From a comment on Ray Comfort's blog, Atheist Central:

Atheists believe the LIE of abiogenesis and the LIE of evolution, and LIE by claiming their belief system doesn't require ANY faith whatsoever.

Dishonesty is in our genome. I wonder, do chimps lie too?

Romans 1
Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them...
- carl

I'm not sure whether the creationist posed this question in jest or in seriousness, but nonetheless it intrigued me! I did a google search for chimp behavior and found this site. Although it documented a variety of chimpanzee behaviors I couldn't find anything that resembled telling a lie or cheating. I thought of looking up bonobos but couldn't find anything.

Anyone wanna help me out? =]

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Replies to This Discussion

This post is pretty typical of carl, though they all have a tendency to bust out in all caps from time to time. It's crazy - most of these people are twice my age and yet they act like teenagers online. O_o"

Anyway, that's really interesting! Those chimps may not be using words but they're definately lying.
Well, any chimpanzee telling that its species is the ancestor of humans would be definitively lying ;-).

On Carl Sagan's book "The dragons of Eden" (1977) you can find the following tale:

"...On Tenerife, also, two chimpanzees were observed maltreating a chicken: One would extend some food to the fowl, encouraging it to approach; whereupon the other would thrust at it with a piece of wire it had concealed behind its back. The chicken would retreat but soon allow itself to approach once again-and be beaten once again. Here is a fine combination of behavior sometimes thought to be uniquely human: cooperation, planning a future course of action, deception and cruelty. It also reveals that chickens have a very low capacity for avoidance learning..."

Is deception some sort of "lying"? Well, in this case I would say "yes" as one of the chimps is
somewhat "telling" the chicken "if you come in here I will give you some food", and then when the poor chicken approaches, the chimp doesn't fulfill its promise.
That's pretty incredable. The poor chicken!

I agree that it is lying. I wonder if the chimp used friendly facial expressions while coaxing the chicken as a human might. If it did, then that is definately lying.
"chimpanzees or orangutans in captivity sometimes tried to lure human strangers over to their enclosure by holding out a piece of straw while putting on their friendliest face... before you know it, the ape has grabbed their ankle and is closing in for the bite. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

I think I've heard this before, but somehow I managed to forget it.

I heard that lions in captivity may do something similar. The following comes from The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris.

"One particular male lion perfected his audience manipulation in a remarkable way. His usual method of urination (as with tom-cats) was to squirt a jet of urine horizontally backwards at a vertical landmark, depositing his personal scent upon it. When he did this against one of the vertical bars of his cage-front he found that the spray reached his visitors and created an interesting reaction. They leapt back, shouting. As time passed, he not only improved his aim, but added a new trick. After the first spraying, when the front of his audience had retreated, the second row quickly took its place to get a better look. Instead of loosing his jet in one stream, he saved some of it for a second spraying and in this way managed to excite the new front row as well."
I've seen part of a documentary not that long ago (on French TV) that established without a doubt that chimps, gorillas and crows are all capable of deceit. Notably, I remember a female gorilla who was tricked into breaking a piece of furniture, and who tried to put the blame on another gorilla when "investigated" by her caretakers.
How do crows lie?
Crow A hides some food in a cache on the ground. When he's finished, he notices Crow B is spying on him through a hole in a wall, and determines (correctly) that Crow B watched his moves and will try to steal the food once himself leaves.

Crow A flies away a short distance and hides in a nearby tree. Crow B leaves his observation post and approaches the cache using the wall as cover, at the loss of a direct line of sight to his goal while he's behind the wall.

Once Crow B is out of sight, Crow A quickly flies back to the cache, retrieves the food and hides it elsewhere. Crow B finishes his move around the wall, runs to the cache and realizes it's empty (that part was hilarious - he looked very pissed off!).
That's not lying... that's PLOTTING. <3
Well, I didn't write "crows lie" to start with - only that they're capable of deceit ;-)

Is cheating equivalent to lying in a population that doesn't really talk? They do cheat each other when they have to, so I'd answer that yes chimps lie.
I watched one of the many science channel shows on primate behavior and there was one the chimps would lie for a reward. Of course I can't remember the actual show but they were in a zoo, and they were given a form of money to use on treats. They would often get the treat and then not pay for it. In another zoo a orangutan keep getting out at night and they couldn't figure out how, after sedation for an exam they found a piece of copper wire hidden in its mouth. The ape was using the wire to pick the simple lock at night.
On the topic, sort of, capuchins'll pay for sex:



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