A true story, in the early 70s, a primate named Nim Chimpsky was the subject of an experiment whose purpose was to learn whether language is innate. Nim’s strange life has been turned into a documentary by Man on Wire director James Marsh. Following His extraordinary journey through human society, and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way, the film is an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human
Bob Ingersoll met Nim when he was a student at the University of Oklahoma. Nim was Bob’s friend. Nim was returned to the IPS facility by Herb Terrace from Columbia University in NYC where he was taken at birth to participate in a Language Study designed to replicate the work of the Gardners at Reno Nevada that was the first attempt to teach ASL to Chimpanzee’s. Nim came with Herb and Joyce Butler and Bill Tynan on his return trip. A complete history of all this can be found in the excellent book by Eugene Linden called Silent Partners-The Legacy of the Ape Language Experiments, or the equally excellent and more recent and complete book by Elizabeth Hess, Nim Chimpsky The Chimp Who Would be Human. Bob and I talk about Nim and his relationship with Nim.