You Maniacs! You’ve Made Everything Self-Aware!

Wired magazine’s science weblog reported last year on a surprising discovery: rhesus macaques are just as vain as we are. Apparently, they recognize their own reflections in a mirror, and this proves that these animals have the same capacity for self-awareness as humans, chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants.

The weblog entry was relatively muted, nothing that ‘monkeys weren’t supposed to do this’ and that this ‘open[s] a barrel of questions’. This surprisingly did not open a barrel of monkeys. Anyways, this confusion is because the weblog writer is a complete twit and doesn’t recognize the real meaning of Wired‘s story:

The apes are taking over.

People often say that animal research is cruel and dangerous for the animals involved. It is, if by ‘animals’ you mean ‘humans’. As a matter of fact, we’ve done so much testing on already-smart animals that they’re starting to become more and more like humans. Mice are now world champions at navigating mazes. Dolphins won silver in synchronized swimming in the last Olympics. Chimpanzees are engineering a spaceship for the Lunar Lander Challenge next year. And, as a point of comparison, most Americans still can’t tell the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’. Sad.

Chimp scientists
The chimpanzee entrants in the 2011 Lunar Lander Challenge.

Almost anyone will recognize the famous image of the decapitated Statue of Liberty and a gun-crazed actor screaming at it. Why did this happen? Yes, because Rod Serling is brilliant. However, at least partly, it also happened because the apes eventually became so smart that wresting power away from the destroyed human civilization was as easy as getting a banana through a railing with a metal rod.

If we keep testing animals for intelligence, essentially we improve their problem-solving methods, spatial abilities, and learning capacities exponentially at no cost to them and at the cost of immense governmental research grants for the US. In short, we are paying to train members of a potential coup d’état. You think monkeys throwing feces is bad? Just think of them throwing grenades, instead.

Suddenly, all this talk of mice and dolphins being smarter than humans doesn’t sound so funny. Serling’s film was a cautionary tale, not against the destructive capacities and malevolence of humankind, but against the possible takeover of the entire planet by chimps. Sometimes, you don’t want to read into anything too much.

There is only one solution to this problem—kill all the lab animals. It’s already too late to set them free—they’re already smart enough to just get a degree online, although even they can see through the University of Phoenix scam. Plus, there’s always the risk that they will develop a rage virus that will soon transmit to humans and create a world full of crazy super-powered zombies and Cillian Murphy, so we really shouldn’t take any chances.

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