Technology & Intelligence

Fri, 10 Feb 1995 11:06:30 CST

The transition from Oldowan tools to Upper Paleolithic blades
*correlated* with an approximate tripling of hominid cranial capacities.
The exact relationship between this tripling and intelligence is poorly
understood, due to technical problems mentioned by R. Holloway (whose
knowledge of such things is profound), and to vagueness in the concept
of intelligence itself; still, it seems more likely that there is a
direct, rather than random or inverse, relationship between this
tripling and human intelligence. The idea that there is little or no
correlation between technological improvements and brain growth,
expressed by D. Rindos and others, merely because we don't find improved
stone tools *every time* we find an increase in cranial capacity has two
major flaws. First, stone tools undoubtedly represent only a modest
portion of a society's technology; second, correlation is a statistical
concept, and inherently need not be perfect to be significant--in either
the technical or general sense of that term. We anthropologists have
little experience in thinking about correlation in time-series data,
which does raise problems beyond those in ordinary data sets; but it
does not suddenly become necessary for relationships to be perfect
before the variables can be said to "correlate." --Bob Graber