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Monday, 16 April 2007

Where are the Anthropologists when you need them?

Right, let's be very clear. I'm not suggesting that Moslems share any more characteristics with Apes than I do, which is to say 99.whatever percent of our DNA. But I'm confused by two contrasting press stories.

The first was in yesterday's Sunday Times headed 'Don't stare at Moslems' and quoted teaching advice as recommending 'staring or looking is a form of discrimination as it makes the other person feel uncomfortable, or as though they are not normal'.

The second is in this morning's Telegraph headed 'Don't stare at the Apes' and quotes an Antwerp zoo spokesman: "We are saying to visitors that, if our apes hold eye contact with them, then they should look away for a bit or take a step back. Our evidence shows that chimpanzees and other apes who have a lot of contact with visitors apparently tend to isolate themselves from their companions over the course of time."

3 comments:

hatfield girl said...

Having conducted a wholly unrepresentative survey on the question, "were you brought up to know that it is rude to stare?", after lunch, I can report that apart from some comments that asking people about their upbringing has its moments too, all the English admitted that they had been, an Australian did too, Italians had not been, but offered that Americans all thought it very rude indeed.

After that there was a lot of looking into the middle distance. ( It was noted that we are apes too, so the fact that apes have lots of rules about staring shouldn't be a surprise) .

Don't people have mothers any more to tell them how to behave?

Raedwald said...

Well of course people like you and I and your colleagues don't stare. It's very vulgar. But the first bit of advice was produced for teachers; many newly qualified teachers in the state sector still have trouble not breathing through open mouths, let alone not staring.

And as for the second, well, I have looked an orang utan in the eye, to seek some sign of intelligence, and found in the returned gaze a deep and contented brotherhood.

hatfield girl said...

My daughter tells me that many teachers have a great deal to stare at (state sector).

Once, in Rome zoo, I unwisely took the hand of an infant orang utang; it was so distressed it wept when I had to let go and leave. Great apes are something I avoid thinking about .