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Re: [evol-psych] Culture, evol psych, miscellaneous comments

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  • Aaron Sell;
    ... What are my hypotheses and how does neurscience rule them out? ... That s not true at both levels. There is brain damage that causes a loss in only
    Message 1 of 30 , Aug 1, 2000
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      > > > So why neurobiology is completely ignored? That was the main complaint
      > > > from Cathy, and you didn't actually answer it.
      > >
      > > I think it is ignored, by many ev. psychologists, for the same reason it's
      > > ignored by evolutionary biologists. It doesn't generate the same kinds of
      > > testable hypotheses about behavior, and it has a hard time ruling out
      > > alternative hypotheses.
      >
      > When you simply ignore it, it definitely has hard time. If you
      > actually bother to study it, you find that it fairly rule out all your
      > hypotheses.

      What are my hypotheses and how does neurscience rule them out?

      > Brain-damage (normally called neurrpsychology) can rule the innateness
      > of these things if there is no correlation between them and any kind
      > or location of brain damage.

      That's not true at both levels. There is brain damage that causes a loss
      in only learned behavior (memory-specific brain damage that takes out all
      knowledge of tools for example). And there is no brain damage that I'm
      aware of that causes you to lose only the ability sneeze, but that doesn't
      mean sneezing is not innate. God forbid there is such a disorder, but the
      state of innateness shouldn't be limited by our ability to find people
      that are missing a tiny piece of brain tissue in an otherwise healthy
      skull.

      > The connectivity of the brain, specificicaly of the cortex, can rule
      > out any hypothesis that need for its implementation kind of
      > connectivity that is not seen in the brain.

      If you have a working model of all the neurons on in cortex, don't hold it
      back. If not, how can we use this non-existant map to rule out
      connectivity that we can't model for a problem that isn't defined in terms
      of neural pulse codes?

      > The only connection between genes and behaviour is through
      > neurobilogy, and you want to understand the connection without
      > learning neurobiology. I am not sure I really folow the logic. Maybe
      > you think that genes affects behavior in some other way? You deny it
      > later down, but you don't actually explain

      The only connection between genes and behavior is through atomic physics,
      and you want to understand the connection without learning physics. . .

      > > Learning is not an alternative hypothesis to adaptive thinking.
      >
      > Why not? because it needs an explanation? That is obviously broken
      > logic, because the fact that you cannot explain something does not
      > mean it does not exist.

      Yes, because it needs an explanation. Trees don't learn, you do. Why?
      The answer has to be some kind of mechanism that allows you to learn. But
      how is it designed? Why do you learn languages but not the position of
      the stars (which birds can learn in a week with no formal training and a
      brain 1/100 the size of ours)? Why don't we learn calculus intuitively?
      Why do we learn people's faces easily but can't remember their fingerprint
      or retinal patterns worth a damn? Etc. etc. All learning requires an
      innate mechanism for computing it. Learning isn't easy, and it isn't
      magical. I'm not saying learning doesn't exist, I'm saying it requires an
      explanation other than just, "we learn it."

      > > To say that learning or culture is a good alternative to adaptive
      > > thinking, you have to have a theory of learning or culture.
      >
      > Repeat, no. You need evidence for the exitence of learning and
      > culture. Once you have the evidence for their existence, you cannot
      > ignore them anymore.

      No one in ev. psych ignores learning. We explain why it happens when it
      does and why it doesn't happen when it doesn't. Genes don't just create
      bodies and rigid instincts, they create learning mechanisms designed to
      learn particular kinds of things from the environment. It's true of
      almost all animals and certainly all mammals.

      > > All explanations that speak of learning require an relatively innate
      > > mechanism that accomplishes that learning (it's not done by magic after
      > > all).
      >
      > Correct, up to some point. The learning mechanisms that adults use can
      > be learned themselves, by some more fundamental learning mechanism(s).
      > The fundamental one (or several ) must be genetically coded.

      We agree here.

      > > The difference between standard learning explanations that you hear
      > > on television and evolutionary psychological explanations is that Ev.
      > > Psych makes those mechanisms of learning explicit and testable.
      >
      > .. and their theories they clearly contradict both neuropsychology and
      > neurobiology, but they think they can ignore them .

      What contradiction?

      > > > None of these tests for the possiblity of jealousy acquired by
      > > > cultural transmission. As far as I can tell, the sole argument against
      > > > this is the universality of the trait, but if it is universally useful
      > > > trait, there is no reason why it shouldn't evolve culturally everywhere.
      > >
      > > Cultural transmission by what mechanism? Conditioning? Mimicry?
      > > Memetics?
      >
      > You are confused.

      To quote Alan Alda, "If I'm confused it's only because I don't know what
      you're talking about."

      > Cultural transmission can happen through various modes, including
      > conditioning and mimicry an peer-pressure and any other social
      > interactions that are already included. To give a small example, in
      > the case of a husband being cheated, his status among his peers goes
      > down independently of what he thinks about it, so a husband that tries
      > to prevent his wife cheating may be doing it to keep his status,
      > rather because he is jealous.

      Why would evolution design us to be conditioned by everything? How is it
      Garcia's experiments with rats turned out the way they did if everything
      is conditioned? How do we know to pair the sea-sickness with the food we
      ate not the cloths we're wearing, the time of day, the perfume we smelled
      earlier in the day, our socks, our hair-length, or the other infinte
      number of things going on? If we're not conditioned by EVERYTHING (which
      Garcia proved) what are we conditioned by? What determines the
      association? Why? In what domains does it work? Why don't heroin
      addicts stab themselves with empty needles and get the conditioned high?

      If we learn by mimicry why don't we mimic other animals? If we're
      designed to only mimic humans why don't we kill people all the time
      (apparently I watched over 12,000 murderers on television when I was a
      child, I haven't seen 12,000 intellectual conversations on email, I ought
      to be "offing" somebody). Why don't hunter/gatherer children try to have
      sex with their parents when they see them do it? Why don't girls mimic
      their father's behavior as often as their mothers? Why don't children
      mimic their parent's calm demeaoner and not run around and shout all day?
      When children scream, "I hate you mommy" who are they mimicking?

      Where does peer-pressure come from? If the answer is peers, when did it
      start and why? Shouldn't we see huge differences in peer-pressure if it
      is just an arbitrary practice that's not designed by natural selection?
      Shouldn't some cultures have peers that encourage their friends to cheat
      them and become friends with other people as well? Shouldn't other
      cultures have peers that encourage girls to be more war-like and boys to
      take good care of their baby brothers?

      As for your alternative origin of jealousy, why is it those with status
      that is unshakable (such as King Moulay Ishmail the Bloodthirsty) be so
      possessive of their women? Why shouldn't those with no status and no
      self-respect lose their jealousy? Why are gorrilas jealous? In a single
      male- harem they don't need status. Why are we jealous if our spouses
      cheat and nobody knows about it? Why do swingers take such precautions to
      avoid jealousy and still report it if everyone knows the woman has the
      man's permission to cheat? I have no problem believing that we have
      adaptations designed to maintain status, I just doubt that jealousy is
      one of them. If there are alternative theories you don't just throw out
      evolution, you take predictions from each and compare them to the data.
      In this case I think the answer is clear.

      > > Most general learning principles (that I'm aware of at least,
      > > so forgive me if there are many more) have been ruled out by experiments
      > > and common sense.
      >
      > So how do people learn things that cannot be gentically coded then?

      The same way they learn everything, through specific adaptations designed
      to learn. Take Chomsky for example. We learn language differently from
      how we learn everything else. We learn to muscular movements (well, I'm
      assuming that, people thought birds learned to fly before they tested
      them, so perhaps this doesn't require learning either) differently than we
      learn what shame is. We learn someone's face differently than we learn
      how to use a hammer, etc. Psychology has always looked for the short cut,
      the single type of learning or development that explains it all, but it's
      time to face what biologists have known for years, that the tasks that
      face organisms are so varied and complex that they can't be solved by the
      same learning mechanism.

      > Children certainly have jealousy, and a lot of it. What is sexual
      > jealousy?

      By sexual jealousy I just mean the feeling you have when you find out your
      spouse has been flirting with someone else. It's different from envy (I
      wish she were flirting with me).

      > > > > All the
      > > > > while it must be remembered that adaptations were designed in
      > > > > hunter/gatherer times,
      > > >
      > > > Not if they cultural. cultural evolution is far faster than that.
      > >
      > > Okay, so looking at jealousy, does it appear to have evolved for modern
      > > life? Do people suspend jealousy when their wives are on the pill? Do
      > > women suspend jealousy when they haven't signed a pre-nup? This is a
      > > testable hypothesis, and the evidence shows prettly clearly that jealousy
      > > works as adaptationists predict.
      >
      > Or assuming the prediction from assuming that it is a relic from few
      > hundred years ago.

      Huh?

      > I am sure it isn't. it is
      > http://human-brain.org/evolpsy2.html

      Wow. I'm sorry, but I have exams coming up and I don't have the kind of
      time it would take to reply to all of that. Is there anyone else out
      there that wants to field this one?

      > > No I do not. Nor do I think they can have an effect without the use of
      > > atoms, but I don't think atomic theory is crucial to our understanding of
      > > human nature.
      >
      > But yoy theories will be contradicted by atomic theory, you will have
      > to reject either of them or find some explanation how they match. At
      > the moment, we don't have such contardictions, so it is irrelevant. In
      > the case of neurobiology, we do.

      Excellent point, though I don't agree that neurobiology contradicts
      evolutionary psychology. I read the link above and I saw no evidence of
      that. Perhaps you could make it more explicit both for me and for those
      on the list that haven't read your webpage.

      Aaron Sell
      Center for Evolutionary Psychology
      University of California, Santa Barbara
    • Mike Waller
      ... From: Aaron Sell; Cc: Sent: 02 August 2000 07:15 Subject: [evol-psych] Daly & Wilson ...
      Message 2 of 30 , Aug 2, 2000
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Aaron Sell; <sell@...>
        Cc: <evolutionary-psychology@...>
        Sent: 02 August 2000 07:15
        Subject: [evol-psych] Daly & Wilson


        > Daly & Wilson (the two who have done the most work on infanticide in
        > humans) do NOT believe that step-parents have adaptations designed to make
        > them kill the offspring of their new spouses (unlike lions). They simply
        > argue that the caring attitudes that normally go along with parenthood are
        > (for some higher percentage) missing in step-parents and they are more
        > likely to kill.
        >
        > Aaron Sell

        Surely, the only way in which that could be satisfactorily established would
        be to use some neutral measure of caring attitudes and then see, matched
        case by matched case, whether step parents care less than biological
        parents. If something like this is not done, is not my criticism still
        valid? i.e. the "caring attitude" mean for step parents as a group is likely
        to be lower than that across all biological parents living with their own
        children simply because the mate choices open to single parents is likely to
        be much more restricted leading to accept partners others would not.

        Mike
      • Aaron Sell;
        ... I m not sure which variables they controlled. I know they controlled for socio-economic status, and several others, but for the life of me I can t
        Message 3 of 30 , Aug 2, 2000
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          > > Daly & Wilson (the two who have done the most work on infanticide in
          > > humans) do NOT believe that step-parents have adaptations designed to make
          > > them kill the offspring of their new spouses (unlike lions). They simply
          > > argue that the caring attitudes that normally go along with parenthood are
          > > (for some higher percentage) missing in step-parents and they are more
          > > likely to kill.
          > >
          > > Aaron Sell
          >
          > Surely, the only way in which that could be satisfactorily established would
          > be to use some neutral measure of caring attitudes and then see, matched
          > case by matched case, whether step parents care less than biological
          > parents. If something like this is not done, is not my criticism still
          > valid? i.e. the "caring attitude" mean for step parents as a group is likely
          > to be lower than that across all biological parents living with their own
          > children simply because the mate choices open to single parents is likely to
          > be much more restricted leading to accept partners others would not.

          I'm not sure which variables they controlled. I know they controlled for
          socio-economic status, and several others, but for the life of me I can't
          remember what they were.

          Your criticism is interesting, and I don't know if they have addressed it
          directly or not. There are some reasons to doubt it, however. If your
          suggestion were true we would expect second marriages to be to men with
          less well-paying jobs and thus lower socioeconomic status. We would
          expect then that the infanticide rate would be largely removed when it was
          controlled for, but it was not. (This is not an air-tight criticism, it's
          possible that women trying to marry for the second time might lower one
          standard and not others, etc.) We would also expect that people who
          become step-parents would have a greater history of violence, and I
          haven't seen evidence for that (I believe they ruled it out, but I can't
          be certain. Does anyone else know?)

          My biggest flaw as a scientist (well, other people call it a flaw, I'm not
          so sure) is that I let theory dictate a lot of what I believe. I don't
          require overwhelming evidence before I become pretty sure that an
          evolutionary theory is correct. I'm not unique in this. If someone
          derived a hypothesis from basic physics and confirmed it with tests that
          had a few alternative explanations we would be more likely to believe the
          conclusion than we would if someone tested predictions from
          parapsychology. And so when people suggest that humans have evolved
          mechanisms for recognizing their own children and treating them especially
          well, I don't require overwhelming evidence. It's true of all mammals
          that care for their young. The next leap is just to suggest that people
          who live with children that they recognize as not their own will be more
          likely to abuse them, kill them, etc. How could it not be true? We would
          have to believe one of two things:

          1. People do not care more for their own children than for someone elses.

          or

          2. Caring about your own children doesn't make you less likely to abuse or
          kill them.

          I can't imagine anyone arguing either of those.

          Aaron Sell
          Center for Evolutionary Psychology
          University of California, Santa Barbara
        • Aaron Sell;
          ... Here is where you need evolutionary theory. Why is it a difficult socio-cognitive position? Why doesn t the lessoned weight of responsibility allow them
          Message 4 of 30 , Aug 2, 2000
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            > > Daly & Wilson (the two who have done the most work on infanticide in
            > > humans) do NOT believe that step-parents have adaptations designed to make
            > > them kill the offspring of their new spouses (unlike lions). They simply
            > > argue that the caring attitudes that normally go along with parenthood are
            > > (for some higher percentage) missing in step-parents and they are more
            > > likely to kill.
            >
            > Presumably they have rejected an obvious hypothesis (or it is theirs?) that
            > step-parents are in a difficult socio-cognitive position from day 1 - and it
            > is this "merely" ongoing cognitive stress that might be nudging the
            > probabilities?

            Here is where you need evolutionary theory. Why is it a difficult
            socio-cognitive position? Why doesn't the lessoned weight of
            responsibility allow them to have a wonderful relationship with
            step-children that is far better than the relationship children have with
            their bio parents? This is very much like Daly & Wilson's argument (at
            least as I understand it), but I don't think you can do without adaptive
            thinking because we need to answer the question why without reference to
            an equally enigmatic concept like stress, socio-cognitive positions,
            self-esteem, etc.

            > Also, do Daly and Wilson propose that step-parents are chronically
            > "undercaring" or it is an acute response (in some/all?) to being in a
            > step-parent relationship?

            I'm not sure what this is getting at (sorry), but I'll take a stab at it.
            I believe their theory is that there is no interesting difference between
            step-parents and bio-parents other than their situation (it's not just
            that step-parents are more violent people in general). The situation
            of the step-parent fails to engage the normal feelings of love and warmth
            that are reliably induced in bio-parents. The reason is that we are
            designed to give parental love and investment to only blood relatives
            (usually our own children), just like other mammals. Thus it's the lack
            of this activation that leads the normal stresses of child care (let's
            face it, it is not easy and children can be very annoying, love is there
            for a reason, without it . . . ) Thus step-parents are more likely to be
            annoyed, frustrated, etc. than bio-parents.

            Aaron
          • Paul Barrett
            ... From: Aaron Sell; Cc: Sent: Thursday, August 03, 2000 2:45 AM Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Daly &
            Message 5 of 30 , Aug 3, 2000
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              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Aaron Sell; <sell@...>
              Cc: <evolutionary-psychology@...>
              Sent: Thursday, August 03, 2000 2:45 AM
              Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Daly & Wilson

              Hello Aaron

              Many thanks for your very clear replies.

              >
              > Here is where you need evolutionary theory. Why is it a difficult
              > socio-cognitive position? Why doesn't the lessoned weight of
              > responsibility allow them to have a wonderful relationship with
              > step-children that is far better than the relationship children have with
              > their bio parents? This is very much like Daly & Wilson's argument (at
              > least as I understand it), but I don't think you can do without adaptive
              > thinking because we need to answer the question why without reference to
              > an equally enigmatic concept like stress, socio-cognitive positions,
              > self-esteem, etc.
              >

              I think I'm trying to consider the causal chain here. EP proposes:

              Adapative tendency -----> cognitions ----> outcomes

              I'm looking at whether the adapative tendency is in any way required to
              explain the cognitions. It would seem to be that an experimental test of
              this theoretical proposition would involve matching the step-parents to
              biological parents - in terms of age of children adopted, SES, and age of
              parents. That is, I am proposing that the cause of the increased violence
              problem is that partners enter a relationship where children are already
              part of another relationship (with the other partner). If we take
              step-parents who adopt babies in their relationship (with no other children
              present), then do we see the same level of augmented violence as those who
              enter partnerships with older children already present? I might go even
              futher and adopt a "dose-response" relationship - mapping increasing
              violence as a function of the age of partner children when a partnership is
              instantiated. Has anyone tested this do you know?

              The specific question I would wish to test is:
              Do we see the same rate of step-parent violence in families who adopted
              babies just a few months old? If so, it would seem to indicate that EP
              theory is required to explain why. If not, either a different kind
              of/modifed EP theory is required - or we dispense with it and work on the
              cognition side of things without invoking an EP cause. However, I appreciate
              this may have been tested already and I am wasting bandwidth!

              Thanks .. Paul
              _____________________________________________________________________
              Paul Barrett Direct Tel: (44)-1555-841343
              email: p.barrett@... Hospital Tel: (44)-1555-840293
              CS2000: pbarrettx1@... Fax: (44)-1555-840024
              http://www.liv.ac.uk/~pbarrett/paulhome.htm

              Chief Scientist, The State Hospital, Carstairs, Scotland, ML11 8RP, UK
              Senior Research Fellow, Clinical Psychology, Liverpool University, UK
            • Mike Waller
              ... From: Aaron Sell; Cc: Sent: 02 August 2000 07:56 Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Culture, evol psych,
              Message 6 of 30 , Aug 3, 2000
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                ----- Original Message -----
                From: Aaron Sell; <sell@...>
                Cc: <evolutionary-psychology@egroups.com>
                Sent: 02 August 2000 07:56
                Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Culture, evol psych, miscellaneous comments


                > Why don't we learn calculus intuitively?

                I have no mathematical expertise, but have (I think!) been reliably informed
                that we do. Seemingly, without this capability we would not be able to catch
                a ball. It is only when we want to install the same capacity in the RAM
                area of our brain - generally known as consciousness - that we have to go
                through the painful process of learning about it. It's just one of the very
                high prices paid for cerebral flexibility.

                Mike
              • Andrew Brown
                On Wednesday, August 02, 2000, at 5:20:46 PM, Irwin Silverman wrote: IS And I would add that Daly and Wilson s work on step-parents did IS not pop
                Message 7 of 30 , Aug 3, 2000
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                  On Wednesday, August 02, 2000, at 5:20:46 PM, Irwin Silverman wrote:



                  IS> And I would add that Daly and Wilson's work on step-parents did
                  IS> not pop out of "a persistent search for behaviors taken to be evolved" but
                  IS> emerged from years of prior research, across species, on what they termed
                  IS> "discriminative parental solicitude."


                  The difficulty I have with Daly and Wilson is not that I doubt the
                  effect they describe exists, but that it is very much weaker and more
                  conditional than one might suppose. There was a report earlier this
                  year -- Ian Pitchford posted it here -- about a Swedish team who had
                  done the same analysis on all cases of child-murder in Sweden over
                  about 20 year. Step parents were not a risk factor there.

                  The point is made, eg by Helena Cronin, and I think by D&W themselves,
                  that step-parents are more likely to kill their children violently
                  than natural parents are. This may well be true in the West. But the
                  most widespread patterns of infanticide in the world at the moment are
                  sexually selective, involving the deliberate favouring of one sex,
                  usually boys, over the other. And there the murderous neglect is often
                  administered by blood relatives, sometimes grandparents. See Sarah
                  Blaffer Hrdy's Mother Nature for a discussion (with heart-rending
                  illustrations).

                  SBH makes the interesting point that the patterns of sexual selection
                  in India are class-dependent and based on economic factors. HIgh-class
                  Indian families kill their daughters. Low class ones kill their sons.
                  These are the two strategies most likely to maximise the numbers of
                  grandchildren. But I find it very hard to believe that there is a
                  module in the brain to make these calculations or to act on them. This
                  is clearly a cultural pattern, preserved as a result of cultural and
                  economic forces.


                  --

                  Andrew Brown
                  Phone +44 (0)1799-516812
                  Fax +44 (0)1799-500726
                  What I do: http://www.darwinwars.com
                • Aaron Sell
                  ... Many welcomes, it s my pleasure. ... The adaptive tendency. . . no, but the evolutionary selection pressures are required. For instance, it is not
                  Message 8 of 30 , Aug 4, 2000
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                    On Thu, 3 Aug 2000, Paul Barrett wrote:

                    > Hello Aaron
                    >
                    > Many thanks for your very clear replies.

                    Many welcomes, it's my pleasure.

                    > I think I'm trying to consider the causal chain here. EP proposes:
                    >
                    > Adapative tendency -----> cognitions ----> outcomes
                    >
                    > I'm looking at whether the adapative tendency is in any way required to
                    > explain the cognitions.

                    The adaptive tendency. . . no, but the evolutionary selection pressures
                    are required. For instance, it is not adaptive for me to use birth
                    control (I will have fewer copies of my genes because of it) but according
                    to evolutionary psychology there's nothing in my mind that cares about my
                    genes, only adaptations (programs, roughly) that were designed to spread
                    my genes in the environment in which we did most of our evolution. Tooby
                    and Cosmides said it best, "We're not fitness-maximizers, we're adaptation
                    executors."

                    > It would seem to be that an experimental test of
                    > this theoretical proposition would involve matching the step-parents to
                    > biological parents - in terms of age of children adopted, SES, and age of
                    > parents.

                    In light of the above, I don't know what would happen if you brought a new
                    bio parent into a relationship (such as a husband coming back years
                    later). The question is this: in the environment that we evolved in, were
                    biological parents reintroduced into their family often enough for
                    selection to design males to turn on normal parenting behaviors with
                    children even if they are not babies? I don't know the answer. I'm not
                    sure if Daly & Wilson know either. Anyone else know?

                    > That is, I am proposing that the cause of the increased violence
                    > problem is that partners enter a relationship where children are already
                    > part of another relationship (with the other partner). If we take
                    > step-parents who adopt babies in their relationship (with no other children
                    > present), then do we see the same level of augmented violence as those who
                    > enter partnerships with older children already present?

                    I suspect we see more of it, but the reasons are complex. Child abuse and
                    infanticide are much more common among very young children (probably
                    because they require so much attention, but also because if a bio-mother
                    is going to commit infanticide it's best to do it before investment is put
                    into the infant). And so if the data turned out to show a lesser degree
                    of step-parent abuse when young babies are adopted your idea would have
                    strong support, but if the data were reversed it wouldn't tell us very
                    much.

                    I've heard from one brilliant source that parents who adopt are no less
                    likely to abuse their children (I don't mean step-parents adopting, but
                    rather a couple adopting a totally unrelated child). But I've heard from
                    an equally brilliant source that they are more likely to abuse them.
                    Sorry I can't be more helpful.

                    > The specific question I would wish to test is:
                    > Do we see the same rate of step-parent violence in families who adopted
                    > babies just a few months old? If so, it would seem to indicate that EP
                    > theory is required to explain why. If not, either a different kind
                    > of/modifed EP theory is required - or we dispense with it and work on the
                    > cognition side of things without invoking an EP cause.

                    It would still be an EP cause, just a little more round about. For
                    instance, we still need to explain why there is conflict when a
                    step-parent enters the home. Why does the child's attachment to the first
                    parent make it more conflictual? Perhaps I'm nitpicking, but if
                    evolutionary psychology is correct, you really can't get around it. No
                    matter what the explanation you'll eventually have to ask the question
                    "why is it designed that way?" One of the underappreciated aspects of
                    psychology is it's ability to deal with by-products of adaptations like
                    why we like candy, look at pornography, or listen intently to stories we
                    know are false. From a fitness-maximization standpoint it doens't make
                    sense, but from an adaptation-executor standpoint it falls right in place.

                    Sorry I couldn't be more helpful, I'm re-reading Homicide over the next
                    month or so, I'll let you know if I find anything more on it.

                    Aaron Sell
                    Center for Evolutionary Psychology
                    University of California, Santa Barbara

                    _______

                    Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Daly & Wilson
                    Author: "Aaron Sell;"



                    > SBH makes the interesting point that the patterns of sexual selection
                    > in India are class-dependent and based on economic factors. HIgh-class
                    > Indian families kill their daughters. Low class ones kill their sons.
                    > These are the two strategies most likely to maximise the numbers of
                    > grandchildren. But I find it very hard to believe that there is a
                    > module in the brain to make these calculations or to act on them. This
                    > is clearly a cultural pattern, preserved as a result of cultural and
                    > economic forces.

                    Sometimes evolution solves an economic problem long before we realize it,
                    and so economic forces could exaggerate and correlate with adaptations
                    that make similar decisions.

                    For the life of me I can't remember the name of the researcher who found
                    similar results in the US (perhaps it was Cashden). She didn't look at
                    homicide rates but rather how as the mother's 'favorite' child, and found
                    that the rich favored sons and the poor favored daughters. The
                    explanation appears to be a module designed (not to kill) but to offer
                    differing amounts of investment to one sex over the other. These
                    differences in investment could have the effect of making homicide against
                    one gender more common than they other, again depending on the parent's
                    resources.

                    The reasoning, for those who haven't heard it before, is that male
                    reproductive potential is highly dependant on how many resources you have,
                    and so if you are rich it might be better to favor your sons since they
                    can use those resources to become more attractive in the mate-market. But
                    having extra resources doesn't have the same effect on daughters (an
                    unattractive girl in an expensive dress is still unattractive, but an
                    unattractive man in a business suit is notably more attractive). And so
                    if you lack resources your sons may be doomed to be fairly unattractive,
                    but daughters will not be so cursed in the mate-market.

                    It's an interesting explanation, does anyone know if there is more data on
                    it?

                    Aaron Sell
                  • Irwin Silverman
                    ... Weaker? As I recall, in the Ontario sample, step-children were 100 times more likely to be murdered and 40 times likely to be abused. As for conditional,
                    Message 9 of 30 , Aug 5, 2000
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                      On Thu, 3 Aug 2000, Andrew Brown wrote:


                      > The difficulty I have with Daly and Wilson is not that I doubt the
                      > effect they describe exists, but that it is very much weaker and more
                      > conditional than one might suppose. There was a report earlier this
                      > year -- Ian Pitchford posted it here -- about a Swedish team who had
                      > done the same analysis on all cases of child-murder in Sweden over
                      > about 20 year. Step parents were not a risk factor there.

                      Weaker? As I recall, in the Ontario sample, step-children were
                      100 times more likely to be murdered and 40 times likely to be abused.

                      As for conditional, all scientific findings are - exceptions to
                      theory and contradictory data are what keeps a science going.
                      are


                      > most widespread patterns of infanticide in the world at the moment are
                      > sexually selective, involving the deliberate favouring of one sex,
                      > usually boys, over the other.

                      I have no doubt, but this is nevertheless explicable, as is Daly
                      and Wilson's findings, within the concept of fitness maximization (see Eibl-
                      Eibsfeldt and Matti Mulder's review of infantide) - When populations
                      exceed resources, the most effective means or attenuating the former is by
                      reducing available eggs. We see a similar phenomenon rendered automatic
                      in humans and other species when females cease ovulating in response to
                      sudden weight loss.
                    • Irwin Silverman
                      ... We need to consider that it is not relatedness, per se, that is the direct basis of differences in solicitude (or anything else), but the innately based,
                      Message 10 of 30 , Aug 6, 2000
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                        On Sun, 6 Aug 2000, Andrew Brown wrote:


                        > IS> On Thu, 3 Aug 2000, Andrew Brown wrote:

                        > My tentative explanation for the disparity would be cast in temrs of
                        > fitness maximisation too. If you set up things so that stepchildren are
                        > not an economic burden, then they will be treated no worse than your own.
                        >
                        > So calculations about resources -- often explicit and conscious --
                        > seem to trump calculations about relatedness.

                        We need to consider that it is not relatedness, per se, that is
                        the direct basis of differences in solicitude (or anything else), but the
                        innately based, proximate conditions that mediate the effects of relatedness
                        - in this case, most likely the opportunity for parental bonding within
                        an early critical period. On this basis, we found qualitative differences
                        in parental solicitude in adoptive vs. birth situations as well. (don't have
                        reference at hand but can send if you wish).

                        On the other hand, I agree that economic conditions probably do
                        interact. I don't regard this as a "difficulty" with D&W, however, but
                        rather a novel hypothesis generated by their findings.
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