Thursday, January 27, 2011

Monkey Business

Headlines like this always tickle me:  "How humans are 97% the same as orangutans: New research shows how DNA matches"  The unstated conclusion, which is actually an assumption, as well as an aspiration, is that between men and monkeys, there really is no difference.

I've made this point before, but it's been awhile:  The fact that orangutans and humans share 97% of their DNA surprises me not at all.  We are both mammals inhabiting the planet earth.  I suspect that between humans and horses and hyenas we would also find the DNA match to be some pretty big number.

The more interesting question is that because we are so obviously different, I've never once witnessed a orangutan build a house or compose a sonnet, what are we to make of the remaining 3%?  Of what does it consist and is it important?

This gambit is used quite often when the desired conclusion is one of essential equality, like, for example, between the sexes.  The fact that men and women share, oh, I don't know, say 95% of the same hopes, fears, goals, etc., says nothing about the 5% over which we differ and it is precisely that 5% that matters.

By the way, after you make that last point, DUCK!.

No comments:

Post a Comment