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Thread: Steven J Gould

  1. #11
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    to me, the fact that this man was a biologist yet refused to accept some basic truths about human nature.
    What are these truths that he refused to accept?


    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    truths that are disagreeable to feeling, incidentally - is a strong indicator of him being eigther an ENF or an uncharacteristically whobbley ENTP.

    If it is the case that he had compelling reasons to disbelieve many things and earnestly believed in them (not just wrote that he believed in them to conform to some social or professional expectation), then I would suspect that he is an F. I think this inference is judicious, however, I have not yet observed him disbelieving in biological notions that are clearly true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Babylon Candle View Post
    let Basically SW, youve come here to denounce me as if I had said, "all lawyers are assholes" for being deductively false, when all I really said was, "lawyers are probably assholes" (not deductive at all). So no, im not going to deductively prove that Gould is F from the facts I have stated about him. I am however coming away with an intuition that he is ENFP (I even included a link to a long essay of his so that you can experience it too!).

    Im only about 60/40 sure of his ENFPness (Pness )
    If in his private time and on his own endeavor he developed a great interest in the arts (that is not because he went to an art school or somebody in his family coerced him into developing an interest in it), then I would suspect that he is an F too. However, I am not sure if he truly has developed interests in generally 'F' topics and even more so on his will.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Blackwater's Avatar
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    he was a stauch opponent of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology.

    philosophies that imply things such as:

    the talents of women are more evenly distributed than the talents of men

    men are generally better at spaicial and systembuilding tasks whereas

    women are generally better a verbel and empathic tasks

    men are naturally sexually polygameous - they go for quantity

    women are naturally sexually monogamous - they go for quality

    men generally value women in terms of youth and beauty

    women generally value men in terms of money and status

    sociobiology belives these things to be biologically determined and to excert a passive influence on us (one that we may conquer through introspection and so on)

    goul opposed this throughout all his life, never setting a better counter-theory forth
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  3. #13
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    he was a stauch opponent of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology.

    philosophies that imply things such as:

    the talents of women are more evenly distributed than the talents of men

    men are generally better at spaicial and systembuilding tasks whereas

    women are generally better a verbel and empathic tasks

    men are naturally sexually polygameous - they go for quantity

    women are naturally sexually monogamous - they go for quality

    men generally value women in terms of youth and beauty

    women generally value men in terms of money and status

    sociobiology belives these things to be biologically determined and to excert a passive influence on us (one that we may conquer through introspection and so on)

    goul opposed this throughout all his life, never setting a better counter-theory forth
    Of his works, I have only read the Mismeasure of men. There he mounted a substantial theory against biological determinism regarding intelligence. His basic supposition was that a great deal of intelligence is acquired as a result of a person's interaction with the world rather than genetics. This view is today supported by the majority of experts. (After the controversial Bell Curve has been published, experts on IQ were asked to publish their views in detail, the idea that intelligence is not strictly innate was one of the main ideas they emphasized.)

    In the end of the mismeasure of man (1980 edition) he tried to use the same method against the conclusions of sociobiologists. I did not see him deny any of the claims above. He merely commented on how aggression isn't a result of human nature (contary to what his colleague E.O Wilson thought), its a result of both nature and nurture. Gould even stated this plainly with respect to intelligence: he thought it was obvious that its a product of both nature and nurture.

    I'd imagine he'd say the same with respect to other qualities we have. He merely intended to de-emphasize the biological determinist approach to the subject-matter, rather than say that people don't have the qualities that they do.

    I don't remember Gould saying that a lot of people are not stupid, or that women tend to like men for prestige and power. I am not sure that he'd even deny that this is true. I do imagine that he would deny that all of these things are a result of human nature. In other words, he'd probably claim that all of the claims you listed are true, but they aren't a result of human nature.

    This view seems uncontroversially true. If all of those properties were our nature, our environment would have no influence over whether or not we have these qualities in the end. The implication of this is that its not possible to construct a society where at least some of those claims are false. It seems to me that it would indeed be possible to construct such a society, we simply haven't done it yet.

    For instance, its possible to create a small village where the social habits of people that you've listed are excoriated and eventually eliminated. Thereafter, they would pass on genes to their ancestors where as a result people will be born with fewer proclivities to develop those habits.

    It may be natural for us to develop these habits in this society, but this claim is not the same as the claim that its our nature and its unavoidable. Gould fought biological determinism only and yes he denied that the qualities you've listed are a part of human nature. This is not at all indicative of him denying something that is obviously true, as I have shown above.

    Your charge would be relevant if he was denying that the qualities listed below are descriptive of how people are. He does not seem to be doing that. He is denying the application of biological determinism to these phenomena or the supposition that people must be that way in all cases.

    "the talents of women are more evenly distributed than the talents of men

    men are generally better at spaicial and systembuilding tasks whereas

    women are generally better a verbel and empathic tasks

    men are naturally sexually polygameous - they go for quantity

    women are naturally sexually monogamous - they go for quality

    men generally value women in terms of youth and beauty

    women generally value men in terms of money and status"
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

  4. #14
    Senior Member Blackwater's Avatar
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    intelligence is not strictly innante and they dont say so in the bell curve eigther

    intelligence is not purely innane. it is, however, largely hereditary.

    identical twins reared apart develop iqs close to each other even when one is adopted to a less-stimulating environment than the other

    when can indeed speak about human nature. there is not a single culture in the world where the claims i listed earlier are upside down. even in the supposedly matriarchal societies, women havde been shown to rule only nominally

    insofar as there are no cultures that contradict the above claims, we can speak of a human nature

    insofar as gould would not accept them, that would be because he was blocked from doing so
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  5. #15
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    For instance, its possible to create a small village where the social habits of people that you've listed are excoriated and eventually eliminated. Thereafter, they would pass on genes to their ancestors where as a result people will be born with fewer proclivities to develop those habits.
    If that village was supposed to represent a nurture-based approach to creating a society with specific traits, how would the next generation have a different gene pool?

    I guess you could factor in social sanctioning as a reproductive limiter.

  6. #16
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    intelligence is not strictly innante and they dont say so in the bell curve eigther
    This claim has not been adequately supported by empirical research. In fact, after the Bell Curve has been published, strict emphasis has been placed on the claim that its not largely hereditary. In fact, mostly it is an outcome of a person's experiences and significantly, educational background.

    Furthermore, a few years after the Bell Curve was published; when experts on intelligence were requested to publish their views, they stated that although IQ is not innate, it matters a great deal in life.

    Scholars have accepted this claim, however, another notion was a topic of controversial debate. This notion was why it is important. Is it because people of high IQ genuinely can figure out how to make choices that benefit the most, or is it because our society has a bias favoring people of high IQ. For instance, education plays a big role in a person's life. Since we assume that much of it is innate, we feel comfortable turning students down who don't do well gradewise or on standardized tests. Some nations do not even allow teenagers of poor performance to continue their education, or they force them to drop out of high school.

    In short, the supposition that intelligence is largely hereditary is far from a fact, and is generally not accepted as such.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    intelligence is not purely innane. it is, however, largely hereditary.

    identical twins reared apart develop iqs close to each other even when one is adopted to a less-stimulating environment than the other
    The majority of studies that purported to prove that this claim is true were conducted by Cyril Burt. Today, he is well known to have comitted fraud. Thus, we still lack reliable data with respect to such studies and that is a profound reason why the question of how innate intelligence is still has not been settled and experts are inclined to think that it likely isn't.

    I haven't argued for this point yet, but I would like to in the future: there are purely philosophical reasons to believe that intelligence is not largely innate, or reasons independent of expert opinion or empirical inquiry. This is perhaps to be saved for another post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    when can indeed speak about human nature. there is not a single culture in the world where the claims i listed earlier are upside down. even in the supposedly matriarchal societies, women havde been shown to rule only nominally
    You're missing the subtlety of my point. In principle, if it is possible to construct any society where the propositions you've listed are false, they are not notions of human nature. We are not talking of societies that already exist, we are talking of societies that can in principle exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    insofar as there are no cultures that contradict the above claims, we can speak of a human nature

    insofar as gould would not accept them, that would be because he was blocked from doing so
    No, we could speak of human nature if we had a complete collection of all possible societies and in every single one of them, the claims you've listed were true.

    Why is it the case that in all large societies that exist, the claims you've listed are true? Because they have all adapted similar regimes on a fundamental level. Obviously, men have taken the dominant role as in all of them someone had to be the breadwinner and in the past, the physically strongest had to be the breadwinners as they'd simply do a better job. This is how that has been done in most societies and formed traditional roles which to this day are efficacious.

    In fact, eventually, people have evolved or changed their nature to function in this society. As a result, it has in some sense become part of human nature to behave in a way you described, however, this tendency is not yet strong enough to function under all circumstances. I'd still like to argue (perhaps in the next post) that its possible to construct a society where this tendency would be eradicated. In other words, those attributes are not fundamental to human nature and only manifest in certain scenarios and it happens to be the case that such scenarios are rampant throughout the world today.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    If that village was supposed to represent a nurture-based approach to creating a society with specific traits, how would the next generation have a different gene pool?

    I guess you could factor in social sanctioning as a reproductive limiter.

    Thanks for raising this issue as it points out a notion that I haven't explained with sufficient clarity or thoroughness in my previous post.

    I argued that the qualities Blackwater listed aren't strictly part of human nature as they depend on environmental factors for flourishing, at least to some degree. As you mention, social sanctioning can create an environment where people will not have such tendencies. If those qualities were part of human nature, no environment and no sanctioning could cause people to not have them. Once such a society is created, it will be possible to produce humans who have weaker tendencies towards the behaviors listed.

    To sum it all up, the qualities Blackwater listed aren't part of human nature because its possible to have a community where people will not engage them without any social sanctioning. However, they may have a mild tendency or subtle desire to do so. With social sanctioning, its possible to eventually create humans who won't even have that.
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  7. #17
    Senior Member Blackwater's Avatar
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    The majority of studies that purported to prove that this claim is true were conducted by Cyril Burt.
    come on. modern science does not rely on Cyril Burt. because some scientists have tampered with results it does not mean that all subsequent similar findings will be wrong. there are also studies of children adopted into families that have other children made by the parents. in such cases, the biological siblings will typically have similar iqs while that of the adoptee will be largely indenpendent of the other children in the household

    You're missing the subtlety of my point. In principle, if it is possible to construct any society where the propositions you've listed are false, they are not notions of human nature.
    right. as long as we can agree that what you desribe does not actually exist i'll gladly revise my statement regarding 'human nature' and call it a statement regarding 'human nate as it actually exists' instead
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  8. #18
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    i'll gladly revise my statement regarding 'human nature' and call it a statement regarding 'human nate as it actually exists' instead
    By doing this, you've conceded that your claim that Gould was an F was illegitimate. Gould was not saying that those qualities do not apply to 'human nature' as it is, he was saying they do not apply to human nature as I've defined it, or qualities that individuals must have in all cases. The main doctrine that he fought was biological determinism, a rejection of biological determinism does not amount to a disbelief that qualities you've listed are part of 'human nature' as it is, or of how people tend to be today as opposed to how they must be. In fact, the idea you have in mind should not be depicted as human nature because human nature generally refers to qualities that are resulant of our nature alone and do not depend on external reinforcement. The qualities that you've listed are very much dependent on the external world, as you've conceded in the last post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    come on. modern science does not rely on Cyril Burt. because some scientists have tampered with results it does not mean that all subsequent similar findings will be wrong. there are also studies of children adopted into families that have other children made by the parents. in such cases, the biological siblings will typically have similar iqs while that of the adoptee will be largely indenpendent of the other children in the household
    Cyril Burt wasn't the only person known to comitt fraud to vindicate his social prejudices about IQ. This practice has been common enough for modern day experts to question studies on iq correlations among sibblings. If this wasn't so, we wouldn't have all the commotion about this subject that we have now. If such studies on twins were available and deemed authoritative, then the claim that IQ is largely hereditary would be accepted as uncontroversial. However, this wasn't the consensus given by experts after the Bell Curve.
    The Bell Curve - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Read the section of "American Psychological Association task force report", there you will find the following quotation summarizing the expert consensus on the matter. "Individual differences in intelligence are substantially influenced by both genetics and environment. "

    The statement that intelligence is influenced substantially by environment is inconsistent with the claim that it is largely innate. Largely means significantly or predominantly. If A is predominant, or something is largely A, whatever is the opposite of A cannot be substantially influential.

    Furthermore, it is questionable if our most fundamental data is reliable. IQ tests and IQ data have long been known to be manipulable. In fact, they have been in the Bell Curve. See the section on contradictory findings.

    "A recent paper in the Psychological Review, "Heritability Estimates Versus Large Environmental Effects: The IQ Paradox Resolved," presents a mechanism by which environmental effects on IQ may be magnified by feedback effects. This approach may provide a resolution of the contradiction between the viewpoint of The Bell Curve and its supporters, and the 'nurture' factors of IQ believed to exist by its critics. Janet Currie and Duncan Thomas presented evidence suggesting AFQT scores are likely better markers for family background than "intelligence" in a 1999 Study."
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  9. #19
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Thanks for raising this issue as it points out a notion that I haven't explained with sufficient clarity or thoroughness in my previous post.

    I argued that the qualities Blackwater listed aren't strictly part of human nature as they depend on environmental factors for flourishing, at least to some degree. As you mention, social sanctioning can create an environment where people will not have such tendencies. If those qualities were part of human nature, no environment and no sanctioning could cause people to not have them. Once such a society is created, it will be possible to produce humans who have weaker tendencies towards the behaviors listed.

    To sum it all up, the qualities Blackwater listed aren't part of human nature because its possible to have a community where people will not engage them without any social sanctioning. However, they may have a mild tendency or subtle desire to do so. With social sanctioning, its possible to eventually create humans who won't even have that.
    Although it's true that we cannot be absolutely sure about whether these traits are part of human nature, we can at least make valid guesses. There are always going to be confounding factors and alternative hypotheses, but I think we can say lots of things about human nature given the data we currently have.

    Also, I think it's more useful to think of human nature as a set of traits the average human is likely to have based on the gene pool. Thinking of human nature as a set of boolean traits can't account for outliers or mutations. I'm not saying you necessarily think of it that way, but I think it's possible to make a small society where people don't exhibit the natural tendency of a human.

  10. #20
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Also, I think it's more useful to think of human nature as a set of traits the average human is likely to have based on the gene pool...
    I think that this notion is logically incoherent. Human nature is a term identical in meaning to how a human is. As a general rule, when you say that A is the nature of B, you're saying this is how A is B. In other words, one's nature is the same as one's identity.

    If we adopt your definition, a non-average human being is not a human being at all as human nature traits don't apply to him.


    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Thinking of human nature as a set of boolean traits can't account for outliers or mutations..
    My definition of human nature includes all qualities that human beings have. For example, breathing, consuming food, urinating and a host of other physical functions and in addition to that; basic intellectual cognition and emoting. Its very much possible to construct a definition of a human which will include all mutations and other cases of idiosyncrasy. Human nature is a set of traits that all human beings will inevitably share.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I'm not saying you necessarily think of it that way, but I think it's possible to make a small society where people don't exhibit the natural tendency of a human.
    Really, there could be a village where no human being does anything that is in its natural tendency to do? This human being won't breathe or eat? Its possible that some natural tendencies of a human being may be abrogated as a result of our experiment, yet not all as I have shown. However, once at least one of them undergoes an alteration, a new specie will have evolved as the creature's nature and indeed 'human' nature has changed. As a result the speciation in the strictest sense of the term will occur, or a change of the biological status of a creature from human to something else. Notably, some properties of human nature are part of 'creature nature' or living thing-nature and therefore its inevitable that any creature that exists has at least some of the qualities a human has; such as breathing for example.
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