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紐時精譯:搞政治 動物不乏箇中高手
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Animals Show Talent In the Art of Politics

搞政治 動物不乏箇中高手

By Natalie Angier

As the candidates have shown us in the 2008 presidential race, there are many ways to fight for political power. And just as there are numerous strategies open to the human political animal, so there are a number of nonhuman animals that behave like politicians.
2008年美國總統大選參選人的表現可以看出,爭取政治權力的途徑五花八門。人類這個政治動物固然有許多策略可用,一些非人類動物的行為也和政治人物相去不遠。

Researchers who study highly gregarious and relatively brainy species like rhesus monkeys, baboons, dolphins, sperm whales, elephants and wolves have lately uncovered evidence that the creatures engage in extraordinarily sophisticated forms of politicking, often across large social networks.
學者在研究恆河猴、狒狒、海豚、抹香鯨、大象與狼等性喜群居且相當聰明的動物後,最近發表證據指出,這些動物致力於非常精細複雜的政治活動,這些活動往往橫跨大規模的社會網路。

Male dolphins, for example, organize themselves into at least three nested tiers of friends and accomplices, said Richard C. Connor of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, rather like the way human societies are constructed of small kin groups allied into larger tribes allied into still larger nation-states. The dolphins maintain their alliances through elaborately synchronized twists, leaps and spins.
達特茅斯麻州大學學者李察‧康納舉例說,公海豚就把同類分成朋友、同夥等至少三種親疏等級,就像人類社會的小型親族結盟,形成較大的部落,幾個部落再結合成更大的民族國家。海豚透過精細準確、彼此協調的旋轉、跳躍與翻滾動作,維繫同盟關係。

Among elephants, it is the females who are the born politicians, cultivating robust and lifelong social ties with at least 100 other elephants, a task made easier by their power to communicate infrasonically across kilometers of savanna floor. Wolves, it seems, moderate their otherwise strongly hierarchical society with occasional displays of populist umbrage, and if a pack leader proves too tyrannical, subordinate wolves will collude to overthrow him.
在象群中,母象天生是政治動物,能和至少100頭大象建立終生不移的穩固社會關係。母象能以穿透草原地面數公里、人耳聽不到的聲波溝通,強化關係並不特別困難。狼則似乎靠偶爾展現民粹式公憤來節制平時階級嚴明的狼群社會,如果帶頭的狼專橫跋扈,所屬狼群會彼此串連,推翻暴君。

Animals pool their talents and numbers into cohesive social groups, scientists said, the better to protect against predators, defend or enlarge choice their territory or to acquire mates. When this happens, the stage is set for the appearance of political skills. These include the ability to please and placate, manipulate and intimidate, trade favors and scratch backs or, better yet, pluck those backs free of botflies and ticks.
科學家說,動物會聚集本領高強者,以同類組成凝聚力強大的社群團體,使同類免受掠食者攻擊,捍衛或擴張地盤,或藉以找到可以交配的異性。這類情況,就是發揮政治技能的舞台。政治技巧包括取悅、安撫、操縱、威嚇、互惠、彼此抓背的能力,或等而上之的,幫其他動物抓掉背上的馬蠅和蝨子。

With life spans rivaling ours, elephants are proving to possess some of the most elaborate social networks yet observed. Elephant society is organized as a matriarchy, said George Wittemyer, an elephant expert at the University of California, Berkeley, with a given core group of maybe 10 elephants led by the eldest resident female. That core group is together virtually all the time.
看來,壽命可敵人類的大象擁有目前已知最精密的社會網路。柏克萊加州大學大象專家喬治‧偉特邁說,象群是母系社會,一般核心團體也許包括10頭象,都由一頭長住當地最年長的母象領導。核心團體成員幾乎時時刻刻聚在一起。

“They’re constantly making decisions, debating among themselves, over food, water and security,” Dr. Wittemyer said. “You can see it in the field. You can hear them vocally disagree.” Typically, the matriarch has the final say, and the others abide by her decision. If a faction disagrees strongly enough and wants to try a different approach, “the group will split up and meet back again later,” said Dr. Wittemyer.
偉特邁博士說:「象群經常在做決定,為食物、水與安全問題相互辯論。這種情形在原野上一覽無遺,你可以聽到牠們因意見不合發出聲音。」一般來說,領頭的母象有最終裁奪權,其他象都得遵守她的決定。偉特邁說,如果小集團成員意見相持不下,想試試別種作法,「象群會拆成兩隊,過一陣子再重聚。」

Over time, the demands of a social animal’s social life may come to swamp all other selective pressures in the environment, possibly serving as the dominant spur for the evolution of ever-bigger brains to keep track of all the relationships. And though we humans may vaguely disapprove of our political impulses and harbor fantasies of pulling free in solitary glory from the tribe, in fact for us and other highly social species there is no turning back. A lone wolf is a weak wolf, a failure, with no chance it will thrive.
久而久之,動物參與社會生活時要滿足的種種需求,或許比環境中所有其他物競天擇的壓力更大,在動物腦部體積不斷變大的演化過程中,這些需求可能是最重要的刺激,使動物記得所有社會關係。雖然我們人類或多或少會抗拒自己的政治衝動,抱持脫離部落、傲然獨處的幻想,但實際上,這對人類等其他群居性很高的物種是條不歸路。孤立無援的狼非常脆弱,一敗塗地,不可能茁壯成長。

Dario Maestripieri, a primatologist at the University of Chicago, has observed a similar dilemma in humans and the rhesus monkeys he studies. “The paradox of a highly social species like rhesus monkeys and humans is that our complex sociality is the reason for our success, but it’s also the source of our greatest troubles,” he said. “Throughout human history, you see that the worst problems for people almost always come from other people, and it’s the same for the monkeys. You can put them anywhere, but their main problem is always going to be other rhesus monkeys.”
芝加哥大學靈長動物學家達利歐‧麥斯特瑞培里曾在人類團體與他研究的恆河猴群中,觀察到類似的兩難困境。他說:「恆河猴和人類這些群居度高的物種,陷入一種矛盾困境,亦即人類複雜的社交性格正是我們成功的原因,但也是我們最大難處的根源。在整個人類歷史中可以發現,人類碰到最棘手的問題,源頭幾乎總是其他人,猴子也是如此。你可以帶牠們到任何地方,但牠們最大的麻煩總是來自其他恆河猴。」

“Individuals don’t fight for food, space or resources,” Dr. Maestripieri explained. “They fight for power.” With power and status, he added, “they’ll have control over everything else.”
麥斯特瑞培里博士解釋道:「個體不會為了食物、空間或資源爭鬥,他們只會為了權力相爭。」他說,有了權力、地位,「就能控制所有其他東西。」

Monkeys cultivate relationships by sitting close to their friends, grooming them at every possible opportunity and going to their aid – at least, when it is advantageous. “Rhesus males are quintessential opportunists,” Dr. Maestripieri said. “They pretend they’re helping others, but they only help adults, not infants. They only help those who are higher in rank than they are, not lower. They intervene in fights where they know they’re going to win anyway and where the risk of being injured is small.”
猴子以坐在朋友身邊,盡量找機會幫朋友清潔打扮或伸出援手來培養關係,至少幫助別人會有好處時如此。麥斯特瑞培里博士說:「公恆河猴是標準的投機分子,它們假裝幫助別人,卻只幫成年猴子,不會協助猴子寶寶。牠們只幫那些階級比自己高的猴子,不幫階級比自己低的猴子。牠們自認勝券在握、受傷機會微乎其微時,才會介入其他猴子的爭鬥。」

In sum, he said, “they try to gain maximal benefits at minimal cost, and that’s a strategy that seems to work.”
他說,總而言之,「猴子希望用最小成本換取最大利益,這套策略似乎效果不錯。」

關鍵字句

關本文談動物王國(animal kingdom),但作者所提屬於動物的叢林法則(rules of the jungle),其實與人類爭取權力(fight for power)時的種種表現相去不遠。

靈長類動物學家(primatologist)等動物專家(animal experts)說,動物也搞政治手腕(politicking)與社會組織(social organization),它們也懂得建立社交網路(

social network),與別人交換利益(trade favors)。這種行為其實與政治人物沒什麼兩樣(They behave like politicians.)。

海豚(dolphin)是一種群居性強(highly gregarious)而且非常聰明(brainy)的海洋哺乳類動物(marine mammal)。公海豚會把其他海豚區分成至少三種親疏關係,就像人類社會有小我的親族(kingroup)、部落(tribe)的同鄉關係,還有擴大到民族國家(nation state)的同胞關係。

海豚會發出各種聲音(vocalization)以彼此溝通,其中包括用以進行回音定位(echolocation,發出聲波,藉回音確認物體位置) 的超音波(ultrasonic sounds)。

海豚之間維持盟友關係(maintain their alliances)的方法,是各種身體動作,好比跳躍(leap)、翻滾(spin)等。

原文參照
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/science/22angi.html 
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/22/healthscience/22angi.php 

2008-02-04/聯合報/B6/ New York Times 王先棠 原文請見24日紐時周報六版頭條


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