In the news: Primate Threat Displays

Recent missile tests by Iran have captured public attention lately, and I’d like to say a few words about that.

What we’re seeing here is a basic and natural mammalian territorial threat display not unakin to chest-beating. Also in that category I would put Israel’s long-range airstrike drills and a certain world power’s careful repositioning of naval battle-groups.

Don’t get me wrong. In troops of chimpanzees, gorrillas, and baboons, for example, threat displays go quite a long way quelling disputes short of actual violence. Even scaled up to the level of nation-states, primate chest-beating is a quite useful and fundamental tool of territorial diplomacy.

Do I wish that we all could skip the primitive and laughably fallacious “might-makes-right” primate diplomatic philosophy? Of course I do. However, when a number of humans are locked in a room with a number of baboons, it is absolutely necessary that everyone present know how to speak baboon. This is true even if there is only one baboon. I say this, diplomatically, without pointing any fingers at any baboons I feel to be present in the room.

It is up to the non-baboons to locate and apply any monoliths they might happen to have on hand until wasteful primate threat displays are no longer necessary or useful.


July 10, 2008 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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