Saturday, March 17, 2018

A mirror is a negative space
With a frame and a place for your face #2

Evopsych jackass George Gallup Jnr. is too good to be true. I am not saying that he is really a literary creation (written as a caricatured interlocutor in a Socratic dialog) who escaped into the real world and has devoted his subsequent career to provoking P.Z. Myers, but it would be irresponsible not to speculate. Object Lesson #1: This is why you keep literary creations within Level IV Fictive Confinement facilities.

Here he is in 2012, in his role as advisor to professional conspiracists, claiming credit for enriching the English lexicon with a needful word:
June Sarpong is in Albany, New York to meet with Dr. Gordon Gallup, who is described as a “psychologist who has done groundbreaking research on animal behavior.” He’s speaking with June because he came to believe that a new species has been walking the planet for 40 years: half-chimp, half-human. “I first learned about Oliver in an article that appeared in a 1976 issue of Time Magazine. And in thumbing through that issue, I saw Oliver’s picture. Oliver is a chimpanzee that got international attention in the 1970’s because he “walked, looked, and behaved like a human.” “The first thing that occurred to me is that Oliver might be a human-chimpanzee hybrid. And I coined the term humanzee,” Gallup proudly explains.

From that interview, the freshly-minted word-coin propagated along the time axis in both directions, all the way back to the 1920s.

Dr Gallup has strong views about chimpanzee hybridisation, making him popular and much-run-after among reality-enhancement clickbait websites.
Gallup then tells June a “deep dark secret about a government research center… a place called Yerkes,” the narrator says, grimly. “There’s been a persistent rumor that at the Yerkes Primate Center there was an attempt to artificially inseminate a female chimpanzee with human semen from an obviously undisclosed donor. And that not only did conception occur, but pregnancy went full term, and eventuated in live birth. And within week or two after the baby was born, the people that did this began to consider the implications of what they’d done, and they euthanized the infant without ever telling anybody about it.” June asks if he’s certain about this, and Gallup replies that he was told this while a graduate student by one of his professors who worked at the original Yerkes Primate Reserach Center in Orange Park, FLA, and that “he was a pretty credible person.”

“Do you actually believe it is physically possible to create a humanzee?” asks June. “There have been a number of primate hybridization experiments that are well documented” explains Gallup.*  June then asks if they would be happening in secret, and Gallup replies “they would only be happening in secret.”
Gallup's interviews generally inform us that he also originated the Mirror Test. This was designed to distinguish between human beings and owls, or to find out if one is a non-intervention Martian observer, or something like that. First only humans and other great apes could pass... then cetaceans and elephants... the list of other species reaching the threshold of consciousness / self-awareness continues to lengthen (as could have been predicted by anyone familiar with the side-effects of Another Kiwi playing silly-buggers with the settings of the Riddled Morphogenic Flux Intensifier). The failure of the Mirror Test to establish the uniqueness of humans has called attention to the half-arsed, hand-wavy nature of the reasoning behind it, and it has fallen out of favour among ethologists.

Anyways: Gallup first spouted this "live-born but euthanased hybrid" cool story in 2009,
In the course of the documentary, University of Albany psychology professor Gordon Gallup says a “credible source,” a former professor he declined to name, said he witnessed the birth of a such a creature at the Yerkes center in the 1920s.
...only to retract it when he realised that academia does not rate for this "heard it from an unnamed, long-dead witness" style of citation.
I didn’t say that happened,” he said. “I said there is a persistent rumor it happened.”
Riddled sources indicate that Gallup was in fact one of approximately four people who watched Skullduggery back in 1970 when it was released with little fanfare and considerable embarrassment; and was in a twilight state of consciousness at the time, in the aftermath of a marathon research session involving quaaludes, ketamine, coffee liqueur and many hours of mirror-viewing. Thus he remembers certain plot elements as if they were recounted to him. You would be surprised how often that happens.
Quite how an obscure though well-regarded French novel of ideas came to mutate into a buffoonish action script, attracting Burt Reynolds in a starring role, is a long story. Also, soon to be a movie script in its own right, written by Charlie Kaufman.

But "persistent rumours" of a viable human hybrid have little clickbait value for reality-enhancing popsci websites, and Gallup knows his constituency's needs -- he knows which side his crossbred is buttered -- so he recently revised his memories again, now regurging the "euthanased hybrid" fantasy as a claim made by the Yerkes Primate Center itself (a claim later suppressed, it would seem). Gallup remains undeterred by the non-existence of the Center at the time of the supposed event.
Speaking to The Sun Online, he said: “One of the most interesting cases involved an attempt which was made back in the 1920s in what was the first primate research centre established in the US in Orange Park, Florida.
“They inseminated a female chimpanzee with human semen from an undisclosed donor and claimed not only that pregnancy occurred but the pregnancy went full term and resulted in a live birth.
“But in the matter of days, or a few weeks, they began to consider the moral and ethical considerations and the infant was euthanised.”
Object Lesson #2: When the craving for headlines has forced you to lower standards to the point of spouting sound-bites to the Murdoch Sun then it's probably time to retire and let some younger publicity-whore work that side of the street.

Gordon Gallup previously came to Riddled attention for his brave, forthright EvoPsych theory that semen is an antidepressant (and for ensuing "unsolicited semen testimonials"). He did not vouchsafe whether the mood-raising effects are limited to human semen, and to female recipients.

Bonus Mirror Tests. Left: commissioned from John Holmes in 1969

The Sun seized the opportunity to boast of this Exclusive Interview with Gallup more recently, in the course of their salacious SHOCK-HORROR-DISGUST coverage of an essay on the ethics of miscegenation from some barmpot psychologist.

Psychologist (David Barash) wants to burnish his credenzas as Brave Maverick Thinker Untrammelled by Shibboleths of Conventional Morality, and is not letting his profound and far-reaching ignorance stand in his way. The gist of it is that if only we let go of the outmoded taboos that hold back our thinking, we would realise that the ethical imperatives not only allow us to crossbreed humans with other primates, but demand it; the social value of a hybrid, as a philosophical proof of concept, would far outweigh any misery it might experience from its isolation and indeterminate status.

Pro-tip: Poodles and labradors are not "different subspecies".

Object Lesson #3: If  you ever find yourself writing the words "I discovered that Richard Dawkins had made a similar suggestion", then it is time to look back and reconsider your poor life decisions.
, [Hat-tip: Michael Brooks]
* The number of "well-documented" primate experiments here equals precisely three, all courtesy of Professor Il'ya Ivanov, a Russian evangelist of artificial insemination. Ivanov wanted to perform more inseminations but the French authorities evicted the the sick fuck from their French Guinea colony when they caught wind of his activities, while his attempts to continue the 'research' in Abhazia were thwarted by the short life expectancy of any sentient beings that fell into his hands. The paucity of facts has been partially remedied by Liars-for-Jesus creationists, who did their best to fabricate an Evolution = Stalin angle.

Otherwise, there are vague friend-of-a-friend reports of 1960s studies in China, details and evidence yet to be invented.

There is not a great deal of material to work with, though this does not stop the websites of the Clickbait Archipelago from copying and progressively distorting the same lurid tales from one another in a cyclic version of the human centipede. It certainly doesn't stop Prof. Gallup from flapping his mouth any time anyone holds a microphone near it.


rhwombat said...

I know Gallup is incorrigible, but he might want to consider what the brilliant but disturbing novel Wish did for Peter Goldsworthy - also on the differences between great apes - in this case a gorilla

Emma said...

I don't think I can keep coming back here. You didn't even make one disposable Island of Dr. Moreau reference.