Re: Technology & Intelligence

Ralph L Holloway (rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Fri, 10 Feb 1995 12:59:53 -0500

Bob is surely right about difficult in using corrleations with time
series data, but I had the impression from his earlier posts that he
arguments were actually causal rather than correlative. I thought that
perhaps seeing tool-making and using as but one element within social
behavior might help explain the apparent lack of correlation, and I
thought one of my earlier posts regarding the lack of brain size
increase over the past 25 millenia or so, might indicate a lack of
causality as well.
Ralph Holloway.
On Fri, 10 Feb 1995, SS51000 wrote:

> 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