Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 78 (8905 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 04-20-2019 8:46 PM
37 online now:
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: WookieeB
Post Volume:
Total: 849,926 Year: 4,963/19,786 Month: 1,085/873 Week: 441/376 Day: 72/46 Hour: 1/4


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
1
2Next
Author Topic:   In defence of Evolutionary Psychology
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 211 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 1 of 19 (218204)
06-20-2005 12:18 PM


Holmes asked me to open a new thread on this in A great article about reproductive freedom. I'll respond to his and EZScience's messages here.

I wrote:

The fact that behaviour is roughly 50% genetic (technically 50% hereditary, I suppose) is well known.

EZScience responded:

would have to take issue with your phraseology here.
The fact is, it is the *potential* for particular behavioral traits that has a large genetic component - not their actual expression. That would be genetic determinism and is not accepted in mainstream thinking on the the heritability of behavior.

My initial phrasing was sloppy, I honestly thought this was a well known fact, I shall phrase it more carefully. 50% of the variation in measurable behavioural traits is accounted for by genetic variation (on average, it varies among traits). Here a measurable behavioural trait can be almost anything you can think of a way to measure: e.g. extroversion/introversion, thrill seeking behaviour, addictive behaviour, hours of television watched a day, number of sexual partners or speed while driving.

Note that this isn't a theoretical claim about how genetics influences behaviour; it's an empirical claim about the observable facts of how genetics and behaviour interact. It's also absurd to claim that this is genetic determinism: it can't be - in order to be determinism you'd have to 100% genetic influence; that's not the case.

Closer to home, I have to say that I credit a great deal of my own academic accomplishment to the fact I had educated parents who provided me with a highly enriched learning environment from a very early age. My father used to bring home Voltaire, Shakespeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle etc. from the time I was in second grade. I consider my wife to be just as intrinsically intelligent as I am, but her intellectual development (and academic accomplishment) lags far behind my own for the simple reason she was severely limited by her environment during childhood and adolescence. Neither of her parents were educated and she had no opportunity for higher education until much later in life. We have often reflected on just what she might have accomplished with more intellectual opportunity earlier in life.

This is a nice story, and I'm glad your parents took such an interest in you. But the evidence suggests that the current vogue for assigning intellectual development to "enriched environments" is simply wrong. It's based both on the notion of a "development window" which has never had any support (excepting specific areas of development such as hearing and vision) and misinterpretation of experiments that show that children tend to be like their parents (a fact far better explained by genetics than any environmental differences).

There are two strong pieces of evidence that point this way: the first is that adoptive children of the same age and sex adopted at the same time are no more similar in intelligence than random strangers. The second is that the correlation between genetics and IQ actually increases as you grow older not decreases.

On to Holmes:

Sorry to ask you to do some leg work but could you point to any particular study or meta analysis which states this?

I don't have any to hand but I will attempt to locate some for you over the weekend. All of the results I have mentioned so far can be found in The Blank Slate by Stephen Pinker, which does include an extensive set of references.

But you might be interested by a short read I located: The three laws of behavioural genetics

To recap lightly: Our brain which controls automated nervous activity, was unquestionably formed by evolution. The apparent evolutionary trend was toward greater autonomous, or noninherently hardwired activity.

This means that brains slowly gained capacities for adaptation to events within a lifetime, rather than instincts passed on and so adapted over generations.

Yes, this is the popular assumption. The trouble is that the evidence strongly suggests it's not true. While humans (and other higher animals) undoubtably do have much greater abilities to learn and adapt to their environments, these abilities are guided by instinct - the way in which we learn is, itself, instinctual and underneath the learning layers we are still strongly instinct driven.

Have a look over Brown's list of human universals and observe how many seemingly higher behavours have emerged in every human culture from thumb sucking to rape and incest adversion. Then there's Chomskian universal grammar and the nature of language acquisition. Then there's the genetic causes of homosexual behaviour that I've seen you refer to before. I also refer you once again to the 50% genetics result that has been repeated so often.

If you think about, the notion that human behaviour is entirely learned and does not involve genetics is absurd. Do you really think that you learned to have the same set of emotions as everyone around you? That you learned to be sexually aroused by breasts? That you learned that sexual arousal should cause an erection? That every mother needs to learn to love her child? That every single language on earth uses the same set of categories to divide up the world by chance? It's just not credible.

This message has been edited by Mr Jack, 06-17-2005 06:51 AM

This message has been edited by Mr Jack, 06-21-2005 04:41 AM


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by robinrohan, posted 06-20-2005 3:57 PM Dr Jack has not yet responded
 Message 3 by RAZD, posted 06-20-2005 8:59 PM Dr Jack has responded
 Message 6 by Silent H, posted 06-22-2005 2:13 PM Dr Jack has responded

  
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 19 (218236)
06-20-2005 3:57 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Jack
06-20-2005 12:18 PM


Instincts?
The trouble is that the evidence strongly suggests it's not true. While humans (and other higher animals) undoubtably do have much greater abilities to learn and adapt to their environments, these abilities are guided by instinct - the way in which we learn is, itself, instinctual and underneath the learning layers we are still strongly instinct driven.

Here's a comment from one Dr. William Goode: "There are no instincts. There are reflexes, like eye-blinking and drives, like sex."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dr Jack, posted 06-20-2005 12:18 PM Dr Jack has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19811
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 3 of 19 (218266)
06-20-2005 8:59 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Jack
06-20-2005 12:18 PM


Interesting article, Mr Jack.

Had trouble with the url links, but don't think it's your fault -- they were okay when I copied them from {{peek}} and pasted to open -- unless it is just the quotes on the urls (not needed):

See
The three laws of behavioural genetics
and
Brown's list of human universals
without quotes.

It might be a glitch for percy to look into: I get a

The URL is not valid and cannot be loaded

message. Or it just may be my browser ...

(the second site's list is not reader friendly imho with the reverse justification of the columns, and it seems a little repetitious in order to make fine distinctions where a shorter broader list may be more effective. I only need one magic on the list for example.)

If 50% of the variation in behavior is due to the genetic variation in individuals, what is the other 50% ? conscious thought? wouldn't this be more of a bell curve type effect?


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dr Jack, posted 06-20-2005 12:18 PM Dr Jack has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Dr Jack, posted 06-21-2005 4:59 AM RAZD has not yet responded

  
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 211 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 4 of 19 (218319)
06-21-2005 4:59 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by RAZD
06-20-2005 8:59 PM


I've corrected the URLs, thanks RAZD. Oddly, I'm sure I tested them in Preview and they worked. Sorry about that.

the second site's list is not reader friendly imho with the reverse justification of the columns, and it seems a little repetitious in order to make fine distinctions where a shorter broader list may be more effective. I only need one magic on the list for example.

If you find that list awkward, it is listed elsewhere:

http://uwstudentweb.uwyo.edu/F/FENNERJ/TraitList.html
http://www.robotwisdom.com/ai/universals.html

As for the specifity of it, that's important. The broader the categories the less meaningful the list is; the importance of the list comes from the fact that you can find really quite specific features in all human cultures, an it is this specificity that points to a biological explanation.

If 50% of the variation in behavior is due to the genetic variation in individuals, what is the other 50% ? conscious thought? wouldn't this be more of a bell curve type effect?

Well, no-ones really quite sure. A small % is probably accounted for by the shared environment (family) although many experiments designed to test this have found no correlation at all, some have found a small (<10%) correlation. One suggestion is that much, or most, of the other part (refered to as the 'unique environment') results from the influence of peer groups - as outline in The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris. I don't know of any research that has been done to test this hypothesis.

Conscious thought isn't really an option, for two reasons:

Firstly, thought is no less conscious because it's shaped by genetic infuence; in fact, what we are seeking to do is explain the behaviour of conscious thinkers so invoking conscious thought as part of the explanation is circular.

Secondly, there is a growing body of evidence that conscious thought doesn't actually do much in the way of decision making, but instead acts to post-rationalise decisions already made subconsciously and, perhaps, act to stop actions.

I'm not sure what you mean by a 'bell curve type effect'?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by RAZD, posted 06-20-2005 8:59 PM RAZD has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by Silent H, posted 06-22-2005 7:31 AM Dr Jack has not yet responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3925 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 5 of 19 (218620)
06-22-2005 7:31 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Dr Jack
06-21-2005 4:59 AM


Just to let you know I am going to be busy with something today, and perhaps tomorrow... uh okay, part of it is that there is finally beautiful weather here and I am spending more of the day outside.

In any case, I will definitely be responding to your OP. If not later today, then at the very latest on Friday. I do hope to have it by tonight.

To clear up one thing in advance, I was not claiming that we learned everything and no psychological mechanisms (aka behaviors) were influenced or directed by genetics.

The question I am raising is how much and indeed how that can be measured. I had already been downloading some of Pinker's material from his own webpage, so I'll have some amount of material to respond with.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Dr Jack, posted 06-21-2005 4:59 AM Dr Jack has not yet responded

    
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3925 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 6 of 19 (218682)
06-22-2005 2:13 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Jack
06-20-2005 12:18 PM


Grrrrr, I wrote a response and it was eaten by the computer. I will try again but it will be briefer. I suppose that could be a good thing...

But you might be interested by a short read I located: The three laws of behavioural genetics

Interestingly enough the article you cited illustrates a position that is extremely similar to my own position. I guess I may be a bit more "gloomy" than Dr Turkheimer, but we are generally saying the same thing.

In fact I am a bit curious as to whether you read the article throroughly. It appears to not only back my own position, but rebut your own statements.

Here are some key statements from Turkheimer...

A more plausible model involves a multiplicity of environmental and genetic inputs interacting over the course of development. Such a model “is easy to draw but very difficult to study in any scientific way,” he said.

My own position is pretty much dead on to this. I am not claiming that there is no genetic input or drive within human behaviors or capabilities, just that it is so mixed with environmental inputs that it will be a near impossibility to qualify, much less quantify them in a scientific way.

I do believe many behaviors are mainly the results of environmental effects on development, some of these "effects" being self-referential as when we force ourselves to experience things (like learning or practicing).

Dr. Turkheimer provided several examples of how “three law” thinking is misapplied. Many researchers and much of the public assume that molecular studies will lead to the discovery of genes “for” being extroverted, for being divorced, and for every other trait. In addition, recent books have popularized the notion that families have no influence on a child’s behavior.

He may be speaking of Pinker with this. In any case he seriously seems to be countering your own statements about the effects of families on children.

While humans (and other higher animals) undoubtably do have much greater abilities to learn and adapt to their environments, these abilities are guided by instinct - the way in which we learn is, itself, instinctual and underneath the learning layers we are still strongly instinct driven.

The brain's ability to adapt to an environment, including mechanisms for adaptation, are certainly genetic in origin. Some of this will underlie human behaviors.

This does not, however, limit the influence that environment can have on those drives and capabilities. In the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Oliver Sacks looks at several interesting neurological damage cases. It is an interesting read and reveals much of what is part of our genetic or hardwired capability to become who we are.

One case is of a woman who never learned to use her hands due to pampering by her family and caretakers. The lack of learning was so accute that she could not even identify that she actually had hands. They appeared to be like lumps of clay to her.

One instinctual drive is to explore with our hands and make a connection between hands and mind. Yet in this case environment robbed her of that instinct and thus action and so her hands. She was able to be "cured" when she was provided with an environment where those instincts and capabilities could come out. What's amazing is that she was finally able to realize she had hands and start using them when she was 60 years old. So genetic trait remained there but held in check 100% by environment for 60 years.

Have a look over Brown's list of human universals and observe how many seemingly higher behavours have emerged in every human culture from thumb sucking to rape and incest adversion. Then there's Chomskian universal grammar and the nature of language acquisition.

I find such lists of "universals" to be pure speculation at best and fraudulent at worst. As it stands I could spot a couple non-universals on the list (before I stopped looking at the rest).

Rather than these assertions of what can be found, I want to look at actual articles and research by which these claims can be made.

In another thread I was prepared to discuss an article on incest aversion. Here is the article:

Does morality have a biological basis? An empirical test of the factors governing moral sentiments relating to incest , Lieberman/Tooby/Cosmides, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. , published online

In that thread, the person I was debating was not familiar enough with it and so we changed to discuss another trait: the preference for specific waist-to-hip ratios (whr). This one might be easier to discuss as I actually have dissected it already and so you can see (and address) the problems I have with it.

The article is:
The role of body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, and breast size in judgments of female attractiveness ,Sex Roles: A Journal of Research ,  August, 1998  by Adrian Furnham,  Melanie Dias,  Alastair McClelland

My post criticizing the article in depth may be found here.

Please use either as an example of evo-psych research into supposed "universal" traits and their underlying genetic/evolutionary factor.

Then there's the genetic causes of homosexual behaviour that I've seen you refer to before.

If you have ever seen me refer to genetics and homosexuality, it was to criticize the notion of one being related to the other in any significant way. I believe homosexuality to be primarily an environmental issue, from growth/developmental issues to practical or "real world" pressures.

I do believe genetics might play a slight role in a person's finding one sex more attractive than the other, but not enough to determine whether a person is homosexual or not.

You may be confusing me with Rrhain. I believe he argues for genetic causation of homosexuality.

I also refer you once again to the 50% genetics result that has been repeated so often.

I have not seen this, and neither has my gf who is in psychology. Please post something specific about it.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dr Jack, posted 06-20-2005 12:18 PM Dr Jack has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Dr Jack, posted 06-24-2005 5:13 AM Silent H has responded
 Message 11 by Dr Jack, posted 06-27-2005 5:55 AM Silent H has responded

    
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 211 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 7 of 19 (219236)
06-24-2005 5:13 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Silent H
06-22-2005 2:13 PM


In fact I am a bit curious as to whether you read the article throroughly. It appears to not only back my own position, but rebut your own statements.

I disagree with Turkheimer on some details, but the most part it entirely supports my position. All evolutionary psychology needs to be valid is that behaviour be heriditary, and that heriditary component be significant - which is exactly what the first two laws grant.

"Dr. Turkheimer" writes:

A more plausible model involves a multiplicity of environmental and genetic inputs interacting over the course of development. Such a model “is easy to draw but very difficult to study in any scientific way,” he said.

I entirely agree with Dr. Turkheimer on this.

I suspect Dr. Turkheimer is actually refering to The Nurture Assumption rather than Pinker's works when he talks of books claiming no family involvemenr - but since we can't know for sure, it's pretty pointless to speculate. I find Turkheimer's position on this odd - it's certainly not supported by any evidence. Essentially what he's arguing is that "unique environment" (or more accurately the bit we can't assign to anything - it could be literally random rather than environmental, for example) or a goodly part of it is down to the family but in a way that effects every child differently.

I find this an extrordinary hypothesis because it would mean that the way that a family affects a child in unique ways (even gentically identical children) is far more significant than the way it affects the child in a shared way - so that the difference in environmental effect between being two children in a christian fundementalist household in texas is bigger than the difference between being a child in that household and a child in a liberal household in new york. That strikes me as desperately unlikely.

I find such lists of "universals" to be pure speculation at best and fraudulent at worst. As it stands I could spot a couple non-universals on the list (before I stopped looking at the rest).

I have not read Brown's book or the research on which it is based, and with any such research it is likely that out of a list of two hundred there would be one or two errors. I sincerely doubt you claim that you could easily spot couple of non-universals however. Please do elaborate.

If you have ever seen me refer to genetics and homosexuality, it was to criticize the notion of one being related to the other in any significant way. I believe homosexuality to be primarily an environmental issue, from growth/developmental issues to practical or "real world" pressures.

I do believe genetics might play a slight role in a person's finding one sex more attractive than the other, but not enough to determine whether a person is homosexual or not.

My apologies. I agree with your position, although I would probably assign more to the genetics than you.

I will respond to your previously posted critique later in another post, and search out some references for you.

I'd like to be clear before we continue this discussion on what exactly it is that you are objecting to - this is my position:

1. Human behaviour has a significant genetic component.
2. Given that human behaviour has a significant genetic component it will have been acted on and shaped by natural selection during the course of human evolution.
3. Given 1 & 2, it makes sense to approach human behaviour using the same tools as have been successfully employed to study animal behaviour by looking at their evolutionary history.
4. That is what Evolutionary Psychology means.

Could you identify where your position differs from mine?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Silent H, posted 06-22-2005 2:13 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Silent H, posted 06-24-2005 7:04 AM Dr Jack has responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3925 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 8 of 19 (219239)
06-24-2005 7:04 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Dr Jack
06-24-2005 5:13 AM


All evolutionary psychology needs to be valid is that behaviour be heriditary, and that heriditary component be significant - which is exactly what the first two laws grant.

The laws are meant in an ironic sense. He stated this. In fact he gave a warning...

"I don't want anybody to think that I take these things literally. They are true but my intention is ironic." When taken at face value they "lead you to the wrong conclusions," he said.

This began when you denied the effects of family on children, and made a quantitative statement about genetics on behavior. That is taking his "laws" literally.

He is more on my side in that he is specifically downplaying science's ability to ever determine the very things that you, and people like Pinker are claiming. Evo Psych is very limited under this scheme.

so that the difference in environmental effect between being two children in a christian fundementalist household in texas is bigger than the difference between being a child in that household and a child in a liberal household in new york.

I don't think he was making a blanket claim that the shared environment could not deliver similarities in greater proportion to unique ones, just that it is unlikely to given that the number of unqiue environments will generally outnumber shared ones.

My guess is he'd agree there'd be a greater degree of shared belief in Xianity in the texas home, but that that is not nearly the same thing as saying the set of all of the children's behaviors would be similar.

I sincerely doubt you claim that you could easily spot couple of non-universals however. Please do elaborate.

The problem with psychologists is that they like to pretend that they are anthropologists or know better than anthropologists and sociologists. As you read some more background info on Evo Psych you may start discovering this for yourself.

I have a background in Sociology, with an emphasis on cultures and cultural phenomena (if they hadn't dumped Anthro as a major I would have had a major in that). It was really really easy to spot non-universals.

What's more, in order to expand the list it brought up really ridiculous points that are simply inherent to living in a human body. It does not require a genetic behavior hardwired into the brain for such things as "weaning", eventually the breasts will not produce milk and the child is likely to go on to other foods. It is a product of just plain living.

That's about as brilliant as saying "usually have two foot or hand coverings".

The list is also padded with repetitive issues, look at "classification" for example. Once we know that people classify things, what is the point of naming several sorts of classifying?

Some are also so generic as to point to the falseness of Evo Psych. For example "childbirth customs". What exactly does that mean? Generally people have to do something when a child is being born. Often it is an exciting event (fear or joy). The only way Evo Psych would be right is not that there are childbirth customs, but there are SPECIFIC childbirth customs.

Think about that very carefully because we are talking about genetic which mean that something was selected for (or not deselected) due to its ability to achieve a reproductive advantage. Thus it has to be something rather specific that can be selected. We should then see specific customs being wholly biological and following genes and not where one ends up living. That is NOT supported by evidence at all.

That's about all I'm going to spend on that list, or such lists. I could go through it piece by piece but I really think it is up to any defender of that list to produce the actual data, and not simple lists.

Here are a list of some non-universals: males dominate public/political realm, males more prone to theft, mother normally has consort during child-rearing years, murder proscribed, cooking, copulation normally conducted in privacy, distinguishing right and wrong...

Oh that's enough, really, I just can't stomach this tripe. You know what really had me laughing? Within that list of "univerals" where they already include the caveats "normally" which indicated that they are not in fact "universal", one of the "universals" is: cultural variability!

I'm lucky I could get past "containers" as a "universal".

1. Human behaviour has a significant genetic component.
2. Given that human behaviour has a significant genetic component it will have been acted on and shaped by natural selection during the course of human evolution.
3. Given 1 & 2, it makes sense to approach human behaviour using the same tools as have been successfully employed to study animal behaviour by looking at their evolutionary history.
4. That is what Evolutionary Psychology means.

As a scientific enterprise, the problems are these:

1) Behavior is left ill-defined. While there are certainly hardwired capabilities of the brain, there is an open equivocation between physical brain mechanism (like cognitive or motor capability) and personal action (such as "monogamy").

2) The only things which can be selected for are those that are hardwired in by genetics. Thus one must first understand which are hardwired from birth, and which have developed from simply existing and using the brain's adaptive capability to deal with environments. The latter phenomena cannot be selected for. We do not have sufficient understanding of this, and Evo Psych as a field has rejected this method as too slow (to which I say "too bad").

3) If one can find certain gene coded brain functions it will still be near impossible to figure out what reason (advantage) that function was selected. Evo Psych actually uses speculated evolutionary advantages to argue that therefore a function was selected for that reason. The only valid path is to have the understanding mentioned in point #2 and then apply that same level of understanding back through animals which mirror the evolutionary path humans took. Even that would not be perfect, but at least has some shot of reasonable speculation for any brain function.

Evo Psych is not an inherently botched idea. Obviously evolution has driven brains along a route of greater data assessment and capability to adapt to the environment. Thus some portions of capability and perhaps even behavior are hardwired in our genes. Where Evo Psych as a field derailed, is in believing we could pursue it by abandoning the rigors of scientific method.

Its only hope as a field lies in neurology, and comparative neurology.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Dr Jack, posted 06-24-2005 5:13 AM Dr Jack has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Dr Jack, posted 06-24-2005 8:40 AM Silent H has responded

    
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 211 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 9 of 19 (219258)
06-24-2005 8:40 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Silent H
06-24-2005 7:04 AM


Here are a list of some non-universals: males dominate public/political realm, males more prone to theft, mother normally has consort during child-rearing years, murder proscribed, cooking, copulation normally conducted in privacy, distinguishing right and wrong...

Would you mind giving examples of where these universals don't occur rather than simply asserting it?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Silent H, posted 06-24-2005 7:04 AM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Silent H, posted 06-24-2005 11:58 AM Dr Jack has responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3925 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 10 of 19 (219320)
06-24-2005 11:58 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Dr Jack
06-24-2005 8:40 AM


Would you mind giving examples of where these universals don't occur rather than simply asserting it?

Are you serious? This is much worse than PCKB. You don't announce you have some new scientific field that has all this great evidence, give a list and when someone questions the list argue that the questioner is merely asserting something.

Your list is the assertion, not my question of that list. You presented it, I have said that I know some of them are not universals. It is your duty to back up your claim, not mine.

But just so's you don't go away thinking I'm trying to dodge:

1) I have already noted that some of these include the caveat "normally". Look at them again. When they say "normally" that intrinsically means NOT "universally". I mean think about it. It is universal that people normally do something? Duh.

Can we guess where they don't "normally" do something? When the culture or family environment has a different practice... or maybe even just a single individual. Thus the reason it is "normal" is just that it is popular, perhaps the cultures being farther spread or in more powerful positions to affect other cultures.

2) I have already pointed out that one of the universals is "cultural variability". That intrinsically means that the one thing which is universal is that VERY FEW THINGS ARE GENETICALLY UNIVERSAL.

3) Beyond those two obvious points I have already made which are NOT assertions, but points of fact, I will give as an example murder, cooking, and distinguishing right and wrong.

Murder: I might first ask what the author means by "murder" as that itself is a social construct. There have been cultures which did not have concepts that killing was "wrong" or to be differentiated based on reason for the killing. Yes, people would not like a killing and take revenge, but it was not a procription of murder as usually the result were more killings. You could have sanctions of killing of certain members, but again the sanction was not on killing but of any harm to certain members.

If you want to find out more, read up on the Yanomama tribes, Aztec and Inca cultures, Sparta (specifically its relation to helots), Carthaginian culture, Feudal Japan, and even Canaan/Phoenicia. I'm sure there are more I am forgetting, but one was really enough.

Cooking: Again I would ask what this author means by "cooking". It certainly has become common to heat many foods, or prepare them in some way of mixing ingredients. But is this "universal" or in such a way as to suggest in any capacity that it is a result of a genetic "behavior"? Hardly. While people have a drive to eat, they are not driven to prepare tasty meals. They will eat as they need or desire, and when it is as they desire it will be up to social custom.

Show me a starving person that refuses a banana or a steady diet of uncooked/unprepared foods because that person has an urge to only eat something cooked and with BBQ sauce on it, and maybe I'll start buying into that theory.

Humans even have the capacity to reject necessities of eating based on social custom/belief. Other than primitive tribes which naturally eat simple roots and fruits and things (like many Polynesian cultures did), you might check out info on Vegans and Jainists.

Cooking is popular and a norm... not a universal.

Distinguishing Right and Wrong: The best this can be boiled down to is people have likes and dislikes. Yes all humans... universal except in brain damaged individuals... have preferences. As far as elevating these tastes (which are the result of genetic disposition and environmental exposure) to moral "right" and "wrong", that is false on its face.

There are many cultures, mainly in the past of course before monotheism caught on, which operated on virtues and did not use concepts of R/W as we do today. You can check up on Pagan Scandinavian cultures, Ancient Greek culture, Feudal Japan and to some extent China.

Personally I do not use a "right" and "wrong" moral system. It is artificial and as far as I can tell wholly unnatural to the human condition. It is however very popular due to its spread by the sword under the monotheistic traditions. I got my system because R/W systems did not feel right to me and I devised a system using stuff obtained from writings in those other cultures.

Had enough?

This message has been edited by holmes, 06-24-2005 12:00 PM


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Dr Jack, posted 06-24-2005 8:40 AM Dr Jack has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Dr Jack, posted 06-27-2005 9:15 AM Silent H has responded

    
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 211 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 11 of 19 (219945)
06-27-2005 5:55 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Silent H
06-22-2005 2:13 PM


Re: Your critique posted in the other thread
This is a response to the critique posted hereThe role of body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, and breast size in judgments of female attractiveness.

I am unsure why this paper had been chosen since it doesn't test, or claim to test, any evolutionary psychological claim. And, to make a more important point, even if it did and was flawed that would simply show that this paper is flawed and not that evolutionary psychology itself is flawed.

"holmes" writes:

This opens with an overt statement that sociology and anthropological observations are hindering true psychological understanding of universal standards (adaptive here meaning evolved).

Quite frankly this strikes me as pure projection. The paper begins with a historical retrospective and your starting comment strikes me as saying more about your bug-bear about the interaction between psychology, athropology and sociology.

Thus an evolutionary "perspective" is invoked, and thereby the beginning of a circular argument. It is quite clear that at this point some assumptions are being made. There is likely to be a universal human value of beauty, that it is evolutionarily derived, and that evolution will act in the manner as stated above.

Yes, that is the assumption being made - but that's how hypothesis are made. You make an assumption (or guess) about how something is going to work and then look to see where that hypothesis would lead and perform experiments to test it. The experiment in this paper doesn't, in fact, do that.

This is about as close to numerology as one can get. That there is a "unique" set of measurement ratios for a certain set of human characteristics in no way suggests that there is a remarkable functional significance, at least not with beauty. Weight bearing and length of legs (as well as their shape) may have more to do with set hip to waist ratios than beauty for mate selection purposes.

You complain that it has no functional significance and then go right on and explain it in functional terms.

The study (and the study it references) attempts to find functional significance in the observed signals of sexual fitness because that is the approach you would take in animals. It's widely accepted in studies of animal behaviour that sexual signalling, and full blown sexual selection, are based on indicators of genetic fitness. Attempting to apply the same criteria to humans and seeing what happens is good science.

There is a distinction between men and women with regard to whr, specifically post puberty. Instead of any other reproductive advantage, is it not probable that an explanation for function is determining/separating male from female at a distance visually? That seems like a very straighforward function.

Your proposed alternative is still an evolutionary psychological explanation. Why should whr be used as a such a signal? What evolutionary pressure is there to produce such a signal? You explanation may be simpler but what is the reason behind it's adoption?

Unfortunately what is not mentioned here, or not developed, is that most of these would not have a significant impact on reproduction at all. Note only in the last sentence is it mentioned that mortality rates are heightened in "older women".

That's an entirely valid objection. However the article does cite several studies that do indicate differences in reproductive success of women with the desired whr w.r.t women with higher or lower whrs, these studies do provide a clear case supporting the authors interpretation. You correctly note that no proper analysis is done of whether these differences in reproductive success are sufficent to account for the sexual preferences.

Can you honestly tell me that this study, as it is constructed, can possibly rule out environmental factors (nongenetic PM adaptations)? If so, how?

The study cannot. But the study makes no claim as to having done so. I actually find it a rather bizarre article, the initial discussion and the actual experiment are oddly disconnected. The experiment seems valid but it's such a tiny result that I struggle to see it's relevance.

I am also interested that it has majority female participants when the theory is that this is about universal mate selection.

I'm guessing this is because in usual style they got their participants by posting for volunteers in the psychology department and psychology has a majority female population at undergraduate level.

I agree with your criticisms of the study's methodology however I don't think the criticisms undermine the validity of the result but could suggest further research. The problem, of course, is that it's impossible to seperate the various factors involved in beauty when using real women without very large scale studies and statistical analysis. This study seeks to seperate out the factor by using line drawings - which will inevitably have the problems you outline.

Admission of culture effects & (later)Once again, admission of cultural effects.

Evolutionary psychology does not deny the influence of cultural effects, it merely claims that genetics has a significant effect. c.f. imprinting studies with snow geese.

Primitive man would not have known about these health complications, and modern prefs may have to do with modern knowledge about health and physical cues to health.

It is irrelevant what primitive man did or didn't know; just as it doesn't matter whether a female bower bird understands the relevance of skills used to build a bower. Evolution does not operate by conscious knowledge.

At best I saw that there were popular correlations between whr weight and breast size to beauty, but they were not uniform across all subjects were they? What would account for the deviations? How does the correlation answer the above issues?

The experiment performed neither tests, nor answers, these questions. But nowhere in the conclusions does it claim to have done so.

In summary then:

I'm unclear as to why you picked this particular study; although the discussion is sociobiological in nature, the experiment does nothing to test whether the whr factors are cultural or genetic in nature and doesn't claim to have done so. It's also unfair to expect the study to do so; I don't expect every study of sub-atomic particles to justify QM, you shouldn't expect every study of human behaviour to justify sociobiology.

Some of your objections are valid - however in many cases where you have offered alternatives they are, themselves, evolutionary in nature so how it's relevant to our dicussion of the validity of evolutionary psychology is beyond me.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Silent H, posted 06-22-2005 2:13 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Silent H, posted 06-27-2005 11:11 AM Dr Jack has not yet responded

  
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 211 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 12 of 19 (219974)
06-27-2005 9:15 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Silent H
06-24-2005 11:58 AM


Human Universals
Are you serious? This is much worse than PCKB. You don't announce you have some new scientific field that has all this great evidence, give a list and when someone questions the list argue that the questioner is merely asserting something.

You misunderstand me, I wasn't arguing against you; I was asking for examples so that we can discuss it.

Rather than deal with part of the discussion of human universals here, and part in the reply to your other post I will bring all your comments into this post and respond to them here.

The problem with psychologists is that they like to pretend that they are anthropologists or know better than anthropologists and sociologists. As you read some more background info on Evo Psych you may start discovering this for yourself.

Donald E. Brown (who created the list) is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara not a Psychologist. I have not read his book, but took the list from Pinker's book. As I understand it Brown himself constructed the list primarily by studying the work of other anthropologists - principally George Murdock's HRAF files. He freely admits that under we cannot currently prove any particular universal, but presents his list as the best he can find from the (extensive) data he has studied. If you are interested you can find a fairly long review of his book here.

I have already noted that some of these include the caveat "normally". Look at them again. When they say "normally" that intrinsically means NOT "universally". I mean think about it. It is universal that people normally do something? Duh.

The statement 'universal' refers to culture, 'normally' to individuals within this culture. It is not contradictory to claim both. For example, it is normal in our culture for children to be raised by their biological mother - but that doesn't mean their aren't raised by just their biological father, or their grandparents or people wholy unrelated to them.

What's more, in order to expand the list it brought up really ridiculous points that are simply inherent to living in a human body. It does not require a genetic behavior hardwired into the brain for such things as "weaning", eventually the breasts will not produce milk and the child is likely to go on to other foods. It is a product of just plain living.

But that isn't what happens, Holmes, people don't wait until the breasts stop making milk and then start feeding the baby solids.

The list is also padded with repetitive issues, look at "classification" for example. Once we know that people classify things, what is the point of naming several sorts of classifying?

Because the way in which people classify things is significant. There are as many different ways of classifying things as there are stars in the sky. How exactly people classify things is important, as are the differences between how people treat things in different categories. For example, Pinker reports on a peice of research performed on pre-school children in which the researchers described a process by which a racoon was converted into a skunk (by painting it, adding scent glands, etc) and asked the children whether it was a skunk or a racoon afterwards; the children respond it was still a racoon but when the researcher repeated the experiment but described a car being turned into a bird feeder they said it was a bird feeder afterwards.

I think it's also important to distinguish between the list itself and any inference drawn from it. Whether or not it is significant that every culture categorises body parts is a very different question to whether every culture does, in fact, categorise body parts.

The only way Evo Psych would be right is not that there are childbirth customs, but there are SPECIFIC childbirth customs.

I have no idea where you get this idea from, I can't see how it follows at all.

Think about that very carefully because we are talking about genetic which mean that something was selected for (or not deselected) due to its ability to achieve a reproductive advantage. Thus it has to be something rather specific that can be selected. We should then see specific customs being wholly biological and following genes and not where one ends up living. That is NOT supported by evidence at all.

& (from second post)

I have already pointed out that one of the universals is "cultural variability". That intrinsically means that the one thing which is universal is that VERY FEW THINGS ARE GENETICALLY UNIVERSAL.

Neither I, Pinker nor Brown has ever claimed that there isn't culture, that the environment doesn't have an effect or any other similar kind of absurd genetic determinism. You are attacking a straw man.

Once again, I'm baffled by your stance. Genes are not limited to simply troting out a single effect, they're capable of producing subtle, complex behaviours that are triggered by complicated or rare situations or informed and structured by the environment. A simple example from animal behaviour is the various kinds of imprinting that occur in animals. For example, Snow Geese occur in blue and white varieties and white individuals prefer other white individuals as mates and vice-versa1. This preference occurs through imprinting as can be demonstrated by experiments involving swaping eggs around or dying the parents (and subsequent mate choices) various colours. Imprinting is a non-trivial behaviour, here guided by the environment but I can't see anyone suggesting it's not a genetic process.

Murder: I might first ask what the author means by "murder" as that itself is a social construct. There have been cultures which did not have concepts that killing was "wrong" or to be differentiated based on reason for the killing. Yes, people would not like a killing and take revenge, but it was not a procription of murder as usually the result were more killings. You could have sanctions of killing of certain members, but again the sanction was not on killing but of any harm to certain members.

If you want to find out more, read up on the Yanomama tribes, Aztec and Inca cultures, Sparta (specifically its relation to helots), Carthaginian culture, Feudal Japan, and even Canaan/Phoenicia. I'm sure there are more I am forgetting, but one was really enough.

I'm familiar with the Aztecs, Feudal Japan and moderately familiar with the Spartans - all three had proscriptions against murder, but with different concepts of who it's ok to kill - so you're quite right that murder is a social construct and that different cultures have different concepts of who it's OK to kill; as do we. I believe what is being claimed as universal is that every culture has people who it's not ok to kill and this is what Brown means by murder.

Again I would ask what this author means by "cooking". It certainly has become common to heat many foods, or prepare them in some way of mixing ingredients. But is this "universal" or in such a way as to suggest in any capacity that it is a result of a genetic "behavior"? Hardly. While people have a drive to eat, they are not driven to prepare tasty meals. They will eat as they need or desire, and when it is as they desire it will be up to social custom.

I assume by 'cooking' he means to prepare with heat.

Once again: the list is simply a list, the deduction from it a different matter. Things are on the list because everyone does them not because it is being argued they are genetic. In this case the drives that lead people to cook are genetic in origin: drive to eat, and the kinds of food we find tasty - the kind of food we eat is cultural as is the kind of food we won't. No-one is going to claim there's a specific gene, or set of genes for cooking because that's absurd but the complex interplay of our drives and our (strongly inheritable) intelligence. As you say:

Humans even have the capacity to reject necessities of eating based on social custom/belief. Other than primitive tribes which naturally eat simple roots and fruits and things (like many Polynesian cultures did), you might check out info on Vegans and Jainists.

So that would be tabooed foods and food preferences then?

Personally I do not use a "right" and "wrong" moral system. It is artificial and as far as I can tell wholly unnatural to the human condition. It is however very popular due to its spread by the sword under the monotheistic traditions. I got my system because R/W systems did not feel right to me and I devised a system using stuff obtained from writings in those other cultures.

Flatly, I don't believe you. Let me ask you a simple question: is it ok for me to rape someone? If you answer 'no' you've made a moral judgement. Yes, most cultures don't use the same system that we do, but they most certainly have a concept of morals and virtue, one particular striking example being Feudal Japan which elevated it's principles of honour far above the well being of the individual.

1Interestingly, a similar effect seems to occur in humans; individuals prefer others with similar body shapes to their own (e.g. europeans prefer the more rounded breats of european women to the more conical breasts of african women, africans preference goes the other way) - although I know of no studies done to test the hypothesis that this is an imprinting effect.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Silent H, posted 06-24-2005 11:58 AM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Silent H, posted 06-27-2005 11:59 AM Dr Jack has not yet responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3925 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 13 of 19 (219994)
06-27-2005 11:11 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Dr Jack
06-27-2005 5:55 AM


Re: Your critique posted in the other thread
I am unsure why this paper had been chosen since it doesn't test, or claim to test, any evolutionary psychological claim.

The paper was suggested by an evolutionary psychologist as a research paper in evo psych. Have you gone looking for evo psych papers? I've read a number and they usually go like the one reviewed.

If you have an example of one that actually tests something, though some do a better job than this one, feel free to bring one up.

I know shooting down one article does not bring down all of a field. But I have asked for the best of evo psych and none I have seen get much better than that. This is similar to the times I have asked IDists for papers and refute them. Is it wrong for me to do that?

The paper begins with a historical retrospective and your starting comment strikes me as saying more about your bug-bear about the interaction between psychology, athropology and sociology.

I read the entire paper before going back and writing my criticism. I am showing that the tone of the paper is antisociological, as is most evo psych literature. It is as antagonistic toward sociology as ID is to evolution. There commentary is hyperbolic and suggests a bias on their side, not mine.

You make an assumption (or guess) about how something is going to work and then look to see where that hypothesis would lead and perform experiments to test it.

Only the hypothesis should grow from inductive reasoning and not deductive. I was pointing out the deductive nature of their reasoning. It creates a circular relationship which results in a "test" in how to read data to fit the hypothesis, rather than check the data to see if a hypothesis is confirmed.

You complain that it has no functional significance and then go right on and explain it in functional terms.

Did you miss my addition "at least not with beauty"?

Attempting to apply the same criteria to humans and seeing what happens is good science.

No, actually it is not. They are assuming something which is that our sense of beauty is hinged on something from our animal past, by which I mean mainly instinctual past, which may be inaccurate for humans. Thus finding a possible correlation is useless.

Your proposed alternative is still an evolutionary psychological explanation.

Maybe you are missing my point, because it strikes on several levels. Such studies are errant because they cannot necessarily locate what is adaptive vs evolved, when an evolved trait might have happened, and what that evolved trait was meant to "solve". I was attacking the third problem with alternatives.

I actually find it a rather bizarre article, the initial discussion and the actual experiment are oddly disconnected. The experiment seems valid but it's such a tiny result that I struggle to see it's relevance.Evolutionary psychology does not deny the influence of cultural effects, it merely claims that genetics has a significant effect. c.f. imprinting studies with snow geese.

I forget if this was the paper that specifically called anthropologists names. The majority of papers I have read do deny the influence of culture, past adding a slight flavor to whatever our inate Psych Mechs have us doing.

It is irrelevant what primitive man did or didn't know

You severely missed my point on that. I was suggesting that primitive man may have not had the same preferences as those who live today, or have lived for some time. Thus their preference may have had nothing to do with whrs, though today there is a whr preference and that can be linked to potential fertility issues.

Some of your objections are valid - however in many cases where you have offered alternatives they are, themselves, evolutionary in nature so how it's relevant to our dicussion of the validity of evolutionary psychology is beyond me.

I am not against the idea that our brains are the product of evolution, and thus all of its basic functions, and at least some of our behaviors have been effected (driven) by evolution. Indeed investigations into this would be fascinating.

My problem is with "evolutionary psychology" which is a field of study proposed and kept going by people who are not actually investigating the above question.

To properly do research would take into account neurology and comparative nuerology. Modern Evo Psych proponents dismiss those investigations as needlessly hampering the pursuit of answers and so propose that correlation studies matching behaviors to speculated advantages are enough.

This paper was offered as an example of evo psych methodology and is an example of methodology. If you just had a problem with that methodology then my guess is you are on your way to joining my side.

I started completely neutral, though somewhat excited by the prospect, of this field. What I read shocked and repulsed me as a scientist, just as it did Gould whose paper rejecting Evo Psych I pretty well agree with.

This is a methodological issue, not a general idea issue, though it certainly might look that way when I am having to reject every big "idea" they pronounce as supported.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Dr Jack, posted 06-27-2005 5:55 AM Dr Jack has not yet responded

    
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3925 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 14 of 19 (220006)
06-27-2005 11:59 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Dr Jack
06-27-2005 9:15 AM


Re: Human Universals
Donald E. Brown (who created the list) is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of California

That is interesting but hardly of worth. Reading the review pretty well described a guy like Behe, Wells etc etc who step out of their field to make bold statements which are controversial. The only thing with Brown then is that he was not a psychologist and so created the list from the wrong direction, hoping there was a connection, rather than a psychologist going the other way.

In this case I am shocked that a anthrologist could assemble such a fanciful list, unless it was a joke. Really the fact that he had "cultural variability" was a gem.

The statement 'universal' refers to culture, 'normally' to individuals within this culture.

That defense, though probably true regarding his meaning, does not save him. The idea that universally people "normally" have sex in private, or are raised by their biological mother, or have suitors during their child bearing years are removed by clear contrary examples...

Numerous cultures had sex in the open because their was no private areas to speak of, or actually had group sexual events. I forget if it was the Polynesians or Aboriginals that trained children in sexual acts publicly. Sparta and certain other communal or polygamous cultures certainly did NOT have their children raised by the biological mother. Even Plato in the Republic suggested cultures have communaly raised children. The Oneida (as one example) allowed suitors specifically outside of child bearing years. They believed sex for reproduction was not healthy for the woman and so the woman chose the father during her CB years, and outside of that was free for other suitors. That is not to mention more patriarchal societies or those that had prostitution as part of their religious life.

But that isn't what happens, Holmes, people don't wait until the breasts stop making milk and then start feeding the baby solids.

Whoops, I meant to say "or" not "and". My suggestion is that there were several organic reasons people will wean their children. It will happen universally because it MUST happen universally, physically.

The moment when will be based partly on culture and partly on personal reasons. A child's getting teeth that cut in a lot can be one definite incentive. That's when the child may want other foods, or the mother feels it is time to start giving them other foods because they are physically ready.

Because the way in which people classify things is significant. There are as many different ways of classifying things as there are stars in the sky.

Nice defense, but the list doesn't seem to suggest that kind of difference is what is driving the separate classifications. The list looks padded to me.

heheheh... padding is a universal.

I have no idea where you get this idea from, I can't see how it follows at all.

Childbirth happens and force people to do something, even doing nothing would be considered the "childbirth custom" if that is what most people in a culture chose to do. Thus the "universal" of childbrith customs is ridiculous. It is as good as food chewing customs.

The only way that an evolutionary aspect could be indicated is by a universal custom, thus that everybody does the exact same things in some instinctual way. That would indicate a genetically selected behavior regarding an event.

Imprinting is a non-trivial behaviour, here guided by the environment but I can't see anyone suggesting it's not a genetic process.

Imprinting is real and demonstrable. I have yet to see anything on that level, or suggested to be on that level, by anything coming out of evo psych.

They are working with correlation studies.

I believe what is being claimed as universal is that every culture has people who it's not ok to kill and this is what Brown means by murder.

But some did not have concepts that it was "wrong" to kill. Some had only the idea that one shouldn't because I am allied to that person. That is totally different.

If we are going to water the definition of "murder" as far as you are proposing, then the universal becomes people don't like it when someone they like is killed. Wow.

Once again: the list is simply a list, the deduction from it a different matter.

No offense, but weren't you originally asking me to make a deduction specifically from that list? That certainly is how your post read. If not I probably wouldn't have bothered reading the list.

Flatly, I don't believe you. Let me ask you a simple question: is it ok for me to rape someone? If you answer 'no' you've made a moral judgement.

I guess its fine if you don't believe me, but then why go on to ask a question?

Here is a simple answer to your simple question: It is illegal for you to rape someone. Morally it is defined by the situation but in no case will it be "right" or "wrong". It certainly could be againts principles you espouse or commitments you have made, and thus internally wrong for you.

Personally, I would find it objectionable (distasteful) except for some situations. But that is my nature. In most cases rape is sort of cowardly and unjust. I define myself as being brave and just so that would rub me intuitively the wrong way. However I could not say it is okay or not okay for you to rape anyone.

they most certainly have a concept of morals and virtue

Moral "right" and "wrong" systems, are different than moral virtue systems. You are correct that cultures generally take one or the other or a combo of the two. But what they don't have as a universal is the concept of RIGHT and WRONG.

There is a recent thread on this I can provide a link to if you want. I posted some citations to Wikipedia articles on the distinction between the systems. Before the rise of monotheism, there was mainly virtue systems that simply did not use right and wrong the way we commonly view it today.

Again, you can decide not to believe me if you want, but I am telling you the truth. The best I can get for "wrong" is internally inconsistent, or I don't like it. None of which is a moral statement. I will usually define an action morally based on its virtue, which indicates where it will fit (or not fit) with my own character. It could be perfect for you however and so ok for you.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Dr Jack, posted 06-27-2005 9:15 AM Dr Jack has not yet responded

    
EZscience
Member (Idle past 3260 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 15 of 19 (222577)
07-08-2005 11:54 AM


Score one for the genetics...
Here is a story of the remarkable influence of a single gene (with a key role to play in brain development) on overt aggressive tendencies in mice. Excerpts:

"Scientists at the University of British Columbia's Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics created a strain of extremely vicious lab mice three years ago after accidentally deleting a gene that affects brain development. The mutant mice were so aggressive they killed their mates, chewed their siblings' tails and even attacked their lab handlers.

The unanswered question was whether the human form of the gene also plays a role in aggression in people. The new research now suggests that it does.

By giving mutant mice embryos the human version of the gene they were missing, the UBC team found the nasty rodents grew into a rather nice strain instead.

As such, the experiment raises the possibility of designing a gene therapy to counter aggression -- as well as the eerie spectre of enhancing it.

More immediately, it means mice can act as models to study human genes involved in abnormal behaviour and psychiatric disorders."


  
1
2Next
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2019