Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Two Little Words

I have taken out a book (Not A Chimp) on evolution from Westminster Library, but have ceased reading it after 2 chapters, and am intending to return it tomorrow. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the cover picture shows a right-looking (from the viewer's perspective) chimp in a Rodin-esque pose, while below a bald man in a striped shirt with very long eyebrows strokes his chin while gazing leftwards into the middle distance.
Second, the back cover blurb says:


I can't help thinking, every time I glance over at the bedside table (having turned the book over because the man/chimp picture on the front cover irritates me so much) that it says - or at least should say -:


This, in my opinion, would be a far better proposition for a treatise, but the lack of these two little letters (yes, I am aware of the title of this post, thank you) rankles.

And then there's the content. The book was written by Jeremy Taylor, who was a broadcaster - not a scientist. I don't pretend to be in any way qualified to assess or peer review any serious scientific writing, having only recently grasped Richard Dawkins (though not in the biblical sense, obviously) but I do prefer my science to come from scientists as opposed to TV people. On top of that, I don't really know what the hell the guy is driving at. His main beef seems to be that we've overdone the whole anthropomorphising thing with our hairy cousins, and that too much sentimentality gets in the way when considering how closely related we are to Pan Troglodytes. The whole issue around granting chimps and other apes 'human' rights - however noble this may be - is a side issue and clouds serious study around the difficult task of understanding the genetics. He may be right, and he may have a valid point, but I do feel that premise is seriously undermined by the fact that he does not possess any scientific qualifications.

Now - to focus my non-simian brain cells on Microsoft Excel...

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