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The Push to Make Human-Chimp Hybrids

Male chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), close-up of eyes

In a long article adapted from a chapter in his forthcoming book, psychologist David Barash proposes that society should sanction the making of human-chimp hybrids. He refers to this new creature as a "humanzee" and says that "making it would be a terrific idea."

Barash recognizes some of the scientific challenges to making a humanzee but claims that it is "by no means impossible or even unlikely that a hybrid or a chimera combining a human being and a chimpanzee could be produced in a laboratory. After all, human and chimp (or bonobo) share, by most estimates, roughly 99 percent of their nuclear DNA."

His main argument for pursuing the creation of a human-chimp hybrid is based on the belief that humans have an unwarranted belief that we are special creatures. As Barash puts it, "Moreover, I propose that the fundamental take-home message of such creation would be to drive a stake into the heart of that destructive disinformation campaign of discontinuity, of human hegemony over all other living things."

This argumentation claims that the dehumanization of others, what we call racism, is allowed because we've provided an empty space between the value of humans and the lesser value of animals. Close that gap, Barash believes, and racism will truly begin to be wiped out.

However, he does acknowledge the potential for humans, viewing the hybrids as less than human, to abuse the humanzee. But, and allowing his scary utilitarian roots to show, Barash then quickly writes, "This is possible, but it is at least arguable that the ultimate benefit of teaching human beings their true nature would be worth the sacrifice paid by a few unfortunates."