April 1, 2001
News Index From The Associative Press
ASP INDEXES: TOP STORIES | NEWS | SPORTS | BUSINESS | TECHNOLOGY |ENTERTAINMENT
Filed at 4:01 a.m. E.T.
In a new study appearing in tomorrow’s American Journal of Socio-Biology, researchers at Flagstaff University’s Mary Coulter Field Institute report findings that argue common lab rats have better ethics than human beings. A ten year series of tests involving carefully randomized human subjects demonstrated far more ruthlessly opportunistic behavior than comparable testing of rats.
“Professionally, this is fascinating, but personally it can get pretty depressing,” said lead researcher Dr. Vishnu Schist, author of the study, “Hierarchy and Self-Denial In Extremis: Socio-Biologic Implications of Reality Testing.”
The tests involved a simulated shipwreck, in which it became quickly obvious that only limited numbers of humans or rats would be able escape. The question was whether anyone would step back to let others go ahead, and in what order.
Scientists were dismayed to find that rats, despite the sterotype, actually proceeded in an orderly and predictable way, letting pregnant females leave first, followed by young rats. Humans, in contrast, shoved aside anyone who got between them and the way out. Dr. Schist said he had witnessed young male humans literally walking over very young human babies in their rush for self-preservation. “They just didn’t care who they stepped on,” said Schist.
The irony is, according to Dr. Schist, that such ruthless self-promotion inevitably leads to destruction of the whole species. So while saving only oneself may benefit the individual, he says, “These rats have a much better sense of the future, and they’re going to outlast us, apparently.”
Copyright 2001 Associative Press/CMI