Re: Quinlan's last and future post(s)

Harriet Whitehead (whitehea@WSUAIX.CSC.WSU.EDU)
Fri, 16 Dec 1994 06:45:51 -31802

"Learning bias" sounds like precisely the sort of concept now appearing
in the 'mind design' trend we've discussed earlier. But one doesn't
exactly get away from genes by invoking it. One may however keep the
discussion of these genes at the species level rather than at the level
of invidious sub-group or individual differences, and this is some relief.

Harriet Whitehead
Anthro, WSU

On Sun, 11 Dec 1994, Mike Lieber wrote:

> i
> In Rob's last post, he continues to use the rhetorical ploy that identifies
> critiques of sociobiology with attacks on biosocial approaches--if you don't
> buy sociobiology, then you reject biosocial approaches to human activity.
> There's no use in dumping on Ron for using this ploy, as it seems to be
> standard-issue in the sociobiologists' arsenal of one-liners. So let me make
> another suggestion that might be more constructive, not to speak of more
> interesting.
> Rob, in an off-line note, mentioned a concept called "learning bias" current
> among evoltuinary psychologists. It seemed to resonate with some work I have
> seen coming out of Cold Harbor in the 1970s, so I asked him to expand a bit.
> >From his brief answer, it seems to be a concept that has some explanatory power
> to account for differences in what various species are prepared to learn (or
> differences in how various species select properties of their environments to
> which they are ready to attend). If the construct is anything like I think it
> is (or should be), it would be a major step away from reducing behavior to gene
> action and toward connecting polygenic ordering with nerve net structure. But
> I'm just projecting my own thinking on what might be a very different framework
> of explanation of variability.
> I would like to see Rob, Lee Cronk, Jerome Barkow, Mark Flinn, or anyone else
> knowledgeable in this area post an account of learning bias--what it is, what
> it can do, how it organizes research, and some relevant bibliography that the
> rest of us can read. What do you say , guys?
> Mike Lieber