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Re: [evol-psych] Re: Gintis on Miller's 'The Mating Mind'

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  • Ralph L Holloway
    ... Where is the evidence for this statement? I know of NO empirical evidence that suggests more of the human genome is committed to brain development than say
    Message 1 of 7 , May 31, 2000
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      On Wed, 31 May 2000, Oliver Curry wrote:

      >
      > Miller summarizes the point, in the Angier interview, as follows:
      >
      > "[T]he bigger and more complex the brain gets, the larger the proportion of
      > genes in the genome are involved in brain development. If you're choosing a
      > mate for his or her genetic quality, what you want to focus on are the
      > traits that give you the best window on the quality of the individual's
      > genome."

      Where is the evidence for this statement? I know of NO empirical evidence
      that suggests more of the human genome is committed to brain development
      than say in a chimpanzee. Who has measured the number of genes to back up
      this statement?


      Ralph L. Holloway
      Dept. Anthropology
      Columbia University
      NY, NY 10027
      212-854-4570
      Fax= 212-854-7347
    • Oliver Curry
      [T]he idea that we have large brains because women prefer intelligent men ... is plausible only if intelligence is a signal of a superior fitness in some other
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 5, 2000
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        [T]he idea that we have large brains because women prefer intelligent men
        ... is plausible only if intelligence is a signal of a superior fitness in
        some other hidden area (e.g., a lower parasite load). But I cannot think of
        one such area, nor does Miller supply one."

        ***
        Perhaps I should have been clearer.

        All I meant to say was that it is untrue to suggest, as Herbert did, that
        Geoffrey Miller does not supply a theory of what intelligence signals.
        Herbert agrees that Miller argues for mutation-load.

        Whether or not Miller is correct to argue that intelligence signals
        low-mutation load is another matter. Miller presents an impressive range of
        supporting evidence, but he is the first to admit that the book is
        conjecture, that will stand or fall on its ability to pass the usual
        scientific tests. If Herbert's only reason for doubting the theory is that
        he knows plenty of blind musicians, then I'm tempted to give Geoffrey the
        benefit of the doubt.

        And besides, when did scientists start name-calling theories that they
        didn't like 'just so stories'? Let's not fall into this lame habit. The
        mark of a "just so story" is that it is untestable; and yet, as Herbert
        says, there are some easy tests of Miller's theory. And I have received
        many emails claiming to falsify it. You can't have it both ways. A theory
        is either false or untestable; it can't be both.

        Best wishes,

        Oliver

        Oliver Curry Darwin@LSE, CPNSS
        020 7955 6853 London School of Economics
        020 7955 6869 (fax) Houghton Street, London
        01525 270 858 (home) WC2A 2AE

        'the evolutionist' now has a new interview with John Maynard Smith FRS:
        http://cpnss.lse.ac.uk/darwin/evo
      • Herbert Gintis
        ... I did not say Miller lacked a theory. I said he lacked evidence for the theory. ... The point is not who is more credible, me or Miller. The point is to
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 6, 2000
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          At 08:37 PM 6/5/00 +0100, you wrote:
          [T]he idea that we have large brains because women prefer intelligent men
          ... is plausible only if intelligence is a signal of a superior fitness in
          some other hidden area (e.g., a lower parasite load). But I cannot think of
          one such area, nor does Miller supply one."

          ***
          Perhaps I should have been clearer.

          All I meant to say was that it is untrue to suggest, as Herbert did, that
          Geoffrey Miller does not supply a theory of what intelligence signals.
          Herbert agrees that Miller argues for mutation-load.     
                   I did not say Miller lacked a theory. I said he lacked evidence for the theory.

          Whether or not Miller is correct to argue that intelligence signals
          low-mutation load is another matter. Miller presents an impressive range of
          supporting evidence, but he is the first to admit that the book is
          conjecture, that will stand or fall on its ability to pass the usual
          scientific tests. If Herbert's only reason for doubting the theory is that
          he knows plenty of blind musicians, then I'm tempted to give Geoffrey the
          benefit of the doubt.
                   The point is not who is more credible, me or Miller. The point is to get the evidence for the theory. I have had quite amiable discussions with Miller about this. I am not fighting with him or denigrating his work. I am saying that the evidence is missing. I do not agree that there is an "impressive array" of supporting evidence. Miller does lots of things well, including presenting evolutionary theory and the theory of sexual selection, and relates the material to everyday life and culture in a very admirable manner. But he does not present evidence for his assertions concerning brain size and signaling. He doesn't present any evidence, as far as I can see, that intelligence is related to low mutation load.

          And besides, when did scientists start name-calling theories that they
          didn't like 'just so stories'? Let's not fall into this lame habit. The
          mark of a "just so story" is that it is untestable; and yet, as Herbert
          says, there are some easy tests of Miller's theory. And I have received
          many emails claiming to falsify it. You can't have it both ways. A theory
          is either false or untestable; it can't be both.
                   I am not calling anyone names, and it is unfair to attribute this to me. In my own work I tell 'just-so stories' all the time. That is how I come up with hypotheses to test. The mark of a 'just-so story' is not that it is untestable, but rather that is untested. If you recall, I said that Millers' assertions are eminently testable.
                   This is not a contentious issue, and I'm not going to continue debating this. My reason for entering into this discussion about Miller was to clarify the issues and try to find out if other have the data that I found lacking in Miller's book, not to play one-upsmanship with Miller, you, or anyone else.

          Best Regards,



          ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          Herbert Gintis                                   Phone:    413-586-7756 (Home)
          Department of Economics                               413-586-6014 (Fax)
          University of Massachusetts                         Home Address:
          Amherst, MA 01060                                         15 Forbes Avenue
          http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~gintis         Northampton, MA  01060
          hgintis@...
          Preferences Network Web Site: http://www.umass.edu/preferen
        • Herbert Gintis
          ... I did not say Miller lacked a theory. I said he lacked evidence for the theory. ... The point is not who is more credible, me or Miller. The point is to
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 7, 2000
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            At 08:37 PM 6/5/00 +0100, you wrote:
            [T]he idea that we have large brains because women prefer intelligent men
            ... is plausible only if intelligence is a signal of a superior fitness in
            some other hidden area (e.g., a lower parasite load). But I cannot think of
            one such area, nor does Miller supply one."

            ***
            Perhaps I should have been clearer.

            All I meant to say was that it is untrue to suggest, as Herbert did, that
            Geoffrey Miller does not supply a theory of what intelligence signals.
            Herbert agrees that Miller argues for mutation-load.     
                     I did not say Miller lacked a theory. I said he lacked evidence for the theory.

            Whether or not Miller is correct to argue that intelligence signals
            low-mutation load is another matter. Miller presents an impressive range of
            supporting evidence, but he is the first to admit that the book is
            conjecture, that will stand or fall on its ability to pass the usual
            scientific tests. If Herbert's only reason for doubting the theory is that
            he knows plenty of blind musicians, then I'm tempted to give Geoffrey the
            benefit of the doubt.
                     The point is not who is more credible, me or Miller. The point is to get the evidence for the theory. I have had quite amiable discussions with Miller about this. I am not fighting with him or denigrating his work. I am saying that the evidence is missing. I do not agree that there is an "impressive array" of supporting evidence. Miller does lots of things well, including presenting evolutionary theory and the theory of sexual selection, and relates the material to everyday life and culture in a very admirable manner. But he does not present evidence for his assertions concerning brain size and signaling. He doesn't present any evidence, as far as I can see, that intelligence is related to low mutation load.

            And besides, when did scientists start name-calling theories that they
            didn't like 'just so stories'? Let's not fall into this lame habit. The
            mark of a "just so story" is that it is untestable; and yet, as Herbert
            says, there are some easy tests of Miller's theory. And I have received
            many emails claiming to falsify it. You can't have it both ways. A theory
            is either false or untestable; it can't be both.
                     In my own work I tell 'just-so stories' all the time. That is how I come up with hypotheses to test. The mark of a 'just-so story' is not that it is untestable, but rather that is untested. If you recall, I said that Millers' assertions are eminently testable.
                    
            Best Regards,



            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
            Herbert Gintis                                   Phone:    413-586-7756 (Home)
            Department of Economics                               413-586-6014 (Fax)
            University of Massachusetts                         Home Address:
            Amherst, MA 01060                                         15 Forbes Avenue
            http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~gintis         Northampton, MA  01060
            hgintis@...
            Preferences Network Web Site: http://www.umass.edu/preferen
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