Tag Archives: evolution

Review of "Before the Dawn" by Nicholas Wade

The front cover of New York Times-reporter Nicholas Wade’s new book, Before the Dawn, contains a quote by E.O. Wilson: “By far the best book I have ever read on humanity’s deep history.” I couldn’t agree more. Before the Dawn is more informative than Nature via Nurture, more readable than The Blank Slate, and proves (contra The Emperor’s New Clothes) that popularizations of population genetics don’t have to be deceitful and revolting.

The Lost History of Our Ancestors

Before the Dawn dwells on several major events in the human story: separation from chimpanzee-ancestors, the end of seperate sex hierarchies with the introduction of pair bonding, physically modern human, behaviorally modern human, and socially modern humans. From a founder population fo 150, the first behaviorally modern human beings who left Africa at the Gate of Grief would conquer three other human species (Neanderthals, Erecti, and Hobbits) and within fifty thousand years spread an African species all over the face of the world.

Every chapter in Before the Dawn is worth reading, but several stand out as some of the best in the history of scientific nonfiction: “Genetics & Genesis” outlines the author’s plan of attack, “Genesis” describes mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam, “Exodus” tells of the seafaring conquest of the Coasts in the face of Erecti resistance to Australia, the second truly human continent, “Race” addresses the major family groupings of man, “Language” applies genetic technology to recovering the time and place for the first human tongue, and “Evolution” recaps the book and looks forward to the next human species.

Nick Wade is a science columnist for the New York Times, and his journalist touch is fully worked. I learned more about the Thomas Jefferson- Sally Hemmings twist than I did before, including that Sally his the half-sister of Tom’s first wife. The unique haplotypes of Icelanders and Jews are discussed. and the interesting that the current races appear not to have existed 15,000 years ago give one much to chew on.

Before the Dawn is very up to date, and includes fair criticism of Evolutionary Psychology that comes from our increased understanding of genetics. When John Tooby and Leda Cosmides founded EP, it was reasonable to presuppose that substantive human evolution had ended by the late stone age. That assumption is no longer tenable. We are not modern humans with stone-aged minds. We are modern humans with modern minds.

This great book has already made a buzz. John Derbyshire of The National Review loves it, while Nature hates it.

Before the Dawn is available for $15.72 from Amazon.com, and for $19.96 from Barnes & Noble.

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.

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

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Part III: Children and Civilization

For most of hominid evolution, newer meant bigger. Newer species had bigger brains than older ones, and later members of a species had bigger brains than earlier members (Rightmire, 2001). And for generations researchers have puzzled over the Neanderthal’s quick demise (Hrdlicka, 1927), especially puzzling in light of apparently developed communicative abilities (Arsenburg, Tilier, Vandermeersch, Duday, Schepartz, & Rak, 1989) and the fact that some Neanderthals may be more closely related to humans than other members of their own species (Paablo, 2003). Yet fifteen thousand years ago the human brain began shrinking (Ridley, 2003). Though perhaps the decline is older than that – Neanderthals may have had larger brains than we do (Klein, 2003).

I do not know what this means. We know that “within primates the relative size of the neocortex is significantly correlated with group size” (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002, 102). We like to think that our brains make us special, though apparently the seemingly-simpleminded purposes are large-brained as well (92). Additionally, considering that “brain size is correlated (negatively) with litter size” and that larger-brained “animals tend to have smaller litters and to give birth to infants at longer intervals” (97), this implies that modern humans are more expendable and less precious than our ancestors of fifteen thousand years ago, or even the ancient Neanderthals! Clearly humans are evolving, but how and why?

Bjorklund & Pellegrini give hints of an answer. They write that “brain growth continues into adolescence” (100) and (quoting Bjorklund & Green, 1992) “lessons learned as a young child will not interfere with the qualitatively different tasks required of an adult” (108). These facts must be synthesized with a view of evolution that leads to us, an agricultural species, to having smaller brains and the Neanderthals, another recent non-agricultural species, to have larger ones. The most likely explanation to me is that human agriculture allowed even young children to become productive workers, as there are a myriad of tasks on a farm requiring little muscluar or intellectual strength (such as feeding chickens, etc.), and that human society allowed the formation of an “anatomically distinct worker caste” (Wilson & Holldobler, 2005, 13368). In other words, children are something like worker bees, who learn lessons appropriate for worker bees, but upon adolescence are able to be reprogrammed to be functioning adults. Thus the claim that “childhood and adolescence, are not observed in any other species” (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002, 99) misses the mark – asexual workers exist in many species, and adolescence is a form of functional cocooning. And this is why (quoting Mason, 1968) “Developmental stages are less sharply delineated in humans than in other primates. Sensitive periods in development are more difficult to establish…” (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002, 106): humans develop twice, once into a worker, and then into an adult.

Clearly, a view of children as “worker humans” should not be taken to extremes. Deprived environments will hamper children through the rest of their lives (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002, 105) and children are safer when cared for by biological parents (Buller, 2005). Yet many children are surprisingly resilient to early traumas (Caspi, et al., 2003) and the traits that predict criminality may be largely heritable (Pinker, 2002, 315) so most children may be all but assured a good life. Other policy implications of resilient cihldren – everything from social services to educational styles – are too many to list.

Yet this gets me away somewhat from my primary question, about brain size. Clearly it would be possible for humanity to develop children as a worker caste without limiting the skull size of adults. Even if skull size and less reproductively valuable children correlate, unless these effects are caused by the same alleles there still has to be a reason for our smaller brains. My guess is that this is also from socialization, and that there is less need for us to think now that we have evolved to live in agricultural communities. If a caveman is largely on his own, with only his band to protect him, he must be a jack-of-all-trades. Everything from possible ritual cannibalism (White, et al., 1991) to warfare (Zollikofer, Ponce de Leone, Vandermeersch, & Leveque, 2002) would have to be done with the same band, meaning a successful live with a cognitively flexible life. However, humans in a modern economy rely on others for most of their needs, and they only need to learn a few things well. Thus the human brain may be evolved to be a specialist – an extraordinary mind (Gardner, 1998) — in only one domain, and a naïve generalist in others. Anyway – that’s my guess.

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.
Bjorklund, D.F. & Green, D.L. (1992). The adaptive nature of cognitive immaturity. American Psychologist 47: 46-54.
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.
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.
Gardner, H. (1998). Extraordinary Minds. Basic Books: New York, NY.
Hrdlicka, A. (1927). The Neanderthal phase of man. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 57: 249-274.
Klein, R.G. (2003). Whither the Neanderthals? Science 299(5612): 1525-1527.
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.
Paabo, S. (2003). The mosaic that is our genome. Nature 421: 409-412.
Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Viking Adult: New York, NY.
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.
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.
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

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Part II: Epigenetics and Diversity

The question of group-level human variation has been a hot one. Some research argues for continental, race-like groupings in which there is more variation between groups than within them (Jorde, et al., 2000) and that self-identified race is a reliable predictor for one’s genetic heritage Tang, et al,, 2005). Other research suggests while there is group-level genetic variation, it exists within a gradation of populations and not a small number of historically isolate draces (Serre & Paabo, 2004). While it is increasingly recognized that early scientific research, such as Lewtonin 1970, which denied any meaningful group-level variation was overly simplistic (Edwards, 2003). Though studies which look at only a few phenotypes continue to find little intergroup variation (Relethford, 2002), broad studies find definite intergroup variation (Rosenberg, 2005) and intragroup similarity (Rosenberg, et al., 2006) Several portions of Bjorklund & Pellegrini’s (2002) third chapter, History and Controversy, also hint at ways that human groups could be more different from each other than once thought.

One way that biological group level variation can increase is if experience can somehow be paseed from parent to child. For instance, even if two populations are genetically very similar, if they face different environments, and the effects of the environment can be passed down, you could have biologically-based differences in only one generation. This was once considered anathema to modern biology: Bjorklund & Pellegrini write that “Inheritance, and thus genetic variation, is found only within the germ line and is not influenced by experience” (47). However, i tis now recognized that “physical” and “behavioral” changes can be passed on (53). An early example of this was Jean Piaget’s experiment with epigenetic snails (54). In contemporary jargon, we should say that “females pass on cytoplasm (i.e., the cell body) to their offspring [and so environmental] changes that induce chemical changes in the cytoplasm can thus be inherited through the motehr but not through the father” (56). On the same page, the authors note that while this cytoplasm is not itself genetic, “Cytoplasmic inheritance should not be thought of as nongenetic [because] it necessarily expressed its effect on the genes.”

It’s relatively easy to imagine how this could work. Imagine two otherwise similar populations which are divided from each other. This division forces both to become relatively self-contained breeding populations and leads to differences in diet, with one population eating nutritious food and the other near starvation. After just a few generations, cytoplasmic variants adept to surviving and reproducing in starvation-conditions could become very widespread in the one population, while an opposite set of cytoplasmic variants become widespread in the other population. Frighteningly, this may be happening in Korea. The height difference between North and South Koreans is already four inches (Ser & Team, 2006). If some of this difference is epigenetically, cytoplasmically inherited, this could create a de-facto “racial” divide among Koreans that might last centuries, even after a return to environmental equality.

Non-coding DNA is another thing that may have led to a discounting of human intergroup genetic diversity. Bjorklund & Pellegrini describe this DNA as “dormant” and “underused” (57). However, the 97% of our genome that is intergenetic “can have dramatic effects on the way that nearby genes are activated to make proteins” (Pinker, 2002, 78). One such piece of junk DNA, Dopamine Receptor D4 7 Repeat – has been tied to ADD and novely seeking (Laucht, Becker, & Schmidt, 2006). As earlier studies of human differences focused on coding DNA, such as protein loci and blood group loci (Latter, 1980), these studies have essentially just ignored 97% of human genetic difference. This is especially sad as junk DNA can be inserted into RNA, thus becoming functional (Lev-Maor, Sorek, Shomron, & Ast, 2003).

Yet the idea of intergroup genetic diversity among homo sapiens causes controversy. Indeed, the idea that genes matter in the human species causes controversy Richard Lewtonin, whose work denying the existence of races was cited earlier, famous accused E.O. Wilson of mirroring “the ideologies of the bourgeois revolutions of the eighteenth century” (Ridley, 2003, 243). How much more disturbing it might be if not only do children already know about “language… objects… and social relations” (Bjoklund & Pellegrini, 2002, 61), but that groups of children vary in their knowledge of these objects. For instance, if one group has a higher general intelligence ability while another group as a higher rythmatic intelligence (Lynn, 2006). Does this imply that one genetic grouping is more valuable than another?

The answer, of course, is no. As Steven Pinker (2002, 145) wrote “The case against bigotry is not a factual claim that humans are biologically indistinguishable. It is a moral stance…” We are all equally human. We are all equally valuable. No evidence, ever, could change that.

Bjorklund, D. F., & Pellegrini, A. D. (2002). The origins of human nature: Evolutionary developmental psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Ding, Y., et al. (2002). Evidence of positive selection acting at the human dopamine receptor D4 gene locus. PNAS, 99(1) 309-314.
Edwards, A.W.F. (2003). Human genetic diversity: Lewtonin’s fallacy. BioEssays 25(8): 798-801.
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
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.
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.
Lynn, R. (2006). Race differences in intelligence: An evolutionary analysis. Washington Summit Publishers: New York:
Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Viking Adult: New York, NY.
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.
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
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
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.
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

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

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Part I: Selection and Cognition

I am very enthusiastic about Bjorklund & Pellegrini’s 2002 text, Evolutionary Developmental Psychology. I am going to discuss four places I believe that the book’s discussion can be extended, on ADD, domain generality, geological time, and group selection. While I feel the authors’ work to be incomplete in these areas, I choose these areas because otherwise the book seems flawless.

On page 5, the authors mention mention that “natural selection has similarly shaped domain-general information processing mechanisms,” and that “working memory” and “speed of processing” are examples of such domain-general mechanisms. I agree that these things exist, are important, and were shaped through evolution, though I do not know if they are “domain general.”

For instance, I think it is clear that working memory effects how we memorize names, how we do long division, and how we solve complicated puzzles. But does working memory capacity load only cheater detection, or in the hundred subconscious ques we receive to tell us how the person we talk to is feeling? I believe the authors could have been more accurate had they spoken of these “conscious, domain-multiple” skills instead of domain-general ones.

Additionally, I think the author’s words on the nature of selection cover much of evolution. They write that “natural selection does not necessarily yield what is ‘best for the group’ but rather works on the level of the individual” (14). Sometimes this is true. However, eusocioal adaptations (those that benefit the group but harm an individuals’ inclusive fitness) have been observed in the wild (Wilson & Holldobler, 2005) and computer simulations (Hammond & Axelrod, 2006) and network analysis (Bloom, 2000) imply that something similar may exist among men . Selection pressure is not limited to the individual level, or the genetic level, or the group level, but exists on every level of organization (Alford & Hibbing, 2004).

Relatedly, the authors claim that “individuals who truly have ADHD would be at a disadvantage in any environments” (28). This may or may not be true, but the Goldstein & Barkley (1998) paper they say they agree with goes further, arguing that ADHD could not be “adaptive” (1) or “adapted” (2) (it is not clear that Goldstein & Barkley understand the difference in these concepts) because because it is not shown to be beneficial in some economic activity (hunting, wading, etc). Goldstein & Barkley then bizarrely state: “[Advocates for ADHD] can not on the one hand argue that ADHD needs to be taken seriously as a legitimate developmental disability. Then on the other hand simultaneously sing its praises as a once successful adaptation that leads to higher intelligence, greater creativity, and heightened sensory awareness, but that now results in suffering due to an overcontrolled, linear-focused, and intolerant culture” (4-5). Why this should be true is beyond me. It may well be that ADHD is adapted on a genetic level to increase reproduction. For instance, if ADHD leads to rape (Giotakos, Markianos, & Vaidakis, 2005) then it easily could be an adaptation that is beneficial to a selfish gene while being harmful to individuals and society. Alternatively, ADHD may well be a stable polymorphism, in other words humanity may be “a mixed population [that] is evolutionary stable” (Buller, 2005, 42) with regard to ADHD. This could arrive if at certain times a group’s survival hinged on having hyperactive members, and at other times hinged on having members capable of concentration.

Last, while I agree that the “human mind has been prepared by natural selection, operating over geological time, for life in a human group” (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 4). However, human minsd have also been prepared by natural selection, operating over historical time, for life in human groups (Voight, et al., 2006). That is, human genomes of different populations have undergone selection within the past few thousand years. Evolution acted in the past, giving us stone-age brains for our modern lives. But it also acted more recently, adapting those stone-age brains for live in agricultural communities.

However, while these are nit-picks, Bjoklund & Pellegrini’s contribution to the field should not be underrated. Their text competently integrates evolutionary psychology and cognitive psychology, two fields who share many assumptions but whose practitioners are often unaware of each other’s advances. It is through books like this can scientists in both domains leverage each other’s unique contributions and advance the state of our unified, scientific view of the world.

Alford, J. & Hibbing, J. (2004) .The Origin of Politics: An Evolutionary Theory of Political Behavior. Perspectives on Politics, 2(4), 707-723
Bloom, Howard. (2000). Global Brain. Wiley & Sons: New York, NY.
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.
Goldstein, S., & Barkley, R. (1998). ADHD, hunting, and evolution: “just so” stories. The ADHD Report 6(5): 1-4.
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.
Hammond, R., & Axelrod, R. (2006) The Evolution of Ethnocentricism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(6).
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.
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
Wilson, E. O., & Holldobler, B. (2005). Eusociality: Origin and Consequences. PNAS 102(38)-13367-13371.

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

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Introduction: Race of Man, Races of Men

This series is a companion to Biopsychological Development. While that series focused on my reaction to The Scientist in the Crib and The Emperor’s New Clothes, this series centers on The Origins of Human Nature: Evolutionary Developmental Psychology. Of the three books assigned for the class, Origins is by far the most academic. It is a very competent synthesis of Cognitive Psychology’s concepts of working memory, cognitive load, and the like with Evolutionary Psychology’s era of evolutionary adaption, massive modularity, and such.

A theme that emerged while I wrote these reaction with group-level human genetic diversity. The idea is that humanity is composed of major breeding populations that differ in their frequencies of genetic variation. I had been skeptical of this polygenism for some time, but within the last year I upgraded the idea from “dubious” to “reasonable.” I do not know if humanity is composed of races or clines, but advocatges group-level genetic diversity present good evidence that needs to be intellectual engaged. Unfortunately, (advocates mostly on) the Left concluded that if group-level human diversity exists, it implies that some humans are “better” than others. Therefore the hypothesis had to be rejected on ideological grounds, whatever the facts are. To these Marxists, the thought that we are all equal, regardless of our nationality or genetic predisposition, is apparently anathema.

I have to give special props to Steven Pinker, an author previously featured on tdaxp. Pinker is skeptical of group genetic diversity, and he has given better arguments in favor of his position than anyone else I have read. He also admits the possibility that he may be wrong, however, and his skepticism towards his skepticism helped provoke my self-reflection. The tone of the posts in this series tend to be pro-diversity, if only because (outside of Pinker) I am more impressed by the honest tone of the diversitarians than the monists. However, the best part of blogging is the very high-level of reader comments. Please readers, correct me, or tell me where my writing is lazy!

(Any in the meantime — read up on Lewtonin’s fallacy.)

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

Joseph Graves “The Emperor’s New Clothes”: Biological Theories of Race

Graves’ begins the last section of his book (“Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium,” starting on page 155) with a discussion of psychometry. It should be quickly noted that Graves chooses to criticize the field, in part, for its belief in “g” — a single-measure of intelligence. Belief in the power of “g” has been criticized even by those who believe genetic factors do help determine intelligence (Gardner 1983, 2003). Thus there could be significant, group variations in verbal ability, or abstract thinking, or analogical thinking, or some other domain without there being any different in general intelligence.

The author then proceeds to make several questionable assertions. He claims that the President and the Chief Justice discussing a case is a “violation of the principle of the separation of powers” (162) without evidence. On the very next page he argues that The Bell Curve was “uncritically accepted by elements of the popular press” (163) — a strange accusation considering how the book was controversially received (a controversy that no-doubt increased its sales). He questions “the correlation between SAT scores and intelligence” (164), which is as brave an assertion as wondering if Europe and Australia are separate continents, as the SAT is an achievement and aptitude, not an intelligence, test. Similarly, Graves shows ignorance of the concept of an ecological niche. He writes that “There is no reason to suppose that these should have produced intellectual inferiority only in sub-Saharan Africans… one would have to suppose some form of natural selection was operating” (169). Well, actually, all one would have to assume is that in some way high intelligence and the increased energy consumption that goes along with it was somehow maladaptive in in sub-Saharan Africa or that, alternatively, it was high intelligence which led the ancestors of non-African humans to be able to leave that continent. Are any of these true? I have no idea. But Graves’ dismissal of these claims is flimsy.

I’ve criticized Graves’ poor grasp of statistics before, so I will not retread old arguments. However, he makes two new fallacies in his work’s last section. He argues that assuming that Asians have genetically different rates of disease is spurious because, while this holds true for specific Asian nationalities, “when the individual Asian groups are combined into one large category, these data no longer support this idea” (179). How is Graves’ poor use of statistical aggregation evidence of anything? Likewise, on the same page notes that even though “Japanese and Korean populations are genetically closely related” they show different rates of cancers. Yet earlier in the book Graves notes that Volga Germans suffer from maladies at different rates than other Germans. How can this news possibly be surprising?

Unfortunately for a book that focuses on social views of race, Graves’ view of race’s cultural role is either simplistic or extremist. On page 196 he asks us to imagine what life would be like if “we had recognized that there are no races in the human species.” An obvious explanation is nearly nothing: race serves as just one of many markers of in-group and out-group. Recognition of race as a salient factor can trivially be erased merely by altering the membership in coalitions (Kurzban, Tooby, & Cosmides, 2001). If race doesn’t matter, than some other feature would.

The last pages of the conclusion show this. Graves spills some ink describing hate crimes around the turn of the millennium, supposedly stemming from “the idea held among white supremacists that the millennium would signal the start of the final race war” (199). On the next page there is hope, however: “There can be no race war if there are no races.” True, I guess. Black churches would then be burned in the name of Satan (“National News Briefs…”, 2000), instead of the white race. And whites would no longer have to worry about local rioters destroying their office building: Islamists will happy fill the gap. War was with us – it was part of our genetic adaption to our environment – long before humans discovered racism, or chimpanzees became humans (Wrangham, 1999).

However, race (whether or not it is a social construction) covaries with other categories that surely do matter. Even if we did not recognize “race,” would cultural or geographic? Graves maintains “There would have been no reason to maintain marital prejudices in such a society” (196) but this claim surely is not true. Geography and race are independent variables in determining the dependent variable of mate selection – eliminating one does not eliminate the other. (To put this is concrete terms, even if there was never any social stigma toward white-black miscegenation, there are all sorts of cultural and practical stigmas with a northerner marrying a southerner – or for that matter someone from the Bronx marrying a Log Angelino).

This is my final reaction paper for this class, so it is appropriate I state my beliefs. Are there separate breeding populations within the human race? Yes, obviously – any inbred family would count for that. Are there large-scale breeding populations with the human raec? Yes. If you do not live in the same country, speak the same language, have similar cultural mores, and are in the same height quintile (for the appropriate sex) of a potential mate, mating is unlikely. Do these constitute “races”? Probably. Are their racial differences in intelligence? I have no idea. Would racial differences in these traits effect anyone’s worth as a human being? No.

The Apostle writes, in Galatians 3:28, that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The New Testament is the founding document of western civilization and clearly it states that whether the difference between two individuals is clearly genetic (as with sex), clearly socially constructed (as with enslavement), or the result of genetic-environmental interaction (one’s nationality, or race), no one is more important than any other. We should not be afraid of race, just as we are not afraid of culture. Because regardless of our race, regardless of our culture, we are all created equal.

Gardner, H. (1983). Multiple Intelligences. Basic Books: New York, NY.
Gardner, H. (2003). Multiple Intelligences After Twenty Years. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association.
Graves, J. L., Jr. (2001). The emperor’s new clothes: Biological theories of race at the millennium. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Kurzban, R., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2001). Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization. PNAS 98(26):15387-15392.
“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.
Wrangham, R. (1999). Evolution of Coalitionary Killing. Yearbook of Anthropology 42 1-30.

Reactions to The Emperor’s New Clothes, part of Biopsychological Development
1. The Origin of the Race Concept
2. Darwin and the Survival of Scientific Racism
3. Applications and Misapplications of Darwinism
4. Biological Theories of Race At the Millennium

Joseph Graves “The Emperor’s New Clothes”: The Origin of the Race Concept

Graves’s The Emperor’s New Clothes has so many things wrong with it, so many untruths, half-truths, and examples of naivety, that it is difficult to know how to begin critiquing it. Nonetheless, such must be done, so I will begin at the beginning (page 1) and continue until the end of the first section (page 52).

First, Graves dances around with the definition of race. His first approximation seems reasonable, “The term ‘race’ implies the existence of some nontrivial underlying hereditary features shared by a group of people and not present in other groups” (5) but his thoughts go down-hill from there. Latter in the page he notes that “None of the physical features by which we have historically defined human races… unambiguously corresponds to the racial groups we have constructed.” First, Graves’ look for unambiguous markers is misguided. Not all human beings are born with a brain, but possession of the brain is nonetheless typical for the human race. Secondly, Graves attempts to jump between a physical definition of race and a socially constructed definition. Our concepts of race imprecisely but accurately describe real genetic populations (Parra, et al., 2003; Pimenta, et al., 2006) in spite of what graves later claims (36).. Ultimately, the definition Graves takes from the dictionary may be best: “A population of organisms differing from others of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits; a subspecies” (6). Graves’ question, “How much genetic difference must there be before a subspecies can be said to exist?” is best answered with “a statistically significant amount.” If this implies races and sub-races, and sub races within those, so be it. In some cases, it may be that it is easiest to speak about those who left Africa and those who stayed (Underhill, P.A., et al., 2000), as Africans, Asians, and Europeans (Bamshad, et al., 2003), or even smaller groups. (Lindh, Andersson, & Gusdal, 1997).

Graves historicism confuses him as to the nature of those he disagrees with. Believing that genes vary in significant ways among breeding populations – that races exist – does not imply that “inequalities cannot be fundamentally altered by environmental interventions such as social programs.” Indeed, almost the reverse is true: if we are born with differing genetic propensities, identical environmental factors will lead to unequal environments. The conclusion then is that if we are born differently genetically, we can create unequal outcomes to lead to equal outcomes. As Stephen Pinker writes, “the more equal we make society, the higher heritability will be, and the more genes will matter” (Pinker, 2002, 77).

Going back to Graves’ definition, he claims that the “Jews were a cultural group rather than a biologically distinct population (to say nothing of a race)” (20). Again, the Jewish population appears to be an interaction between real genetic links and socially constructed ones. As Behar et al. 2003) summarize the evidence, “the Cohanim, a paternally inherited Jewish priestly caste, predominantly share a recent common ancestor irrespective of the geographically defiend post-Diaspora community to which they belong, a finding consistent with common Jewish origins in the Near East” (768). His social construction leads him to confuse anti-Judaic acts of Catholics with anti-Semitism, where he lists anti-Jewish attitudes (21) that were based on belief, not parernity.

Graves also suffers from his apparent ignorance of the tools of social science. He approvingly quotes Frederick Douglass’s thoughts on “the impossibility of legitimately comparing the innate abilities of different races in a society that maintained such disparity in the physical conditions in which the races lived.” Dougglass believing that was understandable, as John Dewer’s revolution of the social science had not happened when he wrote such words. But for the last century scientific examination of humans has relied on correlation and regression two tools that do not only require similar conditions but often spurn them (so that more variables may be examined). Social science does not work by naively comparing two groups identical in one category and different in two others, but by explaining the variance of dependent variables in terms of independent variables.

Related to this is Graves’ frustratingly simplistic statements on genetics. He expects us to believe that, somehow, the fact that there “is more genetic variability in one tribe of East African chimpanzees than in the entire human species!” means anything at all. What is his point? Is he claiming a consistent cross-species relationships between “genetic variability” (however he defines it) and phenotypic and extended phenotpyic variability? Such a statement could easily be read to imply that races matter, as when fewer things change they may matter more. Ultimately, Graves is silent on the meaning of this rhetorically nifty but substantively empty statement.

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.
Graves, J. L., Jr. (2001). The emperor’s new clothes: Biological theories of race at the millennium. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
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.
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.
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.

Reactions to The Emperor’s New Clothes,part of Biopsychological Development
1. The Origin of the Race Concept
2. Darwin and the Survival of Scientific Racism
3. Applications and Misapplications of Darwinism
4. Biological Theories of Race At the Millennium

The Implications of Evolution after the Dawn of Agriculture

Another day, another three chapters, another timeline.


The readings here were largely aimed at Evolutionary Psychology’s idea of Universal Man. Indeed, look at how both the medium and fast theories of evolution would have allowed significant genetic change after the dawn of farming. The “long” theory (which would hold about 50,000) was left out of the timeline, both because it is out of context to the others and that it seems odd that the human brain could start shrinking after evolution had effectively ended.

Topic: Timeline
“the Tasmanians had no way of making fire, no boomerangs or spear throwers, no specialized stole tools, no axes with handles, no canoes, no sewing needles, and no ability to fish. Amazingly, the archaeological record shows that their ancestors from the Australian mainland had arrived with these technologies ten thousand years before.” (Pinker 69)
“Further, as populations of our direct ancestors diverged around 50,000 years ago (or earlier, depending on whose account you believe), and began to occupy different parts of the glove, the different habitats they encountered would have prompted different behavioral responses, at least some of which would have involved nice construction.” (Pinker 102) (also partial man, see below)
“life-history traits of the transplanted guppies evolved significantly within a mere eighteen generations” (Pinker 111) (equivalent to 360 years for human population)”)
from previous reading:

Sometime before the year 1900 a retired schoolteacher in Granby, Massachusetts, by the name of Abbie, took up the “mouse fancying” hobby…. She also noticed that some strains got cancer more often than others; this hint was picked up by Yale Universities and became the basis of early studies of cancer.” (Ridley 50)
“…it can take another several hundred [200 generations * 20 years / generation = 4 TYA) to several thousand [9000 generations * 20 years/generation = 180 TYA] generations for the population to adapt to the new environment — depending on whether a new mutation is required.” (Buller 56)
“The invention of agriculture some 10,000 years (four hundred generations) ago; the industrialization of Western societies some 200 years (eight generations) ago…” (Buller 57-58)
“Surprisingly, the fossil record suggests that there has been a rather steep decline in the size of the human brain during the past 15,000 years, partly but not wholly reflecting a shrinking body that seems to have accompanied the arrival of dense and “civilized” human settlements.” (Ridley 35)

Topic: Limitation of Knowledge
“Since selection build solutions to adaptive problems by retaining modifications to preexisting structures … we can never infer that the structure of an evolved solution to an adaptive problem from the nature of the problem itself.” (Pinker 104)
“there is hardly a shorter way of giving a rule for what goes on [in a cell’s development that just describing what it does.” (Pinker 126)

Topic: nature / nurture, culture
“To the extent that they can be teased apart, nature prevails over one kind of (shared) nurture when it comes to defining differences in personality, intelligence, and health between people within the same society.” (Ridley 75)
“Paradoxically, therefore, the more equal we make society [in terms of opportunities], the higher heritability will be, and the more genes will matter.” (Pinker 77)
“evenin such a prototypically “cultural” thing as religion, the impact of genes cannot be ignored and can be measured.” (Ridley 80)
“In each case a little over 40 percent of the variation [in personality type] is due to direct genetic factors, less than 10 percent due to shared environmental influences (i.e., mostly the family), and about 25 percent due to unique environmental influences experienced by the individual…” (Ridley 83) (obvious SysAdmin implications)
“… heritability depends entirely on context. The heritability of personality may be high in a group of middle-class Americans who have experienced equivalent, even identical, patterns of nurture. But throw a few orphans from Sudan or the offspring of headhunters from New Guinea into the sample and the heritability of personality would probably drop rather fast: now environment would matter.” (Ridley 86-87)
“Heritability is usually highest for those features of human nature caused by many genes rather than by the action of single genes… As Eric Turkheimer, a researcher who studies twins, puts it, “Does anyone really suppose that unintelligent, unattractive, greedy, impulsive, emotionally unstable, or alcoholic people are no more likely than anyone else to become criminals or that any of these characteristics could be completely independent of genetic endowment.” (Ridley 87)
“The phenomena we call “culture” naturally arises as people pol and accumulate their discoveries, and as they institute conventions to coordinate their labors and adjudicate their conflicts.” (Pinker 60)
“A mind unequipped to discern other people’s beliefs and intentions, even if it can learn in other ways, is incapable of the kind of learning that perpetuates culture.” (Pinker 62)
“human conformity… has a genuine rational… the first is informational, the desire to benefit from other people’s knowledge and judgement… much of what we call culture is simply accumulated local wisdom… the second motive for conformity is normative…. there is no good reason for people to drive on the first side of the road as opposed to the left side, or vice versa, but there is every reason for people to drive on the same side.” (Pinker 63-64)
“matrilocal families allows men to invest in children who are guaranteed to carry some of their genes.” (Pinker 64)
“In his book The Construction of Social Reality (not to be confused with the social construction of reality), the philosopher John Searle points out that certain facts are objectively true just because people act as if they are true. For example, it is a matter of fact, not opinion, that George W. Bush is the forty-third president of the United States…” (Pinker 64-65)

Topic: Memetics
“Many scientists now use the mathematical tools of epidemiology (how diseases spread) or of population biology (how genes and organisms spread) to model the evolution of culture. They have shown how a tendency of people to adopt the innovations of other people can lead to effects that we understand using metaphors like epidemics, wildfire, snowballs, adn tipping points.” (Pinker 65)
“Far from being self-preserving monoliths, cultures are porous and constantly in flux.” (Pinker 66)

Topic: SysAdmin
“But no one can fail to notice that some cultures can accomplish things that all people want (like health and comfort) better than others… In his trilogy Race and Culture, Migrations and Cultures, and Conquest and Cultures, the economist Thomas Sowell explained his starting point for an analysis of cultural differences… “Cultures do not exist as simply static “differences” to be celebrated but compete with one another as better and worse ways of getting things done — better and worse, not from the standpoint of some observer, but form the standpoint of the peoples themselves, as they cope and aspire amid the gritty realities of life.”” (Pinker 67)
“The “culture” of any of the conquering nations of Europe, such as Britain, is in fact a greatest-hits collection of inventions assembled across thousands of miles and years.” (Pinker 68)

Topic: Universal Man
“As [Evolutionary Psychologists] Tooby and Cosmides say, “the psychic unity of humankind — that is, a universal and uniform human nature — is necessarily imposed to the extent and along those dimenstions that our psychologies are collections of complex adaptions.” (Pinker 112)
“Evolutionary Psychology really claims that what we have in common beneath all our individual differences is a set of “developmental programs,” which produce our psychological mechanism [but EP renders] the idea of a universal developmental program for the human mind plausible only by treating genetic swithces as external tot he putative universal development program” (Pinker 123)

Topic: Particular Man
“Among white people, about one birth in every 125 consists of two non-identical, fraternal, or “dizygotic” twins — derived from two zygotes or fertilized eggs. The rate is higher among Africans and lower among Asians.” (Ridley 76)
“The correlation between the resulting scores [on belief surveys] for identical twins related apart is 62 percent; for paternal twins reared apart it is just 2 person.” (Ridley 79) (The data behind the rest of this long quote was already covered on tdaxp).
“The correlation between brain volume and IQ is about 90 percent… Eric Turkheimer found that the heritability of IQ depends strongly on socioeconomic status (Ridley 89-90)
“… the influence of genes increases and the influence of shared environment gradually disappears with age.” (Ridley 91)
“From the point of view of the evolutionary biologist this is a scandal. Why is there so much “normal” genetic variation, or, to give it its proper name, polymorphism?” (Ridley 94)
“… there is considerable variation in the lifestyles of extant hunter-gatherer populations.. there is considerably such variation among the African hunter-gatherers in and around the region Evolutionary Psychologists believe was inhabited by our ancestors [and thus is most genetically diverse?].” (Pinker 95)
“Studies of 178 mammal and 151 bird species have shown that closely related species are more similar with respect to morphological and life-history traits that are distantly related species, but that degree of relatedness isn’t correlated with similarity in behavioral traits. Rather, similarity of ecological conditions is a more important determinant of similarity of behavioral traits than is degree of relatedness.” (Pinker 96)
“For evolutionary functional analysis presupposes that there were relatively stable adaptive problems during human evolution to which selection very slowly tailored psychological solutions.” (Pinker 99) (yet domestication of cattle on Pinker 111, etc, show a changing environment)
“nice construction typically accelerates the pace of evolution as successive generations continually modify the sources of selection acting on themselves and subsequent generations… And Reznick and his colleagues were able to identify both the genetic basis of this change and the mechanism by which selection drove it (namely, differential mortality by predation)” (Pinker 111)
“Thus, it is overwhelmingly likely that there has been some adaptive psychological evolution since the end of the Pleistocene, which has rendered contemporary humans psychologically different from their Pleistocene ancestors.” (Pinker 112) (and from each other???)
“Males and females don’t have to differ in hundreds or thousands of genes [but only one] to differ profoundly in their reproductive anatomy… Tooby and Cosmides actually acknowledge that the differences in adaptions between males and females result from a single genetic switch, adn they grant that single-gene adaptive differences are an exception to the argument from sexual recombination.”” (Pinker 115)
“Some “local situations” can favor a genetic switch. For example, when the fitness of a phenotype depends on its frequency in a population [is predictable] … on the other hand, there are some circumstances to which systems of adaptive plasticity are better adapted than genetic switches. In particular, when the environment is rapidly changing and unpredictable…” (Pinker 117-118)
“My point is that, even if genetic variation produces only differences in the quantitative properties of a shared feature, it doesn’t follow that those quantitative differences are not alternative adaptions.” (Pinker 121)

Topic: Definitions
g, derived from correlation different IQ tests remains a powerful predictor of how well a child will do at school…. a high correlation between g and volume of gray matter [exists too]… ” (Ridley 89) (SysAdmin implications)
Flynn effect … average IQ scores are rising steadily at the rate of at least five points per decade.” (Ridley 95)
“[Cooperative equilibria is] arbitrary but coordinated choices.” (Pinker 64)
social fact depends entirely on the willingness of people to treat it as fact.” (Pinker 65)
“[hierarchical reductionism] consists not of replacing one field of knowledge with another but of connecting or unifying them.” (Pinker 70)
“[Adaptionism is] an attitude that “regards natural selection as so powerful and the constraints upon it so few that direct production of adaption through its operation becomes the primary cause of nearly all organism form, function, and behavior” (Buller 83) (in other words, minimization of genetic drift and possibly sexual selection)
“”[Exaption” designates] traits that “evolved for other usages (or for no function at all), and [were] later ‘coopted’ for their current role.” .. Evolutionary Psychologists would agree that psychological exaptions outnumber adaptions “by orders of magnitude”” (Buller 84-85)
“[Spandrel], a feature of an organism that originated by the “laws of growth” as a developmental by-product of an adaption.” (Buller 84)
adaptive reasoning in evolutionary functional analysis involves three steps… identification of the adaptive problems… interfering the psychological mechanism that must have evolved to solve those adaptive problems… conducting experiments to determine whether humans possess the predicted psychological mechanisms.” (Pinker 91-92)
Reverse engineering is a process of figuring out the design of a mechanism on the basis of an analysis of the tasks it performs [as is done in Evolutionary Psychology].” (Pinker 92-93)
“the social intelligence hypothesis (also known as the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis) [argues] most of human psychological evolution was driven by the human social environment [and thus] the primary driving force of human psychological evolution was human psychology.” (Pinker 99-100)
thesis of ancient providence [means] Evolution Psychologists believe that the evolved structure of the mind “reflects completed rather than ongoing selection”‘ (Pinker 107)

Questioning Evolution

New Tactic In Evolution Debate,” by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, CBS News, 3 May 2005, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/05/03/tech/main692524.shtml (from Democratic Underground).

Disclaimer: My graduate thesis — A Computer Model of National Behavior — used Darwinian concepts and evolutionary algorithms. As a Catholic, I have no problem with man arising from beasts. My understanding is that the universe in all probability is around 12 billion years old. Of course, I have no memory of anything from before 1985, so everything before that is hearsay and conjecture…

That said, I am very happy Creationist agitators are encouraging schoolchildren to ask these questions to biology teachers. With one exception, they are damn fine points

# The origins of life. Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life’s building blocks may have formed on Earth – when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?

# Darwin’s tree of life. Why don’t textbooks discuss the “Cambrian explosion,” in which all major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor – thus contradicting the evolutionary tree of life?

# Vertebrate embryos. Why do textbooks use drawings of similarities in vertebrate embryos as evidence for common ancestry – even though biologists have known for over a century that vertebrate embryos are not most similar in their early stages, and the drawings are faked?

# The archaeopteryx. Why do textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds – even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?

# Peppered moths. Why do textbooks use pictures of peppered moths camouflaged on tree trunks as evidence for natural selection – when biologists have known since the 1980s that the moths don’t normally rest on tree trunks, and all the pictures have been staged?

# Darwin’s finches. Why do textbooks claim that beak changes in Galapagos finches during a severe drought can explain the origin of species by natural selection – even though the changes were reversed after the drought ended, and no net evolution occurred?

# Mutant fruit flies. Why do textbooks use fruit flies with an extra pair of wings as evidence that DNA mutations can supply raw materials for evolution – even though the extra wings have no muscles and these disabled mutants cannot survive outside the laboratory?

# Human origins. Why are artists’ drawings of apelike humans used to justify materialistic claims that we are just animals and our existence is a mere accident – when fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like?

# Evolution as a fact. Why are students told that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a scientific fact – even though many of its claims are based on misrepresentations of the facts?

The exception? “Evolution” (meaning the descent of man) is not a fact because it is not a datum — it is a theory because it explains facts. In the other questions the creationists are rightly attacking Darwinian propaganda.

That this is a fourth generation network attack on evolution, as seen by paragraphs like

These findings confirm the experience of Gerry Wheeler, the group’s executive director, who says that about half the teachers he talks to tell him they feel ideological pressure when they teach evolution.

And according to the survey, while 20 percent of the teachers say the pressure comes from parents, 22 percent say it comes primarily from students.

it ultimately irrelevant. Most public secondary school science classes are trash, and nothing is lost if they are infiltrated by these zealots. (It is very hard for them to get worse.). More important is that science classes are being reclaimed from textbook-authoritarians.