They mention the dangers of inbreeding, but they are reminded that the siblings used two forms of contraception. They suggest that Julie and Mark will be emotionally hurt, but the story makes it clear that they were not. They venture that the act would offend the community, but then they recall that it was kept secret. They submit that it might interfere with future relationships, but they acknowledge that Julie and Mark agreed never to do it again. We can explain why torture and murder and rape are wrong, or why we should oppose discrimination and injustice. On the other hand, no good reasons can be produced to show why homosexuality should be suppressed or why the races should be segregated.
And the good reasons for a moral position are not pulled out of thin air: they always have to do with what makes people better off or worse off, and are grounded in the logic that we have to treat other people in the way that we demand they treat us.
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The are two kinds of people… I am an environmental vegetarian. I do not eat meat unless it is going to be thrown away and I am hungry. And according to evolutionary biology, all societies—animal and human—seethe with conflicts of interest and are held together by shifting mixtures of dominance and cooperation. Traditions such as religion,. And since no one is smart enough to predict the behavior of a single human being, let alone millions of them interacting in a society, we should distrust any formula for changing society from the top down, because it is likely to have unintended consequences that are worse than the problems it was designed to fix.
The best we can hope for are incremental changes that are continuously adjusted according to feedback about the sum of their good and bad consequences. It is the principal end of government to regulate this passion. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. And for all its limitations, human cognition is an open-ended combinatorial system, which in principle can increase its mastery over human affairs, just as it has increased its mastery of the physical and living worlds.
Pinker is all over the space of philosophical thought. I think he does a good job but it is hard to follow unless you are used to associative thinking in the extreme. That holds out the hope for a society organized by cooperation and natural productivity rather than by hierarchical control and the profit motive. These conflicts lead to a darker view of human nature, one that has always been a headache for those with anarchist dreams. But the thinker who first elucidated these conflicts, Robert Trivers, was a left-wing radical as well, and one of the rare white Black Panthers.
As we saw in Chapter 6, Trivers viewed sociobiology as a subversive discipline. These psychologists have argued that human thinking and decision making are biological adaptations rather than engines of pure rationality.
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These mental systems work with limited amounts of information, have to reach decisions in a finite amount of time, and ultimately serve evolutionary goals such as status and security. Their first impulse is to spend money in ways that put themselves ahead of the Joneses houses, cars, clothing, prestigious educations , rather than in ways that only they know about health care, job safety, retirement savings. Unfortunately, status is a zero-sum game, so when everyone has more money to spend on cars and houses, the houses and cars get bigger but people are no happier than they were before.
Like hockey players who agree to wear helmets only if a rule forces their opponents to wear them too, people might agree to regulations that force everyone to pay for hidden benefits like health care that make them happier in the long run, even if the regulations come at the expense of disposable income.
For the same reason, Frank argues, we would be better off if we implemented a steeply graduated tax on consumption, replacing the current graduated tax on income. A consumption tax would damp down the futile arms race for ever more lavish cars, houses, and watches and compensate people with resources that provably increase happiness, such as leisure time, safer streets, and more pleasant commuting and working conditions.
It is not just a matter of hurt feelings: people with lower status are less healthy and die younger, and communities with greater inequality have poorer health and shorter life expectancies. The medical researcher Richard Wilkinson, who documented these patterns, argues that low status triggers an ancient stress reaction that sacrifices tissue repair and immune function for an immediate fight-or-flight response.
This well-populated gallery of left-wing innatists should not come as a surprise, even after centuries in which human nature was a preserve of the right. Mindful both of science and of history, the Darwinian left has abandoned the Utopian Vision that brought so many unintended disasters. Whether this non-Utopian left is really all that different from the contemporary secular right, and whether its particular policies are worth their costs, is not for me to argue here. The point is that traditional political alignments ought to change as we learn more about human beings.
The ideologies of the left and the right took shape before Darwin, before Mendel, before anyone knew what a gene or a neuron or a hormone was. Every student of political science is taught that political ideologies are based on theories of human nature. Why must they be based on theories that are three hundred years out of date? In arguing that the criminal justice system should replace punishment with rehabilitation, Clark explained: The theory of rehabilitation is based on the belief that healthy, rational people will not injure others, that they will understand that the individual and his society are best served by conduct that does not inflict injury, and that a just society has the ability to provide health and purpose and opportunity for all its citizens.
Rehabilitated, an individual will not have the capacity—cannot bring himself—to injure another or take or destroy property.
Would that it were so! This theory is a fine example of the moralistic fallacy: it would be so nice if the idea were true that we should all believe that it is true. The problem is that it is not true. The blood libel against Napoleon Chagnon for documenting warfare among the Yanomamo is the most lurid example of the punishment of heretics, but it is not the only one. In a Violence Initiative in the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration was canceled because of false accusations that the research aimed to sedate inner-city youth and to stigmatize them as genetically prone to violence.
In fact, it advocated the public health approach. Take men, for starters: across cultures, men kill men twenty to forty times more often than women kill women.
Some young men, moreover, are more violent than others. According to one estimate, 7 percent of young men commit 79 percent of repeated violent offenses. Psychologists find that individuals prone to violence have a distinctive personality profile. They tend to be impulsive, low in intelligence, hyperactive, and attention-deficient. The most callous among them are psychopaths, people who lack a conscience, and they make up a substantial percentage of murderers.
These traits emerge in early childhood, persist through the lifespan, and are largely heritable, though nowhere near completely so. In a hostile milieu, people and countries must advertise their willingness to retaliate against anyone who would profit at their expense, and that means maintaining a reputation for avenging any slight or trespass, no matter how small. They must make it known that,. With violence, as with so many other concerns, human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution.
The way of science is to lay out every hypothesis that could account for a phenomenon and to eliminate all but the correct one. Scientists prize the ability to think up alternative explanations, and proponents of a hypothesis are expected to refute even the unlikely ones. Nonetheless, discussions of the leaky pipeline in science rarely even mention an alternative to the theory of barriers and bias.
The problem with this analysis is that inequality of outcome cannot be used as proof of inequality of opportunity unless the groups being compared are identical in all of their psychological traits, which is likely to be true only if we are blank slates. Thornhill and Palmer began with a basic observation: a rape can result in a conception, which could propagate the genes of the rapist, including any genes that had made him likely to rape.
Therefore, a male psychology that included a capacity to rape would not have been selected against, and could have been selected for. Thornhill and Palmer argued that rape is unlikely to be a typical mating strategy because of the risk of injury at the hands of the victim and her relatives and the risk of ostracism from the community.
But it could be an opportunistic tactic, becoming more likely when the man is unable to win the consent of women, alienated from a community and thus undeterred by ostracism , and safe from detection and punishment such as in wartime or pogroms. Thornhill and Palmer then outlined two theories. Opportunistic rape could be a Darwinian adaptation that was specifically selected for, as in certain insects that have an appendage with no function other than restraining a female during forced copulation.
Or rape could be a by-product of two other features of the male mind: a desire for sex and a capacity to engage in opportunistic violence in pursuit of a goal. The two authors disagreed on which hypothesis was better supported by the data, and they left that issue unresolved. In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine.
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Yet most psychologists not come to grips with them, and most intellectuals do not understand them, even when they have been explained in the cover stories of newsmagazines. It is not because the laws are abstruse: each can be stated in a sentence, without mathematical paraphernalia. Rather, it is because the laws run roughshod over the Blank Slate, and the Blank Slate is so entrenched that many intellectuals cannot comprehend an alternative to it, let alone argue about whether it is right or wrong.
But these expensive studies continue to be done and continue to be translated into parenting advice as if the heritability of all traits were zero.
The effects of shared environment are small less than 10 percent of the variance , often not statistically significant, often not replicated in other studies, and often a big fat zero. Turkheimer was cautious in saying that the effects are smaller than those of the genes. Many behavioral geneticists go farther and say that they are negligible, particularly in adulthood.
IQ is affected by the shared environment in childhood, but over the years the effect peters out to nothing. This follows directly from the First Law, assuming that heritabilities are less than one, and the Second Law. If we carve up the variation among people into the effects of the genes, the shared environment, and the unique environment, and if the effects of the genes are greater than zero and less than one, and if the effects of the shared environment hover around zero, then the effects of the unique environment must be greater than zero.
In fact, they are around 50 percent,. Children are noble savages, and their upbringing and education can either allow their essential nature to blossom or can saddle them with the corrupt baggage of civilization. Twentieth-century versions of the Noble Savage and the Blank Slate kept parents and children at center stage. Freudians theorized that we are shaped by our degree of success in weaning, toilet training, and identification with the parent of the same sex, and advised parents not to bring infants into their beds because it would arouse damaging sexual desires.
They want their children to be popular and self-confident, to get good grades and stay in school, to avoid drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, to avoid getting pregnant or fathering a child while a teenager, to stay on the right side of the law, and to become happily married and professionally successful.
A parade of parenting experts has furnished them with advice, ever changing in content, never changing in certitude, on how to attain that outcome. Yes, from the many useless studies that show a correlation between the behavior of parents and the behavior of their biological children and conclude that the parenting shaped the child, as if there were no such thing as heredity. And in fact the studies are even worse than that.
Even if there were no such thing as heredity, a correlation between parents and children would not imply that parenting practices shape children. It could imply that children shape parenting practices. As any parent of more than one child knows, children are not indistinguishable lumps of raw material waiting to be shaped. They are little people, born with personalities.
And people react to the personalities of other people, even if one is a parent and the other a child. The parents of a quiet, spacey child might feel they are talking to a wall and jabber at him less. No psychologist has ever documented a critical period for cognitive or language development that ends at three.
And though depriving an animal of stimulation by sewing an eye shut or keeping it in a barren cage may hurt its brain growth, there is no evidence that providing extra stimulation beyond what the organism would encounter in its normal habitat enhances its brain growth. Not exactly. I am convinced that children are socialized—that they acquire the values and skills of the culture—in their peer groups, not their families.
But I am not convinced, at least not yet, that peer groups explain how children develop their personalities: why they turn out shy or bold, anxious or confident, open-minded or old-school. Socialization and the development of personality are not the same thing, and peers may explain the first without necessarily explaining the second. They share their genes, they share their family environments, and they share their peer groups, at least on average.
But the correlations between them are only around 50 percent. Ergo, neither genes nor families nor peer groups can explain what makes them different. But how different is that from the fantasy that parents can design their children by how they bring them up? Realistic parents would be less anxious parents. They could enjoy their time with their children rather than constantly trying to stimulate them, socialize them, and improve their characters.
She is rescuing mothers from fatuous theories that blame them for every misfortune that befalls their children, and from the censorious know-it-alls who make them feel like ogres if they slip out of the house to work or skip a reading of Goodnight Moon. Advocates want to boost the caps, which are set at 65, with an additional 20, for people with a masters degree or higher from a U.
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
The video, a prominent lobbying effort, aims to explain the value of temporary worker visas Critics, such as labor groups, contend these visas undercut American workers. The sentiment from several industry groups: The U. Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Alex Byers abyers politico.
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