Saturday, January 13, 2007
Evolutionary Cognitivism, Introduction: Race of Man, Races of Men
This series is a companion to Biopsychological Development. While that series focused on my reaction to The Scientist in the Crib and The Emperor's New Clothes, this series centers on The Origins of Human Nature: Evolutionary Developmental Psychology. Of the three books assigned for the class, Origins is by far the most academic. It is a very competent synthesis of Cognitive Psychology's concepts of working memory, cognitive load, and the like with Evolutionary Psychology's era of evolutionary adaption, massive modularity, and such.
A theme that emerged while I wrote these reaction with group-level human genetic diversity. The idea is that humanity is composed of major breeding populations that differ in their frequencies of genetic variation. I had been skeptical of this polygenism for some time, but within the last year I upgraded the idea from "dubious" to "reasonable." I do not know if humanity is composed of races or clines, but advocatges group-level genetic diversity present good evidence that needs to be intellectual engaged. Unfortunately, (advocates mostly on) the Left concluded that if group-level human diversity exists, it implies that some humans are "better" than others. Therefore the hypothesis had to be rejected on ideological grounds, whatever the facts are. To these Marxists, the thought that we are all equal, regardless of our nationality or genetic predisposition, is apparently anathema.
I have to give special props to Steven Pinker, an author previously featured on tdaxp. Pinker is skeptical of group genetic diversity, and he has given better arguments in favor of his position than anyone else I have read. He also admits the possibility that he may be wrong, however, and his skepticism towards his skepticism helped provoke my self-reflection. The tone of the posts in this series tend to be pro-diversity, if only because (outside of Pinker) I am more impressed by the honest tone of the diversitarians than the monists. However, the best part of blogging is the very high-level of reader comments. Please readers, correct me, or tell me where my writing is lazy!
(Any in the meantime -- read up on Lewtonin's fallacy.)
Evolutionary Cognitivism, a tdaxp series
1. Selection and Cognition
2. Epigentics and Diversity
3. Children and Civilization
4. The Implicit and the Explicit
5. Man Among Men
6. More Than Genes
I'm excited to read this series.
I think there's little question that there are at least clines on some level. In elite running, where the only thing measured is the highest limits of athletic ability, East Africans almost completely dominate in distance running but fail at sprinting - which is dominated by West Africans, who aren't as represented among marathon winners.
Posted by: Adam | Sunday, January 14, 2007
Great! This series was written over the first week of the semester, so I could concentrate on other things later in the semester (like a sequal to The Wary Guerrilla research ...) So I hope the writing doesn't sound too rushed. :-)
gnxp has a great post  with some excellent discussion  over how clines can be meaningfully viewed as racist. Like everything else over at gnxp, it's top-notch.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, January 15, 2007