Coherent Gibberish

Robb, J. (2007). Davos Irrelevant? John Robb’s Weblog. January 17, 2007. Available online: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/johnrobb/2007/01/davos_irrelevan.html [also at Davos Conversation and Free Press].

Nothing sums of the internally-consistent nonsense of Global Guerrillas and John Robb (the blogs) more than this post:

With global economy running itself (where it is going, nobody has a clue), bottoms up organizations are forming to solve local and global needs, and states being pushed to margins, you can’t help but get the sense that Davos is hideously anachronistic — from a seemingly long ago time when big ideas, big people, and big states ruled the world.

Like most of the rest of what John Robb writes, this is fourth-rate gibberish.

Consistency is a virtue, and Robb (the theorist) should be praised for it. While other writers might be tempted to change what they write to reflect something of what goes on in the world, global guerrillas (the theory) betrays no such reflex. Global Gorrillas Theory, like Aristotle’s theories, are completely free from worldly matters like observation, explanatory power, and falsification. Like some ancient philosophy free of empirical observations, Global Gorillas is a gift to the ages, because it remains equally worthless in all times in all places.

To go back to the post mentioned above: the World Economic Forum typically held in Davos, Switzerland, is a yearly gathering of influential and powerful people, and the obligatory hangers-on. It may be as benign as an place for debate and discussion among people who can operationalize ideas in the real world, or as hideous as a kleptocratic conclave of the rich and powerful. A basic understanding of human nature implies it is probably both.

In the real world, people can be motivated by learned goals. But not in Robb’s. After all, big ideas are hideously anachronistic. In the real world, some people are supernodes who hold greater influence than others. But not in Robb’s. After all, big people are hideously anarchistic. In the real world, the actions of powerful countries can set regional and system-level rules. But not in Robb’s. After all, big states are hideously anachronistic.

Again, such gibberish is perfectly consistent with the rest of what Robb has written. His “global guerrillas” exist entirely free of motivation and economics, altruistically sacrifice their lives, times, and materials to wear down the economies of big states. Why would they do this? How can they succeed, as they are putting their west point (lack of resources) against the strongest point of their enemies (the wealth of resources owned by the now-anachronistic big ideas, big states, and big actors). It doesn’t matter.

This is fully consistent with other aspects of “global guerrillas theory.” In scientific usage, “theory” implies some prediction should be made. But GGT doesn’t make predictions. In regular usage, “theory” implies the ability to explain something that has already happened. But GGT doesn’t explain the past. A full and complete understand of global guerrillas theory neither explains the past nor predicts the future. Global Guerrilla theory is, in the truest sense of the word, useless.

I have never read anything that implies that Global Guerrillas Theory is anything other than coherent gibberish. Perhaps Robb’s book will begin the process of matching his theorizing with real events in the real world. But I doubt it.

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Part VII: Bibliography

This series, which Mark of ZenPundit kindly described as a book review, is really nothing so organized. It is a collection of six reaction papers over one book for a seminar I am taking. The topics jump from the unconscious mind, to children as a hive-like worker caste, and height based segregation to other fascinating topics. Thus I listed my works cited at the bottom of every page, so that if someone was searching for information on that particular topic, the info would be immediately available and they wouldn’t have to go somewhere else.

However, a recent comment on polisci blog made me realize how important it is to have a central bibliographical resource on the blog for those who want to go deeper. A “bibliography” page is easier to navigate for these researchers than page after page after page. Therefore, below the fold, is the bibliography for Evolutionary Cognitivism, citing every journal article, newspaper story, and book referenced in this series.


“African adaptation to digesting milk is ‘strongest signal of selection ever.’” (2006). Scientific American. December 11, 2006. Available online: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=727EA883-E7F2-99DF-36D89AB12E930315.
“Enter the Dragon.” (2003). The Observer. July 20, 2003. Available online: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,1001961,00.html.
“National News Briefs; Satanist Pleads Guilty to 26 Church Fires.” (2000). New York Times: 12 July 2000. Available online: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E02E1D91138F931A25754C0A9669C8B63.
Alford, J. & Hibbing, J. (2004) .The Origin of Politics: An Evolutionary Theory of Political Behavior. Perspectives on Politics, 2(4), 707-723.
Alford, J. , & Hibbing, J. (2006). The Neural Basis of Representative Democracy. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.
Alford, J., & Hibbing, J. (2006). Could Political Attitudes Be Shaped by Evolution Working Through Genes? Tidsskriftet Politik: August 2006 edition.
Alford, J., Funk, C., & Hibbing, J. (2005) Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted? American Political Science Review, 99(2), 154-168.
Arensburg, B., Tillier, A. M. , Vandermeersch, B. , Duday, H., Schepartz, L. A. & Rak, Y. (1989). A Middle Palaeolithic human hyoid bone. Nature (338): 758-760.
Bamshad, M.J., Wooding, S., Walkins, W.S., Ostler, C.T., Batzer, M.A., Jorde, L.B. (2003). Human population genetic structures and inference of group membership. American Journal of Human Genetics 72: 578-589.
Behar, D.M., Thomas, M.G., Skorecki, K., Hammer, M.F., Bulygina, E., Rosengarten. D., Jones, A.L., Held K., Moses, V., Goldstein, D., Bradman, N., & Weale, M.E. (2003). American Journal of Human Genetics 73: 768-779.
Benbow, C.P. (1988). Sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability in intellectually talented preadolescents: Their nature, effects, and possible causes. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11: 169-232.
Benbow, C.P. & Stanley, J.C. (1996). Inequity in equity: How “equity” can lead to inequity for high-potential students. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 2(2): 249-292.
Benbow, C.P., Lubinski, D., Shea, D.L., Eftekhari-Sanjani, H. (2000). Sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability at age 13: Their status 20 years later. Psychological Sciences 11(6): 474-80.
Bersaglieri, T., et al. (2004). Genetic signatures of strong recent positive selection at the lactase gene. American Journal of Human Genetics 74: 1111-1120.
Bjorklund, D. F., & Pellegrini, A. D. (2002). The origins of human nature: Evolutionary developmental psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Bloom, Howard. (2000). Global Brain. Wiley & Sons: New York, NY.
Bower, B. (2006). The Bias Finders: A Test of Unconscious Attitudes Polarizes Psychologists. Science News, 169(16), 250.
Buller, D.J. (2005). Adapting Minds. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
Capsi, A., et al. (2003). Influence of Life Stress on Depression: Moderation by a Polymorphism in the 5-HTT Gene. Science. Vol. 301 No. 5631 pp. 386-289.
Carmen, I. (2006). Genetic Configurations of Political Phenomena: New Theories, New Methods. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.
Clements, W.A., & Perner, J. (1004). Implicit understanding of belief. Cognitive Development 9: 377-395.
Cochran, G., Hardy, J., & Harpending, H. (2006). Natural history of Azhkenazi intelligence. Journal of Biosocal Science 38: 659-693.
Ding, Y., et al. (2002). Evidence of positive selection acting at the human dopamine receptor D4 gene locus. PNAS, 99(1) 309-314.
Donald, M. (1991). Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Edwards, A.W.F. (2003). Human genetic diversity: Lewtonin’s fallacy. BioEssays 25(8): 798-801.
Eisenberg-Berg, N. & Hand, M. (1979). The relationship of preschoolers’ reasoning about prosocial moral conflicts to prosocial behavior. Child Development 50(2): 356-363.
Gardner, H. (1983). Multiple Intelligences. Basic Books: New York, NY.
Gardner, H. (1998). Extraordinary Minds. Basic Books: New York, NY.
Gardner, H. (2003). Multiple Intelligences After Twenty Years. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association.
Giotakos, O., Markianos, M., & Vaidakis, N. (2005). Aggression, impulsivity, and plasma sex hormone levels in a group of rapists, in relation to their history of childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Journal fo Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology 16(2): 423-433.
Goldstein, S., & Barkley, R. (1998). ADHD, hunting, and evolution: “just so” stories. The ADHD Report 6(5): 1-4.
Gonzalez, E., et al. (2001). Global survey of genetic variation in CCR5, RANTES, and MIP-1alpha : Impact on the epidemiology of the HIV-1 pandemic. PNAS 98(9): 5199-5204.
Gopnik, A., Meltzoff, A. N., & Kuhl, P. K. (1999). The scientist in the crib: What early learning tells us about the mind. New York: HarperCollins.
Graves, J. L., Jr. (2001). The emperor’s new clothes: Biological theories of race at the millennium. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Hammond, R., & Axelrod, R. (2006) The Evolution of Ethnocentricism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(6).
Howard, R.W. (2005). Are gender differences in high achievement disappearing? A test in one intellectual domain. Journal of Biological Sciences 37: 371-380.
Hrdlicka, A. (1927). The Neanderthal phase of man. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 57: 249-274.
Johnson, B.D. (1965). Durkheim’s one cause of suicide. American Sociological Review 30(6): 875-886.
Jorde, L.B., Watkins, W.S., Bamshad, M.J. Dixon, M.E., Ricker, C.E., Seielstad, M.T., & Batzer, M.A. (2000). The Distribution of Human Genetic Diversity: A Comparison of Mitochondrial, Autosomal, and Y-Chromosome Data. American Journal of Human Genetics
Jung-Beeman M, Bowden EM, Haberman J, Frymiare JL, Arambel-Liu S, et al. (2004) Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight. PLoS Biol 2(4): e97 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020097
Klein, R.G. (2003). Whither the Neanderthals? Science 299(5612): 1525-1527.
Kolata, G. (1986). Manic-depression: Is it inherited? Science 232(4750): 575-576.
Kolata, G. (1987). Manic-depression gene tied to chromosome 11. Science 235(4793): 1139-1140.
Kurzban, R, & Houser, D. (2005). Experiments Investigation Cooperative Types in Humans: A Complement to Evolutionary Theory and Simulations. PNAS 102(5): 1803-1807.
Kurzban, R., & DeScioli, P. (2005) “Characterizing reciprocity in groups: Information-seeking in a public goods game,” (Submitted), alternate draft at http://www.psych.upenn.edu/~descioli/kurzban%20descioli%20p
Kurzban, R., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2001). Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization. PNAS 98(26):15387-15392.
Latter, B.D.H. (1980). Genetic differences within and between populations of the major human subgroups. The American Naturalist 116(2): 220-237.
Laucht, M., Becker, K., & Schmidt, M.H. (2006). Visual exploratory behaviour in infancy and novelty seeking in adolescence: two developmentally specific phenotypes of DRD4?. Journal of Child Psychology and Pschiatry 47(11): 1143-1151.
Leroia, A.M. (2006). The future of neo-eugenics. EMBO Reports 7(12): 1184-1187.
Lev-Maor, G., Sorek, R., Shomron, N., & Ast, G. (2003). The birth of an alternatively spliced exon: 3` splice-site selection in Alu exons. Science 300(5623): 1288-1291.
Lewontin RC. The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change. New York: Columbia University Press. 1974.
Lieberman, M., Schreiber, D., & Ochsner, K. (2003). Is Political Cognition Like Riding a Bicycle: How Cognitive Neuroscience Can Inform Research on Political Thinking. Political Psychology, 2003, 24(4), 681-704.
Lindh, M., Andersson, A.S., & Gusdal, A. (1997). Genotypes, nt 1858 variants, and geographic origin of hepatitis B virus–large-scale analysis using a new genotyping method. Journal of Infectious Diseases 175(6): 1285-1293.
Lubar, J.F. (1985). EEG Biofeedback and Learning Disabilities. Theory into Practice 24(2): 106-111.
Lynn, R. (2006). Race differences in intelligence: An evolutionary analysis. Washington Summit Publishers: New York:
Magnusson, P.K.E., Rasmussen, F., & Gyllensten, U.B. (2006). Height at age 18 years is a strong predictor of attained education later in life: cohort study of over 950 000 Swedish men. International Journal of Epidemiology 35(3): 658-663.
Martinson, J.J., Chapman, N.H., Rees, D.C., Lui, Y.T., & Clegg, J.B. (1997). Global distribution of the CCR5 gene 32-basepair deletion. Nature Genetics 16(1): 100-103.
Mason, W.W. (1968). Early social deprivation in the nonhuman primates: Implications for human behavior. In D.C. Glass (Ed.), Environmental influence (pp. 90-101). New York: Rockefeller University Press.
Morris, J., Squires, N., Taber, C., & Lodge, M. (2003). “The Automatic Activation of Political Attitudes: A Psychophysiological Examination of the Hot Cognition Hypothesis,” Political Psychology, 24, 727.
Moshman, D. (2005). Adolescent Psychological Development (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Mulligan, C.J., Hunley, K., Cole, S., & Long, J.C. (2004). Population genetics, history, and health patterns in Native Americans. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 5: 295-315.
Paabo, S. (2003). The mosaic that is our genome. Nature 421: 409-412.
Parra, F.C., Amado, R.C., Lambertucci, J.R., Rocha, J., Antunes, C.M., & Pena, S.D.J. (2003). Color and genomic ancestry in Brazilians. PNAS 100(1): 177-182..
Pimenta, J.R., Zuccherato, L.W., Debes, A.A., Maselli, L., Soares, R.P., Moura-Neto, R.S., Rocha, J., Bydlowski, S.P.k, & Pena, S.D. (2006). Color and Genomic Ancestry in Brazillians: A Study with Forensic Microsatellites. Human Heredity 62(4): 190-195.
Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Viking Adult: New York, NY.
Pope, W. (1975). Concepts and explanatory structure in Durkheim’s theory of suicide. The British Journal of Sociology 26(4): 416-434.
Relethford, J.H. (2002). Apportionment of global human genetic diversity based on craniometrics and skin color. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 118(4): 393-398.
Ridley, M. (2003). Nature via Nurture. Harper Collins: New York, NY.
Rightmire, G.P. (2001). Brain size and encephalization in early to Mid-Pleistocene Homo. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 124(2): 109-123.
Rosenberg NA, Mahajan S, Gonzalez-Quevedo C, Blum MGB, Nino-Rosales L, et al. (2006) Low Levels of Genetic Divergence across Geographically and Linguistically Diverse Populations from India. PLoS Genet 2(12): e215 doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020215
Rosenberg NA, Mahajan S, Ramachandran S, Zhao C, Pritchard JK, et al. (2005) Clines, Clusters, and the Effect of Study Design on the Inference of Human Population Structure. PLoS Genet 1(6): e70 doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0010070
Ross, M.W., Essien, E.J., & Torres, I. (2006). Conspiracy beliefs about the origins of HIV/AIDS in four racial/ethnic groups. Journal of Aquired Immune Deficiency Synddrome 41(3): 342-344.
Rushton, J.P. (2000). Race, evolution, and behavior: A life history perspective (3rd edition). Port Huron, MI: Charles Darwin Research Institute.
Russo, E. (2004). Mind – the adaptive gap. The Scientist 18(4): 26.
Sagan, C. (1996). The demon-haunted world: Science as a candle in the dark. New York: Random House.
Sanghavi, D.M. (2006). Wanting babies like themselves, some parents choose genetic defects. New York Times. December 5, 2006. Available online: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/05/health/05essa.html?ex=1322974800&en=9fbb1b0e738b55d1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss.
Sapolsky, R.M. & Share, L.J. (2004). A pacific culture among wild baboons: Its emergence and transmission. PloS Biology 2(4): e106.
Ser, Myo-ja & Team. At the DMZ, average height changes 4 inches. JonhAng Daily. November 21, 2006. Available online: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/200611/20/200611202311326539900090409041.html.
Serre, D. & Paabo, S. Evidence for gradients of human genetic diversity within and among continents. Genome Research 14:1679-1685.
Silk, J.B. (2006). Who are more helpful, humans or chimpanzees? Science 311(5765): 1248-1249.
Silvertoinen, K., Posthuma, D., van Beijsterveldt, T., Bartels, M., & Boosma, D.I. (2006). Genetic contributions to the association between height and intelligence: evidence from Dutch twin data from childhood to middle age. Genes, Brain, and Behavior 5(8): 585-595.
Smith, K. (2006) Representational Altruism: The Wary Cooperator as Authoritative Decision Maker. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp 1013-1022.
Spielman, R.S., Bastone, L.A., Burdick, J.T., Morley, M., Ewens, W.J., & Cheung, V.G. (2007). Common genetic variants account for differences in gene expression among ethnic groups. Nature doi:10.1038/ng1955.
Stanley, J.C. Boys and girls who reason well mathematically. Ciba FOundation Symposium178: 119-134.
Tang H, Quertermous T, Rodriguez B, Kardia SL, Zhu X, Brown A, Pankow JS, Province MA, Hunt SC, Boerwinkle E, Schork NJ, Risch NJ (2005) Genetic structure, self-identified race/ethnicity, and confounding in case-control association studies. Am J Hum Genet 76:268–275
Todorov, A., Mandisodza, A.N., Goren, A., & Hall, C.C. (2005). Inferences of competence from faces predict election outcomes. Science 208(5728): 1623-1626.
Tomasello, M & Call, J. (1997). Primate Cognition. New York: Oxford University Press.
Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (2005). Evolutionary psychology: Conceptual foundations, in David M. Buss (Ed.), Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. New York: Wiley.
Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1992) The Psychological Foundations of Culture. In The Adapted Mind, Jerome Barkow, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, eds. New York: Oxford University Pres.
Underhill, P.A., Shen, P., Lin, A.A., Passarino, G., Yang, W.H., Kauffman, E., Bonne-Tamir, B., Bertranpetit, J., Francalacci, P., Ibrahim, M., Jenkins, T., Kidd, J.R., Mehdi, S.Q., Seielstad, M.T., Wells, R.S., Piazza, A., David, R.W., Feldman, M.W., Cavalli-Sforza, L.L., & Oefner, P.J. (2000). Y chromosome sequence variation and the history of human populations. Nature Genetics 26: 358-361.
Voight BF, Kudaravalli S, Wen X, Pritchard JK (2006) A Map of Recent Positive Selection in the Human Genome. PLoS Biol 4(3): e72 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040072
Wade, N. (2006). Still Evolving, Human Genes Tell New Story. New York Times. March 7, 2006 edition.
Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2006). Altruistic helping in human infants and young chimpanzees. Science 313(5765): 1301-1303.
White, T.D., et al. The question of ritual cannibalism at grotta guattari [and comments and replies]. Currently Anthropology 32(2): 118-138.
Wilson, E. O., & Holldobler, B. (2005). Eusociality: Origin and Consequences. PNAS 102(38)-13367-13371.
Wrangham, R. (1999). Evolution of Coalitionary Killing. Yearbook of Anthropology 42 1-30.
Wrangham, W.H. (2005). Interaction of genetic and cultural evolution: Models and examples. Human Ecology 10(3): 399-334.
Zegura, S.L., Karafet, T.M., Zhivotovsky, L., & Hammer, M.E. (2004). Molecular Biology and Evolution 21(1): 164-175.
Zollifoker, C.P., Ponce De Leone, M.S., Vandermeersch, B., & Leveque, F. (2002). Evidence for interpersonal violence in the St. Cesaire Neanderthal. PNAS 99(9): 6444-6448.


Evolutionary Cognitivism, a tdaxp series
1. Selection and Cognition
2. Epigentics and Diversity
3. Children and Civilization
4. The Implicit and the Explicit
5. Man Among Men
6. More Than Genes
7. Bibliography

Open Thread III

While other bloggers have draconian rules if you want your voice to be heard, at tdaxp we make it easy. Do you want everyone to read an article, listen to a question, or hear a thought? Do you want to add something to a discussion that doesn’t fit under a typical post? Then use the open thread.

  • Open Thread I reached 19 comments, spanning from December 7th to December 17th.
  • Open Thread II reached 37 comments, starting December 21 and ending January 16.

You decide how popular Open Thread III will be. Post whatever you like. Let your voice be heard.

Talk, discuss, converse, post, comment, and, most of all, enjoy!

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Part VI: More Than Genes

The central realization of Bjorklund & Pellegrini’s text is on page 335: “Evolutionary developmental psychology assumes that not only are the behaviors and cognitions that characterize adults the product of natural selection, but so are characteristics of children’s behaviors and minds.” For too long educators have assumed that children are incompetent adults when in fact they are competent, and adapted, as children. When we ignore this, or fight this, we place outside normative concerns about the vital task of educating children.

To their credit, the authors tackle this subject. They write that “formal school may represent the best example of the ‘evolved-mechanisms-are-not-always-currently adaptive principle” (340). Bjorklund & Pellegrini are surely write on the same page that “just because some tendencies… are ‘naturally” based on evolutionary examination does not mean that they are morally ‘good’ or inevitable,” surely it is morally wrong to ignore these differences out of a concern for political correctness. If our job as educators is to get the best from every student, then we must leverage the nature of those students.


For instance, the authors also report that “Beginning during the preschool years, boys in all cultures (and males in many nonhuman mammalian species) display higher rates of rough-and-tumble play (R&T) than girls” (338). The implication of this is that boys and girls run different sets of genetic programs, or at least genetic programs tuned in different ways, and are optimized for different environments. It may well be, for instance, that boys would do better with schooling where R&T play was used as a reward for academic achievement while girls would do best in an environment where R&T is absent. Unfortunately, our school system does not recognize this, and we pretend that both boys and girls can be optimally educated in a classroom designed for a generic, sex-neutral “child.”

Other changes may be more controversial, but should be addressed. If we expect the best out of each student, is it wise to expect all students to exceed in all areas? For instance, if there is a biological component to mathematical reasoning ability in which boys score higher (Benbow, 1988; Benbow, Lubinski, Shea, & Eftekhari-Sanjani, 2000), or a biological component to language ability in which girls score higher (Stanley, 1993) . Similarly, if males show more variation in many attributes, from chess ability to physical height (Howard, 2004). For that matter, if height predicts IQ when correcting for environmental variation (Magnusson, Rasmussen, & Gyllensten, 2006; Silvertoeinen, Posthuma, van Beijsterveldt, Bartels, & Boosma, 2006) would it make sense to divide a similarly age cohorot into classes by height than the current, semi-random system? Alternatively, if we prefer a policy of “dumbing-down” anti-elitism (Benbow & Stanley, 1996) then should this not be decided rationally and openly, instead of being the default result of the status quo?

On another note, I found the Bjorklund & Pellegrini’s concept of culture fascinating. For culture I what I think they mean when they write “[Infants are born with] epigenetic programs that have evolved over eons and are responsive to the general types of environments that our ancient ancestors experienced.” Bjorklund & Pellegrini share with Tooby & Cosmides (1992) an idea that genes and environment interact to produce behavior, this text’s author stress that “biological and environmental factors at multiple levesl of organization transact to produce a particular pattern of ontogeny” (335). This “developmental systems approach” teaches us to view culture not merely as a set of arbitrary dictates, but as a darwinian algorithm that has evolved just as our genes have evolved. We are rightfully fearful of large-scale genetic engineering because we do not understand how such complex machinery works. We should equally be fearful of large-scale social engineering because society, no less so than genetics, as both are equally part of our epigenetic inheritance. Both are programs designed to keep us alive in a species-typical environment.

Bibliography
Benbow, C.P. (1988). Sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability in intellectually talented preadolescents: Their nature, effects, and possible causes. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11: 169-232.
Benbow, C.P. & Stanley, J.C. (1996). Inequity in equity: How “equity” can lead to inequity for high-potential students. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 2(2): 249-292.
Benbow, C.P., Lubinski, D., Shea, D.L., Eftekhari-Sanjani, H. (2000). Sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability at age 13: Their status 20 years later. Psychological Sciences 11(6): 474-80.
Bjorklund, D. F., & Pellegrini, A. D. (2002). The origins of human nature: Evolutionary developmental psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Howard, R.W. (2005). Are gender differences in high achievement disappearing? A test in one intellectual domain. Journal of Biological Sciences 37: 371-380.
Magnusson, P.K.E., Rasmussen, F., & Gyllensten, U.B. (2006). Height at age 18 years is a strong predictor of attained education later in life: cohort study of over 950 000 Swedish men. International Journal of Epidemiology 35(3): 658-663.
Silvertoinen, K., Posthuma, D., van Beijsterveldt, T., Bartels, M., & Boosma, D.I. (2006). Genetic contributions to the association between height and intelligence: evidence from Dutch twin data from childhood to middle age. Genes, Brain, and Behavior 5(8): 585-595.
Stanley, J.C. Boys and girls who reason well mathematically. Ciba Foundation Symposium178: 119-134.
Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1992) The Psychological Foundations of Culture. In The Adapted Mind, Jerome Barkow, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, eds. New York: Oxford University Pres.


Evolutionary Cognitivism, a tdaxp series
1. Selection and Cognition
2. Epigentics and Diversity
3. Children and Civilization
4. The Implicit and the Explicit
5. Man Among Men
6. More Than Genes
7. Bibliography

Give Them Guns

Farrell, S. (2007). Give us guns — and trops can go, says Iraqi leader. Times Online. January 18, 2007. Available online: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-2553148.html.

My post on how Bush has won the Iraq War, in spite of himself has gotten noted by The Donovon, as well as attracting an interesting discussion.

Our Iraqi allies need three things to defeat terrorism, al-Baath, and al-Qaeda in their own country: money, guns, and air cover. We’re skimping, trying to win a war on the cheap:

America’s refusal to give Baghdad’s security forces sufficient guns and equipment has cost a great number of lives, the Iraqi Prime Minister said yesterday.

Tragically, skimping on money, guns, and air cover costs American lives. When we prevent our allies from winning, we have to fight our enemies ourselves. If we gave our allies more money, guns, and air cover (the focus being on guns, to counter the total national defense armories Saddam set up before his fall) we could leave.

Nouri al-Maliki said the insurgency had been bloodier and prolonged because Washington had refused to part with equipment. If it released the necessary arms, US forces could “dramatically” cut their numbers in three to six months, he told The Times.

The formula for victory in Iraq looks like this:

Victory = Money + Guns + Air Cover

The presense of American troops is not required for victory. If it helps America’s interests in some other way to stay — say, by having bases in the desert to protect Iraq’s territorial integrity against a foreign threat — fine. There is no moral objection to maintaining a presense in Iraq. But the self-flagulation involved in denying the Iraq’s weapons and sending our own troops over their to die because of that is idiotic.

Give them Guns. Lots of Guns.

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Part V: Man Among Men

I believe, as Bjoyklund & Pellegrini (2002, 193) do, “that the evolution of the human species’ unique intelligence was motivated by the need to deal with other members of our social group.” I think a large humanity’s genetic inheritance – that which is universal to all people as well as that which is particular to one breeding population (that is, race) or another – is the result of the coevolution of genes and society.

Human-general adaptations are well described by the text. This species general social cognition (which the text describes as “cognition about social relationships and social phenomena” on page 193) include things such as social learning, a theory of mind, and cheater detection. Social learning, which ranges from local enhancement and mimicry to emulation and imitation (194-196) involves learning because of the actions of others. Some creatures are born with everything they need to survive, but humans need to be able to learn a culture to survive. The theory of mind assists in social learning by informing individuals that “other people have knowledge and desire that may be different from one’s one” (203), and the mental processes this fact entails. Relatedly, cheater detection, or the ability to use “deontic reasoning, which is reasoning about what one may, should or out to do” (216) allows us to effortlessly discover those who have violated social rules.


The book leaves out adaptations that are related to different human populations. This is not surprising, as most Evolutionary Psychologists are skeptical of race-specific adaptations (Kurzban, Tooby, & Cosmides, 2001), preferring instead to believe that most adaptations occurred in the late stone age and thus are shared by all human beings are genetically very similar (Tooby & Cosmides, 1992, 2005). Nonetheless, some issues should be address. Phenotypic differences directly impacting athletic ability vary between Africans, Europeans, and Orientals (Rushton, 2000). One possibility is that this is an adaptation to different physical environments, these could equally be social adaptations. If different cultural styles existed in these physical locales for a sufficiently long duration (perhaps no more than four hundred years, see see Pinker, 2002, 111, or a few thousand, see Buller, 2005, 56) then evolution would lead to adaptations for that cultural style.

Perhaps a less speculative case of society-specific genetic adaption comes via research into HIV and AIDS. A genetic factor that increases the risk of aquiring AIDS is higher in Africans than non-Africans (Gonzalez, et al., 2001) and a mutation that slows-down AIDS was found in Europeans but not non-Europeans (Martinson, Chapman, Rees, Lui, & Clegg, 1997). While some may view such findings as evidence that HIV is a tool of genocidal warfare devised by a racist elite (Ross, Essien, & Torres, 2006), perhaps a more likely explanation is that a disease similar to AIDS has previously ravaged the European race before dieing out. Thus, cultural phenomenona related to the spread of an HIV-like sexually transmitted disease effected the evolution of one human breeding population but not others.

There are other examples of selection by society as well. European adult lactose tolerance, for example, appears to be a relatively recently adaptation that increased dairy farming, which in turn spread the lactose tolerant genes (Bersaglieri, et al., 2004). A more brutal example may be possible strong positive selection for intelligence in Jews as a result of centuries of hateful persecution and bigotry (Cochran, Hardy, & Harpending, 2005) Others have gone into this area in some detail (Wrangham, 2005). My purpose here is merely to applaud Bjorklund & Pellegrini for emphasizing the power of society in shaping our psyches, and outline other ways society achieved the same ends in diverse groups of people.

The authors close their chapters discussing ways development may influence species evolution. They write that not only social complexity, similar to the dairy example mentioned above, but also “extension of the juvenile period may have prompted modifications of reasing conditions, which in turn led to the ability to understand the intention of others and eventually the creation of culture” (218). I wonder if this impacts human group diversity as well, in a racial, clinal, or some other sense. Could some breeding populations of man have a more extended juvenile period than other. If juvenile period extension is indeed linked with eusociality, are some populations more eusocial than others. Or, in the juvenile period is linked with more rambunctousness, may children from some parts of the world do best in more chaotic conditions than others? I do not know, and nothing I have read answers this question for me. Hopefully in the future, great evolution cognitive psychologists like Bjorklund & Pellegrini will find this out. Science will progress.

Bibliography
Bersaglieri, T., et al. (2004). Genetic signatures of strong recent positive selection at the lactase gene. American Journal of Human Genetics 74: 1111-1120.
Bjorklund, D. F., & Pellegrini, A. D. (2002). The origins of human nature: Evolutionary developmental psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Buller, D.J. (2005). Adapting Minds. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
Cochran, G., Hardy, J., & Harpending, H. (2006). Natural history of Azhkenazi intelligence. Journal of Biosocal Science 38: 659-693.
Kurzban, R., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2001). Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization. PNAS 98(26):15387-15392.
Gonzalez, E., et al. (2001). Global survey of genetic variation in CCR5, RANTES, and MIP-1alpha : Impact on the epidemiology of the HIV-1 pandemic. PNAS 98(9): 5199-5204.
Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Viking Adult: New York, NY.
Ross, M.W., Essien, E.J., & Torres, I. (2006). Conspiracy beliefs about the origins of HIV/AIDS in four racial/ethnic groups. Journal of Aquired Immune Deficiency Synddrome 41(3): 342-344.
Rushton, J.P. (2000). Race, evolution, and behavior: A life history perspective (3rd edition). Port Huron, MI: Charles Darwin Research Institute.
Martinson, J.J., Chapman, N.H., Rees, D.C., Lui, Y.T., & Clegg, J.B. (1997). Global distribution of the CCR5 gene 32-basepair deletion. Nature Genetics 16(1): 100-103.
Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1992) The Psychological Foundations of Culture. In The Adapted Mind, Jerome Barkow, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, eds. New York: Oxford University Pres.
Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (2005). Evolutionary psychology: Conceptual foundations, in David M. Buss (Ed.), Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. New York: Wiley.
Wrangham, W.H. (2005). Interaction of genetic and cultural evolution: Models and examples. Human Ecology 10(3): 399-334.



Evolutionary Cognitivism, a tdaxp series
1. Selection and Cognition
2. Epigentics and Diversity
3. Children and Civilization
4. The Implicit and the Explicit
5. Man Among Men
6. More Than Genes
7. Bibliography

Anti-Catholic Bigotry in Nebraska

Hoegh, P. (2007). Senator criticized over move to restrict alcohol in church. CNSNews.com. January 19, 2007. Available online: http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200701/CUL20070118a.html.

The news is so incredible that I thought it was fake:

Democratic State Sen. Lowen Kruse has introduced a bill that would eliminate two provisions to Nebraska’s underage drinking law which allow in their own homes or at places of worship during religious ceremonies.

While saying the primary goal of the bill was admirable, Catholic League President Bill Donahue worries about the implication for Mass. Catholics and some Protestant denominations use wine in their communion services.

I immediately tried to check this out by going to Senator Kruse’s webpage.


Nebraska: Equality, except for Catholics (?)

Kruse provided a link to the , where I found the proposed law. The strikethrough (like so) is the part of the law that Senator Kruse wants to revoke:

53-180.02. Except as provided in section 53-168.06, no minor may sell, dispense, consume, or have in his or her possession or physical control any alcoholic liquor in any tavern or in any other place, including public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, upon property owned by the State of Nebraska or any subdivision thereof, or inside any vehicle while in or on any other place, including, but not limited to, the public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, or upon property owned by the State of Nebraska or any subdivision thereof. , except that a minor may consume, possess, or have physical control of alcoholic liquor in his or her permanent place of residence or on the premises of a place of religious worship on which premises alcoholic liquor is consumed as a part of a religious rite, ritual, or ceremony.

It actually gets worse than this. Not that not only are the religious service excemption revoked, but other exemptions stay on the books.

53-168.06. No person shall manufacture, bottle, blend, sell, barter, transport, deliver, furnish, or possess any alcoholic liquor for beverage purposes except as specifically provided in the Nebraska Liquor Control Act. Nothing in the act shall prevent (1) the possession of alcoholic liquor legally obtained as provided in the act for the personal use of the possessor and his or her family and guests; (2) the making of wine, cider, or other alcoholic liquor by a person from fruits, vegetables, or grains, or the product thereof, by simple fermentation and without distillation, if made solely for the use of the maker and his or her family and guests; (3) any duly licensed practicing physician or dentist from possessing or using alcoholic liquor in the strict practice of his or her profession, any hospital or other institution caring for the sick and diseased persons from possessing and using alcoholic liquor for the treatment of bona fide patients of such hospital or other institution, or any drug store employing a licensed pharmacist from possessing or using alcoholic liquor in the compounding of prescriptions of licensed physicians; (4) the possession and dispensation of alcoholic liquor by an authorized representative of any religion on the premises of a place of worship, for the purpose of conducting any bona fide religious rite, ritual, or ceremony; (5) persons who are sixteen years old or older from carrying alcoholic liquor from licensed establishments when they are accompanied by a person not a minor; (6) (5) persons who are sixteen years old or older from handling alcoholic liquor containers and alcoholic liquor in the course of their employment; (7) (6) persons who are sixteen years old or older from removing and disposing of alcoholic liquor containers for the convenience of the employer and customers in the course of their employment; or (8) (7) persons who are nineteen years old or older from serving or selling alcoholic liquor in the course of their employment.

This blog has a “health mullahs” to point out over-zealous health laws. However, this isn’t a health law. It keeps the exemption allowing 19 year olds to sell and serve alcohol, it keeps the exemption that allows 16 year olds to handle alchol, it keeps the provision for people making their own moonshine.

This is not a health law. This is hate speech in legislative form, designed to harrass Catholics and criminalize Catholocism. Senator Kruse, a Methodist minister, should be ashamed of himself. Like all other bigots.

Racism and Sexism at Duke University

With Mike Nifong‘s and Crystal Gail Mangum‘s attempted lynching of the Duke University students continuing to unravel, a mob of activist University professors accidentally becomes right. Ann Althouse, Durham in Wonderland, Instapundit, and La Shawn Barber are on the case.


Criminals

The Group of 88 faculty’s original letter began as follows:

Regardless of the results of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism, who see illuminated in this moment’s extraordinary spotlight what they live with everyday. They know that it isn’t just Duke, it isn’t everybody, and it isn’t just individuals making this disaster.

But it is a disaster nonetheless

Indeed. While the Group of 88 was focused on joining the lynching party, their words are ironic now. They can be used to describe the racist and sexist attitude of the administration of Duke University and Durham County.


Victims

Dennis Mangan writes bluntly:

Anyone white and male would have to be a fool to attend Duke. There’s some sign, as outlined in the article, that the president of Duke is coming to realize his gigantic fuckup – a criminal fuckup. No one in his right mind should go there, nor should his parents send him.

The situation may not be quite bad, but it certainly isn’t good. Perhaps Durham is in the Gap, after all.

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Part IV: The Implicit and the Explicit

I am a big fan of Bjorklund & Pellegrini’s fifth chapter, “Classifying Cognition.”

The text divides thinking into “implicit” and “explicit” (2002, 114) thinking. This “implicit” thinking appears to be the same thing as “automatic,” “peripheral,” “heuristic,” and “unconscious” while “explicit” appears to be the same thing as “controlled,” “central,” “systematic,” and “conscious” (Morris, Squires, Taber, & Lodge, 2003, 4). Additionally, implicit memory is refered to as “Memory System I” and explicit memory is called “Memory System II” (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 123).

One of the text’s most interesting sections is the application of implicit attitude tests on very young children. For instance, even if they could not answer a question about remembering old students, children act as if they recall old kindergarten classmates (119-120). The authors also mention other research (Clements & Perner, 1994) showing how implicit belief becomes more reliable than explicit belief before the child is three years old. This implicit superiority continues throughout life. It is interesting that explicit thinking has such little access to one’s implicit state, as self-reports can be unreliable predictors of behavior (Kurzban & DeScioli, 2005).


Not that all implicit attitudes are necessarily good, however: research implying a possible human predisposition towards xenophobia (Hammond & Axeldor, 2006) and research that shows that whites and blacks both hold negative implicit attitudes of blacks (Bower, 2006) show the potentially negative effects of implicit cognition, as well.

Bjorklund & Pellegrini also describe Donald’s (1991) division of the levels of culture into “episodic culture,” “mimetic culture,” “mythic culture,” and “theoretic culture” (123-124). However, if they are describing Donald’s work correctly I must disagree with Bjorklund & Pellegrini. In particular, I do not believe our ancestors were as primitive as this theory purports, nor as we so developed. The theory assumes that chimpanzees and early men live “entirely in the present” without “imitation, in which one individual represents the actions and goals of another and attempts to reproduce the the outcome archived by another…” However, complicated cultures with varying styles of dominance, grooming, and food gathering exist even within baboons (Sapolsky & Share, 2004). As it appears that primatese use technology together social strategies to achieve what they want (Tomasello & Call), I do not see how there is evidence deying chimpanzees access to mimetic culture.

Likewise, while it is clear that humans have access to “external symbolic storage systems” (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 124) and other gizmos, I do not think that much of human behavior progresses much beyond mimetics. That is, while the development of moral reasoning and personal identity (see, for example, Moshman, 2005) would seem to follow theoretic or at least mythic cultural paths, I don’t think these things influences behavior that much. This ties into what I wrote above. One theory for why self-reports are so bad is that most behavior is driven by automatic processes the conscious brain simply does not have access to (Lieberman, Schreiber, & Ochsner, 2003). For instance, while moral reasoning is associated with some (but not other) forms of pro-social behavior (Eisenberg-Berg & Hand, 1979). I am not aware of any research demonstrating students who have more advanced moral reasoning behave more “morally” because of this reasoning (as opposed to students who learn moral reasoning acting more morally anyway, etc). This sentence is written out of ignorance – I simply don’t know the field that much – but I am skeptical that most human social behavior is more complicated than memetic culture.

On the whole, my take on this chapter is this: humans have very well developed and well evolved implicit memory and cognitive structures, which they use nearly all the time. Animals as well have very well developed and well evolved (for their typical lives) implicit memory and cognitive structures, which they use nearly all the time. Humanity is distinguished, not by a reliance on explicit memory and explicit cognitive structures, but by more explicit structures than other animals. Thus we are more reasonable and rational than other creatures in the jungle. But i do not believe that we are more reasonable and more rational than the reverse.

Bibliography
Bjorklund, D. F., & Pellegrini, A. D. (2002). The origins of human nature: Evolutionary developmental psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Bower, B. (2006). The Bias Finders: A Test of Unconscious Attitudes Polarizes Psychologists. Science News, 169(16), 250.
Clements, W.A., & Perner, J. (1004). Implicit understanding of belief. Cognitive Development 9: 377-395.
Donald, M. (1991). Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Eisenberg-Berg, N. & Hand, M. (1979). The relationship of preschoolers’ reasoning about prosocial moral conflicts to prosocial behavior. Child Development 50(2): 356-363.
Hammond, R., & Axelrod, R. (2006) The Evolution of Ethnocentricism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(6).
Kurzban, R., & DeScioli, P. (2005) “Characterizing reciprocity in groups: Information-seeking in a public goods game,” (Submitted), alternate draft at http://www.psych.upenn.edu/~descioli/kurzban%20descioli%20p
Lieberman, M., Schreiber, D., & Ochsner, K. (2003). Is Political Cognition Like Riding a Bicycle: How Cognitive Neuroscience Can Inform Research on Political Thinking. Political Psychology, 2003, 24(4), 681-704.
Morris, J., Squires, N., Taber, C., & Lodge, M. (2003). “The Automatic Activation of Political Attitudes: A Psychophysiological Examination of the Hot Cognition Hypothesis,” Political Psychology, 24, 727.
Moshman, D. (2005). Adolescent Psychological Development (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Sapolsky, R.M. & Share, L.J. (2004). A pacific culture among wild baboons: Its emergence and transmission. PloS Biology 2(4): e106.
Tomasello, M & Call, J. (1997). Primate Cognition. New York: Oxford University Press.



Evolutionary Cognitivism, a tdaxp series
1. Selection and Cognition
2. Epigentics and Diversity
3. Children and Civilization
4. The Implicit and the Explicit
5. Man Among Men
6. More Than Genes
7. Bibliography

Victory is when Winning is So Easy It Feels Like Murder

The Jihad is now against the Shias, not the Americans,” The Guardian, 13 January 2007, http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1989397,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1 (from Digg).

In spite of his trecherous, appeasing incompetence over the last three years, even George W. Bush couldn’t screw up the Iraq War too badly.


Our Victorious Ally

Our enemies are scattered, dispirited, confused, and surrounded:

Rami was explaining how the insurgency had changed since the first heady days after the US invasion. “I used to attack the Americans when that was the jihad. Now there is no jihad. Go around and see in Adhamiya [the notorious Sunni insurgent area] – all the commanders are sitting sipping coffee; it’s only the young kids that are fighting now, and they are not fighting Americans any more, they are just killing Shia. There are kids carrying two guns each and they roam the streets looking for their prey. They will kill for anything, for a gun, for a car and all can be dressed up as jihad.”

Now all we need to do is leave, and we win:

He was more despondent than angry. “We Sunni are to blame,” he said. “In my area some ignorant al-Qaida guys have been kidnapping poor Shia farmers, killing them and throwing their bodies in the river. I told them: ‘This is not jihad. You can’t kill all the Shia! This is wrong! The Shia militias are like rabid dogs – why provoke them?’ “

Then he said: “I am trying to talk to the Americans. I want to give them assurances that no one will attack them in our area if they stop the Shia militias from coming.”

This man who had spent the last three years fighting the Americans was now willing to talk to them, not because he wanted to make peace but because he saw the Americans as the lesser of two evils. He was wrestling with the same dilemma as many Sunni insurgent leaders, beginning to doubt the wisdom of their alliance with al-Qaida extremists.

Another insurgent commander told me: “At the beginning al-Qaida had the money and the organisation, and we had nothing.” But this alliance soon dragged the insurgents and then the whole Sunni community into confrontation with the Shia militias as al-Qaida and other extremists massacred thousands of Shia civilians. Insurgent commanders such as Abu Omar soon found themselves outnumbered and outgunned, fighting organised militias backed by the Shia-dominated security forces.

We can admire our enemy in Iraq, just as we can admire our enemies from decades ago. But should as it would have been idiotic to join the Axis powers in 1945, because of their fighting spirit, so it would be insane to stab our allies ni the back in order to save the Iraqi Sunni Arabs.

This is victory.