Monday, March 2, 2009

Should I send this?

Dear Mr. Stewart,

I am writing to you in response to a segment you aired on February 26, 2009, regarding the recent chimpanzee attack on a woman living in Connecticut and the ensuing legislation to ban interstate primate pet trade. You repeatedly referred to chimpanzees as “monkeys” during this segment, including showing an icon of a chimpanzee coupled with the phrase “Felonious Monkeys.” On behalf of the primatological community, I must inform you this terminology is incorrect; in fact, chimpanzees are apes and not monkeys.

Both apes and monkeys are members of the order Primates, but there are many differences between these two categories. Compared to monkeys, apes are characterized by having more flexible shoulders, larger body sizes, larger relative brains, longer infant dependence, and simpler molars. In addition, perhaps the most salient difference between apes and monkeys is that apes do not have tails, whereas monkeys do. Apes include chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons. These species are entirely confined to Africa and Asia, and most are highly endangered.

Incessant media misrepresentation of primates makes it very difficult for educators to teach students the proper terminology for these taxa. In a course I recently taught, a full 40% of students missed the true/false exam question: “A chimpanzee is a monkey” despite the fact that I had explained the material to them thoroughly, specifically told them that this question would be on the exam, and even reviewed the differences between apes and monkeys in the class period immediately preceding the exam.

I implore you to use the correct terminology in future segments on your program that may be primate-themed, and I kindly thank you for your attention on this issue.

Melissa R.
PhD Candidate


Ragfield said...

Anonymous said...

YOU TELL HIM!!!!!!!! and when he invites you on his SHOW. TELL HIM AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!!!! luv you, foxy mama

Anonymous said...

Liss: Send it, maybe you can teach him something, or it might lead to a guest appearance. Dad

Anonymous said...

HOORAY FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I agree, send a letter, and be sure to let us all know when you are going to be making an appearance.
Hope you are beginning to feel A LITTLE better.


amypfan said...

Get him!!!

Anonymous said...

Ha! This made me smile. Hope you're feeling better!

Jodi said...