavior relevant to the discussion between OP and I? What is the point that you are arguing and why are you taking it up with me? Further, how are you defining natural behavior? Can natural behavior change over time, in response to external stimulus?
I appreciate that you're trying to combat the anti-science shallow/kneejerk critiques, but this is not the way. You're feeding trolls by the handful. Here, you're jumping to conclusions just to dunk on somebody. Please pick your battles more carefully so you can be more deliberate as you wage them.
But its true? This research organization doesn't have to beg for short-term or 3rd party research money?
Also, I'm really pissed and also I'm kind of convinced that its too late anyways to try to convince someone who says stuff like that that they're not right. The only thing that can still be done is trying to keep more people from getting sucked into that black hole. The best way to do this seems to be to de-platform these people. The 2nd best way? No idea. Did I mention I'm pissed?
I mean, do you really believe well-researched, weighted, deliberate, thought-through arguments still help? Wouldn't climate science then have succeeded in convincing people? Maybe 20, 30 years ago. But then some people decided to start systematically lying instead of facing reality and lots of people decided to believe those lies and not face reality, and here we are.
> Also, I'm really pissed and also I'm kind of convinced that its too late anyways to try to convince someone who says stuff like that that they're not right.
Look, I'm not arguing with you here. You're admittedly pissed. Please take a breather. This approach can only bolster confirmation bias for folks who think that science is just another religion with fanatical adherents.
There's a lot of writing about (including several studies) how to talk to people with extreme / conspiratorial / fact-resistant beliefs. Please read up.
If you want public funding in Germany, you better make sure that you cover either diversity or climate change with your research. Not sure how they missed the opportunity to give "lack of group diversity" as a possible reason for the attack.
"At 13:15, Chenge followed by an adult female, Roxy, climbed up the tree. Roxy moved toward Greta and took the body. She then began to consume the hands and internal organs of the gorilla infant. Between 13:16 and 14:00, Roxy allowed Chenge, Littlegrey, Onome, Orian, and Queliba to access small amounts of meat, no begging behaviour was observed between individuals. A final gorilla chest beat was heard at 13:46 in a North-East direction of the observers."
I remember once watching a documentary on a roving band of chimpanzees, and thinking how human they looked. I was shocked when they attacked another band of chimpanzees and killed them all. However, I quickly overcame my shock. They were quite human indeed...
Even monkeys (those that are not apes) exhibit behavior that so powerfully human. One campus where I studied had many (curb the joke). This allowed enough opportunities to observe them.
What moved me most, apart from their usual monkey business, is their display of quiet private tenderness towards their partner. That took me by surprise.
Everyone has some personal experiences that they would remember because it changed their perspective or added one when non existed. This would be one of them for me.
A family friend of ours was researcher in medical biology. His daily work included draining blood from rhesus monkeys for testing. I remember as a kid that he gave up his line of work. At that time it had struck me as an odd thing to do because he was doing so well. When I saw the behavior of these monkeys from up close, I got a better appreciation of why.
Funny how all the people criticizing the science behind that article didn't do proper research themselves.
The Max Planck Society is a research organization with a steady, long-term funding through the German government that is organized in a bottom-up manner, meaning the directors of the various institutes can do pretty much whatever the fuck they want and decide about everything important in that organization. There are dozens of institutes doing research in virtually every research field. And yeah, lots of Nobel prizes. They really don't have to follow some political lead or short-term trends.
As a child, I would hear news reports talking about guerrilla attacks. It wasn't until I saw a Mad Magazine feature with a title along the lines of "if only the news meant what it sounded like" with a picture of gorillas attacking a city that I realized that they not gorilla attacks (I think it was a while longer still before I knew the word was guerrilla—I was a kid, OK?). This is the first sign that maybe the world could be as interesting as I imagined.
There were 18 chimpanzees vs. 1 silverback. While the silverback was getting harassed by 10 chimpanzees, the gorilla infant could be targetted by the other chimpanzees.
Moreover, the silverback was troubled by the presence of human observers and fled 3 minutes later, whereas the chimpanzees were habituated to the human presence.
> In both events, the chimpanzees considerably outnumbered the gorillas. [...] At 17:13, the silverback charged an adolescent female chimpanzee, Gia, knocking her into the air. At 17:15, a group of approximately nine male chimpanzees (adults and adolescents), and at least one adult female chimpanzee surrounded the silverback, and repeatedly jumped down on and hit him whilst screaming and barking. [Meanwhile, the gorilla infant could be kidnapped by the other chimpanzees.] At 17:22, one adult male chimpanzee, Littlegrey, was observed sitting on the ground holding a gorilla infant in front of him.
> During the first encounter the silverback was present for 14 min [out of a total of 52 min], whilst in the second encounter the silverback was present for 10 min [out of a total of 74 min]. [...] At 12:33, the silverback discovered the human observers on the ground in a distance of approximately 30 m to the base of the tree and started barking. [...] At 12:36, the silverback rapidly climbed down the tree and fled. The chimpanzees continued barking but did not follow him. [...] We cannot rule out that the presence of human observers, in both events, may have had an effect on the unhabituated silverback’s departure and may have tilted the imbalance of power in favour of the habituated chimpanzees.
At each step of the evolutionary ladder, there
is a confrontation from one species to the
next; A battle of hairy to slightly less hairy
homonids. Two meet on a grassy plain,
their stares communicating that this is the
final straw. You came into our banana
plantation the last time. A thought
reverberating through the millenia. Once
again, two creatures play out their parts,
employing different gifts bestowed upon them
by nature, now to challenge eachother in
mortal combat. One with a slightly
more developed brain, and the other
with slightly more developed muscles.