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3221[evol-psych] Re: Rushton on Richards & Eysenck

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  • David Mullen
    Mar 1, 2000
      I am happy that, as an engineer, you did not dismiss F=MA because of Newton's personal qualities as Newton has often been described as chronically irritable and insufferably arrogant.

      As for the directionality of selection, it seems likely to me that selection for behavior as well as morphology with psychological consequences seems likely to have occurred. Given the substantial redundancy in the CNS and PNS (for example, catecholamines are heavily involved in both) though some of the PNS functions are not strictly behavioral, a change in catecholamine metabolism could conceivable result in a selected for change in a non-behavioral PNS function that also had psychological consequences.

      For example, Jerome Kagan has argued that a change in norepinephrine metabolism in northern European populations may have resulted in improved resistance to cold (more efficient shivering )-- a PNS impact. Yet this same increase in norepinephrine may have had a secondary result psychologically in an increase in anxiety and inhibition due to an increase in locus caeruleus activity in the CNS.

      As a clinician, I am increasingly impressed with the potency of genetic risk factors for psychiatric disorders and it often seems that understanding the impact of environmental experience helps me understand the specific CONTENT of the disorder more than whether or not the person is likely to develop a disorder in the first place. So I am clearly not interested in dismissing or minimizing the importance of genetic factors. I do think, however, that perhaps our collective energies would be better spent in trying to understand HOW genes and environment together generate persons with behavior rather than arguing about which influence is "more important", ie I think I am becoming thoroughly tired of the nature nurture debate.

      David J. Mullen, MD
      Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
      University of New Mexico School of Medicine

      >>> "McBride, Dennis" <dmcbride@...> 02/29/00 06:07PM >>>
      A reaction to the most recent Richards goal-line defense: The endless ad
      hominem! As an engineer (and psychologist), I would be flattened to dismiss
      F = MA because of Newton's religious, sexual, personal, or other of his
      totally reprehinsible flaws (if he had them). Aside from that, why
      concentrate on such immaterial? Let's stick to peer-reviewed data and
      parsimony. A point about the latter, below.
      First, I think there is a revelation, and a fatal flaw in Richards'
      "Nobody but an idiot would deny that the major human gene-pools differ
      in the frequencies with which various genes (and their alleles) are
      represented (including those with psychological consequences) - but
      this implies gene-talk, not race-talk."
      Many (Richards?) seem to be obsessed with the idea that nature
      selects morphology and that there *may* be "psychological consequences" of
      such selection. This has to be absurd! It's the other way around! Mother
      nature selects survivable behavior, NOT body configurations. Recall that
      selection is produced under the proximal and indifferent stress of survival.
      New body gimmicks are (1) of no selectable value (necessarily) and (2)
      unaffordable (i.e., if they require more kcal). Thus, it is successful
      behaviors that get another day (the organism having eaten or mated...), and
      over time, (A) morphology adapts to an engineering efficiency, not the other
      direction (predominantly), and *often*, (B) behavior becomes "hardwired,"
      perhaps through a Baldwin-like effect. As Popper liked to illustrate, let's
      take the woodpecker. Do we think that the beak spontaneously elongated (via
      mutation) and that in time the bird learned to make use of its new,
      over-engineered beak, i.e., to find food behind bark? Or did survival
      pressure force novel behavior first, in desperation, which survived barely
      effectively and inefficiently (hard pecking produced loss of beak and death
      in inadequate beaks), until the beak achieved morhpological efficiency.
      Thus it is confusing to talk about evolutionary processes having
      "psychological consequences!" Changes in behavioral
      repertoire--psychology--are precisely what evolution IS, as Darwin himself
      made abundantly clear.
      As to your invoking the inevitability of idealogy. Speak for
      yourself. Since you seem to be obsessed with using science to re-engineer
      things, I submit that I can build a bridge and I can build a fleet of
      competent aviators (based on IQ [g]) *equally* well without a political
      I think that your algorithm for throwing out explanations is
      uninformed. Genetic explanations (hear the increasingly loud sound of that
      human genome project over the horizon??) are clearly now the more elegant,
      and thus allegiance to parsimony has mandated a sea-state change in our
      so-called "default" hypotheses (much as the neuro community understands
      well.) The heavy (but deserved<--sorry, personal) burden is now on
      environmental explanations of reliable and robust group variation. Such
      environmental explanations should be crisp -- unburdened by myriad special
      explanations as they are so so so encumbered today. And obviously,
      environmental contributions must "compete" not only with genetic, but e x g
      interactions as well. And recall that our environments are not handed to us
      randomly -- they are in many ways *constructed* around us at the micro and
      macro levels by our very nature (which is what kept us alive for another
      day). That is, e x g is dominated by g.
      Final thought. Why your obsession with half-century-old, dead white
      men?? the Nazi's?? This is not only irrelevant, it is (probably
      intentionally) insulting. If you think that the only remedy provided by an
      understanding of underlying biological mechanisms is Nazi eugenics, your
      obsession has blinded you. And if you believe that there are "readily
      identifiable and remedial" environmental remedies at the micro-level, please
      share them. Perhaps you think that by throwing a few trillion more dollars
      down the tubes of social reinforcement programs, that they might suddenly
      get traction??? Or that social scientists might get yet more money to
      constuct ever more complicated special explanations?
      Dennis K. McBride
      University of Central Florida
      Orlando, Florida

      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Graham D. Richards [SMTP:G.D.Richards@...]
      > Sent: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 11:34 AM
      > To: Ian Pitchford
      > Cc: Evolutionary Psychology MailingList
      > Subject: [evol-psych] Re: Rushton on Richards & Eysenck
      > My eyelid-batting habits are not as Rushton predicts, I do though blink
      > when he cites Roger Pearson, self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, founder of the
      > Northern League and (he boasted) mate of Mengele as a supportive
      > witness to the Eysenck riot. He's also out-of-date regarding the
      > trigger-happiness of London police - a few weeks ago they shot a
      > (white) guy dead because they thought he had a shotgun in a bag (it was
      > a wooden chair-leg).
      > Nobody but an idiot would deny that the major human gene-pools differ
      > in the frequencies with which various genes (and their alleles) are
      > represented (including those with psychological consequences) - but
      > this implies gene-talk, not race-talk. 'Race' membership doesn't cause
      > you to have the gene, it only makes it more likely you will. At the end
      > of the day what matters in practice is whether a specific individual
      > has it or not. I have no problems with the idea that the reasons why
      > the average 6-foot Watusi can out-jump and out-run me are 'genetic' -
      > or indeed with the idea that *anyone* who can outrun me are 'genetic'!
      > Nor with the fact that I am genetically less likely to have sickle-cell
      > anaeomia than a West African.
      > I do not understand Rushton's animus against environmental causes for
      > e.g. crime (unless it indeed be ideologically motivated). Reported
      > crime rates (like, pace 'r' and K strategies, family size) are
      > obviously both historically & geographically very variable and related
      > in complex ways to a whole variety of environmental causes amenable to
      > change if the political will is there. It is also presumably true that
      > if you focus crime-detection activities on members of a particular
      > group more of the crimes they have committed will be detected. There
      > are also some quite subtle, but readily demonstrable (not consciously
      > racist) reasons why British police (including black ones) target black
      > teenagers of Afro-Caribbean origin. The point is that before the role
      > of genetic 'causes' can be ascertained we have to have factored out all
      > these others and see what is left. I am highly sceptical if any
      > available data-base enables us to do this. Cross-cultural comparisons
      > are also extremely dodgy (e.g. curfew violation never figures in
      > British juvenile delinquency reports simply because there are no curfew
      > laws - most of us would also consider that the crime rate under the
      > Third Reich was pretty high, but most of the crimes hardly figured in
      > their crime statistics!).
      > It does not take much imagination to think of numerous prima facie
      > cultural and demographic reasons for differences between Chinese and
      > African American school performance.
      > Rushton is clearly stereotyping me here - assuming I am some dogmatic,
      > politically motivated 'lefty' obsessed with the 'evils of capitalism'.
      > All I am asking are some very simple questions:
      > 1. why the obsession with detecting macro-level 'genetic'
      > differences about which nothing can be done in practise short of
      > Nazi-style eugenics (of which the late R.B. Cattell appears to have
      > approved) when there are so many readily identifiable and remediable
      > micro-level environmental and social ones to be addressed?
      > 2. why his pretence that his science is non-ideological when all
      > human sciences are ideological - the difference is between those of us
      > who are upfront about it (e.g. I am some kind of anti-racist green
      > humanitarian anarchist at heart), and those who maintain the fiction of
      > possessing some kind of split identity between their 'science' and the
      > rest of their lives? A scientist without an ideology (i.e. a set of
      > values etc. which inform and guide his/her work) is like a clock
      > without an escapement.
      > 3. who among British psychologists, aside from Lynn, is currently
      > engaged in a serious research programme on IQ race-differences? Can he
      > name more than four British psychologists (aside from Lynn's
      > associates) who have done so since 1980? why does he think the British
      > research agenda is so different from the American one? is it because
      > we have all been brainwashed by lefty sociologists, naive egalitarians
      > and anti-captialists? and even if it IS because of this, doesn't even
      > that concede my basic point that the agenda on this issue is socially
      > determined and embedded?
      > Regarding Eysenck, I too was at LSE in 1968/9 though not at the great
      > event. To present events at that time as simple anti-scientific
      > bigotry is, as Rushton well knows, totally inadequate. I hold no brief
      > for punching-up guest lecturers but Eysenck (who actually considered
      > himself a 'lefty') was his own worst enemy - never making his own
      > anti-racism explicit (there are complex reasons for this in his own
      > character too - which I will be indicating briefly in my forthcoming
      > Dictionary of National Biography entry on him). You cannot take this
      > event out of the context of a rising, naive, morally self-righteous
      > generation raised on anti-fascist values being infused with wrath at
      > the Vietnam War, assassinations of African American civil rights
      > leaders, South African apartheid and the nuclear threat of the Cold
      > War. To cast Eysenck as some kind of scientific martyr is absurd.
      > Following his death the British Psychological Society London Conference
      > held a memorial session on him organised by the History and Philosophy
      > section (of which I am a past chair). If British Psychology treated
      > him unfairly (which it has in some respects) this is partly at least
      > because temperamentally Eysenck was an autonomous loner who couldn't be
      > bothered to try and rebuild bridges and appears in some respects to
      > have revelled in his outsidership (hence his autobiography title 'Rebel
      > with a Cause').
      > What any of this has to do with evolutionary psychology I know not, and
      > rather than try our colleagues' patience any further I suggest we both
      > shut up.
      > Graham Richards
      > On Mon, 28 Feb 2000 11:11:16 -0500 "J. P. Rushton"
      > <rushton@...> wrote:
      > > Phil Rushton replies to Graham Richards who wrote
      > >
      > > > Eysenck, as far as I know (may be wrong) never - or very rarely -
      > > > conducted any empirical race differences research himself, what really
      > >
      > > > got Brand the boot was his publicly coming out in favour of
      > > > paedophilia....The fact is that empirical research on race differences
      > > in intelligence
      > > > in Britain since 1920 has been minimal in the extreme
      > >
      > > REPLY:
      > > What Graham Richards means is that the GENETIC and EVOLUTIONARY study of
      > > race
      > > differences has not been on the social science agenda. The "sociologist"
      > > view of race
      > > differences -- they are all due to poverty, social structure, labeling,
      > > racism, etc
      > > pours daily out of universities, newspapers and televisions. If
      > > disproportionate Black
      > > crime, Black AIDs, and Black underchivement (I'm sorry this sounds
      > > harsh) is attributed
      > > to the racist attitudes of White policeman, White doctors, and White
      > > teachers, I doubt
      > > if Graham bats an eyelid. Yet this is in fact a causal theory of why the
      > > Black bell
      > > curve isn't the same as the White one. Similarly Black OVERachievement
      > > in sports is
      > > rarely if ever examined in terms of average Black biomechanical and
      > > physiological
      > > advantages like more testosterone, more muscle mass, and narrower hips,
      > > but it is again
      > > attributed only to White racism blocking achievement via other routes.
      > > Nor do these
      > > left-wing sociological theories ("the white power structure," "the
      > > legacy of
      > > colonialism," "the evils of capitalism") have any explanatory power when
      > > it comes to
      > > "colonial" countries like Hong Kong doing so well well economically or
      > > why Chinese
      > > people are overrepresented in school achievement and underrepresented in
      > > crime in
      > > Britain as elsehwere in the world.
      > >
      > > Genetic and Evolutionary thinkers about race (about anything really) are
      > > in a very small
      > > minority in North America, just as they are in Britain. But British
      > > researchers are as
      > > well represented among those who do it as are Canadians and Americans.
      > >
      > > RICHARDS: And no London cop could get away with 19 bullets in an
      > > unarmed black man in
      > > the current climate.
      > >
      > > REPLY: Since the police in Britain typically don't carry guns, this is a
      > > cheap shot. But
      > > note that Black policeman seem to shoot Black suspects and perpetrators
      > > as much as do
      > > White policeman. E.g. in Washington, DC. Violence and Blacks seem to go
      > > together
      > > everywhere in the world and must raise the possibilty at least that
      > > there is something
      > > special about Blacks that is not true of East Indians, Chinese, and
      > > Whites. (Again I'm
      > > sorry if this sounds harsh, but it is a perfectly formed and reasonable
      > > hypothesis).
      > > That something special may be to do with their excellence in sports,
      > > something like
      > > greater testosterone, more muscle mass, and a general disposition to
      > > surges of anger.
      > > SOMETHING more than White racism is going on. Even culture theorists
      > > like Thomas Sowell
      > > (a Black) and Dinesh D'Souza (a Brown) are beginning to note the
      > > pathologies of behavior
      > > in many Black communities which is not just blamed on whitey.
      > >
      > > > The real question is what the point of this whole research project on
      > > > 'race' difference in IQ is, given that the differences only emerge at
      > > a
      > > > macro-level and that the reality of the existence of defineable races
      > > > is declining daily.
      > >
      > > REPLY: We need to know the causes of the variation around us. That
      > > includes racial
      > > variation. Blaming society, capitalism, imperialsim, poverty, whites,
      > > social structure,
      > > and family socialization has been tried for 60 years or more and just
      > > completely fails
      > > to work. We need to complete the Darwinian Revolution, the first premise
      > > of which is
      > > that there is important genetic variation on which natural selection
      > > works. Until we can
      > > overcome the fear and prejudice about race from mainly liberal academics
      > > there is no
      > > hope of succeeding in the Darwinian enterprise.
      > >
      > > A final note: There is no "obsession" over IQ, any more than there is
      > > over crime, AIDS,
      > > sexuality, poverty, sports, developmental precocity, temperament, or
      > > brain size. IQ
      > > simply emerges in study after study as the single best predictor of
      > > social outcomes. The
      > > whole set of traits go together in a life-history as I argue in Race,
      > > Evolution, and
      > > Behavior. But we'll never accept life-history reasoning until we win the
      > > debate over
      > > race and get people to stop being so scared to talk about it properly.
      > > --
      > > J. Philippe Rushton
      > > Department of Psychology
      > > University of Western Ontario
      > > London, Ontario Canada N6A 5C2
      > >
      > > Telephone: (519) 661-3685
      > > http://www.sscl.uwo.ca/psychology/faculty/rushton.html
      > >
      > >
      > >
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