IQ and Evolution (Was: Re: Patriarchy)

Bryant (
23 Aug 1996 08:48:22 -0600

In article <4vi5i4$>, Susan <> wrote:
>Now what facinates me is the assumptions that no
>one questions, because they seem to work. It is only later that they are
>proved to be assumptions. I haven't followed the thread, but I know
>Gould has been under some fire here. But at the risk of drawing it, I
>still think he had the best presentation of it, in the struggles of
>scientists to account for problematic results in the search for racial
>and gender differences in intelligence-- and never stopped to think that
>there might be assumptions.

Gould has illustrated social influences on how results are interpretted,
etc., and deserves credit for that. On the other hand, he's made it seem
as though identifying our biases is a futile affair, because we'll never
rid ourselves of them sufficiently to objectively study human beings.

>I find it facinating because 1) it shows the socially embedded part of
>science, and 2) it makes me wonder what we assume now that we can't see
>out of, because it is so embedded in our cultural worldview. What will
>they be laughing at us for believing 100 years from now??

When I think about the shake-ups of evolutionary and behavioral biology in
the early 1960s regarding the field's previous acceptance of group
selectionism, I have to agree that we're probably making big mistakes
somewhere. As we agreed earlier, I think that rigorous testing of models'
predictions is the best way to identify such errors.

>>Journalists get tired, I think, of all the qualifications ("well, if you
>>accept this, and so-n-so was correct in their analysis, that would seem to
>>indicate...") that they see as scientists' hedging. The hedging ends up
>>on the clipping room floor.
>I wonder how much of this comes from early schooling? Somewhere we teach
>our kids that issues should be simple, and that knowledge is absolute.
>As someone who teaches social science, it makes it very hard to address
>issues which are matters of interpretation. One of the early mistakes I
>made in my teaching career was assigning a book that I found interesting
>in part because I didn't agree with large parts of it. In class, I did a
>critique of the book, and tried to get some discussion going about
>whether they agreed or not. After several class periods of effort, and
>few results, one of the students finally said with exaperation "well why
>did you assign this book if you thought it was wrong?!" They had missed
>the point that I thought parts of it were valuable, and I also thought it
>was a useful way to look at the methodological problems with doing
>anthropological fieldwork.

Not to mention the heuristic value of looking at *why* you thought the
author was mistaken! A grad student taught a UNM cultural anthro class
for a day, and basically presented a litany of theories on marriage (I
think). My friend said that this person would present one idea, and
then say, "But, that's been critiqued," and abandon further discussion of
it! Ugh.

>For all I know, some of them are in this group right now wondering "well,
>is there evidence of matriarchy or not?!"