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eggs, sperm, etc.

Paul Curtis Smith pcsmith at alpha2.csd.uwm.edu
Fri Sep 8 20:08:30 EST 1995


Drmarts (drmarts at aol.com) wrote:

: Here's another, non-sexual example. Do you remember watching nature films
: of primates in the wild "grooming" each other (basically, eating vermin
: they found on each other)? Remember how the narrator would comment that
: the younger monkeys groomed the older monkeys and that this reflected the
: social hierarchy of the group of monkeys, that the older monkeys were
: higher up in the hierarchy, etc.? 

: Well, a few years ago an opthalmologist with an interest in presbyopia did
: some research on aging primates. Presbyopia is the inability to focus on
: small items close-up. Humans develop presbyopia with age, due to
: stiffening of the muscles that cause the eye to accomodate for distance
: when focusing. So, this ophthalmologist did some post-mortem testing and
: discovered that, yes, non-human primates do get presbyopia. His work has
: caused behaviorists to re-think much of their earlier intepretations, as
: it now seems likely that young monkeys do the grooming because older
: monkeys simply can't see the vermin! Apparently it has nothing to do with
: heirarchy or group dynamics or anything like that.

Both of these examples (presbyopia in primates and fertilization) seem to
reflect the success of traditional scientific methods in overcoming the
biases of scientific practitioners. In neither case was it necessary for
members of oppressed groups to use any purported epistemological advantage;
neither was it necessary for anyone to use some mysterious non-empirical
method. 

Paul



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